Recent comments

  • Park Service Issues Record of Decision On Snowmobiling in Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Parks   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Linda O'Neal, I sense your outrage and anger towards Director Bomar. I like I said before (some blogs ago) no governmental agency under the Bush & Cheney administration will thwart the advice of these two clowns. It's about greed, rape and pillage! You can read some of the most profound revelations about Yellowstone National Park by great writers and journalist (past & present) in how they describe the natural beauty of this great park system. You can feel the heart of their work and the breathing soul of Yellowstone. To see Ms. Bomar toe-the-line for the Bush regime is a slap in the face towards common sense land mangement and land ethics. Of course, with this corrupt administration, big money always speaks first over public opinion or decent values. It's a administration that has run amuck without a conscience. Vote for Obama!!

  • Everglades National Park Asked to Give Manatees Protection From Boaters   6 years 40 weeks ago

    You both seem to be suggesting that immediate action needs to be taken to save an endangered species of wildlife by a resource management agency unencumbered by politics, bureaucracy and careerism. In short an agency that puts the protection of park resources above all else.

    I sure feel sorry for those poor manatees.

  • Everglades National Park Asked to Give Manatees Protection From Boaters   6 years 40 weeks ago

    "...questions that still need to be answered with regard to this fascinating but still poorly understood species."

    Hmm, to me, this perfectly describes the human species. I often wonder why we do the things we do. Or don't do the things we should do.

    When I paddled and motored the Everglades we routinely saw people disregarding the speed limit / no wake rules. And how do you enforce such things? You really can't be everywhere at all times with an army of flat-hats policing the waters... so you restrict it altogether since idiotic people can't seem to do what's right. Yeah, sometimes we all need to suffer as a result of the stupid few. Get out your paddles and put away the Evinrudes.

    And to Kurt and Jeremy -- this is exactly the same issue as the snowmobile issue in Yellowstone -- noisy, dangerous, annoying, and replete with a population of people wearing the badge of entitlement on their chests. And in this case -- year-round.

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 40 weeks ago

    There are higher priority problems elsewhere to spend resources?
    How about removing the cable system entirely then.
    That ought to stifle, limit the flow of wilderness seekers a bit.

  • Park Service Issues Record of Decision On Snowmobiling in Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Parks   6 years 40 weeks ago

    When I visit Yellowstone for the first time in the coming years, I hope I can still experience the silence and majestic beauty of this great land. I hope the whining of snowmobiles won't wash the silence away or keep wildlife from my eyes. The cumulative damage snowmobiles will cause will change and damage the scape, and it's a shame that future generations won't be able to enjoy the land as past generations have. What is Director Bomar thinking? What a shame!

  • Video Postcard : Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Kansas isn't nearly as flat as I had thought it would be.

    You were thinking of western Kansas. I spent my early childhood in eastern Kansas (not a fact I readily admit), and we had places like Echo Cliff and Burnett's Mound and Buffalo Hill. Nothing spectacular when compared to Crater Lake, Lava Beds, or Mount Shasta mind you. But not as flat as many assume. Now the drive west on I-70 to past Salina to Denver...oh...my...god. That's flat! Did you know William Steele ("father" of Crater Lake) was from Kansas? As a school boy in Kansas he unwrapped a sandwich wrapped in newspaper to find an article on Crater Lake, or so the legend goes. He dreamed of visiting there, and many years later was superintendent of the park. Parallels my story. Except I wasn't superintendent. Yet. Ha.

  • Video Postcard : Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   6 years 41 weeks ago

    The question of bison grazing did come up. As I recall, we were told that the eventual plan is to replace the cattle grazing with bison grazing. I don't remember if a specific number was given though. I didn't touch on it in the video, but part of the story at the Tallgrass Prairie is that it is a co-managed unit, with the Nature Conservancy playing a tremendously big role in the prairie management. In fact, you can hear the interpreter near the end of the video talking about an entity "paying taxes" on the land -- he's referring to the Nature Conservancy. It would be ultimately up to the Nature Conservancy (I believe), working in partnership with the NPS, to bring the bison back to this range.

  • Park Service Issues Record of Decision On Snowmobiling in Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Parks   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Anyone surprised?

