Recent comments

  • Grand Canyon National Park: Open To Some Faiths   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I teach ancient history to sixth graders and before I introduce the Australopithecines, I give them a lesson on radiocarbon dating, and then show them the movie on Kennewick Man. Next I tell them that scientists use an atom pair like uranium and lead to date the oldest rocks, and we start looking at the age of the earth first with the Hadean Era, I telling them the only rocks that date to that time are the moon rocks. As I'm telling them about the Precambrian Eon, I say, "ok, some of you are Christians, and you must think I am teaching nonsense, but please consider what God said to Job..."Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding." and then I mention Psalm 90 and say to them that God's time is not the same as ours." With these two Scriptures, which I usually even paraphrase from my memory, I can teach the Geologic Time Scale with enjoyment and ease! Then I can fit the Australopithecines into their more recent three million years. I joke a little and say...I don't know what God did, but if Adam was a farmer, then he would have had to live in the time after about 9000 B.C....and then I perplexedly say, "I don't really know!"

  • Grand Canyon National Park: Open To Some Faiths   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Right next door to the old visitor center, we used to use the Shrine as our indoor evening program facility in the winter months. Now that there's a new visitor center much further away, I doubt the Shrine gets much use... they should tear it down like the Thunderbird Lodge was a while back. It's by no means a concert-quality structure -- more like a school cafetorium at best.

    As far as the age of the rocks in the canyon, there are creationists who also believe the billion plus age is much closer to reality than the 6,000 year figure. There's not only one variety of creationist out there.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 46 weeks ago

    So in essence, the opinion you're all expressing is that the NPS system is no different than corporate America or our wonderful governmental corruption. Is that a surprise to anyone? The bigger they are the less they fall. The lower and middle classes comprise well over 99% of the residents of your local jail, but is anyone naive enough to believe they're the only ones responsible for crimes against the American public? Can someone sit there with a straight face and claim that by percentage the wealthy are only 1% of the populace? The wealthy have better access to the upper echelon of shyster lawyers and can afford to pay off a corrupt judicial system. This country's current state of affairs reads suspiciously like France before Lou and Marie went to the chopping block. Anybody care to assist in construction of the scaffold?

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Frank,
    Your view is logical and currently in practice around the US. Look into Hunters for the Hungry. Unfortunately, your method shows some naivety (Atlatls, spears, basic bows). All of these weapons were of the best technology those cultures could develop in order to ensure the quickest kill possible, thus the least fear and suffering by the animal and minimal chase. But they were designed to rip and cut as the animal continued to run. Traditionally, "one shot, one kill" was not accurate and many animals required significant "chase" and multiple hits or piercings before falling, filled with fear, adreniline and waiting for the final blow or slice to end their suffering. (Think of the Alaskan Bear "hunting" IDIOTS). A quality hunter studies the animals patterns and environment. Then using stalking and stealth, moves as close as possible to the animal to ensure a rapid and human "one shot, one kill". Ideally, the animal is blissfully unaware right up to the end.

    Quality hunters do not support "canned hunts" or anything less than fair chase, but every sect of society has its morons. Just like some animal rights activists who enjoy their chicken salads, some stupid people kill animals while carrying a hunting license. The main stream of hunters are also strong supporter of fair chase, quick and human kills, preserving out natural resources and the environment. Outdoors amongst nature is our preferred place to spend time. If we truly embrace the idea of being stewards of the flora and fauna then we must also take the responsibility. This requires logical and balanced management, laissez-faire and fringe activism are equally detrimental to the environment and all our flora and fauna.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Maintenance discretionary mistake for $120.00 (likely a honest accounting error) and the guy gets canned...sounds like a set up.

