Recent comments

  • Fall Into Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Kills California Woman   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Im not sure this was foul play, because I drove by this accident less than 5 minutes after it happened while another person was on the phone with the national parks. The male compainion was visibly in a panic and very very upset. I have a police scanner and listen to the whole incident both on Friday evening and Saturday morning. There were rocky mountain big horn sheep that people were taking pictures of and maybe she tryed to get a better look or camera shot and lost her footing?? None less it was very sad and my heart goes out to the family and friends of Charlotte Harrison.

  • Opposition Mounting to Higher Entrance Fee At Olympic National Park   6 years 47 weeks ago

    "And yeah, let's stick it to those "Foreigners" How much do you suppose they pay in taxes to support our parks? Beamis, in a previous post on a different topic you asked someone to respond to your arguments without attacking you but it seems that what you like to do best.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I have always wondered why we don't have an option on our federal tax returns to donate $1 of our refund to the National Parks similar to the option to fund the presidential campaigns. I would think most folks would donate and it's a very efficient way to solicit donations to our national treasures. I would be much more inclined to donate to our parks than to more campaign ads on TV.

  • Fall Into Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Kills California Woman   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Foul play? In what way? Was something seen or heard unusual? How do you hear something like that?

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Anon,
    Thank you for your well wishes. "i'd like to see some further activity on your blog, it seems like a more appropriate place for the tenor of your comments as well as a more suitable location". I enjoy participating in discussion on NPT because it's the best NPS discussion site on the web. Dissent and criticism are necessary to democratic discussions, and this post, due largely to those few who challenge the status quo, has received more comments than any other currently on the front page. Without critics, the site would be silent of significant discussion and debate, and only sycophants would remain; what's the point in that? Until Jeremy or Kurt directly tell me to buzz off, I'll remain a gadfly who presents an opposing view.

    The test of democracy is freedom of criticism. --David Ben-Gurion

  • World War II Sites in the National Park System   6 years 47 weeks ago

    There must be a story for many, many parks in the system. Fort Jefferson (Dry Tortugas) was a seaplane base during the war and they cut down trees in the Everglades to make up for a shortage of wood for houses.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    There's much to address here, and this is the Haunted Hiker's busiest time of year. But I want to take the time to say a few things.

    One: Beamis was an brilliant interpreter and dedicated employee. I don't know Frank (at least I don't think I do) but I wish I did. But then I do have a weakness for crushed idealists. Especially the funny ones.

    Two: To dismiss someone's opinions, statements, or rationales because they are "disgruntled" is an ad hominem attack. In other words, lazy logic. I saw supervisors do this over and over again during my 12 years with the NPS. We are all guilty of it from time to time, just like we are all guilty of slouching. Regardless, the NPS is long over due for some well-spoken challenges to the conventional wisdom. Let's straighten our backs and be strong enough to contemplate the insights offered by so-called "disgruntleds"!!!

    Three: You can do more (or at least as much) for the parks and the visitors from the outside than you can from the inside.

    Gotta go. Spooky Trails y'all!

  • Opposition Mounting to Higher Entrance Fee At Olympic National Park   6 years 47 weeks ago

    "Why not raise the fee in all of the National Parks to $50 per car for a weekly pass."

    That'll sure cause visitation to skyrocket. And yeah, let's stick it to those "Foreigners"!

    While we're at it I'd like to remind the anonymous economic genius: Disneyland and Six Flags don't also receive direct funding from the federal taxpayer. They have to get all of their money the old fashioned way, through voluntary transactions with willing customers, one transaction at a time.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    lone hiker- i was the one who posted "misused" and i can tell you, aside from the entity that i run, i see misused and hear about misused funds everywhere. from public radio stations to large corporations, it happens... let's not split semantical hairs here, i meant what i wrote. to deny it is to deny reality.

    and as for having me on your payroll? you don't really know me, nor my perspective, so why make a flaming, trollish comment like that here? you don't even know me, so please, take a nicer tone. you'd probably like me, maybe even take a hike in a park with me! (unless you really are a "lone" hiker!) ;)

    frank- honestly, i'd like to see some further activity on your blog, it seems like a more appropriate place for the tenor of your comments as well as a more suitable location, perhaps, than one who focuses more on parks *overall* than simply reform. additionally, i'm glad you aren't working for the nps system and are now teaching... you're probably making a greater impact on society in general anyway and we need intelligent, competent, award winning teachers.

