Recent comments

  • The Alter and the Pulpit in Zion National Park   6 years 43 weeks ago

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

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

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Video Postcard : Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   6 years 43 weeks ago

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

  • Video Postcard : Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve   6 years 43 weeks ago


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

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

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 43 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

    So they don't have the resources to manage the traffic, and feel they have higher-priority problems elsewhere in the park to spend their resources on.
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  • Everglades National Park Asked to Give Manatees Protection From Boaters   6 years 43 weeks ago

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

  • Yellowstone Snowmobile Decision Missing Record of Decision   6 years 43 weeks ago

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

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

    More as always in the Yellowstone Newspaper, linked below.

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

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 43 weeks ago

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

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

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

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 44 weeks ago

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

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 44 weeks ago

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

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 44 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 44 weeks ago

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

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 44 weeks ago

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

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 44 weeks ago

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

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 44 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 44 weeks ago


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

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

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 44 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Pleading down to a misdemeanor from a felony is not new. In perspective, Oliver North confessed to treason before Congress, and they made him a millionaire in a body armor company selling to the government, ran him for the Senate, and gave him a television show.

    What has happened throughout government since the days of "Jolly Ollie" is a reflection of the society at large, where the "ME" generation has taken over. Ethics and a concern for perserving not only the planet, but self-respect, has all but disappeared in a search for either wealth, power, or both.

    NPS, BLM, Forest Service and the resource agencies have taken severe hits, budgetary, and through an infusion of the incompetent at top levels through a process that has been corrupted. Civil Service reform since '78 has led to the return of the spoils system.

    Today an attorney who left government to work for Lockheed Martin stated on CNN he went where there was a higher ethical standard. Considering Lockheed has the contracts for much of the illegal interrogation we are conducting, one can only wonder what's up. Reading Valery Plame Wilson's book "Fair Game" the redactions in the text display the pernicious psychosis and contempt for honor and ethics at CIA.

    We face a society that accepts a video game version of both war and the National Park experience as an acceptable alternate reality. Ethics is also an "alternate reality".

    Fraud and theft are totally unacceptable and discharge and a little jail time is the minimum penalty acceptable. The real problem is that our society and too many within our agencies only perceive being stupid enough to get got as the crime.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 44 weeks ago

    A few facts for the uninformed. There are too many boats in that stretch, but until CRC is open, it is the only way to access the rest of the 100+ mile long main channel or the 2000 miles of shoreline. How many of you realize that at full pool, the shoreline of Lake Powell is longer than the entire west coast of the US, from Mexico to Canada. When CRC is open, there is only a short wakeless zone through the cut. Then boats start to disperse into the side canyons. If you look at the photo at the top of this, the cut is through the flat area just to the right of the rock tower in the center of the photo.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 44 weeks ago

    This will be my last comment on this thread. Most of the people with whom I worked owed their allegiance to the National Park System, not the National Park Service. Our work was our avocation, not a vocation. I wanted my actions to be measured by what I did for parks, not how well I executed budgets or performed other routine tasks. Maybe I was lucky and the people who post on this site, unlucky. I don't remember seeing any cases of administrative lawlessness or criminal behavior committed by the managers for whom I workied. When I left the protection division to become a manager myself, I dealt with other superintendents and senior staff. Sure, there were some who weren't very good. Some even had to be removed from their positions. But, again on balance, it was an honest, hard-working group of people who were trying to accomplish the three things that every park must do: preserve and protect the resources within the park (I know that some posters on this site don't like the word "resources", but it serves as useful shorthand here); provide quality visitor services; and maintain productive relationships with park interest groups. I always thought that any superintendent who did those three things well was successful.

    Look, what Ms. Buccello did is regretable. I don't believe, however, that her conduct is the norm in the NPS. either among its law enforcement personnel or its managers. I guess others of you do. That makes me sad because I was proud of being a ranger and proud of what we were doing to help connect park visitors to their natural and cultural heritage. And when I visit parks now, I still see that process of discovery occurring. I suspect some of you will think that that's a bit sappy, but I believe it is an essential part of why parks are important in a country that is rapidly closing in on its remaining wild places and increasingly careless with its history.


    Rick Smith

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 44 weeks ago

    A quick tutorial in the art of Creative Financing and the World of Contact Bidding:

    With the NPS being the "limiting factor" in the final pricing structure of goods and services being charged within their jurisdiction, and vendor wishing to operate and represent the NPS is obligated to ensure their stockholders that acceptance of new contracts, whether for the NPS, school lunch programs, stadium concessions, airport concessions, etc. will enhance the overall bottom-line, not in any way, shape or form detract from existing profit strutures. While on some few operations, business is accepted (always short-term) at minimal profiteering or even under drastic circumstances, at a marginal loss, those contracts have a direct effect on the pricing charged to the consumer throughout the remainer of the corporate business units. That is why you might see a Target store, for instance, erected and operated in one location with a perpetually "empty" parking lot, designed to service a relatively remote local community, and retain the ability to keep their doors open, versus another Target store some miles distant with check out lines constantly 10 people deep. The "failing" store is supported by the corporate entity for whatever time they are willing to operate that location at an overall loss, as its sales and store profits cannot, on it's own merit, justify keeping the doors open for that "remote" community.

