Recent comments

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Jeremy,
    Thanks for pointing out those resources. While possibly helpful, they’re external to the NPS. There is no internal NPS structure that I know of (and someone please correct my ignorance on the subject) to assist current employees who would like to "make a change". That intimates that the NPS is inherently a conservative (small-c "conservative", not the big-C political term) organization; it resists change and prefers to perpetuate the status quo.

    Again, I have to come back to our former mentor. Gary also said something like, "Perhaps the tacky myrtle wood sign in gift shops sums it all up: Grant me the ability to change the things I can, the ability to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference." It took Gary an entire career to learn that.

    Gary tried to "make a difference", but he--as a GS-11 chief of interpretation--was marginalized by an inflexible system and those who vehemently defended it. (In fact, I believe that the system and those who marginalized him, those who stripped him of his pride, are partially culpable for the cancer that ended Gary's life.) I understand and even shared Melissa's idealism and I think Gary would have, too. But if someone in a loftier position can't change the system, how in the larger scheme of things can a seasonal ranger change it?

    Jeremy, you say Melissa can be the change she wishes to see, and in this arena she has the most power to affect change: her own actions. However, conservative elements in the NPS may view her behavior as non-conformist and dangerous and she may suffer for it. I truly hope that won't be the case.

  • Why Is Interior Dragging Feet On Keeping Glacier National Park from Being Shelled?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    5.5 million for dealing with snow !!, what, does it snow 365 day a year. I want that job

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    In recent years, we've heard that folks on the inside of the NPS have felt their jobs would be in jeopardy if they spoke out about things they didn't like (the 2005 Management Policies 'Hoffman rewrite' as one example). But, there are organizations out there willing to help these folks make a change. These are groups like the Association of National Park Rangers (ANPR), the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). ANPR for instance, offers a health insurance program for seasonals -- this is somewhat new. The CNPSR lead the charge against the Hoffman policies. I know you have issues with PEER Frank, but they have stayed on the Teresa Chambers case, years after it has fallen from the headlines.

    My point, it is possible to affect change from the inside, but it takes some guts, the ability to cover your ass, and probably some help from friends on the outside. More power to you Melissa if you are willing to be the change you wish to see in the world.

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    With all due respect -- if you don't like what I have to say, don't read it. HH wondered what I had to say, so I obliged her. Also, nothing in my writing "belittles" anyone else; I'm merely expressing my opinion. "It's thoughts like yours that poison the well and make it that much more difficult." The well is already poisoned. It's comments like this that attempt to stifle dissent, to police the thoughts of others, which--in a society founded on liberty--I find very repugnant.

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I think we all thought at some point in our ranger careers that we could change things from the inside. Unfortunately change is not something that is welcomed from the vast majority of entrenched bureaucrats who wish to maintain their privileged civil-service status, fat retirements and cushy assignments in paradise.

    I'm pretty tired of being shot down by those who say that my experience was an aberration and that the NPS is just fine the way it is currently run and all that it needs is a lot more money thrown its way. I beg to differ and have done so consistently, as many regular readers already know.

    I was able to affect a lot more change on the outside that I ever could on the inside. In one instance I had a superintendent grudgingly back down after I enlisted the aid of a U.S. Senator to get a totally bogus and onerous regulation removed after first trying friendly negotiation and reason. I would have never been able to accomplish this same feat with my career on the line.

    The superintendent in question only did what he did because of the potential blot his exposed stupidity could've placed on his own legacy. He didn't act out of reasoned analysis of the situation but only because his position and status was threatened by a salvo of outrage from a much more powerful politician.

    What I did worked in the given situation and benefited the park, I was even approached by rangers who said that they could've never accomplished the same thing without seriously damaging their careers and were very grateful for my efforts to curb their tyrannical boss. This is not the best way to manage natural resources or serve the visiting public. Not by a long shot.

    For another slant I offer blog posts from the wonderful Retread Ranger Station: http://snipurl.com/1usfg then read http://snipurl.com/1usdp

    Ranger Bob is a retired NPS ranger who left in good standing and truly loves the parks but is also very realistic about the actual conditions on the ground in a self-perpetuating bureaucracy that more often than not tends towards corruption and self-preservation in the higher ranks. Check out his blog, it's well worth your time.

