Recent comments

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I hope you dropped a few bucks in the donation box... every dollar counts. Sounds like a few extra mouse traps could make or break your experience there... ;-)

    -- Jon Merryman

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 47 weeks ago

    As a National Park completist, I took the trek from Denver to "tour" Florissant and I was embarrassed by the "visitor's center" and the unfliching pride of the only on-site ranger who put on his best face while enduring the limitations of his position there. This is the shame of the NPS and I could not recommend this park for visitation as it reflects badly on our nation.

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Mrc, I'm afraid I can't answer all your questions off the top of my head. They will indeed require some research, but I'll see what I can pull together.

    In the meantime, check out this post that compared the Centennial Initiative to Mission 66. That should answer some of your questions.

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Kurt, can you dig into some archives to find out about the 1966 50-year-anniversary initiative? From my very limited knowledge about the NPS in that time, between 1958 and 66 substantial funding went into many or almost all units, the agency had at that time. Some units, that were neglected for quite some time got their first decent installations.

    What else could be found in the history of the NPS? The first real boost was in the late 1920? When Union Pacific and others lobbied for new parks, to promote travel in the West? Then the New Deal, with the CCC building roads, bridges, trails, campgrounds, pick nick areas, lodges, cabins and what ever, the 50-year-initiative 1966. Was the expansion of the National Park System in the 1970s coordinated? Or did it happen from individual and decentralized initiatives? Would that be a tpic for this website? Or can you point me to a historical sketch somewhere on nps.gov?

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Very nice read, Kurt, thanks.

    I think its probably difficult to find anyone associated with actual on-the-ground work at NPS or other land management agencies that think the Centennial Initiative (in its current incarnation) is really the best thing to move NPS into the future. Anytime you open up a big pot of money, people are going to sneak in well-written proposals that sound great but don't always fit in with a well-thought long-term plan - I know because I do it all the time. Unfortunately, it is the way the game is played, and certain parks (and agencies) play it better than others. Thus you have money for another jazz museum while other parks are shut out because either they don't know how to play the CI money grab game or cannot meet the requirements.

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 47 weeks ago

    It's also not a "dream park" for NPS career ladder climbers but an out of the way backwater unit that might possibly serve as a place to get your first "permanent" assignment and then onward and upward. The funding is certainly not there nor is the respect and pride that might come from more localized management. To most agency professionals this is the proverbial Siberian hinterland assignment. I'm sure that many of the dedicated staff members of this park must certainly feel at times like an unwanted step-child in the vast far flung NPS empire.

    How does "Florissant Fossil Beds State Park" sound? It's worth looking into. Lord knows Colorado has more money than the Federal government does these days.

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Beamis -

    For what it's worth, I've never thought your comments come off as 'disgruntled'. My initial impressions about this Centennial Initiative mirror yours in some regards. No matter what happens, a big deal will be made in 2016 for the NPS 100th anniversary. It makes sense to want to do something special, like this 10 year agenda. But, if the next 9 years are anything like the last year, any sense of a special agency wide initiative will have been lost. So far this thing looks like a rag tag collection of per-park projects designed with the single intent to get extra congressional funding thrown into the system. At this rate I believe you will be proven correct, that without a strong focus, this thing will "remembered by few and seen to fruition by even fewer."

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    "Beamis, no offense but was there anything that you liked or enjoyed about the NPS? Sounds to me you weren't one happy camper!"

    I was a very happy camper or else I wouldn't have stayed for 10 years. The bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo was a constant source of amusement, that I can now recollect with fondness and much mirth.

    Unfortunately my career success was seriously impeded by the fact that I was far more interested in the actual land under my feet and the plants and animals that inhabited it, rather than glomming onto the latest acronym laden initiative or "diversity enhancement goal" handed down from WASO. Most of my compatriots were far more interested in job advancement than nature and thus felt compelled to sit through the endless rounds of meetings where these "blueprints for change" were monotonously drilled into their skulls. Most of these programs were soon forgotten and the expensive training notebooks sat unread on the shelf next to the others that had been expensively produced and gone unrealized. We used to say that if you stayed in the agency long enough you could stack your training manuals up high enough to see into the next cubicle.

