Recent comments

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    The best memories of life come from camping. I have been in all of the lower 48 states and across Canada. It would have neverbeen possible for my family to afford to travel like that without a tent as lodging.

    We would just load up and go. Buy an annual National Park Pass and you never knew where you could visit tomorrow or next week.

    I now find it harder to find places that accept tents. They have expensive lodges that I can't afford or RV only sites.

    I have wanted to take off and share some of my favorite places with my nices and nephew but can not afford to do so. I have three tents ranging in size from 2 man to 10 man but have trouble finding places to just visit without having to make reservations or have an RV.

    They are still my Parks!

  • Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Since when is being able to make personal decisions about what substances you wish to freely ingest is about "selling ones soul"? I personally disagree with Frank's suggestion that the government should get any tax revenue from the future sale of currently illicit drugs but do think that the growing of marijuana in a remote area, like Yosemite, is a small symptom of a much bigger problem. The drug war done nothing to slackened demand but has been successful in raising prices that have only made criminals richer and more powerful as well as the streets of our cities more violent.

    Who's soul is really being sold?

  • Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Time for a controlled burn to reduce the understory...

    I love how people talk about a fictitious future as though it were set in stone. I can see it now: MaryJane National Monument, a cooperation of big business and greedy government looking for more tax revenue. So long as it's self-supporting, who cares if you have to sell your soul to the devil as part of the bargain? Very sad... and explains a lot about some people's stances regarding a lot of other issues discussed in this forum.

    -- Jon

  • Fire Continues to Keep Yellowstone's East Entrance Closed   6 years 49 weeks ago

    The most recent press release (8/15 afternoon) just out says that the East Entrance remains closed. This "may remain in effect for a few days," according to the National Park Service.

    See http://www.nps.gov/yell/parknews/0768.htm

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

  • Draining Hetch Hetchy   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Be careful when you assume that all HH lovers want this area restored. My first visit to Yosemite included a few days in the HH area after my arrival at YV. I couldn't wait to get out of the valley and HH was exactly what I needed. No crowds, no cars, no buses, and picturesque views in every direction. Much of those views were enhanced by the water that you wish to drain. You mention one of the reasons for restoring the valley is the economic benefit to the local communities as well as taking some of the "burden" off of other over used areas (YV?). You also talk of the health benefit of the floura and fauna. You really should think about some of those comments and the actual real world effects that will be realized if HH is drained and "restored".
    I shudder at the thought of another YV! And that's exactly what will happen if it's drained. It appears that the so called "environmentalists" on this page are driven by economic reasons? Unless you are from the area, why do you care about the economic "boom" to the local communities? As much as I hate to see YV over-run with the virus that is human civilization, at least it's contained to one area. Let's keep it that way!

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    I understood your point perfectly well. My point is that it's an irrelevant connection to be making. Whether people should or shouldn't be frugal is one thing; the reasons why prices are raised are something else. Whether you've misspent your money or not and happen to be poor, you have reason to be upset if public goods are out of reach because someone decided to raise prices. How you do or don't spend money is an entirely different issue; and as I said in a couple of responses, it may ironically be an issue that relates to the way people with means spend their money (when people create new markets for designer coffee, cars, trams, hotels, and wifi in national parks, those create costly infrastructure realities for everyone; but as long as we pick on the relatively insignificant spending choices of the poorest people, we're not going to realize why supposedly public services continue to cost more and more to maintain).

    As an individual, I can say, "Gee, I could have gone to Yellowstone and camped if only I hadn't bought those damn designer coffees." Of course, that's doubtful (as the numbers show, those below the poverty level don't have the discretionary funds needed to make do). But, I don't fight that point. I fight the claim that people who are now in the predicament of not being able to afford a campsite, a tent, and all the goodies that go along with camping (which, I agree with the poster above is not really an activity for most poor people - the costs of the equipment alone kept me from it for many years), don't have legitimate reason to complain when someone raises prices - regardless of how they spent their money.

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

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Jim,

    My point about certain quote/unquote "lower income" families and their willingness to spend $5 on a cup of coffee was this: The price of coffee as a raw commodity for sure has nothing to do with camping, but what people will pay for someone else to brew it and put cream in it might. Perhaps those who are willing to pay $5 for coffee that could be made for 1/10th of that price (or less) at home, might not mind (or notice!) if campground fees were bumped a bit. Even if they did notice, if they knew it was in the best long-term interests of the park and park service, perhaps they might not even complain about it. Chances are they would complain, though, and not see the irony of gladly spending $5 on coffee, but not wanting to pay a nickel more to help preserve a great way of visiting parks.

  • Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Damn, Beamis, you beat me to the punch on that one.

    Let me just add that marijuana is America's largest cash crop, bringing in $35 BILLION a year, more than wheat and corn combined. It's the most expensive flower in the world. (For more info, check out Pollan's Botany of Desire).

    Once prohibition ends, those who don't want to buy seeds and grow could be able to buy marijuana cigarettes packs, just like tobacco. A ten percent tax would yield billions which would be enough to support the park service along with the millions and millions saved by releasing half the prison population.

    ----------------------------------------
    Reform the National Park Service!
    http://NPS-reform.blogspot.com

  • Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Looks like the Park Service is working with every law enforcement agency except ICE. Keep illegals out of the country and out of the parks and this pot growing problem goes away. Until illegal immigration got out of hand, there weren't marijuana fields in the National Parks.

  • Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Legalization of all drugs would end this destructive practice in places like Yosemite, Sequoia and Redwood as well as put the criminals out of business. Just as Prohibition created one of the greatest crime waves in our history the so-called "War on (some) Drugs" has done the very same thing in our time.

    This small patch of weed is only an outgrowth of the much larger crime of the government attempting to regulate human behavior and the use of plant derived substances that have been around and consumed for as long as humans have inhabited the earth.

    It will be a great day when we can all purchase packets of marijuana seeds along with beefsteak tomatoes and pole beans at the Wal-Mart garden center. They'll be no more need to wreck precious acres in Yosemite or put victimless criminals in jail to share a shower with rapists and murderers.

    The 52% of U.S. prisoners (which, by the way, is the largest population of incarcerated people in the world) who had been locked up for using or selling drugs will be out walking free and probably headed towards the newly liberated garden center themselves.

  • Fire Continues to Keep Yellowstone's East Entrance Closed   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Kurt's headline is correct again as of last evening. Yellowstone has re-closed the East Entrance.

    See - 8/14/07 Columbine fire threat casues temporary East Entrance closure (press release by National Park Service)

    Also, for those of you going over the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, a motorcyclist has blogged about it. He mentions seeing the fire.

    8/14/07 Chief Joseph Highway & Beartooth Pass (by Joe)

    And, as before, the Yellowstone Newspaper linked below my name has information on a lot of other fires out there and other news from Yellowstone (including more news on Sylvan Pass, but this time on the snowmobile issue). From what I have read, fires in the region tended not to grow very much; however, weather forecasts are predicting some dangerous weather.

    For other information on Yellowstone's Columbine fire, a good compilation is at InciWeb; however, there have been some server problems there. Recently, the NPS has been updating a little faster than InciWeb, but that's not always true.

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

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Matt:
    Arizona has had extreme fire regulation due to drought here.

    Kath:
    my sentiments also

    If I could use the ground I would not need to use the Lodges, but when I use the ground to sleep on in the morning I wonder if I had slept in it and this was the resurrection and I was having to pay for my transgressions with the pain.

  • Missing Hiker in Yosemite Found Dead   6 years 49 weeks ago

    I agree with Frank. I hike alone quite a bit and my family and friends are always worried that something will happen to me out there. I think that the only better place to pass away besides in the beauty of nature is asleep in your bed at home.

  • Missing Hiker in Yosemite Found Dead   6 years 49 weeks ago

    It is sad when the life of someone who loved nature as much as she did is lost. My condolences go out to the Bonaventura family and the ones that were closest to her.

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    You all apparently missed the stat in the article. Tent and RV camping is down in the National Parks by 44%. If there' less demand, why increase the supply of campsites, particularly in Yosemite Valley, which is the location that the man featured in the article is so incensed over. The average age in this country is getting older and older folks don't want to sleep on the ground. And RV's? When gas is $3 per gallon? I always wonder at the economic logic of people who spend tens of thousands of dollars on an RV and think they're saving money. I look at an RV and think I could spend X number of nights in a nice lodge for the price of that RV.

    It would be interesting to see a study on which form of lodging is gentler on the environment. Campgrounds use lots of square footage, perhaps more than housing the same number of people in a lodge. And they create more wildlife management problems in bear country. But lodges use more water and electricity, need employees, who need housing, etc. etc.

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    no, no more ed. he's overplayed, showing up on interp signs and whatnot... he needs his rest... he's done his time...

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    You know me Frank, always looking for the next big opportunity. Count me in. My life savings are at your disposal, such as they are.

    Maybe we could channel Ed Abbey from the great beyond to write the Forward.

  • Missing Hiker in Yosemite Found Dead   6 years 49 weeks ago

    I'd rather die amidst such grandeur than collapse of a heart attack in my cubicle or be smashed to pieces in an auto accident. We should all be so fortunate to die doing what we love.

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    There's an interesting study that found in part:

    "through factor analysis, entrance fees do not constitute a barrier to more frequent visitation of NPS units but that the total cost of a trip (hotels, food, travel) is perceived to be expensive. When individual expenses are combined into a broader "expense package," total costs become a barrier to people with smaller household incomes and to individuals with less education." (National Park Service Fees: Value for the Money or a Barrier to Visitation? Journal of Park and Recreation Administration Volume 23, Number 1
    Spring 2005 pp. 18-36)

    I think Merryland's on to something. It's not just to the price of admission and camping; it's the total package. And if you can't afford the gas (or can't afford to own a car for that matter), these other factors are a moot point.

    The main reason I haven't visited a national park this summer is the price of gas. I can sneak around entrance stations and camp illegally (or legally in USFS land), but as a new teacher without a summer job, I can't even afford to get to the park in the first place.

    If one can afford the $50-$100 for gas (plus car payments, plus insurance, plus maintenance) round trip from Portland to Crater Lake, what's another 20 bucks for camping?

    Campers aren't at the "bottom of the food chain". That spot is reserved for those without cars or money for gas.

    Car campers who can afford gas (and all those other costs) should figure out how to circumnavigate the system if they don't want to pay fees or can't find campsites. Maybe some of us ex-park types should write a guide on how to get past the entrance station and camp illegally. I often wonder why no one illegally camped in some of Zion Canyon's side canyons. It would be free and peaceful and could be done without impact. Any entrepreneurs want to finance a book?
    ----------------------------------------
    Reform the National Park Service!
    http://NPS-reform.blogspot.com

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Tenting is not disappearing. It just depends where your are in the US will determine whether you will see more tents vs campers. Growing up in the mid-west we camped in a camper which only made sense since summer thunderstorms can ruin a trip because you can't cook in a tent. Also the mosquitos are awful. In the West where I have lived for the past 10 years you see more tents. When my daughter was young we tent camped and had a great time until my tent got sniffed by a bear in Yellowstone about 6 years ago. Since we go to bear country in Aug since it is cooler in the upper West I bought a small camper. It is very untrue that people who use campers need electricity, running water and concret pads. In the last three years I have not had any sites with water or concrete pads. Only in Zion have I used electricity (which I pay extra for). As for the dump station everyone whether they tent camp or use a trailer use the dump station it's called a Bathroom. When you tent camp and wash your dishes or go to the bathroom where do you think that waste water goes? It surely does not evaporate. Trailer's just happen to hold theirs in a tank and dumps it all at once. When ever I take my trailer I use buckets for my water (since to tow my trailer with a full water tank adds a thousand pounds to my tow weight and that sucks gas like you won't beleive I tow with empty tanks) that I use to wash my dishes and I use the bathrooms provided at the campgrounds because I don't like using the chemicals you need to use for the toliet I think those chemicals are dangerous so it is easier to use the campgound bathroom. Also being a single women it is safer to have a hardsided camper than to tent camp. So please stop complaining about trailers.

    I don't think camping is going away as long as parents like myself take their kids camping. My daughter loves it and I am sure she is going to continue the tradition of camping when she has kids. Camping has been a tradition in my family for 4 generations and I think those of us who love to camp whether it is in a tent or a camper will pass that love onto our kids and as long as we do that camping will not die.

    Constance

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    I don't mind the hotels that follow the Parkitecture style... giant log cabins with huge fireplaces in the multistoried lobbies... I probably won't opt to pay for them until the day I'm too old to get up off the floor of my tent, but they serve a definite need. Grand Canyon NP did a good thing in removing the Thunderbird eyesore a few years back -- I'd venture that's a slow yet eventual trend the rest of the parks will follow as well.

    Jim I don't agree that spending the money you have is some sort of affliction to avoid. I choose to live in a house probably half the size I could afford if I found that to be important. Thankfully I don't. The equity issue isn't the fault of the National Parks, nor is it the government's sole responsibility to equalize everything to the point where we're living under Brezhnev rule. I believe that everyone in this country has a decent opportunity (albeit not equal, but decent) to earn a respectable wage and do pretty well. I see people coming into the U.S. with absolutely nothing -- don't even speak the language. Yet after a single generation many of them are sending their kids to the college of their choice. How is that possible when people whose families have lived here for generations are absolutely stuck in their communities, unable to read, barely able to speak passable English (or any other language for that matter) and have zero or negative net worth by the time they're 30? We can go down through the same topics again -- fatherless homes, lack of "outdoor sense" (the outdoor equivalent of "street sense"), etc...

    If you made a list of the Top 20 reasons why people of limited income aren't visiting the parks, the price of admission and price of the campsite wouldn't be on it. The price of gasoline, however, would be on that list several times both directly and indirectly. In fact I'd wager that half of such a list wouldn't involve economics of any kind.

    -- Jon

  • Missing Hiker in Yosemite Found Dead   6 years 49 weeks ago

    So very very sad. A place of beauty that holds so many painful memories now.

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Car camping is for poor people (?) bull crap! Where did that come from?
    For me the hotel situation in Our National Parks is out of control. I would like to see them all removed.
    If it is the duty of Our National Park system to preserve and protect for future generations the wilderness experience, we have fallen way short.
    P.S. I have not been to downtown Yellow Stone National Park in decades.

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Jon,

    I'm basing it on the cost of a trip to Yellowstone against the income of a person who works at or below the poverty level. If that person is an hourly worker without vacation benefits, if that person doesn't have a job at all, if the person has a family, if the person has severe medical issues or medical costs, if the person lives far from Yellowstone, as most Americans do, then you will not find an easy trip to Yellowstone for you.

    What is the federal poverty line for an individual?

    $10,210 for 2007
    http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/07poverty.shtml

    How many people live below the poverty level?
    Roughly 13% officially - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States

    Those totals are believed to be significantly low for a whole host of reasons we do not need to go into.

    I'd suspect you can make above the poverty level and be considered lower class, but let's just take this particular measure for our purposes.

    How much does a trip to Yellowstone cost, staying the 3 days minimum it would take to see all or most of the on-the-road tourist sites in Yellowstone. Of course, that depends on how far you had to travel in the first place. I'd venture a guess that the average American is two days drive from Yellowstone, assuming they aren't seeing much of anything else. In my case, I'm four days of hard driving, and so two may be a low number. Anyhow, how much of a percentage of your income do you use? What's more, consider that a large number of people live far below the poverty line; others barely above it. Others lose income they have while they are in Yellowstone, some cannot pay rent while they are off vacationing. If you don't have a car, the costs rise. If you have to fly; rent a car; borrow a car from a friend.

    It's not hard to see that Yellowstone and most other national parks are inaccessible to a significant number of people no matter what they spent their money on. In fact, you can see it would be a hardship for many making twice as much money, though conceivably they could find a way some of the time.

    But, as for the issue of being frugal. Yes, I'm all for it. I don't smoke, don't drink coffee, have even lived in a house of fregans (people who eat from dumpsters). So, there are ways of saving money that I'd encourage anyone to do as a way to break consumerism, but that's not the issue. The issue is equity. There's no reason a rich person should be entitled to be able to waste all their money on all kinds of things and sleep however they want to sleep whereas a poor person is expected to be frugal, unless one thinks being rich comes with certain moral entitlements of largesse that poor people aren't allowed. If that's the case, it's hard to understand what the issue would be. Of course, fill up the lodges and take a poll of wealthy people to see what it is they want and what they're willing to spend money on. You could do a calculus that would maximize profits on a good from the greatest number of people with means. But, if people really believe that there is a public good in the parks, then the cost to poor people matters, and their particular behavior is irrelevant to any change in cost.

    Yes, we have talked about this before; I have been frugal; I've found ways to go to Yellowstone at times; at other times, it was outside the realm of financial possibility for me. Now, I could afford to stay a week at the Old Faithful Inn (a few years ago, I was almost living out of my car). But, I don't think justifying my choices, justifying the choices of the poor is a reason for determining any kind of fee increase. I'd actually tend to think it works the other way around. Why are there people spending so much money so as to adversely affect the rest of us? In the parks, we see it in the price of lodging; in the cities, we see it in the cost of owning a home (in gentrification). People are being squeezed out because some with a great deal consume an awful lot. It's absurd that the good and bad choices of people without much to affect the whole system should be used to justify or not justify an increase in prices.

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

  • Are Car Campers An Endangered Species in National Parks?   6 years 49 weeks ago

    Jim, I hear what you're saying (we've had a similar conversation before) but I don't think you can really speak for everyone who's considered to be "lower income". ("campgrounds still don't appeal to the lower class because they still cost about $18 a night"). I would say they actually do appeal to the "lower class" because they're the cheapest accommodations available in the park, hands down. On what are you basing your generalization that lower income people don't like campgrounds at Yellowstone?

    PS - People do waste a lot of money -- if someone quit smoking they could afford an entire fortnight of car camping every year for the rest of their days.

    I'll be staying in the park slums with my son at Yellowstone in a few weeks -- proud to be at the bottom of the rung. I'm so cheap I sometimes stay in a nearby state park or forest to save a few bucks, but $18 is still a great deal compared to the high-priced alternatives.

    -- Jon