Recent comments

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Kurt: You established a new word in your blog that has been a important contribution to the National Parks: Parkitecture! When I review some the architecture or "parkitecture" of the past that was established back in the 1920's, and post war 1930's with the civilian conservation core (CCC), I take a moment to reflect with respect (and great awe) the men and women that put these enormous projects together and gave us some of the most beautiful architecture, bridges, trails and infrastructure of the world. The enormous undertaking of these projects still today brings us much pleasure to see and visit. The past architects had a very special talent blending in the natural surroundings of the landscape with it's design concepts that fitted well with it's environment. More less to say, "form follows function" which was coined by the famed architect Frank L. Wright. I deeply regret today, we don't have that same passion and movement to re-establish our National Parks on the same level or plateau of inspiration, dedication and commitment, which definitely reflects from the lack of true leadership in this country. The National Parks today are nothing but a parasitic breeding ground for corporate interests and to the corporate pimps that pander for it's greed.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Such lists, of course, are entirely subjective. That said, there are some glaring omissions, such as Yellowstone's Old Faithful Inn, if you like rustic atmosphere, or Lake Hotel, if you prefer elegance. Either, in my book, surpass Many Glacier, which, though in a spectacular setting, needs some serious restoration work and renovations. The rooms are small and cramped, the furnishings shabby. Or at least they were when I visited in 2005.

    Also missing is the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley, another top lodging in my opinion. And what of the Stanley Hotel, which, although outside the park boundaries, long has been tied to Rocky Mountain National Park?

    What goes into the perfect national park lodging list can not easily be defined. Do you want rich, rustic flavor, such as that which originally went into the Old Faithful Inn, the Bryce Canyon Lodge, Grand Canyon Lodge, and other creations of the original "parkitecture" movement? Do you want more modern amenities and, dare I say, class, such as can be found in The Ahwahnee and Lake Hotel? Should the setting be remote and presumably pristine? Should a decent restaurant be part of the package? What of cost? While Jenny Lake Lodge certainly exudes rustic charm with service to boot, and meals included, $550 a night seems a tad much, no?

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I agree that including Canadian parks is cheating. And no lodges from Yellowstone? As for Cavallo Point: I know this is an adapted use of Fort Baker buildings, but why was it allowed? The concessions laws say that the NPS should not have concession operations where the service or merchandise can reasonably be secured outside the park. There is no shortage of hotel rooms in San Francisco. For years, people have approached Cabrillo National Monument with proposals to build a hotel or restaurant there. There can be little doubt that with its spectacular view of San Diego, such a place would be a financial hit. But, there is no way to justify such a concession at the park. Sure, Golden Gate NRA wanted to find a way to preserve the historic buildings at Fort Baker, but why a commerical lodging business? I think this website has previously noted the many odd workings of GGNRA - is it a national park or a government/private sector land management enterprise? Good question.

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I'm from the USA and oddly enough, the only two lodges on the list that I've stayed in are the Canadian ones. Although both were great experiences, Banff Springs Hotel is in town and doesn't really feel like it's in a national park. Jasper Lake Lodge is one of my favorites. High on my "to do next" list are Many Glacier Hotel, Crater Lake Lodge and Paradise Inn. I agree with you, though, the rates are a bit intimidating. So, what makes the perfect national parks lodge list? What parameters would you include?

  • How To Buy National Park-Related Gifts Without Leaving Home   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I emailed Inner Peace Designs to see when they will be finished with their new National Park Ornaments. They expect them to be online and in stores for sale but the end of September erley October. I already own several pieces they sell. What beautiful work they produce! I've been to Sedona, AZ where they make ornaments of all the red rocks. I haven't seen anyone match their quaity. Can"t wait!

  • MSNBC’s Top 10 National Park Lodges List Draws Curmudgeonly, but Gentle Criticism   6 years 24 weeks ago

    To be fair to the writer, it's in the "US and Canada" travel section. Looks to me like whoever wrote the headline didn't read the whole thing.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I was at Landscape Arch on Monday around 1:00 pm. I can confirm that it was bloody hot. My other family members made us turn back rather than continuing the final 1/4 mile to Wall arch. I'm sorry now that I didn't push them around the next bend of the trail. We also had some rain that evening where we were, near 4 corners. I would support the theory that the week of hot weather followed by a rapid cooling and maybe a bit of rain as the straw that broke the arches back :-)

  • Federal Judge Refuses to Let County Cut Highways in Roadless Section of Death Valley National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago


    You said of Inyo Co.'s action:

    County officials had hoped to take control of the routes using a repealed, 19th-century right-of-way law known as R.S. 2477.

