Recent comments

  • Overdue Hiker Turns Up in Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 43 weeks ago

    DENVER -- Search and Rescue teams have found a hiker who went missing in the Rocky Mountain National Park Tuesday evening.
    Link: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/14205018/detail.html

    Interesting tidbit from the article:
    "Severson was wearing khaki cargo pants with zip-off legs and a black and rust-colored Columbia jacket with a hood. He also packed black gloves, a khaki hat, a first-aid kit, two cans of Mountain Dew soda, two liters of water, a silver space blanket, a flashlight and matches."

    That must've been what saved him... the Mt. Dew.

    And oh wow, my old boss from Grand Canyon, Larry Frederick, is quoted in the article -- so that's where he went!

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I hate to throw this into the mix without double checking first, but I *think* one big difference between the motorcycle noise and snowmobile noise, is that snowmobile noise is unregulated. Motorcycles have to meet federal standards for highway travel, whereas snowmobiles are an off-road vehicle not confined to the same regulations. I know that modern snowmobiles are a lot less noisy than older models, but I don't think that is because of a federal mandate.

    Someone, please feel free to clarify, or shoot me down if I'm wrong!

    By the way, a year ago, I wrote about my own perceived sense of overly loud motorcycle noise, associated with Sturgis Ralley, in Devils Tower National Monument. You can read those articles here:
    Boom City
    Boom City: Follow-Up

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Kath, you raise a good point. I can't give you a complete answer, but I do know that those who want to see a snowmobile ban focus on the complete pollution package -- noise, air, water, etc., as well as wildlife disturbances.

    I know a while back we ran a story about noise pollution studies in the parks, but belief it was more generic. We'll add this question to the list of issues we need to address.

  • Padre Island Interpretive Program Simply Succeeds   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I agree with Merryland above. The internet and other electronic means of communication are excellent mechanisms for promoting inter- and intra- staff communications. The internet and other forms of electronic communications can be very effective in keeping interim employees like seasonals and volunteers current on park administrative changes, new procedures for the operation and conduct of duty, upcoming events, and recent research findings. This information is especially useful when communicated to the returning employee during their off-season away from their park.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I googled a bit and found that motorcycle noise is an issue along the Blue Ridge Parkway per a recent article in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

    Really, this seems like a much larger issue as far as noise pollution in the parks. Why not more attention to it? There are more motorcycles making noise than snowmobiles. There are more places that motorcycles can go and cause noise pollution. There are more people being annoyed by motorcycles than snowmobiles. Yet the snowmobile issue in one park goes all the way to the top of the NPS and there isn't even any discussion on the noise pollution caused by motorcycles.

    I know this is off-topic for this article. But an article on the noise pollution in the parks caused by motorcycles would be appreciated. Ask your contact in the NPS why they don't do anything.

  • Judge Orders Cross Removed from Mojave National Preserve   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Amen Brother Randy!

  • NPS Snowmobile Plan for Yellowstone, Grand Teton Bucks Science, the Public, and Itself   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I've never had the pleasure of visiting Yellowstone or Grand Teton in winter, so I can't comment on the noise and pollution brought about by snowmobiles in the park. Few people (relatively) visit those parks in winter. But there is a vehicular noise problem in the national parks in summer that disrupts the peace and quiet of many, many visitors, myself included, that seems never to have been addressed.

    I'm talking about motorcycles. They like to ride in packs of four or five cycles together, gunning their engines over the Tuolumne Road in Yosemite past the meadows and lakes, drowning out the wind in the trees or quiet conversations. They are much louder than passenger vehicles. They roar through Yellowstone and Grand Teton in summer.

    Why is this permitted? And at reduced entrance fees? If the NPS is serious about combating noise pollution in the parks, there must be some standard based on decibels that applies to all noise makers. I don't understand why the noise from snowmobiles prompts headlines and environmental impact assessments and the noise from motorcycles is overlooked.

  • Judge Orders Cross Removed from Mojave National Preserve   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I am continually amazed at people who are "offended" by religious symbols or the beliefs of another person. No where in any documents of this country except the liberal media does it give you the right to not be offended. You're offended by something? So what? Live with it. How about if I say that religious symbols should be placed on everything because otherwise the government is endorsing atheism?

    What is atheism but a belief system. No one knows 100% what is true and what is not. You just choose to believe there is nothing. Others choose to believe in something. Why should your belief take precedence over theirs?

