Recent comments

  • Arches National Park Finds Its Birthday Overshadowed By Drilling Concerns   6 years 23 weeks ago

    This is all the more tragic because you can already see oil wells from famous vistas within Arches. Spend some time at the Windows at night, look west toward Canyonlands, and lo and behold, it's very easy to spot flames from two or three flaring oil wells that sit just off the highway to Canyonlands' Island in the Sky District. The blight of energy development began ever so slightly to mar Arches' grand vistas a few years ago, and now oil wells stand to dot the landscape all around the park. For an irreplacable landscape as intricate and remote as that of the BLM land around Arches to be industrialized and destroyed by the ever-greedy industry and Bush's contempt for public lands is not only tragic, but a sobering reminder that we must ever be vigilant in our fight to ensure the future of our national parks and wildlands.

  • Zion National Park Planning To "Rehabilitate" Mount Carmel Highway   6 years 23 weeks ago

    We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.

  • Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historical Site Commemorates a Great Achievement in Early Transportation   6 years 23 weeks ago

    My great-great-uncle died in the boiler explosion at incline plane #6 in 1852. He would have been 22 yoa. I would very much like to visit the area and see the park.

  • Zion National Park Planning To "Rehabilitate" Mount Carmel Highway   6 years 23 weeks ago

    So Frank, is it not also hypocritical to call for the Mount Carmel Road to revert to its "former road-less condition" and yet use a computer, drive to work, and take advantage of all the latest technologies and conveniences of today's world?

    On one hand you seem to detest all infrastructure in parks, and yet have no qualms about using that infrastructure outside the parks.

  • Zion National Park Planning To "Rehabilitate" Mount Carmel Highway   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Yes, of course I have to speak against this boondoggle project. The best "rehabilitation" of this area would be to rehabilitate it to its former road-less condition.

    As for the red color of the road, that comes from volcanic cinders. Those are mined from cinder cones and leave horrible scars in nature; those who in one breath condemn our government for selling petroleum leases, and in the next advocate mining of cinders for government use, are hypocritical.

  • Zion National Park Planning To "Rehabilitate" Mount Carmel Highway   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Hey Buzzman, not to worry, no plans to change the gradients or switchbacks. And I'd bet the red asphalt will remain as well. I don't think it costs significantly more. More pullouts would be nice, though not sure where to squeeze them in....

  • Zion National Park Planning To "Rehabilitate" Mount Carmel Highway   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Having just visited beautiful Zion and having driven on this road in Oct 2008, it was easy to see that the road has been repaired and patched a lot and needs to be re-surfaced. But I think the switch backs and steep grades should remain. I drove a small RV, a pick-up truck camper, and didn't have any problems. The switch backs and steep grades add to the character of the place. Maybe the road needs more "turn outs". The large and long RVs have no business being on this road anyway because of the tunnel. The red road surface does add to the character of the park, but if it costs significantly more to resurface the road "red", then it may not be worth keeping the "red". The money may be better spent making the road surface more durable. I suspect that the federal government budgets for national parks is going to get very tight so every dollar needs to be spent carefully.

  • A Bison Roundup and a Birthday Celebration Make for Busy Times at Theodore Roosevelt National Park   6 years 23 weeks ago

    My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting the south unit of this park on 9/15-16 and it is indeed a beautiful park. I find it to be much more colorful than Badlands NP with a lot more wildlife. We are from Florida and we were on a month-long trip with our main destination being Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone NP. Our main purpose of visiting Roosevelt was to see wild (feral) horses. I understand that this is the only unit of the NPS that has wild horses. We came upon a herd of 12-15 horses with 2 stallions along the north side of the park. They were on a ridge just off the park road. I climbed up the enbankment and walked up right with the horses as there were several people already there. We just stood with them, taking pictures and just plain admiring them. One gentleman that was there said that as long as you are on foot and don't try to approach them too close (< 15'), they will ignore you. However, if you are on horseback, you will not be able to get near them. They were in excellent shape and quite ready for winter.

    We also saw bison, elk, deer, other furry mammals and prairie dogs, thousands of prairie dogs. In fact, I would say that they have somewhat of a prairie dog problem. Perhaps they should import a few ferrets.

