Recent comments

  • Trails I've Hiked: Devastated Area Trail At Lassen Volcanic National Park   1 week 2 days ago

    I visited Lassen last month, and found the Devastated Area Trail to be very interesting. In addition to the interpretive panels on the walk, there are some SUV-sized boulders in the area that were tossed out by the explosion, very impressive.

    The article mentioned the Lassen Peak trail as well. It is worth noting that the trail has been subject to closures due to trail reconstruction. The day we were there it was closed at Grandview, about halfway up. But still worth the hike, and indeed a grand view.

    During our visit, trail crews were busy with stonework, including retaining walls, stone switchbacks, stone pedestals for interpretive panels, and in one steep spot, a stone staircase. I complimented the trail crews on their good work, which reminds me of the stone work the CCC boys used to do in the parks. It will be there for the ages. (Or at least until the next time Lassen Peak blows its top.) When the work is done, a story in the Traveler with photos of the finished stonework would be appreciated.

  • Op-Ed|The National Park Service And Wilderness: 50 Years Of Neglect   1 week 2 days ago

    Wilderness designation is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be a "lock out". In fact, the law specifically states that the purpose of designating wilderness is to preserve recreational access to land unaffected by development or motorized vehicles.

    There are other regulations that may restrict people's access to public lands. None of them are grounded in provisions of the Wilderness Act, because the Wilderness Act does not do that.

    Please go ahead and criticize the lack of access to public lands, but make sure you're blaming the right reasons. It isn't the Wilderness Act.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 2 days ago

    Rather than increase entrance fees, why not start a major public relations campaign requesting for public support and donations to help fund the park operations and programs? Of course, such a campaign might well raise public awareness about funding deficits to such a high level that the pubic might well demand Congressional solutions to the problem. Raising fees won't help most parks in my area of east TN, as all of our national park units traditionally (by law) do not charge an entrance fee, and I don't see this situation changing anytime soon. It's interesting that two of the most visited national parks in the entire country, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway, charge no entrance fees at all.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 2 days ago

    "The cliff notes version, with editorial comments, is posted at

    http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/HR5204_WhatsInIt.pdf"

    This is why I said not to use WSNF as a source. This 'paper' contains many falsehoods and mis-statements. For example:

    "The agencies’ authority to declare fee-free days would be repealed." This is untrue. On WSNF's blue line, please see pg. 23, line 7-11.

    "Active duty military “may” get a free annual pass." Under current FLREA, there is no provision for giving active military (or their family) a free annual pass. The additional aside by WSNF is ridiculous considering they are pointing out something that currently doesn't exist.

    "Concessionaires 'shall' be required to accept federal passes but only 'to the extent reimbursement is practicable.'" Concessionaires are not currently required to accept the pass for discounts. Any move towards forcing concessionaires to accept the discount pass would be an improvement.

    "Senior and Disabled passes would have to provide some discount on campground fees, but the amount of the discount is not specified. Currently they receive a 50% discount. That would likely not be continued, since the concessionaires hate having to give it, and would likely be replaced with a lesser discount..." Under current FLREA, no discount is required to be given for amenity fees to senior and disabled pass holders. There is no provision in writing for a discount. This version requires a discount to be given. And, it requires the discount be given by consessionaires.

    There are many other problems with WSNF's 'analysis' of HR5204 (these were quick and easy pickings). WSNF is propigating mis-information to further their agenda. While I may agree with WSNF's goal of keeping this rewrite from passing congress, I disagree with their methods.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    Rick, have no problem with your LGBT community, this is still, sort of, a free country. It's the priorities of the NPS that are a problem. I still want to know how many resources and money are being spent on this initiative. I don't get trying to find more sites when the NPS can't manage what they have now.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    It's never made much sense to me to charge by the car load. Why not by the number of actual people entering the park, using the facilities, walking the trails etc? I also wish someone would ask those in charge of budgeting just how much money is enough? Like every agency that spends other people’s money it seems like it is never enough. I don't see anywhere that these fee increases will stop the cries of not enough money or address the maintenance backlog.

    As for the ice caves, I’m not sure who was responsible for marketing, but never have I read so many articles about the ice caves as last year. Had it not been for the publicity they received I suspect the number of visitors would have been manageable. So “if” it was the NPS who marketed them but now says they need more money to support it I have little sympathy. If in fact it was the city of bayfield, then I think the NPS should get the money directly from those businesses that prosper from marketing or hand over the duties of crowd control, medical support, bathrooms etx. to the city. I think in another post some time ago I said pretty soon the NPS will charge to see the sunrise or to look at a waterfall. Charging to see the ice caves is not much different.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    While it's easy to criticize the NPS for possible fee increases, there's some interesting perspective in a comment above:

    "Let's remember who mandated the Federal land management agencies to collect fees in the first place., the legislative arm of congress, the GAO."

    Did the idea that parks should "pay their own way" as much as possible in order to reduce government spending originate with the agency ... or with others in government? Just asking.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    Sorry KB - can't share your outrage. And don't see why Lee is so against it except that his nemesis Bishop is involved.

  • Yosemite Nature Notes: Monarchs And Milkweed   1 week 3 days ago

    I was lucky enough to be in the Mexican Reserve, Mariposa Monarca, when the butterflies ended their annual trek back to Mexico. It looked as if it were snowing orange snowdrops and when they landed on the trees, they turned the pines from green to orange. There were millions of them. It is the most spectacular thing I have ever seen in nature.

    Rick

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    Beachdumb--God forbid that that the employees of the NPS look like the face of America. As to LGBT sites:

    Sites that commemorate the contributions of American women--Betsy Ross. Women's Rights, etc.

    Sites that commemorate the contributions of Hispanics--Dry Tortugas. El Morro, etc.

    Sites that commemorate the contribution of American authors--Eugene O'Neil, Longfellow, etc.

    Sites that commemorate the contributions of American sculptors--Saint Gaudens

    Sites that commemorate the contributions of American blacks--Martin Luther King, Tuskegee Airmen, etc.

    So what's so different?--other than you apparently don't like LGBT people.

    Rick

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    Let's remember who mandated the Federal land management agencies to collect fees in the first place., the legislative arm of congress the GAO. While not opposed to higher weekly entrance fees I believe the American public needs a real Interagency federal lands pass that includes Interior, Dept. Of Agriculture and Department of a Defense lands.

    Thanks.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    ecbuck,

    The cliff notes version, with editorial comments, is posted at

    http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/HR5204_WhatsInIt.pdf

  • Yosemite Nature Notes: Monarchs And Milkweed   1 week 3 days ago

    I'll comment on this again just to draw attention from those who may have missed taking a look at this. It's certainly worth 7 minutes and 49 seconds of your time.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    re: "marketing" the ice caves at Apostle Islands, my understanding is word about last winter's rather unusual conditions began to spread mainly via social media, and like similar situations, once this story went "viral," it also attracted the attention of mainstream media around the world; the result was unprecedented crowds for this area.

    The beauty of the ice caves did make for an interesting story, and we covered it here on the Traveler as well. Based on my conversations with several local businesses owners, no one, from local businesses, local government or the park staff, expected or was initially prepared to handle the crowds. Everyone involved forged a hasty and effective cooperative effort – but dealing with the major public safety issues in such situations was very expensive. Our story noted "a dozen injured or missing persons required assistance of Park Rangers and area partners" on a single busy day.

    The park staff can't ignore (either legally or morally) the logistical and public safety issues that arise from such situations, and somebody has to pay the costs of significant overtime for both local staff and extra help imported from other parks. The sometimes extreme winter conditions made this a very challenging situation. It's easy for some in the world of internet blogs to simply scoff and say let the park handle it out of existing funds, but especially for a small park, that's simply unrealistic.

    We've had this discussion before on this site, but this is a perfect example of a situation where a reasonable fee paid by those who use and benefit from a special activity is the most reasonable way to fund costs associated with that activity.

    Will last winter's ice cave situation be repeated in future years? Nobody can say, but the park staff is being prudent in planning ahead for a way to fund it if it occurs again.

  • Exploring The Parks: Olympic National Park In Time-Lapse   1 week 3 days ago

    Awesomely beautiful. Especially the dark sky scenes.

    Watching the clouds form and disappear over the mountains and ridges provided a great glimpse at things instructors try to tell us in mountain flying safety sessions and in fire behavior schools.

    I'll be looking forward to seeing more of their work.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    KBenzar (et al) -

    Alot there. A quick scan did not reveal anthing particularly objectionable. Exactly what parts don't you like?

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 3 days ago

    "Western Slope No Fee is not a good source for what is in HR5204. Much better to actually read it for yourself."

    Be my guest. The complete text of FLREA, with HR5204 (note:NOT HR5402) applied as blueline edits is posted at

    http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/HR5204_Applied_to_FLREA.pdf

    "The question is, is there any other alternative plan for the expiration of FLREA?"

    The appropriations committees of both the House and Senate have already included an additional year extension of FLREA in their proposed permanent approps bills. Those will be taken up in conference after the election recess. The real question is, will that one year extension stand and give congress time to come to its senses and pass something reasonable, or will Bishop and Hastings substitute their bill for it as a rider? They deny that's their intention, but rec-fee legislation has not been passed any other way since 1965.

  • Repeat Photography Exposes Changes Around Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park   1 week 4 days ago

    Nice to see our local Skagway images here, but there are also other comparison photo studies of Alaskan glaciers and this same phenomenon is occurring everywhere in the state. It's very sad.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 4 days ago

    Western Slope No Fee is not a good source for what is in HR5204. Much better to actually read it for yourself. There are both good things and bad things in the bill. The question is, is there any other alternative plan for the expiration of FLREA?

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 4 days ago

    I wouldn't be so quick to blame Rob Bishop and the GOP, HR5402 passed out of committee by unanimous consent with no dem objecting.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 4 days ago

    Why has the "edit" option disappeared from my last post and I get a message telling me I'm "unauthorized" to access it?

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 4 days ago

    Yep, Harry Reid is a Saint. Greater than Bishop:)?

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 4 days ago

    HB 5402 --- ah, yes. The handiwork of the grubby fingers of Rob Bishop and Doc Hastings.

    It's likely that these two will use a frequent tactic to avoid properly considering the bill in Congress by attaching it to some important and unrelated bill -- such as an appropriations bill -- that would be hard to vote down. It was already jammed through committee without discussion or hearings. And to think that we are constantly hearing from Bishop that the gummint is trying to "lock up" our public lands . . . . . It's not the gummint -- it's Bishop and his buddies.

    It's a shame that the only way some of our lawmakers can get legislation passed is by skirting the rules -- or even downright dishonesty.

    Let's hope against hope that Donna McAleer will defeat Bishop in a couple of weeks. Chances are admittedly slim because the Utah GOP did a masterful job of gerrymandering their districts, but recent polls show that she's gaining. He might actually have a run for his money this time.

  • Higher Fees Coming To Your Favorite National Parks As Officials Search For Cash   1 week 4 days ago

    Parks Canada offers a Discovery Pass, it's the closest thing to the $80 annual America The Beautiful (ATB) interagency pass.

    ENTRY - ANNUAL Discovery Pass Adult$ 67.70 Senior$ 57.90 Youth$ 33.30 Family/Group$ 136.40

    The Discovery Pass is more expensive than the ATB, but it's available equally to Canadians and foreign visitors. Right now the same is true for the ATB. Fee legislation pending in the US House (HR 5204) would change that. If it passes, the ATB pass would become available only to citizens and permanent residents. All others would have to pay a la carte, full freight at each Park they visit. I wonder how many Canadians who currently enjoy long visits to many of our Parks would find another way to spend their vacation. I also wonder how this would be enforced without raising a significant risk of racial/ethnic profiling at Park entrance stations. If you present an ATB but don't look or sound "American," will the fee collector pull you aside for special handling?

    HR 5204 is full of other awful stuff as well, especially it would expand fee authority on the National Forests and BLM to the point there would be no meaningful restrictions at all. You could be required to show a pass to go for a walk in the woods, anywhere on federal lands. Details at

    http://westernslopenofee.org/index2.php?display=yes&pageid=34

  • Jumping, Even A Little Bit, Can Be Dangerous In Zion National Park   1 week 4 days ago

    Ouch! Good reminders for visits to any park.