Recent comments

  • Oklahoma City National Memorial is a Fine Memorial, But It's Not a National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker is making an important point.

    Since the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has capture the imagination of so many Americans, there is becoming an immediate 'default drive' to construct a memorial as 'closure' to every tragic drama of death and loss. Not very long after 911 in New York a plane crashed having nothing to do with a world-historical issue. It was a horror of course for the families, and great and real empathy swept the city, so soon after 911. From the perspective of history, it was another tragic plane crash. But it became politically essential and inevitable that the City design and install a memorial, because now it seems a memorial is the only response people can think of to sudden and dramatic tragedy.

    This is not the same as a memorial commemorating a critical piece of American history or to commemorate the life of a historically significant person. Such as the Lincoln Memorial, or the Arch in St. Louis to commemorate western expansion.

    Lone Hiker clearly has no intention of disrespect toward the dead. I don't, either, but I am concerned that even discussing the possibility that a federal memorial is not always appropriate will no doubt arouse opprobrium from some. Part of the problem here is you can't even openly discuss whether such an event is nationally significant during the living memory of the event.

    But to me some of the memorials that immediately follow mass death feel more like large graveyard monuments, of particular significance to the family and friends of those who were lost.

    From a national perspective, how can this be the way to determine what is nationally significant about a site? What if the event that seizes the public's sympathy or fear is one of a kind, with no particular long term significance. What if it is one of a series of far worse struggles with terrorism?

    What would London be today if, at the site of every night of bombing by the Germans the British established a memorial? Over 50,000 people died in London during the blitz, over a period of time. Should the site of every tragedy be frozen for all time?

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    yall are a bunch of ignorant people with more concerned about birds than humans and threatened not endangered at will spin your tales and invent figures that dow/as/and selc seem to make appear out of thin air without
    any shread of proof of those figures..
    pardon my spelling but folks like you posting garbage like this and pawning it on an uninformed / unsupecting public
    and using my tax money to sue is a criminal offense and i hope congress passes the law that dole and her foks want and outlaw suing the fed gov't over trivial matters such as this..
    dow and as have no other purpose than to waste tax payer money of lawsuits

    me out...

  • Oklahoma City National Memorial is a Fine Memorial, But It's Not a National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Meaning no measure of disrespect either to the thousands of victims past and those to become so in the future, but does this set a precedent for the NPS to be given the go-ahead to commence "advertising" this and other soon-to-be memorials to the victims of domestic and international terrorism, particular to incidents that occur within our boundries? This harkens back to a previous discussion about what qualifies as "worthy" of NPS considerations to be in the all-inclusive club.

  • National Park Quiz 14: Historic Houses   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Question 9 seems perhaps a bit ambiguous. [Ed: The Hauptquizmeister agrees that item #9 was more than a bit ambiguous in it original form. Item #9 has been extensively revised and should now past muster.]

  • Oklahoma City National Memorial is a Fine Memorial, But It's Not a National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Interesting points, Bob, Anonymous & Paul "Barky" Dionne:

    Of course, we have memorials that ARE units of the National Park System (the Lincoln Memorial & the Roger Williams National Memorial, for example, of many) and others that are not.

    Many "Affiliated Areas" -- units that are not part of the National Park System but were designated by Congress and do have a built-in relationship with the NPS -- are included in the NPS website, and look a lot like parks in that site. In several cases Affialiated Areas are as significant as National Parks but are not owned or administered by the NPS, so the congressional protection strategy was to make them Affiliated. The Touro Synagogue National Historic Site -- an Affiliated Area-- is, for example, is an extremely important piece of colonial architecture and also has a nationally significant history, but it continues to be an active synagogue and generally the policy is active churches cannot be administered by the US government. The NPS tried to put together a policy statement on Affiliated areas, but it was a pretty silly and contradictory document.

    Oklahoma City National Memorial has very troubling issues all its own.

    First, though, Paul "Barky" Dionne, I would argue that the Oklahoma City experience DID have an impact on the nation. I wouldn't try to compare it to the Port Chicago, of course.

