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Op-Ed | The Qualities Needed In The Next National Park Service Director

Jan 7th - 16:29pm | Alfred Runte

About McFarland's proposal that the government take over in-park "services." Actually, the railroads were largely in favor of that, too. As they discovered, and reaffirmed repeatedly, the only profit was in their trains. Building lodges and hotels for little more than a 90-day season then set their profits back. The trains they already owned, and could shift to other markets as needed.

Jan 7th - 16:09pm | glad2bretired

I would take it as a good sign if the next Director, whoever it is, meets right away with the leadership of the Coalition to Protect America's National Parks.  This organization has a wealth of experience.  All too often, when somebody retires all their expertise is lost.

Jan 7th - 13:48pm | Lee Dalton

I just trekked out to my mailbox and came back with the latest copy of Yellowstone Forever's catalog of programs for Summer 2017.  As I sat in my warm living room reading it, I was struck by the large number of outstanding learning opportunities for individuals and families to get out and EDUCATE ourselves.

Jan 7th - 13:30pm | Lee Dalton

Esteemed Comrade, you ignored something important:  (That is, however, dependent upon the assumption that Congress kept its grubby paws out of things to allow competent people to do the job.)

Jan 7th - 12:05pm | Rick B.

Agreed, Lee, as far as the parks being a spiritual first aid station. We certainly need it, and it has always been like this for me. Even when I lived in downtown Seattle, the sight of Mt Rainier on the horizon was uplifting for me, and visiting Rainier was the only real church I needed in my life.

Jan 7th - 11:58am | ecbuck

 If that had happened, can you imagine how much better our parks might now be?

Jan 7th - 11:42am | Lee Dalton

I finally found time this morning to go back and reread Harry's piece and the McFarland speech.  Then I skimmed back through most of the comments.  An interesting -- and thought provoking exercise.

Jan 7th - 10:14am | Glad2bretired

I think the most important traits we need in the next NPS Director are integrity and strong managerial skills.  An outsider with these traits would be fine with me if they have a strong background in park management.

Jan 7th - 08:35am | Harryb3570

A Final Word

Jan 6th - 22:08pm | rmackie

Glad2breretired, thank you, my aging memory is a sore point with my spouse of 47 years. It was Secretary Watt (1981-1983) when the Yosemite GMP was mostly shelved. It was Secretary Hodel (1985-1989) when Superintendent Binnewies was transfered in 1986. I did make a call on the investigators allegations regarding the taping incident. The GAO report found no basis for the allegations.

Jan 6th - 19:17pm | Glad2bretired

Mackie:  I think we were both wrong about who the Secretary of Interior was at the time.  If aging memory serves me right, it was actually Don Hodel, who succeeded the infamous James Watt.

Jan 6th - 18:58pm | Kurt Repanshek

I believe you mean Robert Danno, Ron, as the author of Worth Fighting For.

Jan 6th - 18:50pm | rmackie

Glad2bretired, yes Mr. Bob Binnewies discusses the issue in the book, (without the red meat).  The DOI Secretary at the time was Mr. James Watt. As I was present during the incident, my own knowledge of the issues coincides with Mr. Binnewies as described in "Your Yosemite".  I enjoyed the Paul Berkowitz book, very much worth reading.

Jan 6th - 18:04pm | Glad2bretired

I think oldbuffalo got it right.  Retired NPS Criminal Investigator Paul Berkowitz alleged that Superintendent Binnewies instructed him to secretly record the meeting he held with Mr. Cushman.  According to Berkowitz, he was later instructed by the Superintendent to forget this secret recording event ever occurred.  Instead, Paul turned whistle-blower.

Jan 6th - 15:20pm | oldbuffalo

"When Mr. Whalen became Director, he brought in an excellent superintendent by the name of Bob Binnewies."        So is this the same Bob Binnewies? - From LA Times 1/29/86: 

Jan 6th - 14:55pm | Owen Hoffman

Anonymous appears to be a career NPS'er with knowledge of the various NPS directors who have served the NPS since the Hartzog era.  However, he mentioned my name in his missive above and offered that I would be a dismal choice for NPS Director.  I didn't know I was even up for consideration.

Jan 6th - 13:14pm | rmackie

Anonymous, very interesting post. As I was acquainted with both Mr. Mott and more so with Mr. Whalen, I am in agreement with you. Bill Whalen was a deputy superintendent at Yosemite in the early seventies before becoming NPS Director. He was a pleasure to work for. When Mr. Whalen became Director, he brought in an excellent superintendent by the name of Bob Binnewies. Mr.

Jan 6th - 12:03pm | Anonymous

The APA, budget formulation and reconciliation rules, all the progressive environmental legislation passed in the 60's and 70's...even WW2 and the changes wrought by that including the Cold War would make the landscape unrecognizable to many of the heady idealists of Butowsky's rosy remembrances.

Jan 5th - 16:35pm | Atascadero

In other words, Anonymous. You have no program. Why am I not surprised?

Jan 5th - 14:36pm | Anonymous

Perhaps, Atascadero, we would best be served by appointing someone who has steered his or her public statements and private lobbying to dismantling public lands (see:recent Cabinet appointments.) Or someone who has spent their career lobbying for more corporate influence and more relaxed concessioner rules and fees (See: recent opinion piece from the NPHA - already jockeying aren't they?) &nbsp

Jan 5th - 14:09pm | Atascadero

Are you putting yourself forward, Anonymous? In that case, what would your programs be? Meanwhile, do you mean to suggest, had Hillary Clinton won the election, that she would not have appointed a loyalist, too? As reported in the New York Times, approximately 5,000 jobs change with each administration. Most naturally go to party loyalists.

Jan 5th - 13:05pm | Anonymous

Worked great with French, Fran Mainella. The last, best example of what a Republican can foist onto the American public as a NPS Director from outside the agency. A patronage position to a loyal supporter, who just happened to have the word "parks" on her resume.

Jan 5th - 08:37am | ecbuck

. In fact, it is the neo-liberal economic position to eliminate all regulations and oversight by government in their business operations unless of course they can benefit from them.

Jan 5th - 08:22am | Gary Wilson

I tend to agree with those that oppose National Parks being run strictly like a business.  This does not work, and in the end a process setup to run it like a business will collapse and further erode the resources in the system.  This system already functions this way in many major National Parks, and it's creating vast issues and threats to the resources.

Jan 4th - 23:10pm | rmackie

A gracious post Harry. As i was a field employee for my 38 years, and now going on 10 more seasons as emergency hire FIO, I am not sure I can give you anymore than my own field perspective. Having not worked in the Washington office limits my understanding of the stress the Director must face.

Jan 4th - 19:49pm | spacerangerdon

Kudos for truth to both Al and Harry.    

Jan 4th - 19:29pm | spacerangerdon

As the former caretaker/historian at the Walking Box Ranch, 7 miles west of Searchlight, I'll strongly agree with Al.   So there are ATV tracks?

Jan 4th - 19:28pm | Alfred Runte

Harry, we've talked about this many times. People get "promoted" and the fire dies. What I want in the next director is someone for whom the fire has never died. Perhaps what you did not mention enough in your article is that all of the people you like LOVED their work. I still have a letter in my files Horace Albright wrote me the year he turned 94.

Jan 4th - 18:35pm | Harryb3570

  All,   I appreciate the time and effort everyone has taken to read and comment on my Op Ed- The Qualities Needed In The Next National Park Service Director.  

Jan 4th - 18:06pm | Alfred Runte

Amen to George M. Wright, and don't forget to tip your hat to his mentor, Joseph Grinnell. I  have just revisited both of them (and others) rewriting those chapters from Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness. To be sure, Wright's death in 1936 was a major blow to park science, as was Grinnell's death in 1939.

Jan 4th - 15:39pm | tomp2


Jan 4th - 13:15pm | Alfred Runte

Okay, D-2, let's rumble. How many times have I heard it said that I am out of my area of expertise? Plenty. An "older frustrated male," now is it? Talk about sexist comments. How is it that "they" get to call us male, but we can't call them female?

Jan 4th - 12:53pm | Rick B.

Because you feel your discipline was insulted and demeaned justifies you using obviously false hyperbole in an argument actually disproves your theory.

Jan 4th - 12:30pm | Alfred Runte

Rick, I believe the Chief Historian's position in the Park Service has been reduced from a GS-15 to a GS-14. I rest my case.

Jan 4th - 12:10pm | rmackie

Thank you d-2 for an excellent comment nicely written. A petty point perhaps, but the Yosemite Conservancy bookstore in Yosemite is quite good. As Alfred does make some good points, the population growth and sprawl issue, concern about the mega solar farms on some public lands, many others.

Jan 4th - 11:50am | d-2

As always insightful, thank you Michael Kellett.  And also excellent from Tomp (especially the 3:33 Jan 4 cmt) and iamthedarkranger.

Jan 4th - 11:47am | Michael Kellett

No, [Trump] did not say global warming was a hoax. He rather said how we are responding to it is a hoax. Actually, he did.

Jan 4th - 11:38am | Rick B.

I'm afraid a flat statement of "People in the Park Service do not read" has to be refuted as ridiculous. In our last park in Alaska the staff of the NPS had more degrees including multiple graduate degrees than the rest of the community. Such an absolute generalization may appear to help an argument, but it is obviously without basis in fact. 

Jan 4th - 11:21am | Alfred Runte

Yes, Lee, some very good comments, which is what Harry hoped to achieve. But look at the bitterness between the lines, and again, the bitterness against the President-Elect. No, he did not say global warming was a hoax. He rather said how we are responding to it is a hoax.

UPDATED: Major Storm Bearing Down On Yosemite National Park Could Flood Valley Floor

Jan 7th - 16:25pm | M Moretz

Please all be safe!  

Jan 6th - 19:15pm | Lee Dalton

Thank you, Ron.  I've looked at it using Google, and it's apparent there have been some very big changes.  It's a shame.  That was one of the most pleasant places I've ever lived.

Jan 6th - 16:46pm | Rick B.

I wish for the safety and well being of all who are in the area, in particular those who have an LE or other 'protect the public and the resource' reason for staying in harm's way.  

Jan 6th - 13:48pm | Philip Kinzli

OMG !...Awesome video !...I'll always remember reading John Muirs description of such an awesome event in one of his books when I was a kid .

Jan 6th - 10:44am | rmackie

Lee, the El Portal trailer Park still exists  but only as skeleton of its former self. Some of the pads, I think, are used for VIP motor homes, etc. Still some long term employees residing there. Some discussion of revitalizing it, but it is in the floodplain. Housing a huge issue for the park. Difficult to find rentals in the county as many homes have been converted to vacation rentals.

Jan 6th - 10:39am | Patrick Cone

The California floods of 1861-2 left Sacramento underwater for months. Read this Scientific American article: 

Jan 6th - 10:05am | Lee Dalton

Those videos are very impressive.  Fingers crossed for this year. My young family lived in a trailer smack beside the river bank in the employee trailer park in El Portal.  Can anyone tell me what happened to the trailer park in 1996 and 1997?  I have a hunch it may all have washed away.  Did it?

Steam Festival Chugs On At Golden Spike National Historic Site

Jan 5th - 11:01am | Alfred Runte

Makes me want to become a rail fan! Oops, I forgot. I think I already am. Thanks for sharing, Lee, and I do hope everyone notices your "reminders" of the differences between trains and airplanes. We built love into our railroads. Now all we think about is getting there.

Jan 5th - 00:50am | Rick B.

Looks like a lot of fun, given you have the right long johns and etc.

Grand Teton National Park Looking For Volunteers To Help Patrol Pathway

Jan 4th - 11:30am | Brendan and Dia...

We are interested in volunteering this summer.  Please let us know how we should apply.  Thanks, Brendan

Chunk Of Land Falls Into Ocean, Nearly Kills 5 At Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Jan 4th - 11:29am | crzywlfwmn

  E Pele, eia ka 'ohelo 'au; e taumaha aku wau 'ia 'oe e 'ai ho'i au tetahi.

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