Recent comments

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

    Thanks for bring this article to our attention.

    After reading it, I find that Pitcaithley makes no mention of cutting the bureaucratic waste in the NPS. There is only the familiar plea to throw more money at the problem.


    The turnover rate in recent years has increased Biologists and geologists, archeologists and historians and others, whose collective experience and knowledge of park resources built over decades is critical to the "unimpaired" nature of parks, were slated to be replaced by private-sector contractors.

    I'm glad Pitcaithley put unimpaired in quotes here. The federal government has done a lousy job keeping parks unimpaired, and the argument that we need government workers to continue the century-long job of overdeveloping our parks is laughable.

    A budget of $5–6 billion does not seem unreasonable given the requirements and rising costs of maintaining 20,000 buildings, almost 1,000 campgrounds, 1,600 wastewater systems, 1,300 water systems...

    So in one breath, Pitcaithley states we need government workers to continue keeping parks unimpaired, then in the next breath he lists all the "improvements" (impairments) to our national parks. Instead of considering that maybe the park service has attempted to do too much, Patcaithley asks for yet more handouts to placate the beast's ravenous appetite for tax dollars.

    "No house or hotel or road of any sort should ever be built near this sea of silence."

    Had only the NPS listened to Miller, Muir, and other conservationists of the time, we wouldn't need billions of dollars to maintain the impairment of our national treasures.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, your point is well taken and much appreciated. I smell smoke, I guess Rome is starting to burn.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I can't speak for Dylan's viewpoint, but I'd be willing to bet the Maggie's Farm that he's intelligent enough to "see which way the wind blows" and find his own way. Now, having thoroughly exhausted my references to his music, the short answer to your question, in my world, is roughly as follows:

    I hate general labels, as they rarely, if ever, pertain to world views, and the momentary and ever-changing viewpoints of the human animal. It's not as simple as always aligning yourself with the "liberal left" or "conservative right" position, as issues are most often clouded by the complexities of everyday life, and every agenda belies a hidden agenda. Those veiled hypocracies are what really irk me, as do the people who take the time to create such "inner visions". Middle grounds are so often inattainable due to lack of concern about the overall picture while concentrating on furthering one's position, feathering one's nest, or however you want to put it. The common good is the playground of suckers like me, who would like to still believe that justice for all is attainable in all aspects of life; legally, morally, ethically, you name it. But to actually achieve that goal you have to be willing to sacrifice, and that seems to be the sticking point in modern society. It's fine for you, and I'll help you to, but I personally can't for various reasons, is a pervasive attitude. It is unfortunately the case that the overriding concern within our borders is almost always a monetary one, and in my view our unilaterally capitalistic world view will eventually be the cause of the collapse of our society. In spite of what we would like to believe, money does not solve all the world's ills, and has been the root cause of more than it has solved. Please don't read this as one of those "money is the root of all evils" lectures......much good can be accomplished with proper funding for many issues, it just seems as though examples related to the good are harder and harder to find evidence of in actual practice and the opposite is all too evident existing solely in theory.

    I can't find it in me to honestly believe that either Blue or Red is more pro-park than the other. There is abundant evident to contradict either party's position trying to justify their claim that they indeed are the most sympathetic. I find both more pathetic than demonstrating hardline concern and backing words with actions, which is the only true measuring stick of one's committment to anything in life. People will be quick to point out that the Conservatives are the one's responsible for the attack on the Arctic Refuge while the Liberals recently locked away large tracts of land in southern Utah under the umbrella public domain / preserve. I can be just as quick to point out that Teddy Roosevelt, a republican, is noted for being "a conservationist well ahead of his time" and a major driving influence of the inception of the park service almost a century ago. I can also point to our current liberal majority in Congress, who can't seem to find money for our parks at present, and currently count more big business contributors in their coffers than the Reps. Certainly the current war budget is an issue with national funding but don't put all your eggs in that basket either. We give away BILLIONS annually to purchase friendship and elicit favors from the world community, and that practice has to be suspended as well as this "you threatened my daddy so I'll gonna blow your head off" war.

    I believe that the initial Blue vs. Red, historically speaking, is a derivation of our media moguls......the parties themselves rallied around those stupid animal symbols for interminable years and were quite content. Defining either party is difficult, and by my estimate, relatively useless. It used to be a connotation that Dems were "little man, socialist, poor and minorities" while the Reps were '"big business, rich man, WASP, fiscally responsible", but those images no longer pertain, in spite of what Hill and Billery would have us believe. Both currently stand for expansionism, fiscally irresponsiblility, short-sightedness, buy-your-friends, moral deficiency, and are ethcially bankrupt. Neither even makes a fleeting attempt at demonstrating their environmental sensitivity or responsiblility, the concerns and campaign promises relevant their constituents or the operational state of our country outside of situational economic tweaking. No Al Gore supporters need comment about that last line......where was he as VP besides trying to distance himself from someone who didn't know the defintion of sex? Is it a wonder I proudly align myself with neither, and distance myself from both at every opportunity? I proudly represent the true independents, those not beholden to ANY industry or special interest (e.g., NRA), foreign policy, and who view our own America as our SOLE primary interest and would refuse to be concerned about anyone and anywhere unless our own house was COMPLETELY in order.

