Recent comments

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Sabattis, as attractive as your ration-by-price scheme might seem at first blush, I doubt you'd find many Americans who'd endorse an access rationing system for our premier national park experiences that unabashedly favors wealthy people (especially foreigners) over people of ordinary means. Yes, let's cap the number of permits at a reasonable level. Yes, let's price the permits in relation to the park's cost for providing the services. But let's distribute the permits via a lottery or other means (such as a reservation system with waiting list) that doesn't ration by price. In any event, when the crunch comes -- that is, when the demand for permits far exceeds the supply -- we should never employ a rationing process that allows wealthy internationals to push aside Americans and go to the front of the line.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   6 years 24 weeks ago

    It seems self-evident that some sort of limit is the right way to go. After all, the capacity of Mt. McKinley is not infinite - if you think 1,500 is too low, could the mountain handle 3,000 climbers? 6,000? The real question is how should the National Park Service allocate the slots. It doesn't seem like its on the table, but the one that would have the most benefit to the Park System would be an auction - and given that climbing Mt. McKinley is an activity primarily for the wealthy (and very often for international travelers that are not contributing tax dollars), an auction seems a very reasonable way to go for allocating the permits once the limit starts being reached.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I've noticed an interested connection between several Traveler articles recently, including this one, the article on China's "First" National Park, and the article on "Did the NPS Ever Manage this National Monument". It seems that many National Park issues are arising from the fact that the "Big Four" Federal Land agencies no longer really have definitive lines drawn between them based on the purpose of the of the lands that they manage. I mean you have protected places of National significance like Misty Fjords being managed by the Forest Service, large remote tracts of wild land that are not really suitable for visitation like Bering Land Bridge National Preserve being manged by the Park Service, a mix of the same resource being split between BLM's Canyon of the Ancients National Monument the Park Service's Hovenweep National Monument (which although it came first, is now a National Monument within a National Monument), and there are probably any number of other combinations in between. With the various Federal lands such a mess of designations, its no surprise that there is no right answer to figure what is the right level of use in one area vs. another.

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   6 years 24 weeks ago

    My comment was directed at those who wish to take away the area,s that was designated as recreation area,s That is what Hatteras seahore was set aside for.. For EVERYONE not just birds And turtles. It has been proved time and again all can coexist.

  • Interior Officials Release Draft Reports on Climate Change   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Ummm, scroll down to the third graph from the bottom and click on that blue link that says "this site" and you'll be taken to the page where you can download the reports.

  • Interior Officials Release Draft Reports on Climate Change   6 years 24 weeks ago

    where's the report? this only tells us what they're supposed to do and who they're made up of, what happened to the report? is this just to tell us we're to stupid to know, just pay someone to pretend they're doing something?

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Ginny ! What a hoot !

    Greedy Environmentalist Attorney's !

    I guess you don't know where money is getting spent these days, and what you can do if you want when you leave law school. Just today I heard the campaign for what they are calling "clean coal" has already spent $1 Billion THIS year. But, fighting for endangered birds is where you want to be if you are REALLY looking for a huge paycheck.

    Yiikes !

    Go be an environmentalist, and just watch the money roll in!

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   6 years 24 weeks ago


    Are you aware of the Center for Diversity's campaign to ban ORV use in all critical habitat areas and to remind the government of the real meaning of critical habitat? In this light, the contention that critical habitat won't result in additional restrictions is dissingenuous.

    As for being critical habitat, since the areas do not require special management they are NOT, BY DEFINITION, critical habitat--ESA section 3(5)(A). As for the specific units, check out the NPS Plover Reports and maps, most of the previous habitat was claimed by Isabel. As for the inlets, sandbars come and go--this is clearly not sustainable habitat. I could go on but the real issue here is that USFWS did not originally designate habitat here for a reason. USFWS is only embarking upon this task because of the DOW suit against USFWS. USFWS knew full well that the area didn't qualify under section 3(5)(A). So it is DOW not CHAPA who initiated this wasteful litigation. Furthermore, despite the fact that Padre Island was exempted under section 4(b)(2), DOW is challenging the Padre Island decison as well.

    Bottom line DOW et al will not stop until they get their way or until someone finally stops them in their tracks. I for one hope CHAPA is the group to accomplish just that. My only misgiving is that by fighting this CHAPA is putting more money into the greedy environmentalist attorney's pockets.

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   6 years 24 weeks ago


    Thanks for the article! While it's certainly regrettable that this issue must once again enter the federal judicial system, perhaps it will be put to bed at long last.