    Prior to OK City bombing, there was building in America a vigilante-type rhetoric and hostility to government. The press was full of government agents being shot at, lots of talk about the legitimacy of the "posse comitatus" movement, talk about government agent's in Black Helicopters and on and on. In Oklahoma City, there was an enormous sense of common ground, and recognition that the many federal workers killed in the building were good community members and what each of them did as individuals and as government workers was important. That spirit in Oklahoma City went Nationwide as people everywhere responded in their hearts to what had happened. When it became known that the killers were anti-government fanatics, that only reinforced the feeling. There was a real lessening of hostile comments by right wing congressmen and women, as they realized that kind of talk no longer would play in Peoria, or any where else. Yes, we still have Limbaugh and some outrageous stuff on the web, but for the most part the American People got a wake up call on who the real enemy is.

    ON THE OTHER HAND, how the park was set up and how it was managed out of its NPS status, THAT is something else. This is the text book case in how not to do, and what happens if you do.

    For the congressional designation of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, there was no normal "special resource study" prepared in advance by the NPS to guide the development of the project or the legislation. An SRS managed by a good team of planners has the opportunity to develop close connections over time with the stakeholders, which leads to the development of the right sort of legislation for a site. Especially in the case of a partnership site, like a heritage area, the most successful sites are the ones where the NPS and the site partners develop a strong relationship long before the bill passes congress.

    But Senator Nichols (R-OK) approached this differently. He is the father of both the park designation, and de-designation. Senator Nichols was never known as a friend to the National Park Service. (Perhaps this reputation is unfair, and I hope Friends of Nichols at this site will get a whole lot of comments demonstrating Senator Nichols as a secret admirer of parks and preservation.) When he ran the finance committee he kept a very tight lid on overall NPS spending, or any preservation spending for that matter. But he had the power to ram an extremely unorthodox bill through Congress to do something he normally did not like to do -- spend money on national parks -- to authorize the creation of the park and spending park money on its development. No prior relationship had been developed with the stakeholders, national or local, and NPS staff.

    Immediately the local stakeholders objected to federal hiring rules and federal contract rules. The first park superintendent was highly regarded in the NPS both for holding up the standards of the NPS, while also for advocating for the needs of the local stakeholders. But he was soon gone. Then Mary Bomar, the current Director of the NPS, was named superintendent, her first superintendency. Senator Nichols conveyed to us in Washington that he was highly impressed by Superintendent Bomar. Soon after, a new deal was arranged cutting out the park status and a great deal of the NPS authority over who the money was spent. Rather than this being a disaster in the career of a brand new and sparcely experienced superintendent, Mary Bomar was instead promoted Superintendent of Independence National Historical Park, one of the real jewels among the historic parks of the nation. The Philadelphia newspapers suggested that the previous superintendent was being pushed out for not being supportive of "park partners." When Mary Bomar arrived in Philadelphia, her Press Release said she had great success working with partners. This is a new meaning of 'success.' There is lots of evidence that the interpretive story in Oklahoma City was very tighly controlled by the local stakeholders, and little sign that anyone asserted the normal expectation that the National Park Service must make sure that the whole story is told.

    It is hard to imagine more inappropriate behaviour than Senator Nichols first ramming through a new national park without a study as required by law, and without developing any relationship between NPS and the stakeholders, never clearly preparing the stakeholders for what a federal designation would mean, and then after the bulk of the money flowed in, working out a way to strip away the federal accountability and designation for the site, but then still continuing to create a pipeline of money to the future. The NPS people working there do not have any authority over the management, but are there to lend the international identity and repution of the National Park Ranger to the site, while depriving the NPS of any authority that usually goes along with the NPS credibility. All the effort conducted in good faith by the first park superintendent to try to implement Nichol's law was completely undermined and cast aside. This is certainly a new definition of "park partnership." Lucky for Mary Bomar that she did not have to stay and work with what had been so quickly created, or broken down depending on your point of view.

    Senator Nichols then went public after September 11, 2001 opposing the federal appropriation for rebuilding New York City in the wake of the attacks there. It is interesting though, in the same way he could not keep Hilary Clinton and George Bush from getting the money for New York, Nichols could not be stopped in the way he went for the park in a lawless way and the money for Oklahoma, and then pulled the rug out.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Raise more money for the NPS, by having a two-tiered pricing structure. American citizens and legal residents pay a reduced price. Foreign tourists pay more. This is done in the EU. EU passport carrying people get in at reduced prices or free at certain museums and sites. This would raise more money for the parks without squeezing taxpayers anymore.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Who would lead us on hikes if there were no rangers?

