Recent comments

  • NPS Director Bomar Not Inclined to Overturn Yellowstone's Snowmobile Backing   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I had an interesting experience this winter in Yellowstone. I took a walk from Mammoth Hot Springs to Swan Lake Flats along the road. The snow was packed down from all the snowmobile and snowcoach traffic, so I didn't even need skies or snowshoes. I was passed by skiers, snowmobiles, and coaches. The first thing that I noticed about the snowmobiles was that they were quieter than I had remembered when I used to ride them years ago, yet for some reason I could hear them...that annoying hum...a good five minutes before they appeared. For some reason they seem to sound the same, whether you are right next to them or a mile away! The older coaches were nearly as bad, I could hear them coming for what seemed forever. But the newer, yellow coaches I hardly knew were coming until I saw them, and could no longer hear them before they were out of sight....even though they SEEMED loader than the snowmobiles when they were right next to me!
    The real telling thing, though, was when a group of four or five snowmobiles went by, I literally could not breathe for ten minutes after they passed. I have been stuck in traffic jams in July in LA, with hundreds of cars bumper to bumper, and can guarantee you that it wasn't THAT bad. The older snowcoaches made breathing difficult for only a couple of minutes, and the NEWER snowcoaches stunk for only the few seconds that they were right next to me!! In other words, when the newer coaches were gone, THEY WERE GONE! No smell, no noise! Almost like magic.
    I have been fighting against snowmobiles in the Park for some time, but now I have a real life experience to back up my argument.

  • Appellate Court Rules Against Yosemite National Park   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I would like to see a mandatory park shuttle system like at Denali/Zion implemented in the Valley. This would be very easy to do do, especially since people already bus into the park via YARTS and Amtrak from Merced...make Merced the place for park visitors to park their cars.

  • Acreage Donated to Expand Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I find it very ironic that Mr. Hensley, Jr said that “Our parents never let us forget that we stand on hallowed ground..." but still made the groups shell out big bucks for it to be protected. If he truly wanted it protected, he would have just given it to the park.

  • Appellate Court Rules Against Yosemite National Park   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I've been to Yosemite many times and the crowds in the valley are very bad, plus it is WAY overdeveloped already. National Parks are for THE PEOPLE, not just the rich, so raising fees to the point that the average person cannot afford it is not the answer. What I would like to see in the valley would be the elimination of overnight camping (except possibly by backpackers/rock climbers...and then limit that to one or two nights), eliminate most if not all accommodations and make the others should be allotted on a lottery bases, once again limited to one or two nights. Private cars should not be allowed in the valley (except possibly if you are holding an overnight lottery ticket). Kangaroo (hop on, hop off) type buses (best available technology) would transport people to and from the valley from campgrounds and accommodations outside of the valley, and outside of the park.
    The problem with this valley is that it is being loved to death, while the rest of the park is no busier than any other park, less than many. Most visitors consider the valley to BE THE PARK. It has turned into a small city, and that is a shame. They definitely, 100 percent, should NOT do any more construction!!

  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Those of you posting pictures of that fox have NO IDEA what you are talking about. The Superintendent Mike Murray set the record straight at the last negotiated rulemaking meeting as was reported in the local press. The SUPERINTENDENT gave the order to shoot the fox because it was acting erratically and in his professional judgment could have been rabid. The fox did not have pups, so that's a complete falsehood. According to the Park Service, the fox may be have been deliberately released on the island. Might that have been done to increase plover predators?

    Be sure nice if some of the more rabid ORV advocates would get their facts straight.

  • Flood Through Grand Canyon National Park Creates Sandbars   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Before we all start patting ourselves on the back, let's remember that this same strategy was applied previously, with the same initial results. Within just a few short months however, the newly created islands of sediment were rapidly eroded to the tune of some 85% of the initial buildup being washed downstream and into the Gulf of California. It was indeed a noble effort, but a total failure for the long-term health of the ecosystem. Man simply cannot recreate in a few days what nature has taken eons to sculpt. Technology and planning aren't all they're cracked up to be. So let's give this new effort some time to decide if it too will go the way of all flesh as did the past attempt before we apply success rates to the project.

  • Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West   6 years 38 weeks ago

    We tend to think of wild horses as an icon of the West, but we've got feral horses here in the eastern U.S. as well. In fact, at least three national parks in the eastern half of this country have free-roaming wild horse herds. At Cape Lookout National Seashore, regulating the size of the horse herd became such a managerial headache that drastic measures have been taken. In 1995 biologists began injecting some of the female horses there with an immunocontraceptive (PZP) to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Horses roam throughout Assateague Island National Seashore, from seaside to bayside. (A fence prevents the mingling of the Maryland and Virginia herds, each of which has about 150 horses.) At Cumberland Island National Seashore there are enough wild horses to cause a good deal of ecological damage.

  • Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Having read Ms. Stillman's earlier works, 29 Palms and some of her other works, and having read the galleys of Mustang, Ms. Stillman's latest work. I would highly reccomend this book to anyone who has an interest in the importance of the horse in the settling of the American West and the vitalness of saving the Mustang.
    Burke Mortimer
    Senior Librarian

  • Arches and Canyonlands In the Fall: Rock Architecture and Dwindling Crowds   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Just unreal cosmic place

  • Paper Calls For Park Service To Protect Wildlife From ORVs on Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Snowbird,you still casting stones from the left coast?C'mon over,let's take a ride.We can show you the "fire and fury" that's encompassing the outer banks secondary to the human devastation that will be caused by the loss of revenue from the recreating public.These people do not deserve to be broken by off island special interest groups who wish to dictate how they live...or don't...for the sake of a very few nesting birds for which NO scientific evidence has shone to be endangered by beach access vehicular use.The "bickering" you refer to is the ongoing nps "reg/neg"process attempting to please the world and cry for help from the native islanders who only want to be able to stay on THEIR island home,feed their families,fish and pursue happiness.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 38 weeks ago

    VCHawk Fumes?on the wind driven beach?Oil spills?We are Not the Exxon Valdez here..We do NOT run rampant,we ARE supervised by nps rangers and self police-ing.There are no"woodland trails"to access surf fishing sites,this is a beach,dear.This NOT an abuse of nature...nature cleanses this area with every (frequent) overwashing storm.Wildlife is still abundant there and the housing explosion does not affect the confines of the national park where they cannot be built.Come visit,we will give you a ride if you'd like and show you the splendor where land meets water then you can have a more realistic view than the one you're getting fro reading comic books.Have a happy day.

  • Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Two previously posted comments, that I have seen, appear to be classic examples of the adage, "A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing."

    The unexplainably brief, two word comment, "Invasive species", is nothing more than an ill-founded and overly simplistic, copycat remark that all too typically is used, very often by egotistical, scientific wannabes and other kinds of groupies who surround the scientific community, wanting to show off how smart they think they are by summarily kissing off this type of issue, instead of making an effort to broaden their exposure to some possibly new information and/or insights relating to the tremendously complex web of characters and interconnected influences in natural ecology and evolution. By the same standards that many such people apply to North America's wild horses, current populations of such animals as wolves and bighorn sheep also could be called "invasive", proving absolutely nothing in terms of the natural, ecological health and mutually supportive balance of ANY animal species.

    As for the other comment, any comparisons between the intensely managed eastern seashore horses or ponies with the wild horse herds of the western states is so much like comparing apples to oranges, on so many fronts, as to quite simply appear to be not applicable. Just think of such extreme differences as types of physical terrain, sizes of habitats, interrelationships with other wildlife cohabitants including any natural predators, and differences in the extent and natures of their mismanagement. One correctly mentioned similarity does, in fact, pertain to the use of the dangerously experimental, infertility drug PZP. And, without the aid of the previously posted comment on this, I possibly would have misspelled the word, immunocontraceptive. Yup, that's what the HSUS website calls it! And the folks at HSUS and the BLM ought to know how to spell it, since they seem to brag about how great their still experimental use of it is. But, what a lot of this dialogue doesn't yet appear to recognize, is the reported frequency with which PZP darting of wild horses is being followed by their birthing of late in the year, out of season foals, a circumstance that most especially is life threateningly dangerous in extremely cold winter herd areas, such as the Pryor Mountains in Montana. And, of course, this type of mismanagement of any wildlife ultimately weakens the species by contorting what SHOULD BE a process of NATURAL breeding selection of "the fittest".

    Hopefully, everyone who sincerely is interested in wild horses will read this new book, by Deanne Stillman, which sounds so excitingly and interestingly researched and prepared -- and apparently is chock-full of all kinds of newly insightful and enjoyable stories about these absolutely fascinating and wonderful animals. I know that I am especially and most anxiously awaiting receipt of my pre-ordered copy, while continuing to believe that ALL of us ARE, after all, still just learning.

    -john brian

  • Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West   6 years 38 weeks ago

    In reply to Mr. Mojave's comment: The same could be said about men in the 1500's throught to the present.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 38 weeks ago

    My family vacationed at Hatteras every summer of my childhood. It is a very special place for us, and I was shocked by an email one of my brothers sent that indicated access to Hatteras beaches would be limited. The idea that I would not have a chance to share with my children the experiences I enjoyed was very disturbing to me. Generations of American children would be denied the endless pleasure of Hatteras beaches.

    But then I learned the ban was for off-road vehicles, and I laughed. Not one of the things I so fondly remember doing there required a car on the beach. You can swim, lounge, surf, fish, build sand castles and look for treasure; not one of these activities requires a vehicle on the beach.

    One of the commenter’s here noted that the word "recreational" is used in the name of the place (Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area) and that somehow implies that vehicles should be allowed everywhere because they are somehow recreational in nature. This is absurd. There is nothing inherently recreational about driving an SUV to the beach. What you do after you’ve arrived at the beach is when the recreation begins for the driving contingent. For those that walked in, the recreation had already begun.

    As a child I remember ORVs speeding along the beach where I was playing and thinking it was dangerous for cars to be there. At night we’d walk the beach and wonder if the drivers could see us. The beach is best for pedestrians only; it is undesirable as a street.

  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I would like to see the NPS become a separate agency within the Executive Branch that itsn't beholden to the Interior Department. Examples of agencies of this type include EPA and NASA. While it would still be politicized to a certain degree, it might be less than what it is now. Kurt's idea of a 6-year directorship is interesting, to be sure.

  • Whatever Became of the Decommissioned National Parks?   6 years 38 weeks ago

    A great topic! I think rather than starting with the question of what the National Park System shouldn't be, one should start with the quesiton of what the National Park System should be. A great definition I have heard is that the National Park Service should represent our Nation's greatest, natural, historical, and cultural treasures. With that being said, it is interesting to note that there are six Units in the National Park System that don't even carry the word "National" in their names, and which are very borderline significant. These are:
    - Catoctin Mountain Park
    - Fort Washington Park
    - Greenbelt Park
    - Piscataway Park
    - Prince William Forest Park
    - Rock Creek Park
    This list also doesn't include Wolf Trap Farm Park, which recently received the designation of "National Park for the Performing Arts", even though it seems to simply be the summer outdoor music venue for the city of Washington, not much different than similar such venues all around the country. Of those seven, the best case for National Park status that you could probably make out of this list would be for Catoctin Mountain Park (which includes the lands surrounding the Presidential Retreat at Camp David), but the others seem very lacking in "Naitonal" significance.

    The other interesting category would be those sites that are primarily recreational sites, centered around dam-based reservoirs. These sites include:
    - Amistad NRA
    - Bighorn Canyon NRA
    - Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area
    - Curecanti NRA
    - Glen Canyon NRA
    - Lake Mead NRA
    - Lake Merdeith NRA
    - Missouri National Recreational River
    This list doesn't include a couple others like Gauley River NRA, Lake Chelan NRA, and Ross Lake NRA that are administered as part of other nearby Parks. Nevertheless, all of the above are certainly anamolous bits of the National Park System, since their resources are in fact the results of man-made dams. With that being said, many of them, including Bighorn Canyon, Curecanti, Glen Canyon, and Lake Mead, all have spectacular scenery, and Amistad actually protects an important paleo-art site. So, as Kurt's article suggested, even Units that seem somewhat questionable are often not completely without merit.


  • About The National Parks Traveler   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Kurt and Jeremy! Nice job on the website. Making a cool looking site like this is hard. I love your color scheme and graphics. Peace, and happy travels.

  • Mount Vernon, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Proposed To Become World Heritage Sites   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I know that the National Park Service will argue that it doesn't want to take on sites that are already being adequately preserved by other entities, but it seems particularly discongruous that the Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site is in fact an Illinois State Park. I personaly believe that the National Park System is greater than the sum of its parts, and if a site in public hands is significant enough to be a World Heritage Site, then I think that it should properly be entrusted to the care of the National Park Service. The other US World Heritage Sites that are not part of the Naitonal Park System are the Pueblo de Taos in New Mexico, and Monticello and the University of Virginia in Virginia.


  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I'm not yet convinced that the Centennial Initiative is going to do the job that the park system needs done. For starters, Congress has yet to pass legislation to authorize the initiative. Too, the extra $100 million that President Bush authorized for the NPS budget is a drop in the proverbial bucket in terms of what the parks need, and there's no assurance that the next administration will follow through on that appropriation.

    You're right that there's no need for a commission to delve into the Park Service's funding woes. Those are well-known.

    But I do think that "broader scope" that you referenced merits such a body. So much has changed since 1916. The NPS, I think, tries to adjust to those changes by updating its Management Policies, but as the last round of updates indicated those can be a political football.

    Private property rights definitely are a tricky issue that need to be addressed, as does the political nature of the current system. As I've mentioned before, I think having the NPS director politically appointed does a disservice to the park system, as you run the risk of every four years being led (pulled?) in a different direction. Better to have a non-partisan director with a term of six years who can take more of a holistic approach to managing the parks.

    Of course, even if such a commission were formed and given such charges as outlined by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, who's to say its recommendations still wouldn't gather dust?

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 38 weeks ago

    NRA propaganda? Because the country is so "stressed" at the moment? Right, I'm sure people are thinking"Oh, I sure hope I'm not adding to the stressful situation present in the country when I use this handgun to defend myself against this robber/attempted rapist/physical assailant/rabid animal." If you're being attacked, the stress level in the country has just jumped anyway, because YOU'RE the one being attacked, and therefore STRESSED! Personally, I'd rather the bad guy be the one "stressed" from a gunshot wound, rather than myself from a knife in the heart or seeing a loved one killed in front of my eyes. But because the NPS has made their domain a place to "unload and unpack...leaving the heavy metal at home," guess who sees a bunch of easy pickings in a remote area, far from help?

    In those places (indeed, in many places), you cannot count on police, park rangers, or even Good Samaritans. In those cases, YOU...are...IT!

  • Entrance Fee Repeal Legislation Would Have Little Impact on National Parks   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Sens. Baucus and Crapo miss the point - Americans do not already pay to use their public lands through their taxes. While taxes do pay for the protection of public lands, these taxes do not cover usage. A person visiting public lands imposes additional costs on the land, such as wear and tear on the facilities, and the time of Rangers, etc. It is only right that someone who visits public lands 10 times in a year should pay a little more to cover these costs than someone who only visits once.


  • Our Endangered National Parks   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Is a new Commission really needed in light of the Centennial Initiative? Moreover, if the only goal of the Commission would be to make the case that the National Park Service needs more funding, I doubt that it would represent good bang for the buck. You could probably paper-over the city of Washington with Commission Reports that identify the need for more spending on national priorities. On the other hand, the quote you site from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees suggests a far broader scope, that could tackle really tricky issues like how to handle issues like "viewshed", air pollution, light pollution, noise pollution, migratory animals, and development for visitor's services around a National Park System that includes over 390 different areas? How do we reconcile the private property rights of National Park neighbors, and the all the other needs of National Parks that stop at National Park boundaries?

  • Congress Authorized Expansion of Petrified Forest National Park, But Forgot to Fund It   6 years 38 weeks ago

    Sabattis, good to hear from you again. NPT has missed your voice.

    My point, and obviously it failed to clearly make it from my brain to the page, is that Congress loves to designate NPS units, but fails to follow through by adequately funding them. In the past I have questioned the propriety of some proposed park units (Paterson Falls comes to mind), but today's intent was to focus on the failure to properly fund NPS units.

  • Congress Authorized Expansion of Petrified Forest National Park, But Forgot to Fund It   6 years 38 weeks ago

    I think that you fell one step short of making your point here. A priori, there is nothing wrong with Congress debating the creation of new National Parks will not fully-funding previous-authorized expansions of existing National Parks. After all, the resources in the proposed National Parks may be just-as or even-more threatened than the resources adjoining the existing National Parks. I think that your point, which you hint at, is that you consider this list of proposed National Parks (and to be fair, National Heritage Areas - which are much different animals) to represents resources that are in far less urgent need of protection that these resources adjoining Petrified Forest National Park.

    With that being said, it is a little unfair to take a dig at the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee in this context. The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee has the power to propose bills to *authorize* Parks, but does not have the power to propose bills to *appropriate funds* for Parks. That responsibility falls to the Senate Appropriations Committee...


  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 38 weeks ago

    From the Plaintiffs "Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Defendant-Intervenors (the “Motion”)."

    The following is provided to illustrate how DOW, AS, and SELC are misrepresenting certain stated facts in their injunction. It is similar to misquoting or taking verses in the bible out of context.

    This is how the present their introductory first fact:

    "Congress created Cape Hatteras National Seashore in 1937, declaring that it be “permanently preserved as a primitive wilderness” and that “no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible [] with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna of the physiographic conditions now prevailing in the area.” 16 U.S.C. § 459a-2.

    The above said fact was extracted in part and does not represent the true fact as written by Congress.

    Here is what Congress actually states in 459a-2, "Except for certain portions of the area, deemed to be especially adaptable for recreational uses, particularly swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, and other recreational activities of similar nature, which shall be developed for such uses as needed, the said area shall be permanently reserved as a primitive wilderness and no development of the project or plan for the convenience of visitors shall be undertaken which would be incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions now prevailing in this area.

    The truth of the matter is that the areas DOW, AS, and SELC want to close are especially adaptable for recreational use, particularly to all the items listed by Congress and it is worth noting that ORV use is considered a recreational activity of similar nature.

    The point of the matter is that once you start looking at the real facts, it is clear that DOW, AS, and SELC are misleading.