    The same groups/counties, in different combinations, have won similar cases over the same designations twice in recent years. There is no reason to believe that the outcome be any different this time, and perhaps the flawed and outmoded Vogelsong study will cease to be a point of reference in future legal proceedings. [Emphasis on future added]

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Yet another pathetic attempt by the yahoos on the Outer Banks to turn a National Seashore into the Dare County Motor Park. There's no question there's critical habitat at the National Seashore. So this will simply tie the issue up in legal knots for years. Remember, this issue has already been in the courts for a decade. Environmental groups petitioned and sued to get critical habitat designated, CHAPA sued to get it overturned, the FWS took three years to redesignate it, and now here we go again.

    And the irony is this suit won't do anything except waste money. NPS still has to do an ORV plan. And wintering critical habitat doesn't necessarily mean any additional restrictions anyway. The real fight remains over the ORV groups insistence on beach driving in the nesting season, which runs April to November, despite the fact that recovery plans for the piping plover and sea turtles all recommend banning ORVs from nesting areas.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    All this makes no sense to me. Being an avid snowmobiler myself I hear about this debate constantly and to my knowledge snowmobiles aren't allowed off the trail and have been mandated to become four-stroke motors which not only reduces emissions to that of or even less than the automobiles that enter YELL every day, but it also reduces the noise pollution that these vehicles put out to that of or less than that of automobiles.

  • Interior Department To Be Sued Over Cape Hatteras National Seashore Plover Habitat Decisions   6 years 24 weeks ago

    If aBIG IF . The truth about special interest groups trying to steal public property would come to light it would be a great victory for the average taxpaying American.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Frank C, why is your whole life consumed on the gun issue. It seems like your always splitting hair over the gun arguments to pack anywhere and everywhere. In seeing my first homicide victim (a police officer with family) as a young surgical tech, just made me puke about the NRA and it's overly hell bent gun fanatics. I duly believe in the right of handgun ownership, but kept in the home and in a SAFE PLACE locked up. In fact, I've had two close friends involved in tragic gun accidents: one was showing off his loaded high powered rifle that went off accidently and killing his best friend, and the other, was in the fit of anger, in which brother shoots brother with a Remington 22 rifle (not sure of the type). Unfortunately, the brother that was shot is totally paralyzed from the waist down...and has been for the past 35 years. ALL TRUE TRAGIC STORIES!
    Yes, an emotional issue on both sides, but I get the impression Frank, you fan the coals towards more hell bent gun ownership regardless of the carnage that it leaves behind. Just work in the hospital morgue for while on Saturday night (in any big mean City) and see the morass that guns play. The poor ER staff beating their brains out to save some poor innocent victim, or some crazy gang banger. Take real hard look Frank and pray it's not your kid or dear family member. I've had my fill of gun violence and hope that President elect Obama squeezes out more gun regulations and pinches out the NRA.

  • Injuries Prove Fatal To Hiker Who Fell in Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Sometimes accidents just happen. I once suffered a concussion while skiing, even though I was only skiing a green run, was wearing a helmet, and did not run into a tree or other obstacle - just fell to the ground (or possibly collided with another skier - the details are not known and I don't recall due to the concussion).

    Hikers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts often under-estimate the risks involved in what appear to be non-risky adventures even when being cautious and following the rules. However, in speaking with numerous park rangers over the years it seems to me that most serious / fatal accidents happen when people ignore safety precautions.

    Does anyone know the specifics of this accident?

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Interestingly enough, ReasonOnline just posted an article titled The Trouble With Thomas Jefferson which states in part:

    Does the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves—probably including his own children—negate the wonderful things he wrote about inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence? To put it another way, why should anyone listen to what Master Jefferson (or other slaveholding Founders) had to say about liberty and equality?

    It’s important to remember that the idea of inalienable rights didn’t start or stop in the year 1776. The historian Gordon S. Wood, in his superb 1991 book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, argues that “to focus, as we are apt to do, on what the Revolution did not accomplish—highlighting and lamenting its failure to abolish slavery and change fundamentally the lot of women—is to miss the great significance of what it did accomplish.” In Wood’s view, by destroying monarchical rule and replacing it with republicanism, the American revolutionaries “made possible the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements of the nineteenth century and in fact all our current egalitarian thinking.” They upended “their societies as well as their governments…only they did not know—they could scarcely have imagined—how much of their society they would change.”

    The article also provides historical background on Jefferson and the issue of slavery. Highly recommended.

  • At 55 and Counting, Wright Brothers National Memorial Enjoys Its Monumental Facelift   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Great article, Bob!

