Recent comments

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 1 day ago

    It is not difficult. The Europeans do it all the time. But then, they have first-class rail passenger service, both heavy and light rail. We Americans are the only ones always talking about the "drive."

    And no, trailadvocate, we're not talking about the great cutlural resources that, yes, were built when the Santa Fe Railway "filtered" visitation to the rim. We are talking about the "drive" and our perpetual love affair with cars.

    This is to expain why all of our hand-wringing about global warming is pointless, too. We just won't give up how much we love spreading asphalt in the name of "convenience." And now the Indians want to spread even more of it while building their cable car down to the river. Next up? Grand Canyon Casino? Count on it, because that is the real debate that no one wishes to address.

    "We have met the enemy, and he is us." (Pogo, 1969) It is all about me, me, me. Mary Jane Colter? None of us would want her designing the Grand Canyon today, because yes, she would be in favor of limiting cars and protecting silence. She would be in favor of art over spreading asphalt. Long ago, our nation fired the likes of her.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 2 days ago

    The debate about how much development is appropriate for places like the South Rim will go on as long as there's a park there. I suspect most people would agree a view of the Grand Canyon is worth experiencing; if so, given the distance from the nearest towns of Williams and Flagstaff, and the limits placed by the lack of water on development closer to but outside the park, the challenge is how to accommodate visitors - and employees - at this park.

    I've been fortunate to see the canyon a number of times, and due to the angle of the sun, the view is definitely at its best early and late in the day. Should we remove development from the S. Rim and either deprive visitors the chance to enjoy that experience, or tell them it's okay to enjoy the sunset, but then count on a 90 minute drive or more back to their room in Flagstaff?

    In parks like Grand Teton, Great Smokies and Rocky Mountain, it's easy to put most of the "tourist development" outside the park. At Grand Canyon, the situation is a lot more difficult.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 2 days ago

    Ya, get rid of all those dispicable Mary Jane Elizabeth Colter eyesores throughout the Park via the Fred Harvey Company. Kolb Studio and any reference to those rascally brothers that have so demeaned your utopian wilderness with no mention or connection to humanity and our history that deserves to be preserved and not just guided by pop culture emotion. Don't forget the El Tovar. I can hear the screams of "No, not the El Tovar" by the elites throughout NPS and partners. Ya, go for it.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 2 days ago

    ec - re: Lee's question about how much of this problem "can be traced directly back to Congress...."

    An earlier story on this topic in the Traveler noted, "Sixteen years ago Congress, through its Concessions Management Improvement Act, basically handed the Park Service the tab for repaying concessionaires for the improvements they had made by requiring the agency to advertise concession contracts for open competition for the first time."

    A second recent story noted, "....the predicament... can be traced to both the Concessions Management Improvement Act of 1998 and the somewhat limited number of concessionaires capable of managing operations as large as those in the Grand Canyon."

    I don't have the time to try to analyze this Act or it's implications, but it seems possible this is at least part of the explanation for how the park got into the current problem.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 2 days ago

    Let us not forget the deeper issue. When the National Park Service and/or its concessionaires start describing a national park in terms of a city, do you really have a national park in the first place? Is a national park supposed to be sprinkled with "villages" requiring so many resident "services?"

    Once you allow that level of development, all bets are off. Employees will be subject to furlough just like in a city, and yes, some might lose their homes.

    I sympathize, but the point remains. The model for a national park is all wrong. The South Rim is horribly overdeveloped in the interest of providing many things having nothing to do with preservation. And now there is the wind farm between Williams and the South Rim reminding us what global warming portends. Less development? No, even more of it. We Americans just can't get enough of the argument that we need more jobs and growth.

    In that case, bring in the lawyers. As John Muir said, they are the last to divide up the spoils. But don't make this a victim issue. The only victim here is the park--what it was supposed to be and then never became once the developers got control of it.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 2 days ago

    how much can be traced directly back to Congress.

    Lee, you keep accusing congress yet you haven't once provided one example of how Congressional medling is involved or the cause of the problem. Sounds like empty accusations to me.

