Recent comments

  • Flag Soars Above USS Arizona Memorial   6 years 48 weeks ago

    U.S.S. Arizona Memorial

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?

    Bad, very bad National Park System.
    Just because a deer or two kicks ass on a human or a bear harvests a few and a wolf howls the angst of survival in a National Park on the full moon scaring the crap out of some folks is by no means a reason to kill them. Sounds more like "a place of education" to me.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Remember - hunting is only permitted in parks where the park's legislation allows it. Hunting is not permitted in the vast majority of parks and is prohibited by law. Only Congress can change the legislation of parks where hunting is not permitted. See the famous court case NRA v. Potter.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Wildlife biologists have learned more about the lives of wolves by observing them in the wild in Yellowstone in the last 12 years than in all of history prior to that. Much of what we know of bear behavior was gleaned from the Craighead research of the fifties and sixties in Yellowstone. Predator, prey knowledge has been greatly advanced by observations in Isle Royale. I would hardly call them "naive observers".
    Looking up "deer attacks" is a favorite hobby of mine, and exactly what I tell uneducated folks who talk to me about how "dangerous" wolves are, to do. Here are a few results:

    "A deer goes buck wild on a hunter"
    "Deer Attacks Hunter. NOW you can call it a sport."
    "Sheriff's deputies said the man was trying to feed the deer when he was attacked"
    "SoCal man dies of injuries suffered in deer attack."
    "A huge whitetail deer attacks a hunter."
    "Deer Attacks Hunter ... The deer should have killed the stupid hunter"
    "deer attacks a hunter and it's all caught on video"
    "This deer goes nutty and attacks a hunter. ... "
    "bow hunter is attacked by huge whitetail deer"
    Sounds like a lot of these attacks are occurring in areas where hunting is allowed!

    What stands out is the stark LACK of reported attacks in parks.

    ""Wild" creatures approaching humans for hand-outs? OUTRAGEOUS!!" What is outrageous is that PEOPLE GIVE handouts to wildlife, thus TRAINING THEM TO ACT THIS WAY (PEOPLE PROBLEM). Wildlife experts warn about feeding wildlife. Every person who enters a National Park is given a list of safety rules regarding wildlife: minimum safe distances for viewing, photographing etc. Do not feed. Keep a clean camp....etc. Unfortunately many, if not most, visitors choose to ignore at least some of these rules. I am in Yellowstone 3 to 5 days a week year around. I can't tell you how many times I see ice chests and food left on picnic tables, people throwing food to coyotes and other animals and folks sticking point and shoot cameras right into the face of bison and grizzly bears! I even saw one idiot try to pet a bear cub once! (The momma bear, contrary to what you would think, ran into the woods.) Yet given this atmosphere, injuries are amazingly rare; and when they do happen (even just a bluff harm, no foul) it is the animal who ultimately pays the price. If you ask most rangers, they will tell you that if everybody simply followed the rules injuries from wildlife in the Park would be virtually non existent. One even told me that when they have to put down a bear, they would much rather put down the stupid tourist who caused the problem! JUST BECAUSE ANIMALS TOLERATE YOU DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE NO LONGER WILD. This, the rangers will tell you, is their hardest job...convincing people of that. Wolves can walk right through a herd of elk without causing a stir. Yet if the wolves are hunting, the elk will run long before they get there. Their instinct tells them the difference. They same is true when people approach.
    Populations should be controlled with NATURAL predation. If that is not possible hunting can be increased on surrounding forest lands....most wildlife move seasonally. I repeat: Parks are a place for families...not weapons, of any type.
    It is clear that we will never agree on this issue, so I suggest that we simply agree to disagree. Fortunately the law and the vast majority of the American people do agree with me. Americans, I don't believe, will ever stand for a general hunting season in our National Parks.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    I spent half a dozen or so weekends at Zion last summer and was quite surprise (and dismayed) be the behavior of the local mulies. But with a couple million people annually sardined into that relatively small tract of land, I guess I had no right to be surprised. But Frank is absolutely correct in his observation of drastic modification in the natural reaction and behavioral patterns of the deer, among other creatures. "Wild" creatures approaching humans for hand-outs? OUTRAGEOUS!! Isn't that one of the qualifications for deeming something domesticated, or at the very least, tame? We've provided a vehicle whereby the natural instinctive lifestyles of these critters has been forever altered, which in and of itself removed the biological classification of "wild" from the beast. "Wild-type" is a term used to delineate the natural or original state, as found in nature, from any modified subset, whether that modification is induced in a laboratory or through natural methods of mutation, and appiles equally across both genotypical and phenotyical modification (genetically and/or psychologically /physically) modified traits. Normal evolutionary behavior would not include a "getting to know you" attitude between man and truly wild animals. These changes can only be attributed to direct intervention on the part of our species. All because we think they're "cute".