    I realize that Roosevelt is a little out of the way, but is right on I-94 so you just travel a little higher and after visiting, then just head south right down US 85 to Rapid City to get to Mt Rushmore. It is a trip well worth it. Lodging is available in Medora, ND right at the entrance to the park and in Dickinson, ND, just down the road. For those of you interested, I have posted a handful of pictures at

  • Crews Remove Garbage From Marijuana Farms in Sequoia National Park   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I will agree with your argument that moonshine is just as bad for one if not worse than someone growing marijuana and if marijuana were legal than people would not be growing it on forestry lands. Moonshine is illegal, just as marijuana is illegal and marijuana is harmful to the human body just as alcohol is. Something being legal or illegal doesn't determine if its harmful to one's body or not. Alcohol is bad for both the mind and body, so is marijuana. I have nothing against hemp, I know how useful it can be for making cheap plastics, rope, clothing, fuel, etc. It was originally the plastic and fuel companies that pushed to have marijuana illegal to ban hemp. But the article above is about people growing marijuana where they shouldn't be growing it and that cannot be condoned. A law is a law and must be followed. One day marijuana may be legal and our national parks will not be host to criminals growing, but until then it's a crime and cannot be ignored.
    drug rehab detox

  • New Solar Power System Puts This Park in the Forefront of Alternative Energy Use   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Good postings all. Hope this page gets a lot of visits.

  • 23,110 Candles -- One for Each Soldier Killed, Wounded, or Missing   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I have done the Illumination tour twice before, and it is truly an awesome sight - you will be left breathless. To think that each light represents one sends chills. I highly recommend that you go if you are able! Once when I went, there were several "vignettes" of living history reenactors scattered across the field...I've often wondered if all the scenes were "real".

  • Mammoth Cave National Park Adding Hiking, Biking Trail   6 years 23 weeks ago

    We spent the wonderful fall color change during the first week in November biking the new Railroad Trail. The article with pics can be found at

    We enjoyed the beautiful Mammoth Caves Railroad Trail as it ran under and through tunnels of arched rainbows made by the upper and middle terraces of the maples and other trees in the park. The high difficulty of this trail is only due to the extreme grades in a couple of places. It only took us about ten minutes total to walk our bikes up these portions. The rest was broken up between light grades which we had no problems biking up or coasting down.

    Safety warnings; DO NOT COAST DOWN THE STEEP GRADES AT FULL SPEED. Reaching terminal velocity of thirty to sixty miles an hour on a trail strewn with whatever nature wishes to drop like cones and nuts is not wise and could actually result in a true terminal velocity. We have cross over grade stubby trail tires and still had to be careful in a few places. Piles of gathered leaf fall as well as the occasional acorn or unexpected loose gravel at high speed could pitch a rider down one of the long draws or ditches that accompany the trail in places.

    But anyone using normal caution should feel right at home on the entire trail as long as inexperienced riders such as children are kept in short reign. We saw endless forests of various trees, ponds, rivers, deep ravines and high hills and mountains. And, the chicken sandwich at trail's end in the hotel's restaurant was pretty good, too.

    Adventure-Crew recommends this trail for all hikers and bikers. Make sure that you have proper experience and equipment for a flat tire as the trail is rather lengthy and being several miles from your car with a bike flat is not fun. We had a misbehaved tire with a reoccurring air loss issue that chose a four mile stretch away form the car to lose all of its air. We know that we didn't pick up anything on this new trail because we take very good care of our bikes and our bike guy in Morris Illinois reported to us that there was nothing in the tire upon our return from the trip. Fortunately, we were carrying a can of emergency inflate pressured air. So we were able to quickly ride back to our car before the tire went flat again; which it did a few minutes later.

    Stu Marks
    Editor of

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    One of our major problems is that we've never had a truly viable and comprehensive national energy plan. I'm not interested in which label is attached to the party currently in power, nor in the personalities, but I am interested in the results. I can only hope that the incoming administration will do a better job than previous ones of both parties in establishing some serious national energy goals and a strategy to reach them. What we've seen in recent years isn't a strategy - it's a give-away of valuable public resources.

    An effective energy policy can certainly recognize that some places are better suited to active oil, gas and other energy development than others. As discussed in other threads on this site, there's no logical reason to rush to lease areas in or next to sensitive sites for oil and gas - there are large areas of public lands already under lease that won't be developed for years.