    I'm trying to post all the news stories in the Yellowstone Newspaper, including press releases. If anyone has one not there, please send it along to me. We've already got quick press releases from the BlueRibbon Coalition (representing the snowmobile industry) and The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees.

    Stay tuned.

    Great timing on the report - the cynic in me has to love it that the report is not only a day late but out late before the Thanksgiving holiday when everyone will be traveling.

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

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Bingo Steve....good interview. Glad that to hear the Park's position on permits. After careful thought, I feel 60% of the people going up the Half Dome trail need education. When you get a wilderness permit, you have to listen to a bear-proof container lecture. If and I say IF, permits for Half Dome were started, I'd recommend that if you get a permit you could not do the hike for 3 days after. That way, you'd have to hear a mini-lecture on safety, water, cables etc -or- read a sheet -or- watch a 15 minute video. Like "drive up/drive back" one-day banshee skiers, one-day Domers could benefit from reasonable guidance. But as Scott said there are no resources to manage and monitor all this.

    Rick D.
    http://www.HikeHalfDome.com

  • The Alter and the Pulpit in Zion National Park   6 years 41 weeks ago

    A very nice picture. Reminds me of scenes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

    Another great spot for a Zion Canyon shot is from the top of Angel's Landing about an hour or so before sunset looking to the south. The lighting is spectacular at that time of day.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Video Postcard : Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   6 years 41 weeks ago

    The last time I checked, a small herd of 25-30 bison was being managed for experimental purposes on a 1,200-acre tract west of the historic ranch house. Whether a large bison herd will ever again roam the preserve is certainly open to question. There seems to be no scientific evidence that bison would be better for the land than cattle. What seems more important is how much grazing of any kind is permitted where and when. The preserve is probably too small to accommodate both bison and cattle in large numbers.

  • Video Postcard : Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Jeremy,

    I note that you drew a different interpreter on your bus tour than I did. I hope the amplification was better. I actually did meet your interpreter at the visitor center/gift shop area, and belive he had experience at several other parks.

    Did you ask about when the TGPNP would eventually manage bison instead of cattle, and if and when that happens how many head of bison the national preserve would sustain? I noted that you took close-ups of the flint of the Flint Hills. Very nice video.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 41 weeks ago

    As far as I can tell, the (big-W) Wilderness areas in the contiguous 48 states are all such small islands of wildness surrounded by lands that are in many cases heavily impacted by human presence. Even if we completely eliminated all amenities for human visitors, such as trails, signage, established campsites, and ranger stations, a tremendous amount of management would still be needed just to keep the influences from the adjacent civilization from impacting these places. And most of the wildlife (plant or animal) in the preserves aren't necessarily aware of the boundaries of these preserves anyway, and trying to keep the unimpacted wildlife in, and the impacted wildlife out, is probably impossible.

    It was interesting, when I interviewed the Yosemite spokesman, what he had to say about the possibility of limiting day-use access to Half Dome:

    STEVE: [15:37] So there's no thoughts at this point of a lottery system like Mount Whitney?

    SCOTT GEDIMAN: [15:41] There isn't -- No, there is no point. And what's interesting is, when people have brought that up in a lot of the media attention and a lot of people have thought about that, not only is it something that we're not looking at doing, but things like that they're very staff intensive, and to have people, and we certainly -- we don't have the staff, and I don't say that as a cop-out, but I say that as something that when you're up there regulating, you've got thr Half Dome trail, people are coming from Glacier Point, people are coming from Tuolumne Meadows, people are coming from Yosemite Valley. You have people converging on the trail, you have a lot of people coming, and to really have someone there to check permits or to check people is not something we're looking at doing anytime soon. And we don't have the problems right now, of course the solitude and the people, that's the biggest concern we have among wilderness users, but as far as issues like bear encounters, human waste, trail degradation, it's at a manageable level, and so if it continues to be that way, then we'll continue to manage it the way we are.

    So they don't have the resources to manage the traffic, and feel they have higher-priority problems elsewhere in the park to spend their resources on.
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  • Everglades National Park Asked to Give Manatees Protection From Boaters   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Difficult or not, it is the duty of park officials to close to power boats those areas needed to protect the manatees. Anything else is malfeasance and should be treated as such. The Park Service must do what is right and required of them without considering the effects on power boaters.

