Recent comments

  • Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    If read lots of opinion on the issue, but I feel I miss some hard facts. If this about the city of Cody as such? With 53 miles the city seems a bit far off to be that interested.

    While searching for background information I came across the FAQ of an outfitter and snowmobile tour guide at They specifically mention Pahaska Tepee as being cut off from business with snowmobiling in the National Park. That lodge, the former hunting lodge of Buffalo Bill, now family owned by Bob and Angela Coe, with rooms from midscale to family oriented rates is located only two miles outside the park on the road to Cody. Their mailing address does not use the nearest ZIP code of Wapiti, WY (82450), but that of Cody, WY (82414). In former years they made 80-85% percent of their winter income with snowmobilers - In 2007 they had to close the lodge, lay off their staff and cancel all reservations because of 26 days at the beginning of the season, the pass was closed for 10 days - - Bob Coe is on the board of the National Forest Recreation Association - - and his issue with the pass and his snowmobiles goes back to at least 1996 - -, when he bought 40 snowmobiles and led protesters who complained about closures even then: "They can spend $ on wolves - why can’t they spend it on us?" - that were of course the closures due to federal budget struggles.

    That's it so far. You are closer to the issue then I am, pick up the lead and see, if it leads somewhere.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    My only curiosity is that the Supreme Court decision concerning the D.C. handgun ban will be released in the next two weeks. I can't help but imagine what kind of impact that decision will have. If the D.C. gun ban is upheld, why should the DOI secretary need to change the rules if he doesn't want to? On the other hand, if the D.C. gun ban is struck DOWN, I would think it's going to be "open season" on ANY questionable firearms regulations, including those currently in place in the National Parks. They would never survive the scrutiny until January. See what I mean?

    And I also liked it better when the NRA just needed to teach Hunter-Safety classes, instead of having to fight political battles.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Hi Fred --

    My recollection is that when they announced their schedule, DOI was asked by a reporter when Dept. of Interior expected to be able to make the decision on the rulemaking/regulation, and answered "in January." Not Jan 1.

    However, I don't have a copy the report of story that carried this, and am relying on memory. I will try to scour around and see if any old news archives cover this exchange. Maybe someone else saw the same piece and can comment, but I will look.

    But that kind of timing can be made to appear plausible, assuming they can say they have the comment period close in a little less than a month, most likely they do not extend (as they sometimes do where there are a bunch of comments), then stop to review the decision, prepare an analysis, go through the review with their lawyers, put their finger up in the air to see where the politics is, and then publish their result.

    Either way they get the advantage of stirring people up, without having to go on the record one way or another before the election, but protract the whole thing to target the specific constituency. If this is right you should expect to hear a bunch more on this around september-october. At the least the Senators signing the petition and who are running get a bounce, and we will see if they can work it into the presidential campaign. If they can get Obama to say he disagrees is sept or oct, they can use that against him in states like Pennsylvania, that he needs, with strong NRA.

    This strategy will not work if Kempthorne announces his decision in sept or oct. Anyway, just watch the bouncing ball and see if you are right, that this is a 'principled' decision by Kempthorne, or if he waits and is just playing this for the political bounce of objectifying Obama and opponents of republican senators in swing states.

    Republicans must be desperate to hold on to all the seats they can.

    Imagine, they could be talking about habitat preservation instead !

    Personally, I prefer the old NRA that worried about sustaining wildlife and wildlife habitat.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 32 weeks ago

    A National Park for the Upper Mississippi River was discussed as early as 1917. In 1932 the NPS sent the superintendend of Yellowstone NP, Roger Toll, on a five-day evaluation tour to southern Wisconsin and Iowa. He found the area not suited for a National Park, but recommended that the Effigy Mounds north of Marquette, Iowa should be protected in a National Monument. From then it took until 1949 until "Effigy Mounds National Monument" - - was created.

    Most probably Tolls conclusion still stands: If National Parks are supposed to be vast tracts of nature, unimpaired by men, then nowhere on the Mississippi River a National Park can be created. But if National Parks can be valuable nature, interspersed with remnants of historic use and modern day recreational needs of the Twin Cities, then the Upper Mississippi in the area that now is "Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" could become a National Park of that new kind.

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    I guess a Bernard DeVoto of our times should stand up and say "Let's close the National Parks", if Congress does not fund them properly, as he did in 1953 in Harper's Magazine - in full at His outcry was influential in starting the Mission 66.

    "Therefore only one course seems possible. The national park system must be temporarily reduced to a size for which Congress is willing to pay. Let us, as a beginning, close Yellowstone, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, and Grand Canyon National Parks—close and seal them, assign the Army to patrol them, and so hold them secure till they can be reopened."

