Recent comments

  • For Some Park Visits, Getting There Is Definitely Part Of The Fun   1 week 6 days ago

    I would urge anyone who likes the Alaska Ferries to write the Alaska DOT about keeping them running. The AK DOT plans are to retire most of the current boats and go to day boats without staterooms, cafeterias, restaurants, bars, gift shops, etc. Gift shops have already closed. Currently two day-boat vessel contracts were awarded to the Ketchikan shipyard.

    The DOT's proposal can be found at:

    http://dot.alaska.gov/sereg/projects/satp/assets/SATP_2014_Draft_Final_Web.pdf

    and

    http://dot.alaska.gov/sereg/projects/satp/index.shtml

    This decision is driven by politicians who favor more road building across not only Kupreanof Island but the magnificent Lynn Canal. One current plan is to move the Juneau ferry terminal 60 miles out of town, then link by day ferry to Haines, destroying Berner's Bay. A proposal also exists to blast through vertical granite in the upper Lynn Canal to Skagway. The Alaska Ferry system as we've known it, would be nearly dismantled and replaced by linked road/day ferries--a Scenic Byway no more.

  • Traveler's View: Senate Should Either Fund New Parks In Defense Bill, Or Strip Them Out   1 week 6 days ago

    Dear Kurt --

    even on those few times I have disagreed with you, i have always found your opinions sound and well reasoned.

    Except now. This is ridiculous.

    In terms of government procedure, there is great value to the nation when the Congress authorizes with one law, and funds (ie: appropriates) with another. It allows priority setting, good timing of funding so the money can be best used when necessary, restructuring priorities as the needs of America change (as every year America faces new challenges.) Yes, it does permit power plays between appropriators and authorizers, the two kinds of committees, in congress. Sometimes, stupidly. But on the whole, it is a good part of our checks and balances for one committee to authorize funding and another to fund.

    Second, it is ridiculous to think that these programs will affect the funding of the "backlog." First of all, the "backlog" as a concept was invented by Secretary James Watt in the Reagan Administration as a way to block new and necessary conservation action, and to pit park managers against park preservationists. Also, to split those in the public who want parks funded and those conservationists in the public who want precious resources protected. Slitting advocates and uniting foes is one of the most effective things people hostile to good government and to the environment use to stiffle and prevent needed action. It is amazing how willingly otherwise smart people will fall for this diversion. So much so that VP Cheney made sure this "backlog" strategy was used to oppose all manner of necessary legislation, while at the same time doing nothing for NPS appropriations. Kurt, you play to those who both don't want to fund existing parks and those who don't want to reach out to new critical preservation needs when you fall for this trap.

    Parks only cost 1/14 of 1% of the federal budget to fund. They are not being denied money because there is not enough money. Kurt, i know you are smart enough to know this. So preventing preservation recognition will not spring the money for the existing parks. You need to look at why the money is being denied, and apply the appropriate remedy.

    Third, setting aside lands for conservation are not only about maintenance money. There are many federal laws protecting resources from other federal programs (such as highway development, construction programs and on and on, including the many many programs run by states and localities using federal funding). Kurt, you and others who fall for this ridiculous strategy are denying these regulatory advantages federal conservation lands possess. Also, history demonstrates that when lands are within boundaries, developers think twice before buying and planning new development within park boundaries. Because they know that often the government may take a while to move, but can after a few years move in to eliminate the development opportunity. With the Kurt approach, developers will move in, especially now as economic development is being predicted as the US economy is improving. Last week was the best jobs report in a decade. It is a matter of time before more lands within some of these proposed park areas will be developed, that could be prevented just by putting a boundary around it.

    In the case of the Blackstone park, the boundary cannot even be established until after the legislation is created. You, Kurt, are really out of it to think you know it is OK to deny Blackstone protection when you don't even know the extent of the land slated for protection !

    Fourth, parks have a spiritual value to America that have nothing to do with your fixation on backlog. Many local preservationists have pushed for years to have a vital part of the American story honored by park status, and told. It raises the national stature of these lands and these stories when they are established as parks. They cannot wait. This spiritual pressure has been building for years for thousands of dedicated citizens, and it can be shattered and demoralized by the kind of frivilous action you propose, Kurt.

    Fifth, the budget does not work this way. The way the budget works when you examine it over time is that the Congress responds to its constituents. When the US has no responsibility for a resource, there is no pressure on Congress to find the money. Right now the Congress is not funding park increases because of political games, such as the impacts of the Sequestration, but other games that have led to "Continuing Resolutions" and flat 'Appropriations Bills' in every year of the Obama Presidency. The objective is to destroy this black President, and to do nothing whatever, even when he adopts Republican proposals, to make him appear effective. We now have a Republican House and a Republican Senate. We will see if they can continue to do nothing. In the past, after adopting the 'do-nothing' approach for a while, eventually a window opens and funding happens.

