Recent comments

  • NPS Director Bomar Not Inclined to Overturn Yellowstone's Snowmobile Backing   6 years 40 weeks ago

    "Doubling the number of snowmobiles that have been in the park the last four winters remains inconsistent with noise data, recommendations from wildlife mangers, and concerns from the EPA. The American public should be incredibly discouraged that the National Park Service is failing to make science-based decisions in Yellowstone," No, the American public has come to expect the worst, and thereby rarely are we disappointed, when it comes to environmental policy rendered by the bureaucracy and ignornance that is our federal government and it's related branches. Tell me, is this the same EPA who issued the national Clean Water Act, in response to the infamous ignition of the Cuyahoga River, mandating that all the nation's waterways be swimable (without fear of potentially fatal contact with fecal coliform bacteria and toxic waste discharge from manufacturing plants) and fishable (as in actually being able to eat the fish, not just catch and release) by the year 1985? Their concerns are truly touching. Ineffective, but touching.

    "This has to be a sad day for all of the NPS employees who believe in their agency's conservation mandate and who were led to believe that conservation would be paramount in the parks when the NPS Management Policies were finalized in 2006." Ah, but they never did commit publically to specifically what they were conserving, did they? Such as retirement benefits, grade levels, the right to remain silent and slowly pass the buck around in circles so as to defeat the enemy via the ole' red-tape and eventual stagnation maneuver.

    And a sad day for ex-NPS employees who once were filled with the corporate mantra involving high ideals and long-term conservation plans, only to see the real world come crashing down around and amidst them.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I probably shouldn't bite on this, but...

    God I love it when preservationists selectively quote Thoreau! Do you not realize that Thoreau wrote Resistance to Civil Government (aka On the Duty of Civil Disobedience)? Do you not realize that Thoreau also wrote "That goverment is best which governs least"? Do you not know that Thoreau also wrote:

    Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them?

    Nourish on the full text:

    Thoreau NEVER, not in a million years, would have supported governmental management of wilderness.

    And please continue to use a cliched label to pigeonhole me, but it, like the bulk of the other "content" in these comments, like the "content" of Bomar's comments, is a diversion from the fact that governmental management of public lands has resulted in a political quagmire; the actual preservation of wilderness has been sacrificed by inept and corrupt politicians and politically appointed managers who scapegoat children (who are supposedly growing more apathetic by the day), video games, electronics, and so on to divert attention from the fact that they are bumbling idiots in a broken and corrupt political system.

    I'm stunned that people have such overwhelming faith in such a broken system.

  • 2008 Marks 50 Years of Wolf, Moose Studies At Isle Royale National Park   6 years 40 weeks ago

    You would be well rewarded to visit this little piece of heaven Kurt. During my teenage years, while spending much time skiing nearby on the Upper Peninsula, I made frequent side trips to the Apostle Islands and surrounding area, even mistakenly driving my car onto frozen Lake Superior at one point, but that's another story. I had my first encounters with black bears, moose, wolves, wolverines, and badgers in this area, discovering and developing my appreciation of true wildlife from visiting these critters on their home turf. It remains to this day on of the few purely natural environs in the lower 48, mostly due to the fact that winters are absolutely brutally cold and snowy, and it's a LONG drive in through sparsely populated woodlands in the summer with weather conditions that change literally but the mintue. Must have something to do with this small landmass isolated in the middle of a BIG, cold lake. But the rewards SO justify the effort, as is usually the case. You can readily traverse the Isle over the course of just a few days, allowing time to stop and smell the roses along the way. Bring your rain gear, cameras, notebook, binoculars, along with many pair of dry socks and have yourself a great time! But leave the swimsuits home. I saw one fellow jump in the Big Lake, at it's peak summer temperature akin to the Colorado between the dams....well, let's just say his hair was still standing on end 4 days later, and his goosebumps looked like boils. Okay, maybe 4 hours later.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Beamis & Frank: Perhaps, it was stretching it bit about the visitation of "priviledge rich kids" to the National Parks. Nobody is bashing the rich and the well do for their merits in attaining great wealth. Let me rephrase my sentence, I think we are all rich and priviledge to have the opportunity to visit our crown jewels called the National Parks. Perhaps that sounds like a trite sentence to you two (aka as two-peas-in-a-pod think alike). There's countless thousands of childeran in are inner cities that never heard of the expression (crown jewels) before, or had the slightest opportunity to visit one. I'm deeply aware of Ms. Bomar position and responsiblities as the parks top resource manager. Consider this, what is the greatest resource this country has? I would definitely select and choose our youth today. The National Parks should tap into this resource and give it all the energy that it needs to make the parks better. I'm not a doomsayer like you two-peas-in-pod, but I do advocate more emphasis on youth opportunities with the National Parks. Such as getting these kids educated with a good solid wilderness experience, and lessen the baby fat that's slowly killing them. Why doesn't the Bush Administration advocate higher standards for physical fittest. I can remember the famous Kennedy 50 mile walks for a certicate of merit for physical fittest. The inner city kids need this! I whole hardily share and support any direction that the National Parks wishes to go to bring forth more youth into the educational process of learning what is truly wilderness experience. Yes, the iPods are fine, but also have them read between the lines what Henry David Thoreau had to say: "In the wilderness is the preservation of the world". Not a bad line for youth to nourish on!