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Here are a couple of ideas that would never fly, but since you asked:

    Since the majority of Americans are basically slothful couch potatoes, who's idea of "reality" is directly linked to such nonsense as what is purported to be classified as such by the brainless marketing and production staffs that are television executives, how about a "real" reality show about the status of the American landscape? We're SO good at throwing our hard-earned monies at sympathy causes all over the globe that maybe, for once; we as a nation might concentrate on some domestic issues within our own borders, generate some personal and national pride in restoring the images and landmarks that comprise our collective heritage and future.

    Another option is exposing the youth of America, the elementary, middle and high school aged children, to stories, images and the general history and current conditions that are the NPS. Play on their sympathies and jump-start their guilty consciences. Show what was, what currently is and what is projected to be if we continue with business as usual. The younger minds are most easily influenced (ok, pliable, malleable, preyed upon, whatever) and are the most likely to institute the movement required for the needed changes in attitude, funding and general advocacy to take place anytime in the near future. If you're waiting for political intervention you're a fool. Likewise with funding from the private sector in amounts that would truly be substantial enough to make a difference, in the short term at least. A "benevolent benefactor" with the available resources to ride in like the proverbial knight in shining armour doesn't exist in this world, mostly due to the fact that they wouldn't receive the "personal recognition / promotion" that those morons usually demand. This is a "for the good of all people" project, not some personal gratification /furthering of one's image and status program. So let's utilize those who are most likely to come under the spell of the Great Outdoors, those who have probably yet to live the experience, but who would at the same time be most likely to be forever influenced by such exposure.

    Reporting, as usual, from La-La Land............

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Good point, Kurt.

    However, advocacy begins from within, and you are not going to see the kind of advocacy that our Parks need until we once again have Directors, Regional Directors and Park Superintendents who will hold fast to the ideals as expressed in the Organic Act of 1916, even in the face of political pressure: until we once again have Directors, Regional Directors and Park Superintendents who are willing to stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough! We cannot do more with less, and we will not put the resources with which we have been entrusted at risk, nor our people or our visitors, just to appease politicians’: or until we once again have Regional Directors and Park Superintendents who are willing to lay their careers on-the-line, and curtail or even shut down management-related activities that cannot be sustained without ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. Until a new generation of Managers the likes of Hartzog, Chapman, Anderson, Cone, Kowski, or Thompson take the reins and lead in accord with the ideals as expressed in the Organic Act of 1916, advocacy from within doesn’t stand a chance.

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    It was a Nikon, I believe my old N-70, which since has been replaced by a D80.

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Kurt, just one question. Your photo on this page, when was it taken? Nice composition and color...and what kind of camera used?

  • How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    There is an additional challenge for increasing national parks advocacy besides the ones mentioned in Kurt's post and by other commenters. In the last few years, many environmental groups have responded to the threat of global climate change by focusing the lion's share of their resources on it.

    This has meant not only that there are fewer professional opportunties for people intersted in traditional public lands advocacy but also that young people coming into the environmental movement are being channeled mostly toward global climate change issues.

    It's hard to say how much of this is driven by the groups themselves. Foundation funding for more traditional conservation work is shrinking as funders increasingly move their money into slowing global climate change. Since many environmental nonprofits are dependent on foundation funding for a big part of their budgets, that shift changes what they can do.

    As a result, citizen advocacy is more important than ever. I know there are huge systematic issues that could really use more people paying attention, but I would settle for more people standing up for the parks they care about. My own experience is that you can indeed get many recreationists to become public-lands advocates, but it happens only when there is a huge threat to their personal playground. Once they start speaking out, however, they are some of the most ardent advocates around.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 32 weeks ago

    One of the concerns with extending the "national park" designation to any type of NPS unit is whether that will cause the public to shrug their shoulders when development or other threats to natural values are proposed in a old-school, big and wild national park because they've become accustomed to development in other places that are called national parks.

    For instance, there is a push now to reclassify the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) as a national park. Some folks are already calling MNRRA a national park in advertising for events taking place on the Mississippi River. MNRRA doesn't have land or legal authority to manage what happens on the Mississippi, but renaming it as a national park would give the people of Minneapolis/St. Paul a national park that really is in their back yards. (The Mississippi River flows right through Minneaplis/St. Paul.)

    Whether associatiing "national park" with an urban area will change how Minnesotans respond to threats to other national parks that aren't urban remains to be seen. Or will it perhaps raise consciousness of national parks in general and make Twin Cities residents curious to see other their other national parks?