    In 2006 my wife and I visited the Canadian Rockies. We found a few park wardens in uniform, but none were involved in leading hikes. When we stayed overnight at Moraine Lake Lodge, the Lodge offered guided walks and evening programs free of charge to all lodge guests. I went on both the morning hike to the Consolations Lakes and the afternoon hike to Larch Valley. These hikes were both led by a Moraine Lake Lodge employee wiho had a degree in the environmental sciences. She was able to do quite well with her groups, and she could field questions about the park as well as about the subject of climate change (her specialty at school). In the evening, she was dresssed in all white as our server in the lodge dinning room.

    The free evening interpretive programs at Moraine Lake Lodge turned out to be creative. They were mostly skits performed by former Parks Canada interpreters who have gone private. They often changed costumes and acted out their roles as park fauna and flora with personality. I found the acting and costumed aspects of these presentations somewhat "over the top."

    As a former NPS park ranger-naturalist, I would prefer that the guided hikes and evening programs in parks be given by uniformed rangers. I would also hold the information content and quality of the experience to an exceptionally high standard. I believe that the outdoor educational mission of the NPS needs revitalization. Attending a guided walk in the company of a uniformed and knowledgeable national park ranger is an important part of the national park experience.

    I would not like to see the NPS go in the same direction as has Parks Canada, but my fear is that this may already be the case in many our parks where visitor services are now provided by park volunteers, Natural History Association employees, and concessioner guide services.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Good grief! Buy your own uniform. Nobody has ever funded my work wardrobe...

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    "The National Park Service likes to promote that visitors give the National Park System a 96 percent approval rating."


    One of the problems I have with this statistic is with its implications when compared to the total visitation to our parks. For example, if we were to say that current park visitation is on the order of 100 million per year, and if there is a 96% positive approval rating, then this means that 4 million park visitors per year are having a less than totally positive experience. This is a lot of people for whom a park experience is less than optimum. That's far too many negative impressions to conclude that the status quo is acceptable.

    The NPS is making great strides to professionalize and increase its staff of law enforcement officers. I would hope similar strides could be made by the NPS to regain its former leadership in interpretation/education/ resources management and scientific research. On the other hand, I would hope that all uniformed employees of the NPS, including law enforcement and resources management specialists have, as part of their professional mission and training, the objective to engage the park visitor to enhance their park experience. This objective should be shared by all NPS employees; it should not be a specialty mission reserved for the park interpreter-ranger.

    With respect to the issue of park visits by pet owners: This is a very important and growing segment of society. Many families, and even seniors, are having second thoughts about a park visit because of a perceived anti-pet policy. This did not seem to be the case on my recent (2006) visit to the Canadian Rockies where pets (dogs) on a leash seemed to be permitted on all park trails, other than those routes posted for Grizz.

    On the trails of Banff National Park, the few dogs I encountered were on the leash and well behaved, and I had no difficulties with barking, droppings, etc. Many family pets were encountered with groups hiking in mid-September to Larch Valley above Moraine Lake.

    In Germany and Norway, pets were permitted in trains and restaurants, as well as in the forests and on trails. While in Austria, our German Shepherd even slept with us in a mountain hut on flanks of the Gros Glockner. Are dogs on trails (on the leash) really that big of a problem? If so why are dogs on or off leash permitted in non-NPS wilderness areas?

    I would rather permit pets than firearms in parks. I would rather permit pets than expand campgrounds to provide for motor-home versions of RV's with all amenities hook-ups. I would rather permit pets than expand the capacity of high-end luxury hotels. The price of a room at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite makes me blanch.

    I think the NPS should encourage the use of parks for outdoor education. Hiking and traditional tent camping under the stars should be encouraged. I'm abivalent about the use of pack animals and equestrian use because of trail and meadow damage in areas of high visitation.

    Some purists would say that NPS campgrounds should not have hot showers. At age 63, I think it would be wise to provide such facilities, otherwise the absence of showers contributes to a self-selection for more formal lodging. The Crater Lake Mazama Campground commercial showers, however, are substandard. There should be some means for the park visitor to issue the NPS and the park concessions a report card at the conclusion of their visit. Maybe in this way, we can increase the percent positive park approval rating from 96% to 99% (where it should be).

    There shoud be more primitive, walk-in type campgrounds, however, with no fees and no amenities. Front country walk-in style campsites might have a simple wash house with clean toilets. Of course, the back country should remain as wilderness, and camping should entail minimum impact. Evening ranger programs without slides and recorded music should be encouraged.

    For the larger more heavily visited/impacted parks, the NPS will have to wrestle with and establish visitor carryiing capacities. However, I think that if the carrying capacity were to focus on the private automobile, most of the apparent problems, including in-park crime, would be solved.