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Taking this to my ever ignorant next level, I thought that the protection was accorded to any and all "national" designations, be they park, monument, battlefield, wildlife sanctuary, or whatever. At least in theory, this was the letter of the law (or more properly, the Act) as it was written. But as we all know, and have recently seen, especially out east, these once sacrosanct partitions of land have been subjected to rezoning in the name of the almighty Developer, and deemed too valuable to remain as open-spaces in the midst of our ever growing urban sprawl. This is a small but poignant commentary on the lack of reverence this country places on its' collective history, be it architecture demolished in the name of "urban renewal", poorly chronicled and factually inaccurate written historical documentation, preservation of historical sites of significance or their ilk. But I'm sorry to say Frank that little or nothing in this land comes under the heading of perpetual protection. It remains in it's protected state only until enough graft and profit can be arranged to justify it's demise. Such will be the case with the lands we love. When mining, oil and gas development, and God forbid even grazing, elevate their priority and status in the proper governmental eyes, and proceed to press the proper buttons long and hard enough, in the words of the poet.....

    This is how the world ends, this is how the world ends,
    This is how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper

    At least as the world pertains to the preservation of the parks, etc. But don't worry.....everything will be put back just as they found it, right?

  • NPS Director Bomar Not Inclined to Overturn Yellowstone's Snowmobile Backing   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I'm sure the motorized winter recreation industry and its powerful market forces had something to do with this decision rather than science. Nice leadership on this one, NPS.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    MS BOMAR! I don't think that ILLINOIS was ever revealed to be home to the Simpson's Springfield. How you could you make such a stunning error? :P

    I still am stunned that people (on this site and in general) have such overwhelming faith in the free market, which in all essence doesn't really exist (protectionism, tax breaks, etc.) and even if it did would still not protect natural treasures like National Parks from plundering. While I have no question that it's absolutely the best system around, I'm sorry, it's not perfect.

    Also, I agree with Kurt, someone has to reach out to the nation's youth. Even if you think the NPS should follow it's old, calcified strictures mandated far in the past, I disagree. If people don't value the parks, they aren't going to speak up for them and that backlog that everyone thinks the NPS should be concentrating on is only going to get larger. Frank and Beamis, while I always love your input and passion (really!), it seems like you're missing the point. This isn't about the sinecurists holding their jobs and getting promotions to jobs they aren't qualified for, getting unjustified raises and not being held to any performance standards, this is about the parks themselves... this is about the landscapes, not the agency in charge.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Great to see comments from of the hunters who understand real hunting and understand what's being allowed to happen out on Katmai in this year's bear hunt. Thank you Chris. I wish more ethical hunters would voice their opinions. My inlaws owned a fishing camp on the St Mary's river in the UP so Iv'e been around fishermen and hunters most of my life and rarely did I run into anyone who shot animals under similar conditions as they are the bears on Katmai. It seems a small handful of hunters and outfitters writing in want everyone to see this type of hunting as good sound game management, but most see it for what it is..easy pickens of animals who have not even been given a chance to finish eating. Please write your Congressman to protest the bear hunting in GMU 9C 703 Katmai National Preserve. Chris I totally agree with both of your comments.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Couldn't agree more Frank. I also really like the word sinecurists. I believe I shall add it it to my lexicon. Keep the fire under their chair bound butts burning my friend!

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I too wonder about what the future holds for the National Park System. . .in terms of the political support for preserving and protecting the parks. . . . If we don't connect with people who vote or will vote, we will risk losing that support that has always been so important.

    I thought that once a park was set aside, it was set aside for all perpetuity, or whatever the terminology used in charters in bygone eras. If that's not the case, if the protection of national parks is subject to the whims of politicians, then we better damn well devise a new system beyond politicians' purview that absolutely guarantees that our sacred lands will be protected no matter what, including loss of interest of some of the next generation due to MySpace and "evil" video games.