    The BLM R.S. 2477 Rights of Way page summarizes:

    Section 8 of the Mining Act of 1866 provided: “and be it further enacted, that the right-of-way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.” The statute was self enacting; rights being established by “construction” of a “highway” on unreserved public lands, without any form of acknowledgement or action by the Federal government. This section of the statute was later re-codified as Revised Statute 2477. R.S. 2477 was repealed by FLPMA on October 21, 1976, with a savings provision for rights established prior. (emph. added)

    That appears to mean that although new claims after 1976 cannot be established, those rights-of-way that were established before 1976 are protected under the statute.

    If Inyo County did once have some sort of now-neglected rough road-bed carved across routes in Death Valley, and/or they show on various old maps, etc., then they probably have the legal traction to push their claim on up the appeals-chain, if they want to.

    A cornerstone of the R.S. 2477 situation, is that the historic & ongoing ANCSA and ANILCA Lands Claims Settlement process in Alaska have incorporated R.S. 2477-based resolutions into major legal precedent. These were not squabbles between dirt-bike riders and preservationists, but a matter of Congressional Record.

    A glance at the Google search returns for r.s. 2477 show that those of an environmentalist/preservationist orientation are inclined to portray the Statute as a meaningless curio which their opposition is attempting to misuse. Old usage-routes, though, are legally covered, and court cases are begin won.

    R.S. 2477 can lead to quandaries. Private landowners, some of them for generations, have been challenged to allow recreational riders to use long-neglected routes on their land.

    There is a popular movement (largely environmentalist & allies-driven) to 'convert' abandoned railroad right-of-way into magnificent public trail systems. If I am not mistaken (correct me if I am) these are in some cases based on R.S. 2477.

    Inyo County may have damaged their claim, by bulldozing part of the routes they wanted, without seeing the claim through the courts first.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Anonynous do you have any idea how much exercise you can get on a snowmobile. You have obviously never been on one and therefore have no idea what it's like, and furthermore snowmobiles are a way to get out and experience nature and if you knew anything about it at all you would realize that that is why alot of people snowmobile and that you can see alot more on a snowmobile than walking. You also talk about skiing. Did you even think for a second that skiing requires a lodge and lifts that will destroy alot more than a snowmobile trail that wildlife will actually use? Think of it this way, many people go out and take road trips along scenic routes to experience wildlife and scenery. Snowmobiles are the exact same thing except you don't go as fast and you're not enclosed so you're experiencing everything even more. Maybe takling away snowmobiles from Yellowstone would be the best thing but only because of pollution. I say maybe because with new engines coming out they are quieter and cleaner than ever. Snowmobiling has nothing to do with obesity or blood pressure because i guarantee you that most snowmobilers are more fit than non snowmobilers and it has nothing to do with a younger generation because snowmobiling has been around for a long time. I would be very happy if our generation was all for snowmobiles, but the popularity has declined because (people) like you telling people that snowmobiling is bad for you. It may "amaze" you that people are bringing in "motorized crap" but what amazes me is how much you're willing to bash something you obviously know knothing about. I can't beleive someone this stuipid could acually think he knows anything about what's best for people or Yellowstone.

  • Star Party Scheduled for June 21-28 at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    More than likely they were two bright meteors occurring 1/2 hour apart that were part of the show of the spectacular August 11 and 12th Perseid meteor shower.

    At 9:30 PM at night at the Grand Canyon, the waxing gibbous moon would have been high in the southern sky, causing only the brightest of the Perseid meteors to be readily visible. The best time for viewing the Perseid meteors would be after the moon set in the west, perhaps after 3:30 AM. Then, the meteor count could have exceeded 100 per hour.

    Comets are seldom seen with the naked eye. Once spotted, however, they do not appear to be moving, except when plotting their position among the background stars from one day to another. Most comets are quite dim and observed using mounted binoculars as grey-green fuzzy objects with bright centers.

