Three Cheers for Kurt Repanshek

I know that a lot of people that read my blog are also readers of the National Parks Traveler, a blog written by Kurt Repanshek. And so, what I have to say here is something that you may already know; for those of us who are concerned about the happenings within the National Park Service, we are pretty lucky to have a guy like Kurt reporting on these issues.

A lot has been said about the rise of blogs as providers of news. It seems the purpose of many blogs is to gather the news from legit sources and re-tell it from the blog authors own opinionated perspective. For many blogs that works great, but it misses what a niche audience really wants, which is original reporting about their issue of concern. That issue for me (and most likely for you) are the parks. It is within this need for original reporting that Kurt has stepped up.

Kurt has a reporters background. He has a history with the Associated Press, and he's written books about the parks. It's with this "legit" background that Kurt approaches his stories. Take, for instance, three stories he has covered just this week.

1) Park Service Employee Morale
Kurt's story, "Memo to Mary: Call Julie Elmore" is a follow-up to a story we heard about last September. Back then, there was news that a grad-student was conducting a survey among current employees of the National Park Service. At the time it was an interesting story, but frankly, I had forgotten about it all these months later. Kurt has followed up with the author and published a very good piece which reveals the very critical views that some active employees have towards their Park Service employer.

2) NPCA Backs Off Support for the ATB Pass
I had heard rumors of this from a couple sources, but Kurt got the real deal. His article, "NPCA Voices Opposition to ATB Pass", covers the NPCA's new position that the America The Beautiful Pass reaches too far for those interested in a visit to the National Parks. One can still buy a "Forest Service only" pass, but at this point, to buy what had been a "Park Service only" pass means that you have to spend 60% more than last year on a new ATB pass. Since December, when pricing details of the pass were made public, we've been waiting for an official position from the NPCA. Kurt got it.

3) Congressman Souder Tours the Country for Park Report
Article one, "Souder's Sojurns: What Was the Point?", wonders what became of Souder's cross country fact finding mission about National Parks and the upcoming NPS Centennial. In article number two, "Congressman Souder Replies", we hear directly from Souder about what has happened.

I write this post today in-part because I'm jealous! I think the original reporting being done by Kurt is excellent, and more importantly, it matters. The stories being written by Kurt need to be told, but in the old-media world, there probably wouldn't have been much of an opportunity for this type of daily focus on the Park Service to be published in the press. I can only imagine how much time goes into these pieces, it must be a lot. And at this point, Kurt is a volunteer! He may see a tiny income in advertising money, but I would bet big dollars that it doesn't cover even the cost of hosting the website. In the future, as blogs continue to grow in popularity and in importance as original sources of news, the money thing may change. But, for now, I'd like to say "thanks" to Kurt for volunteering to provide an excellent source of quality daily news and original reporting on my favorite subject.


Hear, Hear.

In part, he's responsible for opening my eyes and inspiring me to start the Trailhead. Oh yeah, his National Parks For Dummies book is one of the 1st I read on the park system.

Thanks, Kurt!