    Did I miss something, as usual?

  • Haleakala National Park Officials Call For Safety Summit For Bicyclists   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I did this ride down Haleakala over 10 years ago. It was a blast and the highlight of my trip to Maui. As long as the bicycle companies test the brakes of the bikes every day, and as long as the rides know their abilities, there is no reason why the ride should not be safe. The company I took gave a riding 'test' before we left the parking lot. They also talked all the way up the mountain about the potential dangers and that people had been killed. One woman did freak out and rode down the mountain in the van rather than continue on the bikes. Would I do it again? Yes. Do I think the park should ban the rides? No.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, your blog is most articulate! After all that's been said, just one simple question: In your own words, what's "your personal definition" of a right wing individual vs. left wing individual? Why is it so difficult to find a common middle ground in goverment today? Who started this name calling and shellacking of the blue states vs. the red states? Wouldn't the blue states be more pro parks then the red states? It appears that way from my own personal observation. Again, your blog is most interesting. I think Bob Dylan is most likely to be a blue state refugee then a red state...his music certainly sounds like it.

  • Public Lands Day. Wahoo.   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I'd like a 1/365th refund on my annual pass, please... ;-)

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Jim-

    After close inspection of your dissertation, I am reminded of a line from a song, as follows:
    "We always did feel the same we just saw it from a different point of view......Tangled up in Blue"
    My apology to Bobby Dylan.

    I get the distinct impression that deep down, both of us "rebels" are going about a different means to the same end, but it's less different than I think you might believe. The American public as a whole never affirmed the state of government, it was in essence, thrust upon us for better or worse. Unfortunately, we've been stuck with the "worse" end of the stick for quite some time, unless you're a blind sheep who swears allegiance to the Red or Blue without questioning their true agenda. Small group "home rule" was supposed to be encouraged by individual state government, but most counties, townships, villages, etc. don't realize they have been empowered to do so. Again, the Elephants and the Donkeys have the most to loose, and aren't to happy, or ready to be relieved of their current "responsiblity to effectively govern society", as I heard one of them refer to it as. The next time I get effective federal or state government will be the first in my lifetime. I do have some decent, honest folk here at the village and township level, but they're barely empowered to hold meetings, let alone decide policy. Kudos to them, they do try.

    I don't have the statistics on who visits the parks either. For that matter, if they're kept at all, that's an issue in my world. Are there figures, and are they gleaned from polls/surveys, headcounts, observation, or what? The entire basis for such a study raises questions in my eyes. What were/are those in charge of such a study intending to prove? My point is, as you addressed, we can't be drawing conclusions on why without taking those questions directly to the people who DON'T go and determining root casues. I'm sorry, I just can't buy the feelings of being made "uneasy" or feeling "bored" or "not being able to plan far enough in advance" as legitimate concerns. For instance, how can someone be made to feel uneasy in a place they've never experienced first-hand? How can you tell if you're bored without being there to know for certain? If there exists evidence of profiling, bring it on, expose the worthless pieces of garbage that are proliferating that stereotype, beat them senseless and replace them with people who can manage to provide a service, equally, across the board to all, foreign and domestic, green, blue, violet and orange. I have no use, as should none of us in the 21st C, for this type of behavior or mindset. That said, I'm not fool enough to pretend that is doesn't exist. But it can't be permitted, especially by those in public serivce. Not that they really differ from those in private service, but I think you know what I'm getting at. I applaud the NPS for their concern, but I still take pride in the cultural diversity that our parks elicit from the world forum that I find in every park I visit, and the sense of appreciation of the good fortune of our geography that is expressed by the foreign visitors with whom I regularly engage in conversation in lodges, on trails, over dinner, in campgrounds, in giftshops, parking lots, etc.

    One last clarification, on the issue of compromise. Compromise required dialog. The only dialog that seems to exist these days is ,"We'll support this issue for your support on the next issue so that we both save face". That's not compromise, that's blackmail, or extortion, or whatever you might call it. My political system reverts back to the Amercan ideal of the late 18th / early 19 century, akin to the composition of current British Parliment, where 4-5 parties have representatives, nobody has a majority, and people are FORCED to open a dialog and compromise to effectively govern. When no one group "controls the House or Senate", I'll be a happy camper. Prior to the inception of the Republican Party in 1860, such was the government of the United States. Their names were many, but the form that politics took during this period of time was quite unique. True the country has grown in populace, territory, and world stature. Those reasons only bolster the case for a return to that system, not a reason to retreat further into the quagmire.

    Sorry to hear about the lead, but that can be corrected. Best check your water main coming in from the street, too. Way dangerous stuff for the very young and very old due to effects on both developing and declining immune systems and during periods of celluar growth and the related childhood development issues. And no, not too much gas for me! Like I said earlier, nothing personal. Just the residual effects of being associated with the territory and the initials DC. I do feel for you.....decent people don't deserve that moniker. And it's not as though greasy palms only exist at the federal level. Every state capital has more than their fair share as well. As does every major city. And many private industries. And public interests. And on, and on, and on. But I think Frank appreciates more concise articles. Bet we both drive him crazy at times!

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Just a tad bit more information-----

    Re: the state of politics
    Health care is far more controlled by politics and Big Pharma than the other way around. National funding for Medicare, Medicade, and many private funding sources supplementing HMO's, PPO's, state sponsored health care programs, abortion funding, and lest we all forget, insurance care for illegals comes directly from DC and your private health care premiums. Our runaway private care costs are the direct result of cuts in government subsidies and ridiculous judgements in malpractice suits, along with increases in equipment costs and profiteering layers of lawyers hired to protect providers against malpractice suits. Of course, I would be remiss in not stating that my own industry's safeguards against generic equivilents being produced prior to "research and discovery" costs being recouped plays quite a role in maintaining the high cost of care as well. And the mention of lawyers controlling the system is a bit redundant since lawyers ARE the system. Millionaire lawyer to be precise. Ain't no po' folk elected to federal office. Agriculture isn't on the map in Washington, as the current state of farming will attest. Less than 2% of all farmers nationally are private, small business Mom & Pop Shops. The economic sag in the late 70's / early 80's brought an end to that, and now corporate farming, akin to the sharecropper days in the early 19th Century, is by far the rule, not the exception. So to say that aggies have much of a say isn't quite the case. But I agree that Big Pharma is as responsible as Big Oil for the current political dilemma. I will stand by the evidence that oil's roots run far deeper than pharma's, however. It's been that way since the 1870's, and it's not going to change without one helleva fight from the oil barons.

    Re: H2 fuels

    Iceland does have a natural advantage in geographic location, but that same geography is also the reason they're producing fuels internally. Refinery and transportation issues internally, and the cost of importing "finished goods" have been major contributing factors in driving their populace to spearhead this program. And why others have turned to electricity to drive the synthesis is simple; it's available, relatively cost effective in most areas, and basically it was the path of least resistance for instituting the research and production facilities required to begin the project. While not a physical or synthetic chemist (though I play one on the radio) my training in organic and biochemistries, and in biotechnology allow for me to state with most certainty that there are alternative methods to extracting hydrogen from water (and the air for that matter) that require little or no fossil fuel usage, the methods are clean and inexpensive to operate and maintain (that's a contributing factor as to why Iceland jumped on board so eagerly), and produce a high energy, clean burning fuel source, readily renewable (let's see oil companies response to this one!) and produces environmentally friendly byproducts (this one too!). I can't help it that industry, as usual, decided on the path of least resistance and is utilizing non-renewable fuels to produce a renewable one. From the business perspective it makes perfect sense, unfortunately. But it does seem to defeat the overall intent.

    Re: CO2 emissions

    I again agree that automobiles are only one step in the progression. You'll find precious few imports in my residence, excluding items that just aren't economically feasible to obtain here. I own as fuel efficient an America-made vehicle as I can put my family into, enjoy my walks where possible, and apologize that extended biking is no longer an option due to destroying my knees during my sports career. Walking is cool, even backpacking in the canyons, but oh man, that circular motion just KILLS me. Solar panels and windmills are either not practical or not allowed in my area however, otherwise I'd be all over it. I did when I lived in Utah, and I just LOVE watching my meter spin backwards!

    Keep up the good lobbying Frank.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I agree with Russ, absolutely! First off, my hub and I, in our late 40's are in good physical shape and had no exertion issues with any of the climbing associated with A.L. or Hidden Canyon, which we had easlily hiked the day before to "warm up" for A.L. My husband (a "retired" mountaineer, who has also climbed Rainier and McKinley, climbed in Nepal and also most of the 14teeners here in CO), was shocked that the chains were the offered assist holds to "climbing" this hike...and that the audio recording on the shuttle up the canyon actually advocated this trail as the "most popular trail" in the system that gets "very interesting" the last half mile, making almost a mockery of this very serious trail hike. This and the absolutely ridiculous chain-as-handrail actually presents an increased risk to the (inexperienced) hiker by allowing a false sense of security and quite reasonably even throwing one's balance off from the natural and inviting fatality. As we descended back down Walter's Wiggles, we met no less than 50 hikers everywhere from 15 to 65 and all levels of fitness and inappropriate attire making their way up to what expectation? People DIE on this trail ("Google" it yourself to confirm)...though not a great marketing strategy, maybe the NP system could consider at least adding this to their pleasantly spoken caution, "your safety if your responsibility" line when making the meandering and otherwise wonderfully educational shuttle trip up the canyon. I could never have watched a child hike this climb after Scout's Landing without mountaineering gear.

  • Haleakala National Park Officials Call For Safety Summit For Bicyclists   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I thought I was going to be added to the list, the way some cyclists traverse those trails. (My apologies to some of you, but I was quicker than they were. Barely.) And yet I recall a recent article pertaining to expanding mountain-biking in the park system. True, they aren't the same type of biking, exactly. But this trail, at just under 10,000 ft. is pretty ambitious for a recreational rider. It'll be interesting to see who gets the blame for her hitting a stationary vehicle. Did she suffer from oxygen deprevation and temporarily black-out at the critical moment? Did she hit the coaster brake instead of hand brake? Did a tire blow out at the most inconvenient time? Was she run off the trail by as considerate a member of the group as I ran across out there? Was the driver violating a no-parking, cyclist-only zone? Sun in the eyes? Was she wearing a helmet?

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Glad to hear you have an open mind on the subject Frank. The American geology cabal are the same folks who made fun of Alfred Wegener and his silly notion of continental drift (plate tectonics) well into the late 1960's. (He proposed the theory in 1915 in a paper titled "The Origin of Continents and Oceans", which suggested an original unified landmass or “pangaea” more than 200 million years ago which separated into our present continents by what he called Continental Drift.). Did western geoscientists really think that the west coast of Africa fitting perfectly into the east coast of South America was a just mere coincidence? After reading Wegener didn't any of them have a globe handy in their office?

    The American science establishment (hooked on federal government funding like helpless junkies) has been a hand maiden of the military-industrial complex, Big Pharma and Big Oil for way too long. It's time we all woke up and began to question the orthodoxies that are foisted on us by these puppets in lab coats.

  • The Park Service's Historic Buildings Can Be Saved Without Resorting to Leases   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Fort Hancock - Does the Law Require Its Preservation? And HOW?

    The United States Supreme Court has held that the standard for the court’s review of agency actions such as that by the Department of the Interior/National Park Service on the Sandy Hook/Fort Hancock restoration is: “narrow and a court is not to substitute its judgment for that of the agency.” The NPS has considerable discretion to administer, use, and lease the properties it is tasked with protecting so long as it complies with applicable environmental laws. It is difficult almost to the point of impossibility to overturn such agency action, if procedural requirements have been followed.

    A case decided in Federal Court in New Jersey on September 13th will set a precedent in deciding whether restoration of historic buildings in the parks will be public or private. In her opinion in Save Sandy Hook Corporation v. the US Department of the Interior, Court No. 04-05908, US District Court Judge Mary Cooper explains the controlling law in great detail. She concluded that the issuance of the Finding of No Significant Impact [“FONSI”] with respect to the Fort Hancock rehabilitation project, and the lease with Sandy Hook Partners for 36 of the approximately 120 buildings within the historic district, did not violate any provision of the laws involved, and that the record demonstrated that the NPS had, as required, extensively analyzed all potential impacts of the rehabilitation and reuse of the District, including any caused by the SH Partners lease.

    "Specifically, the NPS examined all relevant data and articulated a rational and satisfactory explanation in the FONSI for selecting the Rehabilitation Alternative. It considered all appropriate factors and made all determinations before entering into the lease. Accordingly, the Court finds that the NPS’s decision to lease 36 buildings in the Fort Hancock Historic District to SH Partners was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or contrary to any law."

    There are four major laws governing this matter:

    The National Park Service Organic Act (“NPSOA”), which created the NPS as a branch of the Department of the Interior, was enacted in 1916. The NPSOA tasked the NPS with the responsibility for promoting and regulating the use of national parks, monuments, and reservations “to conserve the . . . historic objects . . . therein and . . . gives the Secretary . . . the authority to enter into a lease with any person or governmental entity for the use of buildings and associated property . . . .

    The Gateway National Recreation Act (“GNRA”) requires the Secretary of the Interior to inventory and evaluate all structures with potential historical significance located in the Sandy Hook unit, and “provide for appropriate programs for the preservation, restoration, interpretation, and utilization of them.”

    The National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”) . . . establishes that it is the policy of the federal government to encourage the public and private sector to preserve and utilize all usable elements of the Nation’s historic buildings and environment.

    The National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) does not mandate that a federal agency reach a particular result, but instead prescribes the necessary process the agency must employ to reach its result. . . . The agency is not constrained by NEPA from deciding that other values outweigh the environmental costs.

    On environmental issues, the Court held that: (1) the NPS proceedings were conducted in compliance with the NEPA, (2) the conclusions reached by the NPS are supported by the official record [30 volumes containing more than 9,000 pages], and (3) the proposed action is consistent with the purposes of the NEPA. It examined the revised Environmental Assessment, which evaluated (1) a No Action Alternative; and (2) a Rehabilitation Alternative (Proposed Action) that would permit the rehabilitation and reuse of 100 historic structures in the Fort Hancock Historic District. This assessment concluded that The No Action Alternative would have a major, long-term adverse impact on the historic buildings in the District, with a continued loss of significant, character-defining features; continued deterioration of the buildings; and loss both of the sense of the historical period of significance, and the military feeling of the landscape.

    "After some number of years of continued deterioration, the physical features of the National Historic Landmark would not remain sufficiently intact for the property to convey its association with significant historic events."

    Because the Rehabilitation Alternative would be executed in conformity with the Secretary’s Standards [as well as those of the NJ State Historic Preservation Office, which are even more stringent], the Court accepted the finding by NPS that there would be no negative impact to the buildings and structures, and that the rehabilitation of buildings in the area, and replacement of missing historic trees and foundation plantings at prominent locations would have a major, long-term beneficial effect.

    Fort Hancock is one of fourteen National Historic Districts within Monmouth County, and area resplendent with colonial and revolutionary history. As such it has already been determined to be “significant to this Nation’s heritage.” The Fort and the buildings within it are therefore deserving of preservation; the law as it stands now requires that the NPS do it; and to accomplish this they have selected what they believe to be the only viable alternative.

    The state of government financing of the Nation’s park system dictates that the mandated preservation of Fort Hancock can only be done with private financing. The Sandy Hook Foundation has restored the Lighthouse Keepers’ quarters [now its headquarters], and, in conjunction with the New Jersey Lighthouse Society, the Lighthouse itself [the Nation’s oldest]. The Foundation is now going on to one of the coastal mortar batteries, another ambitious project that will cost in excess of $1,000,000. But we're not dealing with one or two buildings now. The entire Fort Hancock project is too large for the Foundation, the more than half-dozen other NGO’s already present, and the new ones that will be added under the minimum 30% educational use required under the lease. The rest will have to be “commercial.” Sorry Kurt!

    Anyone with experience in administrative law should know that unless the controlling laws don’t mean what they seem to say, there is nothing to appeal in the Court’s decision. Save Sandy Hook will have done nothing but delay the preservation of these crumbling buildings, increasing the cost of their restoration. They will almost assuredly lose in the end, will have to pay the government’s and Sandy Hook Partner’s costs, and will have more firmly set historic restoration within the parks on the path of private financing that, at least for larger projects, will have to be commercial.

  • Public Lands Day. Wahoo.   6 years 47 weeks ago

    And, really, isn't it a bit ironic that we have to have a "Public Lands Day" to gain free entry onto public lands our tax dollars supposedly support?

    National Public Lands Day is more of a 'get out the volunteers' type of day. The 'free entry' is a bonus thrown in to encourage folks to come out and support their public lands.

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    I fought my former county of residence for years to create a safe way for the kids in our community to walk ACROSS THE STREET so they wouldn't have to be provided a bus. I am totally serious -- these kids live less than 100 feet from school property and they are given a big yellow diesel monster to help them across the street. At another elementary school nearby the bus literally pulled out of the school driveway, came to a stop, and let the kids out of the bus. The pervasive American mentality is that bicyclists and pedestrians are impediments to smooth traffic flow, and should be discouraged at all costs. Meanwhile the kids are getting fatter and fatter each year as parents whose kids ARE provided a bus drive them to school anyway. Some people will just never cut back, conserve, or heaven forbid SACRIFICE one iota unless they are forced to. At the local high school they decided that sophomores wouldn't be issued parking permits because of limited space, and guess who stormed the school office and board of education? The parents did. So now they have a nice new 75-spot lot where trees used to be so that kids who are provided a bus can drive instead. Are we all just insane or what?

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Most of my real job actually is editing; in conversation, we're allowed poetic license to ramble on!

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

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Wow, Beamis. That's some interesting stuff. I like the part about the Saudi oil field extracted so far is the equivalent of a cube of dinosaurs 19 mi x 19 mi x 19 mi. Totally changed my thinking on the subject.

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Wow. Someone hire Jim an editor! :)

  • Developing Diversity in the National Parks   6 years 47 weeks ago

    But I don't understand how we are contributing to the situation by not feeling sorry for, and thereby working to enable, a group or multiple groups of people of WHATEVER background to take part in something that many have no interest in becomming a part of in the first place.

    I don't disagree with this necessarily. I don't think any solution to racism can be paternalistic. I have no idea who or who doesn't have interest in visiting parks; and, no we can't simply say, "Hey, come here. Let's be happy and diverse." That's not the point. The point is to make sure that what we are doing now isn't contributing to the reasons why certain groups of people whom reason tells us are the same, behave differently. If the consequences of our discovery point to things fundamentally off about not simply the parks but our environmental assumptions, then so be it. The lack of diversity (everywhere but Yosemite, apparently), the changing trends, are cause for concern that something's not right. It doesn't suggest a solution; it does suggest that we all should be talking about the problem. And, far from taking us from other pressing issues, I think we'll find that they're inter-related.

    Those percentages, when compared to the total sample size available within any given group of people are indeed small, to be sure. But to rest the responsibility solely on the shoulders of racism, while ignoring the cultural make-up and general underlying sub-cultural and individual / personal social intersts in most certainly unfair.

    Obviously, almost nothing can be reduced to a single cause. Classism is an issue in society; sexism; and all kinds of things big and small. Some are inocuous (it was raining; therefore, I didn't go outside today). However, while it's true that causes are complex and many; that doesn't mean that certain things that are wrong are insignificant or should be kept in a narrow perspective just because of it. Many of the reasons why people behave the way they do, however many they are, often amount to the same sorts of things. So often - and we've seen it repeatedly in the comments on this post and the previous discussion on diversity in the parks - culture is used to blur the issue of race. Well, damn...if you change the lens, of course you can find diversity. People wear all kinds of different clothes, have all kinds of different names, have all kinds of different interests in food, in why they visit parks. You might be able to identify different cultural traits from that. But, none of this should distract from the real issue of race in the parks. And, if there is also a "cultural" reason based on a shifting in culture among people of color over the last 40 years that's different from their racial make-up, then that also has a set of causes. Perhaps, it's a result of racism, of ongoing racism. It's evidence of something; when a culture is identifiable in part by race, why is that? These are all things to take seriously. And, if this is seen as something radically different than seeing for instance why elk behave the way they do with and without wolves, why animals behave differently in different ages, or plants grow differently in different environments, to me it's obviously not. We need to own up to the issue of racism, and we should not blur things just because there happen to be other ways of viewing things. While all the blurring may raise other interesting issues; no other cause, no other perspective, can hide the reality.

    Why should any one group be overly concerned that any other such group chooses to or not to become involved in any given activity? We, as Americans, deem something to be worthwhile, for example, our political and personal freedoms. Yet a certain segment of the world views it as devil-worship and would like to kill us all for these practices and beliefs. So if Group A chooses FREELY not to be as actively interested in this pursuit as Group B, why should it raise a great concern to ANYBODY else? Is it because Group B doesn't understand how someone from Group A could choose NOT to follow their lead? Please.........

    It's not a concern in itself; no one is seeking homogeneity in society. It is a concern when the markers that make people distinct and different have a racial element to it. That is a concern because that kind of separateness is irrational. It's not irrational if some people prefer to live in cities while others prefer to go to the mountains; it is a concern if all the people who love cities happen to be people of color. Even the tendency toward that suggests that something else is happening that we need to be aware of and discuss. If cultures are becoming distinct because of racism in our past, because of mistrust in our present, because of processes that continue to contribute to it (the most obvious I see every day is gentrification - a process I know I am in some way a part of), then that's a big concern. I don't mind being separated from you because I don't like you, because I happen to be a jerk, because you like classical music, because I like canyons, but I do mind it if it's because you just happen to belong to a class of people with a certain skin color, because of the values society has held that have brought about that reality. And, it's that value judgment, that irrational hierarchical attitude, that is the crux of the problem. I'd argue that we have that attitude toward land, toward property, toward other beings on the earth, toward our children, and sometimes toward people we say we love. It's a pervasive problem; race should be a simple thing to consider as we own up to all kinds of concerns. Unfortunately, so many aren't willing to take that step - papering it over with positive exceptions to the rule.

    In it's purest form, democracy is indeed, "one person, one vote, majority rule"

    I don't agree with this characterization of democracy. I'd say you don't have democracy without a community; the rule of the "demes" at its crux depends upon everyone. Democracy is that place where individuals find their voice within the space of the deme, the tribal society. Even if some decisions are not made through unanimous consent (for instance, you don't trust medical decisions to the majority or the minority but to a doctor), the ultimate crux of rule in society depends upon consent of everyone to the process that has been decided. That is the ultimate arbiter. The moment that democracy is rule of a group of people, whether they be the majority, the minority, the rich, the eligible, then it is essentially the tyranny of that group, and there is no rational ground for determining who falls inside or outside that line. There's a reason for instance that changing the Constitution requires far more than half the people eligible to make those decisions; unfortunately, most of us have never actually affirmed the government that rules over us. We've merely accepted it as a survival mechanism.

    Modern society is far too large; I agree that democracy is impractical as it stands in our soeciety. It's why I spend my time trying to deconstruct the rationale for our large society so that we can in fact be empowered to have our interests matter within the small groups of people we actually engage on an intimate level. As it stands, though, deconstruction is tricky because I as a rebel (of sorts) am also cognizant that I benefit greatly from my privileges in society. And, my actions need to be cognizant in action. People who have no interest in anarchy, in revolution, matter. Their health matters, their recreational choices matter, their livelihood matters, even if I wish for a much smaller world. It's a bewildering maze that I don't have a great grasp on and certainly no roadmap to revolution. It may be just as revolutionary to feed a homeless person, say hello to a neighbor, or walk through the forest, as it is to make our society smaller. Right now, I think the important thing is to take the project seriously, to hear people, to listen to them, and to see what they're saying. Racism in our society is one of the greatest shared injustices; taking it seriously is a step toward deconstruction (my own project), which at the same time doesn't depend upon anyone else sharing my own point of view, which can help us all be closer. We don't need to create a diversity quota; we don't need paternalistic projects - we do need to keep the problem at the fore of our minds, of our discussions, and to think, "Hey, am I doing something I might be doing differently?" Self-critique, listening, and openness are great models for us all. Of all my criticisms of the National Park Service, I would never criticize them for at least raising this as an issue (even if government is never going to be the answer to any racial problem - but, their doing so in this case, from my own point of view helps deconstruct government and its size; it cannot cope ultimately with the consequences of this discussion and a poignant conversation will require decentralization, will require we see that voices will not be heard until they can be rulers within a community of shared interests.

    I don't think the issue is compromise; the two parties represent the same basic idea. Compromise or stagnation are only distinct the way that mixing one's rat poison with one's drink or just pouring it in are distinct. Either way, you'll die. The problem is much more fundamental. We can't hear each other. Not refusing to hear each other because we conflate race and culture or because we make cultural assumptions of a certain race would be a good start in that process.

    (Hopefully, not too much natural gas for you and perhaps something that helps energize discussion)

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

  • Death Valley Looking to Electronic Rangers to Raise Money, Lure Younger Generations   6 years 47 weeks ago

    When it comes to the National Parks, I believe a strong anti-technology bias is exactly what is called for. The parks are meant to be an escape to nature, not an extension of the rest of our world. Preserve and protect is the mission, not unlimited wireless access and broadband for all.

    The more important bias effecting the parks is the one against properly funding the parks budget and addressing the multi-billion dollar maintenance and upkeep backlog. Under the Bush Administration the number of rangers has been drastically cut and the results really show.

    It's time we stopped building bridges to nowhere and pissing away billions a month in phony military occupations and started taking care of the parks so we can leave them in better, not worse, condition than we found them. And no amount of high tech solutions is going to solve that problem.

    The "anti-tech bias" is simply a straw man argument.

  • Congressman Calls for Investigation Into Fort Hancock Deal   6 years 47 weeks ago

    "Anonymous" states: "is the Gateway NRA actually something that taxpayers in Oregon and North Dakota should be paying their hard earned tax money for?" In the words of the NPCA's 2007 State of the Parks report on the Gateway NRA: "the very name “Gateway” was supposed to inspire its role as a park that was not only the portal to the Big Apple, but also a portal for millions to the National Park System." Should the millions, or tens of millions, of taxpayers in the New York metropolitan area, who are never going to be able to visit the wilderness parks that some elitist backpacking devotees may prefer, have to support THOSE parks with their hard earned tax dollars?

    Having only recently discovered the NPT, I was pleased to discover a dialogue on this issue that was generally well-meaning, but sometimes ill informed. I can walk to Sandy Hook in 10 minutes; have read every filing in the recently decided case in New Jersey's District Court; and find such condescending comments by far-removed observers truly offensive. More people should, like Terese Loeb Kreuzer, visit Fort Hancock, or read its National Register nomination, and educate themselves before taking pot-shots.

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    This is related article from today's headlines which I thought many of you may find very interesting: http://snipurl.com/1rhy9

    As someone with a degree in physical geography I have always tended to believe that oil is primarily abiotic, but, like the Russian scientists cited in the article, have generally been laughed at by the conventional scientists in this hemisphere. It's worth a read.

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    To say that the oil industry controls the entire political system is a bit simplistic and overlooks a variety of other powerful interest groups such as heath care, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, lawyers, and so on.

    I previously stated that "The answer lies not in alternative fuels . . . . The answer lies in less consumption of energy." This is is my opinion, but it's not derived from cynicism (i.e. "jaded"), but from a realistic assessment of the current world situation regarding alternative fuels.

    I've read about hydrogen fuel, and Iceland seems to have a great start, especially since they use geothermal energy in the production of hydrogen fuel. However, hydrogen fuel elsewhere is produced using electricity generated from fossil fuels, so it too provides no real solution.

    "automotive fuels ... get the majority of the blame for the global warning issue".

    While autos may get most of the blame, they don't account for most of CO2. Automobiles account for about 40% of oil consumption in the US, hardly the majority. And transportation accounts for only 28% of total energy consumption. As for global warming, a recent study found that, on a planetary scale, ocean freighters emit more CO2 than automobiles. These freighters bring our clothing, cars, and cheap plastic goods across the vast Pacific and return with our natural resources and used plastic (oil) to be recycled (burned) in Asia.

    Merryland,
    I applaud your efforts and have taken similar steps. I urge you to consider, however, that our energy consumption, even given these efforts, is dramatically higher than of citizens of most other nations. (And this isn't a slam, but I'm guessing the electricity to power your mower comes from coal-burning power plants.)

    Only 14% of our energy consumption comes from non-fossil fuel sources. While it might be possible to increase that percentage (by manufacturing--using fossil fuel energy--nuclear plants and wind turbines), I repeat that a real solution is conservation and reduction of energy consumption, and this can start today in each of our homes.

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    From 1995 to 2001 I was able to walk to work or work at home, which was nice... and for a year there I didn't even have a car. Since 2001 I've worked a four-day work schedule (10 hours each day) which has cut back my potential commuting by 20%. I also moved 5 miles closer to work two years ago (15 mile commute now 10) so that's another 33%. Also recently bought a Toyota Yaris to replace the Ford Exploder so I've doubled my gas mileage. That has been a great feeling to get rid of the SUV. We also moved from a 2500-sqft house in McMansiontown (which had very few sidewalks) to a 1600 sqft house, replaced all the single pane windows in our house with new energy efficient dbl panes, got rid of the old furnace, and switched to an electric mower which not only doesn't need gas or oil, but is much quieter than the old toe-chopper I used to push around. So after all that, I feel I have a right to blame the politicians for not doing enough.

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Jim-

    Nothing personal I assure you. Unfortunately for the locals, the general connotation associated with DC is political, not the tens of thousands of residents who make the area their home.

    Frank-

    If you haven't noticed by now, Big Oil interests control the political situation in this country. Not, as many people think, by control of imports, but instead, and much more subtly, by what is known in the business field as creating your own aftermarket, thereby locking your clientele into your products and the associated (and VERY lucrative) parts and service portion of the business. There is absolutely NO real interest in increasing fuel efficiency in automobiles; such could easily have been accomplished decades ago. Yes, I know overall MPG has increased nominally in recent years, mostly due the lighter materials being used in production, not so much directly related to any marvel of modern engineering directly pertaining to the internal combusion engine. And we are all footing the tab for this "efficiency" and supposed reduced overall fuel consumption with the increased costs in gasoline, diesel, heating oil, asphalt, urethanes, lubricating oils, automobile prices, and all other petroleum drived products, including your precious plastics. Food costs are raised due to the increase in fuel and transportation associated fees incurred with bringing goods to market. It becomes the classic give with one hand and take with the other, but the general public isn't supposed to be able to figure that out.

    I disagree with your jaded view toward alternative fuel sources however. But in one aspect I feel you're quite correct......E85 and biodiesel are not the salvation of the world. But, having said that, for a truly environmentally friendly (or at least tolerable) automotive fuel source, and automotive fuels seem to be all the rage since they get the majority of the blame for the global warning issue, I suggest that you do a bit of reading on the hydrogen-based fuels. There are a good many pros.....high energy output, virtaully NO emissions of ANY kind, light weight, easily adapted to current engine designs and requirements, excellent mileage per unit wieght volume, particularly compared with fossil fuels, an abundance of easily obtainable raw materials, no more environmental issues with drilling, fouled waterways, refinery fires, interruptions in production due to hurricanes, and best of all, no FOREIGN INTERESTS controlling our ability to obtain the stuff! The problem is, switching to this fuel puts Big Oil and the Texas Good Ol' Boys network out of power, so what are the odds that it'll happen? Very good for somebody, but it won't happen in this country, not in our lifetime.

  • GOP's Fred Thompson Open To Drilling In Parks for Oil   6 years 47 weeks ago

    Beamis has grazed the truth while overstating the case. The US is the world's 3rd highest oil producer. Most of our imported oil comes from Canada, where it is extracted from provinces in the plains. Each country from which we import oil accounts individually for only 5-8% of our oil consumption. So, I don't think this is totally a case of passing the buck to other wildernesses.

    Kath has grazed the truth as well, but passes the buck on to the wealthy and politicians. The truth is we're all to blame. We use oil to travel to national parks, to commute to work. We use oil to grow our crops and to ship them. We use oil to build our buildings, log our forests, extract minerals. We use oil to create plastics. We use oil for virtually everything, and we do so wastefully.

    People will continue to look at energy resources in national parks as long as we continue to consume four times the amount of energy that China does. The answer lies not in alternative fuels (like biofuels, the production of which Jane Goodall recently pointed out are destroying rain forests). The answer lies in less consumption of energy. If we're facing an energy crisis, why haven't speed limits been reduced from 75 MPH (in some states) back down to 55? Why haven't fuel efficiency standards increased dramatically? Why haven't the American people been asked to conserve rather than waste?

    These are the questions that need to be addressed to politicians, but pointing fingers at DC won't help. We need to point fingers at ourselves and realize how wasteful and consumptive are we as individuals. Don't want oil drilling in national parks? Move closer to work so you can walk back and forth. Reduce your consumption of cheap imports (which are made by and of oil and shipped to America using oil). Grow and can as much of your own food as possible in the back yard and stop consuming manufactured food (which is grown, produced and shipped using oil). Speaking of back yards, stop wasting oil to mow your back yard.

    In short, stop blaming politicians and start doing something about the situation in your own life.