Recent comments

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ray Bane, many thanks for the aeronautical insights on both aircrafts. I figured that the PA 18 (Super Cub) would be excellent plane for wildlife photography. Your wildlife experiences in Alaska speaks well for your credentials. One more question: What kind of pilot certification do you need to land on Mt. Denali?

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Lets be reasonable..!!?? Let's just ban all foot traffic so the beauty of the area can only be enjoyed by aircraft. This will surely preserve it to the highest of anyones standard. However, I think we may have to kill off all the wild mustangs and other wildlife so they cannot disrupt potentially extinct plant life also.

    This is not meant to be insulting, but rather to point out how insulted that many of us in Utah are by others trying to dictate how we use our land. Just like other states, who is best suited to determine what is best for that area, those who live there or those who live 1000s of miles away? BTW, most of us old timers believe in true democracy also...not special interest. We have the highest respect/regard for our land and don't allow just anything to be built just anywhere. We believe in being good stewards to our surroundings. In Utah, we have some absolutely beautiful land that will always be protected without the Feds getting involved. Trust me, the Federal Government doesn't know what is best for us, but rather what they want from us.

  • Reader Participation Day: Winter Park Visits, Snow or Sand?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Winter in the desert can be great at Mojave National Preserve. Sand dunes, johsua trees, you name it but without the crowds at Joshua Tree and Death Valley. For snow, Crater Lake is hard to beat in the lower 48 states. They average 44 feet a winter, so there's about 6 months of skiing or snowshoeing. Rangers lead snowshoe hikes on weekends, so its accessible for even the most novice of winter visitors.

  • Falling Into the Grand Canyon Isn't Always Fatal   5 years 31 weeks ago

    According to the Grand Canyon's FAQ, visitors are charged for their own rescue. However, in some public documents on the topic, it appears the park does not wish to charge for the work of rangers already on duty - it is the fee for the ambulance and the emergency medical services that is sent to the victim, who may or may not have insurance.

    Seems fair, although I think the person who falls should be issued a bill for some part of the ranger work as well.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago


    The Super Cub is well suited for low level and slow speed observation for a number of reasons. It has a high lift wing with a lower stall speed allowing it to fly at slower speeds. It has a tandem seating arrangement with the passenger directly behind the pilot. There is lots of window space on both sides of the fuselage allowing easy viewing when banking in either direction. Generally, the plane is a bit easier to recover from a stall. Of course, the 185 will carry more passengers and has a longer range. As d-2 says, I have flown both the 185 and PA-18 (SCub) in wildlife tracking and other low level operations. Both are excellent aircraft.

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Much as I enjoy the Tour, I was an avid spectator when it came to San Diego last year, I do not think any public park known for its beauty and serenity should be subject to the number of fans and amount of disruption this type of event brings. There are many other options, thousands of other beautiful and challenging places to ride in California, none of which would be disrupted by the Tour going through.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I don't know why Bane isn't answering, but know that he does fly, has flown 185s and Super Cubs. Super Cubs are two seaters, a front and a back seat. The 185 is a four seater, two up and two behind. The 185 is a faster plane, and the Super Cub can fly much slower. As Ray says, both are excellent planes, highly favored in Alaska.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Bane, why the aircraft pick...the 185 over the PA 18 Super Cub. Does the Super Cub have a rear passenger back of the pilots seat? Do you fly personally?

  • By the Numbers: The National Park Service Workforce   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Of the 15,828 permament employees - only about 15-18% or so are "rangers." A number that surprises most people who think most or all park jobs are rangers. By far, the majority of jobs are maintenance positions.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Tight 360 degree turns at slow airspeeds and low altitudes are inherently hazardous maneuvers. The stall speed of the aircraft increases with the steep angle of the turn. The passage of the plane sets up a trail of disturbed air, so the the turning aircraft may suddenly encounter its own wake turbulence. The wing on the inside of the turn is traveling slower than the outside wing, so when when a stall takes place there is a tendency for the plane to flip. With enough altitude the pilot can normally recover from the stall. When flying close to the ground, however, there may not be room for a safe recovery. In aerial wildlife tracking there should be a clear understanding that the pilot is not expected to search for wildlife. His/her role is to safely fly the aircraft and follow the directions of the observer(s) only when the directions can be carried within the envelop of safety. There are other possible causes for the accident, including fuel contamination, engine problems, local turbulence, etc. Mt. McKinley and its close sister mountains often generate their own weather conditions that can extend outward for many miles. The 185 is an excellent airplane. Personally, however, I would pick a PA 18 Super Cub for visual tracking and low level observation of wildlife.