    The economic/political importance of parks to gateway communities and regional incomes, will always have to be considered as an entity in future park planning. To do otherwise, will almost certainly guarantee a shorter-than average career for any aspiring park manager. Nevertheless, where there is a conflict, conservation, preservation, and protection of park resources must take precedence over visitor use and tourism. This paradigm, however, will be easier to say than put into practice. Ask any former NPS Director or park superintendent.

    I agree that park developments, including park visitor centers, should be the minimum necessary to facilitate a park visit. They should not become the event in and of themselves. I agree that the Arches NP VC is a bit too much. Certainly the NPS could have done better.

    On the other hand, the VC's at the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park and at Natural Bridges and at Hovenweep National Monuments were the right size and outstanding. I even found law enforcement rangers assisting at the information desk and enjoying themselves as they fielded a variety of visitor questions.


    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    "If it could be some sort of national trust, with an independent board of directors, like other not-for-profit institutions, it would be better." last someone else is on to one of my favorite long-term solutions for the administration of the national parks. Take Washington, DC out of the day to day reality of the NPS and let's see what great things could possibly happen. Glad to have you aboard Barky.

    As for Frank's bad experience with NPS interpretation, which I also had the misfortune of encountering this year in two separate Utah parks, I think has a lot to do with a general lack of standards and accountability within the management ranks of the NPS. Naturalists are just not as important as they used to be. The major thrust in the agency these days seems to be on bigger guns, specialized law enforcement badges and acronym laden, overblown initiatives that most rank and file employees try to forget the day after they are announced.

    Interpretation, maintenance and resource management are all in general decline and importance as law enforcement and fire management is where the action is now. I know of many younger employees tilting towards these areas to become more "marketable" for a career ladder climb.

    For all the hype about interpretive "renaissances" and such the average interpretive programs being offered today are far less creative, well thought out and entertaining than they were just 10 years ago. The old codgers who taught me and influenced my programs were most often dedicated seasonals who generally thought outside the box and loved their craft. Unfortunately they are a dying breed that are not being replaced with rangers who attain the same level of intellectual quality and insight. Even worse is that I don't really think the agency cares.

    Good thread Kurt.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I have recently volunteered for the US Fish and Wildlife Service at Pea Island NWR located within the national seashore. I have followed the recovery programs for piping plovers along the East Coast since they were listed in 1986. At that time I was located in Rhode Island where our population of plovers had decreased to only several pairs due to heavy pedestrian traffice on beaches and also to limited vehicle traffic. With similar recovery efforts that have finally been enacted on the National Seashore, Rhode Island population of plovers has recovered to somewhere around 70 pairs of plovers.

    Senator Dole, the National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service in North Carolina should be ashamed of themselves for the lack of action over the past 22 years. While political groups and state and federal protection agencies have played games over the last 22 years - the population of piping plovers has declined by half. This is an outrage. There is no reason in this world why people cannot give up travel over a small portion of the coastline during nesting season for the birds. Not only the plovers are suffering but also other beach nesting birds. The damage that is done to the beach itself is also worth mentioning. The repeated travel over the sand destroys the beach habitat for invertebrates and other things living in the sand along the shoreline.

    During my stay at Pea Island, we traveled down to Cape Point and I was appalled at the damage done to the beach front by vehicle traffic. People will still come to the beach. People will still come to fish. It has been proven in Northeastern states such as Rhode Island, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts that both people and birds can survive together on the beach. The problem in North Carolina is that certain groups of people are too selfish to compromise for the benefit of the wildlife.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    The best suggestion I have for the NPS is to free itself from the political toilet that is our "democracy" and create its own federal entity, unbeholden to the garbage that currently is responsible for allocating funding, and function as a self-sufficient "federal business".

    I absolutely love this idea! Although I fear for it (witness how pathetic Amtrak, a current "federal business", is), it would take the politics out of the NPS. Unfortunately, it would bring the business into it, which, IMO, is just as unethical, shortsighted, and stupid.

    If it could be some sort of national trust, with an independent board of directors, like other not-for-profit institutions, it would be better.

    We all know our elected officials are failing the parks. Few alternatives could do worse.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Oklahoma City National Memorial is a Fine Memorial, But It's Not a National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    This is a case where I feel I am too close to make an objective call on this topic.

