Recent comments

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   6 days 18 min 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   6 days 26 min 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   6 days 58 min 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.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   6 days 1 hour ago

    Somehow banning folks from 'these... public lands, the commons so to speak," doesn't seem like the right solution.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   6 days 1 hour ago

    Thanks Ron, after thinking about it.. you've convinced me that a tiered approach is a bad idea. I think capping the amount of people that can be in "yosemite valley", on "half dome", on the boardwalk of Old Faithful etc at is a better approach. The question then becomes how do you do that? The only example I know of in the NPS is in the Tall Trees section of Redwoods National Park, where you pay 5.00 to get a gate code to access the area, and the area is capped to a certain number of vehicle per day. Something like that could be done in some parks. Once 50 cars enter yosemite valley, it's officially shut off to cars for the rest of the day. : ) (Ok, maybe that is too extreme.. Better make it 60 cars).

    Regardless, I think having caps on the amount of people in a location at a certain time is sane management. Expanding parking lots to accompany more and more visitors is an example of bad management.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   6 days 1 hour ago

    So rmackie - your preference would to be to penalize higher and lower income folks alike and not let them in the park? Or let them in in unlimited numbers to the destruction of the park?

    Everything we purchase is "regressive". Or are you proposing that higher income people pay more for a loaf of bread than lower income?

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   6 days 2 hours ago

    An interesting comment Gary, pricing to the demand is an accepted private sector business practice, it is a suggestion regularly brought up at planning meetings involving peak period visitor use. It may just be my own bias, but these are public lands, the commons so to speak, I just do not think pricing is an equitable solution. Does it work, probably, is it a just solution, I do not think so. Here in the California State Parks, there are many tiers of fees including premium campsite fees. Those next to the water are 50.00 dollars a night, the campsites off in the woods, 35.00 dollars. In my own view both fees are two high, but the premium campsite fee is outrageous. Then there are fees for an extra vehicle etc. Our public lands belong to all citizens, the idea that the price will be set to what the market will bear, is a very regressive viewpoint, in my humble opinion, and effects the lower income citizens disproportionately, like all regressive fees/taxes do.

  • Exploring The Parks: Cross-Country Skiing At Tower In Yellowstone National Park   6 days 2 hours ago

    Are fatbikes allowed on XC ski trails?

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

    Gary, that's a great idea.

    But . . . . .

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 4 hours ago

    Yes, but anyone who has spent much time around oil and gas operations can only laugh (or cringe) at the term "minimally invasive."

    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 drive by many of these well heads regularly and if you weren't looking for them, you wouldn't know there are there. And when the oil/gas is extracted you will never know there where there.

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   6 days 4 hours ago

    I don't want to see monorails going through our parks either. That to me reminds me of something straight out of an artificial environment like the San Diego zoo... Maybe the easiest solution is that they shoudn't be paving roads in NPs, and maybe should decomission quite a few to "primitive" 4wd. I'd love to see that happen to some of those figure 8 sections in Yellowstone. Let them go back to dirt and primitive roads, and the capacity problem is solved, because a certain subset of the population starts to get nervous, and think they are entering "deliverance" when all the sudden the pavement turns to dirt. There are a few examples right here in the lower 48 - anyone that has done the extremely scenic Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef will mostly have it by themselves because it's a dirt road. You can drive around 100 miles of dirt roads in that park, and it's like "Utah used to be", or so they say. Then you take your 4wd back across the river without a bridge, and all the sudden you see hundreds of cars again.. The Smokies has two great roads that are dirt and "primitive", and there is little to any traffic on them during the day.

    Carrying capacities are also a no-brainer. And it's long been past the point where it's become necessary. Although, I do like the idea of a tiered price. During high traffic weekends, or holidays, the prices are higher. During the off seasons, the prices are lower to get in. Makes sense to me.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 4 hours ago

    Unfortunately, trail, you're mostly correct. Mostly because you say "this administration" when actually it's more like "ALL administrations and Congresses and special interests on all sides."

  • Ozark National Scenic Riverways GMP Raises Questions Of Political Pressures   6 days 4 hours ago

    150 horsepower? What are they doing? Waterskiing?

    As for "political pressures," is anyone surprised?

    It's going to be a very interesting next two years . . . .

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 4 hours ago

    Certainly an issue that all who receive the restorative effects of these great places hold dear but should there not be consideration for everything else that's going on with this administration? Paying off individual constituencies to get a pass on much that's going on behind the scenes and not spoken of seems pretty dangerous. Would certainly like a change where these politicians and regular folks aren't always looking to demonize someone or some organization in most cases just to win their case hiding behind all the warm and fuzzy optics.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 5 hours ago

    It's always entertaining to ponder the creative terms used by either side of various issues – in this case " minimally invasive resource extraction." Maybe that one was crafted by the same PR firm that came up with another oxymoron: "Clean coal."