    Thanks for bringing this project to light. Prior to the 2003 "Centennial of Flight" celebration, the entire WBM complex had become rather worn looking, to say the least. Decades of exposure to salt air and simple visitor wear and tear had taken its toll.

    After many years of just passing it by, I have made at least one visit each year over the past two years, and was very happy to see the facelift that the entire unit has enjoyed. It's also great to see that the restoration of the monument itself was financed through cooperation between the NPS and NGO's like the First Flight Foundation, helping the financially strapped park service as well as providing a sense of civilian ownership.

    Another item of note: December 17th marks the 105th anniversary of the Wright Brother's maiden flight, and the First Flight Society will hold it's annual day-long Gala event at the WBM complex. From the First Flight Society Website:

    The day's activities include a ceremony at the Memorial . . . the induction of a major figure in aviation into the Society's Shrine . . . a thrilling fly-over of civilian, military and historic aircraft . . . and an annual luncheon and formal Ball. This annual celebration is a joint effort of the First Flight Society, the National Park Service, the military and many other participants.

    If you're in the area, make plans to attend this unique event!

  • 28 Years Ago, the National Park System Gained Millions of Acres   6 years 24 weeks ago

    d-2 and Rick -

    Thanks for the additional insights into this part of NPS history.

    Rick, you and the others who made that initial foray into the new areas in 1979 did a superb job in laying the foundation for rangers who came after you. That had to be an incredibly challenging assignment - and as you note, one of the most rewarding ones... especially since it turned out so well. The story about the award ceremony is a classic!

  • Rescued Yosemite Hiker Has Lots to be Thankful for This Year   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Lucky guy, glad all ends well. Honestly I can't think of a nicer place to get stuck for a week or 2. If Steve F. would like, I will send him a copy of my photo from above Red Devil Lake from early Sept. (it was much warmer then). I can easily see why a couple of feet of snow would have stopped any progress in country like that. Nothing but rocks , and granite slabs and wind exposure. It's nice to hear a rescue story where somebody did almost everything he should. Again, Lucky Guy! Terrible shame about the Japanese Climbers...

  • 4-Year-old Dies in Fall off South Rim of Grand Canyon   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Anyone who says that they "would not let go of a child's hand for one second" either does not have children or lives in a dream world. This is real life and the world is an imperfect place. My heart breaks for the parents of this poor kid. The memory of this event will haunt them forever. It's too bad that some idiots focus on how such a thing could only be an act of negligence. Wake up, idiots.

  • 28 Years Ago, the National Park System Gained Millions of Acres   6 years 24 weeks ago

    I think they did a pretty good job, considering what was at stake, how enormous the controversy was, how many PRIVATE SECTOR lobbyists were engaged, and how complicated the task was. I thought most of the politicians had more courage than most of the agency people or the private sector. They had to stand out there and take the hits.

    Maybe it could be easier for the private sector to do something slick behind closed doors. but then, how much would the average citizen be able to affect the outcome? The private sector would just tell you what they were going to do, and unless you are a big stockholder or can file a successful lawsuit, you are stuck.

    In the case of this law, more people testified on this legislation than any prior law in history, except the Civil Rights Act.

    I don't think these things should be easy.

  • 28 Years Ago, the National Park System Gained Millions of Acres   6 years 24 weeks ago

    In 1979, I was one of a small group of NPS rangers (21 in total, I believe) sent to Alaska in the summer to establiish an NPS "presence" in President Carter's new national monuments. We held public meetings, gave countless interviews, did monument patrols, answered dozens of phone calls from Senator Stevens' and Representative Young's offices and enforced the new regulations in the national monuments.

    It was a summer to remember. The opposition to the monuments adopted a logo of a husky peeing on a sign that said "national monument". I still have a tee shirt with the logo. It is one of my most treasured momentos of my years in the NPS. We made several arrests for hunting inside the monument boundaries, all of which garnered headlines in the Anchorage and Fairbanks papers.

    When I left the state in early October, I realized that not only had I seen some of the most breath-taking country on our planet and met some of most interesting people in the US, I had also participated in the shake-out that reached its culmination when the President signed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in December, 1980. As d-2 notes above, many Alaskans favored the compromises contained in ANILCA because in the summers of 1979 and 1980, they saw what life would be with national monuments and no further action.

    An interesting footnote: Toward the end of the summer, the Alaskan law enforcement community held its Alaska police olympics. We were initially denied entry, but since we were all sworn peace officers, they finally allowed us to compete. We won our share of the medals that were awarded at a banquet by Representative Don Young. I will never forget his comment after he awarded a number of shooting medals to NPS rangers following awarding our relay team a medal. He said, "Well, one thing we now know about rangers. They can shoot straight and run fast." He was right.

