Recent comments

  • Fall's Brightest Colors Descending on National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Jeremy, I think you might have flunked geography in school. Asheville is about 60 miles from Great Smokey NP, but over 320 miles from Shenandoah NP.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago


    I am in no way, shape or fashion glossing over the racist history and present of this nation. NOBODY has come to these shores are be able to avoid it's sting. Not even the native inhabitants of this land were (are) immune. But I don't understand how we are contributing to the situation by not feeling sorry for, and thereby working to enable, a group or multiple groups of people of WHATEVER background to take part in something that many have no interest in becomming a part of in the first place. There are indeed many people of color and or various ethnic backgrounds who take advantage of these areas. Those percentages, when compared to the total sample size available within any given group of people are indeed small, to be sure. But to rest the responsibility solely on the shoulders of racism, while ignoring the cultural make-up and general underlying sub-cultural and individual / personal social intersts in most certainly unfair. Like I said, no activity, situation or belief was intended for everyone. Why should any one group be overly concerned that any other such group chooses to or not to become involved in any given activity? We, as Americans, deem something to be worthwhile, for example, our political and personal freedoms. Yet a certain segment of the world views it as devil-worship and would like to kill us all for these practices and beliefs. So if Group A chooses FREELY not to be as actively interested in this pursuit as Group B, why should it raise a great concern to ANYBODY else? Is it because Group B doesn't understand how someone from Group A could choose NOT to follow their lead? Please.........

    Along the lines of democracy, strictly speaking, it cannot work in the current state of our nation. In it's purest form, democracy is indeed, "one person, one vote, majority rule". The problem then becomes how to administer this system in a modern society, which of course, is totally impractical. Every person would have the responsibility, duty if you will, to educate themsevles on EVERY issue affecting the governing of our country, and then getting to the polls to cast their vote EVERY time an issue required such. Early American history records just such processes. Unfortunately, as the population increased and began to spread geographically, this became impossible to administrate. We then converted to a system of government known throughout history as a Republic, just like Rome in the good 'ole days. The people elected representatives who were SUPPOSED to be the united voice of their constituents, and represent the best interests of their constituents, etc. Ah, the days before special interest groups and lobbyists..........Anyway, that system no longer works in this country either, even though it appears quite locked into place. The reason it has worked elsewhere throught history is due to the one little factor that we overlooked. We fell into the trap of strict "Democrat / Republican", and blocked the most effective form of govenment from evolving.........COMPROMISE. Now, it's either one way other the other, and either way the general public loses. And you wonder why I detest minority rule? Why would ANY of you support this system of general public screwing at every turn? Do any of you still actually believe, in your heart of hearts, after having been subjected to and subjugated by this system all your lives that Left or Right has YOUR interest at heart when decisions are made that govern your very existence?

    You may now feel free to take your best shot, as it was never my intent to render the "last word".......Have a nice weekend!

  • Proposed Fee Increase for Crater Lake National Park Tabled   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Looks like the fee to enter Lava Beds will remain at $10, as a result of the same southern Oregon opposition to the Crater Lake fees. It had been proposed that the Lava Beds fee go to $15.

  • Death Valley Looking to Electronic Rangers to Raise Money, Lure Younger Generations   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Assurance of quality aside, how many questions can you anticipate being correctly answered by a GPS ranger? If your answer is no more of less that an "actual" ranger, then what's the point of having either available to visitors? The gist of my comment was that the impersonal nature of the devise initiates it's own set of issues, not the least of which includes a newfound self-dependence on already un(der)equipped visitors. A great number of folks annually find themselves in trouble by underestimating the environment and treating the adventure as a Sunday walk in the park. I'm finding it difficult to rally behind anything that increases the likelihood and probability of stressing an already undermanned staff with additional situations brought about by misuses of technology. Unfortunately, placing technological devises in the hands of literally anyone who wants or can afford it is the American way. How many people STILL don't have a clue how to use anti-lock braking systems? If you think not many, look at the surveys conducted by JD Powers and other organizations on how satisfied people are with automobile technology. How many nit-wits does it take to program a DVD-RW, how many people know the difference between a CD-R, CD+RW, etc? In the hands of the general public, commonly used pieces of "technology", even this ultra-low-end crap like GPS routefinders, are utilzied at less than 50% of their designed capabilities. Granted, it's mostly due to the public's unwillingness to read an owner's manual, but I digress. If hand-held or dashboard mounted devises are required to attract the "mew generation" of park visitors, and they cannot or will not come out without having some portable electronic devise to supplant the Gameboy, PDA or whatever, maybe they should consider taking a compass, binoculars, and water bottle instead. These would tend to be far more useful, and liberating, than a "Here's an oak tree, there's the parking lot, and oh by the way, you're standing in a pile of rabbit crap" virtual ranger.

