Recent comments

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 28 weeks ago

    The difference between funding campground and boat ramps vs. paleontological positions is that the former are capital expenses and the latter are operating expenses. I would expect that funding for capital and operating comes out of two different pots of money for the Park Service, and so aren't really in competition with each other.

    Meanwhile, more information on the Alternative Transportation in Parks & Public Lands Program can be found here:

    The Voyageurs project isn't listed in the second link, so I'm thinking that the second link represents last year's list of projects and that the full list of this year's projects has not yet been listed.

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Sounds great!


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • National Park Quiz 1: Are You Centered?   6 years 29 weeks ago


    I got stuck on the exact same question. A lousy 9 for 10.

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Kurt and Kelly have great points and information, it helps fill in some of the gaps in the story. I said "detest" in an earlier post about the local attitude towards Voyageurs. The reason being that VNP is still a rather new park, and locals have a very long memory. Many people in this neck of the woods are skeptical of the government in general, and the Feds especially. The staff at Voyageurs has done a lot to change this attitude, but it is persistent. It's not uncommon to hear griping about how the NPS took "their" fishing lake, and how "all them tourists" are ruining it for the locals. Like I said, long memories....

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Ken Burns is amazing!!

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Voyageurs National Park is a beautiful, wild park where you can travel the historic water trails used by Native Americans and fur trappers. It’s also a place where you can hear wolves howl, see bald eagles soar, and catch walleye with your kids. In the Midwest, where so many of our natural landscapes have been plowed under or chopped down to feed and house the rest of the nation, this is a precious thing.

    Voyageurs National Park is 218,000 acres, much of it interconnected waterways. It only has about 10 miles of roads and 60 miles of land trails. That means in order to fully experience its serene beauty and superb wildlife, you need to get into a boat.

    That works fine for those who own personal boats, especially those who live nearby. But imagine the average American family on vacation, traveling to their national Park, pulling up to the visitor center in their car and being told they need a boat. While they could rent a motorboat from a local business, they would either have to navigate the Park’s waters themselves or hire a guide to drive the boat for them. Renting sea kayaks is also an option for those who have the skills needed to paddle large waters dotted with 500 granite and pine islands.

    All of this means that the average American family needs help to enjoy their national park. Over the years, Voyageurs National Park has had trouble getting that help to them because (a) it’s in “flyover country” and (b) it’s 40% water, which means it has management needs that are difficult for many decision makers to understand unless they’ve spent significant time there themselves—which is unlikely, given (a).

    The tour boat that’s being discussed is indeed being financed through the Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands progam, which helps protect natural resources by getting visitors into public transportation and out of private vehicles. It was the highest funding priority for the Midwest region of the National Park Service (for this program) in at least one recent year, but only now has received funding.

    The tour boat will serve a function similar to bus and shuttle service in Yosemite or Glacier National Park. It will provide public access via public transportation to a large, wild national park, in a region of the country whose people have few of them.

    Two private concessionaires operated good-sized tour boats in Voyageurs National Park in the past, but one closed and the other relocated to another area. The high season is very short, making it difficult to turn a profit.

    For those of us who love Voyageurs National Park, it’s painful to see so much criticism of this greatly needed and much sought-after project. Two questions: Should the public only have good access to their national parks if they can provide their own private vehicles or a private concessionaire is in operation? Should public transportation be provided only in the best-known, most glamorous national parks?

  • Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    This shot took me right back to our Glacier trip three years ago. I will never forget its beautiful sites, especially the hike to Grinnell Glacier. After seeing this, I spent the morning looking at the pictures we had taken when there. Beautiful shot! Thank you for sharing!

  • Groups Sue Park Service Over ORV Use in Big Cypress National Preserve   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I have a few things to say one is that i know many OVRer and 98% of them care more about a trail then most vistor because that is there backyard i have seen it from south florida to the northwest. I have lived all over the US and they are in every state and are great people and most adhear to the treadlightly plan. I have seen so called vistor come to the everglade and dump more trash in two to four hours then most off-roader do in a weekend. The other is that in the above writting MR.Matthew Schwartz say " Superintendent Gustin is out of line and is violating a previous park service decision. She should fulfill her duties as steward of an irreplaceable piece of public land and change course immediately. But it was her decision to close said lands and isn't her job to work with all the poeple in the area and its her decision to reopen the the trails. This is something i don't get when the National Park Service shut down an area of land they are doing a great job and has your surrport but when they do something that you think is wrong like reopening land they are in "violation" but thats what my tax dollar are for to pay her to make that decision. He also says there are only 2000 permit holders but this is from lack of knowing the trails are there. I know many people in south florida that would get said permit and use land and its trails. Another thing is that alot of those 30 miles of "trails" are gravel or dirt road something else he leave out. I know because not only have i lived in south florida along time but it is also where i was born, i have been there many time my self riding a bike or walking and i belive that ORVer sould also be welcome.