    To hear the person who was canned tell the story, they believe it was a set-up from the word go. I don't know the other side of the story so I can't say for sure but it did seem strange to me at the time, especially in light of later revelations of misconduct that were literally swept under the rug for people much higher up the career ladder.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Frank and Beamis, crime to fit the punishment...depends who you are. Heard of cases where poor souls get thrown into the slammer (3 years for the first offense) for stealing a six pack of beer. How about being black and crossing the street behind a white women, next thing your accused of rape...later lynched! True case in the deep south! All kinds of discrepancies in crime and punishment...pending on your rank and file in life as a big fish. Maintenance decretionary mistake for $120.00 (likely a honest accounting error) and the guy gets canned...sounds like a set up.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I don't know the answer to Anon's question. There seems to be no consistency in NPS punishments for misconduct. I knew a person who lost their pension over a $120 discrepancy in their Maintenance discretionary account but also knew of a departing district ranger who supposedly took six NPS badges as souvenirs and nothing was done about that. It seems to be capricious at best.

  • Giving a Name to Yosemite Area Peak for Longtime Ranger Carl Sharsmith.   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Now for the dissenting opinion. Regardless of the stature of the man in his service to the park, I feel it the height of pretenctious, arrogant, self-serving behavior to connect a human name with the wonders of the natural world. It's a showboating way to immortalize a common human being. And the sorry fact is we, the human species, are quite common is all respects. Rivers, lakes, mountains, oceans, and the other physical features of the environment should be left out of the naming discussion. This isn't a slight against Dr. Sharsmith. I know not the man or his reputation. But I can say the same about Zeb Pike, and I was never crazy about his personalized peak either. Ditto Bill Williams. And a host of others I need not name. You want a monument to the man, fine I say. Take up a collection and bronze the old bugger right outside the visitor's center, replete with full NPS regalia. Give him a nice plaque too. Plant a tree, erect a bench, cultivate a flower garden. A mountain simply isn't befitting as a "memorial" to any one person. Denali, Navaho, Red, Whitewater Baldy, Quartz, Kings, Desert.......there's some good monikers for mountains. At least in some fashion they lend a descriptive character to the landscape. Attaching a human lineage to natural phenomenon cheapens the entire package. I'll send the first dollar to start the fund in anyone cares to undertake the task. But I'll be monitoring the progress of the program with a shyster ACLU lawyer in my pocket, just in case!

  • Will Bear Costume Get Presidential Candidates Talking About National Parks?   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Great idea...

    ...so long as the poor beast doesn't make a political appearance at Katmai!

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Of course, once the place opens for business, the waste will just be getting started. Speaking of...

    During the past month I was required to attend four meetings. These consumed about 42 hours of my time (that converts to about 1,260 tax dollars). One of the meetings, which lasted a full three days, was attended by 16 people (that converts to about 11,520 tax dollars).

    I have no issue with meetings. I only have an issue with stupid meetings. It so happens that ALL of the meetings I attended last month were stupid. Coincidence? Yeah, right!

    These meetings resulted in the following accomplishments:

    A bunch of people sat around and talked about their accomplishments. If the first person talked for five minutes, the next person had to up the ante and talk for eight minutes, and the next person had to up that ante and talk for twelve. I thought Show & Tell ended in the third grade.

    We also spent a lot of time editing reports and plans. As many as 20 people would debate for up to an hour on the wording of a single paragraph. Really, shouldn't this be the work of one capable editor, if, indeed, the report or plan is necessary at all?

    The third accomplishment, if we should call it that, was whining...LOTS of whining.

    Very rarely did we accomplish what meetings are intended to do: allow for discussion and resolution of issues. Of course, such discussion requires independent thinking, speaking truthfully, and occasionally being contentious.

    But hey....that's not in MY position description!

    Simple Proposal #4: In lieu of the next meeting, get out in your park, identify a plant, clear a trail, or talk to a visitor.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I would have commented sooner, but I've just put in a 55 hour week at my 33 hour a week job.

    Six months? In some country club? Sentence her to a season of trail work at Yosemite and make her work off her crime rebuilding America's greatest national park. Maybe then she'll appreciate the error of her ways and see the effects of waste on our national treasures.