  • SPOT – The Good, the Bad and the Silly Uses for Those High-Tech Communicators   5 years 31 weeks ago

    In this infuriating example of misuse, these hikers use SPOT as room service:

    Reposted from the Rafting_Grand_Canyon Yahoo board:

    Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
    Hikers Evacuated After Three SPOT Activations In Three Days

    On the evening of September 23rd, rangers began a search for hikers who
    repeatedly activated their rented SPOT satellite tracking device. The GEOS
    Emergency Response Center in Houston reported that someone in the group of
    four hikers - two men and their two teenaged sons - had pressed the "help"
    button on their SPOT unit. The coordinates for the signal placed the group
    in a remote section of the park, most likely on the challenging Royal Arch
    loop. Due to darkness and the remoteness of the location, rangers were
    unable to reach them via helicopter until the following morning. When found,
    they'd moved about a mile and a half to a water source. They declined
    rescue, as they'd activated the device due to their lack of water. Later
    that same evening, the same SPOT device was again activated, this time using
    the "911" button. Coordinates placed them less than a quarter mile from the
    spot where searchers had found them that morning. Once again, nightfall
    prevented a response by park helicopter, so an Arizona DPS helicopter whose
    crew utilized night vision goggles was brought in. They found that the
    members of the group were concerned about possible dehydration because the
    water they'd found tasted salty, but no actual emergency existed. The
    helicopter crew declined their request for a night evacuation, but provided
    them with water before departing. On the following morning, another SPOT
    "help" activation came in from the group. This time they were flown out by
    park helicopter. All four refused medical assessment or treatment. The
    group's leader had reportedly hiked once at the Grand Canyon; the other
    adult had no Grand Canyon and very little backpacking experience. When asked
    what they would have done without the SPOT device, the leader stated, "We
    would have never attempted this hike." The group leader was issued a
    citation for creating a hazardous condition (36 CFR 2.34(a)(4)). [Submitted
    by Brandon Torres, Canyon District Shift Supervisor]

  • Reader Participation Day: Winter Park Visits, Snow or Sand?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Living in Southern California, we have both options, but I prefer the sand over the snow. Some are surprised to know (no one on this site, I'm sure) that deserts can get quite chilly as well as blistering hot. But on winter days, the temps are quite reasonable making hiking easier. I go out to the Mojave Desert about a dozen times a year, usually between the months of November and April. While skiiers wait in line for chairlifts and dodge others on the runs, I'm enjoying massive swaths of land all to myself!


  • This Third Time Was Anything But Charming – SPOT Misuse At Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I received this link from my sister who lives and works at the Grand Canyon, and has for over 20 years. The employees at the Canyon call some tourist "tourons" (a combination of tourist and morons). These four are a perfect example for the term. The Canyon is a dangerous place that suffers many injuries and deaths. They have gone to the trouble and expense for rescue precautions and these idiots treat it like a toy. They should be made to pay for the expense of the three trips into the canyon for the rescue crews.

  • At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers   5 years 31 weeks ago

    It is very ignorant to call a suicidal person selfish. Suicidal people suffer from a very serious disease called depression. As a person that has survived suicide and battled depression for 6 years I can tell you first hand that it is the stigma of depression that prevents many people from seeking help in the first place. Society tells us that depressed people are weak minded and that suicidal people are selfish cowards. This makes us feel isolated and alone. After my attempt not only did I have to deal with my depression but I also had to deal with insensitive and hurtful comments from family and friends. If you really expect someone to seek help then you need to change your attitudes!! durrr....

    If you are contemplating suicide I can tell you that there is hope! Dont do it. Depression is a serious condition but with meds therapy and a strong support system it is treatable. :)

  • Should A National Park Ranger Countermand a Parent?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Reading all of the above comments, I have noticed that the majority of the posters do not seem to be Federal Agency Employees, have no idea what it is that a ranger sees/does over the course of a day, nor understand what it is like to look into the eyes of a terrified child when they are forced to climb a ladder (to the point of shaking, white knuckles and tears). Nor do we have the entire story--both sides, nor do we have the entire course of events.

    Being a park service employee who has led tours, been posted in "self-guided" areas, and stood at an information desk you witness all sorts of family interactions as well as interactions with students and teachers, boy scouts and leaders, etc. You would think adults should be the leaders in these situations, but that is not always the case--adults are sometimes more interested in socializing than parenting/chaperoning--forcing the ranger to play babysitter. When scouts start breaking branches or putting items in their pockets is the ranger allowed to step in? When 4 year olds are jumping off of pre-historic walls or throwing rocks, and Mom is too busy taking pictures of another part of the site or reading the brochure, should the ranger step in?