    That I can reflect back on the silliness of the whole organization and the constant state of crisis management that many in the agency tried to perpetuate in no way indicts me as a sour grapes type of guy. I was heavily awarded by my bosses and throughly enjoyed my time as a ranger. That I needed bigger challenges and eventually decide that a life-long career in the agency was a joke makes me more like an independent film-maker who realizes that Hollywood is nowhere to make good movies. I'm much happier being a lone ranger.

    It's always easier to digest what I'm laying out as just the ravings from a disgruntled ex-employee. I left happy and remain so. I'm just telling you how it was and that I know it hasn't changed. Many current rangers contact me and tell me so.

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Makes me think of No Child Left Behind - good concept, terrible way to go about it.

    ---
    jr_ranger
    http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com
    http://zinch.com/jr_ranger
    http://picasaweb.google.com/north.cascades
    President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
    Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

  • At Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, The Facilities Seem Almost as Old as the Fossils   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Sounds like a project for the Centennial if I ever heard of one. But I suppose that FLFO doesn't have any friends with money....

    ---
    jr_ranger
    http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com
    http://zinch.com/jr_ranger
    http://picasaweb.google.com/north.cascades
    President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
    Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

  • When Nature Calls, It's Hard to Find a Restroom on the National Mall   6 years 47 weeks ago

    For locals, this can be a deterrent to visiting the Mall, though the biggest deterrent of people I know is a disdain for the crowds of tourists. There are so many other things to do in Washington as well; we've been there and done that. There are prettier parks (also mostly NPS-administered), there are interesting museums, and there certainly are monuments (in fact, people feel that there are far too many monuments littering the Mall and the rest of the city).

    If you come to Washington, I hope you won't be too scared to take in the rest of the city. Walk through Rock Creek Park, check out Dupont Circle or Adams Morgan, visit the National Arboretum, check out cultural programs spread out throughout the city (check out calendars on DC Indymedia http://dc.indymedia.org and the City Paper http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com . There's neat stuff going on at almost all times in corners of the city people never visit (from Anacostia to Petworth to Capitol Hill--talking about the residential neighborhood, not Congress). This Friday is the monthly critical mass bike ride that starts out at Dupont Circle at 6 PM and will bike as a kind of protest statement ("we are traffic") - the ride is slow and leisurely, and people stay together. We usually go by places like the White House and the Mall and through the neighborhoods and can always use more bikes. It's nice to be able to bike slowly through the streets once in awhile and not have to be afraid (the police leave us alone 98% of the time, and the angry motorists can't really do anything about it because we stick together - you'll see small children on the rides, too. Anyhow, that's just one example. Washington isn't just the Mall, and there are plenty of toilets throughout the parts of the city you aren't visiting and the activities you aren't doing in a city that's far more interesting than monuments to dead people and the official government versions of U.S. history that you'll see subtly in the various museums (and not just the American History museum).

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

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Beamis, no offense but was there anything that you liked or enjoyed about the NPS? Sounds to me you weren't one happy camper!

  • Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite   6 years 47 weeks ago

    From the NPS website, 31 August:

    Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (CA)
    Grower Arrested In Marijuana Plantation Raid

    Acting on information received from a California National Guard drug interdiction helicopter pilot returning from a reconnaissance flight in an adjoining county, an NPS special agent and deputies from the Shasta County Sheriffs Office marijuana eradication team conducted a ground reconnaissance of a suspected cultivation site complex operated by Mexican nationals near the west boundary of the park on Willow Creek. Agents located and entered a 6,428-plant cultivation site and apprehended Francisco Huato Sanchez of Michoacan, Mexico, when he exited a living structure where he was cooking breakfast. Sanchez was contacted from a distance of less than six feet and immediately surrendered. He was armed with a loaded .45 caliber Llama Model 1911 semiautomatic pistol. A .22 caliber revolver, a pellet gun and two 12 gauge shotgun rounds were also located at the site, but no shotgun was found. It’s possible that a second grower fled the scene during the arrest of Sanchez. Prosecution is pending in federal court in the Eastern District of California. A significant portion of Whiskeytown NRA remains closed for visitor safety due to the possibility that a second grower armed with a shotgun is at large. [Submitted by Alan Foster, Special Agent]

