Recent comments

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   2 days 23 hours ago

    Don't have to worry about that. It appears that there are others out there who are watching and responding. I'll leave it up to them to decide whose posts are credible and whose are not.

    Besides, there are more than just one who don't care about ordinary folks like you and me. Does 47% ring a bell?

    Now, back to Alaska and oil. Are you one of the Alaskans who gets a check every year from oil royalties up there? Talk about buying votes, that has to be one of the best schemes I've ever heard of. The more Alaskans support drilling, the larger their checks will be. Is that how it works?

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 10 min ago

    I know, Lee, but if we both have him on ignore how will we ever know [hehehehehehe] if he says anything worth paying attention to.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 1 hour ago

    If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes real.

    Yes JT, you have learned that well. As has your buddy Lee. Not a single shred of hard evidence of any downside of drilling in his long winded diatribe.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 1 hour ago

    Rick, I hate to break it to you, but some people are certain you don't count, either.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   3 days 1 hour ago

    Reservation systems for cave tours at Lehman Cave work very well. So does the system for ruins tours at Mesa Verde. Fiery Furnace at Arches is another. Campground reservations using Recreation.gov are easy and efficient if campsites are available.

    I have tried three times to make reservations for a campsite in Arches and found I had to be in line about four months early. (Finally managed to make one for five nights in April and now need to cancel because another grand daughter will be arriving about then.)

    So in my experience, at least, reservations are a mixed bag. Sometimes easy, sometimes frustrating, sometimes downright maddening. And, under the present set of circumstances, even with reservations one must still contend with all the day users who don't have reservations and need places to park.

    ALL solutions require something else, too. That's money. A lot of money in most cases.

    It all comes down to one inescapable bottom line THERE AIN'T NO EASY ANSWERS NOWHERE OUT THERE.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 1 hour ago

    Uh, Lee? I'm not a caribou.

    All this "it ain't nothing" reminds me of my own 'minimally invasive' procedure on my knee. I walked funny for at least six months and now years later still have periodic pain there. I'm glad I didn't opt for the maximally invasive, chainsaw-scalpel alternative.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   3 days 1 hour ago

    "To conserve the scenery and the wildlife therein and to provide for enjoyment in such manner and by such means that will leave park resources unimpaired for future generations"...hmmm.

    How to do it? The options aren't that many. Here are some thoughts:

    (1) Set visitor use limits for peak periods, and have a reservation system with non-transferrable tickets.

    (2) Construct high-rise or underground parking garages outside of parks and have shuttle service to key trail heads, limit curio shops and VC's etc., to the vicinty of these mega garages, (I actually prefer PJ Ryan's excellent article in NPT on this very subject, entitled "How Hard Can It Be?" written response to Barbara Moritsch's excellent book "Soul of Yosemite").

    (3) While working to discourage the use of private automobiles, invest in train access to parks from major cities, including gateway communities, with discounted travel rates for vets and disadvantaged citizens, Turn the majority of park roads back to dirt, and carefully manage those few remaining paved roads. Keep the paved roads one lane, one way, and curvy.

    (4) Set variable prices for vehicle entrances, say $100 per car per day and $200 per tour bus per day for peak season, but otherwise free for non-peak season and free for those who enter the park via foot or bicycle.

    (5) Continue to enlarge park infrastructure and in-park parking facilities to meet growing demand considering the fact that eventually the US worker might actually earn as much annual leave as the average European.

    (6) Relax and don't do anything different from what's being done at present, recognizing that those who cannot find enjoyment despite the traffic and crowding, may still visit the park once or twice, or come in the so-called off-season, but otherwise they may choose to vacation elsewhere. Those who can adapt to the increased crowding will still enjoy themselves. Unfortunately ecological impacts may inevitably occur, but hopefully these impacts will not be "irreversible."

    I'm reminded of earlier days on NPT when two individuals named Beamis and Ranger X once dominated these discussion threads. They often wrote "Save the parks, stay at home!"

    Which of these options do you think will be supported by local and regional businesses whose livelihoods depend on park tourism?

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 2 hours ago

    J. Thomas, thanks for the link to the National Geographic article. The accompanying photo clearly shows the minimal impact of drill rigs. Remember that those pads are 90% smaller.

    We once lived in a small town on the border between Utah and Wyoming. A well was drilled about a mile and a half from our home. (One of many in the area, by the way.) For about four months, we lived with a constant drumming grumbling noise 24/7. (Before drilling, we'd lived with huge machines that thumped the ground to produce seismic waves for mapping strata. A couple of times things were knocked off our tables and kitchen counters by the thumps.)

