Recent comments

  • Forests At Valley Forge National Historical Park Coming Back After Deer Culling   2 weeks 7 hours ago

    I am curious if there is the same outrage over this as for the elk culling in the Tetons? I am also amused every time I read an article about us intervening to restore what we consider if not the natural balance of things, a better balance. I'm not implying they are doing either right or wrong here, I just find the whole topic of what is "natural" interesting and rife with ethical dilemmas and logical contradictions.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 8 hours ago

    Yes Megaera, we all can come up with potential disaster scenerios despite their miniscule probablitly. The cost of preventing all of them would be crippling.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    Transporting crude oil in pipelines would be far safer than trains but enviormentalists have blocked pipeline construction. Top enviomentalist Bill McKibben has pretty much said that the reason he opposes, and has organized against, the Keystone Pipeline isn't because there is some great danger of spills from the pipeline, or because the pipeline itself is a direct threat to the environment. Rather, McKibben and his fellow enviomentalists oppose the pipeline because they want to force an artical scaracity of crude oil that will drive up fuel prices in the belief this will spur the development of alternative sources of energy.

    Also, as bad as an accident would be in the parks, my biggest fear would be an accident or sabotage inside a city. Every city of any size has track right through the middle of town. This is one of the few areas where I would support increased regulation to ensure the safety of the public and maybe that means these trains need to routed in a way that would avoid concentrations of population.

  • Reader Survey Day: Have Fee Increases Prompted You To Buy An America The Beautiful Pass?   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    I renew my car tabs and buy a parks pass every year. It's just part of owning a car, IMHO. I live within a daytrip of five national parks, and a weekend trip of several more, and I'd feel hamstrung without one. Have there been any rumors of a price increase for the pass, or was the $30 increase a few years ago enough to keep that at bay for a while yet?

    I'm going to the Canadian Rockies this summer, and the Canadian parks pass was the sticker shock. Per person, not per car, and their per-park entrance fee is for a day. I'm going to end up buying an annual pass for a week's vacation. Unreal.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    Some of those tracks the oil trains are on run under the city of Seattle, and the infrastructure is old enough that it's widely acknowledged an explosion under there would be catastrophic.

    Think about that one, too.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    I hope a lot more lives won't be lost in future accidents before "incremental benefits" result in changes.

    How many lives have been lost so far? It would appear not many:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/19/train-wrecks-keep-us-on-...

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 14 hours ago

    True, can't reduce risks to zero. Where some of us differ is determining the point of acceptable risks. As suggested in the story, the risks under discussion could be reduced for Glacier through several steps - and with measures such as better rail cars, risks could be reduced for anyone who lives near a rail line. Unfortunately, the industry seems to be fighting some of those steps. I hope a lot more lives won't be lost in future accidents before "incremental benefits" result in changes.

  • Reader Survey Day: Have Fee Increases Prompted You To Buy An America The Beautiful Pass?   2 weeks 16 hours ago

    I have always bought an America the Beautiful Pass regardless of the entrance fees. I just hope they still have Golden Age Passes when I turn 62.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 17 hours ago

    where an accident would not affect enough people, or cause enough economic harm, to be worth the cost of reducing those risks.

    Exactly. We can't reduce risks to zero without bringing the economy to a halt. Whether it is train safety, environmental pollution or any other issue, the incremental benefits must be weighed against the economic costs. Neither can be view in a vacuum or as absolute.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 17 hours ago

    Article in today's news: "Oil industry balks at train safety rules. The Am. Petroleum Institute has filed a court challenge to new rules aimed at reducing the risks of catastrophic accidents involving crude moved by rail..."

    As the above article points out, any rail accident on the part of the BN tracks that run along Glacier's southern boundary would be very difficult to resolve. In places that steep-walled canyon is probably 1,000 feet deep; rapids in the river make access by anything other than small rafts impossible. The result: cleanup of an oil spill there would be more difficult than almost any other place in the country.

    In the late 1970s an avalanche in this area took out a bridge on US2 and swept a large truck all the way to the bottom of the canyon. Fortunately the driver escaped, but getting that single truck back "up the hill" took a full day, with specialized equipment that took many hours to arrive.

    I had a chance encounter and conversation last summer with a member of a volunteer fire dept. just outside the park. He brought up his concerns about rail accidents and spills, and said that although BN has sponsored some training and provided some basic hazmat supplies, it would be woefully inadequate for a major incident. He was concerned that BN's crews to handle such problems are small, and located so far away it would take many hours for them to respond.