  • Centennial Projects: Do They All Prepare the National Parks for the Next 100 Years?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    This is just another in a long list of mostly forgotten initiatives that are always touted as "cornerstones of a new century for the National Park Service and a new era of partnership with the American people". The balderdash is always the same and you can be certain that it will be delivered with all of the self-righteous zeal of an evangelist. I sat through many a meeting as a park ranger listening to the same bloated hyperbole about the Vail Agenda, Ranger Futures, Mission Renewal, VERP and many other soon to be discarded and completely forgotten "bold new blueprints for the future". The NPS churns this stuff out like sausage. Will anyone really remember what was said or proposed in 2007 in the year 2010? Much less in 2016? Not likely. Will anyone even remember Mary Bomar and Dirk Kempthorne? Even less likely.

    I always caused sweat and consternation when I would earnestly ask my supervisors how these past initiatives were now propelling us forward towards our next new "paradigm shift of stewardship excellence"? Often they would marvel at my ability to even remember these useless programs and initiatives from the past. They'd say "are you kidding?" It was like being in a Dilbert comic strip, but much funnier. Many of us referred to our ranger careers as "Dilbert in a flat hat."

    The Centennial Project is no different. It will be remembered by few and seen to fruition by even fewer.

  • Black Bear Put Down in Grand Teton. How Many Visitors Ticketed For Providing Food?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Why couldn't the bear be relocated or placed in a refuge? The Smoky Mountains National Forest has a bear refuge for such bears...this "put down" was murder...just plain wrong, wrong, wrong. How can they do such a horrible thing when so many alternatives are available?

  • Black Bear Put Down in Grand Teton. How Many Visitors Ticketed For Providing Food?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    It would appear that, opinions to the contrary regarding Darwin's hypothesis, evolution is indeed strictly a physiological phenomenon. It also is evident that behavioral, or intellectual evolution is lagging well behind in the human species. The instances sited by Merryland and Jon are unfortuantely not unique, and there is a growing attitude by many to "piss on the environment", consequences be damned. By the same notion, in all fairness, thankfully these exhibits are not the norm either. But I cannot find fault in the children's actions when sanctioned by their very own allegedly responsible caretakers. But I'm afraid that as time goes on and they relate tales of their NPS adventures to their children, that specific instance is the one experience that remains the enduring memory from their excursion into the "wild". As for the buffoon at Badlands, bad taste knows no bounds, and as a card-carrying member of our society, he does indeed have the same right to place himself in this geography as do the rest of us. Personally, I believe that at this point a person's rights terminate. If you cannot modify your behavioral urges to comply with the decency of your fellow travellers, PLEASE stay away. We all know that in vitrtually no instance do these human "urges" develop instantaneously. I'm aware that certain medical conditions exist, as I've personally experienced after a recent surgical procedure has altered my life-long rhythms, but you make the required adjustments and move forward. I'm curious how many malted beverages contributed to this immediate need for relief. But I offer no excuse to anyone, as I have managed to experience these many of our parks with the four youngest of my six and still avoided these trapping of immediate convenience. I do disagree about being "forced" into attitudes and behaviors that are deemed unnatural. It's a choice that individuals consciously make, and there is a tremendous lack of thought, caring, or as I refer to it, COMMON SENSE that enters the decision making process. It leaves me questioning what form of life actually represents the most evolved species in this world.

  • Black Bear Put Down in Grand Teton. How Many Visitors Ticketed For Providing Food?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Brings back "fond "memories of fighting with people trying to feed marmots at the Sheepeater Cliffs and very aggressive chipmunks at Gibbon Falls. No one of the stupid tourists could figure out why the chipmunks were attacking them when they kept dangling out Doritos and other crap and would get mad at them. So, that set me off.