    Comet tails become visible when the comet nears the sun and the icy head of the comet begins to vaporize and reflect sunlight. This means that comets with tails will be observed mostly after dusk or in the pre-dawn sky, unless the tail of the comet forms while the comet is further away from the sun than is Earth.

    Comet P17/Holmes, which was visible last fall high in the eastern sky within the constellation Perseus, was situated between Mars and Jupiter when it suddenly exploded. Its brightness increased by over 1 million times in 42 hours. This was supposedly the result of an impact with a small asteroid or an internal explosion from the build-up of internal gases that caused much of its head to vaporize, expand, and reflect sunlight.

    The coma, or visible vaporous head of this comet, became the largest object in the solar system at the time, but since the comet was almost directly opposite the sun from Earth, no tail could be seen. The the tail of comet P17/Holmes was pointing directly away from the sun, and thus, it was also pointing directly away from any observer on Earth. At the time, it appeared to be the second or third brightest star in Perseus.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 24 weeks ago

    The Rangers want to go to the party too! I mean, why shouldn't they have armor, APC's and automatic weapons? The police and law enforcement groups have gotten out of control in this country feeding us all crap "we are being outgunned by the criminals!" they say. Oh yeah? Has ANYONE seen any credible increase in the criminals using, carrying and killing with automatic weapons? With Body armor? it is a myth designed to keep their budgets high and you a second class citizen. Authorized Personal Only.

    While they have been trying to disarm us, since 9/11 the government has authorized virtually every office to carry weapons when they see fit. Not just the FBI either. The FCC, SEC, FDA, State Deparntment, EPA and so on. Seriously, a note from their boss and they can carry anytime anywhere and that is that.

    Editor's note: This comment was shortened for clarity.

  • Commission Formed To Explore Future of National Parks   6 years 24 weeks ago

    National Rifle Association to Formulate National Parks Future *
    *Not true. This comment is satire!

    Two former U.S. Senators have today announced that the NRA (National Rifle Association) has assembled an august body of experts who will assist the American nation to overcome the cumulative maladies of a decaying National Park System, to formulate in consultation with a range of regional experts a viable course for our treasured but endangered Parks over the coming century.

    I was very relieved to read through Kurt Repanshek's report of this new commission, and then see him summarize by gently clearing his throat and pointing out - at this stage - the lack of accountability or authorization for any such commission.

    If anybody with the necessary funding and access to media-release platforms can assemble a blue-ribbon commission to advise on the future of our national assets, then what's to prevent the NRA from backing the next such proposal?

    There are, after all, more than a few retired Senators who are NRA members.

  • National Park Service Revenues Down $1.3 Million On Transition to America The Beautiful Pass   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I'll keep my money in my wallet. $80 is not reasonable. Since I was only a parks user, a 60% increase in fees to me is too much. I will take my chances, pay fees at the parks when I go, and probably plan fewer visits.

  • Commission Formed To Explore Future of National Parks   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Earlier in this discussion, Rick Smith made some excellent points. I would hope they come to the attention of this commission.

    I know these commissions have their pros and cons, but the reality is that in the present system the NPS operates in a political environment. If this latest commission will address the kinds of questions raised by Rick, and the result is some additional support for parks in the political arena , it seems this has an opportunity to be helpful.


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

    Back on the original topic:

    1. Thankfully it doesn't sound like the child was seriously hurt, since the parents were primarily the ones at fault.
    2. Earlier comments about the irresponsible parents are right on target.
    3. Legal action against the parents would certainly be justified, but my guess is it's unlikely to occur, since it would appear in some circles to be uncaring in light of the child's injuries.
    4. We can only hope any media coverage of this situation will help reinforce the need to follow sensible guidelines when viewing wildlife.

  • The Essential Olympic   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Although the beauty of the Olympic National Park and surrounding Olympic Peninsula is most gloriously showcased during the sunny days of late summer and fall (the region has a fairly reliable annual drought (and with a bit of luck, 'Indian Summer') during this period), the true character & soul of the country isn't to be found in drenching sunshine.