    Oh, and by the way, one can love both video games AND nature, as I did growing up (I even remember playing video games in a national park during lunch breaks with one of the NPT editors). And national parks are not just the realm of the rich. I used to ride my Huffy to Lava Beds and explore the Stronghold on foot; this by a lower-class kid raised by a single mom.

    The alarmist cacophony about future generations abandoning and evil rich people taking over our parks is meaningless drivel spewed by those who would divert us from real issues (i.e., the parasitic sinecurists that permeate the rank and file of the NPS; the inept and politically appointed NPS directors; the calcification of the federal government and its various bureaucracies).

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Please, Ms. Bomar, tell me you're not serious in your assertion that Lincoln's home town was Springfield, IL! He was a lawyer there, and twice elected State Representative, and was finally elected to the office of President while residing in Springfield, but by no means was it his home town. Born in Kentucky and raised mostly in Indiana, Springfield and the surrounding communities were indeed his adult home, and where he rose to national prominence. But even though the State of Illinois is proudly nicknamed the Land of Lincoln (just check the license plates), calling Springfield his home town is a bit of a stretch.

    Fascinating repore you two have going. Beamis and Kurt that is...

    I've spent a good portion of the past 4 years in the parks of Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. The connotation of "privileged rich kids" is straining the truth a wee bit. I've been accompanied by church groups, college groups from various states on summer class excursions, interns at various levels, volunteers, and WAY many kids on summer vacations, both the younger set with the folks and groups of teenagers trying to get away from the parents. Few of these qualified as "spoiled rich kids", although in reality some were indeed cut from that cloth. A small sampling, but there were some. It was my impression, or rather my personal experience, that not only were the "younger generation" missing, but domestics in general were the minority of people with whom I had encounters on the trails far removed from the main parking areas. Maybe the domestic tourists are the ones who tend to hit-and-run, and since my stays are typically a bit protracted, I missed seeing them and their cameras clinging to the overlooks and jumping back in the RV. But it's my impression that if you want the newer generations to become involved in park appreciation, you would be best served concentrating on having their guardians initiate them to the park system, and forget about the reliance on the parks themselves to sponsor concert night, or whatever other bastardization of the landscape would be required to bribe new visitation. It would amount to a colossal waste of time, effort and money that is already sorely lacking. Technological perks, such as pod-casts, electro-rangers, GPS route finders, tour-by-car, and the like would only enable service to a clientele already in attendence, not serve as a "hey let's jump in the car a take the virtual Mesa Verde Tour!" type of incentive to expand or generate interest among the "next generation". At least that's how I see it playing out..............

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I'm glad to hear from the real hunters like Chris. Thank You. My wife's family had a fishing resort on the St. Mary's river in the UP so I've been very close to the hunters and fishermen and rarely did I run into the unscrupulous behavior as what the Alaska Board of Fish and Game is allowing to go on in Katmai National Preserve. I've read more dribble about seemingly scientific data that supposedly supports the thinning of the bear population on Katmai. Chris, like you stated, the issue is really pulling up to the wildlife and slaughtering them before they have even had a chance to finish eating; leaving only their dead carcass in the field to attract more bears for the skilled hunter to shoot!! This seems to be what only a handful of bear hunting advocates and outfitters are trying to convince everyone is good sound game management and this should be accepted by all!! Well' it's not going to be accepted by most and this issue will be resolved. I'd like to hear from more skilled and ethical hunters like yourself. Make sure you write your Congressman to stop this kind of hunting..mention GMU 9C 703.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    National park visitation yo-yos up and down for hard-to-pin-down reasons. Just a year ago there were some in Congress so worried over declining visitation that they held hearings into the trends. Of course, those making the most noise were those who make a buck off the parks -- concessionaires, gateway towns, etc.

    This year trends seem to be reversing, as we're hearing about increases in places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Olympic and elsewhere. Still, in recent years there's been a general concern about national park visitation. For instance, in 2003, a report on forecasting visitation to national parks noted that, "Since 1987, NPS visitation has been flat or decreasing."

    That said, I'm not terribly worried about the current state of visitation. I love it when I can go to Arches or Canyonlands and have the place to myself. Or when I can head into Yellowstone's backcountry and not see another party.

    The problem, though, is that I'm smack dab in the middle of the Baby Boom generation, which many believe is the generation best connected with nature and thus national parks. Here's a snippet I wrote in March 2006 when reviewing Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods:

    Within its State of the Industry Report the (Outdoor Industry Association) defines "who" is playing outside, and the definition is somewhat troubling.The bulk of the outdoors audience, says OIA, are Baby Boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964, and 'Millennials,' those born between 1978 and 2003, give or take a few years.

    What's troubling is that while Baby Boomers "know the thrill of summiting a mountain, the solace of canoing pristine lakes and the excitement of having new experiences," Millennials are more focused on "action, speed and adrenaline," fixes they get more from a skateboard park, white water park, or bouldering, than from hefting a pack on their backs for a 50-mile backcountry adventure or slipping a canoe into a lake or down a river.

    While both groups have non-sedentary lifestyles, which is good to note these days when media point out America's alarming battle with obesity and the dropping by many schools of physical education requirements, as Baby Boomers continue to gray there's a chance the following generations will not share their love for the landscape, and so not be concerned about its stewardship.

    And then there's Mr. Louv's own research. "This new, symbolic demarcation line suggests that Baby Boomers -- Americans born between 1946 and 1964 -- may constitute the last generation of Americans to share an intimate, familial attachment to the land and water," he writes (on page 19 if you want to look it up).

    As urban areas continue to spread, as iPods and iPhones and Wiis continue to dominate the minds of youth, where will the next generation of guardians for nature come from?

    At the Leadership Summit I just returned from, the conference was concluded with a panel discussion involving University of Texas students. Sadly, many of those kids don't fully appreciate or understand the national park system. To lure college-age students to the parks they suggested staging concerts in the parks and that there be days when entrance fees to the parks are waived (Gee, isn't that already done?). They also suggested creating iPod tours of the parks (Gee, isn't THAT already being done?).

    My concern, Beamis, is not with current visitation trends. My concern is who will be advocates for the parks when my generation is gone? And frankly, I think it's a very valid question, one that is quite legitimate for a director of the National Park Service to ask.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Anonymous why do you automatically suppose that the only children at national parks are "privileged rich kids"? At Mammoth Cave I saw plenty of local Kentucky hill folk out for a weekend in the sun to picnic, hike and fish in the Green River. Luckily for them that park charges no entrance fee and it has many miles of scenic trails, back roads and river access besides the cave which they can enjoy.

    With the ever rising prices to visit other parks the NPS experience is increasingly becoming a rich persons prerogative. Interestingly enough there IS something very tangible that the agency could do to encourage more of your so called "inner city" visitors: lower entrances prices!

    I agree with Rick that this story has very short legs and will fade in a few days. I have commented on the Yellowstone fiasco as well and hope more of you National Park Travelers will speak up on this much more important issue concerning the politics and mismanagement going on in our oldest park.

  • Hikers in Grand Canyon Resort to PLB To Save Themselves   6 years 40 weeks ago

    These things will save people - they are a good thing.

    I agree there will need to be action taken to discourage misuse. I will pay at least $100 if I ever fat finger the alarm on my home - and a police visit is somewhat less risky and costly than a mt. rescue.

    Are there areas of the Grand Canyon where a gps can not see enough satellites to calculate an accurate location?

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I am going to agree with Beamis on one point. It is the Director's main job to defend and protect the parks and programs of the National Park Service. She needs to make sure that parks have sufficient resources to 1. preserve and protect resources; 2. provide high quality visitor services; and 3. maintain productive relationships with park interest groups. She also needs to assure that the Park Service's rsponsiblities for recreation and historic preservation outside the boundaries of the parks are effectively carried out.

    That said, I don't think she should be constrained from publicly commenting on issues that she believes may potentially affect these parks and programs. I consider her language about "struggling for the hearts and minds of people seduced by the dark side of video games" to be over-the-top. But I too wonder about what the future holds for the National Park System, not so much in terms of fluctuating visitor counts, but in terms of the political support for preserving and protecting the parks. During my years with the NPS, its most fanatical supporters were those who visited the sites and experienced what they had to offer. If we don't connect with people who vote or will vote, we will risk losing that support that has always been so important.

    So, let's cut the Director some slack. Maybe her speech writer had an off day,. I'm a lot more worried about her decision to support snowmobiles in Yellowstone than I am about her speech in Austin. After all, who will remember it 5 months from now? I guarantee you we will be hearing snowmobiles in Yellowstone and the Tetons for longer than that. And that's really from the dark side.

    Rick Smith

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Beamis: your quote, "but Iv'e seen plenty of kids enjoying the national parks". What kids!? Privileged rich kids who have access to the parks. Most inner city folks are too busy working two or three jobs to maintain a family, and with less time to shuttle their kids to the National Parks. Maybe a helping hand from the NPS could give more insight on this least take a big step towards this direction. The National Parks are meant to educate and not to be stifled by such comments like yours.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I was at Mammoth Cave this past weekend and judging from the lines that I stood in there wasn't a shortage of visitors or young people. The same could be said of my trip to Zion, Yellowstone and Grand Teton in June or to Cape Canaveral National Seashore in April. I don't know what parks you've been visiting but I've seen plenty of kids enjoying the national parks. The ones on my cave tour were well mannered and asked good questions.