    Oh wait, let's trot out the argument that religion causes wars. Religion doesn't cause wars or persecution or anything else. People cause those. People that are either power hungry or offended. I've been around the world several times and I can assure you that 95% of the people in it want to live their life without anyone bothering them. The power hungry or offended people call them sheep and feel that because they don't care about "the cause" then they don't matter. Sometimes they manage to spin up the sheep and point them in a direction that causes damage and that sucks.

    But it's not the fault of the sheeps belief system, it's the fault of the wolves.

    If you dropped 100 atheists on an island full of easily obtained food and shelter pretty soon you'd have at least two groups duking it out over who should be in charge.

    Don't read history and be confused by whether the wolves call themselves Christians or Muslims or atheists or whatever. They use the belief to further their own cause.

    I consider myself a follower of Christ. I read the bible. I spent 10 years in the military. I have a brother who lives in California and is married to a man. I don't understand it but he's my brother and I support his right to make a choice. I'm white and so is my wife but my other brother has children that are mixed race. I love spending time with them. I believe in evolution and that God created life. I think people should be able to pray in the street or school or wherever they want or don't if they don't want to.

    I'm offended by things in life but I don't feel I have the right to go out and tell other people how to live just because it violates my personal worldview. I think if you see something that "offends" you you should sit down shut up and pike off. And if my saying that offends you, good.

  • Biodiversity Studies in the Parks Reveal Previously Unknown Species   6 years 43 weeks ago

    The outcome of this endeavor shouldn't be all that surprising. Microbiologists estimate that a mere 2% of all existing microbic life forms have been catagorized to date, again a function of research dollars (and time) not being allocated to the expansion of these types of projects. Early on in life, I was told, 'It's amazing what you can discover in life and all that you will see that have yet to be noted if you just make the effort to LOOK!". Kudos to the project leaders in the Great Smoky program for following the next step in the logical progression of biologic investigation.

  • How Would YOU Fix the Statue of Liberty?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Yes, Bandelier has ladders available for folks to climb, to get a good look at the dwellings carved into the cliff face (cavelets I think they are called). To get to these ladders requires visitors take a somewhat steep and narrow path that includes many stairs. I don't really see how wheelchairs and strollers would manage it, and I'd think that crutches and canes would have a difficult time too. The trail isn't so steep or so narrow that overweight folks or those with heart conditions would have much trouble. Of course, it would be left to their judgment whether or not to attempt the ladders (which are bolted to the walls, so they don't really move). Most ladders are fairly short, nothing more than 10 feet tall that I can recall, although, there is a more remote location which may have taller ladders. Flickr has confirmed for me that at the more remote location, there is a warning sign.

    The sign reads, "a 140 Ft. vertical ascent. Those with health problems or fear of heights should not attempt the climb. Close supervision of children is required. CLIMB ON LADDERS ONLY."

  • How Would YOU Fix the Statue of Liberty?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I think Bandelier also has a bunch of ladders throughout the park that visitors are allowed to climb. Is anyone out there familiar with that park and how that gets handled?

  • Padre Island Interpretive Program Simply Succeeds   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I support the administrative merging of co-located parks to reduce the upper management ranks.

    What's funny is that the techno-approach being used to reach visitors could also easily be used for management and staff to regularly interact.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Yea, maybe we should have elevator shafts running up the inside of the dome too, and an emergency staircase running down the face. Grow up. The park service does not need to put trails in the wilderness either. Since they do, should they put drinking fountains every 500 yards? The truth is, people do not need to go into the wilderness. When they do, they should be willing to accept any risks entailed.

  • How Would YOU Fix the Statue of Liberty?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    While 268 steps is not MY idea of a strenuous endeavor, I get the point. But I totally disagree with the "can't tell 'em they're too fat" notion............just try and get your two-seater butt on a mule into the Grand Canyon. I'll attest to 200 lbs. not being a conventional guideline for obesity, but that's the limit for Arizona mules. And some I've seen rejected were not the poster children for the Mega-sized Meals Club President, just larger folks somewhat disadvantaged with their slightly larger than normal physique. Maybe a sign could be posted at the base of the Crown Jewel of New York Harbor to the effect that the stairs are deteriorating faster than a Minnesota interstate bridge, and weight limits are being enforced, akin to load limits on city streets........