  • Trekking to Dick Proenneke's Cabin in Lake Clark National Park   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Kurt, what a example of a man that can teach us so much about the simple basic things in life and yet be quite content. What a refreshing story that touches the human heart and soul in what a true pure wilderness experience is. This man is a real stud!

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Search for "deer attack" and you'll get over 100,000 results. In 1977, a young boy was killed by a deer in Yosemite. The deer problems at Zion are common knowledge to those who have worked there. Just because it doesn't make it into the papers doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

    As for magic, if you mean "an illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers", I'd agree with you. The current system is an illusion, a recent feat conjured in the past 50 to 100 years. For 15,000 to 30,000 years, deer and other animals would run from humans because humans were their predators; humans also kept their numbers in check. Now, we've got quite the illusory, Disneyesque, situation that ignores thousands of years of natural and human history so modern humans can take snapshots.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    This is great -- another place I can volunteer when I retire to my cabin on the Potomac. I'll make sure everyone hears the stories of the NPS mistakes so they're not repeated by future generations -- feeding trash to bears, damming rivers then destroying the dam later, stocking National Seashores with non-native species, allowing commercial rave parties at Alcatraz, the list goes on. And with all those mistakes out there, the mission continues so that my great great grandkids can see some of the same things I did.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    "They are places where mountain lions stalk and eviscerate deer, raptors snatch up cottontail rabbits in their talons and rip out their entrails with sharp beaks"...............Excuse me? These aren't part of the natural processes? These things don't happen in the forests where hunting is allowed? The difference is that in a National Park we might actually WITNESS them. As I said, "A place of education". One can only wonder how many young wildlife biologists, naturalists, foresters, film makers and poets have been born while watching animals in National Parks.
    The Yellowstone Association (and so many others) offer hundreds of educational classes and programs every year that would be impossible in a hunted environment. If hunting were allowed you could virtually kiss goodbye to wildlife photography (ask Mr. Mangelsen, for example, where he gets most of his photos), as well as National Geographic, Nature and other educational programs (mostly filmed in parks).
    As for the deer in Zion (I'll have to take your word for this happening. I have been to Zion many times and have never witnessed it, nor have I read about it....didn't know deer eat peanut butter sandwiches!) most "wildlife" problems, this is a PEOPLE problem. These deer have been trained by people to act this way. If this is indeed happening, the Park Service needs to do some averse training. People DO need to treat wild animals as WILD, and respect them as such. There is a big difference between habituated animals and animals that are used to people, which is most Park animals. The bears in Yellowstone thirty or forty years ago were habituated (fed from cars etc.) and there were dozens of bear related human injuries each year. Today the bears in Yellowstone are merely used to people, and there is an average of only one. Interestingly, there are far more than that in the surrounding National Forests where hunting is allowed.
    As for these encounters being "magical" only for humans, I absolutely agree. They are especially so for the very young and the very old, but most of us (even some of my hunter they tell me) can get a little bit of magic.........if you can't, I truly feel sorry for you.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Frank, you seem to say it like it is regarding to the issue which has much merit in my book. Mr. Longstreet's comments bothers me to the point, when you start dragging in the NRA with the hunting issue in the National Parks (and under this present administration) things tend to get real messy. The NRA has a track record of mispresentation, misquoting and giving out bad misinformation about many gun laws and hunting issues. However, Mr. Longstreet since you made the comment about Katmai National Reserve, in your opinion, and in your assessment is it "being managed appropriately"? If not and why not!? I ask this, since you opened the door in dialogue, in reference to the NPS managing wildlife resources properly...or appropriately. I truly fear, when it comes to push-and-shove regards to hunting in the National Parks, and the interpretation of the Organic Act involving the NRA (and the courts), I feel in my gut, that are wildlife resources will continue to dewindle under the barrel of a shotgun, and weaken amendments will be established to allow hunters to have there unethical insane hunts like in which some call a slaughter...including myself.
    I didn't realize until I read Thomas Mangelsen's (world fame wildlife photographer) excerpts from his beautiful book, THE NATURAL WORLD, that there are approximately "2,000 Alaskan bears are killed a year in the name of sport". In the name of sport! I don't think Katmai bear slaughter indicated this...did you Mr. Longstreet? So, again Mr. Longstreet, is the Katmai National Reserve managed properly?

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Whatever we may think of the pros and cons of hunting in the national park system, the discussion needs to be cognizant of federal law and court cases.

    The pertinent laws are:
    * The Organic Act (1916);
    * The 1970 amendments to the Organic Act (in the General Authorities Act) which required that the NPS manage its units as part of a single system; and
    * The 1978 Redwood Amendment to the Organic Act, which directed the NPS to assure that its management considered the integrity of the system and assure that no activities were permitted in derogation of the values and purposes for which NPS units were established unless those activities were specifically authorized by Congress.

    The pertinent court ruling on this topic is National Rifle Association v. Potter (1986), usually regarded as the first major federal court case interpretation of the Organic Act and its amendments. Without getting into too much of the particulars of the case, the court ruled that
    trapping and other similar “consumptive uses” (including hunting) were not within the congressional intent for the national park system. Consumptive uses are permissible – as the Redwood amendment indicated – only where Congress specifically authorizes them.

    Hence the law prohibits recreational hunting in parks where it has not been explicitly authorized by Congress. Cape Cod is one of those places where it has been permitted, so in my view the issue there is the appropriateness of the NPS stocking non-native species for the purpose of enhancing hunting opportunities. Was that Congress’ intent? I suspect not. Whether or not hunting should be permitted at all there is a different issue, and would require an act of Congress to prohibit.

    Similarly, hunting is permitted in the authorizing language for Katmai National Preserve. So the issue of the Katmai bear hunt isn’t “is it legal” but is it being managed appropriately.

    Hunting is not mentioned in the authorizing legislation for Rocky Mountain, Theodore Roosevelt, or Wind Cave – or most NPS areas. So recreational hunting would require new acts of Congress there.

    But in contrast to hunting, the NPS has, since the 1960s, been reluctant to actively manage its wildlife populations. That’s changing, fortunately, and the best example of success is Gettysburg, where the NPS has culled deer for several years and withstood a major court challenge. Culling deer, or elk, or other animals when necessary to preserve or restore ecological integrity, and when NPS goes through the proper public involvement and environmental reviews, is certainly authorized. NPS has the authority to use members of the public to assist – but the key is that these volunteers would be participating in a management action (not a recreational hunt), would be working under strict NPS oversight, and would not be permitted to gain materially from their efforts (i.e. keep any part of the animals).

    J Longstreet
    A national park superintendent

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    While still wild and free, these animals and so many others have learned that they can trust people just enough in the parks to allow them a magical glimpse into their lives.

    The deer in Zion are so tame that they follow children around the campground and jump on their backs in an attempt to steal food from their hands. These deer are anything but wild; they don't "trust" people; they attack them.

    ...we could spend a lifetime and not see a fraction of the wonder that we can currently see in our parks in a day.

    National parks aren't zoos or wildlife safari parks or Disneyland. They are places where mountain lions stalk and eviscerate deer, raptors snatch up cottontail rabbits in their talons and rip out their entrails with sharp beaks, and humans once bludgeoned big horn sheep with rocks. In a natural setting, animals' instinct prompts them to flee when they encounter predators (like humans). We're not doing them any favors by habituating them to our presence, and the only species for whom such encounters are "magical" are humans. We've replaced the natural order with something quite unnatural. What a tragic loss.

  • Park Service Now Interested in Adding Christmas Mountains to Big Bend National Park   6 years 48 weeks ago

    I own property in the Christmas Mountains adjacent to this tract, and in the past had numerous problems with poaching across it when it was previously used for hunting. Since hunting has stopped, return of wildlife has been spectacular, and now includes at least one wild black bear.

    I would be very disappointed if this property were to again be hunted, and so strongly support ownership by the National Park.

  • Hunting Across the National Park System: Good or Bad?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Parks are a place for families. They are a place for picnics, hikes and campfires roasting marshmallows. They are a place of education and wonder. They are a place where a father (or mother) can share with their children a bear and her cubs, a deer and its fawn. While still wild and free, these animals and so many others have learned that they can trust people just enough in the parks to allow them a magical glimpse into their lives. If we allow hunting our parks will become just like most of our National Forests, where we could spend a lifetime and not see a fraction of the wonder that we can currently see in our parks in a day. What a tragic loss that would be.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Or just maybe, since the NPS is so eager to spend money for the Jazz Museum in New Orleans, we can get the NPS Heritage Museum funded by the National Endowment for the Arts?

    I've never been to the National Air and Space Museum, but how much floor space is devoted to the likes of the Apollo and Shuttle debacles? Although not a fair comparison because memorials for deceased astronauts are most proper versus exhibits to mismanagement and general incompetence, but hey, Trump has a tower, the Outfit has Vegas, Clinton has a library and Carter has Habitat for Humanity, so anything is possible. I hope they have the decency to show before and after pictures of what the lands were and what the NPS made them. Then the public could determine for themselves how effectively the NPS management public lands has been handled, and whether or not to maintain the status quo. Prior to inception of this undertaking, the sources for funding should be put forth for public consideration on a general election referendum, since we have one of those coming up in about a year. But that, like Beamis suggested simulation, ain't gonna happen, is it?

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    With budgets tight and a backlog in maintenance topping $8 billion you'd think that there wouldn't be that much money floating around to enshrine the deeds of a federal bureaucracy that is always crying poverty to the public. It reminds me of the old Soviet Union where the government built elaborate monuments to itself to convince the proletariat of its greatness while a few yards away the roads were crumbling and the sewers leaked raw waste into the Moscow River.

    It is also simply preposterous to think that very many Americans would be motivated to go out of their way to visit such a place, much less the one million a year that is touted in this article. I'd like to see the market survey data that came up with that astronomical number.

    Maybe they could set up a virtual reality Katmai bear shoot in their new museum. The Alaskan Congressional delegation could show up on dedication day and shoot the ceremonial opening shots. Now yer talkin'!

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Guess the devil will be in the details on where the funds to purchase 15 parcels of land encompassing 564 acres will come from, and who will get what for it. The only named participants, “Concord Eastridge, a national player in putting together public-private partnerships [and] one of the company's affiliates, Stonewall Heights, LLC,” don't sound to me like “a non-profit solution” for Harpers Ferry. The concept expressed by Civil War Preservation Trust President Jim Lighthizer that you quote, "preservation and development are not mutually exclusive,” is valid. This was similarly expressed with regard to Fort Hancock by former Sandy Hook Superintendent Russel Wilson.

    The core of Fort Hancock is approximately 140 acres of the 1,665 acres of Sandy Hook parklands otherwise protected as a natural and recreational environment. With more than 100 buildings, this area has been identified for adaptive reuse since the National Park Service first began administering Sandy Hook in the mid-1970s.
    The concept of creating a "Gateway Village" for adaptive reuse was formalized in the 1979 General Management Plan for Gateway National Recreation Area. The 1990 General Management Plan Amendment for the Sandy Hook unit reaffirmed the adaptive reuse plan and identified a partnership between the National Park Service and private entities as the way to make it happen. Both planning efforts were the subject of extensive public review and comment.
    The goal has always been to assure the long-term preservation of these historic military buildings by adapting them for a variety of compatible uses. The James J. Howard Marine Laboratory, Brookdale Community College Oceanographic Institute, the N.J. Marine Sciences Consortium and the Marine Academy of Science and Technology have been our partners in adaptive reuse for more than 20 years. This winter, the N.J. Audubon Society joins us following its rehabilitation of the historic hospital steward’s quarters as the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory.
    We began an effort to further the adaptive reuse of Fort Hancock’s buildings through the National Park Service’s historic leasing authority in 1998. This authority allows for the leasing of excess historic properties in national parks for compatible uses to both public and private groups.

    I have followed this process for nearly 30 years. The present plan appears to be the best that can be accomplished. Fort Hancock covers less than 10% of Sandy Hook’s acreage. Of the more than 100 buildings within Fort Hancock, approximately 1/3 are used by the NPS, 1/3 by public “partners” as described above, and the remaining 1/3 subject to the proposed plan. Of that 1/3, 30% is required by the agreement to be used for educational purposes. This leaves about 22% of the buildings [let’s say 3% of Sandy hook] to be used for “commercial” purposes, many of which will support the existing NPS and public partners’ uses. With no new construction, and all rehabilitation conducted under the Department of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Reuse [and the even stricter ones of the NJ State Historic Preservation Office], this is a small price to pay for such an important cultural and historic resource.

    It’s easy to criticize from a distance when you haven’t watched these buildings deteriorate more and more each year. From my up-close observation, I believe that public demand is just about satiated by the 60+ buildings in current use by the NPS and non-profit partners. I can’t agree with “principles” that would allow the remaining 36 buildings to fall down, or people who can’t suggest a viable alternative. What sort of non-profit solution would you propose for these 36? Should we take another 30 years to come up with one?

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    So, will this "Museum of the National Park Service" focus primarily on "recognizing the NPS organizational heritage"? Will this museum be jingoistic or will we see some objectivity? Judging by Art Allen's letter to PEER, in which he states "There should be a Public facility where the people and the work of the National Park Service is explained and honored. (think legendary individuals in NPS and worldwide impact of the NPS)", I'd say the former is more more likely.

    The proposal calls for "recognition of . . . National Park administrators." Notice the language used: "legendary", "memorializing", "flagship", "pilgrimage", "honoring", "esteemed". Perhaps the most telling phrase is "The celebration should be of the Service . . .". This seems a fusion of Arthurian legend and religious dogma.

    In my view, the National Park Service is neither legendary or sacred; it is simply a government bureaucracy that has made more than its share of mistakes.

    I won't count on any of those blunders showing up in the museum. I'm sure the Crater Lake sewage spill of 1975 won't be encapsulated in a display. Nor will the blueprints for digging a sewage line through the roots of the Grant Tree, the Nation's Christmas Tree. Nor will photos of the stump of a 2000-year old sequoia, cut to save a raggedy cabin, make it to the exhibit. How 'bout the irrigation pipes wrapped around trees in Oak Creek Canyon at Zion? The junk yards containing explosives and hazardous waste at Zion or Crater Lake? Million dollar outhouses?

    No. The bureaucracy will recognize administrators and will present its best side in order to perpetuate itself. Sounds like a huge waste of tax payer money on propaganda.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Water Witch, I guess I don't see the contradiction. In the case of Fort Hancock, you have the Park Service giving over to a commercial developer publicly owned historic buildings that he plans to transform into for-profit enterprises.

    At Harper's Ferry, not only are no park facilities be turned over to private developers, but conservation easements are being purchased to protect Harpers Ferry National Historical Park from outside development. True, a museum, hotel and conference center are being proposed, but these will be built from the ground up on land outside the national park.

    If there's a contradiction, I suppose it might be, "If a non-profit solution can be achieved on such a scale at Harper's Ferry, why can't a similar one be fashioned at Fort Hancock?"

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    This certainly seems like a desirable and ambitious project. Let's hope that the community dialogue doesn't result in delays such as the rehabilitation of Gateway's Fort Hancock has been subjected to. On that subject, I have difficulty resolving NPT's support of the Harpers Ferry project with its opposition to the Fort Hancock rehabilitation. If you compare that proposal, as described in Michael Huber's summary in his 2006 letter to the Asbury Park Press , it's difficult to understand NPT's contrary positions.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Thanks Kurt, for picking up this story. The National Park Service is the first Agency in the world to attempt to preserve a Nation's legacy of natural and cultural resources. This project will be an attempt to communicate that 100 year long story.

    We are convinced that this project will be very illuminating to the public and beneficial to the entire National Park Service, honoring its history, protecting its significant historical resources, recognizing the NPS organizational heritage, and paying tribute to those who have made "America's Best Idea" a reality.

    "The further backward you look, the further forward you can see", Winston Churchill

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Thank You "jemo" I hope more skilled hunters like yourself express their discontent with what I also think is just a bear kill and not a hunt.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    I am a hunter and had actually booked a bearhunt in Katami for next year, and opted for the hyped bow and arrow option. Seen this video made me realize that this is no different than those people that kill game in fenced locations. I have canceled my booking and have will file legal actions for false advertisement. This is not a bear hunt, this is a bear kill which is very different.
    To read that there is a clear decline in the beat population is also another reason for canceling.
    I hope the NPS fixes this, or changes the way the bear are accessed.

  • Museum of the National Park Service Will be Built in West Virginia   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Thanks, Kurt. We're very pleased to see a developer working with the Park Service, instead of at cross purposes. We look forward to a community dialog about this proposal.

    Joy Oakes
    Senior Mid-Atlantic Regional Director
    National Parks Conservation Association

  • Camping in Comfort: A Guide to Roughing It With Ease and Style   6 years 48 weeks ago

    "Roughing-it" doesn't have to be rough. It's mostly about your mindset and your expectations.

    All of the most memorable backcountry experiences I've had were not when everything went smoothly, but rather were when there was some excitement that let us discover, gently, that we could be happy and feel even more alive in the face of some adversity.

    A few years ago on one of the mailing lists for the long-distance hikers (I think it was the PCT list) they had a $300 challenge. The idea was to come up with a complete backpacking gear kit that someone could use to hike a significant portion of the trail, keeping their total gear weight under about 10 pounds, and be prepared for 3-season conditions, for under $300. While many of the highest-performance proposals included home-made gear, quite a few people were able to propose kits that were totally off the and met the requirements.

    Perhaps NPT should have a similar contest for car-camping gear?
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