Recent comments

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    You don't have a 'choice' as to whether or not to disclose your bank accounts, pay statements, dependents, etc. etc. to the IRS. And unless you want to travel to the National Parks by hitchhiking with cash only as your payment method, your movements are being tracked by somebody. Homeland Security has so much too do right now tracking potential terrorists, criminal illegal aliens and other lawbreakers (and doing a poor job of that) that I really don't think they'll be checking on whether little old me visited a national park or not. And if they did, I really don't care. It's not an activity that I'm ashamed of or trying to hide.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Yes, we waive our rights on a regular basis, but, it is a choice we make. We have the choice to accept the privacy policy or not. If I choose to, in this country, I have the choice to have on official address that includes a P.O. Box (a no-no under the Real ID), I have a choice to own a driver's license, I have a choice to move about the country and not have anyone know where I am. All of these things could potentially be *forced* on me under the Real ID. I can appreciate those of you who don't have a problem with this, as a few have said, we do this already in many instances. But as I see it, the potential of this program represents a big change in the definition of freedom in this country. In many cases, 'choice' gets thrown out the window and is replaced with 'must'.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    The purpose of Real ID is to keep foreign terrorists who wouldn't be able to get a valid Real ID off airplanes and out of potential terrorist targets like federal buildings. Off hand, I don't think any of the National Parks would be prime targets for a terrorist attack, so I concur that the government is unlikely to have park visitor's show their Real ID. But if park rangers did check Real ID at entry stations it might help in stopping the entry of illegal aliens who are manning the marijuana growing operations inside the parks.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    This is all kinda silly, because private companies have been collecting more information about us than the government has for years, yet we keep signing the sheet or clicking the OK button that says we understand their privacy policy without reading it, we waive our rights on a regular basis just to get the goods or service we're standing in line for. The fact that I'm posting on this website is somehow known by a lot more people than I'd care to know about.

    At both Yellowstone and Badlands last week, the gate rangers wouldn't let me in using my National Parks Pass without showing some form of ID. One of them even made me re-sign the back of the pass using a permanent marker. I love it when other dishonest people try to scam their own government by sharing their parks pass and I have to suffer for it as a result -- absolutely love it.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I made reservations at White Wolf and Curry Village in Yosemite over the Labor Day weekend. In order to verify that I was the reservation holder, I had to show my driver's license. Delaware North, which runs the Yosemite accommodations has my name in its computers showing all my stays from previous years. Who cares? If the government as well as Delaware North know that I like to visit Yosemite, I really don't care. The government already knows my Social Security number, they issued it! The government post offices know my address! It's far more of an intrusion that I am required every April 15 to supply the government with all my personal financial information or else. What's really odd is that those who rant against Real ID, have no problem with proposals that the government run the entire health care system and then have access to everyone's personal medical history. Compared to that, knowing that I like visiting national parks is nothing.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Anonymous, before you call me out for having got my facts wrong, would you mind doing your own fact check? In March of this year, DHS announced a 20 month delay, pushing the time of enforcement from May 11, 2008 to the end of December 2009.

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 46 weeks ago

    On the other hand, Mission 66 was quite the mess in Yellowstone in particular. I worked five summers in Grant Village - a Mission 66 debacle.

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

  • Soundscape : Frijoles Creek in Bandelier National Monument   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Thanks Jeremy for the refreshing sound of natures symphony at Bandelier Natinal Monument. What a nice treat to start the day!

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 46 weeks ago

    @Anne Mitchell Whisnant:
    Thanks for your links and book recommendations. So everyone agrees, that the centennial initiative is nothing like Mission 66. That's sad.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    The Real ID Act takes effect May 11, 2008, not "in just over a year," as this article states. At least get the date right!

    Also, any DHS directive about how to enforce this law can be changed at the pleasure of DHS. Just because they say right now that they won't enforce it to the hilt -- which of course they WOULD say in order to deflect criticism and opposition to the law -- nothing prevents them from changing their minds next year, tomorrow, or right now.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I agree with Jim. This about the larger context of who is in ultimate control and how they use their power in the context of park management.