  • Park History: How the National Lakeshores Came to Be   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is gorgeous. We've visitied the Upper Penninsula a few times in past years, staying in Shelter Bay (a small area outside Au Train). The beaches are clean with sand dunes and sand soft under your toes. Chapel Falls area has a 7.5 mile round-trip trail through the forest that ends at Chapel Beach. It's the only walk-in way to get to a secluded bay unless you come in by boat. This area of Pictured Rocks is so secluded that we were the only people there. However, no amenities are available with the exception of a small outhouse. A nice place for a romantic picnic. There are other scenic trails leading to the lakeshore just as fantastic as the Chapel Falls trail. And, there's always the boat ride out of Munising, unless it's foggy. Miners Castle Overlook gives you a great view of Grand Island National Recreation Area, part of Hiawatha National Forest. We can't wait to go back again this Summer. We haven't seen all of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore yet or traveled all the forested trails in the Upper Penninsula.

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    With all due respect -- BS Frank. There are too many people looking to blame someone else. A journey of a million miles begins with one step. And another. And another. Everyone who works at the park and everyone who visits the park is to blame for not doing enough. Everyone. This problem won't get solved by all of us sitting back and counting on the charitable goodwill of the masses to maintain the parks. Also please stop belittling people who have the desire and will to make a difference. If enough people speak up from within change can happen. It's thoughts like yours that poison the well and make it that much more difficult. I don't care that your experience sucked, but thanks for sharing. A public trust still depends on people, and people are the source of the problem, not government. You go Melissa!

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I love the parks and despite all the bureaucrats in charge, i can make a difference. I can change the operation from the inside.

    Some advice from my mentor:

    "Frank, you will not change the bureaucracy. I couldn’t; Norm Messinger couldn’t; John Krisco couldn’t; Brian Harry couldn’t; Wayne Cone couldn’t; John Muir couldn’t; Stephen T. Mather couldn’t. Thoreau, Jefferson, Michelangelo…the list goes on ad infinitum."

    I got this advice from my mentor on my sixth season out of ten seasons with the NPS, and looking back, I sometimes think that I had gotten the advice earlier or at least understood it earlier; the "operation" of the NPS can't be changed from the inside.

    A lowly seasonal will never be able to change the operation of the NPS. If you ask questions, if you show originality of thought, if challenge any of the NPS's sacred cows as a seasonal, forget about it. You can be fired at any time for any reason, and I know seasonals who were fired for speaking out against unsafe boat tours at Crater Lake and for sticking up for the private property owners at Mineral King in Sequoia. I've seen seasonals get reprimanded for pushing for recycling, opting out of dangerous training exercises, discussing environmental degradation caused by the NPS.

    Try to get a permanent job so you can change the system. But the federal hiring system is so corrupt, so full of nepotism, favoritism, careerism, and more -isms than you can shake a stick at. Other groups will have preference over you, especially those already firmly entrenched in the civil service. Hell, a veteran working for the IRS and looking to escape hell will waltz right into a job in the park you've spent six summers in and know like the back of your hand.

    If you do get a permanent job, by the time you've got it, you'll be struggling to pay back student loans that have pilled up for the years you worked seasonally. You'll get health insurance for the first time in years. You'll finally be on the road to a fat pension. You'll get comfortable. You won't speak out. Too dangerous. Might loose everything you've been working for. Besides, you can make some small changes, here and there, as a permanent ranger. Next thing you know, twenty years have gone by.

    No, the system can't be changed from the inside. The only thing to be done is end the system. There is a better way. There is a way to end the corporate, government-sanctioned monopolies that have invaded our national parks. There is a way to end political influence in national parks. There is a way to create a stable funding source for the national park, that will not be subject to political stalemates (by the way, people were chanting the same "the NPS needs more money!" mantra during Clinton's administration).

    It's called a public trust. I've talked about it before. If you're not familiar, you can read more about it if you want.

    Also, please stop demonizing "privatization". The firms operating in the NPS are government-sponsored monopolies and multi-national corporations. Private art museums manage to protect their art, but I don't hear people screaming about the privatization of art. And for decades the NPS has allowed these corporations to fleece tourists and send the the vast majority of the profits out of the park and out of the country while charging a minuscule franchise fee that is often less than 5%. Sometimes it seems that the NPS was established primarily for the benefit of the tourism industry and concessionaires.

    You have every right to be offended that the NPS is sponsoring such a multi-national monopoly that has no interest in preserving the park and doesn't bother to train its Czech employees. But realize, the such a corrupt system will crush internal dissent and can only be eliminated through external pressure.

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Wow, Melissa's comments make my heart ache. I wish I could, like the others, tell you to "stick with it" but instead I'll give you my advice; "pace yourself" while trying to change things from the inside or move on.

    I do think she gives a good example of where privatization of park can fail. I'm curious what Beamis and FrankHead have to say about this. Though, I suspect privatization is less to blame here than the undertrained, undermotivated, understaffed ranger force. Surely the Chief Ranger still has jurisdiction in these campgrounds. No?