    One reason development of existing leases is moving slowly is economics - now that prices for oil and gas have dropped, some large companies are scaling back on development of leases they already hold. An example is the huge natural gas field near Dallas-Ft. Worth called the Barnett Shale. A major player in that project has announced recently that it's scaling back purchase of leases. This is in a area of huge, proven gas reserves. If the companies aren't expanding leases in such areas, it's hard to defend tying up areas such as Utah with new leases on unproven terrain.

    I wish I could agree with Cookie that drilling rigs are "unobtrusive." However, I live in the middle of the East Texas oil patch, and have had rigs working within a couple of miles of my house for the past year. They are definitely intrusive, in terms of noise, dust, nighttime light and smell - but that goes with the territory here, and I'd much rather have them here than next to a national park, where the chance to escape from those intrusions is much more important.

  • New Solar Power System Puts This Park in the Forefront of Alternative Energy Use   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I see some reasons to hope that attitudes about alternative energy are beginning to change - as illustrated by the private investment in this system at Death Valley and your example of T. Boone Pickens, who made his fortune in oil and gas, but now sees the potential for wind energy. When successful businessmen put their money on the table, we're making progress.

    There's been growing interest in the past year or so about off-shore wind farms, which offer the potential to provide reliable winds for more hours each day and more days per year. The best locations identified for many of those sites are also far enough off-shore to avoid many of the conflicts with those who object to the aesthetics of wind generators - witness the death of an earlier project near Cape Cod.

    I believe it's possible to develop facilities for solar and wind without compromising scenic or other values of sites such as national parks. The same principles can (and should) be applied to oil and gas development. The key is responsible planning and dialogue, to determine what makes the most sense for any given location.

    An encouraging example on progress on alternative energy is a story about a proposed major wind energy development in South Dakota. Perhaps most important is the point that it's being funded in part by "BP Plc, Europe's second-largest oil company. BP plans to have 1 gigawatt of wind power generating capacity in the U.S. by the end of the year, which will rise to 3 gigawatts in the next couple of years,'' said the company spokesman Robert Wine. Together with Clipper Windpower Plc, it plans to invest as much as $15 billion to build the world's biggest wind farm in the U.S." Here's a link to the story.

  • Zion National Park Officials To Examine Needs of Canyon Shuttle System   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I visited the park the summer before last and utilized the shuttle buses which only added to the experience. Not only were the buses reliable and easy to use, but each bus comes with its own built in tour guide! The drivers were friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable about the park. Most of the drivers were there because they loved working in the park. I personally can't wait to get back to visit again, but I would definately only come back when the shuttles were running. The shuttle bus system at Zion should be the model for all other national parks in my opinion.

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    It's one thing for American's to disagree with policies but it's a completely different matter to see so many who are unwilling to address the critical obstacles to keeping America free and safe. How about that domestic energy plan? The president elect is too busy setting the state to ram through U.S. taxpayers funding worldwide abortion (Freedom of Choice Act). I for one am unwilling to fund giving government the power over the beginning and end of life. That is above my paygrade!

  • New Solar Power System Puts This Park in the Forefront of Alternative Energy Use   6 years 23 weeks ago

    T.Boone's got a few advantages over the simpletons like hundred$ of million$ of them.

    From the Rio Grande to Red River, eh? Now THAT'S ambitious!!! As an aside, a portion of your system already exists in Minnesota, generating enough surplus kilowatts to sell back to the local grid system. Long-term, the idea of a national network of solar panels, windmills, geothermal vents, etc. that can support the requirements of a nation is a noble goal, and should be the eventual overall goal. But in the very doable short-term what I'd advocate is local and regional development, not necessarily stand-alones, but systems designed to alleviate the majority of the requirement in given areas and able to supply whatever output they can generate. ANYTHING that these systems can add to the grid is a plus. Yes, they cost money to manufacture, install and maintain, and these costs are one of the favorite targets of their detractors. So where does that make them any different than today's technology? Anybody ever put up a nuclear generator for free? Or a dam? Or a coal burner? Gimme a break.........

