Recent comments

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 4 days ago

    We should think about the use of national parks in mitigating the effects of climate change, promoting science and science education,.....

    An oxymoron in the first sentence.

    Michael - what is your solution for reversing these "short-term" budget issues? Can you justify the inclusion of such units as the GW, BW Parkways? Sure, there may be some areas that would qualify to be added but there are many that don't warrant or don't require NPS status for protection.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 4 days ago

    To quote E.O. Wilson, the eminent biologist and membert of the National Parks Second Century Commission:

    We should think about the use of national parks in mitigating the effects of climate change, promoting science and science education, saving endangered species, and increasing the quality of life in America by growing the parks in number, in total area, and accessibility to the American people…. We should be talking about expanding the National Park System, not scrambling for crumbs to keep it going. It should be part of the national vision of what will make America great.

    We a much bigger National Park System, not a smaller one. Dozens of areas of national park quality across the country are being damaged or destroyed by logging, grazing, fracking, mining, ORV abuse, or commercial development. Those who want to freeze or shrink our National Park System are relegating those areas to being ruined because of short-term budget priorities. I don't think future generations will consider that to be an acceptable reason.

    The new national parks movement is thriving around the world, but it has been stalled here in the United States since the Reagan era. Political leaders and conservationists have all but abandoned advocacy for new national parks and support for the existing National Park System. We are seeing the results of three decades of neglect.

    We need to shift from a losing and endless defensive position and to go on the offensive to protect America's greatest natural and cultural treasures. The National Park System is the gold standard for such protection. We need a positive and inspiring vision for expanding the system and funding the parks we now have. We need to create the same kind of broad conservation coalition that resulted saved millions of acres through the Alaskan Lands Act. When we do, the American people will be behind us.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 4 days ago

    CHNSRA used to be a state park, no one with a grasp of reality is happy with the way it is being managed recently. Many are calling for it to be returned to state control, I can only hope that it does.

    Owen, your anonymous post mirrors what I've heard from the NPS at CHNSRA. They don't enjoy the job because they are so disliked, banned from local businesses, called names, flipped off, ignored, and afraid to approach visitors for fear of negative confrontation.

    The enviromental extremist left have poisoned the parks and its leadership. You guys have made your bed, enjoy it.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 4 days ago

    I have been in communication concerning Harry Butowsky's recent op-ed article in National Parks Traveler with a few NPS'ers who are still in the field. In general, most agree with Harry's point of view. The major point of contention has to do with whether or not the NPS maintenance backlog would be better addressed if the number of park units within the NPS system of parks were increased, kept the same at present, or somehow decreased as recommended in the main article by by Harry.

    However, here is one comment that I received today that I found worthy of forwarding (with permission of the commenter, but withholding both the name of the commenter and the park ):

    << I agree with Butowsky's assessment and recommendations, especially the one that Directors need to read Runte's book. I have not been impressed with our current director. He should be spending the year on the road visiting all the parks and meeting with frontline staff to get a grip on the realities they experience today in preparation for the real Centennial next year. Interestingly, my park is having problems getting staff involved in the Centennial. There's little interest. Here's my assessment of this problem: no one is in a celebratory mood! Everyone is overworked an not getting what they need on many levels to get their jobs done effectively. The reality at my park is that the Emperor has no clothes.>>

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Ok I will accept the dunce cap. So now that I have it on, I am going back through the article carefully. I can't respond to it all at once, so in pieces:

    Part 1 is an introduction using an analogy. Analogies are cute but I don't really buy them for serious consideration anymore. They are extremely fun when used in John Oliver's show on HBO, but kind of a waste in serious discussion. So enough said about part 1...

    Part 2 is the Priorty 1 Backlog. Indeed a very real issue. My question at this point is regarding the NPS Urban Agenda example. If I am understanding Harry' point clearly, it's that there is no funding for new projects, so trotting them out as "getting something done" is really just a dog and pony show. OK I am paying attention because that seems pretty legit. I could use some help and clarification though. First, the link Harry provided says exactly where the funding would come from for the NPS Urban Agenda:

    "Importantly, the NPS Urban Agenda is supported by the President’s 21st Century Conservation agenda that calls for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a $326 million NPS Centennial Fund. If enacted by Congress, this would provide an additional $107 million for federal land acquisition, $47 million for state grants, and $25 million for the Urban Parks and Recreation Fund....."

