Recent comments

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Bart-

    And open exchange of ideas is NEVER a waste of time, unless you're part of Congress and you're soliciting ideas to build into a bill that has the sole intent of becoming aencyclopedic volume which nobody will peruse in it's complete form, thereby hiding "pork" in the voluminous final edition of the "Bill to Save America from International Terrorism, and ensure proper snowplowing of the roads leading to my house, and repaving my driveway, and oh, that new mailbox I was thinking about, and don't forget my mistress needs a necklace, and of course the private jet to the golf course and casino in Bimini for the lobbyists, and season's tickets to the ......". I understand the frustration that is being put forth by current and ex-employees, but who better than true insiders from which the rest of us can gain that albeit one-sided perspective, since most of us have no manner of inclusion in the innner-workings of the system? Just as long as folks realize that these people are indeed just one side of a multi-faceted arguement, we have the basis for an informative dialogue and with any luck, the opportunity for some true brainstorming on a multitude of issues, park related and otherwise. I personally claim no ties to the "organization", but does that render my insights into certain portions of these articles useless? Lets all of us bear in mind that the Park Service is on part service orgainzation. It is also part business, part science, part administration, part political, and a large part public. The last part is the portion that seems to have been either lost or at least overlooked, and that's what we're all working to reclaim. I hope.

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

    I see no need to cut any new trails (hiker or biker) in any of Our National Parks.
    In fact I believe there is way too much time and money spent on maintenance of trails already established.
    When I visit I like nature to be wild, free and spontaneous (to borrow from Mr. Abbey) which must be hard for her as we endlessly cut, gouge, pave, fence, sign and bridge.

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

    Hey Kurt-

    Could you ask the distinguished professor what his criteria were when he responded to your inquiry? There were obviously some omissions in his reply, as is evidenced by the readers, and I'm quite certain that he did not purposefully intend to mislead anyone into thinking that his was a complete compilation. I'm just curious as to how his determinations were made for the article.

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    In all honesty I really feel I'm wasting my time contributing to this site, but I plod on because I believe we all have a responsibility to speak our minds...for what that's worth. It gives me much more satisfaction to be out in my park than pecking away at this blasted computer, but I, like Frank & Beamis, feel committed to some innovative thinking...for once! Give these two guys their fair shake for speaking passionately.

    As a federal government agency, the NPS is very much about process & procedure, rules & regulations (PPRR). Examples of bureaucratic PPRR are so profuse that I'm at a loss to cite one, the same way I can't recall a single one of my own breaths. The outfit is so hog-tied by its own bureaucracy that new employees see a certain mystique in it all, sometimes leading to rumors about PPRR that don't even exist. "Gee, I thought I couldn't do that because I'd heard there was a rule from the Regional Office stating..."

    It's no secret that bureaucracy is appalling. To me, it creates in employees a perfectly diabolical, soul-sucking combination of tedium and stress.

    A few years back I took a supervisory training course facilitiated by a private company, which had spent a lot of time analyzing the NPS. The instructor--a bright, observant, and outspoken woman in her 30's--wasn't too complimentary of the agency. Much to the dismay of many attendees, she constantly reminded the class that most PPRR aren't laws. You can bend and break them without being thrown in jail. She also reminded us that it's nearly impossible to get fired when you work for the federal government. Her wise advise: you SHOULD bend and break rules when they're stupid...which they frequently are.

    As a supervisor at the time, I took her advice to heart. If an employee asked how to deal with PPRR that was inane, I would tell them to ignore it. If anyone had problems with that, I'd go on to say, you can tell them that I made the decision. The "consequences," after years of practicing this approcah?...I'm rarely questioned abut blowing off such absurd PPRR.

    Have the courage to resist ridiculous bureaucracy. You'll save the taxpayers a lot of money. And you'll leave more time for the vastly more important job of fulfilling the NPS Mission.

    Simple Proposal #6: Instead of doing things right, Do The Right Thing.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Ms. buccello's offenses are more egregious because she scammed some of her free tickets by cancelling official duty flights -one was a death notification to the wife of a slain ranger- and then redeemed the tickets for later personal use. Then she lied about it. How low can you get? The posters above are quite right; there is a horrible double-standard in disciplinary issues, depending upon the employee's GS-rank and political status. Few government managers really get taken down as hard as field-level employees for similar offenses. Ms. Buccello will most likely escape prison time, and since she pleaded guilty to a misdemenor instead of a felony, she will be allowed to carry firearms. She will undoubtably receive her government retirement for life, courtesy of the taxpayers she ripped off. This is a real slight to the vast majority of National Park Service field rangers who are honest, and whose pensions will be much less than hers. And, some of the rangers Buccello investigated, presumably for lessor crimes than she admitted to, won't receive law enforcement retirement at all.