    This subject warrants further inquiry. Thanks for bringing the issue to light.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I don't support privatizing the parks, but I find this onerous. It raises other issues in respect to the way laws are enforced in the parks and the general way that parks are managed. A long time ago, Alston Chase argued about Yellowstone that the park was managed on the basis of law enforcement considerations - he went so far as to argue that the natural regulation policy that the park adopted was essentially a law enforcement concern. He said that in part because he could not explain the contradiction he saw between the hands off policy toward elk and the hands on policy in managing grizzly bears (except when they were starving). While Chase obviously had some axes to grind, I think the notion of control and public lands is an essential concept. It finds a more extreme expression in the Real ID program. If the parks aren't going to be checking for IDs, that doesn't change the basic ideas.

    I don't see privatization as a check on this; in fact, it might prove to be more onerous, excluding people for any reason the owners deem acceptable. The only check I can think of as possible is popular grassroots resistance to these kinds of policies; if people aren't complying (already some states have refused to comply), then the program will be moot. However, if enough people do comply, then it won't be long before the parks will find a way to comply as well.

    So, this is serious to me even if the info that Jeremy found out is true because of the issues it raises in general about identification requirements in any context (including the park context). It's also serious because of what it might suggest about management philosophy in parks at large.

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

  • The Secret Life of Drugs in Parks   6 years 46 weeks ago

    We did a story in 2005 on what it took a volunteer group to clean up one relatively small marijuana garden in a California state park: The WildeBeat number 19: Restoring a Park Gone to Pot

    (I suppose that Kurt and Jeremy are going to get tired of my pointing out shows I've done in their blog comments, but this is on-topic.)
    ---
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    Download the MP3 programs or subscribe to the podcast at...
    www.wildebeat.net

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    This is not about a particular agenda to privatize the NPS but IS about an out of control totalitarian federal Leviathan that calls the shots for all of the agencies under it's militaristic wings including the one that runs our parks.

    I have no doubt that the NPS will never be able to follow such an onerous dictate from the heavy-handed Homeland Security thugs, they can barely keep up with all of the pot growers and bone thieves. The dialogue, to me, is all about deciding what is the best way to care and protect these precious places and how to provide moral and ethical leadership free of the taint of politics and a massive self-perpetuating bureaucracy. In my view Mary Bomar and crew are failing. Many out there think more money will solve everything. I don't believe that for a minute.

    As long as the parks have to even have to respond to the ideas and proposals of people like Michael Chertoff and Dick Cheney there is little hope that the institutional framework is in place to do the job that is needed to be done. There are better containers out there to nurture the parks and I'm determined to keep the discussion going until we come up with something better that the current model of dysfunction and waste.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    "A reliable source" in Lassen Volcanic National Park told me recently that it costs them close to 150% as much to staff the entry and exit gates as they take in admissions revenue. And they only staff those gates in the summer during office hours.

    For those of you who have an agenda to privatize the parks, this isn't going to be your tea party. For those of you worried that big brother at the DOI is going to track your camping partners, or your work-day fishing get-aways. I have it on good authority that the NPS has much larger fish to fry.
    ---
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    Download the MP3 programs or subscribe to the podcast at...
    www.wildebeat.net

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    This is still a point that needs clarity. In some states and the District of Columbia, you are not required to show an ID to anyone for any reason when stopped by a law enforcement official (you do need IDs for verification for employment). In some places, even if you are arrested, you are still not required to show an ID. You will be processed in the system as a John Doe. In other states, this is not true. What are the rules on federal public lands? How is it different in the parks? Are there parks where state law is used as the enforcement mechanism?

