Recent comments

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   3 days 9 hours ago

    The real question here is why capture public comments at all. They obviously have no bearing on agency decisions. By only allowing snail mail comments, the NPS has further minimized the likelihood of folks paying to have their voice heard by the NPS. A deft manipulation by the NPS. Just another way of these bureaucrats saying, "Now go away, we know what is best for you, so quit bothering us."

    This is excerpted directly from the NPS response to a group challenging the backcountry fee in the Smokies.

    Park staff did not hide the fact that there was opposition to the

    BCF (backcountry fee) – the results of public scoping were described in the BCF implementation plan. SER and

    WASO decision-makers were aware of the opposition, but ultimately, they decided to approve the

    BCF.

  • Photography In The National Parks: Time To End Elk Culling At Grand Teton National Park?   3 days 9 hours ago
    Park hunters herd elk into a hail of rifle fire

    By Mike Koshmrl Jackson Hole Daily Witnesses say hunters in Grand Teton National Park drove a herd of elk from a no-hunt zone and toward an awaiting firing line Wednesday.The scene at the sage flats north of Kelly was a surprise to Michigan resident and Jackson Hole visitor Joanna Childers, who was on a wildlife safari during her first visit to Teton park.“It looked like a bunch of hunters surrounded a pack of elk,” Childers said. “Hunters were staked out in the road and around the field.“You see these animals and they’re in a pack and there a bunch of rifles pointed at them from every direction,” she said. “Overall, it was kind of sad and pretty unfair.”Wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen — long an opponent of the park hunt — said hunter behavior Wednesday was as egregious as he’s seen.By Mangelsen’s account, around 11 a.m. a person pushed a herd of about 100 elk out of an area off limits to hunters near Kelly. Once the herd was on the move, chaos ensued, he said.“All the sudden somebody shot and they just opened fire on them,” Mangelsen said. “It’s really poor sportsmanship — it was illegal and it was just a display of totally barbaric hunting.”The photographer estimated that 30 people were involved in the drive, that 25 shots were fired and that eight to 10 elk were killed.Teton park officials did not corroborate many of the details described by Mangelsen and others, but said some hunters were ticketed Wednesday.“There was quite a bit of action as far as hunters go and the movement of elk near Kelly,” park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. “At least two citations have been issued.”Two hunters shot and killed bull elk Tuesday in the park, where harvest is restricted to cows and calves. The elk were confiscated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Skaggs said.One of those hunters was also cited for shooting at a running herd, she said.Rules unique to the park hunt prohibit firing more than one shot at a group of running animals.Seven park rangers were still in the field at the time Skaggs spoke with the Jackson Hole Daily, and she said it’s possible there were other violations.It’s legal for hunters to drive elk out of areas where hunting is prohibited in the park, Skaggs said.Mangelsen said some people were firing from the road, which is illegal. Photos he provided show hunters with rifles and shooting sticks setting up on the roadside.Jeff Soulliere, another local photographer, said the display left him speechless.“It absolutely was a mess,” Soulliere said. “This is a national park, and you’ve got tourists on the road right next to hunters with high-powered rifles.“It really struck me as, ‘you got to be kidding me,’ ” he said. “No one was taking safety into consideration because they were herding and surrounding them and they could have shot each other.”

    A crowd of hunters participating in theTeton park hunt herded elk from a no-hunting area into a barrage of bullets on Wednesday, upsetting nonhunting passersby. Thomas D. Mangelsen
  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   3 days 20 hours ago

    Not long ago, I was talking with a member of the Utah legislature who is one of the trustworthy ones. (I think -- or hope . . . .)

    He was telling of the problem caused by mass emailings drummed up by special interests of various kinds. All sorts of organizations from all sides of the political spectrum send emails to members asking them to "sign a petition" for or against whatever they are for or against.

    Dutiful members click their mice a few times and send off another signature to oppose or support whatever the cause may be. The problem is that probably 80% of the clickers have no real idea what they just clicked for or against.

    He told of a proposal for a new highway in Utah that launched online petition drives by two opposing groups. Those produced over 900,000 petition signatures both for and against. They came from all over the world -- including, he said, two from Tasmania.

