Recent comments

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

    Moving some dirt and rocks around the bottom of the lake is not such a big deal. Doing so will save it's total cost probably in the first year. When the drought ends, (which it can in a single year), it's all covered with water anyway. Safety is also a major concern and such is a major concern for the NRA managers, the NPS. Dredging this small cut will wave lives, property, trauma, lawsuits and peoples investments in THEIR chosen method of recreating.

    As to the issues about NP's vs. NRA's and their joint management by the NPS. Well quite frankly a National Recreation Area is NOT a National Park! They should have very different management goals and the personel staffed at Rec areas should have a different mindset than what the NPS system provides. I think the Dept of Interior should create another division specifically aimed at managing rec areas and staffed with like minded people as well. They are different and require a different point of view in their management. (Yeah I said that twice)!

    For you science and history lovers, May I recommend reading "Forbidden History" by J. Douglas Kenyon.

  • Plague Suspected In Death Of Grand Canyon National Park Employee   6 years 44 weeks ago

    i hope all of you who feel so inclined to report on one of few truly decent people, take into account the fact that people who will actually miss him, may be reading all of your garbage........and not caring to see a picture of kurt repanshek(whoever that is) when they are trying to research what exactly happened to an extremely good man,

  • Park History: Badlands National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    We travel to Wymong as often as we can. Each time, we visit the Badlands and twice have camped there. In addition to running water and toilets, there are showers, a General Store and even a play area for the kids. The first time, we camped in a tent; subsequently, we "camped" in their Camping Cabins which can comfortably accomodate four adults. The sunrise and sunset is magical with its creeping shades of tan, rose and gold on every rock formation. As you stand in the quiet of the place, you feel as if you've returned to a land of long ago. The Badlands is one of my favorite places to visit. It's a place of serene beauty.

  • Park History: Badlands National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    It might be worth mentioning, that some of the most impressive scenes of the 1990 movie "Dances with Wolves" were filmed in the park. Particularly the early scene of a stagecoach driving through the prairie and the indian village at the river bend.

    PS: Since about a week, i never get the captcha right in the first place, either the captcha isn't displayed at all or the first try fails. The second attempt always go through. Maybe there is an issue with Firefox, would you please check this out?

  • Park History: Badlands National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I had the experience of visiting this vast land filled with, what ilooked like giant sand castles. It was truly unbelievable. If one can think of the history that has past though this unforgiving land, it is remarkable. From the dinosaurs to the early homesteaders, to our native Indians, to present day vacationers. I was awe struck. At times I felt as though I was on a distant planet, until a mule deer, chipmunk, prairedog,wolf and many other wildlife past in front of our car. I am hoping to return agoin with our grandchildren.

  • Park History: Theodore Roosevelt National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Only been here once but it's still one of my favorite parks. Was moving the family from west coast to east and had the moving truck towing a trailer with the family vehicle on the back. I parked in the Cottonwood campground, pulled my bike off the top of our car, and spent the next day riding my bike throughout the park. Back to town a few times and once around the loop, and boy did I see a lot of critters... more than I've seen in any park except perhaps Yellowstone. Being on a bicycle really made all the difference as I was very quiet as I rounded each bend, often surprising both myself and the animals crossing the road. Around one of those bends was probably the biggest bison I've ever seen and he was standing right in the middle of the road, so I dared not pass him. I had to wait it out perched up on a nearby boulder and boy he sure took his time moving along. At night, several bison came rummaging through the campground, which was rather disconcerting but it really gave you the feeling that nature was in charge here and you were just a visitor. My cats were along for the trip and when that first coyote howled and those cats heard that for what I'm sure was the first time in their lives, it was amazing to see their instincts kick in -- that the coyote was something Baaaaaaad.

  • Volcanics Pushing Yellowstone National Park Higher   6 years 44 weeks ago

    The Canyon Village Education Center has a nice exhibit on those ash volumes to help kids (big kids too) comprehend the size of such an explosion and the aftermath of the ashfall. I remember my geology professor in back in the fall of 1980 gave us each a small vial of MtStH ash to keep. I can't imagine having a whole yard full of it several feet deep...