    Thank you

    (US NAVY)

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    The tour boat will be designed with the latest “green” technology, according to Rep. Oberstar, who says it will be "equipped with highly efficient engines that operate on bio-diesel fuel."

    Any word where the NPS will get that bio-diesel fuel? There's been a lot of talk lately how bio-fuels are not so "green" and actually are causing world-wide problems such as higher food prices and deforestation; they also require a lot of petroleum to produce, process, and ship.

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 29 weeks ago


    It's been my experience with those who "edit" on this site that if you have a reasonable justification for your comments, and aren't purely testosterone and emotion, your feelings can and will be aired. Most of us learned early on in our formal education that all-encompassing terminology rarely, if ever, applies in any given set of circumstances. Such is the nature of the basis for stereotyping, the "one size fits all" commentary. Some have posted their personal notions that "our ancestors" knew better than do we and killed wolves because it was the "right thing to do". Maybe HIS ancestors acted in this manner, I don't know. Many of mine hold the wolf in a high place of reverence, a cunning, skilled hunter, worthy of high praise and emulation, a "brother from a different mother" I believe is how the modern saying goes. Killed them? Only under the most strict set of circumstances and never as a regular routine. Studied them, learned their habits, benefitted from that knowledge to be sure. Even copied them in many aspects. They're a great lesson in cooperative society, and display a highly functional family and social structure. They are an acknowledged master of their environment, with pack sizes readily regulated by environmental conditions (read in: availability of food and water sources, weather conditions, and other factors as regulated by Mother Nature). They're obviously far from "dumb animals". Our species more qualifies for that title to be sure.

    Besides, where do believe your ever-lovin', most loyal "man's best friend" traces it's lineage to if not directly to Canis lupis?

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago


    Better interpretation is definitely a plus. My concern is that the system for funding the parks is out of whack. Too often it comes down to whose congressperson is more adept at earmarking legislation or calling in favors for support.

    Just look at how the Centennial Challenge funds are being disbursed: In this first go-round, if a project didn't already have a stream of private money attached to it, it wasn't even considered, no matter how much merit it carried. There are more than a few questionable projects that got approval simply because they had some private money attached. Why are centennial funds being used to install utilities to a campground at Hot Springs National Park, and to install a new boat ramp at Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, and yet there's no money to save paleontological jobs at Dinosaur National Monument?

    What I'd like to see is more clarity, and less politics, in prioritizing the needs across the park system. I know there is a priority system for construction projects, but what about for some of the other needs that exist? Too often priorities are established through earmarks. In fiscal 2005, for instance, there were 31 earmarks that funneled nearly $53 million to the NPS for congressionally selected (and thus mandated) projects.

    Would the national park system as a whole have benefited more if that $53 million went into the NPS's overall budget for NPS staff to decide how best it could be spent? I'd like to think so.

    Now, I've been told the funds for the Voyageurs boat are coming from the Alternative Transportation in the Parks and Public Lands Program, which aims to get folks out of private vehicles and into shared transportation. That sounds like a great program, (one, by the way, that I'd never heard about until this issue popped up).

    Was the Voyageurs boat at the top of the funding list? I don't know. If so, great. I would be interested to learn whether there is a list of projects waiting to be funded through this program, and how they're assigned priority. If I can find anything out, I'll pass it along.

  • Protest Against American Revolution Center at Valley Forge National Historical Park Planned for May 15   6 years 29 weeks ago

    God. Another protest to protect our esteemed blah blah blah blah. I am an evironmentalist. I walk to shop, donate to causes, pick up litter in the parks, etc.

    But, I don't see anything wrong with building something to enhance the visitors experience and bring in a little money to help support the area those people are screaming and protesting about keeping the same.

    People need to be educated when visiting our National Parks and such. They don't get it in the schools anymore and unless they are history buffs - most of the people show up - see an empty field and leave - stopping at McDonald's on the way out of town. I gave tours and worked with two National Monuments and a group with Yosemite - if you don't offer the beautiful welcome center and have an introductory video (download it to your IPOD) - you lose them.

    And, if you say - you don't care - your a moron. If you can't get the average person to care - you are eventually going to lose it - either to budget cuts and disrepair or a sale or trade of the land you are trying to protect.

    The structure can be built "green". Because it is east coast, it will be easier to sink some items and put them underground so as not to spoil the view. There could be underground parking so that there is no sea of asphalt. If there is a parking garage - it could be terraced and landscaped with a walking park on the roof with trees and flowers.

    I hate to quote Mr. Gingrich but he said that we defeated our enemies and took care of ourselves in less than five years with World War II, it took 27 years for them to get everything they needed to build an extra runway at Atlanta's airport. I agree something is wrong.