    His point was that when things like that happen, any effort to actually discern public sentiments become totally meaningless. I'm thinking there may very well be some real wisdom behind the NPS turning off this kind of thing. If they do, and only people who really care and have made an effort to actually become informed respond, won't that be better?

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   4 days 2 hours ago

    Baring interference from some heavy hitters in Congress, this proposed fee increase is probably a done deal (and Congress, after all, seems to love these fees because fee revenue offers an excuse for politicians to avoid adquately funding the parks with tax dollars.)

    That said, I personally don't have any problem for any public review process with the requirement to send in comments via snail mail. As mentioned above, why is that such a burden? For anyone who truly cares about an issue, the 50 cents for postage shouldn't be a burden - unless you're an organization that is trying to flood the "system" with mass-produced, cut and paste pseudo-comments. There's probably even some minor cost savings for the agency in snail mail comments, since they don't have the staff time and expense of downloading and printing paper copies of electronic submissions.

    I doubt the NPS or many other organizations has reached the point where paperless review of such comments would pass muster by groups who want to challenge the "results," as evidenced by the above comment complaining about a lack of proper compilation or recording of comments on another issue.

    If this increase is likely a done deal, the public comment process becomes one of those politically-correct steps that serves little purpose, so the park might as well make it as easy as possible from their standpoint to "receive, record and document."

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   4 days 2 hours ago

    If what the naysayers allude is true, it is far from unique to the NPS, and doesn't make the NPS in more general a nefarious super villain.

    My first ever encounter with political involvement was in the late 1970's at a county council meeting arguing against their proposal to short cut the process for eminent domain to support some development projects the council members were invested in. Right now here in Alaska we have the outgoing Republican governor trying to shove through a road to nowhere [except for being close to mines operated by moneyed interests] where the public meetings have been nearly universally against the road project.

    This is one of the common ways that these bureaucratic systems works. I don't endorse it being that way, I argue against it being that way, but it happens all over the place. What has to happen is to dismantle it each and every time. Laborious, exhausting, frustrating, but it is what you have to do, more than just rail against the overwhelming evil of it all.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   4 days 3 hours ago

    Requiring snail mail comments is just another way of saying "we don't want to go to the trouble of reviewing a lot of feedback". This is 2014 and I don't know of another organization that refuses to consider feedback submitted electronically.

    Maybe with a portion of the fee increment they can fund a new online electronic feedback evaluation system.

  • Washington Monument To Reopen Today After Being Closed Nearly Three Years   4 days 6 hours ago

    I have a plan to visit the Washington Monument in my next Boston New York Washington dc tour but I am little confused about where should I stay during my tour there. Can you suggest me about any affordable hotel to stay Washington with family?

  • Around The Parks: Name Change Talk At Craters Of The Moon, New Visitor Center At Crater Lake, And Monitoring Station At Yellowstone   4 days 9 hours ago

    I do think Craters of the Moon is of park quality. There's two seasons I think worth witnessing - in spring time when the oddly shaped monkeyflowers bloom all over the black desert, while the sage brush is a vibrant green tinge from soaking up the snowmelt. And of course winter, when the snowpack is at least chest deep, and the air is a crisp and dry. It's a black and white paradise under a blue bird sky, most of the time. I also think Craters should be part of a larger protected park and preserve that includes the pioneers, up into the boulder-white clouds and SNRA, but that's a fight for another day.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   4 days 10 hours ago

    I'm not shocked to see the local papers outside of Yellowstone in favor of the increase. When I was there in August, all the front country campgrounds had a "full" sign on it. Yellowstone and the Tetons have seen a steady increase in visitation over the years, and I doubt 5.00 even puts a dent in that. Obviously the small local media markets realize tourism is their main bread and butter in that region.

    I think I have my own theory on why they are asking for an old school approach. I could see how making people go the old fashioned route eliminates those electronic letter responses from NGO's. It also lessons the chance of the "vote early, vote often" phenomenon which can occur with electronic commenting, as one person can submit 50 different comments under a fake pseudonym. Not a single day goes by where some organization is asking people on social media to submit a canned electronic comment through a link on their NGO website to senators or organizations like the NPS. All one has to do is sumbit a canned response with just their name attached and I'm sure YNP has recieved those comments in mass while dealing wih the wolf and buffalo issues. Weeding through that probably wastes a lot of time and money. I'm not saying this is perfect either because paper has it's own issues.

