Recent comments

  • Traveler's Checklist: Yellowstone National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    We've gone over this a thousand times, but in this particular case, let's look at it again. The hazing of bison in the park, according to the NPS, was to make room for buffalo being hazed from Montana by the Department of Livestock. Those bison were being hazed from a peninsula just outside the park boundaries in Hebgen Lake called Horse Butte. Awhile back, there used to be cattle on this peninsula in the summer months (after brucellosis can be spread) leased to a man named Munns from Idaho. That property has since been sold to a family named Galanis who don't own cattle, don't want cattle, and want wild buffalo on their property. The peninsula itself is mostly in the Gallatin National Forest, though there are about 100 - 200 people who live on the peninsula on private property. Many of those private citizens have formed a buffalo advocacy group called Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo (HOBNOB) to protest Department of Livestock intrusions onto their land and to promote wild buffalo on the Butte.

    None of this has mattered. This year, Department of Livestock helicopters once again flew as low as 20 feet over private land to haze buffalo back into the park, they continued that hazing well into the park - and as I understand it, well inside the Wyoming state line. That action has prompted the hazing from Madison Junction to Fountain Flats of bison more than a dozen miles inside the park boundary.

    Of course, even if there were cattle, we would support wild buffalo populations just as we and others have supported wild elk populations (who also have the disease and have been strongly suspected of spreading it - I believe they have, but there are very knowledgeable hunting advocates who even doubt that). The onus of doing business when you are trying to restore wildlife populations should be on the cattle grower who is currently heavily subsidized for leasing on public lands (public lands have preferenced cattle over wildlife, especially wild buffalo). The locals in areas who want wildlife (and some produce cattle) should be allowed to keep the Department of Livestock from enforcing their draconian provisions. The cost of management of buffalo hasn't stopped Montana from losing its class free status on brucellosis anyhow. The cost of having brucellosis hasn't outweighed the cost the state has spent supposedly trying in vain to prevent it. Stockgrowers in Montana have tried to prevent buffalo that don't have brucellosis from being moved to other areas in the state, trying unsuccessfully this time to pass laws in the legislature designed to stop that movement. And, we can go on and on, all of it adding up to the reality that brucellosis is a red herring here, that the issue is about grass, about who controls it, and what sorts of species should have preference over it. Indeed, when talking about buffalo in other parts of the state, stockgrowers give up their hand and mention competition for grasslands. However, if that's the issue, then the Department of Livestock wouldn't have any authority to stop buffalo from moving over public lands and over private lands where the owners wanted buffalo. They've masqueraded this as a livestock disease issue to assert their barony over Montana (despite the reality that at most, livestock makes up 1.5% of Montana's GDP).

    So, all of this has led to NPS hazing of bison that are nowhere near the boundaries and to delays. Kurt has posted NPS spokesman Al Nash's defense of the hazing on this site. They probably should have posted a press release alerting travelers last week to the delays. I think those management operations are over, although Buffalo Field Campaign members told me Sunday at a prayer ceremony for the buffalo lead by Lakota Chief Arvol Looking Horse that the buffalo continue to move back and forth across the boundary and that it was hard to predict if there would be another round of hazing.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Mount Who? How Did This Famous Park Get Its Name?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Check out the Traveler article at this site, Frank C. Aren't you being a little harsh with us poor little overworked and underpaid Traveler writers?

  • Mount Who? How Did This Famous Park Get Its Name?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Actually, it was originally known as Six Grandfathers to the Sioux. "Rushmore" is a desecration. NPT and the NPS continue to ignore the Sioux history of this site, and the NPS in particular glorify the Anglo history while sweeping the turbulent history of Federal and Sioux relations under the proverbial rug.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Yellowstone National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    One of the complaints about bison outside the park is that they carry a disease that gets into the cattle populaton. So there is a concerted effort to keep bison within the park

  • Traveler's Checklist: Yellowstone National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    While I have never personally read anything about studies related to bison damage of thermal features, there is a long history and controversy over bison numbers in Yellowstone. Most of those arguments - and the arguments about elk are more famous - have to do with the amount of carrying capacity in Yellowstone's Northern Range. Since the late 1960s, the NPS has maintained that the carrying capacity of the range is much higher than people have previously imagined, and regardless would follow a policy of natural regulation, essentially arguing that the ecosystem is a better regulator of populations than human management.

    Others have disagreed vehemently, though again the focus has been mostly on elk numbers. Bison numbers have never been allowed to reach a high enough of a number for the data to be conclusive. Nevertheless, the scientists who have disagreed with NPS scientists have argued that Yellowstone is not an intact ecosystem (that natural regulation therefore is a myth and should not serve as the basis of policy), that carrying capacity is much lower and that there has been damage to smaller mammals and to vegetation (especially riparian vegetation) as a result.