    We need to start by being reasonable in the expectation of what each unique geography has to offer. Solar and hydroelectric in the Midwest and upper-east coast are almost useless. But on the other hand, both work extremely well in the west and southwest. Wind power on the Great Plains is already a proven technology, when placed properly. Not very feasible in the mountains however. The whole point is to work with what you have to the best of your abilities and stop ignoring viable options. It constantly amazes me how we, as a nation, hold true to the ideal that if you throw enough money at an issue you can solve the problem. Why are we so slow to add the future of our energy sources to that list? That is, outside of the fact that special interest groups invest comparatively little to keep the public misinformed / disinformed as to the viability of alternative energy, who's throwing money around in sufficient quantities such as to be useful in eradicating the issue? Do we just expect to wake up from the nightmare on day and the beast will have gone away with the daylight? Do we honestly believe that Big Oil and our federal government will work together for the "good of the people"? How naive we've become....

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Back at ya d-2:

    I wasn't criticizing Kurt for his trailer....which as I see it states that it is none other than Obama's Team, in particular J. Podesta, along with other members of the "organIzation" whose inference it is that the policy / decisions MIGHT be overturned, not Kurt directly. Nor am I suggesting that those responsible for the statements are friends, directly or otherwise of our moderator. I guess my original post should have stated "our", not "your" friends on The Hill. Pardon my literary lapse.

    However, I do believe there is a marked difference between publicizing an issue and bringing an issue before the public conscience. One is little more that a blatant form of grandstanding, while the other more generally serves to solicit opinions or motivate those concerned. Again speaking solely for myself, I believe this current ploy to be more the former than the latter. I sense this is the point at which you and I begin to interpret the gist of the issue and the methodolgy used by the administration's representative differently. I'm skeptical of ANY political posturing, but none more so than in the wake of election day, when the spotlights are shining their brightest. Jaded? You bet....guilty as charged. Gullible? Not in the least. I'll take jaded anytime.

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Roger, until you know me a little better I'd prefer you not speculate as to whose alter I pray to or what my views are on resource extraction.

    There is indeed a "smell" about the Jonah Field, one that Pinedale residents don't particularly enjoy. Jobs indeed are being created, but so is crime, resource destruction, wildlife habitat fragmentation, pollution, and a significant jump in cost of living, one that has made Sublette County the second-most expensive place to live in Wyoming, behind only Teton County.

    Local officials report that "Sublette Co. has a smaller and less diverse array of small businesses than it did before the gas boom, and state figures show the number of retail and entertainment businesses and employees declining from 2000-2006, while the food service industry remained stagnant despite boomtown growth. Staffing considerations make starting a small business in Sublette Co. difficult at best. Daycare facilities continue to face long waiting lists and new providers are hard to find due to labor and real estate price considerations. Tourism in Sublette County currently suffers from a lack of lodging options, at least 75% of rooms are booked nightly by industry workers and rooms easily rent for $90 night – in the summer months reservations are often required.

    Is this healthy? Should one industry suffocate all others? Socio-economic concerns shouldn't be ignored when it comes to making decisions on where to dig or drill. Indeed, some communities just might prefer a more-rounded, cleaner economy.

    All that said, I'm not ignoring the country's need for energy. My point is that what the BLM is trying to accomplish in Utah doesn't seem to be carefully thought out, not when you consider the scant energy reserves that possibly exist and the detrimental impacts to other segments of the regional economy, ie tourism. Beyond that, I would prefer to see just as much, if not more, emphasis placed on development of alternative energy sources. If you interpret that as whining, so be it.

  • New Solar Power System Puts This Park in the Forefront of Alternative Energy Use   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, always find your comments quite thought provoking and informative. If we throw in Boone Pickens into the equations with your constructive comments, do you think we have chance to set-up a decent wind grid that stretches from Texas to North Dakota? A enormous task at hand but the potentiality of the project appears to have great possibilities. I like the fact that Mr. Pickens is willing to take this bold step towards energy dependency and thrust forward to make it reality. Definitely a man with grand vision.

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Hi LoneHiker:

    just looking at the body of the article about Podesta's remarks, and the headline here of "HINTS," I'd say 'hints' is the right word here, and attacking Kurt's headline seems to me is unwarranted. Or characterizing '"friends" on The Hill' as if he were in some sort of conspiracy. Please be fair, as usually you are.