  • Traveler's View: Senate Should Either Fund New Parks In Defense Bill, Or Strip Them Out   1 week 2 days ago

    A procedural vote like that is not a final vote.

    d-2, if the "procedural" vote failed it would have been the final vote. The government would have shut down. If the dems were doing it just to play games that makes it worse.

  • Traveler's View: Senate Should Either Fund New Parks In Defense Bill, Or Strip Them Out   1 week 2 days ago

    d-2, thanks for adding what should have been the last paragraph of my post above.

    But now what are we gonna do?

    I'm thinking it's time to resurrect Occupy Wall Street, but doing a better job of it this time.

    The challenge is getting people to turn off the anesthesia of endless entertainment and try to learn what's really happening to them.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 2 days ago

    Thank you for a well-written and heartfelt letter that deserves careful consideration.

    Unfortunately, that seems to be the new business model throughout too much of America these days both inside and outside of gvvernment. Welcome to America's future middle class.

    I still question, however, how much of the blame for this situation lies at the feet of either the NPS managers in GRCA or WASO and how much can be traced directly back to Congress.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 2 days ago

    The above comment offers some important insights into behind the scenes issues that are "invisible" to park visitors, but which are very real to both concession and NPS employees.

  • Congress Sends Defense Authorization Bill, With National Park Legislation, To President   1 week 2 days ago

    Conveniently not mentioned in the article above is the return of PUBLIC beach access taken away by overzealous green organizations and their law firms at Cape Hatteras national Seashore Recreational Area. The provisions of this bill will also affect Cape Lookout National Seashore in the immediate future and the other NPS managed Seashores in the US.

    In this case everyone was given back access to the lands that they paid for and use each year.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   1 week 2 days ago

    I've lived and worked in Grand Canyon National Park for nearly 20 years now, and have not seen anything nearly as heartless and absurd as the behavior of NPS regarding this contract. It is truly shameful that they have no regard for the lives they are affecting with this decision.

    To my knowledge, not one person from NPS has been willing to look in the eye a single individual and explain to them why they think that they do not deserve to live in respectable housing, or why they believe those individuals deserve to be out of work. Many people here are anxious- some to the point of being ill. I've struggled with my own emotions as my own home is one that has been designated to the other concessionaire, which can't assure me if I worked them that I would be entitled to it. Yet, we still have to smile and pretend all is right with the world for our guests. Morale is incredibly low.

    NPS claims that Xanterra is trying to block competition. If their solution is so good, then why are there not multiple bidders for this contract? Why is there a danger of services closing down the first of the year?

    What business is going to be able to profit with NPS demands for such a large portion of receipts? Where are they going to find employees willing to work for them when they will not be able to offer a decent place to live? NPS's solution to have people live outside the park is simply not feasible. The small community just outside has it's own water shortage situation, and the nearest sizable community is 70 miles away. Rents in Flagstaff are simply outrageous, and travel in winter would be hazardous, and endanger lives. This crisis, which is a major portion of Xanterra's case, will be a problem for any concessionaire that takes over the contract. This circumstance is one of Xanterra's primary reasons for the lawsuit. (The homes lost in the contract process belong to families, and/or people who have been in the park many years.)

    Furthermore, NPS is being heartless to both their own employees and the general public.Their investment of 100 million dollars in the park comes at quite a price. Their own employees have been told to expect layoffs, lack of seasonal hiring, etc. Programs to cut include children's programs, parking lot lighting, and preventative search and rescue. A water pipeline in dire need of replacement will continue to break, and the breaks will only get worse. If there is no water, the park would be forced to close, and that entire investment would go to waste.

    As it is, NPS law enforcement does not operate 24/7. If my understanding is correct, this is due to budget. Need a law enforcement officer, or having a medical emergency at 2 A.M.? Better hope it's not too bad. We have to drag someone out of their nice, warm home. Not always an easy task. Excuses are abundant for not providing services at that hour. I can't imagine another community where law enforcement goes home and goes to bed!

    (And yet Congress wants to create 7 new national parks? Where are they coming up with the money for that?)