    Political will, Kurt, is what funds parks. It does not fund parks to take your gun out, aim carefully, and shoot yourself in the foot. Its like saying you will run into a truck if you don't get your way. Don't punish the parks, punish the cause.

    Right now we have an addition of a Negro League baseball stadium to the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. This stadium will cost the NPS nothing new. It will raise the honor long ago due to the story of African American's who fought every way they could to have a complete life in America, even when black men could not play ball with white players. It shows the persistence of effort, so characteristic in our history, of the Black experience, from the African Burial Ground to the Underground Railroad, and more. These crucial and symbolic examples of these untold stories cannot and should not be held back any more. Denying this victory to those fighting for this RECOGNITION will deny the opportunity of the fundraisers for the stadium to use the NPS status for funding leverage. They (including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Baseball Hall of Fame) offered support for this stadium to the congress BECAUSE THEY NEEDED THE STATUS TO MAKE THEIR FUNDRAISING EFFORTS SUCCESSFUL.

    Kurt, you would be denying them this.

    For the existing parks that need the money, we can only say right now America has not shown the persistence and the stamina to make the POLITICAL WILL to fund parks stronger and higher. I don't know about you, but as i see this or that real, but not-characteristic failing of this or that park as the predominant things emphasized, NOT emphasizing what a Sequester or flat budget will do, I know that the "split environmentalists, unite the opposition" strategy is working. Lets instead fight in all ways for the parks, and now negotiate with ourselves. If we keep fall for these traps we will get neither the needed funds, nor the new preservation opportunities.

    I have seen this push-pull for over 40 years now. Ultimately, parks new and old can and do get the money. Preventing public expression of political will and support for parks only creates frustration for park supporters. You are doing nothing to support the existing needs.

    New parks, as someone said the other day, create a 'technical assistance delivery vehicle" and create a demand among THOSE CONGRESSPEOPLE WHO DO SUPPORT PARKS to fight for operations money. Much more serious than facilities funding is the stripping of staff from parks, from regional offices, for cultural resources offices, from the washington office. We need the professionals. We need to highlight the significance of their work.

    You claim, Kurt, that places like Blackstone are OK to be left out, after year after year of this bill pending before the Congress. With every passing year, the congress has had to extend the Heritage Area - managed by a federal commission not by the NPS as you say - by little two year bursts. Local people think Congress does not care for the unit, as if it were nationally significant one year, and not the next. Staff have left. Blackstone has been prevented from applying for new funding. It gets less than 1/3 now in combined appropriations than what it got just a few years ago. At no time recently has the Secretary or the NPS written any directives to other federal agencies -- as required in the Blackstone law -- to manage projects that will impact Blackstone resources; these people think the program is dead, obviously, and are letting it go.

    And of course Kurt, your site with a slight of hand will not cover the significant strategy representated by heritage areas -- to function to protect landscapes with the honor of parks but that are living landscapes with people and businesses inside the borders, and thus most people think do not qualify as park. The Park Traveler is not well position to say that heritage area 'status' will protect the area, since you have done so little to examine how effective that heritage area strategy is.

    Fight for the money. Don't attack preservation. Don't be ridiculous.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   1 week 6 days ago

    Current global climate models accurately reflect long-term trends in observational data of climate change when natural and anthropogenic carbon dioxide are included. When anthropogenic green house gas emissions are not included, an increasing trend in global warming is not evident. For further reading, see: http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models-intermediate.htm

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   1 week 6 days ago

    From http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-models-intermediate.htm:

    <<Even if we focus exclusively on global surface temperatures, Cowtan & Way (2013) shows that when we account for temperatures across the entire globe (including the Arctic, which is the part of the planet warming fastest), the global surface warming trend for 1997–2012 is approximatley 0.11 to 0.12°C per decade.>>

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   1 week 6 days ago

    I still think it was a very poor editorial choice for NPT to give a forum to climate science denialists and give the false impression that there's pervasive uncertainty about this issue.

    Yes, rdm24, let's "hide the decline". Why are you so afraid of an open discussion of the issue? Not so confident in what you want to believe?

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   1 week 6 days ago

    Current global climate models accurately reflect long-term trends in observational data of climate change when natural and anthropogenic carbon dioxide is included.

    Baloney. Please provide examples of models that ten years ago accurately forecast the recent 18 year lull in rising temperatures.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   1 week 6 days ago

    the climate is warming - there is no fact you can point to that denies that. You can argue that CO2 is not the cause.

    Yes, the climate has warmed, no one here is denying that. But it has not warmed in the last 18 years. CO2 on the other hand has continued to increase which disproves the direct link between CO2 and warming. That was the point of the original piece on this subject. The climate changes. Rather than waste time trying to blame man and take expensive steps to alter that change, we should be preparing for its potential consequences.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   1 week 6 days ago

    I still think it was a very poor editorial choice for NPT to give a forum to climate science denialists and give the false impression that there's pervasive uncertainty about this issue. This fiasco was a disservice to your readers.

  • Alum Cave Trail At Great Smoky Mountains National Park In Line For Some Serious Restoration   1 week 6 days ago

    Private funds to repair one of the most highly used dayhiking trails in the park. Not backcountry fee money or tax money but private funds. Dayhiking trail. Out of 300 hikers, less than 1 is backpacking up there. This is important to remember. Private funds to fix the majority of trails in the Smokies, not park funds or backcountry fee funds.

  • Possible Congressional Battle Looming Over Parks Legislation Attached To Defense Authorization Bill   1 week 6 days ago

    Blackstone River includes the textile communities in MA and RI, including Sutter's Mill, the first established in the US; not in NY.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   1 week 6 days ago

    2010 was the warmest year on record. Globally, the ten hottest years in record have all been since 1998 with 2005 and 2010 being hotter than 1998.

    Looked at another way, in the 20th Century there was only one year in the top ten. In the 21st Century, there have been nine years in the top ten. With only one more month to go, 2014 may be the hottest year on record.

    the climate is warming - there is no fact you can point to that denies that. You can argue that CO2 is not the cause.

  • A Quick Tour Of Germany's National Parks   1 week 6 days ago

    Thanks for the nice reminder that the national park idea has caught on in other parts of the world. For comparison sake, a hectare = about 2.5 acres, and a sq. kilometer = about 0.4 sq. miles or 247 acres.

    That means the "largest unbroken area of protected forest in central Europe" in Bavarian Forest National Park (243 square kilometres) includes about 60,046 acres, which is a little larger than our Mesa Verde NP or about 25% larger than Acadia NP.

  • Big Bend National Park Proposing Slightly Higher Entrance, Backcountry Fees   1 week 6 days ago

    Ok, so part of me understands the public hue and cry over increased park fees because of NPS money management issues. But, part of me also understands the cost to park infrastructure; I don't do so much backcountry roughing it and therefore appreciate a clean restroom to use rather than having to squat behind a bush. I also appreciate a well-maintained trail, facilities that would allow physically-challenged individuals to see and enjoy the wonders of a national park as much as everybody else, and a decent road over which to traverse the park. Heavily-visited parks require alot of maintenance (snow plows, road mainetnance, etc. etc.). Yes, perhaps a little better management of existing funds would go a long way to improving items in various states of disrepair, but I can't imagine how a park fee would remain static year upon year while everything else that costs anything is raised due to inflation. Yes, I understand that national parks are public lands and should be open to everybody and not just those people who can afford to pay to get in - I get that. And I'm pretty certain I'm opening myself up to the ire of those of you who can't stand the idea of *ever* increasing park fees. Nonetheless, if an increase in fee will help keep or improve existing infrastructure from going completely to hell, then I'm one of the minority who is fine with that. Of course, the real test, then, will be to see if the NPS has improved their money management abilities.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   2 weeks 3 hours ago

    Owen. If 2000 was the highest temperature ever and the 13 of the next 14 years were the same temperature then, 14 of the last 15 years would be the hottest on record. Yet, the trend would be flat for those 15 years - despite a steady increase in co2. The predictions have been horribly wrong.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   2 weeks 6 hours ago

    <<LIMA, Peru (AP) — With temperature data showing 2014 currently tied for the hottest year on record, the U.N. weather agency on Wednesday rejected claims that global warming has paused.

    The World Meteorological Organization said the global average temperature in January-October was 0.57 Celsius (1.03 Fahrenheit) above average, the same as in record hot year 2010.

    The ocean temperature set a new record in the nine-month period, while land temperatures were the fourth or fifth highest since record-keeping began in the 19th century, the WMO said in a report released at U.N. climate talks in Lima and at its headquarters in Geneva.

    "The provisional information for 2014 means that 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement. "There is no standstill in global warming."