    Prediction: Reducing these risks is a question of money for the railroad and oil industry, and as suggested by an earlier comment, little will be done until there's a major disaster in a major population area. To most politicans and industry officials, Glacier is simply a pretty place where an accident would not affect enough people, or cause enough economic harm, to be worth the cost of reducing those risks.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 20 hours ago

    I personally think that yellowstone would have followed the smokies model and had no yearly pass or cap. However, they saw the outrage from the smokies lawsuit and people who asked for that and it was ignored due to poor management at the time. The Yellowstone super is smart to add that option in. I also think if the smokies super had done something small like this it would have possibly made a big difference.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 21 hours ago

    Certainly worthy of taking precautionary measures but on an annual basis passanger trains and people walking on tracks have led to far more fatalities than oil cars. But your article is a good rationale for building pipelines (Keystone anyone) instead.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 21 hours ago

    There are definitely not complete standards that apply across the board at all the National Parks.

    Perhaps not but that still doesn't justify the Superintendents statement (assuming he made it). Annual backcountry fees aren't illegal or impossible, he just chooses not to take that route. Obviously he is free to make that choice but he should take the criticism for his stance rather than lie about why the decision was made and try to blame someone else.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I'm not running. My gift to you, Eric, is that I'm chosing to walk away from the sorts of junior high school debating society drivel that you've sucked me into for the past too many years. As I turn my back on you, you can write anything in the world that you want to say and you will indeed have the last word. Go for it. I'll continue to discuss politely with those capable of it.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Yellowstone also has an entrance fee, which generates millions of dollars in revenue for the park to utilize. GSMNP does not have a gate fee, and relies mostly on federal tax dollars, and donations from the GSMA and FOTS to run the park. There are definitely not complete standards that apply across the board at all the National Parks. Should there be? That's a complex question with a variety of answers, that's not so black and white.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Gary, perhaps you will answer the question that Rick B as run from. How does Yellowstone have an annual back country fee when the SMNP superintendent claims establishing an annual back country fee in an NPS unit is not possible. That is the issue Smokies is raising.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    There have been backcountry fees in most National Parks across the west for decades. Yellowstone also had a backcountry fee long before this year. Anyone that was planning a trip before they got there and wanted to guarantee their space used the backcountry system and paid a 25.00 fee to get a permit. I've given that park many of my george washingtons over the years, and none of my buddies and I griped about it. Yellowstone also has an entrance fee, something the Smokies does not. Jeez... a little perspective and knowledge of NPS history could really help your constant misunderstanding and constant misinterpretation of this thing called reality, John.

  • Yellowstone, Grand Teton Raising Entrance Fees This Summer   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Kurt, others that are interested in this issue, PJ Ryan's latest issue of "Thunderbear" #295 (you can google Thunderbear and access the commentary there), lays out the issue really well in his own style, he really hits the crux of the issue. It is well worth the read. I am opposed to these increases, but PJ articulates it much better than I.

  • Yellowstone, Grand Teton Raising Entrance Fees This Summer   2 weeks 1 day ago

    'fraid it was more than "a few years ago," Megaera. It's been at least six years, and likely more.

    That said, I think they are reviewing the pricing, but haven't heard of an imminent increase.

  • Yellowstone, Grand Teton Raising Entrance Fees This Summer   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Is there any noise over raising the annual parks pass price yet? Or was the $30 jump a few years ago enough to satisfy them?

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Because you are unable to answer any questions logically. Just like the NPS discrepancy with regard to implementation of backcountry fees across the system. Like your justifications, their rationale is all over the place with regard to these fees. When the NPS is bothered by questions from the public they are appointed to serve, they dismiss the questions or change the rationale.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Two points, backpacker. One, I don't have to personally answer any questions to you or your satisfaction. Two, I told Kurt I'd stop wrestling in the mud with a few of you guys, and so have yourself a pleasant evening without my assistance.

  • Joshua Tree National Park Taking Comments On Proposed Trail   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Drove through Joshua last week. Can't say I was overly impressed. Looks like the drive from Vegas to Baker. I didn't do any hiking (dog restrictions) but I would say any interesting trails that could be added could only be a help.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    This thread is about NPS backcountry fees being rammed down peoples throats and the Smokies is a fine example of the genesis of that very thing. If they can offer an annual pass at Yellowstone, then they can offer an annual pass at other parks like the Smokies, BS fork and other NPS units. Why don't you answer that question instead of continually supporting the crooked upper echelon NPS bureaucrats who told us they couldn't allow an annual fee for backpacking and other such lies characteristic of the agency managers, Rick?

  • Northern Tier Senators Want A Little National Park Service Love   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Good question. And, here's some interesting language regarding at least one of these trails from the legislation these senators are seeking to "slightly amend": "No land or interest in land outside the exterior boundaries of any federally administered area may be acquired by the Federal Government for the trail except with the consent of the owner of the land or interest in land."

    Making a trail "part of the National Park System" involves a lot more than just tweaking the wording in an existing bill.