  • Opposition Mounting to Higher Entrance Fee At Olympic National Park   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Why not raise the fee in all of the National Parks to $50 per car for a weekly pass. People are more than willing to pay $50 to go to Disneyland, Six Flags, etc:. With all of the Foreigners you see in our National Parks, they must have money or they would not have gotten over here to see it. The National Parks are run down and need more money then they are getting from the government.

  • World War II Sites in the National Park System   6 years 47 weeks ago

    And don't forget the Ahwahnee in Yosemite was transformed into a military hospital for recovering vets during much of the war. There are some amazing photos in the Yosemite Research Library of the tents set up on the Ahwahnee lawns.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker,
    I was a seasonal national park ranger for ten summers starting out in fire management for three summers and finally working my way up to a GS-5 and an interp job. (My first season in interp, one of this blog's editors was my room mate.) As a park ranger, I earned the NPS Special Achievement Award and was considered highly capable by my supervisors. I worked directly with the public in high-volume parks and VCs on the front lines while trying to work my way into a permanent position, which never happened. I just re-read my journal from 7 years ago, and the frustration was apparent. I gave myself until 30 to get a permanent job or get out of the service (due to lack of health care, money, and stability). I dragged it out until age 32 and am now (very happily) teaching (I am so relieved not to be a seasonal ranger). I worked directly with other "grunts", especially those in resource management. Often, as a seasonal, I was separated from upper management, especially in larger parks. Upper management, I felt by their treatment of us, viewed seasonals with contempt and disdain. I still remember the chief ranger at one park screaming at his subordinate over the radio to "Keep the seasonals off the radio!" during an emergency situation in which we (seasonals) were involved. I also remember many workers saying things like, "Good 'nuff for gov'rment work!"

    For a time, I was bitter and disgruntled about not getting the permanent job, about having my life put at risk because of profit and incompetence, about the severe disorganization, about the power hungry Gestapo, and so on. I broke down and freaked out. Later, I wanted to understand more about why government doesn't function and discovered the book "Goverment's End" by Jonathan Rauch. It's not leftist or rightist or even completely libertarian. It opened my eyes, and since reading the book, I've spoken out against the calcification of our government, the NPS included. No longer bitter, I simply want what's best for the places I consider sacred, and I don't think political management and funding of national parks is what's best.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    A big distinction that needs to be made is that in a business the "misused" funds were obtained through voluntary transactions. The government, on the other hand, gets their monies through coercion. Every April 15th you had better be paid up to Big Brother or face the seizure of your assets or sent to a federal prison. Doesn't exactly build a basis for accountability, now does it?

    Also, continued "misuse" of funds in the private sector will ultimately result in the failure and insolvency of the business in question. In the government "misusing" funds usually brings about a multiplicity of non-consequential responses such as, but not limited to: oversight hearings, threats of funding cut-offs and suggestions for more stringent guidelines concerning the oversight of the given spending. Why just in today's headlines we can read: Millions Wasted on Government Travel

    http://snipurl.com/1rpzh

    Does anyone really expect these misused funds to be recovered? Will anyone lose their job over this? I know I'm tossing softballs but bear with me.

    The point is that what we see in the NPS is part of a much larger systemic rot and corruption that pervades the entire framework of the federal government. People like Anon have come to accept the coercive theft and then the misuse of this ill gotten wealth as if it were par for the course in the accepted norms of human behavior. I beg to differ and am sure that this person does not accept the persistent misuse of their own private wealth. Anon certainly can't afford too. None of us can.

    Just a clarification.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    By the way, what's this garbage?

    misused funds are inevitable, whether an agency or a corporation or a small business. only the nps, successful or not, has the best intentions in managing our parks.

    Mismanagement is inevitable? Poor accounting practices are inevitable? Lack of accountability in inevitable?

    Boy am I glad I never had you in MY employ! Maybe the author intended to use the term misguided or misdirected, but I can't stand behind the term misused. Since often times priorities become realigned between the times budgets are submitted and receive final approval and are actually funded, it could be possible that some line items were "reprioritized" in favor of preceived more immediate or more critical concerns, but that's not misuse in my neighborhood. I'd appreciate a bit more of specific definition and notable instances of where monies were misused. Then we can dissect the beast.

  • Fall Into Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Kills California Woman   6 years 47 weeks ago

    From what I have heard, this could be foul play.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    "And business references generally pass along high marks, especially on someone there's looking to cut bait with, so what good is that?"

    Touche'!

    I don't think your lack of succinctness is a blot on your answer. It obviously required more than a few cursory sentences. Keep up the thinking. I will too.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I'm not into reference checks. I trust your personal references wouldn't say anything to reflect negatively on your esteemed character. And business references generally pass along high marks, especially on someone there's looking to cut bait with, so what good is that?

    The overview of the gig seems respectable enough. It's a pity what upper-management can do, intentionally or not, to create an environment such that decent people are exposed to a level of frustration, irritation, stress, incompetence, and nonchalance that leaving is the best option. It's a regular happening in education, business, and, believe it or not, government of all places! That's why we're stuck with this intolerable level of mediocrity at the federal level; the few honest and decent folk who managed to achieve victory in general elections were run out of town for refusing to be bent over the table and compromise their ideals (and campaign promises) in favor of some idiot committee chairman who's bank accounts are lined by the lobbyists and special interest groups. It's a guarantee that any "lifer" in our Congress plays into this dirty game. And the longer they've been there, the dirtier they become. These are not just my opinions mind you, but the resulting theory of an ex-Senator who resigned after one session of direct interaction within this cesspool. My long-standing suspicions were confirmed by this person, and who better to testify for the prosecution than an eye-witness? There I go, digressing again........sorry.

    There are many methods of overhauling a system. Some "tweaks" are simple and generally lend to short-term improvement but usually don't have the staying power. I'm not quite so sure that even a thorough overhaul, from policy-maker status down to kitchen attendant (sorry about that you in the service trade) would be enough to redirect a sinking Titanic away from the iceberg. Those type of sweeping, system-wide modification generally take quite literally, years, to have any real impact. I question the time-frame in which we're working. Personally, I don't believe there are years enough, and generally I'm rather patient. But time is running out, especially if you follow the environmental change hypothesis. My grand plan(s) will take a bit more space to lay out, but suffice to say that for the radical, department wide gutting that really needs to be done, the best way is a multi-faceted approach taking all the tools that have been working against us and redirecting them. This is, after all, a business, and as a business it needs to be managed like any other world-class venture. Everything must be reviewed and revamped, from management to budget controls, finding new funding sources to marketing the product, legal and accounting issues, research projects, environmental issues, hiring, training and retention of quality employees, planning and possible expansion issues, working in conjunction with, as opposed to, other national land management teams and divisions. The list is quite complex, but so is the problem. But in a nutshell, let's say it's centered around putting the public lands back into the public's hands......not a bad sound bite, eh? I'll keep you posted.

    I'm certain you answered my question more succinctly than I did yours.

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I ended my career as a mid-level supervisor. I was a naturalist by trade but ended up in the ranger division, so I did it all. I had interaction with all levels of management including some detailed projects with the folks at the NPS Center in Harpers Ferry as well as dealings with bigwigs in WASO. My career was marked by merit awards and promotion, I was quite the team player, just ask the Haunted Hiker, she knows me well (if you are in need of a reference check). Let me put it this way, I was the one that the superintendent chose to take visiting bigwigs on a tour of my park.

    Does that answer your question Lone Hiker?

    What actions do you propose?

  • And, Speaking of Volcanoes ... Audio Story at Lassen Volcanic   6 years 47 weeks ago

    That is so freakin awesome

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Never unwilling to put in my two cents worth, if you're seeking "constructive criticism", new directives, or whatever label appeals to you, I'd like some information. Especially from Frank and Beamis. I could sense by the underlying tone of many of the commentaries that I've read over the months that you both were at one point employed by the NPS in some manner. Without your whole life's story, and limiting your comments to whatever you're comfortable with in this public forum, could you guys give me a bit of insight as to your exact capacities when you were on their payroll? What level of interaction did you have with the public, management, researchers, director-level goofballs? I don't want this to sound like a job interview, but if you, in particular Beamis, are soliciting better dialog on the issues, I would be more helpful in assisting with the reform movement by gauging the depth of your expertise.

    I haven't been around here long enough to know quite the level of experience that various people have compiled. But in general, what I'm suggesting is not an open forum dialog, but real and substantive action. If you, and any other readers are seriously concerned about the current state of affairs and the prospects for the future, there are better ways to attack the issues. I think you both know that in my world, nobody cares a bit about what you say. Actions make the differrence, and are more difficult to accomplish than just wasting time talking. I reference any campaign speech, political platform, and the old "when I get elected I promise you that I'll........" rhetoric. As the Native American history so accurately relates regarding our politicians, "Of all the promises that they made to our people, they kept only one. They promised to take our land and they took it." The problem is that the taking never stopped, and is just as relevant today as it was back in the 19th century. I prefer for myself, my family and all future generations not to suffer the same fate as the native peoples. Their only mistake was trusting the white man's words. They negotiated in good faith and lost everything. Such is the future of all who trust the government's words: broken promises, outright lies and deceit, and the raping of a nation. Well, that last line may be a bit over the top. But negotiations are fruitless when both parties are not bargaining in good faith. Therefore, action, not dialog, is the only way to salvage this broken system, as Frank stated. Now for some brainstorming about the legal methods of reclaiming public lands, without going too-Montana.

  • World War II Sites in the National Park System   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Jeremy, like you I did put in my ten hours watching Ken Burns documentary: THE WAR. Every time that I drive past Manzanar (WW II Japanese Detention Center) which is settled on the east side of the Sierra's, it's hard to imagine the extreme hardship that this nation went though during WW II...and it's Japanese citizens. Manazana is located with a beautiful backdrop of the majestic Sierra mountains, yet it composes a stark nakedness and loneiness for which it's location sets. My deceased uncle served in the United States Marines as a combat soldier and saw some of the bloodiest war campaigns in the South Pacific. His war trophies were settled by the fireplace mantle inside his quaint Iowa farm house: a cup of golden teeth extracted from dead Japanese soldiers. His hearing was severly impaired from the concussions of heavy artillery gun fire, but he never spoke a word about "The War" to me or about his war injuries. His pain of the war was greatly relieved by being a gentle productive farmer back in Iowa...which he was better at that then killing.

  • NPS Officially Comes Out Against North Shore Road at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 47 weeks ago

    "When the Park Service in January 2006 released its draft environmental impact statement on the proposed road, it failed to identify a preferred alternative. Perhaps that was so as not to antagonize Mr. Taylor, who at the time was still in Congress and headed a key House committee that held sway over the Interior Department."

    Just another example of how petty politics, yet again, overrides a vital resource management decision. Telling the truth could jeopardize funding and careers. Is this what greatness is made of?

    Oh and by the way, instead of attacking me would someone mind engaging in a useful dialog about the issues I'm raising. My position is clear anyone care to challenge it?

  • Largest US Home Front Disaster During World War II May Be Next Park Unit   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Yes, remember the Port Chicago explosion and the victims, but also remember that there wa a -town- there, named Port Chicago. The 1944 blast killed 320, but the Navy's forced eviction of town residents in 1968 "to save the village from another explision" displaced 3,500 innocent Americans. The blast was an accident; the eviction was a crime. Port Chicago was my hometown (1950-1964). It's not there anymore, but I still call it home. I remember. Will the Park Service remember?

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Beamis, your comments are well taken, but in truth really quite sad and demoralizing to your younger peers in the NPS. Privatization is NOT the answer to NPS demise, but with stout LEADERSHIP we can overcome this negative flow of internal conflict that rids good people like you. Perhaps if more good people like you stayed in, just maybe you (and others that have left under similar circumstances) could have made a difference. Just a simplistic thought!

  • Will Greatness Mark the National Park Service's Next Century?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I would not encourage anyone to pursue a career with the NPS. That is not bitterness or sour grapes, it is just common sense advice. Someone with career ambitions in this field would do much better to start their own business or work for a smaller government entity. There are many great state park systems where you can get a lot done using your own pluck and initiative. Some of these include Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Virginia among many others.

    I started my own naturalist guide business and have had great success and much personal fulfillment. Several other of my former NPS colleagues have done likewise and have never looked back. We have turned a lot of people on to the wonders of the natural world in our own unique way and without having to wear a WW1 era military style uniform. The flat hat always gave me a terrible case of hat head.

    The agency is in terminal decline as is the entire deficit funded federal leviathan that is hunkered down in its splendidly oblivious isolation along the banks of the Potomac. It is slouching toward the inevitable moral and financial bankruptcy that is inherent in all coercive systems of human organization since the beginning of history. I am not a pessimist. I can optimistically see the day when the slate is wiped clean of the current system and a new day will dawn where free and voluntary stewardship of land will be the way that preservation and enjoyment of natural landscapes will be realized.

    A friend of mine who is a career mid-level supervisor said to me recently that he just wished that the agency actually cared primarily about natural history and immersed themselves in it the way he does rather than its current focus on podcasting, faddish initiatives, career climbing and long endless meetings where people are jockeying for power and coveted positions rather than actually knowing something about the parks they are charged with administering. Why would I encourage anyone to join up for that experience when there is a whole wide world of other more fulfilling options available with more popping up everyday? That is not cynicism it is heartfelt optimism.

    The parks are the thing not the agency. The agency is terminal and that's not a bad thing. Yosemite is granite. It'll survive just fine.