    For me, the argument of carrying capacity ultimately has no bearing on the slaughter and hazing of buffalo because either way, it convicts the NPS/Montana policy on bison. Either carrying capacity has been reached, and then you have no good reason to bottle bison inside the park - i.e., they should be treated as wildlife and managed as wildlife; all other species to some degree or other are allowed outside of Yellowstone (even wolves have it much, much better than bison). Indeed, in this case keeping bison in the park is a detriment to the park. Or, carrying capacity hasn't been reached in which case there should be no artificial population numbers that are set (as currently are set by the Interagency Bison Management Plan, though those numbers are hypothesized based on migration patterns, not on range carrying capacity). While the park's ability to hold more bison would seem to justify hazing bison back into the park, actually it more strongly suggests a policy of leaving things alone - since there's not too many bison and no reason to be moving them around within park boundaries.

    As for damage to thermal features by bison - your original observation - I've never read of any features destroyed by bison (not saying it hasn't happened, but I've never read it). I have read plenty of cases of humans destroying thermal features. Perhaps, there are too many people, and their numbers should be culled. That is not exactly a modest proposal (and not a unique one, either, to Yellowstone); it's just not clear to me how it could mean anything (if your observation is correct) except allowing the free migration of buffalo into Montana outside the park so that these potential stressors are relieved. Do we value the small number of paranoid cattle operators (or even fewer - none - in some areas), or do we want to protect Yellowstone and what we take it to be (a place of unique features that values wildlife)? Perhaps, we have not stressed enough how Yellowstone itself is hurt by the IBMP over and above what happens by imposing absurd boundaries on one particular kind of wildlife.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • How Low Is the Bar For National Park System Inclusion When You Add a Gas Station?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    We are most assuredly now on a very steep slippery hill, headed to the ravine below.

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Anonymous, I think about your friend, Bob, every day and pray they find him. I check this time first thing every morniing because I have people I love and if they disappeared, I'd want the world to turn itself upside down to find him. Good luck.

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    We knew Robert Williams personally and appreciated all of the reporting we found online because when you care about someone who is missing under dire circumstances, there's not enough news, if you know what I mean. This is about Bob and not about any reader's opinion. Please keep the news coming as we still hope and pray for his safe return to his family.

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Sorry for misspelling your name, MRC. Got to cut these nails down and ease up on the painkillers. Hate to misspell--a journalist's worst mistake. So I apologize for that.

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    You can excuse it with saying I lead a sheltered life--pretty difficult for a newspaper reporter--but what you said lacked local empathy for what people go through when their loved ones are missing. Are you actually equating tabloid stories to the details of a missing person's story? Like I said, I'm sure glad we're not related. Here you have a world-wide site that could alert someone about something they may have seen they didn't think was important to the time and may help find missing or injured people. In fact the family of this particular man has written a post asking for people's prayers and concerns so . A lot of people turn to the press, and that's what this is, when nobody else--like MCR?--is interested in helping them. My favorite part of reporting was helping people with problems when others wouldn't. Print reporting has an advantage in that it doesn't live off sound bites and can give the particulars of a story and it seems to me that while the "big picture" is important, it aso has a really neat way of dodging facts people may not want known and sometimes the devil is in the details. P.S. God may not need that info you talked about--but an unwitting witness may. Kurt, you are these peoples' lifeline. Keep it up.

  • Rangers Narrow Search Area in Grand Canyon National Park For Missing Hiker   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Yes, what is the status of the search, has it been cut back, slowed down, any add'l information or leads that can be shared with the public?

  • How Low Is the Bar For National Park System Inclusion When You Add a Gas Station?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    There's a pretty cool historic gas station from 1928 in Kings Canyon National Park. It claims to be the oldest gravity pump in the US. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM3V5B (with photos).

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    As a frequent visitor to many National Parks, I appreciate these articles. If I see an article like this for an area I may soon be visiting and I know someone is missing, then I will keep an eye out and pay much closer attention for any signs or clues while out hiking. In addition, articles like this make me double check my plans and make sure I am fully prepared.

    Thanks.

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I am reminded of the preface to the book Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite. The author of the preface said something like, "this isn't a book about death; it's a book about life." His point was that we learn from the mistakes of others. Recounting the tragedies that occur in national parks makes the readers of those accounts more thoughtful, careful visitors. As a former ranger, I am all in favor of that.