    In the case of Aramark, many of you who are posting arguements against my knowledge of business practices and negotiations have all already lent enough evidence to my hypothesis.

    For the corporation to successfully win a contract bid process, they must account for ALL the elements that will be under that all-encompassing umbrella entitiled "overhead". For a company (i.e. the contractee) to allow for a percentage of gross or net revenue to be allocated to the contractor, and NOT have a fail-safe built into the corporate cost of business leads to fiscal hemorrhaging and insolvency in the short-term, many times prior to the fulfillment of the contract period. For these reasons, smaller corporations, who do not possess the abilty to "hide", or pass along these costs further down the corporate stream, cannot effectively compete in these bidding wars and are more often than not eliminated from consideration. That again is why the names of these operators changes little as contracts expire and are rebid and renewed.

    For a sports analogy, consider how many teams can effectively bid for a commodity such as A-Rod. Of the whole of the available options, the sum total of professional baseball franshises, how many are actually viable candidates to complete the bidding process considering the overall expenditure? MLB supports teams in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and others through financial stipends resulting from contractual agreements with television and other sponsors. Without the "corporate" powers who can sustain themselves like the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Mets, Braves, and Red Sox, do you really believe the Royals or Pirates would exist? The picture is the same with Aramark. Only by raising profits in other corporate entities can an contractual agreement such as the one at GCNP be allowed to perpetuate. Have baseball ticket prices remained the same since the inception of the $15-20MM dollar player? Neither have concession prices remained intact during these times, and those rates are not "locked in" by the owners, but the base costs are indeed a direct reflection of the food service suppliers and unit operators who support their corporate bottom-line and enable their infrastructure to survive and expand based partially on their contributions to the profit structure.

    It was not I who stated that funding was to be collected "off the top" from the corporation. Nor was it I who made mention of how the NPS was to utilize the appropriated funds. Nor does it ultimately matter how or when the monies were collected and what their final disposition might be. those bits of information, factual or otherwise you can credit to RainyRoad. Incorrrectly stated by same is this ridiculous notion that only Lake Powell users are subjected to the "tax" from which the funds were to be drawn. It comes from the corporate entity and ALL Aramark customers across the corporation, from a pack of gum at the airport to a pack of peanuts at a ball game, and from the cost of milk at school lunches to watercraft rentals at the Lake.

    I proposed no additional laws regarding operations, just enforcement of existing common-sense vehicular operating techniques. Or maybe inadvertently I did suggest "new" laws regarding alcohol consumption, but they are not new where I reside. Due to the many annual collisions, damage, personal injuries and deaths on our local waterways, we already have said laws on our books, as would and civilized locale, in order to properly deal with criminal vehicular activity.

    And you're absolutely correct, I'm not stupid enough to join the masses on the lake during the holiday periods. Lake Powell is over-crowded, just as is Lake Mead, many major inland riverways, the California coast, the Florida Keys, the costal Gulf of Mexico, the Bays of Maryland and Virginia, and the Intercoastal Waterway of the Carolinas during prime season. Renting a "blue top" and converting me? Not a chance. That's akin to suggesting that I'd approve of having my local fuel costs adjusted to allocate funding for a road project in Juneau. Ain't gonna happen. If it's as dangerous as many claim, and I'm not insinuating that it isn't, and they insist on "riding the washtub" even in spite of these treacherous conditions, what does infer about judgement?

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Wilderness isn't defined by a lack of people; rather, it's about our relationship with the land. Any managed land, never mind what it's called, ceases to be wild. If the NPS truly "promoted" wilderness as Anon claims, it would leave things be, as it claims does (rangers repeatedly spew the mantra "we let nature take its course" to visitors even though what the NPS does is anything but). For one of the best discussions on wilderness, please see Jack Turner's collection of essays titled The Abstract Wild. Turner shows that "The national parks were created for, and by, tourism, and they emphasize what interests a tourist--the picturesque and the odd. They are managed with two ends in mind: entertainment and the preservation of the resource base for entertainment. Most visitors rarely leave their cars except to eat, sleep, or go to the john."

    The NPS has subverted wilderness by micromanaging it. It has destroyed wilderness by building tens of thousands of buildings and thousands of miles of roads.