    If the numbers are dropping some isn't that a good thing? I remember when I was a ranger back in the 1990's and the high-pitched whining screech constantly heard emanating from NPS management was that the public was "loving the parks to death". This was practically a mantra.

    Why does the NPS always seem to see-saw back and forth from one crisis mode to another? I thought less visitation was good for the sake of the resource.

    Go figure.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I think you're reading too much into Director Bomar's rhetoric. Remember whom she was addressing. I didn't interpret her as saying the NPS needs to add one more duty to its roster, but rather that we as a society have to recognize a responsibility to, if you will, lead the youth of America into the woods and show them the wonderment that resides there.

    Will "visitors surely come" if the NPS simply maintains the integrity of the park system? I wouldn't be so sure. Someone needs to tell the world what that system holds. In these days, maintaining a park is no guarantee that someone will come to visit.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    It is the legislated responsibility of the NPS to preserve and protect federally owned natural and historic areas that have been officially designated as such by Congress. The idea that this same agency is somehow duty bound to help wean young people from their "tight focus on everything electronic" is not, nor should it be, part of its mission. This is not the proper function of government.

    The idea that a director of a federal agency is "doing battle" to win over young people is ludicrous. Just pick up the trash, lead the cave tours and burn out the underbrush when it gets dangerously thick. The free market will decide who comes to visit. This is not a social welfare agency responsible for individual moral uplift. That is the personal choice of each person in the free market place of ideas and products.

    If the kids of today prefer a Gameboy to to a hike in the woods that is none of Ms. Bomar's business. All she needs to concern herself with is maintaining the integrity of the parks in her charge and the visitors will surely come. The Organic Act says nothing about doing battle to win hearts and minds, but only to provide for the enjoyment of whomever happens to come through the park entrance regardless of who they may happen to be.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Damn Kurt, your so right! I see kids in the inner cities just starving for someone to thrown them into the woods. I mean that literally! I advocate more leadership academies for such a purpose. However, in the long run I don't endorse any of Bush's environmental, economic or war policies.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I am totally against a legal bear hunt be allowed in Katmai National Preserve. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of some of us unawares.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    I think it's wholly appropriate for the director of the National Park Service to be concerned about the youth of America in regard to the national parks. Frankly, I think all of us should be concerned about the younger generations and their tight focus on everything electronic and cartoons of mockery and disrespect.

    I could understand castigating someone for endorsing such behavior, but why criticize a public official for their concern over younger generations growing more and more detached from the natural world around them? What's wrong with someone in Washington taking a stance on the importance of getting the younger generations away from their electronics and into nature, if only for a while?

    After all, where there are no park advocates, there is no park system.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 40 weeks ago

    "Our children have been seduced by the dark side of video games," Park Service Director Mary Bomar said at one point. "Is there anyone surprised that more Americans know Homer Simpson's home town than Abraham Lincoln's? Yes, Springfield (Ill.).

    "... We are locked in battle to make sure that we get the hearts and minds of Americans back, to re-engage the American public with their national parks."

    Since when is it the job of the NPS director to be "locked in battle" over the hearts and minds of anyone? Why doesn't she stick to the more mundane task of preserving and managing the resources under her agency's purview and leave the task of attracting visitors to the free market?

    I also don't think it is Mary Bomar's role to fight the "dark" forces that are supposedly seducing America's young away from a wholesome frolic in Yosemite and resulting in more awareness of Homer Simpson than Abe Lincoln. If you want to point fingers Mary you might want to start with our wonderful government run schools.

    I urge Ms. Bomar to refocus her energies on the less glamorous job of making sure that park roads are free of potholes, that hungry bears and raccoons are staying out of garbage dumps and that the toilets are clean and flushing properly along the Blue Ridge Parkway. You need to leave the winning of hearts and minds to someone else.

    Mary, from where I sit it seems that you've got more than enough on your plate to keep you plenty busy. Before you start reaching into realms you have no business posturing on why don't you get your own house in order first!

  • Yellowstone Bison Population Healthy; Montana Priming For Hunts   6 years 40 weeks ago

    Of all meat sources, buffalo is by far the healthiest. Per gram, or ounce for the metrically challenged, it ranks as lowest in fat, highest in protein and is very tasty. But I'll continue to obtain mine as I have for years, from private buffalo farms well beyond the borders of the park service, thank you very much. They're still free-range animals on the farm, and require such treatment to maintain their limited content of fat. Good genetics don't hurt either, which is why cattle can't compare.