Recent comments

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Delores, I welcome anyone to our beautiful part of the world and harbor no anger about visitors whatsoever. What I am angry about is the lying NPS and their constant spin and manipulation of data. Their numbers serve no reason but to scream for more tax dollars. When someone who visits the Smokies once per year comes out with an opinion about the rest of the year, it is incumbent to correct their observations. One month does not a trend make and it would be foolish to base something on a one time trip to the region.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I notice that here at KLGO, which has a significant overlay on our small village of 600 people, there were around 150 thousand more visitors 14 compared to 13. Sure seemed that way.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Interesting post

    Factual post. And contrary to your "let them (eat) cake" implying indifference, you would note I state the more successful are paying "their necessary" share. I recognize the more successful must pay more that an evenly allocated share. But they should be thanked for every increment they contribute not attacked for "not paying their fair share". Because they are paying their fair share and much, much more.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Interesting post, Yup, "let them cake", Marie Antoninette.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I am not sure why it's necessary to employ a "you people" strategy when addressing other commentors on this site who have visited GSMNP to enjoy the beauty in the month of October, especially when their tourism dollars likely support the jobs of friends and neighbors in the Smoky Mountain communities. It is true that the Park is beautiful in any season, and October is the peak for visitation. You are not wrong, but it's unfortunate that you are so angry about it.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Just a pile of spin.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    GSMNP would have smaller numbers for 2013 because of the sequestration that happened during their busiest time of the year. So 2014 should show a big increase. This may be true for some other parks as well if they are normally busy in the fall. Others like Yellowstone do not have high volumn that time of year. Just my thoughts anyway.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Dakhota

    October is ALWAYS busy in the Smokies. That is when you leaf peepers come out of the woodwork. It is the "salmon run" of tourists. Front country campgrounds are not backcountry. Come down here now and see how empty it is.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Hmmm... When we spent a week in GSMNP in October, the campground was full almost every night. If we didn't go out to the main road early in the morning, we couldn't get anywhere - all parking spaces, pull offs, and observation points were packed by 10AM. All roads were like the local mall at christmas. We avoided Gatlinburg but found Cherokee to be overcrowded. Even on back country hikes, we ran into people constantly - unlike other times we have spent in the park. We usually try to avoid GSMNP April - October and now we remember why.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I'm calling bs on the Smokies numbers anyway. They count the cars travelling Newfound Gap road which is no doubt 4 million per year. But those folks come back across after gorging on the buffets at Cherokee Casino and get counted again. Most never leave their vehicles because Newfound gap is a main thoroughfare between North Carolina and Tn. They are not "smokies visitors", they are folks going from point Cherokee to point Gatlinburg. I know this from personal experience. If they slapped an entrance fee on that road you would see those numbers drop to almost nothing. That is how you can gauge the ways in which the NPS fudges numbers to pad and inflate their relevance. I can only speculate on how they do similar things in other units within the system. Case in point, the NPS cited backcountry overcrowding as a justification for taxing backpackers. Just yesterday an article came out showing there were only 20 people in the entire Smokies backcountry on Wednesday. 20 people in half a million acres with over 100 backcountry sites and a new quarter million dollar reservation system to handle all their alleged "overcrowding".

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I find it interesting that DNC has come up with a figure of 51 million. The buyout fee for the rest of the Xanterra contract at Grand Canyon- you guessed it!- 51 million, I believe!

  • National Park Service Will Review Trademark Applications Filed In Connection With Grand Canyon Businesses   2 weeks 3 days ago

    The whole thing is just a giant pissing contest between the overinflated egos of NPS and the concessionaires. Neither cares about the visitors nor those of us employed in the parks.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 3 days ago

    Great to see the systemwide increase in numbers. It's a testament to how valued the parks are, by both US residents and visitors from abroad. And local economies benefit as well. Now if only parks would get the funding they need.

    Interesting to see where Acadia fits into the nationwide numbers, and that it continues to be among the most visited national parks despite its small size. We wrote about Acadia's nearly 2.6 million visitors in 2014 being the highest in 15 years here: www.acadiaonmymind.com/2015/01/visitors-to-acadia-national-park-in-2014-...

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Your claim would be closer to the truth if you were talking about federal income taxes.

    Which is what we were talking about.

    Rich people pay the most in federal income taxes because they have the most money

    Besides "so what", they pay a much more disproportional share of the federal taxes (68%) than is their share of income (45%)

    And the wealthy benefit by paying half the top marginal rate on capital gains, dividends and carried interest than paid on income earned by actually working.

    Because those monies have already been taxed. And even with those nominally lower rates they still pay a disproporation share of the federal income tax burden not including the portion they lose to corporate taxes.

    The kind of tax rates in place during the economic boom years of the 1950s and 60s.

    And what would be "fair" about that? When you have lunch with your buddies, do you divey the check based on everyone's income? The reality is that it is the low income/noincome folks that are being subsidized by the more successful who are paying their necessary share - and more. The 47% should be thanking the top 10% not castigating them with envy.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park System: Some Thoughts In 2015   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Duncan, thanks for pointing out that, as citizens who are taxpayers, there are certain government functions to which people are actually entitled.

    And Mr Romney was right, those "poor" that can't afford the $20 to enter a park are the same 47% that aren't paying any taxes yet still feel "entitled".

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Your claim would be closer to the truth if you were talking about federal income taxes. Rich people pay the most in federal income taxes because they have the most money (over 90% of the income gains since the 2008 recession have gone to the top 1%). However, rich people pay a disproportionately smaller share of payroll taxes (the biggest tax for most people), sales taxes, most state income taxes, gas taxes and other federal excises taxes. And the wealthy benefit by paying half the top marginal rate on capital gains, dividends and carried interest than paid on income earned by actually working.

    What would be a fair share for the wealthy? The kind of tax rates in place during the economic boom years of the 1950s and 60s.

    Let's skip the Fox News talking points. Saying rich people pay the most in federal income taxes is like saying cruise ships sail mostly in oceans. It's because that's where most of the water is.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park System: Some Thoughts In 2015   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Duncan, thanks for pointing out that, as citizens who are taxpayers, there are certain government functions to which people are actually entitled.

    That is far different from the attitude so often exhibited by people who have managed to claw their way to an upper level of society -- too often by taking unfair advantage of those same entitlements -- who then denigrate and try to deny privileges of citizenship to people they deem to be beneath them.

    The Tea Party and Mr. Romney with his comment about the 47% come quickly to mind. So do many of the millionaires who now infest Congress. It's kind of like the old kid's game King of the Mountain. Some folks figure that if they climbed to the mountain top, they now own the summit and there's no room up there for anyone else.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park System: Some Thoughts In 2015   2 weeks 4 days ago

    EC, those two goals are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they work all too well together. Increased efficiency increases the ability of government to control every aspect of your existence.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park System: Some Thoughts In 2015   2 weeks 4 days ago

    I still don't think they should be an obstacle to anyone else's access.

    That is your opinion, not mine. I would rather see the parks get the money and put it to use for their betterment.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park System: Some Thoughts In 2015   2 weeks 4 days ago

    1. Many parks are close to major populations, so travel cost and distance isn't a factor.

    2. Yellowstone has neighbors, too, so it doesn't cost everyone a lot to get even there.

    3. Access isn't the right to use everything in the park. From the beginning, parks have always had concessioners, allowed to charge fees for lodging, food, transportation, etc. The concept of limiting government services to "inherently governmental" functions was not an invention of the Reagan Administration. Reagan and following Administrations, however, have chosen to redefine what constitutes "inherently governmental." (That's a whole separate debate).

    4. I actually believe that citizenship does confer "entitlement" to much of what the government manages. I especially believe that clean air, clean water, and park access are components of the right to the "pursuit of happiness." Nobody owes you happiness, but we do owe you the opportunity to seek it.

    5. I also don't expect every useful government project or program will benefit me. I've lived or visited in most states, but I've never been in Oregon. The state of their highways has no impact on my life, but I'm still willing to pay taxes that improve their highways as well as mine and I certainly think Crater Lake merits permanent preservation and availability to the public.

    6. I also own a Golden Eagle Passport, which grants me lifetime free access to parks anyway, so the amount of the fees doesn't affect me at all. I still don't think they should be an obstacle to anyone else's access.

  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Adds A Missing Link To The National Park System   2 weeks 4 days ago

    The paleontological resources at Tule Springs seem to be significant, perhaps enough so to warrant inclusion in the National Park System. But one must take issue with the statement, "We didn’t have a dedicated park before Tule Springs for the Pleistocene." The Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IATR) and Ice Age National Scientific Reserve are dedicated to preserving and interpreting Pleistocene resources. Both are located in WI in part because the last period of the Pleistocene is known by geologists as the Wisconsin Glaciation.

    Of course one could argue that the IATR and Ice Age National Scientific Reserve are neither "parks" nor "units" of the National Park System. But this is largely because the National Park Service opposed an Ice Age National Park in Wisconsin when Congressman Henry Reuss repeatedly introduced legislation for it beginning in the late 1950s and continues to oppose administratively granting unit status for the IATR. Instead, NPS administrators mollified the Ice Age National Park movement by pushing for the National Scientific Reserve instead. (For more on the National Scientific Reserve, see http://pedestrianview.blogspot.com/2012/03/coulda-woulda-shoulda-national.html and http://pedestrianview.blogspot.com/2012/05/more-on-national-scientific-reserve.html .)

    A different path could have been chosen and is still possible.

    In 1961 another NPS geologist described the potential of an Ice Age National Park in WI. In his report, "Preliminary Geological Report on 1961 Field Study of Proposed Ice Age Area in Wisconsin", NPS geologist Robert Rose wrote, "This report is based on a field study conducted during the last half of April, 1961. Its purpose is to identify and describe more specifically the more important segments considered in a proposed area of the National Park System which would feature the story of continental glaciation in America... Evidences of continental glaciation are to be found throughout North America north of the southernmost limit of the advance of the ice. Wisconsin is particularly rich in its abundance of varied evidences of glaciation located relatively close together … [and] offers the best opportunity for the establishment of a unit of the National Park System featuring continental glaciation... [T]hrough proper utilization of the high quality resources which occur in the State of Wisconsin, one of the greatest stories in the natural history of North America could be illustrated and adequately interpreted. Here is an opportunity to develop a story using features intimately associated with the lives and livelihood of millions of people living in the northern portion of the great midcontinent section of America. The area owes its agricultural richness to soil produced and distributed by the continental glaciers. It seems that the National Park Service could not embark on an adventure more important and broader in vision than that of using some of the same features that yield up essential necessities of life in the form of food, minerals and fiber, to enrich the cultural lives of these same people and the thousands from elsewhere who will be attracted to this great unit of the National Park System when established, adequately developed and fully interpreted. This could well rank among the greatest of the many significant adventures upon which the Service has embarked in the past or with which it may become intimately identified in the future."

    The great adventure remains possible. Ramp up an IATR land acquisition program that would require fewer parcels than NPS acquired for the Appalachian Trail and it will happen.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park System: Some Thoughts In 2015   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Charging a fee categorically excludes anyone who can't pay.

    Somehow, I think someone who has the money to drive to Yellowstone or some other National Park has the money to pay a $20 entrance fee. Or should we pay for their ride and hotels to get to the park, their food while they are there and of course, their kids need some souveniers?

    I guess we should just give everything away for free becasue some people can't buy everything.

    Where is Lee when we need him with his "entitlement mentality" accusations.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 4 days ago

    The wealthy pay the most in federal income taxes because they have almost all the money (90% of all the income gains since the 2008 recession have gone to the top 1%). However, they pay a disproportionately smaller share of payroll taxes (the largest share of taxes for most people), sales taxes, state income taxes and federal excise taxes. A fair share for them would be the kind of share they used to pay--like in the economic boom years of the 1950s and 60s. And the rich also benefit from a federal income tax structure in which unearned income, such as capital gains and dividends, are taxed at half the top marginal rates paid by people who earn income by actually working.

    Let's skip the Fox News talking points. Saying rich people pay the most in federal income taxes is like saying that oceans carry the most cruise ships--it's because that's where most of the water is.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park System: Some Thoughts In 2015   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Charging a fee categorically excludes anyone who can't pay.

    Maybe a different example would help: You're charged with a terrible crime you didn't commit, but you can't get bail until you're tried and you can't get tried until you pay the salaries of the judge, the bailiff and the court reporter, the cost of the courtroom, and the fees paid to jurors. In short, justice for you depends on payment by you. If you can't afford those payments, we'll keep you in jail and charge you room and board. Then you'll have to find a way to pay or work off that debt. Your inability to pay prevents your access to justice. If that applies to everybody in your circumstance, that's a categorical exclusion.

    Access to public parks is no different. If anyone who can't pay can't get in, that is also a categorical exclusion.

    Duncan

  • Op-Ed| The National Park System: Some Thoughts In 2015   2 weeks 4 days ago

    when you categorically exclude any group from the services and facilities of government, you are discriminating.

    That is true, but charging a fee does not "categorically exclude" anyone.