    Let me put this in an entirely different perspective...A family goes on vacation, and buys $3.00 tickets to go on a ranger guided tour. One member of the group decides they really don't want to go--they don't like ladders, the ranger said it is strenous, and the person is not feeling well. The rest of the group tells them they have to go. The person still doesn't want to go--"an interstesting scene" develops, including the family saying "We paid $3.00, we can't get our money back, you have to go." So the reluctant member of the party goes. During the course of the tour they feel worse and worse until they collapse. The person died of a heart attack, because their family instisted they had to go. Is a ranger allowed to step in then? Before it is too late? According to a number of posters above, the answer would be no.

    If it is an optional part of the tour, the operative word is OPTIONAL, meaning a person does not have to go. According to the story, taking it as factual, yes more tact should have been used. Again we don't have the whole story. Sometimes Mother does know best, and SOMETIMES Rangers know best.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Again, it sounds as though someone who doesn't know what the conditions are like on the north side of Denali is taking something that THEY hear and applying it to anything that THEY suppose is like in nature. Tight 360° turns over a wolf pack with a biologist trying to see from a 185 on the lee-side of a mountain range is much more likely the cause than any mechanical malfunction. Period!

  • Newspaper Reports That Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Is Stepping Down   5 years 31 weeks ago

    following on Rangertoo's comment:

    The blocking software blocks quite a few 100% work related sites such as the R graphics gallery (how to make technical graphics like climate diagrams), and requests for exceptions to the blocking rules either get rejected by DOI, or are accepted and allow access to the site for a short period, until the outside vendor with the blocking contract updates their definitions.


  • Newspaper Reports That Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Is Stepping Down   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The irony is, the government instituted blocking software in 2007 that prevents anyone from accessing thses kinds of sites on government networks. Any employee who feels the urge to look at something inappropriate would find it very difficult to do so now.

  • Newspaper Reports That Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Is Stepping Down   5 years 31 weeks ago

    It would be interesting to know exactly what Mr. Latschar was looking at--pornography or Playboy. As a woman, I read all the women's fashion magazines and there are ADS in there that barely miss pornographic, not to mention the stories geared around graphic sex. We are such a hypocritical society. I had one boss who was the most blatant racist I've ever known and yet he was continually promoted. I had another boss in journalism who is panting to do a story on a couple of barristas who wear binkinis and who employed one man who would have been fired for sexual harassment had he worked for any other company. True, the supe should have kept his interests relegated to his home computer. But I personally doubt there is one human being out there who has not, at one point or another, used a work computer to look at something decidedly not work-related. Not one. Male or female.

  • Newspaper Reports That Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Is Stepping Down   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I hope the person who violated the Privacy Act will be shifted to a position where they no longer have the ability to do so again.

  • Adding to the National Park System: Here's One List Of Possibles....   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The Park Service can only undertake park studies with congressional direction. Yet, the Park Service must also submit lists of priority areas to Congress--something it has failed to do over recent years. We at the New National Parks Project, as the DC advocate for new parks, would welcome your ideas about which areas should be on that list and which areas Congress should be considering having the Park Service study. Please contact us at:

  • New Lodge Gives You an Opportunity to Better Know Kenai Fjords National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I want to second the comments of RFrancis 741. I visited the lodge a couple of weeks later (1st week in September). I was the last guest to get in before the lodge shut down for the season as a gale in the Gulf of Alaska prevented a group from coming the day after I arrived. The staff had been working 6-7 days a week since early May, yet you would never know it. They worked very hard from early morning until well into the evening to ensure that each guest had the experience of a lifetime. I had a +20 year career in the travel industry and have had the privilege of traveling to some pretty amazing places. I can unequivocally say that I have never had a better experience anywhere. If you are looking for something really different, really fun then be one of the lucky few who will get to see this place each summer.

  • Newspaper Reports That Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Is Stepping Down   5 years 31 weeks ago

    "Latschar also said it was somewhat ironic that this matter only came to light because someone in the Interior Department violated the Privacy Act, which aims to protect the personal lives of government employees, by leaking the memo regarding the matter of pornography on his computer"

    I think Mr. Latschar needs to be reminded that the computer in question was not HIS. It is located in his (former) workplace and it belongs to the Government. This could have been avoided had he not taken that part of his personal life to work with him. ~G

  • Plenty of Options For Visiting Yellowstone National Park This Winter   5 years 31 weeks ago


    If the snow gods are bountiful, the East Entrance will be open to oversnow vehicles, such as snowmobiles and snowcoaches. There should be a couple outfitters in Cody who run tours into the park.

    Have a great trip!

  • Plenty of Options For Visiting Yellowstone National Park This Winter   5 years 31 weeks ago

    We will be in Cody Dec.17-21...will there be a way to travel to the east entrance of Yellowstone?