    Anon may not be familiar with the case of the Kolob Canyon region of Zion National Park. The January 1962 edition of National Wildland News documents one instance of NPS subverting wilderness. The article quotes the western representative of the National Parks Association who wrote a letter to Zion's superintendent imploring him not to build a seven mile road into the Kolob wilderness.

    Referring to the proposed road, the representative said, "First, it would destroy scenic qualities. Second, it would eliminate entirely the cloak of solitude that rests over the area now. Third, it would forever mar the sense of adventure one inevitably feels when he approaches the region. It would become just another 'accessible' part of the park, and having been stripped of its wild character--a quality that sets it apart from the masterpiece that is Zion Canyon--it would be reduced to comparative mediocrity. . . . I do not believe we should concern ourselves with making every vista, canyon or natural feature accessible. We should work to make this mood of atmosphere available in its purest form. This atmosphere is the very essence of the national park idea."

    The superintendent did what superintendents are best at (ignoring the public), and now hundreds of thousands of tourists traveling from SLC to Vegas can spend 15 minutes driving the road and two minutes taking a photo before hopping back in the car and speeding away.

    I can cite plenty--perhaps countless--examples of what the NPS has done to "promote wilderness." This one example serves my point.

    Wild areas cannot be micromanaged, nor can the animals or plants inside them. They must be self willed. We ought to leave the bears alone and stop tattooing their lips and piercing their ears; we ought not to engineer the wilderness; wilderness areas should be blank areas on maps where nature truly "takes its course" without any meddling from Homo sapiens.

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I don't care what the legal definition of 'wilderness' is. For me, it's a place where I don't see any other human beings for long periods of time. With the crowds at Yosemite, even on so-called backcountry trails in the high country, that's impossible. (Doesn't matter if they're hiking alone, with a club or a 'corporate' outfitter).

  • Does Hiking Yosemite National Park's Half Dome Still Present a Wilderness Experience?   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I would argue that the NPS has done much to promote wilderness. I know that even though the Great Smokies does not qualify as a wilderness area the NPS treats it as though it does have that designation. I feel certain that many other parks are doing similar acts. I live in Yosemite and have enjoyed the experience of hiking Half Dome, it is spectacular. That is probably why you don't get that widerness experience you feel entitled to. Venture only a little further to Clouds Rest and you will be rewarded. Or you may want to experience Half Dome by entering from somewhere other than Yosemite Valley. Spending the night at Little Yosemite Valley and hiking up in the wee hours of the morning will certainly allow for a less crowded experience. As long as National Parks are in spectacular places there will be crowds. Yosemite offers hundreds of miles of trails that are in designated wilderness areas where you will not be affected by crowds or over development. Its a difficult task to make available for the public enjoyment without having any impact. I think that the NPS does a pretty good job of finding a balance. Of course you can't please everyone.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I have to side with Frank and Bemis, and against Rick, who I respect. I saw so much administrative lawlessness and criminal behavior by NPS managers, at several of the units that I worked, that I left the agency and never came back. Whistleblowing or bringing up such criminal behavior to higher levels only invites reprisal which, while being illegal, seldom results in corrective action against the manager. I can't say that I ever saw a NPS manager really punished for breaking the law; hopefully PB's case marks a step in that direction.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Again, my apologies for posting Simple Proposals that seem to be out of context (but maybe they really aren't?):

    Nowadays NPS staff are charged with constantly writing plans and reports. Years ago we had to write plans and reports, but the number and complexity of these tasks seems to have mushroomed over past decades. Some staff seem to be doing nothing but writing plans and reports.

    Certain folks are so busy writing plans and reports (along with attending meetings, implementing initiatives, and reacting to other bureaucratic processes and procedures), that time doesn't allow for anyone to actually read the countless plans and reports that are produced. These documents typically sit on shelves, gathering dust and slowly yellowing with age. But, unlike aging works of art, these black holes of information don't gain value over time.

    Try a little test. Next time you're at a meeting, ask if anyone has recently read a plan or report which might serve as a guideline relevant to the discussion. I've been making a habit of this recently. It's amazing how many people who are eager to write plans and reports never refer to them later!

    Yes, I know. Some will argue that these documents are essential, since they help highers-up to formulate budgets. But why do these processes seem to grow more time consuming, but less valuable, with each passing decade? Fifty years ago Chiefs of Interpretation, for example, actually had time to write reports on the wildlife they were personally observing in their parks. did THEY get any money?

    Whatever you do, don't waste valuable time and tax dollars on plans and reports. Give them the minimal attention they command, and move on to those things that directly connect caring visitors to our fantastic national parks.

    Simple Proposal #13: Plan for fewer reports...and Report on fewer plans