    Climate skeptics point to a perceived hiatus in the temperature rise since 1998, an exceptionally hot year, to support their claims that man-made warming is not a big problem. Most climate scientists reject that idea. Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University said the long-term warming trend is combined with natural variations that tend to be cyclical, with a period of lower-than-average warming followed by a period of rapid warming.>>

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   2 weeks 7 hours ago

    Increases in regional droughts and floods

    Do you mean like California?

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/12/08/california-drought-cause-noaa/20095869/

    Just another example of the alarmist citing natural fluctuations as "evidence" of AGW.

  • Senate Poised To OK Legislation That Would Grow National Park System, But Questions Loom   2 weeks 13 hours ago

    "[This] Bill ... contains no funding for the Park Service to administer the parks the measure would create or the studies it calls for. Exactly how much would be needed was not immediately clear..."

    About the only thing that's "immediately clear" about this bill is Congress is more concerned about getting out of town for a long vacation that it is on giving any thought to the longer term ramifications of this legislation.

  • Big Bend National Park Proposing Slightly Higher Entrance, Backcountry Fees   2 weeks 13 hours ago

    Jarvis, the Fee Czar. Pricing the public out of public lands, a legacy upon which to proudly retire.

  • Senate Poised To OK Legislation That Would Grow National Park System, But Questions Loom   2 weeks 22 hours ago

    Adding to the park system at the same time that they're claiming they can't get enough funding for existing parks without raising the entrance fees prohibitively for a lot of people is Just Wrong.

    Fund what you've got properly *first*, Congress!

  • Tri-Park Pass Lets You Enjoy Three Hawaiian National Park Gems   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Just returned from Haleakala. Like most parks, they are taking comments on increasing fees from $10 to $25. Generally, I don't have a problem with fees. I do have to question this 150% increase.

    This park seems to be averaging around 1 mil visitors (though 2013 was way down) which at its 2.7 multiplier means about 370,000 vehicles paying the $10 fee. That is $3.7 million of collections time 80% or about $3 million going to the park on top of what is paid out of the NPS budget. I must say, it is hard to see how $3 million could be spent in this park. Two tiny visitor centers, a couple of cabins and a few dozens miles of trials represents its total infrastructure. Why would it possibly need another $4.5 million every year?

    I also noted a number of tour buses with foreign visitors. I see from the fee structure, these buses end up paying $1-2 per person. Heck, my group paid more than that to see a nearby 15 acre lavender farm. Seems to me these folks should be paying much higher rates since they make no other contribution to the NPS.

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

    Often when friends or family visit us here at Klondike Goldrush NHP in Skagway I'll recommend that they take AML on arriving and Wings of Alaska [the local bush plane between here and Juneau] for the trip home, or vice versa. That way one gets both adventures. Subsequent trips up here I recommend renting an RV to drive around Alaska and the Yukon for a month or so. It takes big bites out of things, where a short trip or even a week long cruise only scratches the surface of what is to be seen and experienced up here.

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

    Yes, Jim, a very nice article. I recall when the new president of the Alaska Railroad came to Seattle in 1984, only to complain about the Denali Star [then called the Aurora, as I recall] as an "albatross." The railroad had just been transferred to the state. I wrote him a long letter suggesting otherwise, as did my friends at Princess Tours and Holland America. The rest is history, as they say. Now look at that train. Alaska would not want to be without it. You beautifully remind us why public transportation is still the most responsible way to see the parks--and much more fun than driving, since the husband always gets to drive!

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

    What a great article! I would have LOVED to have been on that bumpy airplane ride for the pure adventure of it all.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Perhaps you might benefit in these types of discussions if you knew the difference between 'predictions' and scenario 'projections when used in global climate change science.

    (carried over where I posted on wrong thread)

    I'm so sorry John, let me correct myself. Your "scenario projections" have been horribly wrong. Its tough keeping up with this Orwellian double speak. Oh, and the "predictions" have been horribly wrong as well.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   2 weeks 1 day ago

    This graph, which you present, is not used in making assessments of on–going global climate change or future projections.

    Of course it isn't because it proved the past predictions horribly wrong.

    For example, if one plots global mean temperatures and uses confidence intervals, one finds that from 1999–2010 there has been an increasing trend of 0.175 C per decade.

    I though you were an expert in math. If so you are well aware that in proper trend analysis the start year has no more influence than the finish year, or any othe year for that matter. 1999-2010 may indeed show a rising trend. Its a different period. For the last 18 years, the trend has been flat despite steady increases in CO2 emmissions. That's not what the AWG models predicted. The AWG models have been horribly wrong.