Recent comments

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 47 weeks ago

    You haven't heard me slam the bear.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Science can indeed be classified as either good, insofar as being soundly researched and executed, or poor, referring to it being targeted toward a specific agenda or hypothesis, but I would tread lightly around the term proven. Even a preponderance of evidence doesn't automatically qualify as proven beyond a given measure. At best, it lends credence to one's position, but the meaning of the term proof is something science prefers to leave in the courtroom environment, to be bandied about and abused by the legal profession. The entire purpose of research is to gather data and let those data guide the investigation to its' eventual end, be it in support of the original hypothesis or not. If the weight of these data support the hypothesis, and the experimental protocol can be duplicated over time by independent researchers or teams, only then does the hypothesis evolve into an accepted theory. If the evidence serves not to support the intent of the experimentation, so be it. You then follow the new course that the data charts for you, and follow IT until you have enough evidence to support the new hypothesis. The true purpose behind any scientific exploit is discovery, whether it follow the original intent of the process or not is completely irrelevant. It's always nice to be correct in your initial assumptions, but it's also a far cry from the norm. The term serendipity best describes how the majority of discoveries were and are found throughout the history of most branches of science. That's why we're taught that Rule #1 is "always keep your eyes and mind open", as observation and conclusion are the mother of all discovery. Any idiot can find what they're looking or manipulate data sets to support poor experimental design that allows them to "discover" that which they seek if they follow the poor science methods. Such are the fantasies of the closed mind. But most often the clues are subtle at best and hidden at worst, and without the ability to dig beyond the obvious and truly see all that is presented, most of what would be the more noteworthy accomplishments and greatest discoveries would have remained forever lost.

    Should it be the sole arbiter? God forbid! Not in ANY instance, nor should be the sole determinant for ANY issue. But the service that it can lend should neither be completely ignored. In our modern world, science functions as a tool, an aide, a crutch, a compass, an additional source of information from which conclusions can be drawn. Unless, of course, you're Director Bomar, and you're too busy to read that which was commissioned specifically for your very benefit. Science was never intended to serve as the "be all, end all" in any forum. But what other method of gathering information is currently available that serves the same purpose as scientific research, and if they exist, are they any more reliable than the current methods?

    For the record Jim, the politicization of science is the worst form of evil, as it subscribes to the "poor" scientific methods that are an abomination to the field as a whole. Science and politics cannot co-exist. Science is the elimination of specific agenda, which is the diametric opposite of politics. It's oil and vinegar, night and day, positive and negative poles of the battery. Politicos not only seek but require justification, science seeks NOT to justify, but hypothesize and investigate. The last time anything was deeply investigated on the Hill was during the Watergate era, and where did that get us? Science in politics equates to a Surgeon General, who cautions against smoking, trying miserably to save face for a government who lives off the revenues generated by, while simultaneously fiscally supporting that very same industry that the "official chief government scientist" abhors. Politicization of science is an FDA who protects the Big Pharma more than it does the American consumer. Countless times in just the past 2-3 decades, drug discoveries that were made in other countries were put on the FDA "banned" list, not due to any factor except that which allowed for profits to be made by overseas research firms. But yet, who allowed Big Pharma to be the first to jump on the "generic equivilent" knock-offs once the initial proprietary periods had expired? Our same two-faced FDA. Yet at the same time, do I need to mention either the company names or the compound names that was forcibly removed from circulation due to an accumulation of patient deaths, due SOLELY to improper clinical trials and manipulated data by the manufacturer? Did anybody bother to print the "behind the scenes" story of why these clinicals were rushed through the system? Did anyone bother to investigate and discover that again, Big Pharma was about to be beaten to the punch by off-shore competition, and stood to lose BILLIONS in R&D and God forbid, future profits, had they completed their studies "by the book", so instead the FDA allowed, nay, FACILITATED their gamble and approved experimental drugs that were responsible for the deaths of DOZENS of patients world-wide? I could carry on, but this should give you a pretty good idea why the marriage of science with politics makes for a nuclear meltdown waiting to happen.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I don't particularly have a strong opinion on the science because I'm woefully ignorant of those things. It is interesting to read the conflicting views on the science, but I'm usually not in the business of arguing about things I don't pretend to know. This is helpful information.