    Can oil and gas development use techniques that reduce impacts of drilling and production, as compared to totally unregulated ones from a century ago? Yes, but anyone who has spent much time around oil and gas operations can only laugh (or cringe) at the term "minimally invasive."

    For the record, I worked for 6 years at Big Thicket National Preserve, one of those NPS areas where the enabling legislation allows oil and gas activity. Based on my experience, the staff there does its best, and companies cooperate to varying degrees, in trying to reduce impacts of that activity. Even under the best of circumstances, drilling and pumping oil and gas is simply a dirty, noisy and smelly activity that has big impacts on resources and the visitor experience, and those impacts extend far beyond the margins of the well pad.

    I've not been to the North Slope, but have spent some time in other parts of Alaska near the Arctic Circle, and on those wide open spaces, the sights, sounds and smells of "resource extraction" will certainly be absolutely invasive.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 5 hours ago

    Nice post, m13cli. It would be great if ANWR receives these designations.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 5 hours ago

    Didn't take long to play out as expected. From Fox News yesterday:

    Alaska's top elected officials -- including Gov. Bill Walker and senior Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, both Republicans -- have already reacted angrily at the administration's moves.

    “I have tried to work with this administration, even though they've made it extremely difficult every step of the way,” said Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “But those days are officially over. We are left with no choice but to hit back as hard as we can."

  • Op-Ed| The National Park Service Could Learn A Few Things From Its African Colleagues   6 days 14 hours ago

    I think the bottom line is that we need to build trains that go through Wilderness. We also need to import some cool species like elephants, rhinos, lions and water buffalos to entertain tourists while they're taking a tour on the train. :)

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 14 hours ago

    hope it comes pass.

    Me too, with the caveat that minimally invasive resource extraction be kept. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Unfortunately, Wilderness designation is.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 15 hours ago

    I must agree J Thomas and Roger, hope it comes pass.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 15 hours ago

    why have we not heard anyone saying, "Thank you" lately?

    Because Obama had nothing to do with the low prices. The prices are low totally due to private investment and initiative and have been accomplished dispite Obama's efforts to restrict development on public land. You need to learn the difference between correlation and causation.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 15 hours ago

    , but once we've taken the land by eminent domain

    And who is endorsing eminent domain? Certainly not me. Another false strawman. Buy the land and frack and "mountain topped" all you want. Of course to no avail because that has already been explored. But then, you haven't identified any of the eastern lands that have lost there tops or explained why we are worse off for it.

    Actually, Breckenridge was heavily mined in the late 19th century. The mining remnants that now lie in Forest Service and proposed Wilderness land are now reverred artifacts by the local "progressives".

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 16 hours ago

    Perhaps we should just open up Breckenridge for mountain topping and/or fracking. Might not find oil there, but once we've taken the land by eminent domain who is to care?

    I gotta agree with you, though, Lee, on the pleasure of the ignore curtain.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 16 hours ago

    Seriously, though, perhaps this is a chance to learn something from the Africans and from the errors we made in the past. If this land is going to be preserved for the future, it must be done NOW because tomorrow may be too late.

    I hope we will somehow find the wisdom and courage to insist that it be done even if we have to go to battle against short-sighted profit mongers who see only dollar signs in anything they look at.

    And by the way, why after years of blaming Obama for high oil prices, why have we not heard anyone saying, "Thank you" lately?

    Thank you Dahkota. Now let me guess what the last two posts say. There will be claims that he never said what he said and that he's being accused by people who don't understand reality and the Constitution and all that is great about capitalism. Probably some comments, too, about how people who oppose his views fail to use exactly the right words and if they do, they're still wrong.

  • President Obama Proposing Wilderness, Wild And Scenic River Designations For Arctic National Wildlife Refuge   6 days 16 hours ago

    pretty much.

    Really dahkota? Where did I say "Wilderness is wrong"? Where did I say I am "entitled" to all the oil I want? Where did I say " it's unconstitutional"? Where did I say "So let's drill and frack and burn and make all the money we can right now with no regard for the future" Where did I say "the future's not important if it will cut into our profits today."?

    Never said or implied any of those things. But then Lee's favorite strategy is to create strawman he can attack because he can't actual address reality. Dahkota, I guess that puts you in the same camp.