Recent comments

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    One purpose if these little quizzies is to get you digging into the literature -- or cyberspace, if you prefer -- to find out more about the parks. The question Sabattis tossed out was a bit tough, though, so perhaps a clue is in order. Think Pacific Coast and Gulf Coast.

  • Park History: Carlsbad Caverns National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    This is absolutely fascinating subject matter, Sabattis. Sport hunting arrangements in the National Park System are all over the map, figuratively and literally. And it isn't just the Preserves that permit sport hunting, either. At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore you've got hunters pursuing deer with rifles and using shotguns to bag ruffed grouse, rabbits, and other small game. At Cumberland Island National Seashore there are a half-dozen public deer hunts each year with permits issued by lottery and limited to bow hunting. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has initiated a feral ungulate control program that incorporates sport hunting. The target animals there are feral sheep (including mouflon sheep) and feral cattle, goats, and pigs. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (how's THAT for a name?!) offers permit-only hunting for deer, turkey, wild boar, and small game such as squirrel, raccoon, rabbit and game birds. There are, I think, some other national parks (not titled Preserves) that permit sport hunting. And don't you think it's a bit bizarre to use the name "preserve" to specifically denote the park system units that permit sport hunting? As for the matter of counting units, I do see the logic in counting Preserves as separate units, even though they are (usually) contiguous with their partner parks and under the same administration. My opinion is rooted mostly in the not so subtle differences in wildlife resource management, law enforcement, and other things that matter. There are other factors to consider, of course, including provisions (as at Denali) for aboriginal people to practice "traditional" subsistence hunting and trapping -- including using snowmobiles and high powered rifles in designated wilderness areas. The more I think about this, the worse my headache gets. I need to take a break.

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Bob - I totally agree, I think that the National Park System would be a little easier to protect and defend if the System itself were properly definied in terms that people could understand.

    I've never found an official explanation for why some National Scenic Trails are Units of the National Park System but others are not, nor are any National Historical Trails. I do have one theory, however, in that one characteristic shared by the Appalachian, Natchez Trace, and Potomac Heritage NST's, and I believe by none of the others, is that each of those three involve large amounts of Federal land. The Natchez Trace NST is located entirely within the borders of the Natchez Trace Parkway, 2/3rds of the Potomac Heritage NST is located within the borders of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the C&O Canal NHP (only the Laurel Highlands segment is not on Federal land), and I believe that almost the entire corridor of the Appalachian NST that was not already protected as Federal or State land has been acquired by the National Park Service. So far as I know, the National Park Service has not acquired land for any the other Trails. Additionally, many of the other Trails have been assigned to the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Fish and Wildlife Service to be the lead administering agency. So that's my best guess, anyways, for that particular quirk of the National Park System....

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Hey Sabattis, you going to tell us the answer to your bonus question, or just make us all suffer?

  • Coal-Fired Plants Obscuring National Park Vistas   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Of course, the problem with NPCA's report is this - is it possible to build a coal-fired power plant in the United States that is *not* within the viewshed of one of the 391 National Parks? Maybe you could put a coal-fired power plant in north-central Texas that wouldn't impact the viewshed of a National Park, but I'm not even sure about that. In other words, coal-fired power plants aren't a National Parks issue - they're a general environmental issue. Given the threat of global warming, its probably time to start arguing that despite the hazardous waste, the unsightly steam plumes, the small risk of unspeakable disaster, and the much higher total cost that we should start converting all of the Nation's electrical power supply from coal power to nuclear power. Still, at the very least, its a matter of trade-offs of the negative impacts of coal vs. natural gas vs. nuclear electrical power for a country with a growing population and a growing economy. Unfortunately, the NPCA rather inaccurately claims that solar, wind, and geothermal energy, combined with increased conservation, could meet the Nation's energy demands. I can't recall ever seeing that conclusion supported by credible scientists and economists.

  • Park History: Carlsbad Caverns National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Yes Bob, that's it - at least some National Preserves allow sport hunting, although I am not sure that this is true for any other Unit in the National Park System. I'm not sure if there are other differences as well. In addition, to follow up on our conversation on the quiz page, the differing levels of protection for National Preserves relatives to National Parks and National Monuments means that there are nine "National Parks" that the National Park Service inexplicably counts *twice* towards the "391 Units of the National Park System." The NPS counts Aniakchak, Craters of the Moon, Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Great Sand Dunes, Katmai, Lake Clark, and Wrangell-St. Elias as both a National Park/National Monument *and* as a National Preserve towards the 391. Go figure!

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Clustering like things together or placing them in the same category is Management 101. Disregarding this basic rule invites chaos, and the National Park System offers a splendid example. It's probably impractical to straighten this mess out at this late stage of the game, but wouldn't it be nice?

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Bob, I never understood that. Would it be helpful to call only the "real" National Parks by that name and use "unit of the National Park System" for everything else? Of course, the organic act claims that National Parks are not preferred over Monuments or anything else, but for the general public I dare say a National Park still sounds more important - and DC seems to agree, as National Monuments are "upgraded" to full "National Parks".