    Do I think Xanterra is perfect? Absolutely not. I do believe their brand and business model could stand a major overhaul. (That might be a bit easier if NPS weren't so controlling!) But is the solution to create an unfeasible business contract? Is it to tell hundreds of employees (without ever even facing them) that they no longer have homes and or jobs? Is the solution to enter into an unprofitable contract? Or for NPS to rob the parks of many of their treasured programs, and make cuts to those things that ensure guest safety? This does not seem logical.

    I think the public deserves better than this. I think people that have dedicated their lives to this park deserve better. I've been here 20 years, and have never been so frightened! I think NPS's own employees deserve better.

    NPS, Mr. Jarvis, Mr. Uberuaga, these are real lives you are affecting here!

  • Traveler's View: Senate Should Either Fund New Parks In Defense Bill, Or Strip Them Out   1 week 2 days ago

    -- ecbuck, again you miss the point. A procedural vote like that is not a final vote. The point is to make the Republican majority choose, and if the Republicans know they cannot hide behind Democrats, then they have to commit. No one thinks they want to kill the bill, only that Republicans would know the bill would die if they also did not stand up. The Democrats find enough votes to just pass the bill, the bulk coming from Republicans, because right now it is essential for the Republicans to start to take responsibility for something real. People who follow Congress knows is what the procedural vote meant.

    -- Lee Dalton (with Kurt's concurrence), God love you, as my grandmother used to say, but lets say you could flush away all these Members of Congress, and as long as American voters allow corporate money to control the game, you will get Congresswomen or men just as bad, more likely worse, than this lot.

  • Congress Sends Defense Authorization Bill, With National Park Legislation, To President   1 week 2 days ago

    Absolutely disgusting! This should have been sucked up by A-1 Septic Tank Services and disposed of properly.

    Dysfunctional government at its best.

  • National Park Service Slips Slightly In "Best Places To Work" Survey   1 week 2 days ago

    I'm so glad that my experience were back in the "good ol' days" when Congressional overreach and eagerness to please every conceivable special interest that holds out some campaign dollars or other gratuity for Congressonal services had not become completely beyond reason.

  • For Some Park Visits, Getting There Is Definitely Part Of The Fun   1 week 2 days ago

    Jim, I'll accept any tips gratefully.

    I plan to camp out on deck.

    My only experience on (but not in) Alaska was a time I flew up with an Apache fire crew to a fire burning northeast of Fairbanks. The pilot circled the fire, which as near as we could tell was threatening nothing. We could actually see WATER under the flames. Permafrost was thawing, I guess. The pilot then advised us that we were being diverted back to a fire in Montana and said we'd stop for fuel and then be gone. He then said, "And for God's sake, don't anyone open the door!"

    The explanation for that came as soon as we had stopped at the fuel dock and hordes of MOSQUITOES literally covered the windows almost instantly. Outside we could see clouds of them circling like bloodthirsty little vultures. The fueling crew were all wearing wide brimmed hats holding nets and had long sleeves and pantlegs tightly tied around wrists and ankles.

    We gave profound thanks for our good luck and felt very lucky to face only a few thousand Montana mosquitos.

    I'm banking on the hope that mosquitos don't like salt water -- and if they do, that whales love to eat mosquitos.

  • Concerns, Opposition Voiced To Proposed Entrance Fee Increases At National Parks   1 week 2 days ago

    Dahkota - The earth is 4.5 billion years old and you think 36 years of satellite history is significant? You think one month that is below the same month from five years ago is significant? Obviously you are in the same camp as Gruber.

    Fact - CO2 has risen steadily over the last 18 years. Fact - temperatures have trended flat over the last 18 years. Fact - the AGW models have been horribly wrong.

  • Concerns, Opposition Voiced To Proposed Entrance Fee Increases At National Parks   1 week 2 days ago

    Whipperin1,

    There is an $8,261 purchase order for the repair of a theater projector with effective date of July 9, 2014 and expected completion date of August 1, 2014.

    http://www.usaspending.gov/search?form_fields=%7B%22search_term%22%3A%22...

  • Concerns, Opposition Voiced To Proposed Entrance Fee Increases At National Parks   1 week 2 days ago

    The NPS called the trails that it tried to remove "horse trails" when the trails were only used by bison. Yes, the NPS is that stupid. The closed theater was not the IMAX Theater outside of the Park; it was the theater in the Visitor Center. I was there for 3 days and the NPS had a sign up that said "theater closed for 30 days". The time on the sign never changed in 3 days. More lies. I found out through the FOIA that the theater had been closed for months. I really have the documents and I don't think it is possible to post documents on this site.

  • Concerns, Opposition Voiced To Proposed Entrance Fee Increases At National Parks   1 week 2 days ago

    "November 2014 was the second warmest November in the 36-year global satellite temperature record, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

    With a global average temperature that was 0.33 C (about 0.60 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms, November 2014 trailed only November 2009, which averaged 0.39 C (about 0.70 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms."

  • For Some Park Visits, Getting There Is Definitely Part Of The Fun   1 week 2 days ago

    Visiting the national park units in southwestern Alaska (Lake Clark National Park, Katmai National Park, Anianchak National Monument, and Alagnak Wild River) requires a small plane. No roads connect to the outside world and the closest ferry terminal is on Kodiak Island, so you have to fly in. Fortunately there are hundreds of commerical operators who fly out to these amazing parks. It's a wonderful way to see some of the most beautiful landscape scenery in North America, but keep in mind that fog, clouds, and winds ocassionally ground small planes well into the afternoon, and may even prevent air operations for the day. It pays to be flexible and have a backup plan if your first day is weathered out.

  • National Park Service Slips Slightly In "Best Places To Work" Survey   1 week 2 days ago

    I would bet if the survey went back 30 years you'd see that the current leadership problem is the result of steady decline over the past three decades. The biggest problem with leadership in the NPS today is the visible disconnect between what leaders say, i.e., the rhetoric, and what they actually do regarding the NPS core mission, i.e., conserving resources. Real resource protection in parks manytimes requires mangers to take controversial stands against powerful entities outside parks (including other agencies) who can make it very uncomfortable for senior leaders in DC. Rather than take on these powerful interests to actually make a difference, managers are told to keep things under control. Thus park managers appear go overboard on relatively meaningless regulations to make it look like they are doing something to protect resources but quitetly look the other way when it comes to the real resource threats from the outside. It doesn't take very long for the rank and file to see the disconnect between the rhetoric and the behavior of NPS leaders.

  • Concerns, Opposition Voiced To Proposed Entrance Fee Increases At National Parks   1 week 2 days ago

    Looks like Utah is the exception.

    http://investmentwatchblog.com/november-9000-record-cold-temps/

    US record lows outnumber record highs by almost 4.5 to 1.

    Of course neither the temperature in Utah nor these 1 year statistics mean anything in the context of AGW but 18 years of flat temperatures does.

  • Concerns, Opposition Voiced To Proposed Entrance Fee Increases At National Parks   1 week 2 days ago

    That's hilarious coming from you, Johnny boy. I'm not the one that suffers from constant delusions that causes me to constantly crank out conspiracy theories that the NPS and taxpayers then have to spend money to counter. But, I will say the NPS response to your lawsuit of trumped up theories has been an entertaining read. Regardless, i'm not an NPS employee, but I have no issue being part of a team that helps fund projects for the NPS. Thats the difference between me and you. I provide and produce. You just take away and cause taxpayers money due to your insane delusions. The anger and hostility you wage is always a hoot. Like I said, you and whipperin' are like a bunch of hecklers sitting way up in the nose bleed sections. And I definitely could see you being an animal abuser. Only an ass would throw rocks at dogs - what an idiotic analogy.

  • Concerns, Opposition Voiced To Proposed Entrance Fee Increases At National Parks   1 week 2 days ago

    Utah has been experiencing record warm December days for the entire month and tail end of November. Here's a link to a fun cartoon fron the Salt Lake Tribune:

    http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/1933569-155/bagley-cartoon-warm-december-days

    Smile!