  • Yellowstone Snowmobile Decision Missing Record of Decision   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Another story in the Billings Gazette today is reporting Wyoming state representative Colin Simpson as saying the final draft when it is published will allow the East Entrance to stay open to snowmobiles.

    Very interesting about face ... what's going on behind the scenes, and how is it that Colin Simpson already knows what's going to happen?

    More as always in the Yellowstone Newspaper, linked below.

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

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Glenn's notion of limited access has been practiced successfully with The Narrows and The Subway at Zion for many years. It makes perfect sense for high congestion regions, and I would personally like to see it extended to the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails, along with too many others to name in one posting.

    The idea of wilderness carries with it too many variables for accurate definition. "Managing" wilderness is folly; that, in my world, removes it from consideration as true pristine wilderness. Try as we like, mankind just isn't intelligent enough to manage Nature. The more we attempt to, the bigger debacle we leave as our legacy. Until we as a species as alleged "stewards" of our lands accept and admit that we cannot do as we damn well please, where and whenever we please, our remaining resources, both flora and fauna, are to be forever subjected to the whims of the arrogant, the profiteering and those whose evolutionary development specific to their intelligence stagnated in the era of the last Ice Age.

    My initial comment was in reference to the ridiculous notion of waiting in line to take a walk. How can that be a wilderness experience? The only things missing from that circus were the pop machines and the hot dot vendors. Wilderness indeed........

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Anonymous & Yellowstone Junkie, I personally hold Bush & Cheney accountable for a lot of the botch-up and do nothing environmental policies in this country. It's quite obvious that Clinton was a far better environmental president, and custodian of the National Parks then oil kissing Bush.This present administration continously advocates rape and pillage is a good thing for big oil, coal and utility companies. Good environmental management and ethics does not apply with this foul administration. We probably won't know the extent of the environmental damage of this great country of ours once Bush & Cheney leave office, and I wonder about all those backroom deals to exploit are natural resources for more greed and pillage. Only time will tell! The snowmobile debacle in Yellowstone is another small example of the Bush administration snorkeling in pro business policies at the expense of more pollution, and environmental damage to this wonderfu and beautiful park system. I would certainly advocate, bring in more cleaner transporting vehicles into all National Parks, and start a new era of thinking green with better energy efficiency and common sense. Yellowstone, since Bush has been in office, it's been blame Clinton for every fault that this present administration creates. This so called president, never seems to stand on his own two feet when comes screwing up, except for a war that he started and created....and will probably lose. Vote Obama in 2008!!

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 41 weeks ago

    I gotta tell you Mr Wade. Yellowstone Junkie makes a valid point. Just because you didn't have a scientific study to show that snowmobiles were doing damage prior to Bush taking office is a lame excuse. The only ways Park leadership could not have known that snowmobiles were a bad thing was they were butt snorkeling in WASO and not aware of anything going on in their park, or they were in bed with the snowmobile concessionaires.

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 41 weeks ago

    This is a very funny thread! It really shows the distinct dilemma that anyone (NPS or whoever else you want to put in there) faces with it's mission.

    The thread begins with the initial question: "Is hiking Half Dome a wilderness experience?" No, seems the consensus. And why? Because the NPS "manages" the wilderness, thus reducing its "wild" qualities. No, it's because humans are there at all that's the problem. No, it's because the NPS caters to tourists that don't want to get out of their cars and want to be "catered" to.

    But isn't the problem with climbing Half Dome exactly about those tourists who ARE getting out of their cars and doing a pretty strenous day climb in order to experience the very wilderness that's being bemoaned?

    Here's how I see it (right or wrong). If we define the wilderness experience as time spent in a place without human influence, there has not been a wilderness experience in the Americas for 20,000 to 40,000 years (depending on your science). If you are talking about land that isn't somehow managed by humans but left to the influence of nature alone, we lost wilderness by first few decades of the twentieth century. Hell, the air we produce in our cities has influenced designated wilderness areas for decades, let alone the physical structures of roads and buildings.

    Wilderness can only truly be defined by the way we manage the land. And it's important to realize that wilderness in, say, Alaska, is far more easily managed as wilderness (because of its remoteness, though that protection is beginning to fail as well) as, say, the California mid-Sierra where thousands and thousands of San Franciscans and Los Angelinos and Sacramentoads flock for a bit of relief in whatever is left of nature in the mountains.