    It isn't as though "no trace" though was what happened before Yellowstone was a national park, or else there wouldn't be so many archaeological sites. I think the difference is that we've got a lot of other messes that make this idea so important; in a world of mass consumption, we can be capable of such mass disruption. That's definitely being shown with a lot of studies related to the effect of elk on Yellowstone's northern range. If it's too bad that elk populations got way out of control, it's certainly too bad for us that our population as humans has gotten way out of control. Any of our natural instincts (eating, pooping, and having children) have so many consequences. I'm about to have a child myself within the next month, and there are so many conflicted mixed feelings about the whole thing, though joy certainly is the most common feeling. Yet, it's sad how "progress" and industrialization have forced us into behaviors and attitudes that can be so unnatural. "No trace", not feeding and relating with animals, all that stuff really are unnatural, but of course it's just as unnatural to be so big, travel thousands of miles to see animals, and feed them Doritos. I mean, we have to start somewhere, and I would agree that I would rather see us not make animals sick (and choose that way of being unnatural) than to go with our urges to piss all over the place.

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

  • Black Bear Put Down in Grand Teton. How Many Visitors Ticketed For Providing Food?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Just back from a YELL/GRTE/DETO/BADL/JECA/MORU trip with my son. We had a black bear and cub attempting to raid the dumpster at the Canyon village campsite just a few days ago.. I couldn't help wondering how long before that bear (and cub) get euthanized or perhaps relocated. It's a shame. But on the bright side -- the bear couldn't get anything out of that dumpster and perhaps that means people are putting things there like they should. But how long before that same bear breaks into the convertible top of someone's Mustang to get that bag of Doritos?

    As an aside, I was also treated to parents taking their kids behind a bush to poop on the Mammoth Hot Springs (no cleanup, just walked away like it never happened) and just earlier today saw some bozo urinating in plain sight of everyone at one of the viewpoints at Badlands. If this is what the National Parks have to contend with, things like expecting 100% participation and support of bear awareness concepts are a hopeless cause.

    -- Jon Merryman

  • Should the NPS Be Given Mount St. Helens?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    THANK YOU, Mr. Williams. I absolutely agree.

  • Should the NPS Be Given Mount St. Helens?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    @Frank: "Leaving land to recover naturally ("preserving"?) needs no funding". This is quite simplified, because there is substantial research and documentation but let's say it were true. But a National Monument (even more a potential National Park) at MSH is about access to the recovering landscape and interpreting the processes to the interested public. And this requires substantial funding for constructing access roads and parking, visitor centers, maintaining them, enforcing the rules, manning exhibitions and information desks and what ever else is needed.

    Congress wanted MSH to be a National Monument, it was funded lavishly in the beginning. The Silver Lake Visitor Center had everything imaginable and got awards for architecture and exhibitions. And even after almost 30 years there are many Americans and tourists from overseas who want to see a recently erupted volcano, see the marred landscape and recovering flora and fauna. There obviously is demand for education, interpretation and/or simply the entertainment and the thrill to see the forces of nature. The Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center is not to be closed for lack of visitors.

    It MSH worth to be managed on the federal level? Congress said yes in 1982. This can be reevaluated, of course. Are there established criteria? You may want to check license plates at the visitor parking. Or you may take a look at the international interest MSH gets. Just one indicator might be Wikipedia. Right now(*) there are 28 so called interwiki links at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_St._Helens - meaning that besides English, people from 28 other languages and cultures find Mount St. Helens worth an article in their language, including Bahasa Indonesia, Estonian and Croatian language.

    * permanent link to the current version: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mount_St._Helens&oldid=154824256

  • Should the NPS Be Given Mount St. Helens?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    RE: Steamtown

    From Wikipedia:

    Allegations had been made, especially within the mass media, that Steamtown was a "pork barrel" project prior to its building. Some criticized the United States National Park Service, which runs Steamtown, for using mostly Canadian locomotives (inherited from the Steamtown USA operation in Bellows Falls, VT) as working locomotives, although many American locomotives and cars are on display. While the collection within the museum and the rolling stock for excursions have been restored, many pieces of rolling stock that are quite visible to the public are in deplorable condition and face an uncertain future. Some of the most significant pieces of rolling stock (i.e. DL&W 565, one of two surviving Lackawanna Railroad steam engines) have not been restored.

    It also costs $5M to operate; that's more than many "crown jewels".

    RE: Saint Helens

    Leaving land to recover naturally ("preserving"?) needs no funding, and enjoying it in its natural state costs nothing. The funding is for the public's enjoyment of paved mountain highways and extravagantly expensive visitor centers. And its parasitic managers take a cut. Preserving places is cheap; enjoying places in our modern mammonish age is expensive.