    There are many not-so-expensive ways to mitigate this campground/bear/human education problem (as Melissa explains it), but alas, I'm no longer on the pension payroll.

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Yes Gerald, I realize that the lower subordinates dish out some of the fool hardy decisions of this present administration. Yes, fool hardy! But all this butt sniffing goes all the way to the top of the White House. Who do you think is guarding the hen house your fairy godmother? Damn right I blame the Bush administration for most of the crap that goes on within the national parks today. I didn't realize Mrs. Bush was such a lover of the national parks (I deeply welcome that) not until the latter part of the year, and not until the world was denouncing the Bush & Cheney doctrine on most of their anti-environmental polices, from global warming to the lack of wholesome support for the national parks, and other major pertinent conservation issues here in the U.S. and aboard.

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Jen: Your comments are right on. Reminds me of an experience this summer in Yosemite. Checking into White Wolf tent cabins, I got the usual bear warnings. The man behind me look stupified. "You mean there are bears here!" "Real bears?" "Will they come into my tent?" Hard to believe that someone coming to Yosemite just had no clue. Of course, that night, a bear ransacked a bear box that had been carelessly left unlocked. Maybe by a person who just didn't think there really were bears in Yosemite National Park.

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Melissa,

    I too want to thank and congratulate you! Stick with it.

    My experience is a bit varied. And I've never been a ranger - I'm on the research side of things (and of course, a visitor to many national parks). But my experience this summer - note, I was in Alaska, which is a different situation - is that many of the rangers often get slighted. By this I mean that they do have a tough decision - whether to take reports seriously. Many people may not realize how tough a decision they have, considering the varied sources of pressure they feel when making a decision. Many visitors to our parks - and all public lands - are so disconnected from the animals (and natural environments as a whole) they are watching that they do over-react too often. A couple of the rangers I met this summer deserve to hold on to their cynicism.

    That said, we have too many people doing things in our parks (whether feeding the animals or whatever), that need to be stopped. I know that the interp staff at Rocky Mountain NP here in Colorado says that only about 5% of their 3 million annual visitors actually attend a ranger-led talk or program. Signs get ignored far more than they get read. Park literature is never looked at - even when given out for free. This is an audience problem, in my opinion. People need to be responsible. If you figure out how to force responsibility and maturity on people, let me know!

    And until we reconnect many of our park visitors to the real world around them, situations like this Grand Teton - bear incident are not going to go away. We need to be the ones reaching out and trying to inform our fellow visitors. Maybe this can be some good peer pressure. :)

    Jen

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    That's it "anonymous"...it's all Bush's fault...nevermind that his wife is a huge fan of the parks (unlike Bill Clinton's wife).
    You have absoulutely NO credibility in what you say as long as your ilk want to blame everything on the President and his administration. Did it ever occur to you that these decisions are made at a MUCH lower level???

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    My Dear Melissa, I hear you and do sympathizes with your anger which shows much utter disgust. This is a typical and normal reaction that any decent hard working ranger would have. Don't despair! I do commend you for your dedicated and devoted service to the national parks. In hindsight, this kind of response that you just reflected, does discourage many good potential candidates from becoming professional rangers. Long as we have a administration that's hell bent on exploiting our natural resources for rape, greed and pillage, and use the National Parks as a corporate entity to "to suck it for all it's worth", then the message is clear, are national crown jewels are up to the highest bidder. Melissa, if you can weather the storm regarding this kind of fiasco, and hang in there and not get dejected, then I whole hardily applaud you for your tenacity to stay the course. It's a phenomenal battle to contain when privatization takes the national parks as a gravy train for corporate greed. It's not about the parks but about cronyism and back room deals that rewards the biggest exploiters ( I do remember the MCA dealings in Yosemite many years ago). So, Melissa carry on with future professional endeavors and I wish you well.

  • FAQs for Yellowstone's Snowmobile Decision Revealing   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Must be tough on them during the summer months. Can't imagine many rental contracts are being written from May thru September. Hope they all managed to stash away enough booty from the winter bounty to survive during the economic drought that is the summer tourist season.(?)

  • Park History: How the National Seashores Came to Be   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Anon,

    I am one of the rangers who wrote permits for the Otis Pike High Dune Wilderness Area. My supervisor pressured me to write permits after quotas had been reached. Exceeding wilderness permit quotas was a regular practice at the two visitor centers that write permits for the wilderness area.