    I'm not sure what you expect the NPS to do? (And the question applies to anyone expected to manage it, government-affiliated or not). There's lots of complaints, but I see few suggestions.

    Here's how to make Half Dome a more "wilderness" kind of experience: limit access. That is how we've traditionally maintained a wilderness experience for people and it should apply to Half Dome as well. Make them register. Limit the number of bodies per day.

    What Half Dome needs, like any designated wilderness area, is a human firewall that allows only the smallest footprint possible and less of a human highway.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Makes me sick to be of the same species as those hunters.

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Uh, MR WADE...you had 8 YEARS of the Clintoon Administration to do MANY things for the parks, but you did NOTHING....

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 41 weeks ago

    I believe this is a problem of our National Park Service; it has turned into government paid caterers.
    "Oh Ranger, there is a bear in my woods.."
    It is time the National Park Service stopped this nonsense and got back to preservation and education by not offering the couch, TV or tourist bus and urging folks to walk the Wilderness where expectations do not survive.

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 41 weeks ago

    I agree with much of what has been said here. And truthfully, on a personal level, I do question many management decisions of the NPS. However, a big problem we face, more than NPS management, is the expectations of visitors . Too many people just want to see animals from their cars, tour buses, etc. rather than expending any energy and actually experiencing anything.

    Our park visitors, in many cases, aren't doing anything active, and expect to be catered to. Of course, this is not what the wilderness experience is about, but how can we shift these core attitudes?

    I spent this past summer conducting recreation research in Alaska, you'd be surprised at my data. It's sad how people want to see these places on TV, but rarely want to expend any energy at all on the experience.

    In my opinion, this is the root of the problem.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Rick:

    My experience with NPS management was totally different than yours. One example: A field employee who suffered unbelievable harassment from the top management of my park. She had the misfortune of being an eyewitness to a personnel incident. What she observed was inconsistent with management's version, which had the aim of protecting a favored supervisor. A few other park employees, knowing which way the wind was blowing, supported the official version with questionable testimony. Management's actions against the witness who wouldn't change her testimony was classic witness intimidation. The victim hired an attorney, filed an EEO complaint, then endured a 3 year nightmare of harassment, intimidation, slander, endless investigative hearings, etc. In the end, her career was essentially ruined even though she received a monetary award and a transfer. None of the managers involved were punished, and some of their "Witnesses" were promoted for their loyalty. This incident is not atypical.

    I agree with your statement that you worked for the National Parks and not for the Agency. Working in and for some of the premier remaining natural areas in our country is indeed an honor and privilege, and should only lead to rewarding careers. I was also proud to be a NPS Ranger. Yours was the same attitude I maintained during the latter years of my NPS career, until too much alienation prompted me to go elsewhere.

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 41 weeks ago

    Since homo sapiens have inhabited this hemisphere for at least the past 10,000 years, and for probably much longer, we too have to be factored in as a part of the "post-glacial" wilderness experience. I try to keep my park visits as "traditional" as possible, without breaking any modern day taboos (like hunting and gathering for instance).

    For me this manifests itself in a clamber down the steep rocky banks of the Virgin River, in the shimmering heat of a summer afternoon, where I proceed to strip off my clothes and jump into the cool clear waters to soak and sooth my overheated brain. I then proceed to rub gobs of the mucky reddish clay from the shoreline all over my body and then let it dry into thin peeling patches of mud before leaping back into the river to wash it off and begin the process all over again. Ahh.....the fun of being a North American Ape-Man!

    Nearby I can hear the loud insistent hum of the park shuttle bus engine whining up and down the canyon road, bursting at the seams with tourists eager to know where they can find a "scenic" trail that will only take an a hour of their time, so they can get to Bryce for the sunset and then to the North Rim before the dining room closes.

    I'm an ape man, I'm an ape ape man, I'm an ape man
    I'm a King Kong man, I'm a voo-doo man
    I'm an ape man.
    I don't feel safe in this world no more
    I don't want to die in a nuclear war
    I want to sail away to a distant shore
    And make like an ape man.
    --------The Kinks