  • Park History: Carlsbad Caverns National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    When the first National Preserve was created -- I think it was Big Cypress in 1974 -- it was certain that the provision to make sport hunting legal in a National Preserve would create problems. Is that what you are talking about?

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Those three trails are indeed counted in the inventory; I see that’s correct. But the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Florida National Scenic Trail, the Ice Age Trail, and the North Country Trail are not? And none of the National Historic Trails either? Surely among the NHT's -- the Iditarod, the Juan Bautists de Anza, the Lewis and Clark, the Mormon Pioneer, the Nez Perce, the Oregon, the Santa Fe, the Overmountain Victory, the Pony Express, and the Trail of Tears (perhaps others have been added?) -- there is at least one that makes more sense then, say, the Appalachian Trail. This system must have been devised by a certifiable denizen of Bedlam. Heck, I'm not even sure that I know what a national park is anymore.

  • Park History: Carlsbad Caverns National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    It may be worth noting that there is one variation in designation types in the National Park System that does produce differing levels of protection - there are slight differences between the protection levels of a "National Preserve" and other types of Units in the National Park System - particularly National Park and National Monument. It is correct to note, though, that National Park and National Monument designations provide the same level of protection, and the primary difference is merely one of public relations.

  • Master Craftsmen Restoring 18th Century House That Survived the Civil War   6 years 31 weeks ago

    My last name is Ellwood and I was wondering if I have any connection to this guy... was the guy who built this house invovlved in the civil war?

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Hi Bob - actually when the National Park Service refers to the "391 Units of the National Park System", it counts the Appalachian, Natchez Trace, and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trails towards that total. Its never been totally clear to me why other National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails have not similarly "counted" in the National Park Service's methodology. I'd certainly love to find out some day - although sometimes I wonder if even the Park Service itself knows the answer.... And I may take you up on your offer someday....
    http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/refdesk/classlst.pdf

  • Park History: Carlsbad Caverns National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Rangeroo is quite correct that all national parks are to be managed according to the same criteria, regardless of title. The Redwoods Act of 1978 made that crystal clear. Traveler understands this principle very well. If you look in the "About the Traveler" section of our "Visitor Center" (upper right corner of the home page), you'll see that Traveler specifically embraces the provisions of both the Organic Act of 1916 and the Redwoods Act of 1978. That said, it's still OK to say that a park unit may "gain National Park status," as by being upgraded from national monument. That capital N and capital P can make a huge difference in media attention and annual attendance, and that's why it's logical to say that the redesignation to National Park is an upgrade or boost in status. (An outstanding example is the recent redesignation of Congaree Swamp National Monument, which became Congaree National Park. The resulting increase in media attention and attendance for this park has been amazing.) Congress intended that the designation National Park should be reserved for the larger, more diverse park units. Ideally, a unit bearing the title National Park should be a "...spacious land and water area of nation-wide interest established as an inviolable sanctuary for the permanent preservation of scenery, wilderness, and native fauna and flora in their natural condition." Ideally, a National Park should cover a large area, offer nationally significant natural and cultural resources, and have sufficient area for adequate preservation and administration. As of 2008, only 58 of the Park System's 391 units were designated National Parks. Most, but not all, meet the stipulated quality and size criteria.

  • Park History: Carlsbad Caverns National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Rangertoo,

    I worded it that way to reflect that Carlsbad initially was a national monument. The "hook" for the post was the fact that May 14 is its anniversary as a "national park" as legislated by Congress.

  • Park History: Carlsbad Caverns National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    How do you "gain national park status?" There are no criteria that determines a "national park" from any of the other designations in the National Park System. How else could you find Cuyahoga Valle, Hot Springs, Congaree, Death Valley, and Grand Canyon all beings titled national parks? In fact, the Redwood Act as amended states that all units are to be managed by the same policies, regardless of title designation. Please do not add to public confusion by implying that the title "national park" implies a different status, greater protection, or so other situation not shared by all units of the National Park System.

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Ouch. Who knew a quiz would bring controversy to NPT?

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Revising General Management Plan, Might Close Campground   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I need a paved trail, thank you very much! My goal is life is NOT to be run over by someone speeding/drunk/texting/jabbering on the phone, etc on the Parkway when I bike on it!

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Revising General Management Plan, Might Close Campground   6 years 31 weeks ago

    The drop in the number of people wanting to camp inside the parkway is likely due to other campgrounds near the parkway with full facilities, i.e. hot showers, camp stores, laundry, even gas stations. While it may not be feasible to provide all of these services, hot showers should be a possibility. This is the one feature that would contribute most to increase the number of people camping in the parkway campgrounds. Who needs paved hiking and biking trails anyway?

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I've seen the sign at the Bright Angel Trailhead. It's purpose is there as an attempt to somewhat dissuade the casual hiker, on which most of those entering that trail qualify as, from becoming a statistic, since again that is one of the most highly utilized trails by the least of all prepared hikers, aimlessly wandering out of the coffee shops and ice cream parlor, donuts and sundaes in hands, for a "walk in the park". Unfortunately, the NPS is simply too vast to place those signs at every suitable location. And even more unfortunately, signs are no match for underestimating the environment, daring, bravado, testosterone, the "personal fable", alcohol, and just plain poor judgment.