    So is the point that such funding will never happen? Or is there some other point being made here?

    Second, I live in the St. Louis area so see firsthand what is going on with the arch. The project is in full swing. It will make for a much better experience for visitors. The Arch, whatever your personal opinion of it is, has a very real economic impact on the city. So using one of the specific examples from the article, is Harry's point that the Arch grounds improvement is not funded? Or that it will never happen due to budget constraints? Or that it is money that should be spent elsewhere on the NPS system? A combination of all of the above? Something else?

    thanks

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 5 days ago

    The park service now has an "Office of Relevancy, Diversity and Inclusion." It is busy issuing memos, training and goals for, well, relevancy. I'm not sure what relevancy is. Probably something like relevance but squishier. As in "No, it's not actually relevant, but it has the aroma of relevancy."

    Inclusion and diversity are, of course, redundant. If an organization were inclusive the results would be diverse and vice versa. But never mind.

    The Office of Relevancy. Does this imply that the park service can not identify its relevancy? Or do recalcitrant taxpayers need convincing of its relevancy?

    Does Apple have an office of relevancy? FedEx? Disney? I suspect not. They spend their money efficiently making products people want.

    What other government agencies have an Office of Relevancy? Immigration? Nuclear Regulatory Commission?

    I am not convinced that an organization that reduces it's customer service staff from 75 to 16 while larding headquarters with relevancy czars needs more money.

  • Critics Say Legislation Penned In The Name Of Homeland Security Could Trample National Parks, Other Federal Lands   2 weeks 5 days ago

    Unreasonable? No more unreasonable than Bishop's bulloney.

    The siesure of private land is no more unreasonable than asking the feds to use their own to protect the county? Certainly not in my world, nor in that of Jefferson, Madison et al.

    That said. Border patrols will never be effective in stopping illegal immigration as long as we are giving them the incentives to illegally immigrate. No free health care, no free food stamps, driver licenses, schooling and fine every business that hires them $500 per day per illegal laborer and the problem will be over.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 5 days ago

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply rmackie. I agree with what you have to say and you have given us all material to consider.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 5 days ago

    OK JEMiculka lets cut the sarcasm. We need some positive suggestions here. Do you have one? If so I would like to hear it. You do not like what I have to say then tell me what you think would be a better solution. The future of our great system of National Parks is at stake so give me some ideas to work with that will be positive. We are waiting to hear from you.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 5 days ago

    Nice post Harry, and it has led to an interesting discussion. I do not have the answers. When I first started working in Yosemite on a trail crew in 1960, park visitation was roughly 500,000. Upon my retirement in 1997, it was in excess of 4 million, all rough figures. In 1960, visitation to Tuolumne Meadows via the old Tioga Road was 25,000. Now it exceeds a million and half. The NPS has a really tough job not only keeping up with the facilities and maintenance of said, but constructing the additional infrastructure to handle this almost 8 fold increase in visitation at Yosemite. One approach is to encourage the development of new infrastructure outside the parks, but then the issue of day use access becomes contentious. Railroads, mono rails, shuttle trams have issues also. As Mr. Runte points out, population increase places demands on park infrastructure needs that persons in my age group see changing the parks as we knew them so many years ago. Many propose visitor use capacities, etc. to limit the visitation and the need for more development. This is a very tough sell politically and is currently unacceptable to many citizens.

    I don not know Harry, but I think the reality is that after the best history, science, public input is gathered and reviewed, the manager then must take into account the political realities existing at the time. That is out system. Hopefully, as has been pointed out, the constituency for our parks and public lands will continue to grow, changing the political equation to some extent. Tahoma, you make a good point, I have seen it myself. We do like to build things but much of the pressure to do so is an effort to meet the increasing demand. I could go on and on,, but had better stop here. I have found this topic quite interesting

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 5 days ago

    Perhaps we should see about creating a National Parks Lend - Lease Act. We can loan Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and Grand Canyon to their respective states or counties or other interested organizations and let them manage them. Over a course of say 20 years, the NPS can evaluate what's left of them and decide if they want them back since they apparently have the resources to manage these four sites. In the meantine, the funding and staff currently allocated to these parks can be redistributed to the remaining 403 NPS sites to help out the "real" parks.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    To sum up so far:

    If the Park Service saves money, Congress will just reduce the budget again. A+ fpr that insight. That's exactly what Congress will do. Then will we let them?