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Beamis, my apology for not being more concise. Since you were a former government employee, would you know if you are allowed to keep your pension (retirement plan) if convicted on grand theft? Seems like, the higher you go up the government ladder (regarding your prestigious status) and if you get caught with your hands in the till, you still get to keep the fat retirement check. Right! In Ms. Buccello case, I said enough to reckon that she is not eligible for rehire. The crime speaks for its self but not the free pension...if she's a felon! I hope my point is clear ranger!

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I'm not sure what point is being made by Anonymous.

    Is it that poor Mrs. Buccello got the raw end of the stick? Or that some get away with crime and others don't? What is there to say about this fairly straight forward story? She admitted her crimes and will now pay the price. End of story.

    If I'm missing something would y'all please let me know?

  • Park Service's Top Investigator Pleads Guilty To Theft   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Kurt, I'm surprised that are former NP rangers on this blog have not commented on this article...not a peep so far. Although, a pittance of a crime in comparsion in what some of Bushs lackeys have gotten away with. Ms. Bucello will pay for the crime and dwindle in the wind with a ruin reputation. I'm not sure if she looses her 30 year pension. But, there some ex-congressman who have been convicted on a more serious crime and sitting quite pretty with a damn nice pension plan. I guess crime does pay for the smooth talking jaded (a worhtless horse) politician who screws the American taxpayer.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Building this museum will bring more Americans into the fold and actually be an important tool in the drive to get the message out about how important it is to support our national parks.

    There... didn't want you to have to wait for that to happen. :-)

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Of course it's going up in West Virginia. Senator Byrd is the King of Pork! Some enterprising reporter or blogger should follow the money. Somehow it leads into Byrd's campaign coffers.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    You're going nowhere on this one Frank. Government is rarely judged on results, only intentions. Since saving the wilderness and giving Bambi a wholesome place to live is noble in its intent, you should not be surprised to find yourself being labeled a blasphemous no-goodnik for ever daring to question the actual results, especially in any kind of cost/benefit analysis. Mary Bomar seems quite surprised that anyone is questioning her decision concerning snowmobiles in Yellowstone, especially after the expenditure of $10 million that determined less are better than more. Whatever you do, though, please don't judge the results of her administrative genius, only her intention to "make good decisions based on good information."

    I'm convinced that very soon I'm going to hear an NPS supporter or WASO bureaucrat suggest that building this museum will bring more Americans into the fold and actually be an important tool in the drive to get the message out about how important it is to support "your national parks". Mark my words this convoluted rationale will be coming down the pike sooner than any of us could imagine.

    Remember now, don't judge the result, only the intention.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    250 million dollars?!?! That's enough to fund Crater Lake for 50 years! (Even longer if they stopped plowing the roads!) Good god!

    Kurt, you asked where funds could come from for initial endowments to turn parks into public trusts. Well, here's a good source: government waste!

    How can anyone who screams, whines, moans, complains about budget shortfalls in national parks possibly support a quarter of a BILLION dollars going to such a rediculous and completely unneccessary scheme? 15% of the NPS annual budget going to build ONE BUILDING when there are thousands of buildings needing to be repaired or removed? How many seasonal rangers could that hire?

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Sorry about the bad link -- try this one:

    http://www.herald-mail.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=178213&format=print

    Harper's Ferry already uses shuttle buses to get people into the town proper. There's a nearby flea market (a real eyesore) that wouldn't look any worse as a parking lot. Not that I'm in favor of parking lots...

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Now where, pray tell, are all of those projected 1 million visitors going to park their cars? Is there available land nearby that they can bulldoze for this purpose? Maybe they'll eventually need a shuttle system to bring the huddled masses into their hilltop hideaway.

    If this all sounds like an unnecessary federal boondoggle well let me tell you brothers and sisters----IT IS!

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Kurt:

    No one seems to know WHO Stonewall Heights, LLC is. Names are not being revealed. What's the big secret and how is their hotel and conference center different from what was just fought off with the last group of developers? They were building on their own land, too. The same property.

    Thanks.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Plans revealed for museum near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
    By DAVE McMILLION

    CHARLES TOWN, W.VA

    OK, so you have a four-part, $250 million museum you want to build on a high hill near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Park officials, however, are aghast over how it will impact the historic area.

