Recent comments

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 48 weeks ago

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

    Cheatgrass don't none too much help either.

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

  • 60 Minutes : The Age of Megafires   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Two things:

    1) Get rid of Smokey the Bear

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

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

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

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

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

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

    We need an ORGANISED campaign. Any volunteers?

    Here's her poop:

    Marcia Blaszak
    Alaska Regional Director
    National Park Service
    240 West 5 Avenue
    Anchorage, AK 99501

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 48 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 48 weeks ago

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

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 48 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

    Take a bow gentleman.

  • Jumping Off Bridge an Annual Tradition in New River Gorge   6 years 48 weeks ago

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

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 48 weeks ago

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

    I've got an observation based on the following:

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

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

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

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

  • Jumping Off Bridge an Annual Tradition in New River Gorge   6 years 48 weeks ago

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

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Just one other little thing.....

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

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

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 48 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Karla, I think there will be others pulling their hard earned dollars from Alaska's economy if this continues to go on!! Well, it's finally over! The bears can now have a little rest. Please everyone write your local Congressmen about the unethical hunting of brown bears on Katmai National Preserve...mention GMU 9C 703.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 48 weeks ago

    My, my anonymous ("Get your fat butts")...such anger!
    Calm down and go watch a Disney movie or somethin'!
    LOL...doom and gloom, thats all you enviros spout.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 48 weeks ago

    The other day I was talking to a community member who was lamenting the lack of knowledge NPS staff have of their own parks. Citing the most recent of many examples, he asked an entrance station employee (and one who'd been working there for several years) a simple question about the wildlife. The employee (yeah, that would be a park ranger) didn't have a clue what the visitor was talking about, didn't know where to look for an answer, and didn't seem to care. I've spoken to other park visitors and staff who are appalled by the general lack of knowledge many NPS employees have about the fantastic places for which they're responsible. The problem seems to be getting worse, rather than better. Maybe that's because employees (and their bosses) are too enamored with the latest initiative, their career ambitions, and podcasting to care about rocks, plants, ring-tailed cats and old cabins.

    While many Park Service employees take very seriously their credibility as sources of interesting and meaningful information (I've been extremely impressed with the good ones), most don't seem to have a clue. While I'm not suggesting that everyone be an expert on their park, I do suggest that everyone (including janitors, administrative assistants, and yes, superintendents!) have a moderate knowledge of their site and why it was established. This will not only give the NPS greater credibility as an agency, it will give staff a greater sense of purpose, and maybe even passion, for what they do. Plus, it will make each employee a better servant to his/her taxpaying visitors.

    Every NPS employee should be REQUIRED to learn about his/her park through a variety of means, including attending lectures, accompanying knowledgeable staff or local experts on field trips, reading books, taking tests, etc.

    I know, I know, some folks may reply: "But we're so busy with our jobs, how can we take the time to learn about our parks?" In a previous post I promised to address simple time-savng proposals, and I haven't forgotten. Stay tuned.

    Simple Proposal #2: Know--and Love--Your Park!

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 48 weeks ago

    I agree with ya Theresa, they are particularly onerous for small business owners and the building industry. There are many groups working to overturn them (or at least skirt 'em), as they do nothing for the environment, only fatten the wallets of attorneys and politicians.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Get your fat butts out of your toy ORV's and wake up and smell the coffee. This fragile beach area is not a babies play pen to screw around in and make huge doughnuts and ruts all day in your oil dripping OVR's. If your such a gas guzzeling hot rod Harry, with no concern for the enivornment in which your destroying, may I suggest such area's as Crawford Texas. They just love big trucks that mutilate the land, and desecrate the ecosystem, and destroy the wildlife. Hey Theresa, the "Organic Act" was written to protect us from idiots (like a few that I know who are running and ruining this country) from making this country looking like trashed out dust bowl...and it's coming sister! Most Americans want a clean decent environment that can co-exist with wildlife and nature. I know there's a few callous Americans out there that still believe in thee old western philosophy: rape and pillage is good, suck it for all it's worth and greed is good... with the me-me-me attitude! Beaches are for public enjoyment that can co-exist with nature, and not to be used as gasoline alley for oil leaking OVR' seen on this blog.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 48 weeks ago

    You are totally nuts!

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 48 weeks ago

    We need to get rid of a lot of there worthless, overbearing enviro rules like the "Organic Act" and NEPA...let the taxpayer decide these issues...put it up for a vote.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 48 weeks ago

    The sand soaks up what little oil leaks from vehicles. Remember, we are part of the ecosystem, not apart from it, envirowhackers. Humans were there before any wildlife.

  • Leadership Summit: Building For the Future   6 years 48 weeks ago

    You all rock. Thanks for posting, for thinking and for not being sheep. Heh. This thread has made my day for some unknown reason.

    Even if you all disagree on what needs to be done, we agree something needs to be done.

  • What is YOUR Favorite Park Experience?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Wow, this is tough. I don't know if it was the night camping on Bar Island in Frenchman's Bay in Acadia National park, and watching the Pleiades Meteor Shower while my dog munched blueberries off the bushes around my sleeping bag (counted well over 100 shooting stars before falling asleep!) Or my one and only Blue Ridge Parkway from bottom to top road trip, taken in 1976 in Maggie, the metallic blue '56 Ford Pickup Truck. Or the Hike with Don Pace in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area learning about copper mining from 1640 on, and being shown the mines, and seeing the boy scout camp that used to be there through his eyes growing up on it in the 1950's and 60's, before the Tock's Island Dam acquisitions happened that formed the DWGNRA as it is today.

  • What is YOUR Favorite Park Experience?   6 years 48 weeks ago

    Picking one experience is difficult, but there is one that stands out in my mind: my first view of Delicate Arch in Arches NP. I had spent the previous two days in the park, hiking and photographing the surreal formations, as well as building myself up for the hike to Delicate Arch. The hike itself was awesome; climbing the steep slickrock slope was a great challenge with terrific views. But nothing compares to rounding the last corner of the trail and getting a visual (and emotional) kick in the rear as that fantastic rock sculpture comes into view. It's a place that every national park lover should see.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 48 weeks ago

    It's disturbing to see a beautiful beach get ruined by ORV's. Fumes and oil spills endanger that environment and the wildlife that have the right to be there. There are plenty other places for ORV's to run rampant, such as woodland trails made specifically for that interest group. This is an abuse of nature. Besides, wildlife was there long before ORV's were invented. Hasn't enough of the environment been taken away already by housing for the population explosion. Long overdue to do something about this.

  • Top 10 Most Visited National Parks   6 years 48 weeks ago

    It's easy to see how GSMNP is so popular when you consider that the majority of the country's population is east of the Mississippi and factor in vacation time contraints. Another factor is the proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Two birds with one stone.)

    As far as footprint damage, I am guessing that most are simply passing through on the way to Dollywood or the Cherokee casino, never really visiting the park.