    Doesn't it seem to you that what is going on here with Podesta and the President-Elect is the normal need to raise an issue to public attention, before they decide exactly how to act on that issue? This is, as you must know, an important way to get things said in advance, to avoid paying later for acting without all the info, or info and public understanding.

    The Hill democrats pointed out during the campaign that Oil companies had failed to drill in areas they already had leasing rights for, but were instead trying to cherry-pick by opening up Outer Cont. Shelf areas for oil development. Few in the US will understand that since the Reagan-Watt days oil companies have been allowed to cherry-pick on the oil reserves on land. In a break with long standing oil reserves conservation policy to extract the maximum amount of oil from each field, James Watt as secretary of the interior offered large amounts of tracts for lease simultaneously. This allowed companies to obtain leases essentially with no competition on a track-by-track basis, and ALSO allowed the companies to pick only the most profitable track in a specific field, allowing the rest of the oil to be wasted. [unless you go for all the oil at once, the less productive tracts become sub-economic, in the same way that the health insurance of senior citizens becomes hugely expensive if you take seniors out of the general pool for health insurance.] Anyway, the result of all this is under the existing 'system' [when corruption is really enormous, we change its name to "policy"] oil companies get to lock up domestic undeveloped oil fields and hold them until they want to develop them.

    Because of the cherry picking, some of these fields may have been ruined for feasible development for years to come. Some, with careful management (including the need to cancel some non-performing leases), may be brought back if and when prices get high enough. Some are too sensitive to develop, because of the other valuable resources in the vicinity, resources that could include water resources or wilderness values.

    All government owned oil fields are not in the above category, but as a result of the poor understanding of all this by the Media, few distinctions were drawn in the public mind about what public lands should or should not be open to development.

    It makes sense to me that Potesta needs to begin to raise the issue with the public that we need to put together a balanced and thoughtful energy strategy. You must have been around long enough to know this is a critical political skill, not something reprehensible. Even if you completely believe something, in a democracy you have to begin the discussion first with the public. Look how poorly Secretary Babbitt did by just announcing to the public his own personal preferences, rather than building a constituency first. Some of our greatest acts of leadership, such as Lincoln slowly raising the possibility of the emancipation proclamation, or Franklin Roosevelt gradually raising the need to support Britain against the Nazis were conducted this way.

    One purpose of discussions such as all of us are having on this blog is to get the complexities out there for consideration, and reconsideration.

    Please don't blame Kurt for his "friends" on The Hill. And don't think there is something wrong going on as a government official begins to raise an issue to the public.

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    So...I looked at the Jonah Field site...I can't figure out what you see wrong...looks like money and probably smells like money to me! JOBS too! And gee...even perhaps some good clean fuel for our cars!
    The real problem here is that those like yourself that pray to the altar of "Gaia" have taken away jobs and have become so radical that you are not even revelant anymore. ANY hint of resource extraction is met with cries of "the sky is falling" and "oh, whine-whine, the earth is dying." I really think that perhaps we oughta start drilling right smack dab in the middle of a park, so that when we do it outside, you'll quit your whinin'!
    Do you drive a car? How do you heat your house? Where are you getting your electricity to power the 'puter you are typing on?
    Stop the whimperin'!
    P.S. Good book just out: "Red Hot Lies" by Chris Horner...ya might wanna read it:

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Cookie, my closest ally that works for the U.S. Forestry Service (forestry ecologist) tells me exactly what Kurt describes...a scarred environment that is indeed very obtrusive.
    Don't be an ostrich with your head buried in the sand and take a REAL hard look.

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Cookie, full-field development is not unobtrusive in the least. Just Google "Jonah Field" and take a look at the photos and air quality problems that have arisen in and around Pinedale, Wyoming.

    Even partial field development is fairly obtrusive, particularly when you think of all the access roads skittering here and there across the landscape, roads that ORVs will gravitate to.

  • President-Elect Obama's Team Hints At Reversing BLM Leasing Decisions in Utah   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Anon: Obviously you only talk the talk and not walk the walk because if you had been in the area you might notice some drilling rigs already. They are so non obtrusive that it is hardly noticed in this wide expanse of beautiful, glorious land.