Recent comments

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 21 hours ago

    But, we know that's not the case, EC. I lived and worked in a mountain resort town and did contract work for real estate agents. We all know how capitalism works. Very few good quality realtors are willing to provide quality services for free. There maybe a few that would be willing to do the work for free, but they would be people way out of thier league. There are many mid-level types that want to be the realtor to the stars, but they have to work their way up, so to speak. That's like everything. Very few become a realtor to the stars swinging the multi-million dollar mansions overnight. It takes work.

    To apply similar things to trail crews - I've encountered some really nasty blow downs in the Smokies that were dangerous, especially during winter when the trail crews are furloughed. I've had situations where massive spruce trees came down and took a lot of the forest with them right on the trail, and created deadly snags over head. To clear that out requires not only some cahone's, but skill. I don't think you send Joe Schmo out there who wants to do it for free, and then ends up killing himself because he wasn't prepared for the job. Doing that sort of work does require some experience, and knowledge. There are professional trail crews, and trail buildling is like being a landscape architect. In our national parks, you'd hope they would hire the good trail architects, or at least quality ones, and not go the cheap chinsey route that will eventually require so much maintence that it ends up costing the park service more long term instead of less if it was done right the first time.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 21 hours ago

    Working for the Great Smoky Mtns association in a paid position is not working for the NPS? Really? Let me be the first to thank you for your tireless PAID efforts. You are in good company here with your peers. As a park volunteer we do it for free. Its called giving back.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 21 hours ago

    Would EC take millionaires around to show awesome mountain mansions for free,

    No. But that is my personal choice - and the choice of my clients. If they thought they could get comparable services from someone that was willing to do it for free. They would. They don't.

    [addition via edit] And if they did, my recourse would not be preventing them from providing those services for free but building my own capabilties to offer something they can't or to find some other profession where my capabilities added value that could not be provided by volunteers.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 21 hours ago

    If I did, I apologize.

    No apology necessary. It just sounded as if you were suggesting those costs (selection, training, supervision) made volunteers as costly as paid employees and thus there was no net cost benefit. The reality is that those costs are comparable and thus it is the pay vs non-pay that is the primary differential.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 21 hours ago

    So 11.75/hour is too much to bust your ass in the backcountry, or drive a van and interpret resources for park visitors?

    It is if someone is willing to do it for $11 an hour, $7.00 an hour or even free.

  • UPDATE: Missing Hiker Walks Out Of Olympic National Park Backcountry   2 weeks 22 hours ago

    Sounds like he got lost in the fog. Seems like he was prepared just in case something like this happened. Still, lucky guy he made it out fine.

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/09/08/3368198/missing-hiker-walks-out...

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 22 hours ago

    I always took you to be one that was cruel to animals, Quillen... Considering that the few that commented here are either retired from the park service, or don't work for the park service, you may want to rethink your claims. I don't think they have much of a stake in the Olympics or at Cumberland Seashore.

    It sounds like what is happening at Cumberland NS is that it's going from a paid government position to a paid private contractor position. They decided that taking visitors by vehicle to a more seculded part of the beach can be handled by a guide service instead. Those that supply the service would still be compensated as it's a business venture, and obviously so will the park in such a situation, since they would get a cut from the contract. Many national parks around the world are ran that way, especially in South America and Africa.

    I'm not a huge fan of guide services, but can understand why some visitors may prefer those services.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 22 hours ago

    John Quillen, I believe John asked you a serious question, and you should respond to it with at least some semblance of dignity and intelligence instead of acting like a child. What if your drug counseling position at the Marysville school district was no longer funded by taxpayers but went to volunteers instead? Think that is fair? Instead of just sniping, and providing misinformation about others, and me on this site, you have a chance to offer an actual opinion that goes beyond childish attacks.