    NPS commenting periods aren't always about "popular vote" either, as some people here tend to misconstrue this process in their misinterpretation of the organic act.

    And Mr Casada, be a man this time if you wish to respond to what I say and do it here on this page, instead of running to one of your blogs and misconstruing what I say. May want to re-read what I said here two or three times, before you misinterpret it this time.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   4 days 11 hours ago

    If the NPS follows the same approach with Yellowstone that they did in the Smokies, the public meeting comments will be absolutely meaningless. They kept no record of comments, and arguably worse, they did not allow those in attendance to share their thoughts with the assembled individuals. Instead, attendees were met by NPS personnel and sort of shuttled or cordoned off in small groups and given the impression their voices meant something.

    However, subsequent FOIA requests revealed that there was no formal compilation or recording of public input whatsoever. In other words, the "hearings" were a sham because nobody from the NPS truly listened or heeded what attendees had to say.

    Jim Casada.

  • Montana Newspaper Weighs In On Proposed Fee Increase At Yellowstone National Park   4 days 21 hours ago

    There's been some criticism for the park's approach for collecting public feedback—no comments are being accepted via e-mail, fax or an NPS website, although they can be submitted via U. S. Mail, or in person at a series of public meetings that have now been completed

    That's because the NPS doesn't care about your opinion. The fees are predetermined. They are just checking a bs box for public and civic engagement. Another sham from the scandal ridden NPS.

  • U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Says Canid Spotted On North Rim Of Grand Canyon National Park Is Gray Wolf   6 days 19 hours ago

    I'm going to predict that this animal's lifespan will be very short.

    A favorite mantra in this part of the country is "Shoot, Shovel, Shutup."

  • Exploring The Parks: Musings From El Morro National Monument   1 week 6 hours ago

    The following was in the NPS Morning Report today. Given the earlier release by PEER of a report blasting management and maintenance of facilities at Pearl Harbor, this begs the question: What has happened to correct the apparent problems there? Does anyone have first-hand knowledge they could share?

    World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (HI,AK,CA) Merry Petrossian Has Retired

    Merry Petrossian, the park’s chief of facility management, retired on Friday, November 14th, marking a milestone in the NPS management of operations in Pearl Harbor.

    Merry's presence at the site, working her way up the ladder from a part-time custodian (working several other jobs) to a division chief supervising some of her former co-workers, is a story of persistence and determination. She exhibited a strong ethic of caring for the site and its employees that helped raise the bar across all programs.When asked about her most memorable part of working for the NPS, Merry referred to her receiving the NPS Director's Natural Resource Stewardship Award for Facilities Management. This award was an unexpected surprise to Merry, but recognized her efforts and response during an oil spill and subsequent cleanup. Merry was also responsible for the rip-rap along the shore of the visitor center. Her stories about being informed that she was nominated (on April Fool's Day) and her subsequent award presentation are priceless.Merry's generosity and aloha spirit is well known in the park and in the broader NPS community. This generosity and aloha spirit will be remembered as an important aspect of what it means to be an NPS ranger in Pearl Harbor. Merry, in her manner, requested no grand recognition with her retirement and the park has respected her wishes.

    “I ask that, in your own way, you wish Merry well in her new role as home-made honey supplier and full time grandmother,” said Paul DePrey, the park’s superintendent in a note to his staff. “The time gained by her children and grandchildren is a loss to the NPS, but one that has a higher purpose.”

    [Submitted by Paul DePrey, Superintendent]

  • Big Bend National Park Vandal Easily Tracked Through Photos, GPS Coordinates   1 week 23 hours ago

    It was a cry for help.

  • Big Bend National Park Vandal Easily Tracked Through Photos, GPS Coordinates   1 week 1 day ago

    Sounds like he was trying to get caught.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Seeks Court Order To Keep South Rim Operations At Grand Canyon Running   1 week 1 day ago

    I have to agree that I wish the employees well, but have had Xanterra leave a bad taste in my mouth in the past.

    In most circumstances like this situation, it takes both hands pushing against the other to end up motionless.

  • Big Bend National Park Vandal Easily Tracked Through Photos, GPS Coordinates   1 week 1 day ago

    Agree Jim.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Seeks Court Order To Keep South Rim Operations At Grand Canyon Running   1 week 1 day ago

    While I wish the best for the employees I for one am not a fan of Xanterra. This is based on our experiences around Yellowstone a few years back. I have never in my life seen such unappy and in my impression, fearful employees. It was uncomfortable for us and from all appearances even more uncomfortable for the employees. Perhaps things have changed but it is something we still remeber clearly.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Seeks Court Order To Keep South Rim Operations At Grand Canyon Running   1 week 1 day ago

    I agree, Anxious. Something that Xanterra might do is step back and address the underlying issues that have diminished Xanterra's Brand, previously Fred Harvey Company, at the Grand Canyon. Complicated but would think addressing these underlying issues on both sides with consideration for the citizens and internationals that work and visit the park would be a good tact. The legal exercises on the battlefield I fear won't come close in themselves.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Seeks Court Order To Keep South Rim Operations At Grand Canyon Running   1 week 1 day ago

    As an employee at the park this is a really distressing situation to be involved with. Thanksgiving is next week, followed by Christmas. Then the new year. Will we have a job? Very disappointed with the NPS and the intermountain region and the Department of the Interior for not stepping in and doing what is right and fixing the contract prospectus so it is profitable for ANY concessionaire and allocating the housing appropriately. DNC is willing to work with Xanterra on the housing issue but NPS is not willing to work with Xanterra. There are almost 1000 employees of Xanterra affected by this issue. NPS needs to STEP UP immediately and grant Xanterra the temporary contract to run through 2015 until the larger contract can be negotiated through our legal system, the courts. Currently as an employee I need to be professional on the job and work AS IF I will have a job January 1st, 2015 but with the knowledge that there is a very good chance I will be homeless and without a job. Remember, employees live in the park. Its not just a job but its our home and we choose to work here. NPS STEP IT UP and RESOLVE THIS ISSUE and consider the men, women, and children whose lives are affected directly, not just the guests!

  • Big Bend National Park Vandal Easily Tracked Through Photos, GPS Coordinates   1 week 1 day ago

    Nice outcome for another case of park vandalism. Kudos to the citizen who first reported this - and to the park for quick followup. Maybe this situation shows that access to high-tech communications in parks has some unexpected advantages, if it allows idiots to promptly post their misdeeds for all the world to see, and thereby hasten their own undoing :-)

  • With Your Help, A New Edition Of Signers Of The Constitution Book   1 week 1 day ago

    Eastern National, the non profit in every small (and not so small) national park bookstore, needs Kickstarter? That's unusual.

    Danny Bernstein

    www.hikertohiker.com

  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   1 week 1 day ago

    The net impact of the antiquated and irrational rules is that it's really hard to get new Wilderness passed. Everytime a new Wilderness area is proposed, it's a call to arms for all the current users that are about to get kicked out of their usual recreational spots.

  • Xanterra Parks & Resorts Seeks Court Order To Keep South Rim Operations At Grand Canyon Running   1 week 1 day ago

    Xanterra, call the NPS and go all in with a concession shutdown. Who else can run that concession better than Xanterra? Not the NPS! I was visiting Grand Canyon in April and Xanterra concessions were operating successfully while the NPS couldn't even show movies in the Visitor Center because the projector was broken for months.

  • What Should The Wilderness Management Plan For Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Look Like?   1 week 2 days ago

    Yea Jim I agree. In every situation mentioned I see where one person's recreational use could impact someone's else. Take the river and boats, I like boats both motorized and non motorized. But say you have just hiked all day to get to your secluded campsite on the river to find 3 rafts, 20 people, a big campfire and a boom box greeting you. I suppose you are going to be upset and wonder where your wilderness experience went. From my experience the more people the more conflicts and problems the managers will have to contend with. There have to be rules and for sure some people won't be happy with the rules. Cutting the baby up is never pretty.