    Not long after drilling began, a representative of the oil company came by and told us that in the event of a "gas release" we would need to evacuate immediately. Hydrogen sulfide releases were possible in that oil field. All the drill rigs, which are at least ten stories tall on a pad that is about five acres in size, have emergency escape slides for their crews and 15-minute self contained breathing apparatus hanging in strategic locations around the rig.

    There was never a gas release and when the well was finished it was capped and "placed in reserve." What had been found was top secret. (Proprietary information, they call it.) I was fire chief in the town, but could not learn anything about what hazards we might face if called to one of the drill sites. This was one of probably 40 or 50 wells in the area that were "placed in reserve." No one knows if the wells were dry or just what the story was. To me, it seems to lend credence to the oft-heard story that oil companies cap wells to keep production low and prices up.

    About a year after we moved from there, a well in Wyoming about fifteen miles from where we'd lived blew out. I don't recall how many men were killed, but it was about three I think and a number wound up in very critical condition because they had not been able to don their SCBAs and get down the chutes fast enough.

    Then there are the earthquakes that have occurred recently in Texas, Arkansas and some other places where quakes are virtually unknown but fracking is rampant. Geologists are still working to figure out just what is happening, but the oil companies assure us it's nothing to worry about.

    Minimal impact? When the Titanic hit the iceberg there was just a minimal impact.

    But hey, up in Alaska, there's no one to bother but the caribou. And who cares about caribou? They don't vote and certainly don't pay taxes.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 2 hours ago

    The comments about "minimal impact" oil and gas activity remind me about a meeting I attended in the early years of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. A steel mill adjacent to the park was planning a major expansion, so the company sent a PR guy to reassure park staff and supporters not to worry. His explanation: They were going to paint all those multistory buildings and smokestacks a nice tan color to match the sand dunes, so they would just fade into the background and be "almost invisible." It was nice of the company to make the offer, but not many people other than boosters of the plant could call it "minimal impact" with a straight face.

    As is the case in almost any issue, including wilderness vs. oil and gas in Alaska, one's perception of the "facts" tends to be colored by a combination of perceived self-interest and his or her basic world-view.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 3 hours ago

    Great news! No worries about any future oil and gas development in Alaska or elsewhere, since ec assures us people won't even notice it due to this "new technology." Unfortunately, someone forgot to explain that to the folks drilling wells all around the country in the past several years. Just two examples: This report from Texas ("Big Oil, Bad Air) which reports "an ominous trend: a 100-percent statewide increase in unplanned toxic air releases associated with oil and gas production since 2009."

    Or this one from Oct. 2014, which cites a study of air at "locations in five states: Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming. In 40 percent of the air samples, laboratory tests found benzene, formaldehyde, or other toxic substances associated with oil and gas production that were above levels the federal government considers safe for brief or longer-term exposure. Far above, in some cases."

    Too many more to list here, but a quick Google search will find plenty. But, "Don't worry, be happy." Ec has heard the response to the above report from a spokesperson for the American Natural Gas Alliance: "Our members remain committed to the development of natural gas in a safe and responsible manner."

    The industry has learned this adage well: “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes real. Then the lie no longer exists and all you're left with is your version of the truth.” Irfan Master, A Beautiful Lie.

  • Exploring The Parks: Cross-Country Skiing At Tower In Yellowstone National Park   3 days 3 hours ago

    To my knowledge XC trails within the park are restricted to skiing and snowshoeing.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 5 hours ago

    I just spent two days in Luling, Tx earlier this week.

    And Luling started drilling in 1922. The technology has changed a little since then.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 5 hours ago

    justinh - I think you're correct about new national monument designations in Alaska.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 5 hours ago

    Then you haven't been around oil and gas operations recently. The "noisy smelly" aspects of drilling are limited to a few days, pumping is virtually silent and with horizontal drilling and fracking one can reduce the surface footprint by as much as 90%.

    I just spent two days in Luling, Tx earlier this week. They are very proud of their oil wells and brag that when you drive into the city, you can "smell the money." Well, Luling smells like I what I suspect hell must, for those who believe in hell. The sulfur gets into your mouth and takes away your appetite. If you can smell it, and taste it, on a not so windy 60 degree day, I can't imagine what it would be like in the heat of summer.

    I stayed just outside Artesia, New Mexico for a week last year. I will avoid it on all future treks. Same problem. You can't leave your windows open or the smell will permeate your car and work its way into the fabric. The people I know who live there don't notice it any more. Lucky for them, I guess. But I won't drink their water.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 6 hours ago

    At least Congress will have its chance to express its will. If that answer is "no," wonder if the backup plan would be to convert a national wildlife refuge to a national monument - via a Presidential Proclamation?