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Fred, for god's sake come up for air on this gun issue. Why are you so wildly honed and intense on this issue? Lepanto makes a damn good point!
    The Bush & Cheney ideology has infected and poisoned just about every governmental agency in this country with it's pure chain-ball stupidity and corrupt political chicanery. Now, this gun issue, such unbelievable waste of breath during election year when we have such horrendous internal problems and moral decay in this country...and you worry about packing a concealed weapon in the National Parks. Such a pity!!!

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Where is the information about the January 1st effective date? I was not aware of it. What is the Secretary using for justification? Why not an immediate change to the regulations after a review of the public comments? I realize that there's more than TEN THOUSAND comments, but they are almost all in SUPPORT of the rule change. Why not use SEPTEMBER 1st, or maybe even AUGUST?

    The DOI website says, "Once the public comment period has closed, all comments received will be evaluated and incorporated into the decision making process on a final rule. The number and substance of the comments received will determine the timeline for the final decision."

  • Mount Vernon, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Proposed To Become World Heritage Sites   6 years 32 weeks ago

    We need to ensure that we do not allow "the World" to take over these locations. We manage them just fine ourselves. However, all things considered, the inclusion of a site on the list is significant.

    I believe that the State of Illinois is doing a fine job of preserving and interpreting Cahokia Mounds. The visitor center is fabulous and outclasses many visitor centers interpreting ancient sites preserved by the NPS.

  • Yellowstone's Latest Snowmobile Decision for Cody: Politically Motivated or Simply Neighborly?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    There may be things in life where that kind of money is worthwhile - I don't know - but I can't imagine it's worthwhile even if someone was giving the Park Service $8,470.76 per person to bombard Yellowstone National Park with munitions.

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

  • National Park History: Big Bend National Park   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Nice catch, Leslye, and I do thank you very kindly. You are too generous, though. Although I must have known what a peccary is at one time or another, I've managed to forget. Did you say that the javelina is related to the HIPPOPOTAMUS?!

  • National Park History: Big Bend National Park   6 years 32 weeks ago

    FYI, and you probably already know this, but javelinas are not pigs. They are peccaries and most closely related to hippopotami. Cute but dangerous animals, especially during mating season.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    But Fred, follow the bouncing ball!

    The timing was chosen by the politicians. If the congressional and Administration supporters of this proposed rulemaking were serious about good government, then why did Kempthorne announce a january decision date? Why not do this two years ago? Or last year.

    You may believe in this -- and the point of these kinds of manipulations is to have easily provocable believers -- but the politicians are doing it purely as a wedge, to polarize and paralyze the American people.

    Even if you can't see your way through on this because of your suseptibility to the gun issue, surely you can look around at some other hot button and see equivalent behavior on other issues, where some other group can be gulled. And call it 'principle.'

    Hey, folks. Let us get beyond those people, and find the things that unite us.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    This is NOT a new, election-year issue. If you take the time to follow this link you will see that the NRA has been fighting this battle for more than five years.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Yes, FrankC, of course they are "political" in the sense you use it. And, in that sense, parks should be political, and the congress should represent the will and energy of the electorate. One reason to have a democratic republic is to get your representatives to do things you like.

    What I was trying to say, very different, is the gun thing is not the same. It is not healthy politics. There are professionals in the business of politics today who are SEEKING wedge issues, not because of the merits of the issue, not because Americans want them (like parks), but in order to split americans, and provoke a targeted group to simplify their vote and thinking, or come out to vote. The idea behind provoking gun advocates is to get some percentage to vote who would otherwise not vote, voters who WILL be provoked by the "wedge" and who will (they hope) vote overwhelmingly for this or that candidate.

    The kind of politics you are talking about is altogether different, and I'll bet you actually understand this without being reminded, I'd guess.


    The establishment of most parks is almost always seen by local people as a positive thing when they come up this way. There are almost no cases of parks being created by Congress over the objection of the local congressional delegation. Alaska, of course, is the notable exception. This is not to say some parks were created amid strong objection by some local people or groups, but park establishment is mostly a 'feel good' thing. By the numbers, is a soft enterprise, and does not go very deep in stirring political passions. There are all kinds of surveys demonstrating thiis.

    Rarely do advocates of a new park get the kind of huge bounce the politician would get by provoking a challenge, such as putting out a proposed rule on guns, or a referendum on gay marriage. Or, the bounce they might get by making a big public point of supporting snowmachines.

    There are exceptions.