    Leadership is the problem, and always has been. Again, A+ for that insight. Or would you rather I make the point by drinking 10 Buds? Come to think of it, that is a marvelous idea. On a scale of one to 10 Buds, how are we doing so far? One Bud--awful. 10 Buds--exceptional!

    The national parks are losing their relevance. Sorry, that's just one Bud. It's convenient doublespeak to mask the greater problem that the whole country is losing economic stability. Here in Seattle, a half dozen recent college graduates I know have student loans beginning at $40,000. The highest (undergraduate and M.A.) just told me hers totalled $150,000. Those $1,000 payments every month really inspire you to visit your national parks.

    The Park Service always seems to have money for the bureaucracy it wants. Yes, 10 Buds! And it's especially true of universities these days. Professors? What are those?

    Harry wrote a horrible article. 0 Buds, and a dunce cap in the corner. Oh, that's so un-PC! Everyone gets a Bud for trying! No, Scott gets a dunce cap for daring to suggest that a great piece of writing is anything but. I may disagree with Harry's conclusions, too, but I know sweat when I see it. So yes, I will now treat myself to 10 Buds, and sign off for the rest of the day!

  • Critics Say Legislation Penned In The Name Of Homeland Security Could Trample National Parks, Other Federal Lands   2 weeks 6 days ago

    This is pure balderdash on the part of Rob Bishop. It's part of his continuing anti-environmental and Federal lands management agenda.

    When I visited Organ Pipe Cactus a couple of years ago, I asked several rangers and about half a dozen Border Patrol officers about this. I also talked with an Arizona DPS supervisor who manages the electronic surveillance center at Gila Bend.

    They ALL said that the chances of apprehending illegal border crossers is actually much greater on wilderness lands than on private lands. The reason being that any movement detected by electronic devices in wilderness or park areas can be quickly and easily checked against any permits. They simply monitor movement and snag the violators at a convenient road crossing or other place.

    On the other hand, movement on private land is a different matter. It's impossible to tell if it's something illegal or a landowner working on fences, herding cattle, or just spreading manure.

    The DPS man said he figures they have an apprehension rate higher than 80% on park and game preserve lands as opposed to about 20"% on private lands.

    So here's an idea: How about a bill that will turn all private lands within 100 miles of the border into Federally protected wilderness? That should be a much more effective way to protect our borders.

    Unreasonable? No more unreasonable than Bishop's bulloney.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    During my career in the Maintenance Division, I would say about a third of the work we did was not maintenance, but new construction and elaborate upgrades. This development work was always a higher priority and the most certain path to managerial promotion. This practice had a double effect on the maintenance backlog, first by diverting staff from existing maintenance, and secondly, by adding to the overall long-term maintenance load.

    I generally agree with Mr Butowsky. My one addition would be to examine if we really have a 11.5 billion backlog or a 10 billion wish list and 1.5mil of actual necessary repairs.

    That's a good question, ec. I believe the national backlog is real, but that it is well-padded with development (look for the buzz word 'enhance') masquarading as maintenance. Given the pitiful lack of NPS fiscal transparency, my best guess is probably about 50-50 for the modern list.

    What bureaucrat ever thinks they have enough money? Here at Mount Rainier, there have been at least $200 million in infrastructure improvements over the past decade and the staff has expanded from 125 FTE to 172 FTE during the past three years, but the tired old press releases claiming poverty and insufficent staff just keep coming.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Travis - thank you for taking the time to provide solid responses to this incredibly weak article and incoherent stream of comments.

    "I say that means cutting parks." followed by "I would not cut a one". Huh? "simply put those parks back where they belong". Really.....it's just that simple....the states have so much money I am sure they will be lined up to take this one on. The use of the term "environmentalists" here.....c'mon lose the 60's baggage. Not all "environmentalists" agree on everything you know. Quite a few don't even like parks anyway, for a number of reasons (some of them valid).

    Look folks, this is a complex problem. Some points in the article are worthy and should be considered. But it is exceptionally far from complete or accurate. No one has a clear path here so everyone needs to settle down. There is nothing "PC" in Travis's comments. Again....so much baggage; so much anger.

    Harry - thank you for bringing some worthy points to the NP management discussion. Your article is horrible overall, but I do appreciate some of your points. I can agree there MAY be some parks that should be cut from the system, but that had better be handled carefully and any sweeping measure to cut 50% is a terrible idea in my opinion. I do like the idea of an educated workforce, but then I like education. Not everybody else does though, and I think Travis makes a worthy argument to your sweeping reform. I would certainly like to see more rangers that know their parks better. Overall, some ok thoughts. Not exactly a scholarly approach though. :-)

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    I agree with you trail advocate. The reality of our maintenance backlog, lack of staffing, poor quality or outdated administrative histories is there and if we continue on our present course I see disaster looming. There is no perfect or ideal solution but we do need a plan. I do not see a plan by the NPS to deal with our looming problems. I have offered my plan and it may not be perfect but it is a plan. What I hope to accomplish with my Op Ed is to start a discussion. To say that we can not build one F-35 to pay for 10 years expense for one park is not a plan. It will never happen so I invite eveyone reading this Op Ed to give me your plan. Let's see if we can get something positive going here and move the NPS in the right direction.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Yep, there is reality out there to truly cope with. The fantasy is what it is. The sooner it's recognized as such, the better. Only getting worse and in a hurry!

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    But yes, interpreation had already fallen from a staff of 75 to a staff of 36. I believe now it is just 18. How do you make the parks more relevant by cutting job holders off at the knees? In Zion, another wonderful couple just left the park, knowing they would never achieve permanent status. Again, you aren't going to make the national parks relevant to anyone if all you do is keep adding parks. Every park needs a staff, and if the staff is asked to "volunteer," well, that is Dr. Butowsky's point. It just doesn't work that way.

    I know all too well the challenges in this sphere, Alfred. The Forest Service doesn't even have a BLI for interpretation/education, and we're working to find the dollars (appropriated, fee or otherwise) to keep our two visitor centers and interpretive programming alive on the Tongass. I'm wearing three hats and doing five jobs right now, from training/supervising interpreters to managing YCC programs, all as a GS-9 Step 1. And believe me, I feel lucky just to have a PFT 9.

    I just don't believe the answer to this problem is "close some of the national parks." For one, if you do that, there is no way Congress will simply say "OK, you can close 25 (50, 100, whatever) parks and keep your budget the same." The budget would almost certainly be reduced by about the same amount as those parks cost.

    Most of the parks you could conceive of "closing" aren't big, expensive parks anyway. So let's say you get rid of Nicodemus NHS... congratulations, you've saved $461,000, according to the FY16 Greenbook. Even if you're lucky enough for Congress to let the NPS keep half of that... you've gotten rid of an entire park system unit in exchange for enough funding for maybe three PFT 9s elsewhere. I have to ask you, is that really worth it?

    Are we so bereft of ideas and so destitute of rationale for our cause that we're willing to tear apart our own movement and pit park against park in a desperate search for the last small scraps of funding to be had? Because that sort of cannibalistic paroxysm signifies fatal weakness and terminal instability. It would firmly and publicly depict the national park idea — and the idea of public lands as a whole — as one in its flailing death throes. That is not the vision I believe we need for the future of public land management.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    I wish Mr. Smith could please point out where this "rule" about each generation is written? Maybe we should think about about the future generations that a have to pay for and administer these parks. Past generations can and have made mistakes and put places under NPS management that don't belong there. And as we've mentioned before sites have been removed from the system.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    I generally agree with Mr Butowsky. My one addition would be to examine if we really have a 11.5 billion backlog or a 10 billion wish list and 1.5mil of actual necessary repairs.

  • Savings On Zion Maps, National Park Posters Await Traveler Members   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Alas, too late. Already bought my map and finished my Zion hikes today.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Travis Mason Rushman, thank you for your posts. I enjoy both Harry's and Alfred Runte's posts and usually find I am in agreement with them, but on this issue, I am with you. I understand Mr. Runte's concern about the "population bomb' and in the larger context he maybe right. But I did find Harry's suggestions on this issue not to my own way of thinking. You are right about delisting NPS areas, An excellent book on the subject is Dwight Rettie, "Our National Parks". As both Alfred and Harry know, much administrative history written at the park level is farmed out to an educated staff person, who may or may not be an historian (or knowledgeable of the area), with strict time frames and the unwritten code on not being critical on past or present decisions made by management. It is not career enhancing to find fault with the public/private entity you are working for. That has been my own experience and is quite human.

    Turning these areas that represent the national ecological, historic and cultural heritage over to 50 states is, in my own view, not a good idea. . That the states could find the funding, resources, unity of purpose, etc. for them is highly doubtful, California State Parks a good example. The money is there Alfred, but the perpetual war machine is taking up over 50% of the discretionary budget, our 30 plus year war (longer really) in the middle east is a drain on the nations wealth, creating many problems nationally and internationally and well documented in such books as a recent New York Times best seller, "Dirty Wars" by Jeremy Scahill.

    I understand Alfred's basic premise, population is a very big issue, however many people are seeking solutions. Cultural and deep seated religious values, other considerations, make it a tough nut to crack. Most politicians do not want to touch the subject, it is "we will talk about it after the election". I understand the historian's frustration, but we might also want to consider how difficult it is to get the scientific expertise plugged in. Then of course there are the boots on the ground that are often ignored completely. I really enjoy history, but its the science that we are not paying attention to that is my major concern. It is difficult sometimes to find the line between the two fields, as history does delve into the decision process. Thank you Alfred, others, including a very recent jewel of a little book on willdlife management "Speaking of Bears" by Rachel Mazur.

    Finally, and please excuse this lengthly post, I think we must contiune to work for solutions, difficult as they maybe. In my over 50 years of working for the NPS, I have found the vast majority of employees at all levels to be competent, well trained, working hard to pass on the legacy, Todd Bruno (Worth Fighting For), Paul Berkowitz, (The Case of the Indian Trader), Barbara Moritsch (The Soul of Yosemite), just some recent examples and the list is endless of those persons making the effort (and include most on this websit. By the way Alfred, I ran into one of your old supervisors today during your tenure at Yosemite, Mr. Len McKenzie. He said to say hello.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    What do you mean by a national standard, Travis? Do you have one? All too often, the "standard" is what local interests make of it. After that, should their congressional delegation have the power, they get it pushed through Congress. The same applies to the truly NATIONAL parks. From snowmobiling to overflights, the locals get far more say than they deserve. Or am I wrong?

    As for parks that are "trending down," sorry, but all of the parks I know are trending up. Once again, the Park Service has nothing to offer but a news release suggesting that the parks are "deficient" because some group or class has found them "wanting." That is bunk. My "minority" friends and colleagues do not need to be patronized as if they were freshmen in a university. They do not need to be "led" by the hand, as it were, to appreciate nature. 187 countries in the world out of 240 have significant national parks. When "those" people come here, too, they will know to appreciate nature, that is, if first they can land a job.

    Worry about that and the rest will take care of itself. Now, "professional in the field." Do you think we are not professionals, too? Stick my head in the sand? Why, because I disagree with you? You are no professional if you cannot handle that. I spent much of my afternoon going back and forth with you to see what you have to say. I am not asking you to agree with me, but yes, I will hold you to the facts. And the fact is: With current generations it is not so much about "disinterest" as it is about paying off their student loans--at last count, $1.2 trillion. Just how many parks can you see with that debt load? Among the many recent college graduates that I know, the answer trends to few or none.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    Who gets to keep "their" national park? Those who are willing to staff it properly and pay for it. Will some fight the process? But of course. They don't want to pay for it; they want someone else to pay for it.

    As best I can parse this sentence, you are saying that national parks should be established and maintained not on the basis of any standard of national ecological, cultural or recreational significance, but on the basis of whether they have a community of interest willing to pay for that park to exist. Is that correct?

    The national parks already have "a broad constituency." Are you saying that the constituency is too "white" and affluent? Then say so. Stop beating around the bush with the PC jargon of a more "representative and relevant National Park System."

    It's not "PC jargon" to note that visitation at "traditional" nature-based national parks has been trending downward for some time, or that there is significant writing and research to suggest that my generation is not as connected with, or attracted to, natural and cultural resources-based experiences as much as ones have in the past (c.f. Richard Louv). If you wish to stick your head in the sand with regard to that trend, you are welcome to do so. As a professional in the field, a land management agency employee and as a person who believes in the ideals of public lands, I am interested in reversing that trend. If we are to enjoy our national parks, forests and conservation lands for another 100 years, it must be so.

  • Op-Ed| Addressing The Backlog With New Backbone: History And The National Park Service Centennial   2 weeks 6 days ago

    What do I want for my country, Travis? I would start my wish list with common sense. In the 1960s, my student colleagues trashed the State University of New York at Binghamton to make their statement about "The War." Trouble was: Those jets you mention were their future paycheck, too. When they started work for General Electric and IBM, the love beads came off and the suits went on. Hypocrites? Yes, and Americans. Here in Seattle, that military budget still supports 85,000 workers at Boeing--not to mention another 65,000 at Microsoft, et al. How many can we possibly "retrain" for something else, that is, something that will support a family? Not many, and so again, the article this morning by Dr. Butowsky rests.

    As you say, change is never easy. Nor has it been easy these past 50 years. The lack of jobs, rather than the abundance of them, explains Ferguson, Chicago, and Baltimore. And Binghamton, New York, my hometown. 25,000 jobs making shoes. Gone. 1500 jobs making furniture. Gone. 4,000 jobs making film and chemicals. Gone. 25,000 jobs building main frame computers. Gone. 5,000 jobs working for three railroads. Gone. What's left? The welfare line and a few hamburger joints. And the Little Venice, the best Italian restaurant in the world. Unfortunately, the sauce and meatballs don't make up for all of the losses, recently described as the Detroitification of upstate New York.

    If you can find me 93,000,000 good-paying jobs (the number of adult Americans NOT working), then yes, you can talk about the military, and military spending, and all the rest. I will agree with you. Turn those weapons into plowshares, and yes, properly fund the national parks. However, that statistic is also misleading. It's us old folks--now 65 plus--eating up all that Social Security and Medicare. One day in the next 20 years, I'll go to the boneyard. Meanwhile, I am gobbling up the budget and contributing more than my fair share to the national debt. What is the legacy of my generation? Debt! Do I want it to be that? No, but no one listened when Paul Ehrlich published THE POPULATION BOMB way back in the year of Our Lord 1968.

    How did all of this happen? While America was asleep--and yes--growing ever more politically correct as it outstripped its resources. Consequently, the deeper issues were never aired. Where are all those jobs I mentioned? In China. Is that bad? Not for China, but what does it do for us? A cheaper television set? A cheaper video game? Sure, and no interest paid to savers for the past six years.

    National parks first flourished in that other society--the one that started disappearing in the 1960s. It was still the society of "America First." Tax the wealthy? Put all their booty in a pile, and they still could not run the country for a year. Repeat after me. Middle-class jobs, and middle class wages, and middle-class retirements--that's America. And the minute you say that these days, someone will accuse you of being a protectionist and an opponent of "free trade."

    I've watched it unfold my entire life, and taught it, in the 1970s, as the inevitable conumdrum of population growth. "But Dr. Runte. The Green Revolution is feeding more people than ever before!" Yes, and now all of them want and need a job in an economy destroying jobs left and right. What did I read the other day? In 25 years, computers will be doing everything? In the movie Sleeper, Woody Allen got that right. The only thing left is the orgasmitron. Just don't turn it up to high.

    Unfortunately, none of this is funny. Good people predicted it and wrote about it daily, but all of them were ignored. Now it's here. The world they predicted--5 billion more people, and 4 billion of them still out of work and hope.

    Even if Congress would address it, the problem is now out of control. So I don't expect Congress to say: You're right! We'll cut the military and fund the parks. Why didn't we see it earlier? Gosh, that makes so much sense!

    This century, nothing will be making sense. And if the next 5 billion people predicted should in fact materialize, we'll be lucky to keep the parks at all.