    Maybe my hard-line stance is unrealistic to some degree and hard for many of you to accept. But when I undertake a trek I give no quarter and expect none in return from the environment. That's why I can frequently visit the backcountry as I choose, alone. I'm fully prepared for more circumstances than you can possibly imagine. Never needed any of the extra supplies due to careful planning, scouting, and high level of skill, along with not being stupid or careless. Sure accidents happen. That's why they're called accidents. But they can also be avoided to a large degree, unless you have a death wish and plan on running down 4000 vertical feet in your flip-flops or sandals with a total of 2-20oz. water bottles for sustenance. Or you refuse to leave a "flight plan" and go cruising out over the Nevada desert alone like a total idiot. Or don't bother to tell anyone you're plans have changed from one park to another or one trailhead to another, then get stuck and have to sever you arm to free yourself due to your own over-estimation of your abilities and bravado. None of these circumstances in my eyes are able to be qualified among accidents. These are the direct results of ill-prepared people and the foolish minds that are "better than you are" or just plain incompetence in the thinking department. Either way, definately NOT accidental happenings.

    Insofar as the National Idiot Steve Fossett is concerned, if all the State of Nevada wants is a million dollars, his estate should express mail that check and close the books before the Navy and Air Force get involved. THAT'S the bill I really want to be posted to his account.

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Nice catch on Harpers Ferry NHP and Natchez Trace Parkway, Sabattis. I've revised the relevant item, since these two national parks are indeed located in three different states. This necessitated a slight edit of your original comment so as not to confuse people yet to take the quiz. None of the (eight?) National Scenic Trails is a national park, so we can't accept that one. Arguing that Washington, DC should be considered a state is not going to cut it, either. The question you've tacked on at the end is a very good one. You've got talent, and we could use a dose of that here at Traveler. If you want to whip up a brain teaser of your own, let us know and we'll be glad to work with you.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 31 weeks ago

    We took several days of vacation in Yosemite in the early 1990s and I made the round trip from Camp Curry to the top of Half Dome one day. I was in 33 minute 10K shape at the time. I ran every part of the distance that it was possible to run. The first problem I encountered was a guided mule or horse tour on the way up to Nevada Falls. The guide said that I was not allowed to pass them on the trail, so I cut across a switchback to get around them. My next problem was that I couldn't find the water source that a Yosemite hiking guide said would be available on the way from Nevada to Half Dome. But that wasn't a problem at the time. If I were to do it again, I would carry and stash some water for the return trip. The running turned into hiking when I got to the rocky section on the way to the base of the cables. The sight of the other people already climbing was almost comical. There were maybe 8 people total. They would move a few steps up, then stop. Move and stop. Someone at the base said that I should get some gloves from the pile that were there. I did and the ascent was easy for me, but I was careful to be very deliberate on the cables because you don't want to fall. It would be safer to have a harness and a couple of tethers with carabiners to clip on and off the cables, but that's looking back. At the top, I walked around for a few minutes, then noticed some people sitting near the edge of the front wall. I got on my hands and knees and approached them. Some of these people had their legs dangling over the edge of the 2000 ft drop - I couldn't believe it. I inched to the edge and looked over and that was good enough for me. Then it was time to go back. The return trip was not too difficult, but I was getting thirsty and a very kind woman offered me a sip from her water bottle as I neared Nevada Falls. I did have very sore achilles tendons for several days afterwards, and regret that I didn't take a camera with me.

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I only got 8 out 11 on this one - but in fairness, there [was a problem with] #3. There are a number of National Parks that are located in three or more States, not least of which are the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail - which provide the answer to question #10. Other Parks in three States include Harpers Ferry NHP (West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia), the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania (as well as DC) ), and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. If one wants to count Columbia as being essentially a State, then the George Washington Memorial Parkway would also qualify for being in Virginia, Maryland, and DC.

    In the spirit of the quiz, though, allow me to add a bonus "straddler" question for any of the other commenters who enjoy these quizzes as much as I do... Two National Parks are located two different States - even though those States do not share border. Name the Parks!

  • How To Buy National Park-Related Gifts Without Leaving Home   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I found a company that makes and sells pewter ornaments for some of the National Parks. The company's website is www.innerpeacedesigns.net
    As of right now they make the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Railway, and Crater Lake National Park. They are of great sculpted detail I own one and it's beautiful!! They also make ornaments of the red rocks of Sedona, Az. and all made in the USA!

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt, Your article is very misleading in suggesting that the impact is minimal and ORV's will co-exist. You should write an article that captures the essence of why ORV access was originally granted and was maintained for several generations. For those that are not in tune with what has happened here, the perspective is one of the ORV's wanting to gain access as opposed to them rightfully maintaining it.

    The judge here overstepped his bounds and that will eventually be proven. His ruling will eventually be overturned and we will get our access back.

    You can also follow up with an article about how the foxes have eaten everything in site ever since the public was run out of the seashore that THEY own.