    Now, on the second question, you say first that science serves as an "emotionless arbiter." First, I think that's something of a false dichotomy. Rather than say that any judgment is without emotion, it is more precise to say that any sound judgment is true regardless of emotion. That distinction might be subtle, but we have to be careful. A triangle, for instance, has three sides regardless of whether it is equilateral, scalene, or isosceles. However, there is no such thing as a triangle that is not either, equilateral, scalene, or isosceles. There is no such thing as a scientific judgment that is uttered without emotion, unless judgments can exist without judges. However, that something is a triangle does not depend upon the type anymore than a sound judgment depends upon emotion.

    The point in all of this is that people with emotional biases are not necessarily acting without sound science. The science should be able to stand on its own regardless of what someone believes, and sound science, if there is such a thing, does not require arbiters who don't have opinions and emotions about things. The reason we seem to care about this and become cynical and suspicious, for instance, of an oil industry study on climate change, is because very few of us understand the science enough in order to come to our own conclusions. In that case, we are not judging science but whether we trust a source. Many of us who are not scientists end up basing our judgments about these matters not on science but on trust; in many cases, that is a reasonable response because so often our suspicions turn out to be right.

    You go on to assert that science should at least guide questions that involve the environment. I don't think I'd dispute that, but the question is how so. What does science actually show? Science can show, perhaps, that a certain number of snowmobiles will pollute the air in a certain way and will have such and such effects on various features and wildlife. That's certainly very useful information when we are presented a question of whether snowmobiles should be allowed because it clarifies the shared reality in which we make value judgments. However, it is not science that answers the "should"; it only does so assuming that people have the same set of shared values and the same interpretation of those values to the specific situation in which the science applies. What should govern those values? And, even if we can determine those (for instance, one answer might be the laws that currently govern Yellowstone), the application of those values to a specific situation is always going to be subject to further value judgment. These are not scientific questions.

    I think one can make a scientific case (that is observe, measure, and document) that the disputes about snowmobiles in Yellowstone are only secondarily questions of science but foremost questions of values. Though there seems to be some dispute over the science (for instance, snowmobiles versus snowcoaches), there is greater dispute on the purpose of national parks, specifically Yellowstone National Park, and more specifically the best way to use and regulate use of Yellowstone National Park in the winter. Even you resort not to science but rather an aesthetic argument at one point to justify keeping this argument about over-the-snow vehicles rather than automobiles.

    I don't believe we will move forward in this until people stop using science as a smokescreen (a snowstorm?) blocking our view from the critical values issues that have to be tackled, and beneath those, the ontological assumptions behind them that drive values discussions. When it comes down to it, this is not really about science. This is about how well science conforms to values. That doesn't make science irrelevant; it just means that from a policy standpoint, it is not ultimately the scientists as scientists who should make these decisions.

    However, if it's not scientists as scientists, and the political system is not responsive to the value judgments of the people whom they represent (and no way of knowing whether those value judgments are in any way sound), what is there to be done?

    Now, that's getting ahead of ourselves; if people don't follow my points that far, there's no way to get at the larger social implications.

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

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    What amazes me, this big beautiful country called Yellowstone, is why would anybody want to bring all this motorized crap into the park during the winter. There's something very peaceful and full of blessed solace about Yellowstone in the winter, but why can't we leave it that way, and just enjoy the simple things that the park has to offer. Such as snowshoe hiking, snow camping, skiing and outdoor photography...and many other healthy activities. Why does it have be this thing about a faster, easier and sedentary way of activity in Yellowstone...like traveling in your own personalized highly mechanized snowmobile (and forgetting you have two legs to exercise and walk on). This is not a elitist attitude, but a attitude that we need to address to are younger generation the critical importance of good wholesome rugged exercise that Yellowstone has to offer. What I see in are younger generation today, and this greatly alarms me, is the huge obesity problem in this country (did you check your own weight and blood pressure lately...and your kids?)...it's a major catastrophe waiting to happen...kids having diabetic and heart problems before there twenty. The message should be, less mechanized toys, such as snowmobiles and more snowshoes and hiking...etc...This is a far better trade off then having just "one snowmobile" in the park.

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I can't find it in me to find fault with the aspect of overtime pay, and Frank is wholeheartedly right in stating that these people EARN their money. You're damn right it can be lucrative, but the risks associated with the job and the physical nature of the beast only serve to lend support to the overtime payscale. These factors, and the fact that worker shortages are common lead to inflate and skew the "average" income ratio. How many of us would jump at the opportunity to join their ranks? I'm fully aware of the seasonal aspect of the job, but in most of the nation, construction workers are "seasonal" as well, and their basic pay rate is enough to make you cry, without considerations for overtime.

    The fire suppression tactics and techniques that were, and is many cases still are practiced are the result of our ignorant attitude towards the environment. A good house-cleaning serves to revitalize the ecosystem, not destroy it as we once believed. Leaving nature to itself would be the most proper course of action to self-contain the intensity of the fires.

    Beamis, last year when I lived in southern Utah, as Kurt may well substantiate, I believe there were something in the neighborhood of 18 fires between June and August, of which only 2 qualified as man-made in origin. One was set by drunken teenagers whose "bonfire" got out of control, the other was pure arson. I'm aware of the dry thunderstorm phenomenon and the resulting devastation that can be traced directly to their doorstep. But I still wouldn't start going off on Smokey.

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Frank, I was really just making an observation not a statement. It could easily be a mis-impression on my part but it just seems that all of the really big fires in the West are on BLM or USFS lands. Of course Los Angeles and San Diego are burning today (what else is new?) and it's obviously a combination of public and private lands that are being affected.

    If I had to offer a reason as to why I think government land tended to burn more often I would say that it might have something to do with the vast size of the holdings involved. Private land is generally divided into smaller parcels and thus might also be more carefully watched over by individual owners.

    This may be a totally bogus conjecture on my part but that was all it was. I'm no expert on wildland fire.

  • What is YOUR Favorite Park Experience?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I agree - this is a REALLY tough decision - there are SO many!
    But, if I had to pick one, it was at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park in 2005. Our plan was to hike the Kilauea Iki Trail our first morning. I'd always wanted to hike this trail that goes across a volcanic crater, but it was almost 5 miles long, and my husband was still only just starting to "be OK" with hiking - although I've been "outdoorsy" all my life, he is more of a city boy, so it is tough to convince him of the "joys" of hiking sometimes when you can get great views "from the car."
    So, in 2005, he was just getting to the point where he wouldn't complain of a 2-3 mi hike - as long as significant elevation changes weren't involved, and he was consistently "comfortable."
    Well, that morning, it started to rain - that typical tropical rain forest rain....that is, a steady, light, never-ending mist. We did bring ponchos, and although I'm ok w/ hiking in the rain, it didn't bode well for Jacob's experience.
    Regardless, he was a trooper, and donned his poncho, and we took off.
    It continued to drizzle the whole time, and I was constantly fretting about how he was "suffering" and how I'd never hear the end of it, and he'd never hike with me again.
    Well, about 1 mile into the hike, we had descended through the tropical forest to the bottom of the crater and were about to start the trek across it. I turned around on the trail and saw Jacob in his cheap poncho, soaking wet.
    Through the mist and fog, I could see him - he was smiling, and his eyes were taking it all in and bright as sapphires....and he said just one word looking out over the crater - "Wow!" Discomfort was the farthest thing from his mind.
    It ended up being his most favorite hike in all the national parks we've visited to this day (he's now proud to say he's visited over 100 national park sites!).
    Since then, he's upgraded to roadside camping in the parks, and this year he even did his first backcountry camping experience - pack and all!
    But, I think it was this favorite hike in Hawai'i that I think that started it all - and it was one of my most memorable for that reason alone.

    Tristan

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker:

    Smokey Bear has to do with everything fire-related; he's a propaganda machine that lied to generations of young Americans saying only YOU can prevent forest fires when 75% of all wildfires are lightning caused.

    Leaving Smokey aside, Anonymous is right that firefighting is quite lucrative. I say this as a former NPS fire fighter and having personal experience. And fighting wildland fires is often wasteful monetarily speaking, and I have many stories to support my claim. But private fire fighting firms can be just as wasteful and can be more inept than well-trained NPS and USFS employees. And the money firefighters made is hard earned money. Have you ever swung a polaski at 100-year-old sage? It's hard f--ing work! Limbing trees, digging line, inhaling smoke, putting their lives at risk. This is serious work and most firefighters earn their seasonal pay.

    And Beamis, here I have to disagree. I spent some time working on the Deschutes National Forest this summer, and private land around Bend and Sisters burned just as often and as intensely as wildland fires on private land. Framing this in free market economics or competition won't work. The real problem is cultural. Had new Americans refrained from building homes in ponderosa pine forests that burn every 3-5 years, and had the USFS and private harvesters not viewed forests as dollar signs and not seen fire as a threat to their property, the Native American practice of prescribed fire might have continued and we might not be in this mess today.

    The key is prescribed fire. It costs a fraction of fighting wildfires, and we need to accelerate the pace. The NPS excels in their prescribed fire program, and it should be a model to all land managers, public and private, throughout the West.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Jim, in answer to your first question, yes, snowcoaches would be less-polluting than snowmobiles. According to the EPA, the initial preferred alternative to allow up to 720 snowmobiles per day into Yellowstone, when compared to the snowcoach only alternative, "would result in five times more carbon monoxide emissions and 17 times more hydrocarbon emissions," according to Kerrigan Clough, the deputy regional administrator of EPA Region 8. "This alternative also would double the acres in Yellowstone impacted by over-snow vehicle noise for more than 50 percent of the day."

    You can find the rest of that story here.

    Now, under the currently preferred alternative, which would allow upwards of 540 snowmobiles into the park, those numbers would change a bit, but snowcoaches still would be cleaner. Would they be cleaner than plowing the roads and letting folks drive in? I can't answer that question right now. But the aesthetics would certainly change, and I think part of the joy of visiting Yellowstone in winter is coming in over snow, as opposed to driving in on pavement.

    Plus, I think if you opened that door you'd have to open more, such as turning the lodges into year-round destinations, and that certainly would add more (if not overload) the system.

    Now, your latter pondering isn't easily answered. Who's values are we holding decisions up to? Those of the rich? Of the middle class? Of any other social or cultural group?

    Science, though not always an absolute, serves as an emotionless arbiter (or it should). If the science is good and proven, I believe it should guide questions that involve (at least) the environment. Should it be the final arbiter or considered a panacea? I don't think so, not in all cases. I still believe we have to add the human factor into the equation.

    But in the case of Yellowstone and snowmobiles and snowcoaches, phasing out snowmobiles by itself does not deprive anyone of visiting the park (although mounting costs of visiting surely does) and it lessens the impacts on the resources -- the wildlife, the air, the soundscapes, the visitors, the employees. In this narrow instance -- which is better for Yellowstone's resources, snowmobiles or snowcoaches? -- I don't believe science, or relying on science, trivializes any larger questions.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    First a scientific question. Do snowcoaches actually reduce pollution? I keep reading on another blog of someone who studies this stuff that they don't. Her preference: plow the roads.

    Secondly, an ethical question. Do we really want scientists making value-laden decisions? Does science ever answer values questions?

    And, having said that, I'm not fond of snowmobiles in Yellowstone, or snowcoaches, or cars, but I'm less fond of a winter playground monopolized by the rich and argued over by the rich. The snowmobile issue points to so much else, but don't we trivialize it to see this as simply science versus policy? It's ethics and values; the science only clarifies the values questions. Setting science up as a value arbiter is neither scientific nor sound. I guess I answered my own question 2 (still would like to understand question 1 more), but I'm curious why science is thrown around like it is as the panacea for all environmental questions (and politicization of science the greatest evil).

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

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I just now spoke with Marcia Blaszak and must say she was very gracious. She said she could not take a unilateral action - said shutting down the hunt was beyond her authority. Apparantly it would take an act of Congress to shut down the hunt? She said the "incident portrayed in the media is under investigation" - I understand that one party guided shooters in while another brought "media" in and therein lies a conflict. She said "ethical chase is a social concern..." And said of course that Alaska manages the hunt.

    She also disputed the notion that those bears are habituated to humans and said that brown bears, feeding on salmon runs, are very tolerant of humans. Can anyone verify this?

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker-

    The 11-14 hour rate you quote is completely misleading. That is just the basic pay. Firefighters get hazard pay and typically overtime, which usually jacks up the rates of pay a ton as they work long hours in hazardous situations. I have friends who have purchased expensive 12K motorcycles just through working fire, on top of their normal salary. Now, to further the point, consider those compensation rates with GS-9 and GS-11 employees that go on fires... let alone the fact that they aren't doing their day to day real duties.

    Additionally, drought and snits against "global warming" aside, years and years and years of fire suppression inevitably jacks up fuel load. Most ecosystems across North American really didn't evolve without fire, so combine building fuel load with drought and you have potential for increased wildfires.

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 47 weeks ago

    First, I don't consider the $11-14/hr rate that the government pays qualifying as a lot of money by ANY standard.

    Second, I would have guessed that the folks at Berkeley intelligent enough to lend some REAL insight that was truly significant, not something that most anyone could have predicted in the typical cause and effect scenario.

    Third, granted I didn't view the video, but somewhere it should be noted that most of the Western states have been subjected to an extended period of drought over the past ten or so years, with many areas classified as "significantly" moisture deficient, or in layman's terms, bone dry. This is obviously a contributing factor, as not only are many areas "living in kindling", but the rains that the smoke-eaters relied so heavily upon for assistance less frequent than in seasons past.

    Culprits have been suggested that include the usual global climatic changes to severe El Nino phenomenon, Communist satellites and increased vulcanism on the Ring of Fire. It's even been suggested that the increase in volcanic activity along the Pacific Rim is the result of global warming, which is an arguement so juvenile it doesn't even merit discussion. From what I've experienced, cheatgrass is a minor annoyance more than a major factor leading to the spread of "uncontrollable" fires, due to the fact that it combusts so rapidly and completely that, while it spreads a fire quickly, it can't sustain the spread for very long. I've investigated its possible usage as barriers or containment areas against wildfire advance, since fire can't exist without fuel and this stuff burns out quicker than your typical punk rocker. The problem is by May-June, it's dry, ugly, and propagated by those nasty little spine-covered seed pods. Bad stuff for air mattresses, tent floors and bare feet for both little critters and us bigger critters as well!

    And what's Smokey got to do with anything?

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 47 weeks ago

    To follow up on point #2, the common refrain I used to hear often from wildland fire fighters back when I was a ranger was: "When I see smoke I see green." (As in $$$$). There's a legitimate point to be made about perverse incentives.

    Cheatgrass don't none too much help either.

    Also, has anyone else noticed that private land in the interior West rarely ever burns as often or for as long as government owned land usually does? Just an observation.

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Two things:

    1) Get rid of Smokey the Bear

    2) Fire people make a lot of money every summer....

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Mr. Mack P. Bray, I'm interested. Please send me an email so we can set up a dialog. www.bobdjphoto@gmail.com I'll fill you in on other people and organizations involved in getting this slaughter stopped.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I only recently learned of this absurdity and just now tried to reach Marcia Blaszak, Alaska Regional Director, NPS.

    I intend to keep calling until I reach her and, well, you can imagine... She'll understand my position before we're finished.

    We need an ORGANISED campaign. Any volunteers?

    Here's her poop:

    Marcia Blaszak
    1-907-644-3510
    Alaska Regional Director
    National Park Service
    240 West 5 Avenue
    Anchorage, AK 99501

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Bureaucrats operating without an encyclopedic charter? Sorry, those two things just can't co-exist Frank. If management were to seriously attempt to exist without the ability to deflect culpability (a.k.a. responsibility), where would they be? It reminds me of an old comedy routine explaining the difference between accepting responsibility and accepting blame. "People who are responsible lose their jobs, people who are to blame don't." That should give everyone a good enough explanation of why higher-ups aren't EVER responsible, they're only the ones to blame.

    I know all too many of my research bretheren will castigate me for this one, but a simple scientific charter? That's akin to being a little bit pregnant, or creating a small nuclear accident. Spectacular notion, but in reality the practice might prove a tad difficult to implement. The reason for this is that in "good" science, contrary to conventional wisdom, science has three "nevers". 1) Scientists don't deal in "facts", we deal in EVIDENCE. Facts, by definition, refer to something that can be tested and repeated over time, and under any set of circumstances. Since we obviously cannot go back or forward in time, nor can we much influence the environmental conditions under which experimentation is conducted, we therefore cannot determine whether or not a specific circumstance would be repeatable over time, therefore "facts" are virtually non-existant. Not completely, but virtually. 2) It is never the object of scientific experimentation to "prove" anything, nor do we attempt to "disprove" anything. Evidence, either supporting or refuting any set of conditions, is gathered via the scientific method, and unless gathered impartially and totally objectively, these data are almost completely useless. If you set out to "prove" something, you most likely will, based purely on your experimental design, by limiting factors or variables that would "disprove" your hypothesis. What the hell good is that? Much to our profession's chagrin, good science is not always practiced however. And the old adage, "figures don't lie, liars figure" does indeed ocassionally apply. This is exactly how the American public can be SO easily drawn astray. Complex issues require complex analysis, and who among the general public has time (or the ability) to understand the root causes, possible courses of action, and can properly analyze the resulting data sets? 3) Science does not deal in "truths". Again, we deal in the practice of gathering and analyzing data, and our research efforts are guided by impartial dissemination of these data and the corresponding evidence to which they point. Truths aren't the basis for scientific evaluation, they pertain more to what an individual or group or population believes someting to be......with or without a supporting body of evidence. Truths exist in man's mind only. Nature allows us to seek and find evidence of what may or may not be. Anything can be viewed as truth in the eyes of man, depending on who it benefits to convince and who becomes subjected by what a given truth may be. Laws governing our existence are truths. Religious beliefs are truths. They exist with or without a supporting body of evidence because man says they do, and for no other reason. Science cannot afford the luxury of beliefs without supporting evidence, nor can we reject a hypothesis without evidence supporting another option to the contrary.

    I'm a big believer in sample size. No competent determination can be reached pertaining to ANY issue based on a small sample, no matter how competently collected. The term small here is relative however, and is in direct relationship to the impact of the issue at hand. Environmental issues are indeed complex, but we do have more evidence and data sets than are currently available for say, a developmental chemotherapeutic agent and its ability to regulate or suppress any given carcinoma, which also happens to be a far more complex issue, with poorly understood mechanisms of action and the resulting reactions. So the place the entire burden of the future regulation and health of the park system within the scope of science is a somewhat dicey proposition, but one to which I would gladly lend whatever assistance I could manage. What the public could expect short-term is little improvement or dramatic change, and more tax dollars spent on surveys and environmental impact studies regarding lesser-understood and poorly researched aspects of the long-term health of the system. Maybe some issues could be dealt an immediate and temporary blow based on the accumulation of current data, such as the snowmobiles in Yellowstone, various animal slaughters, unrequired damming of rivers, development of certain lands surrounding historical sites, etc. but only time would tell if these actions were to become a perpetual change on the landscape, and to what eventual benefit or detriment would have to be deterimined only through the course of time.

    And for what it's worth, my notion of research is based in no small manner on the input of those who managed these lands generations before we assumed control, and parks weren't even in existence. This period was indeed the "golden age" of these lands, as they were under the stewardship of various peoples who understood far better the relationship between all creatures and objects on Mother Earth. And for my money, placing them back into their rightful position of stewards could only be a tremendous benefit to us as a population and the environment as a whole. There comes a time, after the management of successful endeavor has been driven into the ground by a change in ownership, the new owners must be objective enough to see that to best benefit the program, another change is mandated. Such is the case with our current management of these resources.

    So much for a simple explantion. You might want to try your Etch-A-Sketch theory on my post.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Roger my man, it's not anger, but fire in the belly for what is right and just. Ripping up the public beachs for self amusement with oil dripping ORV's makes any rational human being subject to anger.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Frank, wouldn't it be nice if we could start all over again and have a republic based on the Constitution that is simple, explicit and limited in scope that doesn't prompt politicians with too much power and career-centered bureaucrats to write hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations that interpret and distort that original charter?

    The federal system is the problem. Forget shaking the Etch-a-Sketch. It now needs to be hauled off to the landfill.

    Until the parks are freed from this corrupt system of political spoils and bureaucratic ineptitude these types of things will continue to be par for the course.

    I want to applaud Kurt and Jeremy for bringing to light these issues and keeping us posted on up to the minute management decisions that were formerly shrouded in the mists of departmental memos and obscure press releases. With the advent of the internet and newly opened access to the shenanigans of these insulated bureaucrats we can now go a long way towards at least exposing the low grade administration our national treasures are currently receiving.

    If the national parks ever do emerge from their current management morass with a brighter future and more resource focused decision making, Kurt and Jeremy will be able to take a lot of the credit for providing a valuable forum for the OPEN exchange of ideas and solutions to the problems vexing our valuable park lands.

    Take a bow gentleman.

  • Jumping Off Bridge an Annual Tradition in New River Gorge   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Just curious Jeremy.....ever considered jumping out of a perfectly good airplane from between 5-10,000'? Most people classify us as certified loonies for that manuever as well, but BOY does that get the epinephrine circulating! From my perspective, at an altitude of only 876' you don't quite enough time to enjoy the surroundings before splashdown. Which brings me to the part I really don't understand....parachuting into that gorge? That's not exactly minimizing your risk/reward factors, which is supposed to be the top priority of any jumper when planning and executing these types of endeavors. Updrafts and swirling wind currents, trees, water; too dangerous for me. Must be a similar experience to the champagne-laced and tuxedoed goofballs that bungee jump 1000' from Royal Gorge Bridge.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, you're right on the money. Such double speak from Bomar! The NPT editors are also right on the money that science, not politics, should guide decisions.

    I've got an observation based on the following:

    Historically, NPS has acknowledged that its legal responsibility in regards to protecting wildlife is established through regulations and Executive Orders that prohibit disturbance of wildlife.

    Regulations and Executive Orders? Why do we need more red tape when it is in the Organic Act:

    which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

    Wouldn't it be nice if, like an Etch-a-Sketch, we could turn the system upside down, shake it, and start over again with a new charter--based on science--that is simple, explicit, and doesn't prompt politicians and bureaucrats to write hundreds and even thousands of pages interpreting/distorting that charter?

  • Jumping Off Bridge an Annual Tradition in New River Gorge   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, not all jumps go as planned. Last year a BASE jumper died when his chute didn't open until he was only about 25 feet above the river.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Just one other little thing.....

    "I do feel the Park Service has always monitored, inventoried, and studied their resources and know more about their resources than we've ever know," Director Bomar told me last week in Austin. "We just need to listen and we need to implement their recommendations."

    Two-part boneheaded response but highly inter-related. First, as the Director, if not your's, then whose ultimate responsibility would it be to familiarize themselves with the Park Service studies, and fully comprehend the resulting data and thereby the implications and possible impact resulting from interference or alteration of the local environmental factors pertaining to the system's resources? And and even more troubling and telling comment pertaining to you just being a good little peon and following orders......yup, just what we need from Director-level administration. You should pin that gold badge through your nose to facilitate being more easily lead. Oh, that's right, you're easily enough lead already........maybe the sky IS falling around the NPS.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Posted October 16th, 2007:
    "I support the superintendent (Suzanne Lewis). I wanted to be supported as a superintendent. I feel that she’s been in the field, she's an expert in that area," Director Bomar told National Parks Traveler while in Austin, Texas, attending the National Park Foundation's Leadership Summit. "She feels that the science supports her decision. In fact, very strongly supports her decision."

    Posted October 22nd, 2007
    ...the latest preferred alternative supported by Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis more than doubles the allowable traffic levels from where they've been when those studies were conducted.

    "But I will say over time that I've come to really appreciate that, that we make good decisions based on good information." ...the director went on to say that throughout her Park Service career she has "worked with archaeologists, historians, biologists ... and often we don't sit down and listen to their information that they've gathered."

    Either this poor excuse of a person possesses the world record for short-term memory loss, or is guilty of purposefully misleading the public, and most likely her departmental subordinates, or she is just plain goofy. Mary, PLEASE explain to me how, in the course of the same interview conducted on the same day, you can make ANY sensible case for speaking literally out of both sides of your twisted mouth when you first say you make "good decisions based on good information", which granted is a relative and subjective determination most often gathered in good old 20/20 hindsight, while in the same breath and with what appears to be all sincerity, you "often don't sit down and listen to the information they've gathered"? My God woman, you should run for President! Are you sure your first name isn't Hillary, or Bill?

    Is it any wonder at all why and how the NPS is totally screwed, with this prime example of universally flawed, convoluted, or as we used to refer to it, "pretzel logic" propagated from its' very own Director? It's truly a dark, dark period for leadership, and for the future concerns of the National Park Service.