    I think people could use a legal primer on what the law currently is so that they can make informed choices on how to avoid showing identity. When and where people are and are not required to show ID is important. It's not terribly important to me as an individual, but there are a lot of populations where the ID requirements are used to intimidate and harrass. During Bush's second inaugural, we had numerous reports from homeless people that the Metropolitan police here in DC were requiring them to have IDs or be escorted from the streets. This was a harrassment technique, not a legally sound maneuver, but what are you going to do? The same certainly applies for people visiting national parks for whom English is not a first language and a host of other groups.

    There's a lot more that can be said about this. In some parks, even the animals it seems need to wear identification.

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

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Wanted to let folks know, I've made an important update to the original story. We've heard from the National Park Service today. Upon further study, it appears as if revealing a Real ID to park rangers would not be a requirement of admittance into our national parks. More details are at the end of the original article above.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    It is whacko; are people serious about organizing a movement not to comply? Why do I get the sense that if this happens and a boycott is organized that people will still find themselves putting themselves through this absurdity?

    Just brand us now; that would save the government a lot of time and money.

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

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    That this idea is even being entertained as a possibility is ample proof that the federal government is NOT the entity that should be running the parks and monuments of this land.

    It sounds like some lost plan that a diligent historian has unearthed from the hidden vaults of Nazi Germany, where Himmler proposed a plan to check I.D.s at the entrances to German parks in order to maintain national purity and prevent the unwanted invasion of "undesirables" and seditious aliens like Jews and gypsies.

    This is so totalitarian and downright whacko that I can't believe most folks who contribute dialogue to this website are still such avid cheerleaders for the federal government, especially in light of their abysmal record whether it is in Iraq or the Florissant Fossil Beds.

    Your government education and servile indoctrination has served them well.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I sincerely doubt that anyone actually intends to require ID at all National Parks. All the other examples, federal buildings, courthouses, planes and trains, are secure environments, so we can expect that the ID might be required at similar sites. The Washington Monument, for example, has metal detectors and x-ray machines. The Liberty Bell requires some level of security check. I don't know whether ID is particularly useful in those places, but I think we can agree that it makes more sense to require ID at that sort of monument than at Wilson's Creek or Hovenweep.

    However, for the sake of historical context, I'll note that back in the sepia-toned early days of the national parks, visitors had to give their names and home addresses at the entrance stations as a matter of course. That's what entrance stations were for.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Federal law enforcement already has the legal right to inspect your ID at any time while you are out on federal property -- regardless of what you are doing. If you do not have a passport or other federally-compliant ID, then when the so-called "Real ID Act" kicks in, they will also have the legal right to detain you until your identity can be verified.

    This is a legal right. It has nothing to do with technology, databases, resources, citizen complaints, or desire to enforce the law. Law enforcement is separate from a law's existence, and this law is already two years old. Maybe when the law kicks in there won't be much enforcement -- then again, maybe there will -- but what about in five or ten years?

    Bottom line: starting May 11, 2008, every person out on federal land runs the risk of being detained if their ID does not comply with the so-called "Real ID Act."

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Yet another reason to reclaim our public lands from the federal government.

  • Federal Real ID May (Not) Be Required For Park Visit   6 years 46 weeks ago

    Yet another reason to reclaim our public lands from the federal government.

  • When Nature Calls, It's Hard to Find a Restroom on the National Mall   6 years 46 weeks ago

    The lack of restrooms is a definite problem on the National Mall - although I wonder how the NPS will deal with the situation without turning additional restrooms into de facto homeless shelters. The other major problem is that all of the Smithsonians and Federal Buildings surrounding the Mall effectively shut down around 5pm, creating an effective dead space in the heart of the City. Hopefully the Park Service's plans for the National Mall will allow for additional restaurants, cafes, coffe shops, ice creameries, etc. that could add some cultural vibrance to what should be the heart of the Nation's capitol.

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 46 weeks ago

    I too have been to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and have been appalled as well. Its really a shame, as this place has some of the most truly amazing fossils found anywhere in the world - insects so finely preserve in stone that you can even see the veins in the wings! Thanks for bringing this appalling situation to a wider audience!