    Fire Island's founding legislation refers to the 8-mile strip of future wilderness, as stated in the 1983 wilderness management plan:

    "Section 7(b) of this Act refers specifically to the '8 mile zone' and states 'access.....shall be provided by ferries and footpaths only.....no development or plan for the conveniences of visitors shall be undertaken therein which would be incompatible with the preservation of the..." blah blah blah. (Notice the author's irregular use of ellipses.)

    A 1978 management plan placed that area into a special land use category "with the intent of preserving the unique values" of the future wilderness area.

    Anyway, the emphasis of acts prior to the wilderness act is clearly preservation in as "primitive" state as possible, and they were initiated by the NPS. Additionally, the preliminary proposal resulted from NPS review of the strip of land.

    So your assertion that "local people wanted [wilderness designation] to stop the NPS from making more visitor facilities" runs contrary to the history of NPS management of the wilderness area. The founding legislation, the 1978 management plan, and the wilderness management plan all contradict this assertion.

    The same plan details removing 20 structures in the early 1990s when "reserved rights" ended. Basically, the NPS took the land, gave the "structure" (beach house) owners until 1992 before running them off. It also evicted a number of "squatters".

    So, to me it seems like it was the NPS who wanted to halt any human habitation or development of the 8 mile strip between Watch Hill and Smith Point. The evidence runs contrary to the assertion that "local people wanted [the wilderness area] to stop the NPS from making more visitor facilities." If you have some documented evidence, I'd be happy to see it.

    My assertion that the NPS wanted to drive on the beach is undocumented. I have only anecdotes to back up that assertion. I know the NPS controls who may and may not drive on the beach by issuing a very limited number of permits. Many locals asked me what they could do to get a permit so they could get building materials to their homes. Meanwhile, LE rangers cruise up and down and up and down and up and down the beach and resource management cruises many a Polaris and ATV all in the name of the greater good.

    Some NPS employees view the local communities, which predate the park by MORE THAN 100 YEARS, as an obstacle to the greater good, something to overcome. The writers above view them as a "thorn in the Park Service’s side". This is an offense to the hard working people who live in Cherry Grove, Kismet, Ocean Beach, The Pines, and all the other unique and historical communities of Fire Island.

    Dredging and bulk heading have also been done by the NPS. Buildings on the dunes predate the park. The island is a shifting spit of sand and has no intrinsic integrity.

    Again, it is morally offensive for the government to seize land and then to label communities that have existed for almost 150 years as obstacles to progress.

  • Why Is Interior Dragging Feet On Keeping Glacier National Park from Being Shelled?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I AGREE WITH SCOTT ------ "are these not the same people that used are tax dollars to bail them out of bankruptcy not long ago ? " ------ AND THIS HAPPENS TOO OFTEN OUR NON CORRUPT COUNTRY ! ! ! ! !

  • Why Is Interior Dragging Feet On Keeping Glacier National Park from Being Shelled?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Sounds typical...the RR's are making the money, and always want the shareholders pocket books fat when pay day comes. Nevermind if it destroys Nature, and, I guess they think the park has to many animals. Grizzleys are off the endangered list right? Thats enough justifacation for them! The rich get richer and , well, you know the rest. With all of the pollution minded people, you would think that it would be great PR, for the RR company to build the snow sheds,maybe people would not look at them like any other money mongur, that cares for nothing but themselves and their money! God knows a Typical Engine belches out more pollution than a hundred cars in an hour of use! Come on RR Guys! Pull your head out of that oriface that it is burried in! For once, Help Mother Nature!

  • Twenty-seven Years Ago, Eight National Parks Came to Be   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Congratulation to all those amazingly beautiful parks.
    However, it's easier to create a national park than to keep and protect one !!!
    How is it in God's name possible that i.e. Katmai National Preserve today
    is a favourite grizzly slaughterhouse for all those so-called sports hunters.
    Instead it should be protected and admired for its beautiful nature and all wildlife
    that have Katmai as their natural habitat !!!!
    Look at it, don't destroy it !!!

  • Grand Teton Puts Down Another Bear   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I worked in Grand Teton this summer as a seasonal ranger, and the bear situation was deplorable. The biggest problem was a lack of a ranger presence in the campgrounds. Some of you may recall that Grand Teton's campgrounds were "privatized" a few years ago. That was a terrible decision that has had a very direct impact on our wildlife.

    Grand Teton and Yellowstone see millions of visitors every summer. I had a friend who was a campground ranger, and he used to spend all day in the campground, contacting numerous visitors about bears and food storage and confiscating food.

    With the privatization, rangers from other divisions were asked to "fill in" with campground patrols in addition to their other duties. I can tell you for a fact that the campgrounds had days when there was zero ranger presence all day.

    I might have had one or two hours to patrol the campground once or twice a week. And every time i did, i found major food violations. I would then contact park dispatch who usually sent someone from the lodge company to confiscate the items - i.e. no ticket for the offender - i.e. no lesson learned. Absolutely ridiculous!

    Privatization is one of the most evil things currently being foisted off on the National Parks. It makes no sense to remove rangers from the campgrounds in such a high use park and replace them with a private company who then hires teenage workers from foreign countries to staff them.

    It's no wonder visitors are breaking the rules and bears are being killed.

    I had friends visit me this summer who stayed in the campground. When they registered, not only were they not given any warnings, but one of my friends asked the young man from the Chzek Republic working at the booth if he should worry about bears and the response was "No, we just have black bear. No worry."
    Awesome, since we have both black and grizzly bears. And this was during the time period in which we were about to kill one of the "problem" black bears in the area.

    I was so fed up and angry by the end of this summer, i seriously began to consider other career options. But then i remembered that it's about the parks. I love the parks and despite all the bureaucrats in charge, i can make a difference. I can change the operation from the inside.

  • FAQs for Yellowstone's Snowmobile Decision Revealing   6 years 43 weeks ago

    The Park doesn't owe those people a living. No one told them to set up shop there to exploit the Park's tourists. If the park eliminated all snowmobiling in the park, they'd have to find some other way to make money. Just like horse breeders and carriage makers and farriers did after the automobile was invented. Just like typewriter manufacturers did when the word processor came about. They'll need to adapt.

    The majority of these gateway communities are parasites anyway, pure and simple.

    The NPS has a duty to protect the parks, first and foremost. Not the gateway communities.

  • Climate Change: What Implications Does it Carry for the Parks?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    RIGHT ON Re'bekah and Roger!!!
    Pretty arrogant to think that we have much impact on global climate...there have been MANY warming and cooling periods before we got here!!
    Too much Algore disease goin' around...hot air (lol).

  • Climate Change: What Implications Does it Carry for the Parks?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Mr. Repanshek states that the rising temperatures in Yellowstone and Grand Teton are affecting the lifestyles and possibly the quality of life among the parks' wildlife. If the many scientists who say that the earth is millions of years older than humanity are to be believed however, thousands of species evolved and became extinct long before Homo Sapiens was ever thought of. Every ice age and following warmer period has forced animals and plants out of areas that they had lived in for centuries. It is the hight of arrogance to think that simply because we are now on the scene, habitat change and/or extinction must be stopped. (Don't get me wrong, I don't think that this gives us the right to be irresponsible by killing animals unnecessarily, or developing every acre in sight.)

  • Park History: How the National Seashores Came to Be   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Rangers do now writer permits for the Wilderness. You do not need a permit to enter the wilderness. Only to camp in it. The NPS did not ask for the beach to be excluded from the wilderness. In fact, the NPS did not want the wilderness at all. Local people wanted it to stop the NPS from making more visitor facilities. Residents on Fire Island agreed not to block the wilderness designation if driving access on the beach was maintained. Finally, the original post does not say that the wilderness is threatened by the communities - it says the park is. And it is. Dredging, bulkheading of the bay shoreline, and building on the dunes is damaging the island's integrity and interfering with visitor use.

  • National Parks Contribute Holiday Ornaments to White House Christmas Tree   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Frank-----I thought you'd enjoy these ripostes from H.L. Mencken on the subject of democracy:

    "Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage."

    "Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."

    "Democracy, too, is a religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses."

    Oh how we could use another Mencken here in the 21st century.

    The founders abhorred democracy because they saw it for what it was, pure and simple mob rule. A system that uses the ballot box to elect proxies which can then use state derived force to steal from one to give to another, and thus gain immense political power, is nothing more nor less than immoral tyranny. With the modern-day ability to electronically stuff ballots in a given candidates favor (remember Ohio in the last presidential election?) the contemporary American plebiscite is as big a farce as those that were held in the old Soviet Union.

    Frank, don't expect a population that was indoctrinated in government run schools to grasp this concept with any degree of ease of comprehension. The democratic principle has been so thoroughly drummed into their heads by their government masters that it will take a long period of recovery after the nation has dissolved into ruin for them to wake up to other more tangible forms of truth, justice and the American way.

    In the meantime keep the faith and remember that there are still many sincere folks in Russia who pine for the "stability" of Stalin and others in our beloved land that fervently cling to their belief in the tooth fairy and the democratically pure and sacred principle of group entitlement embodied in a check from an Orwellian sounding agency called Social Security.