    Rick Smith

  • 28 Years Ago, the National Park System Gained Millions of Acres   6 years 24 weeks ago

    D-2, thanks for providing "the rest of the story." Nothing ever seems to be easily accomplished when it involves the federal government and politicians, does it?

  • 28 Years Ago, the National Park System Gained Millions of Acres   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Kurt -- it is such a kick to see so many pieces, and comments, in this website about Alaska over the past several days. Now with this piece you bring it all together, by highlighting President Carter's Alaskan National Monuments.

    -- On how long it took to get the Alaska Lands Act (ANILCA) passed, it DEPEMDS on how you count.

    Ted Swem, the NPS genius who headed the national park service planning team and first defined (in 1973) all the areas included in Pres. Carter's Monuments, wrote a piece in the NPS newsletter about the origin of the park proposals. He mentioned NPS studies going back to the 1930's, and also the effort to create large national monuments -- including a two-unit Gates of the Arctic NM -- for President Johnson to establish. But in a last-minute conflict with Sec. Stewart Udall in January 1969, most of these proposals died.

    Then, in 1973, Ted's team submitted their proposals through the Director to the Secretary (Rodgers Morton) to be sent to the Congress. Morton had to coordinate his proposals through the Nixon then Ford White House. Several bills started to be introduced from that time on, either based on the Morton/Swem proposals, or on larger conservationist plans. When Carter was elected, the Administration revised the Ford proposal, led by Secretary Andrus. That is when the national preserves were identified, so as to close the "national parks" to sport hunting. Andrus prepared draft legislative language, introduced by Senator Scoop Jackson, Rep. Mo Udall on behalf of the environmentalists introduced the famous "H.R. 39," and Senator Stevens his bill on behalf of the opponents of the parks and refuges. Ultimately, there were many more. From the beginning Senator Jackson maneuvered to have his bill end up as "the" bill.

    But all the bills died at the end of 1978, forcing President Carter to create the Monuments, even though Senator Mike Gravel said Carter did not have the guts. Not the first time Gravel was wrong. The concept of ending all further Presidential Proclamations under the antiquities act was fully supported by Carter and Andrus, and was one of many ways included in the final bill to salve the opposition or anger of those in Alaska who opposed the parks. Carter and Andrus wanted a bill passed by congress, a concensus vehicle as much as possible.

    Throughout, Carter and Andrus made numerous efforts to avoid vindictiveness, and achieve a balanced bill that accomplished Rogers Morton's Vision Statement to "Do Things Right For the First Time." In their efforts at statesmanship, Andrus and Carter reminded me of Abraham Lincoln. Carter said he thought that many years in the future, historians would say Alaskan conservation was the most important thing achieved in his Administration.

    But Kurt, you are also right about the key point, that at a time Alaska was being carved up for development and land disposal, the President and the Congress insisted that CONSERVATION be built into the development plans. rather than as an afterthought.

    You mention Dick Proenneke and Lake Clark National Park. I had a chance to meet Dick Proenneke at Twin Lakes about a year before Carter and Andrus make their proposal in 1977. I have never seen such a beautifully CRAFTED piece of woodworking or architecture as that cabin. At that time Dick thought he would have to leave his cabin as soon as the park was created, because he said BLM had told him he did not have a legal claim, and would be run off by the NPS. He accepted this philosophically, saying the most important thing was to protect large, beautiful parklands for the future, not what happened to him.

    Despite the flack that everybody in Alaska was against the new parks, if it had not been for the support of so many Alaskans like Dick, I think the bill would not have passed, or at least, so many areas this large would not have been created. There is an amazing, long list of inspired people who, working together (and sometimes in opposition), made these great national monuments happen.

  • Study Says Loss of Wolves Damaging Olympic National Park's Forest Ecosystem   6 years 24 weeks ago

    we need to reintroduse wolfs, why? it is because, the elk and deer heards are tearing up our forests! they are eating the plants that contain river banks, they eat the shoots of new trees. if we allow controlled hunting, people from all over the USA will come to Washington, to hunt the elk, and even with the hunting being controlled the elk numbers will still drop like flies.

  • China Moves to Designate its First National Park   6 years 24 weeks ago

    Thanks, Sabattis, for bringing up the Kobuk Valley National Park.

    What a special place. Is there anything else like it? And yes, other than the Kobuk River, and the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes (that actually might not be on federal land), tourists don't usually go there. But it is a crossroads of the arctic and the subarctic, of the flyways and caribou migration routes, midway between the coastal zone and the Interior, of nearly every phase of Alaska pre-history, and a nearly complete ecological zone.