Recent comments

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   2 weeks 23 hours ago

    Kurt is right about how we got luxury accommodations in the parks. A century ago, only the rich could afford to see the West; a railroad ticket was the equivalent of an upscale cruise today. Thus in 1915 only 51,000 people came to Yellowstone, 44,000 of those having come by rail.

    What concerns me is entirely different. In 1959 my mother spent $600 taking my brother and me across the country. That would probably be $5,000 today. Her income was $222 a month from Social Securty (survivor's benefits), my father having died the previous year. She had a ninth grade education (Depression interrupted) and obviously needed to go back to school. But what if she hadn't made that trip? Every day, the Park Service rings its hands about minority participation in the national park idea. Practically nothing else these days is said. Well, we were that minority back in 1959, unless only color makes for minorities. You want minorities to visit the national parks? Then don't price them out of the experience. It is not will preventing them from visiting; it is price. Mom made the sacrifice, and even then it was a sacrifice. Fortunately, the campgrounds were dirt cheap or free, and still first-come, first served. There was no reservations bureaucracy standing between us and a cheap campsite. Now there usually is.

    Look at the "campgrounds" and look at the "campers." Yeah, right! Even the backpackers start off at REI. It all makes for a "vision" of the parks that is offputting to poorer people, but you will never hear our Park Service saying that. Mom felt at home among the Chevy and Ford station wagons. Many of those campers were poorer, too. Granted, it was a different age, but that itself is what we should be looking at. The Park Service repeatedly spits out reports about "inclusiveness," then ignores the fundamental cause of the lack of inclusiveness, which still is price.

    As for the higher end, I still think that a night in a lodge is a treat every American should get to enjoy. And again, the parking lot should not be filled just with luxury SUVs. A few aging Fords and Chevies should be welcome, as well. We never got that treat in 1959, but the more I learned about the architects and their principles, the more I feel the lodges and luxury hotels belong in the parks, as well. Just don't get greedy about the price, which seems to keep going up at ten percent a year while middle-class salaries stagnate, again, forcing the general public out.

    I have lots of wealthy friends and know lots of wealthy people. God bless them for their success. Most earned it and did not inherit it. Well, some of us march to a different drummer, and still the biggest drumbeat is the middle class. Price them out the parks and the poor will never come. And isn't that the problem we now face all across the land?

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    There is NO charge for watching a sunset, sitting in silence, or enjoying birdsongs. But there are times when the people doing such things have had to use trails provided for them, have used roads to drive to the trailheads, and have used a potty located at that trailhead.

    Until the NPS starts erecting curtains to block the sunset unless you've paid your fees, sunsets will remain free for everyone to enjoy.

    Once again, a whole lot of complaining but no offering of any kind of solutions other than "I pay my taxes, therefore I am entitled," while simultaneously calling for tax cuts is kind of disengenuous isn't it?

    In our city, the water system is old and failing. When city fathers proposed a water rate increase to begin replacement, the uproar was deafening. That uproar is drowned out, however, any time a pipe fails causing property damage or a few days of no water for part of the city.

    That, along with the cries for free everything in our parks, is exactly what I'm talking about when I mention THE GREAT AMERICAN ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY.

    I volunteer. I pick up litter. I do a lot of other things without receiving any payment or recognition. I call that Good Citizenship. But none of those things entitle me to any kind of special treatment or freebies.

    One question: How much does it cost the NPS to clean the place up after the firefly watcher have headed for home?

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    SmokiesBackpacker:

    Saying that FLREA allows the NPS to commit the violent crimes of rape and murder offends me. You think FLREA is garbage: fine. That is your opinion. Murder and rape have NOTHING to do with FLREA! Your comments trivialize these horrendous crimes.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Wow Rick, wrong on so many levels. 1) not giving advice, providing facts. 2) never attended a tea party event in my life. 3) learned my ethics long before working on Wall Street.

    Perhaps you would suggest people take their economic advice from someone that has been living on the public teat all their life.

  • Court Documents Allege Private Trails Cut Into Great Smoky Mountains National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Here is a picture of a sign that currently sits at the intersection of Ace Gap and Beard Cane trails, where the private resort trail system begins. Does this look like an NPS sign?

    http://www.southernhighlanders.com/9_BlairGapTrailSignlittleun.JPG

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I heard before they started managing the firefly event it was a free for all and was becoming, once again, a tragedy of the commons. They had to get a grip on managing that ever growing popular natural event or else the people would destroy what they were going there for. Imagine having 10,000 people all cluttered into a small narrow river valley trying to see that event during a week long period! So once again, your fight isn't against "tyrants" but against overpopulation. The park exists FOR THE fireflies, first and foremost. It's their most important habitat. In fact, if the park didn't exist, i'm willing to bet neither do these fireflies, since these sort of sycnhronous fireflies have been wiped out of most of TN because of development. This area would now be subdivisions and concrete and the forests these insects rely on would be paved over and just grass. The last great places to find these type of fireflies are in National Parks like the Smokies and Congaree, or in privately owned nature conservancies.

    1.00! Wow, playing a video game for 5 minutes at an arcade costs more than that.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    There is NO charge for watching a sunset or hiking along a stream or sitting in silence. uuh, not yet Lee.

    I wonder, Lee, how many people 20 years ago would have said, "There is no charge for merely hiking on a trail." You enter a slippery slope when you decide which of God's wonders the NPS has the right to charge us for. You call it entitlement, I call it taxes. We pay them to the NPS to manage their budgets like everyone else. We now have to pay for the privilege of watching fireflies in the Smokies. You can call me entitled, but I volunteer for the National Park Service and pay taxes so I have earned a right to have an opinion that differs from a retired NPS employee that is supposed to be a public servant. Last time I checked, the NPS didn't create those fireflies but under FLREA perhaps they can find a way to charge us for using the government air the lightning bugs flew in on. By the way, here they call it a "parking fee". You wanna charge someone to use the bathroom, go ahead. Charge to visit a visitor center, the Oconaluftee utility bill is $1500 a month and they told the GSMA before they could donate that million dollar facility that they would also be responsible for that bill in perpetuity. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth, that is your NPS at work.

  • Preserving Natural Soundscapes In The National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Excellent article, Carli. Thanks.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    " FLREA is garbage that allows the NPS to rape, murder and lie at their discretion with no oversight or incorporation of public input."

    Really!? Murder, rape and lie? It's exactly this kind of nonsense that makes virtually anything else written by one who writes this sort of balderdash very, very hard to believe.

    Dahkota's comment was spot on.

    And yes, we pay taxes. And yes, a Kitty points out, people who use developed facilities should pay for them. But I have to ask how anyone who wants to go hike beside a creek or sit in the mountains listening to birds is going to get there without having used at least some of those hated "developments?" There is NO charge for watching a sunset or hiking along a stream or sitting in silence. That comes free of charge. Unless you parachute into the place you just about have to use a road or a trail or something of the sort. And you never use a potty while visiting the park?

    I'm sorry, but I can't help but believe her comment here is just one more of many examples of that Great American Entitlement Mentality. I hear criticism, but NO workable solutions given in the face of all the opposition to taxes that is part of the GAEM.

    I'd love to have free access. Just explain exactly HOW you plan to make that possible. Present a good, workable plan. If you do, you might be a great candidate for Congress.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Friends, I'd hesitate before taking economic advice from a tea partier who learned his business ethics on Wall Street.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Mike,

    FLREA is garbage in my opinion. And if that offends you please offer a counterpoint. It is a an act that allows the NFS, for example, the right to build a picnic table at a trailhead and charge you for the privilege of hiking it. To me that is as uncivil as it gets. That is holding down of the american taxpayer and forcing something down their throat, forcing them to stomach what they are doing. Do you not care that the public input has no bearing upon these discretionary fees the NPS has put in place? It is economic rape of the public wallet for which they have no voice. There are well documented examples of agencies using trumped up science to justify fees. That is incivility at its apex. And it offends me greatly to pay these trumped up fees.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    The evidence is in the GNP numbers.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Depends on your view. If you don't consider needed infrastructure improvements that help at least maintain, or even enhance at least a portion of a billion dollar a year economic engine where 10 million a year come and stay in local communities that sit next to popular federal lands (the Smokies being the biggest one and that road being the key corridor), then maybe you have a point.

    Almost all the major national parks received some form of stimulus money to improve infrastructure. And National Parks very much boost and sometimes are the key economic engine to local communities surrounding them. I'm not saying it's always right. I personally, prefer the wilderness aspect of NPs over the front country parts when I go to them, but i'd be foolish to think I don't use the roads, don't use the visitor centers, don't use the trails which require trail maintence (depending on where i'm at), and don't rely on other aspects that are needed to run a park. And I definitely always spend money in the towns outside of the parks by purchasing fuel, having a meal or two at restaurants, and maybe even indulging in some retail.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Gary - stimulus is supposed to be something that stimulates an ongoing activity. One time expenditures with a short life accomplish nothing from a long term economic standpoint. Our economic growth since the "stimulus" demonstrates that.

    Did the road need to be fixed? Absolutely, but it didn't stimulate anything.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I'm not sure I see a problem with a range of fees for different kinds of accomodations in the park, but I do agree with Kurt that the parks should be viewed as a public commons and an effort made to continue to make them available to folks regardless of income. That said, these might be incommensurable views--an interesting issue to discuss.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Hello:

    "FLREA is garbage that allows the NPS to rape, murder and lie at their discretion with no oversight or incorporation of public input."

    I find this statement to be offensive. I feel that discourse should remain civil. To me, this statement is anything but civil.

    Mike

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    eric, infrastructure improvements that went to contractors so that they could build a new road, fix a road that was in disrepair that is used by millions of autos per year, and also fix numerous other infrastructure needs in National Parks doesn't help provide jobs? Ok.

    The parks overall budgets have been cut over the last few years. Don't you remember the sequester?

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    gary, there may gave been only two major projects in GSMNP but the stimulus monies went well beyond that park. Not that they reallu stimulated anything.

    That said, I do believe the Parks should get more funding - but not until the rest of the budget is under control And the feds return to the Constitutionally granted responsibilities.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    John, the stimulus money went to mostly two infrastructure improvements. I don't know if you've bothered to go up 441 lately, but they have done substantial road work along that road, they have vastly improved the drainage (go look at the new stone work and drainage pipes on the side of the roadway next to places like LeConte and down from the Chimeys), and they have reinforced the road on the Tennessee side by driving in large steel beams that aren't cheap to keep the road from falling off the side of the cliffs near NFG. It was actually considerable the work that they did, and it has gone on for about 2 years. Also, the foothills parkway was funded with that stimulus money, and that new road will be done by 2016.

    http://www.wate.com/story/10361395/great-smokies-to-receive-64m-in-stimu...

    This work has occurred because of that stimulus money. And considering the Smokies doesn't have a fee, like most national parks, tax dollars are what paid for it.

    So, the "smoky backrooms where they murder, lie and rape" actually seem quite visible to the public if you bother to open the blind old owls eyes and take a flight around the Smokies and see the work that has occurred over the last two years. I know i've sat in a lot of lines over the past two years while they did road work in the park. The foothhills parkway finally had funding to build the missing link bridge that is considered an engineering marvel.

  • Musings From Timpanogos Cave National Monument: To Fee or Not to Fee, That Is The Question   2 weeks 1 day ago

    And there is a system in place to fund those services and it is called taxes. I don't agree that the NPS is underfunded as many shout, especially when they got such a huge influx from stimulus monies recently and other federal agencies are reducing budgets.

    Now let's talk about responsible use of those funds in the NPS. Benzar is spot on. These things are decided in smoky back rooms. Why was Sally Jewell from REI placed at the helm? I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that she ran a company that provides concession services. Doesn't that say a ton about where the NPS priority is? Isn't that why Jarvis own brother is a concessionaire lobbyist? FLREA is garbage that allows the NPS to rape, murder and lie at their discretion with no oversight or incorporation of public input. It would jeopardize those who wish to profit from the NPS. Does the NPS exist for the concession crowd or the taxpaying public? In the Smokies they created a backcountry crisis to be solved by a miraculous software reservation system. When they received approval to charge fees and use recreation.gov, they decided they could pocket more money by eliminating rec.gov and did just that with no authorization whatsoever. Just like that they instituted a quarter million dollars per year in pure revenue. Simply by creating crises and formulating solutions.

    Under FLREA it gives the federal land mgrs that kind of license. Its time to take the car keys away and ground these fee drunken teenagers. Im sure they could use more money. So could I.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   2 weeks 1 day ago

    No offense Alfred, but in 1959, 3.00 has the same inflation value as 25.00 today.

    Why would he be offended. That is exactly what he said.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   2 weeks 1 day ago

    No offense Alfred, but in 1959, 3.00 has the same inflation value as 25.00 today.

    http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=3&year1=1959&year2=2014

    Taking into consideration, that the population of the United States has gone from about 180 to 330 million in that time period, there is a lot more pressure on the resources today, than there was back then too.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   2 weeks 1 day ago

    They needed that part of society's support of the parks.

    Probably even more so today.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Well, I think the luxury accommodations are there -- and Al can better answer this -- because there was a desire by Stephen Mather and Horace Albright to make Eastern bluebloods comfortable in the parks. They needed that part of society's support of the parks.

  • Key Concessions Contracts Up At Yosemite National Park, Along Blue Ridge Parkway   2 weeks 1 day ago

    but what ceiling should be kept within sight in a park?

    Kurt, if you are talking about basic access to the park then there may be some rationale for a "ceiling". Perhaps rates could be set as we do with public utilities, but then we probably would not have the most efficient of operations.

    At $80 for unlimited access, $5 for a back country campground and $20 for an rv/tent site, I don't believe we are pricing anyone out of the Parks nor is anyone making unconscionable profits.

    When it comes to luxury accomodations in the park - the first question might be why are they there. After that, I would have to ask why should anyone have any more right to a luxury accomodation in a Park then in Hawaii or Martha's Vineyard or Vegas.