    Some new parks were seen as 'saviors,' to an area, such as Lowell or Shenandoah, and local business interests (in the case of Shenandoah, as opposed to small holders who opposed the park) or great local zeal seeking individual affirmation, as in the case of a Lowell or Rosie the Riveter, or Women's Rights, or Ellis Island, Tuskegee airmen, telling the Untold Story of a neglected class of Americans. THOSE people would vote for or aginst a politician, as we saw when a sitting congressman lost his Lowell seat after failing to get the funding the park needed.

    The most cynical way, most of the time, the establishment of new parks or funding old parks is used by elected officials is to appear to be an environmentalist -- by supporting parks alone -- without doing much else for air or water. But that also is a pretty cosmetic sort of politics, not the sort of "wedge politics" this guns in parks thing is trying to be.

    Some politics is just the way to get something done. Some politics are deliberately destructive, to get short term gain by going negative, inflaming some constituency, and using the cover to fail to act responsibly by governing well. It is now widely believed by Members of Congress that -- even though congress is significantly responsible for what goes on in this country -- you do better by NEVER acting as if you are responsible, but to just attack government as if it has nothing to do with them. The 'wedge" issue is part of the same strategy.

    the gun thing is a wedge. Creating new parks, almost never. It is easy to tell the difference. It is the difference between trying to get something done, and trying to excite antagonism.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Lepanto, if you look at the creation dates for national historic sites, national recreation areas, and all those other non-park or monument status NPS units, you'll see that an overwhelming majority were created during an election year. Parks are political. This thread about concealed weapons in national parks seems to make the case for removing national parks from a political system. Were parks were removed from federal ownership and managed by non-governmental trusts, as are many museums, then the Second Amendment wouldn't apply and individual parks could choose to ban weapons in parks. Food for thought.

  • National Park Quiz 6: Watchable Wildlife   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Concerning question 8. The Big Five in Denali are Moose, Caribou, Grizzly, Wolf and Dall Sheep (actually considered a thin horn sheep)--not the Bighorn. [Ed. Good catch; I fixed it. BTW, I saw lots of Dall sheep from the shuttle road when I visited Denali 20 years ago. They are truly magnificent animals. Made me glad I brought my binoculars.]

  • Rare Letters Stolen From Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace By Historian Recovered   6 years 32 weeks ago


    Your point is valid as far as it goes, but consider the real situation.

    More than, or in addition to, the 'bad name for Historians' issue is the rest of the complicate situation in the background of this case. What a case study in what the park service needs now from its leadership !

    The Historian, according to various news accounts, mostly in Newsday, was at one time a member of the Board of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, and later (perhaps at the time the alleged crime may have happened) was the acting executive director of that organization.

    The National Historic Site was the gift OF THE THEODORE ROOSEVELT ASSOCIATION. The collection, in the park service vault, true, but the portions of the collection allegedly looted CONTINUED TO BE OWNED by the Association. The Association has money it regularly dispenses to park projects, and we all know park managers are amazingly hard up for cash. Just a few years ago, in the other site donated by the Association -- Sagamore Hill -- the park service only got half way through installing a new and major permanent exhibition when the poor superintendent (in more ways than one) was told by the park service exhibit people they had run out of money and were stopping work! Had the Association not bailed this superintendent out, there would have been no opening. So, the superintendent's need the Association.

    Best of all, the Historian in question was said, by one of the newsarticles, to have been carrying a letter from the previous, respected executive director allegedly authorizing the Historian to remove the documents for study !

    Finally, not in the articles, a few years ago there was a major brawl between the Association and the park superintendent over how the relationship between the park service and the Association should be governed, including how the endowment money should be used and directed. Well, the executive director was extremely well regarded and a known scholar, who had been in his job for a very long time (he recently passed away, which is why the Historian of this story assumed the job). Anyway, the two park superintendents, for this Site and for Sagamore Hill were both pretty new and neither was distinguished as a historian, nor particularly groomed to move in the kind of circles the Association membership does. This conflict quickly went over the head of the superintendent to the Regional Director to the Director of the National Park Service. Even though the superintendent had the agreement of the government attorney on the issue, the Director quickly got the Regional Dirctor to get the superintendent to back down. Imagine the government appointing a superintendent that is not experienced enough to deal with elevated people and organizations and historic objects to command the necessary respect of the same high officials ejudicating a conflict between the park and the Association about who is in charge.

    The park superintendent learns a lesson to avoid further conflicts, having been disempowered in public (at least, before the park staff, the Regional Director, the Director and staff, and the leadership of the Association). So, all the park staff learned what happened to their boss -- many steps ABOVE them on the food chain -- and learned it was not healthy to challenge the Association. [PLEASE NOTE, I am NOT saying the Association would have wanted the park service to react this way, or especially for the park staff to react in fear, as the Association has for the most part a wonderful and praiseworthy record. The problem is the way the little person at the bottom reacts when the park service boss or the washington leaders just want a problem to go away without understanding it.]

    So, imagination yourself, as a GS-5 park interpreter when a long-known, and well-regarded Historian with good credentials on Theodore Roosevelt and an Officer of the Association comes into the library of your Site to study THE RECORDS OF THE ASSOCIATION, and is equipped with a letter on Association letterhead authorizing the Historian/Official access to the records, even to take them home. And remember, this site has so few people that sometimes, when only one person is out sick, they actually have (inappropriately) locked the front door to prevent anyone coming in while conducting tours, because each tour must be accompanied by a ranger because all the original Roosevelt objects are out and visible in the house. You would have no ability to sit in the library, to watch the Historian.

    And, when the Historian goes home, having been in and out of the Site for years, after working with THE ASSOCIATION'S collection, can you imagine that GS-5 ranger asking to go through the Historian's bag, flip through the Historian's books looking for loose pages, open up the Historian's note pad to verify that no hstoric documents were taken?

    Well, of course he should, and the park service and the Association should have agreed on a system and followed it. But so soon after the Association rolled the superintendent, who was going to propose those rules??

    Well, my guess is NOW we get the rules and the operations agreement, and the agreements will be supported by all the bigwigs who before did nothing to support the park when it asked for help.

    Will the Roosevelt Birthplace Historic Site get the staff it needs to manage the collection and provide interpretation to the public?

    This site was originally dedicated specifically for education programs -- do you suppose that now there will be calls, rather than fund the park by providing the needed staff, to just move the collection to some nameless vault no where near the place of Roosevelt's birth??

    Do you suppose the leadership of the park service and the leadership of the Association moved proactively to identify one of the "Centennial" projects we hear so much about from the Secretary and the Director, to make sure this site is properly managed? Or, will they just nail the little guy for failing to follow park proceedure, and make the problem go away?

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 32 weeks ago

    With all this passion over guns, I hope all of us, on whatever side of this issue, are learning:

    WHY IS THIS ISSUE BEING PUSHED AT THIS TIME ?? Why would the Secretary of the Interior, in so quickly going along with a non-binding petition, agree to discuss this issue right through 2008, only to wait to decide it in January??


    What we have here is a classic issue deliberately introduced to polarize the American people before an election. The game is, you select a topic -- say, 'partial-birth' abortion, or gay marriage OR GUN CONTROL ISSUES, and drop it on top of a people who desperately want and need to find a way forward together. But the political game -- the REAL political game, not as the term 'political' is being used above by Kurt and 'Anonymous" -- but as a simple device of driving us nuts in time to warp and pervert yet another election.

    The point is to get people's blood up. The point is to make people say "my way or no way." The point is to bring out an electorate thinking division, feeling frustrated, worried that something critical is on the line. So as to ignore all else. So as to avoid finding ways of working with and appreciating other Americans, and other ways of thinking.

    The idea is to target specific frustrated segments of the American people and get them to vote AGAINST somebody, while -- in a different way -- frustrating ANOTHER group of Americans so much that THEY throw up their hands and say: the system stinks ! and stay home on election day.

    This kind of politics is the reason so few people vote, and most of the time most Americans are hostile because their Government does not seem to accomplish any of the real things that seem to be necessary most of the time.

    Even a President as popular as Ronald Reagan received votes by only 26% of the public in what really was only a two-way election, and this during the Iran Hostage mess.

    People: how can we stop being used for obvious political fodder? Does anyone really believe Secretary Kempthorne can be serious [as in, serious about this as public polity] when he says the decision on guns in Parks will be made IN JANUARY, thus allowing him to wait until after the election has kicked this around to no avail, and then make whatever decision AFTERWARD? Don't you feel you are being dangled on a string?

    Don't you believe that the only way we can get things done in America is to find the things in which we have common cause, in which the vast majority of American's agree can and must be solved, and move together on those things?

    Or, do we like being dangled incessantly by provocative issues chosen BECAUSE there is no common ground??

    God Bless America.

  • Words on the Wilderness: A History of Place Names in South Florida's National Parks   6 years 32 weeks ago

    I find the info about Hog Key funny! Richard Hamilton is/was my GGG-Grandfather :)
    Did you research Mormon Key? That was named for him as well because , well, he had several "wives" living on the island.... You will find his name through out FLA history. He lived to be 110 I beleive. He used to deliver babies out in the 10,000 Islands using his oyster knife to cut the umbilicle cords..