    Don't protest - ask to be involved in the planning session. Protest to get involved but, save your energy to protesting Darth Vader and his boss who still have 8 months left to destroy this country.

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 29 weeks ago


    What we aim to bar are comments that take direct personal attacks on others. We prefer to see comments rise above that level. Do we always succeed? Perhaps not as best we can. But some comments are so blatant in their personal attacks that the decision not to let them go through is easy.

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Argh! Can someone tell me why ironranger said that "the locals detest Voyagers"??

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Lets you can bar the comments of the people who disagree that wolves lives are more valuable than ANY humans...even the trappers. But gleefully post the comments by the wackos who think a person should be killed because a wolf got caught in this trap. Yep, I certainly see how you welcome different viewpoints!!

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Allow me to play Devil's Advocate for a moment. The NPT has long argued for increased funding for interpretation services for the Parks. Well, most of Voyageurs National Park is covered in water - what kind of interpretation can really occur there without a boat? Thus, I'm surprised that this development is treated with such skepticism.

  • National Park Quiz 1: Are You Centered?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Got 9 out of 10 myself... I had to flip a coin between Glacier and Yellowstone, since I've never been to Wallace, ID and figured that since Yellowstone National Park is actually *in* Idaho, that was the better bet...

  • National Park Quiz 1: Are You Centered?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Nice job, Barky; I'm impressed. Maybe you should be writing these quizzes instead of me? The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (not River; I've corrected the typo) was one of the original eight Wild and Scenic Rivers. The lower part of the park/riverway, the St. Croix River, forms the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. This lower section of the riverway is heavily used (picnicking, boating, fishing, hiking), since Interstate 94 crosses there and the Minneapolis/ St. Paul metro area is just to the west.

  • National Park Quiz 1: Are You Centered?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    9 out of 10. :-)

    Never heard of St. Croix National River. :-P


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Edward abbey is rolling in his grave over this post...

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 29 weeks ago

    This article made me so very sad, even with the GREAT news that one of the two wolves was able to be cared for.
    Why can't people let nature balance itself out and quit assuming that just because they bring in outside of nature animals that the government / law should side with them and allow this type of behavior to continue across the natural boundaries? Call me animal sensitive... but I think most of mankind should think more about how to reduce their populated numbers and their negative thoughts about controlling nature (which has done a pretty bang up job before mankind stepped in) for their own greedy needs before they continue stepping on nature's toes for the job. At least the natives had it right when they roamed this great country freely, they took only what they needed, and used all of the animal(s).... unfortunately as history has shown us time and time again
    Never mind, I'm jumping off my soap box (from my small % of Cherokee-ness)... Thanks to everyone who is attempting (and winning) the overturning of wildlife abuse.

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I could see why private tour boats would do well in some areas, such as Fort William Henry on Lake George, NY, and not in others such as Voyageurs. Lake George is associated more directly with American History and is easily accessible for all demographics. I've never been to Voyageurs but it seems more of a remote location, and lacks the easily distinguished tie-in to the historical? That being said, it's only accessible to limited numbers of people. As a result, there's naturally less potential for the private tour operators.

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I'm guessing, then that no one knows why locals 'detest' the park, as ironranger said earlier....

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I would vote for sunrise (and pre-sunrise) at Canyon Overlook above the Great Arch of Zion in Zion National Park, looking west at Bridge Mountain and across Zion Canyon into Oak Creek Canyon. There is a dramatic change of color on the Great West Temple, the Temples of the Virgin and Alter of Sacrafice before the sun rises in the east. The light of sunrise on the Great West Temple from above the Rockville Bench south of the Virgin River and the mouth of Zion Canyon is also a rare and wonderful sight experienced by few visitors to Zion National Park because it requires an uphill drive on dirt roads outside the south park boundary.

    Then, of course, there is sunrise on Mt. Scott, overlooking Crater Lake from an elevation of 8929 feet. For the few of us who had official access to the Mt. Scott fire lookout, making breakfast in the lookout before sunrise afforded a 360 degree view that includes the lake, inner caldera and slopes of ancient Mt. Mazama, the volcanic crest of the southern Cascade Mountain Range, extending from Mt. Shasta, California in the south to the South Sister near Bend, Oregon in the north, and the upper and lower Klamath Basin in the southeast.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Here in Minnesota, we will bring our own boats whether there was a tour boat or no. Boating is a very significant cultural activity, and many Minnesotans own boats or have access to one through family or friends. However, those visiting the park from outside the local area often rent boats and hire guides to get to the best fishing, or the best scenery. I could see how a tour boat could aid those who are unfamiliar with watercraft, or who are financially unable to rent a boat, get some enjoyment out a park that is mostly water. Is it a needed service? Most likely not. A way for a Congressman to move pork to his district? More likely.