    What’s an architect to do?

    Rip off the top of the hill.

    “Our proposal is to take the four components, scrape the top of the hill off, build the components and then put the hill back over the building,” Douglas Carter of Davis Carter Scott Architecture told the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday.

    If that doesn’t impress you, maybe how the building’s designers plan to heat and cool it will.

    Given its hilltop location and breezy conditions, wind turbines will be used to generate power and a “wind chimney” at the top of the building will draw naturally cool air from “cooling wells” within the ground, Carter said.

    Rest of the article at: http://www.herald-mail.com/?module=displaystory&story_id=178203&format=html

  • Watching Wolves in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 46 weeks ago

    We saw our first wolves at Yellowstone this summer -- and if it wasn't for the gaggle of people with spotting scopes we never would have known to stop and look in the first place. That group was very happy to share with us "muggles" and all the rest that stopped to look over the next 20 minutes.

    I thought it would be funny to just pull over at some random (legal) spot in Yellowstone, get out the spotting scope or binoculars, and just stare off into the distance and see how many people would pull over and ask questions... Whattaya see? Whatcha lookin' at? And then make up some Latin genus/species name (Invisus Ungulatus) and see how many people hop out to look for themselves. Would make for a great Candid Camera episode...

  • Giving a Name to Yosemite Area Peak for Longtime Ranger Carl Sharsmith.   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Yes, the old ranger, the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service during his tenure. I knew him like an old pipe...I can still smell that half/half pipe tobacco coming from his rustic cabin at Tuolumne Meadows. God, this guy was a real trip to hear his fabulous stories what the real Yosemite was like, back in the days when nature was crisp and raw with adventure. No super lite equipment or special fitting clothes to combat the elements of nature. Old Carl was a champion of resourcefulness, never wasted much of anything, but gave us profound wisdom of the wilderness in his many wonderous nature hikes through the mighty Sierra's...and never forgetting Tuolumne walks. He was a master botanist with a keen eye for nature and a sharp wit to match. Naming a peak after old Carl wouldn't matter much, one way or another. For gods sake, this old ranger didn't want to be canonized into the mountain, just name it and be done with it...or just name it: Carls Peak and keep it simple...that's the way Carl would like it and with a bit of resourcefulness. Yes Carl, I know and can remember that flower, it's the Twin Flower, or the Linnaea borealis! Yap, great teacher at state!

  • Lyle Laverty Confirmed as Assistant Interior Secretary Over National Parks   6 years 46 weeks ago

    During my formative years of working for the NPS, I got the impression that the agency was a bastion of purity, not to be tampered with any way. You were expected to eat, drink, breathe, and bleed the Green & Gray, even during your private life. I once worked with a law enforcement ranger who took this concept to such extremes he had a little NPS uniform made for his four year old kid to wear while playing in the sandbox. Pity the cat that dug up that disturbing apparition!

    I was told that if you criticized the NPS, you were a big trouble-maker...and you could be in big trouble. If you sat in a bar on a day off, and a co-worker overheard you say anything negative about the agency, you could be reported. What collapsed totalitarian regimes does that culture of fear resemble?

    Fortunately, times have changed. Nowadays aligning yourself too closely with the agency will probably do you more harm than good. It's now common knowledge that the outfit is far from perfect; you'd be a fool if you didn't at least poke fun of the NPS once in a while. No point in being labelled guilty by association.

    But times haven't changed THAT much. Most NPS employees are still scared to death to openly criticize the agency, even though they're more disillusioned than ever. By the way, do you really think my name is "Bart"?

    Most NPS manager types live in a world of illusion. The good ol' boy (and girl) denial machine is alive and well, rather akin to Nero fiddling away, buzzed out of his gourd, while Rome went up in blazes.

    National Park managers need to take a very painful step...open your doors to the kind of internal criticism that will lead to legitimate change in how business is conducted.

    Simple Proposal #10: Invite Constructive Criticism...especially the kind that really hurts.