Recent comments

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 5 days ago

    I am curious about why Redwood National Park visitation jumped 88%. Does anybody have an idea?

  • The Geology Of Canyonlands National Park   2 weeks 5 days ago

    OUTSTANDING! Great work, Kurt. So far, I haven't heard any of these spots on the radio, but I'll be listening.

  • Higher Entrance, Activity Fees Proposed For Arches And Canyonlands National Parks   2 weeks 5 days ago

    For what it's worth, the fee to enter Galapagos National Park is $100 per person over the age of 12...

    http://www.galapagospark.org/nophprg.php?page=programas_turismo_tributo

    Funds from the entry tax for tourists are used to finance the conservation of biodiversity of flora and fauna, terrestrial and marine, and benefits the local community by improving basic services, education projects, sports, health, environmental sanitation, environmental services and services directly related to tourists.

  • Higher Entrance, Activity Fees Proposed For Arches And Canyonlands National Parks   2 weeks 5 days ago

    The devil is always in the details. It would be nice to see a breakdown and comparison of operating expenses and revenues throughout the park system including a breakdown of maintenance costs, salaries and benefits, capital improvement projects etc to see how parks compare and where the real costs are. Breaking out how much is spent on general administration support outside of the individual parks would likely be very interesting as well. I recall writing how I always felt good handing over my entrance fee when visiting the parks however these increases seem excessive. Being an outsider it’s hard to judge if they are necessary but higher fees also come with expectations for a better all around experience, be it crowd control, road conditions or facility cleanliness. I suspect those working in the parks will face somewhat less understanding visitors when things are not up to expectations. I'm more and more convinced the NPS needs to be broken up into more manageable business units. Seperating the parks from historic sites and monuments would seem to be a good place start.

  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Lee...

    Thanks for taking one for the team.

  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   2 weeks 6 days ago

    A very good point megaera, there are areas where peak visitation during the high use visitor season exceeds facilities, Yosemite Valley a good example. I have attended many planing meetings on this issue, some citizens respond so what, in spite of the congestion, it is worth it. Others expect crowding, they deal it with daily in the urban areas, etc. I think you are right, the NPS managers have to deal with an almost insurmountable problem. At some point, either more facilities have to be provided or some type of visitor use capacity set. The Park experience I had in the 1950s is, in some areas, no longer available during some peak visitation periods. I remember visiting Assateague Island NS 4 years ago,

    the entrance signs stated, "expect congestion".

  • Higher Entrance, Activity Fees Proposed For Arches And Canyonlands National Parks   2 weeks 6 days ago

    The National Fee Service strikes again.

  • National Park Service Places $3.5 Million Value On Intellectual Property At Yosemite National Park   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Seems the NPS just gave up the argument that the American people own the names by making the offer it did. It would appear that the next year will be full of negotiations and litigation to arrive at a final figure. I'd be interested to know the criteria NPS used to come up with the $3.5 million figure it did. It would seem that by offering such a low ball figure (compared what DNC proposed) that it is telling the American people that the names aren't worth very much.

  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Exactly, Mega. Now imagine yourself to be a park manager having to try to deal with that while keeping everyone everywhere happy.

  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   2 weeks 6 days ago

    This reminds me uncomfortably of trying to drive through Cade's Cove on a fall weekend in 1999 (being stuck for more than two hours in a bear jam with thousands of leaf peepers -- I felt so sorry for that lone bear in the tree), and of visiting Yosemite Valley on a summer weekend in 2011 (and the disgusted fellow next to me on the Valley shuttle referring to Yosemite as Disneyland National Park). Oh, and having to make reservations in Yellowstone a year and a half in advance.

    I do sometimes wonder what can be done when there's only so much space in and around our famous natural wonders and too many people who want to see them. I'm all for shuttles and other crowd-mitigating measures, but, in the end, the most famous of our parks are still just overcrowded, and there's really nothing to be done about the erosion of the experience everyone goes there to be part of in the first place.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Ooops! You're right, Kurt. It is Aramark in MEVE.

  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   2 weeks 6 days ago

    They are planning to start shuttle service quite a bit earlier and run it until November 1 next year because heavy visitation begins earlier and lasts longer. This was the Christmas break surge. I'm sure a large percentage was because of the holidays. As for re-routing traffic, remember you're talking about a 7 mile dead-end and a very narrow, winding road to Mt. Carmel that has a mile long tunnel too small for many of the vehicles that try to use it, so either an escort or traffic control rangers are needed. Rangers were handling traffic control, but I noticed that ended at about 5 p.m.

    You pose all sorts of questions in your post here. All valid. All difficult. And all, unfortunately, expensive.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    El Tovar, for example, is after Pedro de Tovar. Did anyone ask his family's permission to use his name?

    No, because his family didn't trademark it.

  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Lee, Thank you once again for an outstanding trip report. We need more of these in which the reporter describes the quality of the park experience and the quality of services provided. It seems to me that if crowded conditions now exist in the winter months, perhaps the Zion Shuttle can be reactivated? Perhaps the NPS should begin to employ more rangers of Asian-American heritage to match the noticeably increased attention that our parks are getting from visitors from the far East? I wonder how much of this crowding was due to the Holiday season, or to what extent this your experience might apply to any day or weekend during the winter months? What you describe is certainly much more crowded than I witnessed during my last visit to Zion in early October of 2009. If the winter crowding is restricted to just the few days of the Holiday season, certainly there should be ways to staff up and re-route traffic to make the park experience as enjoyable and as impressive as it should be.

  • National Park System Visitation Was Up More Than 20 Million In 2014, To A Record 294 Million   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Kurt,

    No, my point is that the fact that major national parks near large metro areas are wildly popular, showing that there is significant demand for the national park experience. At the same time, few cities have major national parks nearby, which means many people are not able to readily enjoy a park experience.

    I am saying that this need not be the case, because there are many areas of National Park System quality near big cities, which can both preserve significant natural and historical areas and meet the clear public demand for parks. Moreover, the enormous base of potential public support in these major metro areas can help make these parks happen, despite today's political resistance.

    Here are a few examples of areas near large metro areas that should be considered for National Park System designation. All of them would merit consideration, even if they were not near urban areas or in underserved region. However, that fact makes them even more valuable.

    Near metro areas with limited or no access to major national parks:

    • Allegheny (Pittsburgh);

    • Bankhead-Talladega (Birmingham);

    • Big Bend Seagrass Beds (Tampa-St. Petersburg);

    • Big Darby River (Columbus);

    • Delaware Water Gap expansion and upgrade (New York & Philadelphia);

    • El Yunque (San Juan, PR);

    • Georges Bank and Quabbin (Boston);

    • Great Salt Lake and Wasatch Range (Salt Lake City);

    • Great Trinity Forest (Dallas);

    • Hoosier (Indianapolis);

    • Huron Valley (Detroit);

    • Kissimmee Prairie (Orlando);

    • Little Miami River (Cincinnati-Dayton)

    • Midewin Prairie (Chicago);

    • Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens (Portland, OR);

    • Palomar-Cuyamaca Mountains (San Diego);

    • Piney Woods (Houston);

    • Shawnee (St. Louis);

    • Superstition Mountains (Phoenix).

    In regions with limited or no major national parks:

    • Northeast: Berkshire (MA), Pawcatuck Borderlands (CT, RI), and White Mountains (ME, NH) ;

    • Southeast: Land Between the Lakes (KY, TN), Lowcountry (SC), and Ouachita (AR, OK); and

    • Midwest: Driftless Rivers (IA, WI), Ozark Highlands (MO), and Wayne (OH).

    These are just a few examples. There are many more.

    Michael

  • Higher Entrance, Activity Fees Proposed For Arches And Canyonlands National Parks   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Lee,

    Under that circumstance, revenues yielding half of needful expenditures for 18 years, the effects would have been catastrophic long ago.