    I remember clearly that day when the Murrah Building was blown up, taking all those lives, including the kids in the day care center. I remember it so clearly because I have friends in the greater OKC area and instantly feared for their lives (they actually didn't work anywhere near the place).

    I wonder if this incident has happened too recently for the NPS to make the call whether or not to mark the site. In the aftermath of any tragedy, you want to memorialize the incident. But, years later, one has to ask if the incident in question was historically significant. Did the OKC bombing result in a fundamental shift in America?

    I look at the Port Chicago site in California, part of the NPS. It marks the explosion of weapons transports in WWII that killed hundreds of men ... mostly African-Americans who were working the docks without any safety equipment or rudimentary training. That was an event that led to further tragedy (court-martials of African-Americans who refused to go back to work under such conditions) and eventual changes in military safety rules and racial discrimination. That was an event that led to direct change in the country.

    So, the question is: did the OKC bombing cause a sea change in American life? Frankly, I can't see that it has, other than in the lives of those directly affected. It was just an isolated incident by a couple of nut jobs. The country went on the way it always did -- until 9/11, that is.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    After my recent visit to Mount Rainier National Park, I have the following two very specific suggestions:

    First, have hand soap in the campground bathrooms. It seems to me that MORA is trying to save money by not having soap in the campground bathrooms. This seems to pose a public health risk. When talking to the seasonal maintenance staff, they said management told them they didn't have soap because campers would bring their own soap. I suppose this has some logic to it, but it's kind of inconvenient to go number 2 and then, discovering there is no soap, to have to open the door with unclean hands and walk back to camp and dig through everything with contaminated hands to find some bar soap and then walk back to the bathroom to wash one's hands. Perhaps the NPS could divert money SEKI is spending on a Rae Lakes eHike, done to make the parks' web content more "hip". In my opinion soap, clean bathrooms, and toilet paper are more important and more relevant to ACTUAL park visitors than hip web content. The NPS could cut any number of social engineering projects and divert that tax money to providing high-quality basic visitor services.

    Secondly, hire quality seasonal interpretive rangers who have proven teaching experience and talent rather than hiring people from certain ethnic groups to "diversify the staff". I sat through the worst evening program in my life at Mount Rainier last week. The NPS has moved from Kodak slide projectors in favor of PowerPoint, but newer technology alone cannot guarantee a higher quality visitor experience. The interpretive ranger had PowerPoint slides with far too much text, including grammatical and spelling errors. Each slide stayed up for several minutes as the ranger droned on and on and on without a solid theme. Her public speaking skills were atrocious, and she mispronounced and misspoke numerous words. Small maps on slides were too hard to read. The program was just horrible. I had to apologize to my wife, who had never seen an evening program. I told her about the amazing programs I saw over the last 22 years and how special they were and how you just had this magical feeling at a campfire program. How did this person get hired? Well, she is an ethnic minority, and the NPS has an unofficial policy of preferring "underrepresented" minorities to "diversify" the staff rather than hiring people based on talent and experience alone. No amount of technology can mask incompetence.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Here we go with our beloved Congress again: they'll look at the economic downturn as an excuse to ramrod their own peeves through to legality. "Oh, the economy is bad, it must be because we aren't letting people tear up the beach with their ORVs." Forget that we have an oil crisis and food costs are going up. These things are keeping people home, not rules on beach usage.

    But Congress, being Congress, will use this downturn to trod on the law to the benefit of their friends.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    the negative response to the consent decree seems to be overstated and without sufficient basis. I have seen signs that indicate that the government is trying to "close Hatteras." I can only conclude that these signs are intended to misinform the public and to sway public opinion through a campaign of misinformation. I walked the beach along the cape shore this morning (8/5/08) and the ORV's clearly still have sufficient access to the beach and prime fishing areas. The restricted areas seem to be confined to what is reasonably necessary to protect wildlife and, at the same time, allow access for beach driving. The restrictions are limited in time and scope. The park service has clearly provided a throughway for vehicles to pass through the areas restricted for protection of wildlife so that people who want to fish in the surf in more remote areas can continue to do so. I am in Salvo for a 2 week vacation (spending limited personal income for this vacation) and the limited restrictions are in no way a disincentive for my visit. To the contrary, I am pleased that the park service is working towards protecting the valuable and pristine natural resources, including wildlife, on these outer banks, which resources are clearly a draw to tourism. I am not personally or professionally involved in this dispute or litigation but wanted to offer my observations and view of the situation based on my experience as a visitor and someone who enjoys both state and national parks.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   6 years 25 weeks ago

    This is a fine piece to be sure, but not all NPS rangers wear the green and grey. Indeed, many of us wear green polo shirts and khaki pants since we are Centennial employees and Congress didn't fund our uniforms, and due to this many visitors don't see us as park employees. Perhaps a better title would be "Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Arrowhead".

  • Oklahoma City National Memorial is a Fine Memorial, But It's Not a National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I agree that the OCNM is not a national park, however, because it is a very importnant piece of American History, that is a popular place of interest, and this may be one of the reason's that it is listed on the NPS's website (besides the reason(s) given in the article). Unless one has visited the site in person they will not fully understand the impact OCNM has on every person who visits (I know, I was one who did). There are plenty of Memorials across the nation that are not parks, but I assume that they are probably also listed somewhere on the NPS site and have the same FAQs indicating that they're not an actual park, but an affiliate, and therefor listed with NPS as park like.
    Example: Cemeteries are not Parks, but goto and search for "Arlington National Cemetery" and you can find ANC listed on "" because it is a park ( ) "Park Information"
    "Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial is part of the National Park System and is a unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a 7600-acre national park area protecting the landscape, native habitat and cultural history of the Potomac River shoreline. " (Last Updated: 20 October 2006, 7:40 AM by Keith Drews).
    Notice right in the opening page quote that it reads "part of the NPS" I believe the reason ANC is listed as a park is because of every man and woman that served this country to defend our rights for the "pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness" w/o the guarantees of absolutely receiving them.
    As Janiskee points out it is all about the "know" of what you are looking for and how much research you are willing to put forth in the truth of your information and passing there onto.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    These suggestions are aimed at Congress for the management of NPS and its units:
    1) NPS units should never -- ever-- be designated solely to boost tourism revenue for nearby towns. National Parks should exist to educate and celebrate and preserve ecosystems, landscapes, landmarks and our natural and cultural history.
    2) Ditch the entrance fees. The importance of our national parks and the education and enlightenment visitors receive there should be entirely taxayer-funded. No potential visitor should ever have to question whether he or she can afford to enter a park after spending a fortune to get there.
    3) Maintain the no pets rule. NPS should never be in the business of managing dogs and cats and their excrement. Park resources are too precious for their managers to be distracted by pets and their testy owners.
    4) Put resource protection above infrastructure improvements -- period. Controversial, I know, but the sleekness and extravagance of a visitor center (the new Arches NP monstrosity is a perfect example) is far less important than protecting the very resources the parks were presumably designated for in the first place. That said, when infrastructure must take priority, do it right. New visitor centers should be humble, accessible and artful, following the tradition of the best and least gaudy Mission 66 and previous projects while not being extravagant and grandiose. Economical aesthetic value is important: When Arches erected new roadsigns last year, they lacked the traditional (albeit scant) NPS aesthetic value, looking like boring instutional block-letter highway signs. Please show the least bit of artfulness.
    5) All new structures and infrastructure should fit the landscape and should employ "green," energy efficient architecture.
    6) The goverment should attempt to purchase land around national parks that can serve as buffer zones between development and the parks themselves, each acting as a transition between the developed environment and that of the protected park setting.
    7) Congress and the NPS should vigorously oppose any and all energy development surrounding national parks. Canyonlands NP last year had a giant drilling rig set up within view of the Island in the Sky entrance station, while flaring oil wells can be seen at night from Arches National Park's Windows section. Such development (most of it on public land) degrades our parks and their air quality. Congress should pass a moratorium on any resource extraction on public lands within 10 miles or or within view of a national park boundary regardless what anti-park locals have to say about it.
    8) It should go without saying that pumping tax dollars into our parks is an investment in our heritage, national identity and future. Neglecting parks and the resources they protect is an affront to all Americans. What we choose to protect and celebrate is a telling commentary on who we are as a nation and a people. Don't squander this opportunity.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I have been visiting National Parks since a baby here in Utah and have gained so much more in life because of it. Any extra cost is worth it, if a person can pay $40 for ONE DAY at a Six Flags I think we can manage $80 for a year worth of National Parks and the additional parking fees. However, the parks should notify patrons of the parking fees or supply a list of parks that charge these fees.
    I also have another recommendation: Free Days. In Ogden, Utah there is a program called R.A.M.P that charges a tax in order to have the local museums offer a day free. This allows people of lower income or people who would normally not pay to go to local parks/museums a free day to try it. This program has led to me buying multiple season pases to local museums, because I did not realize what they had to offer. National Parks should offer this to build up visitation, thus lowering costs or just to allow people the chance to view.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    As touched on briefly above, I don't want my "national" parks to be in the business of supporting overseas interests. I don't need "Native American" artifacts made in China, clothing stitched in Cambodia, DVD's produced in Mexico, and disposable cameras from Japan. Have we as a country descended down the path of ineptness to the depths that we are no longer capable of manufacturing products in this country that until recently, were accepted by the world as the benchmark of quality? Has outsourcing become such an accepted way of doing business, centered solely around the corporate bottom line, that we've grown too lazy to do it ourselves, even when we are the ones who stand to directly reap the benefits of our labors? What better forum to display OUR ability and genius than in OUR national treasures? Unless we, as a nation, have no national pride and insist on being the doormat for every international refugee what comes along, to the point of "not wanting to insult or denigrate their heritage by demanding they conform to our society" as the quote goes. What about OUR heritage? Or have we completely lost track of what pathetic little history we've created within the bounds of these shores?