  • Should the NPS Be Given Mount St. Helens?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    MSH, because of its easy access to the public and science affords a unique ability to watch the natural processes of regeneration - a regeneration process which requires park status protection. There are lots of areas outside the monument where Weyerhauser and others can study the effects of timber planting and other intrusions into the natural cycle, but unless MSH is fully protected from "use," it's value to science and to the public's interests as a scenic geological area will become even more compromised than it has been already.

    No one's suggesting that every time a volcano blows in the lower 48 it be turned into a NP... though to be honest, all that have erupted in historical times are in NPs EXCEPT Mount St. Helens... the one we have the chance to watch regenerate both biologically and geologically from the its major eruptive event.

    As for the idea that the Forest Service will somehow become an instrument of protection rather than use, if Gifford Pinchot couldn't be convinced, it ain't gonna happen 100 years later. The Forest Service may learn how to better allow private use, but it will never cease private use. It's completely contrary to their mission.

    And therein lies my argument. MSH has historical, geological, scenic, scientific and cultural value for all Americans. It deserves to be protected for future generations. It will not be under the Forest Service.

  • Black Bear Put Down in Grand Teton. How Many Visitors Ticketed For Providing Food?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    It appears as though our four-legged friends just can't win. Hiker strays into backcountry, is accosted by mountain lion, lion is tracked and put down. Campers wittingly or otherwise subsidize bear's diet, bear is put down. Wolves try and re-establish packs (with government approval and assistance), carry out a few successful hunts involving "free range" (i.e., government sponsored land grant) cattle, sheep or the like, wolves are put down. Condors living in areas of the west almost exterminated by pesticides. Ranchers complaining that prairie dog burrows are responsible for broken legs on their precious methane-producing herds, prairie dogs are poisoned. No, I'm not an advocate of exclusion theories. People can and will continue to explore well beyond the limits of civilization, and I am as guilty as anyone in that aspect. It just seems to me an inexcusable sin that others suffer through our own ignorance, or in most cases our arrogance. It is most unfortunate that national park passes do not ensure that the human visitor has any basic knowledge of safety and environmental protocol, both ours and those who call these places home. It would take so little behavioral modification on our part to assure that these incidents are completely erased.
    And the onus is definately on us, unless one is willing to concede that we are the less evolved species. Incidents like this leave me wondering how socially evolved we are, in as much as we of the 21st C have yet to really master, let alone tame our environment. Our "place" is where we continue to go, which is just about everywhere. I'm not suggesting that our exploration, scientific or recreational be limited. But I see nothing wrong with advocating just a bit of common sense when entering these domains. It could save lives, and one of them might be yours or one of your loved ones. Remember a family camping trip in the Wasatch earlier this year? No food that we know of left open at that particular campsite, but the results were tragic.

  • 10 Best Lodges in the National Parks   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Got to be Charit Creek Lodge in the heart of the Big South Fork. It's an old homstead that is now a walk/bike/horseback-in hostel at the confluence of Charit Creek and Station Camp Creek abot 2miles from the nearest trailheads. Head a mile from the lodge over in one direciton and you come to the Station Camp Crossing in one of the most remote parts of the Big South Fork Gorge. Go the opposiite direction for a few miles and you have a smorgasboard of huge standstone arches and stunning overlooks of the gorge.

    www.nps.gov/biso
    www.charitcreek.com/home.html

    ---
    jr_ranger
    http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com
    http://zinch.com/jr_ranger
    http://picasaweb.google.com/north.cascades
    President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
    Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

  • Should the NPS Be Given Mount St. Helens?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I think it's a little harsh to say that Steamtown isn't 'nationally significant' because it and Golden Spike are the only 2 NPS units that I am aware of that preserve our nation's railroading history. Without railroads, the West wouldn't have been opened nearly was quickly.

    That being said, there are many NPS sites that are worthy of protection, but aren't nationally significant...

    ---
    jr_ranger
    http://tntrailhead.blogspot.com
    http://zinch.com/jr_ranger
    http://picasaweb.google.com/north.cascades
    President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
    Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens