Recent comments

  • Parks And Local Economies—Observations From Glacier National Park   6 days 40 min ago

    If you don't like engaging in the outdoors, then yes, living around tourism based towns is not for the average joe. But, you can have a nice living in those areas if you know what you are doing. It's not for everyone, by any means.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   6 days 41 min ago

    because the wealthy would spend their money elsewhere

    And non "wealthy" alike

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   6 days 44 min ago

    Yes, David, people would spend elsewhere. The report assumes otherwise.

  • Parks And Local Economies—Observations From Glacier National Park   6 days 51 min ago

    Besides working for a government agency or living off tourism, there's not a whole to do in areas near National Parks (at least out west). Growing marijuana seems to be the main alternative to earning money now that logging has been limited.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   6 days 54 min ago

    ecbuck, I thought the point is; they would spend money elsewhere if the parks didn't exist not the other way around.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   6 days 1 hour ago

    ec, please show us some proof of that allegation.

    Lee - read the analysis. It is full of assumptions. The most blatant and erroneous of which is that people would not spend the money elsewhere if parks didn't exist.

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   6 days 1 hour ago

    John, once again, you spew facts like you pretend to have these absolute answers, when they are quite off. Over a million go up to Clingmans Dome every year, About a 1/3rd of a million go further than a 1/2 mile in the park, and around 2 million + go into Cades Cove every year. In fact Cades Cove would be in the top 10 of most visited spots in the National Park system. By the way, they do keep traffic counters and those stats are online too, and each time a car passes by those counters, it's clicked, and those hard numbers are out there. But, hey... do I need to show you where those are to? Since you seem to know everything there is to know about what's happening in the Smokies, i'm sure you already know these numbers, right?

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   6 days 1 hour ago

    Visitation figures for many areas are a very complicated question, especially for areas that have many possible entry points. Short of having someone physically count each person/vehicle entering the park (which is rarely feasible 24/7, even for areas that have an entrance station), at best all that can be hoped for are reasonable estimates.

    I'm guessing there's still a small staff in an NPS "statistical" office that oversees this effort. Twice during my career, I was working at a park when one or two of them spent several days in the area, doing spot checks and surveys to try to update formulas specific for that park, such as average # of people per vehicle, how many were locals just "passing through" vs. "recreational visitors," etc.

    To a large degee, perhaps these numbers shouldn't matter. Sure, a Yosemite or Grand Canyon clearly needs more funding than a small historical site, but these numbers (and changes up or down from year to year for a park) probably receive more attention than they deserve by those controlling the purse strings to decide whether a park (or the agency as a whole) deserves more or less funding.

    In my humble opinion, such variations + or (-) in visitation are only important if they indicage a major change in use of an area due to some significant factor, either internal or external to the park.

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   6 days 1 hour ago

    In the Smokies, Newfound Gap road is the most direct thoroughfare to NC so if someone drives from state to state, they are considered a National Park visitor. Therefore, if casino trafiic in Cherokee is up, then the Smokies gets to count it and subsequently ask the public for more money to subsidize the casino traffic or Dollywood splash country bonanza coming the other way. The majority of Smokies "visitors" never leave their vehicles and hardly even are aware they are in a National Park. Yet they claim 9 million. Just a numbers game, the proof lies in the fact that of that 9 million a paltry 69000 ever visit the backcountry in a given year. Yet the bulk of monies to the Smokies goes to roads and visitor centers along NF gap road etc.

  • National Park Service Promotes Parks As Economic Engines   6 days 2 hours ago

    If anyone thinks that national parks are not paying their own way, come to Gatlinburg, TN, one of the gateway towns to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    Visitors spend on motel rooms, meals, trinkets and serious camping equipment and ice cream. And that includes me.

    Danny www.hikertohiker.com

  • Trails I've Hiked: Grinnell Lake By Boat And Boot In Glacier National Park   6 days 2 hours ago

    Jim, thanks for sharing. Great story. This is now on my "next time i am there list".

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   6 days 2 hours ago

    Wasn't there something written about this a while back? One of the issues is the difficulty of keeping track, and then there's the issue of what constitutes a "visit" (does driving through count as a visit, or do you have to do more?). Because the parks are so unique, I think the parks have leeway in determining what constitutes a visit, but one question might be if someone leaves and comes back, how many visits is that? For keeping track, I think in some cases they have to estimate. But there were also issues with things where they did have a way of keeping track. For example, I remember something where a counter of some kind had its battery run out, and so they had no way of knowing and therefore had to estimate or extrapolate somehow. I think there's a place where each park says how it estimates visitation, and that can provide more information or insight about where the stats come from.

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   6 days 3 hours ago

    How do they measure "visitation" on the GW Parkway? This is a major commuter thoroughfare with the vast majority of traffic visiting nothing. Are those commuters being counted as park visits?

  • Making Sense Out Of National Park Visitation Statistics   6 days 3 hours ago

    While quite a few of the NPS visitation numbers are obviously "soft", some seem considerably inflated. For example, I am quite familar with both parks and am unable to believe that Olympic's annual visitation has actually been almost triple that of Mount Rainier in recent years. The parking lots at Rainier are far larger and I have never waited in a mile-long line to enter Olympic. Most Olympic attractions are also more than twice the driving time from local population centers in 'Pugetopolis' as Rainier.

    Both park's websites used to have links explaining their counting methodology, but I can no longer find them. Both used traffic counter figures multiplied by a persons/vehicle factor, which was then decreased by a percentage of 'Non-Recreational' visits. I think OLYM considerably undercounts non-recreational traffic where the US 101 loop passes through the park at Lake Crescent and the Kalaloch strip. They probably also count the same visitor vehicles multiple times as they turn up each spur road like Hurricane, Soleduc, and the Hoh. This may also occur at Rainier when a vehicle visits Paradise and Sunrise on the same day.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 4 hours ago

    Wow! The Park gets a 9 1/2 % cut. The S&P 500 hasn't seen that kind of annual profit margin in at least 20 years - if ever. Talk about "enormous profits".

  • Parks And Local Economies—Observations From Glacier National Park   6 days 4 hours ago

    No doubt the parks help their local communities. Whether this is additive to the economy overall or just draws business from other markets is still questionable But I am with you, their economic impact is not the reason for their existance.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 4 hours ago

    From the Labor Environment section(pg 37):

    "Two current collective bargaining agreements cover the Existing Concessioner’s employees: one with UNITE HERE! Union Local 19 of San Jose, California, (408) 321-9019, covering all service workers, and the other with the General Teamsters Local #386 of Modesto, California, (209) 526-2755), covering commercial drivers, mechanics, warehouse, and maintenance employees."

    Would these unions really want to have to negotiate with multiple entities operating various concessions in the park?

    Also, in the business opportunity document there are a lot of detailed projections for gross revenue for the various departments starting on page 19.

    http://concessions.nps.gov/docs/Prospectus/YOSE004-16/Prospectus%20Files...

    Gross receipts for the last 3 years were between $129-132M.

    http://concessions.nps.gov/docs/Prospectus/YOSE004-16/Prospectus%20Files...

  • Parks And Local Economies—Observations From Glacier National Park   6 days 4 hours ago

    . . . for those who unfortunately feel the need to validate the worth of parks in terms of economics, it seems pretty clear that these national treasures are also the not-so-little economic "engines that could."

    Nice encapsulation.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 4 hours ago

    the last figures I saw were the gross of roughly 125,000,000,

    And gross revenues means absolutely nothing. What was their net profit? What was their investment? You can't claim "enormous profits" without knowing those numbers.

    Our parks, just like the rest of the nations public infrastructure are a governmental responsibility, and we are not doing a very good job right now of taking care of it.

    I think you are confusing two issues. One is who can run the concessions better. In my mind (and apparently the NPS's) it is no doubt the private sector. The other issues is funding to maintain the assets (natural and man made) of the Parks. Indeed that is a federal responsiblity financially (though the work could be outsourced) and like you I would like to see more money going to the Parks. But that money has to come from somewhere. I believe it should come by reducing other programs that the Feds shouldn't be involved with in the first place not just raising the deficit or inflicting higher taxes. We need to get our budget in order.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 5 hours ago

    EC, the last figures I saw were the gross of roughly 125,000,000, that in the early 1990s when the MCA contract was rebid. Delaware North got some freebees also, the legal (I believe the correct term was possessory interest) in certain structures was paid for by a convoluted loan arrangement by a third party to the tune of about roughly 100 million by the NPS. I do not off hand remember the details. The NPS is paying this off. You may want to look into it. I might add that the current President of concession operations in Yosemite is an acquaintance, a really fine person, just first rate. This is not an issue of personalities, but rather who is best able to maintain the public commons, either directly or in the case of contracts, oversight and enforcement. Of course this is the raging economic political debate of our generation.

    Regarding the service and financial advantages of the private sector contracts, it is highly debatable that the park and and its visitors are getting the service they deserve at reasonable cost. Our parks, just like the rest of the nations public infrastructure are a governmental responsibility, and we are not doing a very good job right now of taking care of it. President Reagan's campaign slogan "the Government is the problem" is having its effect. President Clinton did not help things much in his second term with his "reinventing government" initiatives. Everyone benefits from the maintaining of our public facilities from parks, roads, airports, schools, etc. including our private sector entities. I understand where you are coming from, but I simply disagree with your position. The balance is out of control, it least in my own view. As pointed out by the excellent "Traveler" post, somethings things cannot be measured by money/profit margins alone.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 5 hours ago

    I know this would not help supply and demand. And it would possibly make someone think they chose the wrong half. But it would provide for a good study...LOL

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 5 hours ago

    Thinking outside the box...it would be interesting to split a Park lodge in half, each half run by a seperate entity like non profit vs private company. If anything else you would hope the direct compitition would make them both better. It could also be two private companies.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 6 hours ago

    Oh Rick, I have compassion. Just not for those that self-destruct.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 6 hours ago

    Ron,

    You ask me to contact Yosemite to answer my profit questions. That just shows you don't know those answers yet you are eager to call their profits "enormous". I believe you have made an assumption which is likely to have little validity.

    As to corporate vs non-profit you provide some interesting history but you admit that financial concerns were a major issue. Those financials provided by Delaware North were part of their costs. The bottom line is they were able to provide equal or better services to the Park with more attractive financials for the Park. Further these franchises are rebid creating a competitive market that keeps margins down. Finally, you imply there was some "insider" activity between Babbit and Delaware North in the Yosemite award. However, the vast majority of concession operations in the Parks across the country are outsourced. Is every one of our Parks tainted by corruption? Or is it because these corporations can provide a better product with more attractive financials to the parks and their guests. I'm firmly in the camp of the latter.

  • Yosemite National Park Concession Prospectus Includes Significant Lodging Changes   6 days 7 hours ago

    In general I have been all for letting the free market dictate costs with some exceptions. National parks would be one of those exceptions. I am a camper too and if I had my way would love to see the only lodging be for people with their own tents. That said, I understand camping isnt for everyone and do feel that lodging in some of the parks is rediculously expensive. I think it is a slipery slope if we let those who can afford xyz dictate what will be in the parks. What's next? A different fee for various hiking trails? Want to see a spectacular water fall without crowds it's $100 per hiker vs. the little falls with crowds at $10? Want to be at an overlook during sunrise or sunset? There will be an additional fee for that. I fear income inequality has gotten so out of wack that pretty soon free markets wont work any longer unless you call another civil war part of a natural correction.