    Sharp increases in patronage does not support that view. The fee increase notice also does not make the case. The work accomplished under existing revenue levels, while welcome, is not reflective of a 50 percent deficient income stream over almost two decades.

    As to the future, these parks would receive some $7.2 million more per year under the new entry fee*.

    I would think they could accomplish all of the work listed as supportive of the new fees in one year with $7.2 million. Plainly these are examples, not exhaustive. But if these are the main case, one wonders at the continuing need.

    Perhaps the fee established in 1996 was deficient by some small percentage. Plainly inflation adjustments should occur more often.

    But 150 percent?

    No, I don't yet see it.

    *My estimate: 1.8 million patrons/ 3 per car = 600,000 entries * $15 increase = $9 million - 20 percent for non revenue trips = $7.2 million.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Okay, EC. In that case, the concessionaires owe the originators of those names a bundle, since many are in fact stolen property. El Tovar, for example, is after Pedro de Tovar. Did anyone ask his family's permission to use his name? As I have said, how far back do you want to take this?

    The name of a place and/or formation inside of a national park cannot be trademarked, and certainly not trademarked by the "inventor" many times removed.

    But yes, I will await the Supreme Court's decision on this. Will you be the one filing suit? In that case, can I have the exclusive rights to your story? I need to write a book that makes money for a change instead of being checked out for free at the public library.

    Funny thing about that concept of "fair use." It seems to apply only to scholars and not corporations. They get to charge for everything--even for what the public already owns. So, come Sunday yon can watch our Seahawks play the Packers at Century Link Field. Just remind yourself, during the interminable commercials, that they are the "cost" of "private enterprise." A game that used to take an hour now takes three and a half. Does that "philosophy" belong in our national parks?

    Beginning in 1864, the American public said no. Business yes, but commercialism no. I don't blame Xanterra and Delaware North for trying. These just need to "try" somewhere else.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Lee, I believe ARAMARK is the concessionaire at Mesa Verde, not Xanterra.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    The names have always gone with the properties as part of the public domain.

    No, the names have always gone with the properties as part of the assets the concessionaire bought or built.

    As for anyone "attacking" Xanterra or Mr. Anschutz, that is nonsense.

    You don't believe anyone here has "attacked" Xanterra or Mr Anschutz?

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    One thing that has struck me in my contacts with Xanterra are the wide discrepancies in the quality of its services. At Yellowstone, it seems to do a good job. At Mesa Verde, it depends upon which service you partake. In Death Valley, its facilities are downright dirty, service is poor, and prices are high.

    As with other businesses, Xanterra and Delaware North build their own reputations and perhaps, because they sometimes operate in remote areas with a semi-protected monopoly status, their shortcomings are magnified.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Sorry, but in this case "the mall" owns the name. After all, outside of Grand Canyon NATIONAL PARK, El Tovar is just another Mexican restaurant. And "Hermit's Rest" just a shelter for the homeless. The names have always gone with the properties as part of the public domain.

    As for anyone "attacking" Xanterra or Mr. Anschutz, that is nonsense. But yes, Xanterra and Delaware North brought this issue on themselves--as will any company in the future that presumes to own our national heritage. Now, can we get back to the business of protecting that?

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    The previous comment, regarding climate change, was deleted for not being germane to this thread.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    For all you Xanterra haters, there is a story about your pariah Anschutz in the Denver post today.

    http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_27292719/denvers-philip-anschutz-b...

    Oh what a horrible man.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Makes Push To Trademark Iconic Grand Canyon National Park Lodge Names   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Not a good analogy. DNC is not leasing space for their business - they are a management company.

    Does that mean NPS should pay them (like the Sears manager is paid) instead of DNC paying the NPS (like Sears is paying the mall)? I think David's analogy is spot on.

  • Float Through Cataract Canyon In Canyonlands National Park With The Traveler   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Excellent! I'm glad you are doing this again. We might be able to make this one.