  • House Resources Considers Legislation To Increase National Park Properties   6 years 44 weeks ago

    No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.

  • Plague Suspected In Death Of Grand Canyon National Park Employee   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I saw this on an episode of the old Jack Klugman series, "Quincy, M.E.", except the infection was initiated by a nest of decaying squirrels in a Native American burial ground, and it was mostly the local Native construction workers building a hotel / casino that were affected. Who says TV doesn't imitate real life?

    Our thought and prayers (if you do such things) should be with the fine young ranger and his family who in all likelihood, did nothing wrong but perform his daily tasks as an investigative biologist.

    I hope nobody confuses this manner of infection, in which "The Plague" induced acute pneumonia (hence the name pnuemonic plague,) which the original "Black Death" that swept through Europe a few hundred years back. This is an EXTREMELY rare mutation, albeit an extremely virulent manifestation. But this is a HIGHLY infectious but highly TREATABLE form, and unlike Mersa, our current strains of antibiotics will get you up and running again within 10-14 days, PROVIDED you seek assistance prior to the pneumonia becoming too deeply rooted in your respiratory tract. This lung complication is also the mechanism by which the infection becomes transient; the heavy cough, expelling "lung snots" and the omni-present respiratory mist facilitates a perfect medium by which transfer of bacterial laden specimens are readily passed from person to person without direct "personal" contact. But if you've been in this area and you're feeling "like a cold is coming on" or you're ignoring flu-like symptoms, and you start coughing up bloody discharges, you'd best get to a source of serious antibiotics PRONTO. Ignoring these conditions, given the strain of pathogen to which you may have been exposed, could be the last thing you'll even do on this Earth. But having stated that, I wouldn't avoid GCNP due to this one isolated instance either. At least I'm not altering my vacation plans.

  • Mountain Bikers Encouraged to Seek Access to Rocky Mountain National Parks   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Frank:

    If I could share the specifics of what I'm talking about re closures, I'm sure you'd agree. These decisions were all about closing trails...not closing roads, ORV routes, etc. These decisions had nothing to do with "preservation," by the way. In principle, I agree with you about the importance of preservation. But I still believe you can preserve national parks and still allow the public to respectfully enjoy them.

    Perhaps other contributors can cite some examples of closures (or perhaps regulations?) they've witnessed that illustrate my original point of seemingly arbitrary decisions.

  • House Resources Considers Legislation To Increase National Park Properties   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Frank:

    Maybe Ranger Butt-Crack was merely trying to present an appropriate option for the placement of a pen?

    We've all heard the old cliche. Government workers are lazy, worthless, shiftless. Good thing they have brooms to lean on, or else they'd all be horizontal.

    That may be true with some agencies, but the cliche disintegrates when it comes to the NPS. Many of the organization's employees, in fact, are quite the opposite of lazy. They're extremely diligent...often to the tune of 12-hour days and 60-hour weeks. I once had a supervisor who worked so hard this person literally RAN down the hallway of our headquarters building!

    This WASPish work ethic may sound great on the surface, but it's yet another of many veiled failings. One reason is that the workaholic makes his/her coworkers and/or staff think they'd better work equally feverishly, or they won't rate. Suddenly working into the wee hours on a report that no one will read becomes more important than spending time with one's family. What a boost to morale!

    Equally insidious is the loss of focus that workaholism creates in a staff. If folks are working obsessively, everything they're doing must be hugely important. Suddenly meaningless bureaucratic tasks are given equal value to the truly important matters, such as updating bulletin boards, repairing vehicles, and picking up trash. Eventually, the importance of these latter tasks becomes diluted in the flurry of activity that workaholics create.

    It's all rather ironic, really. Here we are, charged with managing the kinds of places Everett Reuss and John Muir described as sanctuaries from the madness of "civilization." But nowadays it seems preferable to foster an atmoshpere of frantic deadlines and constant crisis.

