Recent comments

  • Got Quiet? Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve has Plenty   6 years 23 weeks ago

    This is a wonderful park, and one that a lot of the flood of tourists to Colorado overlook. Perhaps some of those who enjoy the area think that's not a bad thing - and it's also part of the reason why parts of this park are so quiet!

  • National Park Service Prepares to Host Millions of Visitors for the Presidential Inauguration and Parade   6 years 23 weeks ago


    Bush did play a role in deregulation, but it was only part of the problem:

    "Gramm-Leach-Bliley was a blunder. But far more generally, banks that are financed by insured deposits should never have been allowed to do what they did. There is no excuse for regulators to allow such banks to write inordinate mounts of insurance via credit default swaps, or to extend inordinate amounts of loan guarantees that are another form of insurance. There is no excuse for government to have encouraged home loans to people who could not afford them. There is no excuse for government to encourage people to take on excessive amounts of debt, period. Insured banks shouldn't have had large obligations hidden away in off-balance-sheet subsidiaries. These banks shouldn't be so highly levered. Government is fully responsible, not only for the welter of regulation but also for the inept deregulation and the resulting financial tragedy that has unfolded."

    Part of the blame must fall on the Clinton administration for its attempts to social engineer home ownership and for its mismanagement of the quasi-governmental agencies of Freddy and Fanny.

    "The economy of the Clinton years" was superheated by cheap credit, which was in turn manipulated by another quasi-governmental organization, the Federal Reserve.

    You talk of the Constitution, so certainly you know that Article I states "Congress shall have the Power to Coin Money and Regulate the Value Thereof." The Constitution does not give authority to Congress to delegate this task to the Federal Reserve.

    The Federal Reserve has devalued our currency and created artificially low interest rates, which have spurred malinvestment. The market is attempting to correct itself, and all government efforts to halt this correction--from either the left or the right--will only prolong the agony.

    Again, since you cite the Constitution, you know that document invests the Executive Office with only 12 enumerated powers. None of those powers include the power to regulate the economy, the ability to legislate through executive orders, or the ability to interpret the Constitution through signing statements.

    While it's good to have a president who can think for himself, that does not preclude the abuse of Executive Power. FDR was a thinker, and he issued more executive orders than any other president in history, some with egregious civil rights implications; he issued about 3500 EOs, or roughly ten times more than Bush II. Obama has shown an inclination to further use executive orders, supposedly to overturn Bush EOs, but ostensibly they could be used to further undermine the Constitution and individual rights.

    Scoffing at Bush defenders is easy. But when it's done in the same breath used to defend the usurpation of the Constitution by Democratic presidents, it's hypocritical. The problem is systemic, and unless we return to Constitutional government--and Obama shows no predilection to abstain from using EOs and no inclination to abolish the Federal Reserve and return us to Constitutional money--expect more pillaging from ALL the thieves in Washington.

  • Roughly One-Third of Curry Village to Be Permanently Closed in Yosemite National Park   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I believe that permanent closure of these 233 units at Curry Village is the right thing to do.

    On the other hand, the NPS estimate "...nearly 160,000 guests per year will not find a bed in Yosemite Valley" is an apparent exaggeration. I can only reproduce this estimate using a series of rather extreme assumptions, such as full double occupancy per unit for 350 days per year, with no vacancies available at any other facility in the Valley. A more realistic estimate should reveal a substantially lower number of guests per year being denied a bed due to the recent decision to close unsafe facilities.

    When I stayed at Curry Village last month, more than 260 units were closed due to rockfall. Nevertheless, a good fraction of the unheated tent cabins that were open for public occupancy remained vacant. I found this to be especially true during the week-days of this off-season period. Partial occupancy of the unheated tent cabins at Curry Village is likely to prevail throughout the winter months, regardless of how many units are closed because they might be in the trajectory of rockfall from Glacier Point.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Got Quiet? Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve has Plenty   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is one of my favorite places in Colorado. I've camped there several times over the years and it never fails to amaze me. It is extremely quiet and peaceful and is truly a natural wonder.

  • Upon Further Review - What Visited Your Campsite While You Were Sleeping?   6 years 23 weeks ago

    There's a tale -- perhaps apocalyptic -- that goes like this. A group of backpackers (one version has it that they are Boy Scouts) decide to spend the night in an abandoned building (a barn?). They are rudely awakened, several of them having been bitten by copperheads on rodent patrol. Has anybody else heard this story? True or not, it gives me the creeps.

  • Upon Further Review - What Visited Your Campsite While You Were Sleeping?   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I was once cheerfully awoken by a mouse pulling on my hair, I assume to make a nest. Ifelt a tug and opened my eyes to see a small field mouse staring at me as if to say good morning. This was much better than my hiking partner's experience, who was rudely awakened by the backup warning of the garbage truck emptying the campground dumpster!

  • Don't Be Surprised to See Clinton Administration Influence In an Obama Interior Department   6 years 23 weeks ago

    You asked for got it........the triumphant return of the Hill and Billary Show!

    All the Libs and Cons have enough fodder to last the next 4 years now. There goes the neighborhood.

  • National Park Service Prepares to Host Millions of Visitors for the Presidential Inauguration and Parade   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Vince, beautifully expressed with excellent political satire that has good solid punch with words. Out of those four million potential visitors, I wonder how many are unemployed, homeless and sick from the lack of good comprehensive medical care. And, I wonder how many gave up visiting the National Parks due to those rip-off gas prices during the summer months. Remember those obscene oil profits? Bring on and welcome the intelligentsia to the White House. We finally have some good brains running this country again. Soooo, freshing indeed!!!

  • Study Touts Economic Benefits of Mount St. Helens "National Park"   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Unless my math skills have gone the way of the dodo bird, the economic stimulus amounts to just over $36 dollars per "extra" visitor, but nowhere does the study state whether the figure mentioned is an annual, monthly, weekly or daily figure. Since that little detail was omitted, I have to operate under the inference that we're speaking in terms of annually, which in other words means little or no impact at all in the grand scheme of things. Certainly not enough of a "windfall" to expand the civil payroll. Probably not even enough to account for the extra costs to be absorbed by the existing infrastructure to justify the "Oh boy, throngs of people are coming!" attitude. This windfall to the local community (ies) would be without a single dollar spent on new amenities or infrastructure, which presumably means neither by the locales to benefit or by the NPS, who can ill afford said improvements anyway, which is all well and good. The only way I can see this Christmas bonus being distributed is amongst the existing gas stations, Motel 6's and God awful fast-food franchises, with emphasis being overly concentrated on the junk food sector. So good for them, I guess, and the new temporary staff that they employ to adjust to the new Boom Times. However, when the current economy returns to a more even keel, gas prices rise to the $4/gal level that Big Oil now knows stupid American consumers will tolerate, and trekking off the beaten path isn't in the majority of people's itineraries, and the necessary lay-offs come rollin' down the mountain, and all you're left with is what existed in the pre-designation era, how does the new title benefit the local economy?

    I firmly believe that visitation to the area, and in particular the star of the show, happens because of the recent history still burned into many people's minds regarding the cataclysm, who are still trying to grasp the scope of the event, which is now getting my blurred by the year and not because in any way, shape or form due to the moniker bestowed upon the local geography. Call me ignorant, but I wouldn't place one inch of credibility in the study mentioned in the article about how immediately the public is drawn to a "new" park. I'm absolutely certain that the majority of the increase is calculated on a sliding scale averaged over time, and is thereby flawed in its presentation as a viable economic tool for development, as you can't simply turn on a spigot and viola, visitors appear from nowhere. For instance, when and where are previous comparable sample systems that are available for comparison? How did the national economy fare at the time, not just when the change was made but immediately prior to and post modification to the park's renaming? What were other local draws in the area that might have assisted by functioning as a tourist magnet? How long, if ever, did it take for the numbers to ascend to the promised levels? What was the trend over time? Exactly what does the number 11K represent in terms of an increase? Is an extra 11K the equivalent to a 500% increase or a 1% increase? And while no new "infrastructure" will be required, the locals better figure out just who is going to clean up after these additional visitors, and who might be responsible for shouldering the burden for those costs, along with the multitude of other unwanted costs to the local environment and existing infrastructure. The annual supplement of thirty six and change per head ain't gonna go too far, folks.

    Now for the really obvious but at once stupid question that begs to be asked.......

    If National Park status is a slam dunk in bolstering every little local economy in the immediate geography surrounding whatever tract of land you prefer to consider, then why don't we take ALL public lands, be they BLM, National Forests, state parks, recreation areas, preserves, monuments, whatever, and redesignate the entirety as new NPS units? Wouldn't the overall economic climate across the nation benefit? If all it takes to jump-start the rural economy is a new plaque over the entrance and a broad brim at the door that seems pretty much a no-brainer, even for the dopes at the DOI. And if the above study is to be taken at face value, then A=B and everybody reaps an immediate economic benefit. Couldn't the current economy be instantaneously rescued from the doldrums with the simple wave of the DOI wand? What's wrong with this picture?

  • National Park Service Prepares to Host Millions of Visitors for the Presidential Inauguration and Parade   6 years 23 weeks ago

    OK, all you right-wing trolls, go back to your Fox/Rush/Hannity fantasy lands. When did the "left-wing" give Bush a chance?? How about after 9/11 when he squandered our international good will? Do you remember the massive international support for us after 9/11? How fast did Bush destroy that? Remember the economy during the Clinton years? How's it goin' for you now that Bush has deregulated us into a depression? Like your park lands? Or would you prefer them drilled, sold, and butchered as Bush has tried to do to them? Remember the Constitution? Oh, no, I forgot, you don't know about that. By the way, I'm an attorney, a teacher, and a former civil engineer and I will be at the inauguration along with my son (who attends an Ivy League school -sorry, I know intelligent people make you uncomfortable) and my wife (who is a.... wait for it... community organizer!!). At last, we'll have a President who makes us proud and who is intelligent. What a breath of fresh air being able to go to sleep each night knowing that the President can actually THINK!

  • Lava Beds National Monument is a Geologically and Historically Fascinating Place   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Thanks for that suggestion, Bill. Learning about a park's history before visiting it is a practice we heartily endorse here at Traveler.

  • Lava Beds National Monument is a Geologically and Historically Fascinating Place   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Fantastic scenery, but read up on the Modoc War before you go so you can really enjoy your visit. Once again wear good hiking shoes or boots. I like leather with ankle support. Been 20 years since I was there and they may not let you venture everywhere anymore. Well worth a visit, but once again, know your history to make sure you know your history to make it more interesting.

  • Yellowstone, Grand Teton Officials Searching For Snowmobile, Snowcoach Solution   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I took an unguided tour about 10 years ago, on the groomed trails (ROADS), and was the 2nd most memoriable events of my life. (Sorry WW, but our readers really don't need to know about your most memorable event. -- the editors.)

    I do not understand here in the "Land of the Free" why visitors can not drive the roads without being in a tour. In the future will everyone in America be required to go on a Cruise Ship when they go on a vacation, or required to be in a tour group.

    I had never visited Yellowstone, but truely by accident went 3 times in one year. To me the winter snowmobile was the most beautiful. I absolutely could not stand the summer crowds and traffic jams. I actually fled the park due to the traffic thinking that sitting in Washington DC beltway traffic was better than Yellowstone in the summer. If the NPS wants to cut down on polution in the park then cut down on the summer traffic, prohibit the 4 cylinder pickup trucks that are towing 14' travel trailers, with 14' boat behind them them. If you are towing something then you have to stay out of the park. 500 snowmobiles a day cause more polution than 10,000 cars a day? Reduce the summer traffic and keep Yellowstone open to free travelers, but only on the roads.

  • Study Touts Economic Benefits of Mount St. Helens "National Park"   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Random Walker: Yes, NPS national monuments receive about 20% of the yearly operational funding that national parks receive. Are there possible rational explanations for this? Is visitation higher in national parks than monuments? Do national parks generally have more staff members than national monuments? Is there generally more infrastructure in national parks than monuments? Please also consider that non-national park designations (such as national historical sites, national recreation areas, and so on) collectively receive almost twice the annual operating funds that national parks do. What does this say? I'm not sure. I'm not sure any of these statements have any real significance.

    I will dispute the Wikipedia claim that there is more "diversity" of what is being protected in a national park than in a national monument. Take a look at Lava Beds National Monument. Coyotes, bald eagle roosts, pictographs, petroglyphs, endangered bats, battlefields, caves, cinder cones, and on and on. I also dispute that wildlife receives a lower degree of protection in national monuments. This might be true in the few monuments outside the purview of the NPS, but this is the exception, not the rule.

    As for designating Mt. St. Helens a wilderness, I've advanced on these pages that the area should be left to recover on its own, and I think we'd agree on this. Call it laizze faire preservation. A leave-it-alone area. More than wilderness, though. Something new in name and spirit.

    Kurt wonders "how much weight economics should be given when decisions are made on additions to the National Park System." I don't think the establishment of national parks should be used as an economic stimulus of local economies as this leads to the tendency to dole political pork; however, we should consider the economics of how parks will be funded and whether or not they are economically sustainable when considering whether or not to add them to the system. Had the NPS looked honestly at these issues, sites like Steamtown, regardless of their historical integrity, would not have been created.

  • Study Touts Economic Benefits of Mount St. Helens "National Park"   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Why is it that the creation of a new national park area is always initially touted for the positive economic impacts it would bring, yet when these factors are brought up in critical decision making, such as the recent brouhahas in Yellowstone and Cape Hatteras can attest to, park managers and park supporters alike look upon the "economically impacted" local businesses as little more than selfish vampires wishing to suck freely on the flesh of the sacred wilderness?

    I wish park promoters would stop bringing up the economic aspects because it is something that they eventually abhor once the park is created and soon conveniently forget that it was a factor that they touted in the beginning when they were looking for support in establishing their preserve. Let the chips fall where they may and create parks with a serious set of definable criteria and let the free market adjust to and serve the needs and wants of consumers as it sees fit.

  • Study Touts Economic Benefits of Mount St. Helens "National Park"   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I agree with Oregon Dude (not verified)
    I say Bah! to the surrounding communities and business's, local and federal governments and corporations who view Our Wilderness, National Monuments and Parks as a way to make a quick buck, as nothing more than a commodity.

    From Wikipedia:

    "National monuments receive less funding and afford fewer protections to wildlife than national parks.
    Another difference between a national monument and national park is the amount of diversity in what is being protected; national monuments aim to preserve at least one unique resource but do not have the amount of diversity of a national park (which are supposed to protect a host of unique features). However areas within and extending beyond, national parks, monuments or even national forests can be part of wilderness areas, which have an even greater degree of protection than a national park would alone, although wilderness areas managed by the United States Department of Agriculture's United States Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management often allow hunting."

    Now if congress were to designate the whole monument as the "Mount St. Helens Wilderness" I would be very happy.

  • Don't Be Surprised to See Clinton Administration Influence In an Obama Interior Department   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Uhhhhhh, no thanks. I couldn't live in D.C.

  • Don't Be Surprised to See Clinton Administration Influence In an Obama Interior Department   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Kurt, how about throwing in your hat for the position? You know more than these clowns who are running Bush's environmental fiasco team, or are so called Department of Interior. At least we can trust you to run the National Parks on a quality basis that's filled with transparency. Give it a shot!

  • Survey Shows Americans Love Bison But Largely Are Clueless About their Plight   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Anon: At this web site.

  • Don't Be Surprised to See Clinton Administration Influence In an Obama Interior Department   6 years 23 weeks ago

    Interesting news here out of this afternoon -

    Rep. Raul Grijalva has definitely been a parks advocate.

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

  • Study Touts Economic Benefits of Mount St. Helens "National Park"   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I would oppose NP status for 2 reasons:

    1) We need to adequately fund the NP's we already have.

    2) Under the current USFS stewardship, the park is very hands on. One can explore the Ape Cave to one's heart's content, for instance. There is no doubt in my mind that NP status would bring about unnecessary restrictions on human activity.

  • Survey Shows Americans Love Bison But Largely Are Clueless About their Plight   6 years 23 weeks ago

    How can I get more info on the ABS?

  • Study Touts Economic Benefits of Mount St. Helens "National Park"   6 years 23 weeks ago

    As we've discovered, to a large degree the names applied to NPS (and handful of USFS and BLM) units have no reliable definitions. The distinction, in this case, between a National Volcanic Monument and a National Park is entirely arbitrary. (See Speaker Pelosi's absurd Golden Gate National Parks kick.) I wish that it were not so, but there it is.

    $443,000 in new visitor spending? Spread across 150,000 residents in three counties? A $3 per capita argument is pretty weak. If you really want to make an economic impact in those counties, start loosening up logging regulations.

  • Upon Further Review - What Visited Your Campsite While You Were Sleeping?   6 years 23 weeks ago

    We have had only (that we know of) a resident mouse of the cabin where we were staying. In the journal left behind by other campers his/her name was Spenser. One morning a shoe was stuffed with a shredded paper towel. Too funny. MB

  • Are Yosemite National Park Officials Overlooking Safety of Curry Village Guests?   6 years 23 weeks ago

    I was present, staying in a tent cabin at Curry Village that morning. What the article doesn't mention is the afternoon before a smaller rockfall sent boulders sailing through unoccupied tent cabins in the same area as the larger one. If the concessioner and the NPS cannot take responsibility to warn visitors and take appropriate action during a known hazardous period, how can we expect them to take the proper management direction on the larger safety issue?