  • Fall's Brightest Colors Descending on National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I had traveled through Asheville, North Carolina a few years ago. Asheville is a perfect jumping off point for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is about half way between Shenandoah and the Great Smokeys. I hit town in mid-October, prime time for leaf-peeping. I had not made reservations prior to arriving. I was totally shocked when I went to the Super 8 and found that, instead of rooms being priced between $50 - $75 like I was expecting, the rates had more than doubled -- I was asked to pay $180! No kidding. I found a better deal nearby, but the shock of that price jump for the fall colors crowd has stayed with me.

    If you're a last minute traveler (like I had been), let me recommend a couple other options.

    1) Check out a pretty nice Forest Service campground located right in Asheville, not very far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The campground is at Lake Powhatan. The campground is open until the end of October, and it has some nice amenities (I'm pretty sure it has showers). The lake itself is really nice, you can expect to see a lot of birds and other small wildlife there.

    2) Drive just a little further south, and you can stay in Brevard, NC. Brevard's got a couple of nice B&B's. You'd probably have to call ahead for a reservation here. The small town atmosphere of Brevard is very nice. Access to the Blue Ridge Parkway is through the Pisgah National Forest on highway 276. That road is called the "Forest Heritage Scenic Byway", and it lives up to its name. You'll drive by a couple of visitor centers, and a very cool waterfall, called Looking Glass Falls.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Kath, maybe Nina Roberts has a valid point and perhaps she's black...or what ever. She has a point, that being, there is a certain amount blatant discrimination in the National Park system. Check out the campsite areas, and study the overt behavior of white campers once a black family settles next to them (at a adjacent campsite) and notice a bit of uneasiness. There's a lot of pertinent issues that the National Park Service needs to address when it comes to hiring minorities, goods and services. Basically, it comes down to how we treat and respect one and another, outside the park and inside the park. Racial hate still runs deep in this country, which is most unfortunate and ugly. We need to do a better job as a Nation to alleviate such blatant racial hate, and it's more then just tolerance but more compassion and human understanding that we need the most of.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago

    The ethnicity rage in general and Afrocentricity in particular not only divert attention from the real needs but exacerbate the problems. The cult of ethnicity exaggerates differences, intensifies resentments and antagonisms, drives ever deeper the awful wedges between races and nationalities. --Arthur M. Schlesinger

  • Longtime Yosemite Wilderness Ranger Retires   6 years 43 weeks ago

    They don't come any finer then ranger Laurel Boyer--31 years of devoted service beyond the call of duty! Happy trails ranger Boyer!

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago

    First of all, I take issue with the study of racial disparity in visiting the parks. Yosemite, being close to the Bay Area, has plenty of diversity. Many national parks are in areas that are predominately white. Since most visitors to the parks are those within a close drive that accounts for much of the disparity. I'd be interested in a breakdown of visitors on a park by park basis. Are those parks that are in areas with a high proportion of Hispanics and blacks experiencing that disparity?

    Second, some of the items mentioned by Nina Roberts as reasons why minorities don't visit parks are so vague as to be devoid of meaning. What, for example, does she mean by newcomers "not understanding American rules about use of public space"? Does that mean they don't understand that you don't litter or feed the bears? What? "Access to gear"? Hiking boots and a daypack? What is the NPS supposed to do about that? "Understanding English language signs?" Yeah, let's make more and bigger signs in the parks putting them in Spanish, Farsi, Laotian, and on and on because residents of this country choose not to learn English.

    Certainly there's no excuse if blacks are in fact getting poor service from park employees. But Roberts also says that they feel "uncomfortable" while visiting parks. What does that mean? Hispanics don't like making reservations far in advance. Neither do I, but that's the way it is with the overcrowding of the parks.

    I question this study and its findings. More information is needed.

  • Death Valley Looking to Electronic Rangers to Raise Money, Lure Younger Generations   6 years 43 weeks ago

    *Blogs aren't really that tech...*

    I think five years ago that statement wouldn't have held true, and even today they're continuing to morph and stretch and grow, limited only by their creator's imagination and $$$.

    But that's a bit beside the point. You're exactly right that just because there's a person in uniform leading a tour or talk that the quality is not guaranteed. And that's where the Park Service needs to step up, not only with a solid training program and more interpreters -- not fewer -- but with auditing as you suggest. Is such a move included in the administration's Centennial Initiative?

    True, the administration likes to tout that it's sending an extra 3000 rangers into the field in the coming year, but that's contingent on Congress funding the president's budget. And then there's the question of how experienced and knowledgeable these seasonals, if they trickle into the interpretive ranks, will be.

    I wonder if turning to devices such as the GPS Ranger isn't an indication that the NPS is throwing up its hands over the lack of funding and reaching out for any solution and not always obtaining the correct solution? Again, I'm not dismissing outright the use of technology in providing a better interpretive experience in the parks, but I fear perceived solutions -- GPS Rangers, cellphone tours, etc -- could actually undermine, not heighten, the interpretive experience if they are relied upon more and more and the living, breathing, walking and talking full-time interpreters become a thing of the past.

  • Death Valley Looking to Electronic Rangers to Raise Money, Lure Younger Generations   6 years 43 weeks ago

    @ kurt- i really think the bias against podcasts is in the vein of a slight anti-technological bent, intentional or not. blogs aren't really that tech, they're bread and butter of mainstream media now. and that statement is not meant to detract from the high quality of this site. but i think tech solutions in the park are *part* of a solution to low budgets in some manner and i don't ever get the feeling that's accepted by the npt community.

    @ lone hiker- i don't see the difference between an electronic medium losing people on a tour and a bad podcast or handheld device or whatever. there are plenty of horrible interpreters out there, i think this site may have even highlighted one of them in kansas a while back... just because a live human being in uniform leads a tour doesn't guarantee anything of quality, especially without the cash to have someone auditing a tour, let alone train them properly.

  • Fall's Brightest Colors Descending on National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Not all of the Sun Road is closed.

    While the section between Avalanche and Siyeh Bend is closed to allow for continued repair work related to last fall's storms and stepped up work on the overall restoration of the road, on the east side you can travel by vehicle between St. Marys and Siyeh Bend, and on the west side between West Glacier and Avalanche.

    If you're hiking or biking, though, on the west side you can continue six miles past Avalanche to Packer's Roost Road.

    A great option to enjoy the fall season in Glacier without traveling the entire Sun Road would be to pull over at Avalanche and hike the Avalanche Lake Trail or the Trails of the Cedars Nature Trail. On the eastern side of the park, you can still access the Gunsight Pass Trail off the Sun Road as well as the Sun Point Nature Trail. And there are many, many more trails still open that will get you out and into the fall colors.

    For more details on the Sun Road work this fall, visit this site.

  • Fall's Brightest Colors Descending on National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago

    remember the "going-to-the-sun" road is closed this year (2007) in Glacier Park for repairs

  • The Fight Against Fees Losses a Champion   6 years 43 weeks ago

    Here is to my uncle, he will be missed1 I love you

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 43 weeks ago

    I'm reading posts like these and upset that I don't have a moment to respond to them because I think there's so much here being missed.

    No one has to "coddle", no one has to put effort into some new government program, to talk about how the things they might be doing are contributing to racism in society. Studies by people like Nina Roberts show that there is a race gap in the parks that go across the economic spectrum, that has widened over time, that is not tied simply to class. We know we live in a society that has throughout its history been brutally racist. Many of the customs and traditions in our society were born in a racist age with racist motivations. None of us is immune from racism; from the processes of it. And, since racism is despicable and needlessly hurts us all, it behooves us to stop and think about ways not to contribute to it - no matter who we are! Whether it's you or me, or people working in the National Park Service.

    It's not a "social engineering" project; it's about understanding how the ongoing "social engineering" project that is American society might be having consequences in our actions that each of us perpetuates. It's worth talking about and understanding and integating into our current approaches.

    And, on another post on religion, on this issue of "majority rule" and too much worry about "minorities," I think if you look at democracy, and it's meaning, it's not possible to have a viable democracy if all people do not have a viable voice. Understanding the way each person who makes up a society is relevant is democratic. The democratic process is a consensus process, not a "majority rule" process. Unfortunately, it's actually neither in our society. It's a rule of the few at the top of society masquerading in a "majority rule" system. The only saving grace is that sometime a court or someone else steps in and decides that these bozos don't have infinite power. We are all on the short end of the stick; we are moreso when we don't take time to understand why that is. Why sometimes we are part of the process of oppression as oppressor and sometimes as oppressed.

    I don't have time for this conversation right now, but I couldn't allow these comments to be the last word.

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

  • Death Valley May Be On Lookout For Steve Fosset   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I hope the Fossett estate is planning on stepping up to the plate when remuneration time rolls around. Or is it only the average Joe who has to pay the search and rescue bill these days? Seems like the government can balance the budget on this one, or at the very least clear up that multi-million dollar NPS maintenance backlog, what with all the Air Force fighter pilots, NPS ground trackers (and trekkers) and satellite network involved. Boy, I'd sure hate to be in his shoes should he turn up alive somewhere. Sounds like Lucy would have plenty 'splainin to do.........

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I must be the poster child for ignorant, but why is there so much emphasis being placed on RACIAL diversity and nobody seems to be enjoying the CULTURAL diversity that is omnipotent in the park system? Our parks seem to be the vacation target of a populace derived from most every national origin, and for that we can't take enough pride? If world travellers are capable of feeling "at ease" and seem to be competent enough to plan well in advance for reservations, why should anybody put an extended effort into molly-coddling our domestic situation? Let's be perfectly's not just people of color who don't care to make the effort to visit the parks. There are many creatures great and small, who for their own reasons choose not to expend the effort to tour this magnificent landscape. Their loss, but most CERTAINLY not mine. For some people, visiting the great outdoors is limited to popping open a cold one and swatting mosquitos on the patio, deck, or balcony while complaining about the air quality and the traffic noises. More's the pity. And while there is NEVER an excuse for poor service targetted toward a specific racial background, I've heard that particular complaint from certain people time and time again, and I'm beginning to believe that it is nothing more than an attempt to legitimize a mindset. To some people, an enjoyable walk in the park consists of an intermittent smattering of 18 flagstick. To others, a pavement traversing a shoreline is deemed idyllic. A stroll down a remote section of train tracks, a float along a lazy river, the ever-popular drowning of worms, cycling along a city street, or just sitting on the stoop, no one activity is meant to please the masses. And insofar as the comment pertaining to "not knowing what to do when we get there", hell, that's half the fun of going in the first place! If you're just going to SEE the Grand Canyon, that take's all of 5 minutes.........but to EXPERIENCE the canyon takes a lifetime. The same goes for Yosemite, Glacier, Yellowstone, and all the great parks. Maybe the answer is merketing some info-mercial type DVD's to these slugs so then they can as least say they've SEEN it, and didn't care to make the effort to expand on that knowledge.

  • Proposed Fee Increase for Crater Lake National Park Tabled   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Thank you, Kurt, for this update.

    I'm one of the Oregonians who wrote in protesting the increase, and for once, as Kurt has stated, I feel that speaking up has made a difference. This, along with YOSE, shows that the NPS is not completely deaf to the public.

    Is there any word on the SEKI fee increase? It would be interesting to know if there is a larger trend at work here.

  • Overdue Hiker Turns Up in Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 44 weeks ago

    Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
    Missing Hiker Found After Night In Mountains

    Boyd Severson, 56, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was dropped off at the Lawn Lake trailhead to climb 13,425-foot-high Mummy Mountain at 7 a.m. on the morning of Monday, September 24th. He failed to return to the trailhead to meet his wife as scheduled that afternoon, and she reported him as overdue at 8 p.m. The weather above tree line on Monday was wintry (Trail Ridge Road was closed due to snow and ice on Sunday afternoon). The park began searching for Severson with hasty teams early on Tuesday morning. An area search by helicopter was begun at mid-morning and a dog team began working the area in the afternoon. No sign of Severson was found that day. At 6:30 p.m., a group of four searchers from the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group hiking into Lawn Lake encountered Severson, who was hiking out on the same trail. He was in good condition. They notified the incident command post that he’d been found – just as his wife and two other family members were arriving for an evening briefing. Severson arrived at the trailhead just after 8 p.m., where he conducted a brief interview with the media before being reunited with his wife and family at the ICP. He was debriefed by incident commander Cindy Purcell and her team. Severson said that he’d become disoriented in whiteout conditions while descending the peak and had entered the wrong drainage. After discovering his mistake, he tried to retrace his steps and ran out of daylight. He crawled into a small “cave,” stacked rocks around him, covered himself with a plastic bag, a “rescue blanket” and clothing items he had with him, and weathered the night above tree line while 60 to 70 mph winds blew through the area. Both of his water bottles froze solid. He stayed in place until 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when the weather had greatly improved and the sun had come out, then worked his way back toward the area he had come from, sat on a high point for three hours after seeing a helicopter, and finally made his way back to the Black Canyon and Lawn Lake trails, where he was found. He required no medical treatment. Media interest was considerable. [Submitted by Larry Frederick, Acting Public Affairs Officer]

  • Judge Orders Cross Removed from Mojave National Preserve   6 years 44 weeks ago

    In one way shape of form, there is ALWAYS someone who will take offense to something. People have issues wtih various commentary expressed on this website, in particular with some of the views expressed by your's truly. Thank you for investing some of your precious time reading and taking my opinions to heart. Truth be known, I could give a rat's *** whether you agree, disagree or are not swayed either way. But whether you personally approve of someone's viewpoint or not is really not the issue. In this alleged democracy within which we all freely express our disdain for various topics, we cannot allow for the agenda of a minority of the population to countermand the majority. Democracy, as defined in most political science textbooks, reads "one person, one vote, majority rule" (I quote loosely, but most likely you wouldn't read the whole definition if I copied it anyway) and we are dangerously close to the point whereby we fall into the abyss, and the PC among us are encourage anyone with "hurt feelings" to have the system perverted in their favor. If there are particular freedoms that we enjoy in this country, be they religious expression, speech, publication, political expression, art, or the like that are truly bothersome to a portion of the masses, then let me encourage you to utilize the boats, planes, and railcars that are ready daily to whisk you away to a place where "you can stare at the world from your own little Idaho" (apologies to Kurt and Sammy). But on the other hand, shame on ALL of us, ESPECIALLY the bleeding-hearts who constitute the ACLU who allow the whining immoral minority to become the national conscience.

  • Death Valley Looking to Electronic Rangers to Raise Money, Lure Younger Generations   6 years 44 weeks ago

    While not trying to suck-up to the editors, indeed the overriding tone is NOT to be confused with an anti-technology idealism in the least. The sarcasm from this corner, at least, was directed toward the bias against the slothism (?) of the general public as a whole, not the devise in general. The entire premise of the national parks was to enable the public to have the opportunity to view an unspoiled environment, while never to be confused with a "walk in the park". The problem with interpretation via pod-casts, GPS, etc. is that it lends too much toward individual misinterpretation and listening without observing. One can stand at various overlooks at Bryce, Zion, Vermillion Cliffs and Grand Canyon for instance, and listen to a broadcast presentation highlighting the various strata of rock layers and formations, and at the same time COMPLETELY misidentify said landmarks visually, leaving a completely inaccurate view of the geology and topography which has just been presented to you. There has yet to be a suitable substitute invented for actually venturing into these environs and experiencing, up-close and personal, the full of the dimensions of the thickness of the redwall layer, the expanse and variety of the Navajo sandstone, the height of Zoroaster.......especially since in nature, nothing occurs in black and white. I've seen too many tourists who mistakenly leave these parks with the idea that colored rock layers reflect the sole component of various strata, without realizing that the majority of these divisions are the result of blending through multiple hues due to leeching of mineral components in the layers above, and are not the result of clear-cut definitions. It's not as though every few million years, the colors change just to satisfy the visual ability of the human eye. And ranger-lead interpretation is MOST helpful in accurately depicting these subtle changes, short of actually reading a book on the local geology.

  • Death Valley Looking to Electronic Rangers to Raise Money, Lure Younger Generations   6 years 44 weeks ago

    I would disagree that this site has a "strong anti-technology bias." If that were the case, this site wouldn't exist. The fact that it does exist speaks to our embrace of technology, as does the fact that we're entwining podcasts and videocasts with the typed word.

    However, the editors' concern regarding technology such as the GPS Ranger is that it might be used to replace the "well-trained, live ranger."

    Technology can be a wonderful tool for interpretation, for simplifying processes, for search and rescue and so many other endeavors. But I shudder to think of a day when campfire talks become virtual and your ranger-led hike requires a hand-held GPS Ranger. That day will not mark an advancement in interpretation, but rather a step backward.

  • Death Valley Looking to Electronic Rangers to Raise Money, Lure Younger Generations   6 years 44 weeks ago

    this site and it's following has a strong anti-technology bias. whether or not YOU go to the parks to escape technology isn't relevant to the public at large.

    that said, i imagine that the reality is that managers are looking for ways to combat declining funding.

    this probably includes ways to get educational messaging out to visitors, including podcasts, volunteers and all the other evils of technology. nothing better than a ranger giving a canned slideshow at an overly smokey campfire! (/sarcasm.)

    i don't consider that a deliberate choice of downsizing, just a way to cope with bloated admin salaries with their automatic raises and lack of performance based continuation of employment combined with diminished funds for field staffing.

    but i think beamis is right, they are boring and will never replace a well trained live ranger, the ones who aren't misanthropic and are patient and can identify with city folks after living at a park for a long time... you know, the ones who WANT to work interp and aren't all bitter about actually talking to people, like the backcountry ranger desk folks at zion... so bitter!

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 44 weeks ago

    ayyyy, here we go again... if tax payers are funding a park system that they aren't using, then the whole system itself, including the backlog of maintenance, is in danger of implosion and becoming irrelevant...

    while it is definitely not the role of the park service to create programs that support the creation of linkages to correlate with shifting societal demographics, the park service should consider creating strong partnerships with those organizations that do and do everything they can to facilitate their success, including sending uniformed rangers to make the connection.

    i work with environmental education (*not* advocacy... there is a strong and clearly delineated difference) and in my experience, everyone loves nature. i agree with e.o. wilson- humans are hard wired this way. doesn't matter if you grew up in ohio or vietnam. they just don't know it because most of the population in the USA is either suburban or urban these days and think nature is grey squirrels or magpies or canda geese... get people outside for just a little bit and they are more likely than not instant stewards!

    maybe stewards that, in the future, will both pressure politicians to take care of the parks better and tell their kids to check their socks for invasive species before heading into a pristine part of our country. oh, and post in the comments on national parks traveler. heh.

  • Longtime Yosemite Wilderness Ranger Retires   6 years 44 weeks ago