    When's the last time you heard an NPS employee at a meeting say "I don't care!"? Our culture has conditioned us to brand such "apathy" as abhorrent. But saying "I don't care!" may really be another way of demanding, "Let's get our priorities straight!" The priorities of the NPS were spelled out nearly a century ago--very simply--with the Mission (I'll leave defining the Mission's exact interpretation to other dialog, Frank). Let's get back to it.

    Simple Proposal #11: Walk--Don't Run--Down the Hallway!

  • House Resources Considers Legislation To Increase National Park Properties   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Since you brought up the uniform thingy, I have a way to improve image and work accomplishment. It's also an appropriate response in light of the Veteran's holiday. If the NPS would quit bending the hiring process to the "What can we get away with" extreme and advertise positions based on the work function rather than building PD's that will get the good ole boys hired they will end up with a more "Proud and Professional " workforce. I am not saying that the present workforce is not hard working and proud of their accomplishments. I am pointing out that Veteans have loads of training in Leadership and management coupled with a work ethic that those who have not served could not begin to understand. The NPS has very limited training resources and should take advantage of the existing experience and training in the Veteran workforce.

    Having worked in more parks than I can count on one hand, and being a Service Connected Disabled Veteran I feel qualified to comment on this subject. I have felt the bite of the animosity held by non veteran hiring officials who throw out certs because "they re-evaluated their needs". I cannot count the number of times that I have heard that a cert was ruined by the dammned veterans. I am not supporting that all veteran applicants be hired....I support hiring the best qualified and best fit.

    Several things would result from hiring the best qualified candidate. You would have leadership who understands the phrase of "Doing more with Less". Uniform standards would be taken to a whole new level. I was very proud of my career in the military and my uniform showed it at ALL times. I am even more proud of the Green and Grey and believe I have a responsability to represent the NPS in a professional manner at ALL times. Finally there would be an atmosphere of employee development and constant improvement. I would no longer have my evaluation thrown on the desk with a response of "here sign this".

    For all those who served, THANK YOU

  • Volcanics Pushing Yellowstone National Park Higher   6 years 45 weeks ago

    One thing I heard Bob Smith say when I just happened to be in Canyon (on my hiker/biker trip) when the new educational center opened was that it's not possible to discern when the next eruption, if there is one, will be. One thing people seem to say is that because the last two eruptions had a consistent interval that this will have a consistent interval. No one can confidently draw that generalization from just a couple eruptions.

    There are so many fascinating things to think about, though, with this volcano. Did you know the source of the hot spot beneath the earth extends actually as far away as Dillon, MT, for instance? Also, Smith suggested evidence is that the hot spot does not extend to the next layers of the earth as previously thought. So, what causes this?

    It's really neat stuff to think about, that the earth moves up and down, that land in Yellowstone Lake appears and is covered by water depending on what the caldera is doing.

    No one can really imagine what 2,500 times Mt. St. Helens is or what the ash would look like. Look at these images for examples.

    Map of ash range
    Graph of Explosion size

    These kinds of forces are amazing. It puts our sense of conversation, of "saving the earth," of our political issues into perspective. If we live in a world where Yellowstone will explode, where the sun will one day give out, what is conservation and environmentalism about exactly? Perhaps, we need metaphors better than "saving the earth" (even for future generations). I think there perhaps are better ways to think of why we care about protecting thermal features than to preserve them for future generations. Isn't there something else behind it? Those are the sorts of things that the Yellowstone supervolcano makes me think about. That, and, it sure is pretty neat to say you've slept, eaten, peed, and made love on top of the bed of a volcano.

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

  • Ghost at Blevins Farmstead; Excerpt From 'Haunted Hikes'   6 years 45 weeks ago

    jr ranger, my people are from that area. And I agree with you, Big South Fork is a gorgeous sleeper of a park that deserves much more than 15 minutes of fame. But then that leaves more room for us while visiting, doesn't it?

    I spoke with Howard during my research, and I want to hear more BSF stories. I'll be in touch!

  • House Resources Considers Legislation To Increase National Park Properties   6 years 45 weeks ago

    I didn't know that there were plumbers doubling as rangers. That explains alot. Too much information Frank!

  • Volcanics Pushing Yellowstone National Park Higher   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Even more amazing are the people who purchase the properties. I admit to a certain wonderment (and lack of good judgement) about folks who desire "homes on stilts", precariously perched on mountainsides, just for the view! I've witnessed the results of mudslides carrying half-million dollar homes (25 years ago) into canyons in the Huntington Beach area. I know personally of 2 colleagues who own residences within a few hundred feet of "The Fault" just north of San Jose, because "it was all we could afford at the time", like these properties were somehow "cheap". On the other hand, the history of the worst earthquake in modern history lies within the scope of the New Madrid Fault, running through a region that few people would take for "risky", right in the heart of the Midwest. But you won't deter development in St. Louis, Memphis Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville or Little Rock anytime soon based on the notion that the area, currently seismically active or not, is an "at risk" zone. So why should attitudes in the Rocky Mountain region be any different, just because it's less populace?

    As we all know, the most fertile soils on the planet are in the shadow of some of the most volcanically active mountains, and you'll never convince the under-developed nations that farming is too risky to conduct in those regenerating lava fields. I guess the underlying factor is that man will do as he sees best through his "blinders on" view of what needs to be versus what can be, even to the point of losing everything for short-term gain. But I don't see the current Yellowstone data as anything worthy of instituting a national, or even local panic.

  • House Resources Considers Legislation To Increase National Park Properties   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Bart: On this topic, I figured I'd said enough about pork and the over extension of resources.

    Anyway, while your Simple Proposal may not address the increase of NPS property, it is yet another fine example of outside-the-box thinking the NPS needs. It's pretty darn funny, too. I feel compelled to comment about my experience regarding the uniform at SEKI. During evening programs, we were required to wear a long sleeved shirt, tie, wool dress jacket, wool pants. Sometimes it was in the 80s during the EP, and we were required to build a raging fire, which added to our discomfort. I had sweat streaming down my face from the leather band in my flat hat, and I often felt like I was on the verge of fainting. Absolutely ridiculous! Additionally, at ZION we were not allowed to wear shorts in a desert environment where the temps frequently soared to 115. Are you kidding me? Finally, at LABE the chief ranger berated seasonals for having scuffs on their boots after leading a hike through a lava tube cave (sorry, basalt can be quite sharp!). Meanwhile, everytime Mr. Chief Ranger bent over, his buttcrack spilled out! Rangers should get dirty and should be allowed to be dirty in uniform. It's proof that they've been ranging!

    It seems to me that the NPS suffers from a false-god syndrome. Instead of focusing attention on nature and ranging, some employees worship uniforms, regulations, and so on. False gods. Image. Where's the substance? Good points, Bart. I still hope the editors give you some space for your Simple Proposals. Your regular contributions to NPT would be an asset.

  • Volcanics Pushing Yellowstone National Park Higher   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, in the Mammoth Lakes area (not far from Mt. Whitney) of California, the continuous seismic activity around this part of the country, where past volcanic activity was once quite prevalent, doesn't seem to bother the local residents...million dollar ski chalets, expensive townhouses and condo's. This is one part of the country I consider beach front property ready to be sold for a pittance once the smoke starts spewing. This is really beautiful volcanic country ready to explode someday. Once the big one hits...it's shake and bake! It's amazing where developers build homes in California...anything with a view and on a fault line.

  • Mountain Bikers Encouraged to Seek Access to Rocky Mountain National Parks   6 years 45 weeks ago

    HH: You're double dipping! Also, the NPS and the Organic Act are not yet even 100 years old, let alone 150. Yellowstone was set aside in 1872, 135 years ago, a generation before the NPS, and it was done so not to provide for people's enjoyment; it was done so to preserve it from resource exploitation and development.