  • Management of Lady Liberty Discussed in Congress   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Alexander,
    Thanks very much for weighing in. I've actually read your statement elsewhere on the internet. The reason I've never published it on this website, is that I don't think money is the issue here. In fact, at the recent congressional hearing, even the NPS said money wasn't the issue involved with the closure of Statue of Liberty's crown. After 9-11, there had been hundreds of millions of dollars raised in private funds (a figure of $500 million was mentioned by one of the congressmen) to restore full access to the Statue, money that was used to do many many things on the island (including $40K a year for a dog to chase away geese), but the park didn't restore access to the top because, they said, it wasn't safe anymore.

    We here at the National Parks Traveler agree wholeheartedly that our parks need to be a national priority and that there is a critical need for more federal park funding, but your statement seems to suggest that if Congress approves the new budget, Liberty's crown will once again be open. There just isn't any evidence to support that claim.

  • Management of Lady Liberty Discussed in Congress   6 years 43 weeks ago

    The Statue of Liberty, like all national parks, should be open and welcoming for Americans to enjoy. Closure of the crown illustrates the chronic funding shortfalls facing our national parks and the critical need for a $200 million increase contained in legislation now moving through Congress. Whether access is controlled and limited through reservations, lotteries, or other reasonable methods, the National Park Service should find a way to safely reopen the crown. Now is the time to make national parks a national priority.

    Alexander Brash, NE Reg. Dir.
    National Parks Conservation Association

  • How Would YOU Fix the Statue of Liberty?   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Having worked at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (America's tallest lighthouse) which is opened for climbing, I've been down this road before. It's a historic structure which was not designed for thousands of people stomping up and down on the historic structure every day and its 268 steps. We would warn people of the dangers, limit the number of people climbing at a single time (and limit each day), discourage those with heath problems, and set a height minimum for safety reasons and yet the visitors still climb. For the most part they climb happy, take their pictures, and go away. No matter how hard you warn though, today's society tends to be overweight, arrogant, and unhealthy. There will be a segment of the population that will not get it. The weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes 5 times in one day, rescues were not healthy people, but overweight people or others suffering from chronic medical conditions. Unfortunatly, we can't stop people and say sorry you're too fat, or if you have a heart problem you can't climb. When we had to treat and rescue people we had to shut down the tower and folks on either side of the rescue had to wait. No matter what plan is developed for the Statue, there will always be someone who needs to be rescued, someone who complains because tickets are sold out, or upset over something.

  • Padre Island Interpretive Program Simply Succeeds   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Usually formal interpretation programs get axed due to reduction in seasonal staff. Seasonal staff do the bulk of interpretation. I worked at the same park Beamis referenced above, and in this park and others, the seasonal interp jobs are the first cuts made.

    How many seasonal interpreters (and therefore seasonal programs) could be funded with money slotted for a GS-14 and a GS-13? Assuming both are step 1--and not counting big benefits packages which seasonal employees don't get--that adds up to about 150k. If both are step 10, that'd add up to a whopping 190k. A GS-05 can expect to make about $13k in a six-month season. So, those two positions could fund between 11 and 15 seasonal interpreters.

    Those upset about reduction in interpretive programs should demand that the NPS--instead of cutting seasonal interpretive positions--cut bloated management budgets and reallocate those funds to the interpretive base.

    Until that happens, expect to see more iPod "rangers" and fewer real people speaking passionately and knowledgeably about the lands we cherish.

    And I have to quote Beamis because it's worth repeating:

    Just like in the teaching profession, until front line interpreters are given the respect, pay and opportunity for advancement by being encouraged to do what they do best, park naturalists will continue to take the only safe career path of upward mobility which is away from what they love best. The parks definitely suffer as a consequence.

    Amen brother.

  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vandalized   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but there are lots of idiots out there documenting their blatant disdain for park regulations and general stupidity on YouTube. Hopefully it will do more to contribute to them being caught rather than encourage more idiots to come out of the woodwork to try to out-do them.