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

    Mountain bikes/bikers are a cancer in National Parks. The chemotherapy is convincing superintendents and the NPS itself that mountain bikes are an inappropriate method of access to National Parks. We're not talking about limiting access, we're talking about limiting the *method* of access - similar to the snowmobile issue in Yellowstone.

    Do bikers want to see the parks or do they want to ride their bikes? Which is it? If bikers want to see the parks, they can lock their bikes up and walk in. If they want to ride, like Kurt mentioned, there's many, many miles of bike trails on other public lands.

    A poll was recently taken in the mountainous west and not a single tourist came to see mountain bikes, gas or oil wells, clear-cuts or cattle crap. >Big smile<

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    It's amazing the way some people interpret the law. Perhaps it's a matter of perception...

    justanotherhunter wrote "The video is mostly fake Bob because I was there..."

    I think justanotherhunter is lying about being on scene.

    As they say in jury instructions, if you find any part of the testimony to be false, you must find the entire testimony to be false.

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

    Anonymous,

    Thanks for eventually getting the name right;-) But why do you hide your reply behind anonymity?

    Now, to your points:

    * I can't recall the last time there was a proposal to cut new hiking trails in the parks. But that's not the point.

    * I don't profess a hatred of mountain bikes. There are two in my garage. But I do prefer my road bike.

    * The majority of mountain bike trails go uphill? What goes up, must come down, no? But regardless, mountain bikes carry much more speed on flats and downhills than hikers. Especially if the hiker has a 40-50 pound pack on their back.

    * Mountain bikers aren't thrill seekers? Perhaps not all, but take a look at the accompanying picture. Those are IMBA reps kicking it in Hawaii Volcanoes NP.

    * And really, as much as IMBA lobbies for single-track trails in the parks, shouldn't someone offer a counter argument?

    My bottom line is that I am not convinced the national parks need to be, or should be, open to every form of recreation imaginable. Forest Service and BLM lands are more focused on such multiple use. Perhaps if there weren't already thousands of miles of mountain biking opportunities on those lands I'd be persuaded about the need to open more land in the national parks to mountain bikes.

    And really, there already exist more than a few mountain biking opportunities in the parks. If single-track usage is approved under the "dual-use" premise, and it's found not workable, does that mean bike-only single track should be cut across the parks? Or should wider footprints be cut? And if wider footprints are called for, should they be hard-packed or paved so Segways can travel them as well?

    God bless Ed Abbey.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    It's not illegal to interfere with a legal hunt if you're Channel 2 news in Anchorage or biologists with a "save the bear" attitude. Just ask Megan Balldino. They control the lawmakers; whether it's right or wrong means nothing. What means something is getting re-elected. Sorry but true.

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

    Ooops, replace every Kirk with Kurt.

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

    Why is there a need to cut single-track trails in the parks? - Will Kirk ever write a "why do we need any new hiking trails" post or is this a barely veiled attempt to disguise his contempt for bicycles?

    Is that the best use of the resource at a time when there already are innumerable mountain biking opportunities? - Should we ever have more hiking when there is already a plethora of hiking opportunities?

    Can hikers and mountain bikers satisfactorily exist on the same trail? - Can Kirk ever write an article that doesn't ignore the positive experiences of those who have already posted on his other articles regarding this topic? Or, do Kirk and the bike haters always run away at the first sound of a mountain bike somewhere in the vacinity?

    Many mountain bikers love the thrill of zooming downhill. Think those in national parks won't seek that thrill?
    - Is it possible to create a sustainable multi-user friendly trail of moderate speed with uphill portions like the majority of biking trails across America or does he always assume that all trails and bikers participate in X-Games style solely downhill riding at great speed?

    Kirk, I appreciate your other efforts and posts regarding actual detrimental activities in our parks like ORV's and drilling in ANWR, and yes my post is a little on the sarcastic side, but your disdain for mountain bikers is misguided.

    I'm with Ed Abbey. Close the parks to vehicles, give everyone a bicycle, and bus the suitcases in.

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    You must be a spotty reader because I have offered up many suggestions and possible solutions and scenarios about changing the ways our parks are managed, many that a former career ranger like yourself probably would disagree with, but offer them I have. I generally get few comments on them, for the most part (except from Kurt & Jeremy). I notice that no one has yet made any comments on the excellent suggestions offered up by our newest contributor Bart. His insider take into the current management malaise gripping the NPS is fresh and insightful as are his concrete common-sense suggestions for agency improvement but I have yet to hear a peep from anyone except for Frank.

    It's too bad that you see it as a negative that I want to take the parks out of the dirty hands of politicians, park service careerists and easy-money concessionaires and shift the paradigm towards more locally focused, self-interested management.

    I am certainly not being negative about the parks, which I love, but am only pointing out the severe limitations of their DC focused overseers. Your suggestions amount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It's time for a totally new approach and that's what I will continue to push for.

    Oh, and by the way, support Ron Paul for President!

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

    The cliff dwellings in Bandelier are dug out of welded tuff which originated as ash falls from a nearby volcanic area in the Jemez Mountains.

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

    North Cascades National Park in Washington also contains a part of the Cascade range of volcanos.

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Frank and Bemis--

    Quite frankly, i am tired of your constant carping about the NPS. NPT used to be an interesting site to visit to read about issues related to the National Park System. There were often healthy differences of opinion among those who visited Jeremy and Kurt's blog. Now, it's one bitch after another from you guys. Sure, I saw some things during my 31-year career with the NPS that made me uncomfortable. I am similarly outraged, now that I am retired, by decisions like the one going down right now about snomos in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. That doesn't mean that I need to complain incessantly about the agency nor does it imply that I have given up on it.

    \What we need to do, in my opinion, is to generate some positive energy to focus public attention on issues that might help things get betteer. Many of these you have already dismissed in earlier posts: an examination of NPS governance; Is Interior the proper place for the NPS? a look at the funding cycle; Are the goals of long-term natural and cultural resources stewardship adequately served by our one-year budget process? the term in office of the Director; Does tying the Director to the current 4 or 8 year political cycle make sense when he/she presides over s System that demands long-term planning?

    Why not channel you obvious interest in the parks to questions like these? There is room for honest disagreement among reasonable people about all these issues. I'd rather read your take on these than to have to read more complaints.

    Rick Smith

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    - Concession companies nowadays pay a substantially greater amount in franchise fees that 2%, although there could be a few who are still under contract at that rate.

    Would Mr. Wade like to give a few examples of these substantially greater amounts being collected? How much and where?

    Thanks in advance.

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Frank, I don't think you've got your facts straight, and it appears as if you're jumping to some incredible conclusions.

    For starters, yes, a former group of NPS employees has championed the creation of a Museum of the National Park Service. And the PEER link you provided does indeed lead one to the formal proposal for such a museum. However, that proposal does not place a price tag on such a museum, and is entirely separate from the developers' $250 million proposal. At this time the two simply cannot be linked in one breath as you're trying to do.

    Regarding Superintendent Campbell's comments, you seem to be taking them out of context. At the time I talked to him the developers behind the $250 million proposal had not made a formal presentation of it to the Park Service, so there was no way for him to know its details. What his knowledge is of the concept of an NPS museum is a separate matter that I didn't raise with him.

    Furthermore, the meetings regarding the museum proposal you reference had to do with the conceptual idea for a museum, NOT the $250 million development currently being floated.

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Just to clear up a couple inaccuracies in your post:
    - The Coalition of NPS Retirees supported the proposal for the Museum by sending a letter to Director Bomar several months ago.
    - Art Allen does not "head up" CNPSR, although he is a member and has been a major force in trying to get the Museum on the radar screens of those who need to move it forward.
    - Concession companies nowadays pay a substantially greater amount in franchise fees that 2%, although there could be a few who are still under contract at that rate. Your statements about pillaging and pocketing are inappropriate unless you have facts to back them up.

    Bill Wade, Chair, Executive Council, Coalition of NPS Retirees.

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Superintendent Campbell told me he's equally curious about the proposal.

    "This is a proposal that's been made. But there have been no meetings held with the National Park Service on this proposal at this point," he said. "I'm sure those meetings will take place at some point. I don't think there have been any meetings with the conservation community, to my knowledge."

    Now if the PEER article is correct that the "plan was presented to Director Bomar . . . and it has subsequently been presented in 4 different official meetings . . .", isn't it strange that the superintendent of the park in which the museum has been proposed is completely in the dark about the aforementioned proposal ("there have been no meetings held with the National Park Service on this proposal at this point")? He's completely unaware that there have been four meetings (according to PEER and CNPSR) held with the NPS. How can this be? What is going on? Who is teling the truth? Is the NPS bureaucrasy so big that all communication has broken down? Does its left hand really NOT know what its right hand is doing? (Or am I just confusing my facts and getting proposals mixed up?)

    And finally, is this any way to manage our national parks?

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    According to PEER (I know, not a reliable source), the plan for the Museum of the National Park Service was put together by a "fairly large group of current NPS employees and retirees". The plan has the Arrowhead right on it, too. You can download the plan at the above link.

    The site also reports that

    "The Plan was presented to Director Bomar this spring, and it has subsequently been presented in 4 different official meetings as a potential Centennial Signature project. The group [former and current NPS employees] did not go for widespread or public distribution at that time because they wanted the NPS and the Interior officials to have ample time to consider it. The timing is now critical for support, because a list of specific Centennial projects is being formulated by the Administration."

    Now, there seems to be a huge discrepancy between how NPT is reporting the story and how PEER and the Coalition of NPS Retirees (which Art Allen heads) approach the story.

    Whose plan is this? Is it a developer's plan or current/retired NPS employees' plan? Based on my limited reading, it's the latter, and that's why I've directed my ire at the NPS. Please set me straight if I've got my facts turned around.

    I also direct criticism toward insiders like Art Allen who complain about lack of funding while advocating a quarter of a billion dollar pork proposal.

    A plan to do away with the Park Service . . . will result in more of the park system being used to leverage for-profit gains.

    Given the pillaging done by concession companies (paying only a 2% franchise fee and pocketing the rest), I don't see how much more "for-profit gains" could be had.

    The organizing charter of a public trust could mandate that 100% of revenue earned in a park could be directed toward maintaining, perpetuating, and preserving that park, thereby deflating schemers' hopes.

  • Grand Canyon National Park: Open To Some Faiths   6 years 45 weeks ago

    I, like Merryland, was under the impression that the structure was intended as a non-denominational gathering place, as was open to more than just the affiliations listed in Kurt's original text. That it should serve as a place for the local inhabitants should be viewed as a bonus. At least SOMEBODY is making use of the building, which should in and of itself raise the ire of nobody except the local atheists. Can't please all the people all the time, can we?

    Susan, the theory of radioisotopic decay is not without its detractors and the Christian Science movement has a world of excuses as to why heavy metal and carbonic methods of dating are flawed. Radio-carbon based methods are typically reasonably accurate, within a window of 1000-5000 years, and only to organic materials less than about 50,000 years ancient. This eliminates rocks fromt the discussion, which is why and how geochemists derived the heavy metals decomposition protocol. While exponentially more reliable than carbon isotope analysis, the religious zealots argue that this method is nothing other than another attempt by flawed theorists to denounce their beliefs in the Young Earth hypothesis, and, they claim. based in the same unreliable dating decay methods as the carbon protocol. They are dead wrong in this assertion, but the followers of this sect have only to view the inconsistencies in carbon dating to be lead down the wrong path by their leaders on this method as well. So much for objectivity on their behalf. Like I said, anyone can gather evidence to lend credence to any viewpoint if that is what you set out to achieve in designing your experimental methods.

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

    Petroglyph NM contains three small volcanoes too, right at the western park border.

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

    You forgot a couple in New Mexico: both Capulin Volcano National Monument and El Malpais National Monument feature volcanic landscapes.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Hi wolfmom,

    Yes, it's against the law to interfere with hunters on a legal hunt. Not only that, getting in the way could be lethal. One must be careful when trying to chase animals as this may result in an animal harassment issue and we don't want to harass the bears. The best thing to do is contact your local Congressmen and protest the hunting of brown bears in GMU 9C 703 Katmai National Preserve. Ask as many people as you can to do the same.

  • How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?   6 years 45 weeks ago

    Given the involvement of Senator Byrd and a group of savvy developers dangling the carrot of a self-aggrandizing ranger museum in the face of WASO bureaucrats, it looks to me like the beginning of yet another NPS debacle in the making. The opinions of a lone superintendent will matter very little in the long run when these much more powerful forces become fully engaged in the arm twisting and money laundering.

    I've been going to Harpers Ferry since I was a wee lad and to tell you the truth I don't care one iota if private or non-profit developers build whatever they want to on Bolivar Heights. It is not the business of a taxpayer funded federal agency to butt into the legitimately local affairs of Jefferson County, West Virginia!

    The NPS has been charged with administering the old historic district and nearby sites associated with the Civil War. THAT IS IT! The privately owned and legally zoned land nearby is NONE of their business. If they want to micromanage it then they should BUY IT! Otherwise they should stick to what Congress intended as their legitimate concern.

    The current situation is the result of a Soviet-style mentality of command & control and a "we know best because you're backwoods hillbillies" arrogance. I know this sentiment first hand from NPS employees who have worked at Harpers Ferry. I also know this superior-than-thou attitude emanating from rangers at Zion, Capitol Reef, Shenandoah, the Blue Ridge Parkway and a myriad of other NPS administered areas.

    I say get your own house in order before you start trying to re-make the rest of the world in your faulty green & gray image!