    Maybe due to the fact that I maintain a much earlier schedule that do most of you, I've never found parking to be an issue, per se. Finding a convenient spot is one thing, paying an additional fee is indeed totally unacceptable. If there is any justification for the collection of additional access fees it would most assuredly be to recoup the costs incurred from providing a regular, reliable and convenient shuttle service. Until the shuttles are provided and available system-wide as the norm rather than the exception, I find fee collection and the associated congestion and pollution issues to be an abomination within the NPS. You don't have to be of superior intellect to institute routing for each park. But the initial influx of revenue to purchase the equipment and erect the infrastructure is awaiting Congressional approval. Or more accurately, awaiting Congressional interest, of which there exists precious little in Washington. It's a shame and a sham how politicians are allowed to ruin public lands while protecting the interests of pathetic little maggots such as oil barons and foreign investors. But since that manner of person invests heavily in purchasing puppets who wear the label of Senator and Congressman, what more should "we the People" expect from our representatives, who only pay lip-service to OUR interests during election year campaign speeches, which as anyone should be able to diagnose, as nothing short of a large, stinking pile of crap aimed solely at the mindless American once-in-a great-while voter?

    The best suggestion I have for the NPS is to free itself from the political toilet that is our "democracy" and create its own federal entity, unbeholden to the garbage that currently is responsible for allocating funding, and function as a self-sufficient "federal business". Become the land managers, preservationists, environmentalists, wildlife managers and ecologists that you were trained to be; exercise and develop those skills that you have not been encouraged or allowed to demonstrate due to constrictions placed on you under the guise of "federal guidelines" enacted by the subservient jesters of special interest "America", your political representatives and mine. Grasp the reigns of a runaway system away from those who have proven they have neither the education nor inclination to "manage" our unique national treasures. Only then, with internally managed allocation of resources, could we expect the see the "right things" done: rebuilding existing and expanding the required infrastructure, improvements to trail access for ALL, oversight of concessionaires on a system-wide basis, in short......less political influence and more of a focus on national pride. We're alleged to be a "first world" nation. It's time we demonstrated to the world that our commitment to every other nation's real estate extends to our own shores as well.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Frisco Fran - based on your observations, I nominate the ORV people for sainthood

  • Hidden Hall of Records at Mount Rushmore   6 years 25 weeks ago

    So essentially it's a very elaborate time capsule? Could he not have used a shoebox like the rest of us?

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Beamis, let me interject two important points of clarification. First, Mather and Albright didn't birth the National Park Service. Congress did that in 1916 with the Organic Act. Mather and Albright were administrators. While they were given limited authority to make rules and regulations, they were never given authority to designate or proclaim national parks. Secondly, even before Mather and Albright were hired (in 1917), Congress had made it clear that nationally significant historic sites -- that is, sites commemorating human events or the works of humans -- had a place in the National Park System. Those things said, I share your concern about the politics surrounding the designation and management of our national parks.

  • What Suggestions Do You Have For the National Park Service?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Yes, the problems with the National Park Service are not problems of the National Park Service, they are the problems of Congress and the Executive Branch. They simply do not care enough about the parks to adequately fund them.

    Without a Congress that cares enough to adequately fund the parks, the NPS doesn't have a chance of doing any improvements.


    My travels through the National Park System: