Recent comments

  • Proposed Settlement Filed in Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV Case   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Respectfully, to suggest that "(t)he settlement, in effect, does what the National Park Service hasn't done -- provide some guidelines for off-road driving along the seashore" is to believe the distortion of the facts by the plaintiffs.

    No guidelines? In August of this past year, over 60% of the beach was off limits to ORVs due to the combination of resource, seasonal and safety closures. To suggest that Cape Hatteras had no guidelines is an insult to Superintendent Mike Murray & his staff. The NPS, and especially under the leadership of Murray, have actively and in recent years aggressively managed Cape Hatteras to protect the birds and turtles while trying to allow, where possible, access to seashore for recreation by the publics. His open and transparent management style was embraced by most of the ORV groups and users.

    While there were 15 nesting pairs in 1989, last year was the highest number of nests and chicks since 1999. And as has been the case for many years, weather events and predation not ORVs were the cause of the loss of eggs & chicks. Blocking access to ORV’s will do nothing to change this.

    The terns and skimmers relocated to spoil islands in Hatteras and Ocracoke inlets where they reported had an excellent fledging season and somehow this counts against the Seashore numbers. .

    No, the suit was filed because NPS failed to implement a permanent, approved plan years ago – simply a technicality. Despite a USF&W-approved interim plan put in place by Murray that seemed to appropriately balance protection and access, this was the loophole the plaintiffs needed. That and a willing Federal judge who seems bent on micromanaging a National Park.

  • Groups Sue Park Service Over ORV Use in Big Cypress National Preserve   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Preserve Superintendent Karen Gustin has just been transferred to my park: The Olympic National Park in Washington state. Please help me understand the kind of changes this person might implement. I feel like we need to get ahead of her on the information front. We don't want ORVs or even bicycles in our Olympic NP Mountains or anywhere near its beaches.

  • Are Blue Ridge Parkway's Historic Guardrails At Risk?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Title of this article is a bit misleading, as the issue has already been settled. I expect better from NPT.

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    None of the land is owned by the National Park Service. The land is still owned by the Navajo Nation, while the monument is administered by the National Park Service. It's a very interesting arrangement for everyone involved!

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I find the word choice in the article's title interesting and revealing, especially the choice of "given". Given implies original ownership. I think "returned" would be a better word choice, especially in light of the history of America's original inhabitants their treatment by the federal government.

    Sovereign nations, such as the Dine (what the Navajo call themselves), successfully manage magnificent landscapes such as Monument Valley. To state that "The Great Father" can better manage their sacred lands smacks of 19th century paternalism, racism, and greed, and I wonder if those who make such comments understand the history of how the federal government abused the Navajo (such as how school children were forced to learn English and were chained and beaten in school basements when they refused).

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I know I seem to be the only one commenting here, but I wanted to point you to an essay I just wrote, which is in part a criticism of the CUT deal and the rationale cited here by those mainstream environmental groups who support it. It's also in part an answer to critics who wonder why people like me work on this issue when there are so many other "more serious issues." Both answers I see in the same root philosophical inconsistency.

    In any event, for those with time to read through my passionate verbosity, check it out:

    Why buffalo and why not the CUT deal? Against utilitarianism

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

  • Strange Bedfellows: The National Park Service and the American Recreation Coalition   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Laverty would be a nightmare for the NPS and he should be opposed at all cost.

  • Creature Feature: Hellbenders   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Chance, I am so happy to see the start of this new article. As a youngster I was always looking for any and all animals. I am really going to enjoy reading these articles and reliving some of my youth! To explore and find animals was always my favorite thing to do. Just ask your mother!

    Love ya lots....

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I never bothered with the schedule of the cross-canyon-shuttle before, but checked it out now and you are right. Unfortunately you always have to spend one night at the North Rim, no matter which direction you go. So my advice would be to check occasionally for cancellations till your trip and check again once you got to the park. Ask the rangers on South Rim for advice, they might be able to help you. If nothing comes up, just take the shuttle anyway and check again on North Rim, whether someone canceled in the last five hours. If not, you just walk into the campground and ask a few friendly RV campers, if they let you build up your tent for the night in a corner of their site. Chances are that they are nice and actually excited to meet an adventurous person, who will do what they only dream of: hiking through Grand Canyon. Expect to get invited to their campfire. I did just that in a California State Park on a holiday weekend some years ago, and it worked.

    And regarding the two nights at Phantom Ranch: I think that's great. You will have no problem to spend a day inside the canyon, believe me. If you have no idea where to go, just ask a ranger. I haven't done Clear Creek Trail, but that would be my first idea how to spend a day in the canyon from Phantom Ranch. It's 18 miles and more than 1500 feet of elevation though! Of course you don't have to got the whole trail till Clear Creek, but there is the only source of water, so carry plenty. Please check out:

  • Should Uranium Mining Be Allowed Outside Grand Canyon National Park?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    An update on this post - on April 4, a U.S. District Court in Arizona blocked further drilling for uranium mining until the Forest Service completes additional environmental analysis. This is a victory for the conservation groups involved (and for the Park). See

    The New York Times had an interesting take on this as well, arguing the ease with which the uranium drilling was approved argues for Congress to move ahead with the long-delayed updating of the aged Mining Law of 1872. See

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Removing Canyon de Chelly would be a tremendous shame.

    I hate to say this, becuase it's not entirely PC, but the Navajo nation is part of America, and all native tribes (those still in existance and those who were wiped out by European migration) are part of American history. Understanding tribal cultures and native history is vital to an understanding of American history, you cannot divide the two. Canyon de Chelly and other sites wholly included in tribal lands provide a vital mechanism to demonstrate this link to all Americans (and all tourists from foreign countries as well).

    If these sites are returned to wholly tribal control, I fear that this link will be lost. The only link between the two peoples (natives and "all others") will be through casinos, and that's a shame. Keeping Canyon de Chelly as part of the NPS will remind us all that there is a link between us that goes back not just hundreds but thousands of years.

    Also, having the NPS involved in Canyon de Chelly through this special arrangement will also help keep development away from the beauty of the canyon & the immediate surrounding area.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 34 weeks ago

    A question for you veterans. I just got two nights confirmed at Phantom Ranch. Is it worth staying two nights at the bottom? I want to hike from North to South, Park at the South Rim, take the shuttle to the North Rim,camp and hike back to the south. The problem is there is no space available at the North Rim Campground. If I arrive by foot can I be assured of a place at the North Rim Campground? Another option is to delay my start by one day, that way I can get a campsite and go North to South, but will only have one day at Phantom. I can also start at the South, head down South Kaibab, spend my two nights at Phantom then hike up the North Kaibab the next day. I am fairly fit. What do you advise? Thx Avsfan

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 34 weeks ago

    From the FBI National Crime Statistics for 2006, the last year for which data is complete:

    In 2006, 257 officers from the Department of Interior were assaulted, and 62 of these officers were injured. The following provides breakdowns by agency within the DOI:
    Bureau of Indian Affairs: 129 officers were assaulted, and 42 of these officers were injured.
    National Park Service: 101 officers were assaulted, and 20 of these officers were injured.
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: 27 officers were assaulted; however, none were injured.

    210 of the 257 DOI officers were attacked with personal weapons, such as hands, fists, or feet.
    28 DOI officers were attacked with vehicles.
    7 officers were attacked with blunt instruments.
    5 officers were attacked with firearms.
    2 officers were attacked with knives or other cutting instruments.
    5 officers were attacked with other types of weapons.

    As far as body armor is concerned, my personal belief as a police officer is that all uniformed law enforcement personnel, including law enforcement park rangers, should wear body armor. Granted, its probably more of a necessity in border parks like Big Bend and Organ Pipe (places with high rates of drug trafficking, etc) than it is in Acadia, but the reality is that bad things can happen anywhere, so why put yourself at increased risk by not wearing it?

    I don't find advertising the availability of body armor to law enforcement rangers directly related to the recent move to allow more guns. I find it to be exactly what it is: providing for the safety of your officers. If I were a park ranger, I'd wear body armor even if none of those assaults from 2006 had involved firearms.

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    By the way, there has been independent confirmation on the NPS claims of 2,300 bison alive (that is, 2,400 dead). The biggest came out today in the Jackson Hole News & Guide. Now, according to Darrell Geist of Buffalo Field Campaign on Ralph Maughan's site, the NPS has counted 1,950, many close to death. However, the usual modeling for counting assumes an undercount and adds a couple hundred more (in this case 350 more). 2,300 is an important number in bison management because it's the point where the agencies are encouraged to use more non-lethal measures of control. At, 2,100 (a number we may be at), they are to do even more.

    Given we expect a winter storm this weekend that could dump a lot of snow in Yellowstone and given that many of the animals calving now cannot get food (Yellowstone has more snow than it's seen in a long time, which would in normal conditions be good news), given that they are weak from the winter and face predation, and given that they face the stress of hazing (as well as the stress in the case of bison still captured at Stephens Creek - where many are giving birth and face increased risk of abortion), that number seems likely to drop.

    This is enormous, enormous stress on these herds. They may recover again as they have in the past, but what kind of herds will they be? A lot has been coming out recently about the familial nature of herds and how they become increasingly dysfunctional the more stress they are under. The numbers may go up - because there is a survival instinct - but what kind of bison will be in Yellowstone? Ones that are lost, perhaps. I hope not.

    No matter how you slice it, this is a raw deal.

    And, as for the CUT deal, that deal would have saved 25 of these bison, who would have been tested and mistreated and then returned to the park after April 15 just so that next year's bunch would have the same mistreatment. Wildlife corridor? Ha! A rancher on a couple sites posted that per animal unit, the government will be spending approximately $800 per animal for the right to graze only part of the year. What is the average for cattle on public lands? $2 per animal! What is the highest this rancher had heard of - $60. And, this is $800 per animal unit for 30 years for six months of the year! This rancher was angry. For those of us strongly opposed to this, it was further evidence of the extortion money paid to CUT in service of the useless IBMP. Unfortunately, groups like GYC have invested a lot in this horrible deal, and they are willing to sell the bison out for it.

    If those of you reading this are upset, you should be. Are there groups to support? Yes. You should consider supporting either Buffalo Field Campaign or local groups like the Gallatin Wildlife Association. There are others; we're working on one in Bozeman that I've been involved with - it has strong support from both groups (and direct involvement by members of the Gallatin Wildlife Association). However, we are not likely to become a 501(c)3; you are better off sending your checks to these organizations. But, more importantly, your time might be even more precious. A lot of people across the country are going to hear from the large organizations that this is good for the buffalo; it's important for people to speak the truth and contradict it whenever they see it. While buffalo numbers will be so depressed next year that the slaughter won't likely ramp up next season, they will be sooner than we know. We have to be better prepared next time. Unfortunately, these groups celebrating the CUT deal as a "good step" will dampen public interest in the issue and think that government is being a good partner.

    That point of view needs to be exposed for what it is; it is a misstatement that only will send more buffalo to slaughter.

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

  • Are Blue Ridge Parkway's Historic Guardrails At Risk?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Two brief notes: First, the standard abbreviation of the Federal Highway Administration is "FHWA." Typically, "FHA" refers to the Federal Housing Administration. Secondly, it is also good to see the two Federal agencies come to a mutually-agreeable compromise - although you would never have guessed that a mutually-agreeable compromise was already in place from the headline on this post!

  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 34 weeks ago

    What a comment to post. that fox looked pretty calm to be a sick one. i grew up hunting and a fox will sit and study you before fleeing. looked pretty innocent to me. but remind you of the massive round up of animals if you haven't read the 2007 piping plover report the NPS put out. Where did they take the animals too? Wildlife Services all over NC hasn't replied back to that comment but i bet PETA would.

  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I must have to sit u straight on our beaches. The picture u are speaking of looks to be Oregon Inlet "hot spot" it is. Not all of the beaches look this way. Trust me, i go surf fishing to get away from the lil town i live in to be in seclusion at the beach and to enjoy the beauty around me. There are many days in the summer and remind u on the weekends at that when the next vehicle is a mile away from me! Not so bad looking to me. So next time do ur homework, better yet Go to our "damn beaches and see for yourself and get educated on it"

  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 34 weeks ago

    You want a reason. Here you go. If you take away Offroad access YOU HAVE TO PROVIDE alternate access. This is public land. So, they don't like 2200 vehicle on 80 miles of shoreline. Then PAVE access to the shoreline and Provide 4400 parking spaces.

    No one has proved the decline of any species in the Cape Hatteras Seashore Receation Area. So, this law suit and ruling is strict BS!

    AND no one has proven ORV use is ruining the park.

  • NPCA: Health of Everglades National Park Requires a Longer Bridge Along the Tamiami Trail   6 years 34 weeks ago

    It sounds like we need to do this. Unfortunately, it looks very expensive. Our Federal government has a little trouble with its spending priorities sometimes. But let's be optimistic.

  • National Park Service Helps Expand Bison Range North of Yellowstone National Park   6 years 34 weeks ago

    This deal is a joke! CUT can laugh, once again, all the way to the bank. If this "deal" had been in place this year, 1576 bison would have died instead of 1601! AT A COST TO TAXPAYERS OF 2.8 MILLION DOLLARS! PLUS, ALL THE HAZING, TRUCKING AND SLAUGHTERING GOES ON AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE!!
    I live in Montana. If I want to keep cows off of my property, it is MY responsibility to erect a fence capable of doing that. That is the law. When my neighbor decides to move his cows, and he drives them by my place, and they destroy my garden, that's tough! Not his fault! Not the cows fault. It's MY FAULT FOR NOT HAVING A FENCE CAPABLE OF KEEPING THEM OUT! Should be the same for livestock producers. They sure as heck have more money than I. If they don't want MY wildlife mingling with their cows, or eating their hay, they should be required to put up a fence capable of keeping them out. I'm tired of subsidizing them.

  • Senators' Letter to Open National Parks to Concealed Weapons   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Get real! I hope you never encounter an angry bear or mountain lion.

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?   6 years 35 weeks ago

    What a sad day for the buffalo. As someone else pointed out on a forum, there's no calling those 25 bison wild and free. What happens if those bison want to return into Yellowstone? How free are you when you are constantly tested and monitored? And, how many winters must we endure like this winter where we have lost over half the bison and perhaps more than two-thirds. There's a harsh winter storm supposedly on the way. The buffalo may yet recover again but for what? For this?

    What a profoundly sad day, and those calling it a "good step" must ask themselves how in good conscience they can believe that. Bureaucracies use deals like this to insulate themselves from controversy. People who are calling themselves advocates for buffalo are giving these people credibility. But, all the buffalo, even the 25 lottery winners won't be winners. Not only will those 25 not be free, they are merely a number. Where will their herd be?

    This year most of them are dead. And, all we are left with is the scat outside of Stephens Creek to remind us of what once was.

    Again, for those who haven't seen the previous post, the NPS is reporting 1,436 buffalo alive (though saying to those asking that the number is actually 2,300). For more on that, see .

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

  • The Consequences of the Legal Bear Hunt in Katmai   6 years 35 weeks ago

    i am no expert on hunting animals but i believe that it is flatly cruel. It is the major reason for the extinction of many animals and it also the reason we dont have variatio of animals any more as to prevent animals from extinctiont they are selectively breed.

  • National Park Service Helps Expand Bison Range North of Yellowstone National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    A quick follow-up on what I wrote.

    By the way, I just received this regarding the number of buffalo. Here’s a bit more news. The slaughter apparently is over for the season on both boundaries. There will be hazing but no more slaughter.

    The NPS is now claiming the number is down to 2,300, not 1,436. However, here is the relevant part of the report. I am going to post it soon to my blog in pdf.

    “In the interior some mixed groups, totaling ~230, moving around Hayden Valley, the Lakeshore and in Pelican Valley. There are approximately 540 bison in the Geyser Basins. There are approximately 58 bison out of the park, west of Hwy 191 and on Hwy 191 itself. There are approximately 88 bison between 191 and Cougar Meadows inside the park. On the Northern Range bison are primarily utilizing Blacktail and Hellroaring slope with limited, but increasing use of Little America. There are now roughly 170 bison on Blacktail Deer Plateau. There has been some movement east from Gardiner to Blacktail with 3 radio collared bison, but movement has continued to the North, including two radio collared bison from Swan Lake. There are approximately 350 bison in the Gardiner basin, including ~135 in the Eagle Creek area.”

    ( 58 ) out of park

    So, how incompetent are they? How is 2,300 when their own report says 1,436? What’s the truth? And, how can anyone feel good about either number?!

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

  • National Park Service Helps Expand Bison Range North of Yellowstone National Park   6 years 35 weeks ago

    This is an absolutely atrocious deal, and there are a lot of other environmental groups not quoted here (Buffalo Field Campaign, Gallatin Wildlife Association) who think this is a rotten deal. (For instance, read the comments on Ralph Maughan's wildlife Web site).

    One, there already exist public access corridors. Paying off CUT was unnecessary; their few cattle would have been nothing that some fencing couldn't have fixed. This was plain and simple extortion.

    Two, the number of bison let out of the park is minimal, and those going out will still need to be tested, and the females fitted with a vaginal transmitter. Only 25 are being let out of the park. This is essentially not particularly better than what bison west of Yellowstone face at Horse Butte.

    Bison will still be slaughtered going north of Yellowstone, they will still be hazed, and the bison leaving the park will be a controlled population - not a wild one.

    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition and NPCA should be ashamed of themselves for selling the buffalo out. This is not a step; this is a political stunt. It divides support for the buffalo, gives the false impression that progress has been made, and further hurts buffalo. These organizations were very silent until recently; when they appeared, they ended up working as brokers of a deal that only lends credence to the IBMP. It's an atrocity, and I'm fuming at these organizations, as well as with NPS and the governor's office.

    Look, the number killed now is 1,601 (more than 1/3 of the herd). Bison heading north have continued to be killed. The winter has been very harsh, especially the past month and a half. I read something this afternoon that has me stunned (and am looking for a source). Buffalo Field Campaign is reporting that the NPS has released a report saying that there are now only 1,436 bison left in Yellowstone National Park. 1, 436?!!! That's more than 2/3 of all buffalo that existed in the fall. The buffalo are famished. Mothers are giving birth in the park with nowhere to go. They are dying. I have heard anecdotally that the plows are having trouble not just because of the snow but because there are so many dead buffalo and elk buried in the snow that they have to move. These animals would have had a better chance if they had been allowed the habitat to get forage.

    The lie is that this agreement actually provides that. It does not. It separates herds (see Bob Jackson's recent essays on this - I can provide links), makes them dysfunctional.

    They are dying, they are being destroyed - they may recover, but the whole thing will only happen again.

    It is disgusting.

    And, the sad thing is - this isn't really about brucellosis. But, we'll have to pick that up another time.

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