    Bart: I too enjoy your thinking and sharing on NPT. You successfully use evidence and humor to make poignant points.

    As for the exact wording of a revised or new mission, I can't say. I might use the word preserve rather than conserve as was originally intended (although, if you look conserve up, one definition is preserve, but I think preserve sends a stronger message). The mission should mandate management based on the latest research (this would address the issue people closing areas without justification). I see problems with the use of unimpaired for two reasons: 1. It implies that before contact, humans didn't alter the environment and we should leave the land in a supposed "pristine" state; 2. It is too non-specific, too non-scientific a term.

    I see that you take the middle road, which first prompts me to applaud. However, after some reflection, isn't the middle road that's led us to the current morass? The fight to balance preservation with use has lead to dozens of director's orders, thousands of miles of roads, and many substantial impairments. While not a purist, I believe we should err on the side of preservation. There's a lot of talk about providing for enjoyment, but many equate that to unfettered industrial access. Roads have clearly been an impairment; an example I often cite is the Zion Canyon Road. The Virgin River has been channelized to protect the road, and now cottonwoods are not naturally regenerating. Resource managers at Zion proclaim "We need the road!", but I disagree. People could walk or bike a trail up canyon. They could ride a mule. Access doesn't have to mean impairment. Oh, and when a landslide backed up the Virgin River, the NPS was there to clear it to provide access, even though Zion's founding charter claimed its mission as preserving the geological processes of the Canyon, not preserving motorized access to the Canyon.

    Anyway, I have to get to work now. Hope to share more later.

  • Volcanics Pushing Yellowstone National Park Higher   6 years 45 weeks ago

    gargantuan eruptions there 2 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago. These eruptions were 2,500,
    280 and 1,000 times bigger, respectively, than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens

    By these ratios, looks like we're due for another big one! But by these same ratios, is should only be about 85-100X the intensity of MSH in 1980. If that's any consolation to the locals.

    Good thing these ratios don't mean much in real-time geological timelines or else those "the sky is falling" dooms-dayers would be all over this one. Or does this fall into the "ignorance is bliss" category?

    Funny thing about volcanos......they're rarely, if ever, truly extinct. Extinct correctly describes the Dodo, among other flora and fauna too numerous to list. Dormant is a better assessment, since we don't have enough accurate historical data from which to render judgement on the difference between those two terms with any REAL certainty. Makes for the basis for some interesting speculation though!

    I wouldn't put my condo on the market just yet Kurt.

  • Ghost at Blevins Farmstead; Excerpt From 'Haunted Hikes'   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Bravo for shining the spotlight on the Big South Fork! There are many interesting tales to be told from up on the Plateau - just take a look at the different names of rivers...No Business Creek, Troublesome Creek, Parched Corn Creek, Bandy Creek (shortened from "abandoned")....the list goes on.

    Haunted Hiker - there's multiple Blevins farms in the Bandy Creek area, so it could be that both the Ocscar Blevins Place and Jake's Place are haunted, although Jake's Place as been (over)used as a backcountry campsite, so I doubt there's any spooks there. As to if Oscar wore overalls, I don't know, but I'm sure Mr. Duncan does - he's a veritable encyclopedia of Big South Fork lore.

    ---
    jr_ranger
    "Good Planets are Hard to Find"
    http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com
    http://zinch.com/jr_ranger
    http://picasaweb.google.com/north.cascades
    President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
    Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

  • House Resources Considers Legislation To Increase National Park Properties   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Goodness me, I can't believe Beamis or Frank haven't chimed in on this one yet! But...on to the next Simple Proposal:

    As a long-time NPS employee, I've been to my share of meetings about uniform standards. To many in the agency, wearing of the uniform is so sacred that we must never get comfortable with current uniform standards. We must meet to discuss and tweak the standards, else we might forget about the uniform. And forgetting about the uniform is nothing short of sacrilege...punishable by...more meetings about the uniform!

    Someone once told me that a certain park's management was so obsessed with the NPS uniform they actually convened a meeting to debate whether or not it's appropriate for a pen to be visible in your pocket. Your tax dollars at work? Fork it over, Bub!

    The above comments being said, most of us acknowledge the value of wearing a presentable uniform: it allows visitors to easily recognize their public servants in the field. Period.

    As I see it, the uniform is a microcosm of yet another of the agency's ills: an obsession with image to the point of waste. Regarding image, we should be paying more attention to what VISITORS are seeing. If they're seeing (and complaining about) unmaintained trails, trashed bathrooms, and rude entrance station employees, we should be paying attention.

    If visitors are complaining about whether or not we're wearing poplin vs. summer tropical shirts, hiking boots vs. rocky walkers, or pens in our pockets, we should also be concerned...

    ...so...when's the last time you've heard visitors complain about pens in pockets?

    Simple Proposal #12: Worry Less About Image, More About Substance

  • Mountain Bikers Encouraged to Seek Access to Rocky Mountain National Parks   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Frank:

    I'll bet we don't disagree that much, except maybe in certain details. Re closures of facilities/trails/areas, I'll resist citing specifics since I believe I'll risk losing my anonymity, which I find I'm thoroughly enjoying!

    But I will cite an example shared with me recently by a friend. He mentioned he went to a meeting in a major western park, during which some in attendance wanted to close a certain area (to any entry, including hiking). But they couldn't agree on what justification they'd use to do so! If these folks stopped to consider who's paying their salaries, maybe they'd reconsider their intentions.

    On a more humorous note, I once saw a sign on the gate leading into a remote section of a national wildlife refuge in Arizona. The sign read something like: "Area Closed, Public Entry Prohibited, Keep Out." Beneath this sign was another that read: "Your tax dollars at work."

    Re the Mission, I believe the basic intent, as Haunted Hiker stated, is still a good one. Recall that I emphasized the need for "responsible" public use. Defining such terms as "responsible," "public enjoyment," "conservation," "unimpaired" etc. is what becomes problematic. The intent of my original post was to let common sense dictate how we manage these areas, not the notions of a few purists (and conversely, not the notions of a few abusers). While a hiking trail represents some impact on an ecosystem, most of us agree that trails are a good thing. Most of us also agree that allowing for personal watercraft isn't such a good thing. Then we have all those more debatable areas imbetween.

    Hopefully reasonable heads will prevail and wise decisions will be made, taking into account the variables for each circumstance....and the intent of the Mission. Jeez...who am I kidding?!

    Just curious: what would be your wording of an ideal Mission?

    Good discussing this with you. I've admired your desire to think innovatively all along!

  • Park History: How Volcanics Sculpted Parts of the National Park System   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Don't forget Pinnacles National Monument, south of the San Francisco CA area.
    From the park's web page:
    "Pinnacles National Monument gets its name from rock spires and crags that are remnants of an ancient volcano. The volcano eroded over millions of years as it moved northward along the San Andreas Fault. Rock debris in the form of boulders has weathered and settled, leaving behind spires of volcanic rock and talus caves."

  • Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water   6 years 45 weeks ago

    HH,
    One can "say" lots of things, but what you've said isn't backed up by the history of the Organic Act, the history of national parks, the history of the NPS. It's pure pontification. (For more on the history of the above, please see Sellars' Preserving Nature in the National Parks.)

    Also, research is not an institution; it's a process or a product. While I think about it, science itself isn't an institution; it is a systematic process for determining what is knowledge and what is not. Lone Hiker has done enough to show the absurdity of such assertions.

    Finally, Abbey's ideas are anything but antiquated (i.e. obsolete); were they antiquated, national parks wouldn't be limiting auto traffic in places like Zion. No, I'd say that Abbey's ideas are highly relevant today more than ever.

    Thanks HH for engaging me; I hope you see that I'm attacking your ideas and your assertions, not you personally. I think you're grrrreat!