    It's interesting, like John L stated that as budgets have been slashed, that the parks are turning to other avenues to raise revenue. Whether it's putting more pressure on groups like non-profits that do fundraising, or trying to get volunteers to do what were paid positions. But, I must say, if volunteering is just meant for some to get a free night in the woods, so 10 of their buddies can have a big bonfire and say "this campsite is clean", leaving the campsite dirtier than when they arrived, then I think that system might be a little broken. I'd much rather have paid trail crews, and backcountry rangers that take the work seriously and provide much better services.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 22 hours ago

    May I suggest that we all use the IGNORE button for our friend from the Smokies? It would do a lot to keep discussions civil and productive. If he is ignored, he will soon retire.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 23 hours ago

    Backpacker--I am not sure what your problem is with former NPS employees. All I said is that they need to selected, trained and supervised with care. We certainly had volunteers in every park in which I worked. And I have been a volunteer myself. I know you are angry about the backcountry fee in the Smokies, but that does not merit the kind of insults you throw at everyone who disagrees with anything you say. Most of the former NPS employees I recognize on NPT because they use their real names are not as aggressive as you are.

    And yes, EC, regular employees need to be carefully selected, trained and supervised also. I hope I did not give the impression that those items are necessary for just volunteers. If I did, I apologize.

    Rick

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 23 hours ago

    John Lovaas, NPT member for 58 seconds. Welcome to NPT and thanks for all your interest in this magazine over the years. :)

    methinks this chord has struck a little too close to home! I lovat!

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    SmokiesBackpacker/anonymous coward:You seem pretty clueless here. You claim the NPS is fighting these volunteer implementation efforts at Olympic and elsewhere- but surprise, surprise: permanent employees of the NPS are the people asking for the volunteers.

    One reason they may be asking for volunteers is because their budgets have been slashed. An example: in 2007, Sequoia National Park had 17 seasonal interpretive rangers- seasonals, in case any Tea Partiers here start foaming at the mouth- no benefits, no health insurance.How many in 2014? 5. This has occurred at all our National Parks.

    As to this hilarious comment from the peanut gallery:"...By the way, isn't it true that the majority of current NPS volunteers are made up of a singular demographic, retired upper middle class white folks..."No- it isn't. If it was true(in other words, FACT), you'd be able to guide us to a reference. That's how facts work, if you were curious. My own direct observation is that every volunteer interp I've ever met in my life is a teacher on their summer break from a nearby school district- which is generally rural, and generally poor. Which means that the property tax base doesn't have much to pay teachers.

    Suggesting that they are upper middle class is a spectacularly clueless statement. As to replacing trail crew workers with volunteers, or seasonal interps with concession workers; both those job descriptions are no more than GS-4 or 5 positions- GS-4 paying 11.75/hour.

    So 11.75/hour is too much to bust your ass in the backcountry, or drive a van and interpret resources for park visitors? Gotcha. Care to tell me what you do for a living, and why your overpaid rump shouldn't be replaced by a $7.25/hour temp worker? It's easy to do. Better yet- let's send your job to China. They need the work.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Umm I don't work for the NPS. So, let me understand your limited logic. When you realize you can't win an argument, just challenge them to engage in violence? Funny... but that's kind of the game of a sociopath that realizes he has little to stand on in his ideology. I do support the NPS financially. I do it in other ways that are much more impressive, and can create a much greater reach..

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Um, let's play nice, folks. Otherwise we'll shut 'er down.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Too bad you declined the fundraising challenge that was offered to you, Gary. It would be a great opportunity for you to support the NPS financially instead of just drawing from the agency and justifying your employment with the NPS and denigrating volunteers.

    Perhaps you would be interested in volunteering for the Smokies yourself instead? As a volunteer, I can hook you up with the volunteer coordinator. We sure could use some more hands in the backcountry.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    When you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that gets hit yelps the loudest. In this instance it is the itinerant NPS carney crowd.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    What will happen is that it will work in a lackluster and dysfunctional situation for a year or two, and then the services will be so poor that the management will go back to paid staff. I could just see the kids right now, "well, I was going to go spend 8 hours doing heavy handed labor-intensive work clearing large trees that toppled like dominos on a trail, but I think i'll just skip that and go play xbox, since i'm not getting paid to do it. That was a lot of work for no reward, last week. All I got was a lousy sandwich, and a motivational speech about how awesome we are". I can understand if it's being applied to a college class, or to an internship, because there is an investment in that person's future.

    Usually volunteers are either retirees that have a lot of time on their hands, are very young people looking to get their foot in the door, or middle aged types that want some volunteer work so they can exert sort Author-i-tay..

    Could you imagine the whining of some on here if they said all disciplinarian types at taxpayer funded school districts should be handled by volunteers, or simply the childrens parents? I'm sure there would be no such whining if such a situation occurred.

    I've done my share of contracting work in the private sector for most of my career, and those potential clients that say "I don't have any money, but if you build this for me for free, i'll make sure to give you great word-of-mouth and get you more business" were always the ones you showed the door. Just walk-a-way.

    Would EC take millionaires around to show awesome mountain mansions for free, with no potential to make any bread for his efforts? And in the case that they liked what they saw, and moved their titles around, he just got a simple pat on the head for his time and efforts instead of compensation for his time, and knowledge. Or would he just walk-a-way from that situation?

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Volunteers are a great resource particularily in trail building. The advantages are many. First they want to be there as opposed being assigned to xyz duty which they may or may not enjoy. The duties are usually specific enough that they know what they are signing up for ahead of time. They "can" be highly skilled and knowlegable, wanting to give back to something that they enjoy or see value in. If they don't perform or are not up to the task it is easy to dismis them without fear of litigation or having to deal with a union protecting the least capable in the workforce. Of course there are a few drawbacks but utilized correctly they are a great resource. Yes it makes some uncomfortable as would I if someone was willing to do my job for free.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Boy you got that right, EC. Have you ever seen NPS employees squirm so much over a topic? Man, they might have just priced themselves out of the market. It is a traditional NPS response. . These NPS folks have a working script. And it is worn out. As in to death. Of course they wouldn't use volunteers when they can squander more tax dollars from the hardworking American Public.

  • UPDATE: Missing Hiker Walks Out Of Olympic National Park Backcountry   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Wow. Reported overdue Thursday and shows up 4 days later in good condition? Wonder if he took a wrong turn (or possibly on purpose) and ended up going north instead of east.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Although this particular article mentions a couple of programs of limited scope, Owen speaks wisdom.

    He echoes, "Proceed with extreme caution."

  • Half Dome Hikers Evacuated Via Helicopter Due To Wildfire In Yosemite National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Well, at least the NPS didn't require a permit to be obtained in advance in order to get on the helicopter and for the firefighters to work in the area.........

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I am with ecbuck, seems like little down side. It seems like a great way the grant was written to get the most done with the money provided. It also seems like it might not put anybody out of work because the grant may be work that wasn't going to be done with out grant money.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Owen,

    Other than putting paid NPS employees out I work, I fail to see the downside of using volunteers. Sounds like a bunch of job protectionism here to me. Must be the NTEU at work.

  • Volunteer Labor At Olympic National Park And Outsourcing Ranger Tours At Cumberland Island National Seashore   2 weeks 1 day ago

    In 1976, legislation was put in place to prevent the use of volunteers for law enforcement duties inside the national parks. It seems like similar legislation needs to be enacted to prevent the use of volunteers for services traditionally provided by NPS professionals. Otherwise, it's only a matter of time and budget when NPS interpretive/educational services are made up mostly of volunteers or contracted out to the private sector. My fear is that once interpretive rangers are replaced by volunteers or concession employees, there will be no turning back, regardless of whether or not the NPS operational budget eventually improves.By the way, isn't it true that the majority of current NPS volunteers are made up of a singular demographic, retired upper middle class white folks? Of course, if in-park housing cannot be provided to those who would otherwise volunteer in parks, most volunteer positions will be dominated by retirees who bring their own RV homes with them, family members of employees who already reside in the park, and those who reside immediately outside the park. The present NPS interpretive plan, however, is to increase both opportunities to increase volunteers in the parks, and to enhance diversity within the NPS workforce.