    J. Thomas,

    Unfortunately, I don't believe he can, due to the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   3 days 6 hours ago

    I don't have a problem per se with permitting - assuming those permits don't go to tour operators in bulk (Pearl Harbor) and they aren't the only means of access. In fact, permitting could be part of a tiered system. Get a permit in advance, one price, pay at the gate, a higher price if crowds warrant it.

    [added] The more I think about this the more I like it. The "permitting" website could have a running total of issued permits for each day. People could look in advance and schedule their visit for days with lesser attendance if they want to avoid the crowds.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   3 days 7 hours ago

    One would think, if people are going to travel, that they would either reserve ahead of time, or make sure they have a permit. Most permits are now available online. I wouldn't travel to a NP without some plan in place. It's easy to get burned if you don't, especialy during the summer months.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 7 hours ago

    I don't know Kurt. If not, they should have.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 8 hours ago

    EC, BTW, did Alaska reach out to the NPS to find a reasonable compromise before wiping out the Yukon-Charley wolf pack, or when it did away with the buffer zone for wolf hunting just outside Denali?

    In 2010, the Park Service had asked the Alaska Board of Game to expand the buffer zone, which would have prohibited hunting and trapping in additional areas where many of the most-viewed wolves winter. But the board not only declined the request, but voted to entirely eliminate the buffer along the park’s northeast boundary.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 8 hours ago

    BTW JT - you commented about Walker and Murkowski objecting. Do you know, did Obama reach out to them and other legislators in their state to discuss the issue and try to find a reasonable compromise? Or did he just decided to do this on his own?

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 8 hours ago

    According to this, the actual drilling is "a month or so".

    http://www.shalereporter.com/resources/faq/drilling/article_9c0a9e6a-340...

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   3 days 8 hours ago

    As Gary points out, at peak times, you may have to wait awhile, or come back the next day, Mammoth Cave and the Washington Monument are good examples, there are many more, or get a reservation.

    Ron, people were going nuts here because a bike race might shut a park for a day and ruin someones vacation - even though a simple look at the website whould have told him the park wasn't open that day. Imagine if someone is driving/flying/training cross country and can't get in because its full.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   3 days 8 hours ago

    Clearly people don't understand how the world works. National/state/local parks are a finite resource, like everything else on this planet. A limited resource in high demand (like say Yosemite mid August) can either be underpriced and capped, or priced according to demand.

    Underpricing and capping the number of visitors, while achieving the goal of keeping fees low for everybody, simply distorts the market and will lead to arbitraging (inventive folks will get in the registration window early and resell their passes later to those that did not have the foresight to register). Fact is that supply and demand will forever exist, and ignoring that simple fact will not make it go away.

    It'd also be interesting to see how the parks curent visitors socio economics break down currently. It's not like flying/driving to Yellowstone and booking accomodations is cheap and affordable today.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   3 days 8 hours ago

    EC, I do see your point, but I do not think banning is the appropriate word. As Gary points out, at peak times, you may have to wait awhile, or come back the next day, Mammoth Cave and the Washington Monument are good examples, there are many more, or get a reservation.

    My last visit to the Washington Monument was interesting. I got there at 8 AM, all reservations were sold out, but they did have one opening for two people at 4:30. I took it. Spent the day wandering the mall, had a great lunch, it worked out fine. There is just so much to see, you cannot do it in a day in any case. In talking to the NPS personnel there, 50% loved the reservation system, the others did not. I thought that was interesting. In previous visits to the Monument, I remember the 1/4 mile lines waiting to get in. On humid days, people were actually passing out while in line while waiting to get in.

    As a former Park Ranger, I felt that all of us truly hated to limit our fellow citizens in their ability to enter a park. Unfortunately, it is a price we must now pay for the all the growth here in the dear USA. Not all growth is bad, I agree with you there. Frankly, I think not having immediate access to the more popular NP areas during peak visitation periods is a small price to pay, as long as the systems used are equitable and affordable. Gary, thank you for your comment, there is an interesting and contentious issue over access to the Muir Woods in Marin County. Again, on some peak days, demand is overwhelming the facilities. A system, as you have suggested, is one possible solution.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   3 days 9 hours ago

    I might be proven wrong, but I strongly suspect it would take a lot more than a "few days" to complete the set up, drilling and tear down operations to bring in a producing oil well on the North Slope. Maybe anyone who really believes that's possible has been catching some second-hand smoke from that green stuff that's recently been legalized for sale in Colorado :-)

    Based on recent past experience, it's likely any future drilling on the North Slope will be on a much different scale that the small wells ec describes. As an example, see this YouTube video from 2011 "celebrating" one project at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. http://youtu.be/Kc6d6hG3rzo

    Lots of long-term infrastructure required to support exploration, drilling and ongoing oil production in a place like the North Slope.