  • Padre Island Interpretive Program Simply Succeeds   6 years 43 weeks ago

    This ranger latched on to the fact that this kid had an interest in Peregrines and went with it. Bully for her, as TR would say. She could have easily recited the usual blah blah swearing in ceremony for the kid and then re-parked her butt back behind the desk and pasted on a smile waiting for the next "Where's the bathroom?" question to come along. My kids do Junior Ranger booklets everywhere we go and sometimes you can't even find a ranger around to talk to them, then you get the bookstore cashier reading some script or even worse, just handing the kid a plastic badge with maybe a "congratulations". I have my kids do these not only to learn about the park but to get that minute or two of interaction with the ranger, questioning what they found, sharing their experiences. There are not enough rangers nor do they usually have enough time to interact one-on-one with kids. The formal interp programs have been scaled back so much you can hardly find anything offered outside of summer these days. So, yeah, unfortunately this video shows the way it ought to be and increasingly the way it "used to be". To say she only did this because she had the time is pretty darn cynical. It's obvious to me she cared enough that the kid left with a memorable, positive experience in the hopes that someday he will do the same for others. Caring is contagious, and an electronic gizmo doesn't care a lick.

  • Padre Island Interpretive Program Simply Succeeds   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Haunter Hiker and Beamis - thanks very much for weighing in.

    H.H. - I agree with you, there isn't anything extraordinary about that video, which I think is great! To me, it represents what "business as normal" ought to be in the National Park Service. The video is nothing more than an interpreter (I presume) doing her job. And, I agree, there are NPS Law Enforcement rangers which provide the same level of dedication and passion for the job and for the visitor.

    And, I agree with you that there is nothing wrong with non-personal interpretation, like that found in visitor center exhibits, orientation movies, the web, and podcasts -- this is the stuff I'm payed to produce (my real job), so believe me, I really find nothing wrong with it. What bothers me, is when it is suggested that non-personal interpretation can be a substitute for intrapersonal interpretation (like suggesting the MacIntosh is just as tasty as the Granny Smith is raw). I've been sent in email about new devices described as "GPS Rangers". The title of the article is "Gadgetry to lure 'iPod' generation to California's Death Valley". Says the salesman of this device, "Look at Americans -- they don't read that many books. Why fight it? Join it!"

    The point I'm hoping to make with this article, and the attached video in the comments section, is that the person to person interpretation can be much more powerful tool at resource protection than a gadget can. The pessimist (or is it realist) in me says the NPS may be turning to these electronic gadgets because they can produce a tangible return on investment (in rental dollars) where as people interpreters cost too much money to maintain (income, housing, etc) and produce a result which is hard to measure.

  • Padre Island Interpretive Program Simply Succeeds   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Yeah. What Beamis said.

    And I don't see what is so extraordinary about the interaction bewteen the ranger and the little boy in the video. Other than that the visitor center was staffed enough that the ranger had enough free time to give this one boy. If the opportunity allows, park rangers are having exchanges like this one with park visitors everyday. And Gasp! some of those rangers are even gun toters!

    On that note, comparing this videotaped interaction with internet based interpretation is like comparing a Granny Smith to a MacIntosh. Ya know, one's best raw the other makes excellent pies. That's why the stores sell both of them.

  • Dry Conditions Blamed For Bear Problems in Grand Teton, Yosemite   6 years 43 weeks ago

    [b]I would like to know about what may have happened to the missing hiker in Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve.They say they found his gear near the airstrip where he was to be picked up, & some footprints that possibly are his near the Russell Glacier. Can anyone tell me if there are a lot of bears around there, & what type of terrain it is. It seemed foolish to me to hike alone at this time of year for multiple days even if you are expierienced.Can someone clue me in on this territory & wildlife? I live in Ga. & our mountains are anthills compared to out west. Thanks!! Also, great website!! Blatz_rox

  • Judge Orders Cross Removed from Mojave National Preserve   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Have we forgotten that this country was founded on christianity? God has always been a big part of our country.I`m offended by those who are trying to take God out of our country.The worst thing we can do is allow these people to remove religion from our government. I feel very sorry for our young people in this country.I would hate to see what our politions would be like if they didn`t feel they had God to answer to.

  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vandalized   6 years 43 weeks ago

    These are the same kind of young adults that knock over grave stones,spray paint on private property,hurt animals,and steal from our elderly. When they catch them,they need to be put to work cleaning up instead of putting them in jail. Just think of how clean our towns would be if the judges made people like this work to clean up their towns instead of putting them in jail and making us feed and room them. Maybe it`ll give them a sense of pride,and it might make them think twice about messing up something if they are the ones who have to clean it up.