    If you find yourself with one extra day in the vicinity of western Washington State (Seattle) during the majority of the year when weather conditions are ensuring the verdant health of the magnificent forests, mosses and ferns (i.e., it's raining), consider spending the day driving the largely undocumented (but obvious) Olympic Loop. A glance at the map shows that a single main road leads around the perimeter of the Peninsula. It's about a one-day car-tour.

    Don't drive too fast ... or too slow ... watch for logging trucks, the occasional off-season gawking RV-tourist, the unfathomable bicyclists in brightly-colored rain-slickers ... and let the true Olympics soak in, ridge by river, clearcut by towering colonnade.

    The Olympic Park & Peninsula is wet country. Even the rain-shadow part. Gray, drizzling, cloud-decks, mists & fogs. Saturated atmospheric pulses - "The Pineapple Express" - from across the Pacific Ocean rolling into the North American continent, stalling, banking against the taller ridges & mountains, revolving slowly in place to give us a sample of it from all points of the compass.

    Lower part of Happy Lake Ridge Trail, late winter.

    You know, we lost the best of the Olympics. The original primal lowland forests are gone; surviving old-growth stands in the Park are their worthy but lessor kin. We still have the more durable of the old stumps - 8 foot Douglas Fir, 10 foot Western Red Cedar. Typical, on the west/wet side. Keep your eyes open (while driving carefully), and pull over on likely wide spots. Push into the brush and peer beneath the canopy. Of course, clearcuts put the behemoths on display - but the ones that will hit you the hardest are standing hidden within second-growth.

    The Olympic forests weren't quite Sequoia or Redwood country - they are the arboreal champions - but here the entire biome grew in a dripping-cool greenhouse.

    There is a real human-people side to the Olympics, little towns, hamlets, and scattered homesites. And always was, actually, even (or 'especially') before the Europeans. There are 9 Native Tribes distributed around the perimeter of the Olympics. (Olympic National Park is the only member of the NPS with a full-time dedicated staff anthropologist.) All of whom made extensive economic & cultural use of the interior mountainous districts - now the main Park.

    You can get a better & fuller feel for the Olympic country - and the Park that it encloses - in a single wet day on the road, clouds of spray plastering your windshield as vehicles pass, than you would in several days along one of the standard Park hiking trails, enjoying the sun in tank-top & shorts.

    To know the Olympic National Park & Peninsula, is to know it wet.

  • Sierra Club Caught Standing Atop Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I have photographed many arches in the Moab area, including those in and around Canyonlands and Arches. Respecting the integrity of these magnificent monoliths is paramount. I encourage any and all not to climb, but there are circumstances and the rights of others that also must be respected. The rights of climbers who wish to summit these structures, outside NPS jurisdiction must be recognized and allowed but not encouraged. Corona arch, which the picture itself resembles very closely, is one of several natural structures on BLM land which can be climbed. Could this shot be of a hiker a top Corona, maybe, it's not determined where it was shot. Still, the Sierra Club must be more prudent in it's approach. Altho I'm a member of the SC, I am not an active member and at times question the Club's operations. Yet, it's still a fighter at forefront of the climate and ecological war. So you can't throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. It's an awesome shot, our opines are our individual thoughts (not dogma), and the truth is of no matter in this case, becuse what we must do all is allwe can to save what little wild places and lands are left. By the way, the backpack is pretty cheap and not of USA production.

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    For me, it's a toss-up between Bryce Canyon and Mesa Arch at Canyonlands. Sunrise at Toroweap at Grand Canyon runs a close third.

  • Rainbow Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I like that this view of Rainbow Falls has only a sheeting rivulet going over the lip!

    The exposed strata & bedrock, and the alternation of durable & weak layers of rock is interesting.

    Are the formations visible in this photograph characteristic of the geology in the general region, and are they commonly on display?

    ... Well, a brief Google-search uncovers an embarrassment of riches. ;-)

    There is a large page on the USGS geology website, detailing the Mount Le Conte trails, geology and Rainbow Falls. Many illustrative photographs, maps, and extensive discussion.

    Wikipedia offers further background on Mount Le Conte, and has links to separate articles for 5 of the hiking trails in the area. (pick the Tennessee version..)

    Finally, for those really into their geology, there is a no-doubt large PDF file of a technical USGS geology map that can be downloaded: Surficial Geologic Map of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Region, Tennessee and North Carolina (you may wish to Right-Click, Save-As - then view in Acrobat).

    This map-file contains considerable text, which can be viewed separately without the map-graphics (and saved..) using Google's View as HTML option.

    I did the search using "rainbow falls" smokey geology.

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

    I hear that the diesease is actually coming from the ELK and that info is from a park employee. He said it has to do with the almighty green in that the Elk bring in too much money during hunting season so they wont slaughter the elk. Said its very policital. So because of the almighty green is the Bison that suffer. Supposidly park service knows of this and is going along with it. Slaughering innocent bison.
    Also, whats to say that animals DON'T have emotions??? I think people try to tell themselves they dont because it makes it easier on them in situations like this to try to care less.
    I saw a bird with a broken wing flopping along side of the road and said out loud "oh thats sad..." A tour guide spoke up and said "thats nature folks" in a snotty way...I replied " if we treated ourselves the same way I"d feel better about it" We get a sniffle and we are at the doctors, we break an arm and someone fixes it, but when it happens to an animal, its nature. We have removed ourselves so far from nature we forget that we are in fact part of it.
    Let the Bison live. At least test to see if they are positive.

  • Vets To Determine Whether Bear That Attacked Father and Son in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Had Rabies   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Usually I agree with the above comments. Humans ruin everything.
    But the bear also charged the rangers. So maybe this poor bear had something wrong that made it behave differently. Can't wait to hear what the necropsy comes back with.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I get really tired of reading posts that "defend" the animals more than "human life & safety". YES, I agree, all of us who enjoy observing wildlife need to be VERY careful ... especially in National & other Parks where the wildlife can become accustomed to people. It is indeed a sad affair when an animal has to be killed because someone wasn't following the rules or being respectful of the wildlife's habitat (ie keeping our food in appropriate containers, etc.).

    BUT, when there are "unprovoked" attacks on humans (such as this case with the black bear and the 8 yr old, charging the rangers (who KNOW how to act around wildlife), etc), the top & only priority should be to protect the people. When relocation isn't possible, because of an animal's aggressive behavior, then we need to respect the decision of the experts and not be so critical! There are indeed instances, where the only course of action is to kill the animal (ie, the bear in this story, zoo tigers who escape & attack people, etc.).

    Respectfully submitted.

    (my favorite hobby -- observing & photographing wildlife)

  • Commission Formed To Explore Future of National Parks   6 years 24 weeks ago

    This has certainly become a very esoteric discussion about a commission that has yet to reveal a known format, agenda or who exactly is going to sit on it. While I think it is a good idea to have some sort of outside panel look into the governance of the national parks, it always makes me wary when it is focused on some nebulous and broadly defined goal like "the future". It would behoove us all to ask for increasing specificity as this commission becomes more tangibly arranged.

    I'd personally like to see some scrutiny given to the process of how national park units are created by a politically motivated gang of pork mongers up on Capitol Hill, as well as looking into how we can open up the ranger profession from the current stranglehold of OPM personnel rules that keeps out ALL aspirants from applying for career positions except for those who have achieved "permanent" or "veterans preference" status in the federal government. These silly antiquated work rules keep the NPS from receiving a much needed infusion of fresh ideas and new blood that it so desperately needs. Federal government personnel rules do nothing but stymie many ambitious and talented people from ever considering this important work as a viable profession. We need to stop the current closed-shop guild mentality and open up the ranks to all qualified comers!

    I wish this commission well and hope that it can produce something tangible and real that will reach beyond the normal fluff and grandiose posturing of previously gathered groups.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I wonder how many of us know what strange behavior from a bear is. We don't hang out with them all day, and most of us are not reasearchers in that field. Killing the animal was excessive. Humans keep encroaching on their lands to build homes, ranches, cottages, we hunt, bike, hike and poach. How about we let them live their lives without disturbance from us. Glad the boy is ok, he was lucky the bear was still a young.

  • Star Party Scheduled for June 21-28 at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Last night, while star gazing in the Grand Canyon- North Rim, facing the north eastern sky at approxinately between 9:30-10:30pm... we saw a very large shootign star which appeared to have a tail. The star appeared twice in the same place about 1/2 an hour later. Could this have been a comet?