    Rick Smith

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Actually MRC there's a lot to learn from accidents. Hiking the canyon is a little more than a walk around a suburban neighborhood, yet every day numerous people don't prepare adequately. Sorry that personalizing the story rubs you the wrong way, but if you don't know the poor soul then I fail to see how knowing his name, age, hometown, etc does YOU any harm. Rather than the multitude of impersonal warnings throughtout GCNP which routinely go unheeded, perhaps one report of such can help prevent those who don't yet fully realize the natural hazards abound.

    "I would prefer to have at most one accident related article per month."

    Gee MRC, I'd prefer not to have any at all...somehow it just never works out that way. Sorry people can't arrange their fate to fit the convenience of your schedule.

  • Dead Carp at Lake Mohave Make This Memorial Day Memorable for Wrong Reason   5 years 25 weeks ago

    We spent 2 days there this week end which we cut out one day duw to the awful smells. I would recommend looking for a better place to boat, camp, fish, or anything until the issue is resolved.

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Dear Lynn, if my comment is the "most cold-hearted thing you've ever seen ..." then you must live a very sheltered life. Now I've proven, that I too can play the game of ad hominem criticism. But I prefer not to. And as if I don't know that today's journalism revolves around personalizing every story. But maybe that's what's wrong with it nowadays. By digging into the personal details, journalism neglects to build the big picture. By breaking stories down to sound bites and effect, connections and context don't get their share of reporting.

    Back to the Traveler: The concentration on accidents is a pretty recent development here. 20 stories on accidents in May 2009 versus 6 in May 2008 - true, the total number went up too, but the rise is notable. And I believe those stories lack relevancy. Kurt, are you happy with writing about accidents so much? Is this what you intend with this blog?

    The families gains nothing from knowing that the name of their beloved one will be forever connected in the global media archives with an unfortunate accident, and those who wish to pray for the safety of a missing person can do so for "the missing hiker in Grand Canyon". God does not need name, profession, hometown and age of the missing.

  • How Low Is the Bar For National Park System Inclusion When You Add a Gas Station?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    If this was a National Park site, I can't imagine stopping to see it unless I was in the area and out of gas. No way anybody should make this happen. Put a Billy Beer and a picture in Carter's Library and call it Good. Thanks for the story though, it is great fodder. Kurt, I always enjoy your articles.

  • How Low Is the Bar For National Park System Inclusion When You Add a Gas Station?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    The very notion of a political body, developing an apolitical group is insane. Everything, everywhere is politics. It is certainly more magnified in the government, but it is everywhere. How long would it be before one of the NPS commissioners were to be appointed by a president because of his political donations? Who's kind ends up running a national park, with no qualifications, simply due to who his daddy or mommy knows?

    There certainly are no rules for designations, and as an example of how hard it would be to change the existing parks, I would be upset if you took the National Park designation off of my beloved Cuyahoga Valley N.P. (yea, I agree it is kinda weak, but hey it's mine). Even if there was as system that would be no assurance. I am interested in roads also (a little more exciting than paint drying, but I find it interesting). A congressperson from PA, I don't want to blame the wrong one, decided that his area needed a new interstate. Maybe it did, I don't know, but there is a system for numbering interstates. They start low in the west and end at higher numbers in the east. He however wanted it to be I-99. So he had the number designated into the law. So it goes I-79, I-99, I-81, I-83 and then I-95. May not seem like a big deal, but to a road fan, it is as vulgar as a national designation on a gas station (or a National Park designation on the Cuyahoga Valley).

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    My goodness, MRC, is your nickname Ostrich? The National Parks Traveler is in no way sensationalism reporting; it is factual. And, yes, we do need to know of things that can and do happen in national parks. There has been a rather startling amount of bad news items in a short period of time, but this is life - the real thing. And I should think the majority of us reading the parks' news are compassionate caring people, which is why we are reading this website to begin with.

  • How Low Is the Bar For National Park System Inclusion When You Add a Gas Station?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Frankly, I'm amazed that some of our more recent presidents are willing to put up with this kind of thing. I'm no fan of President Carter, but surely even he doesn't think his life should be memorialized while he's still alive. I can embrace the idea that it's worth modestly preserving a slice of rural Georgia life, because of its connection to a president--it's meaningless now, but we might be very grateful for it in 100 years. But have the decency to run it with his presidential library, or through a private foundation, until the man is actually dead.

    Likewise with the absurd "William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site." Birthplace shrines (and he wasn't even born there--just lived there until he was 4) are suitable only for the greats and, Washington aside, you can't be one of the greats while you're still alive. A birthplace home dedicated to Bill Clinton is like Rubens' Apotheosis of James I on the ceiling of the Banqueting House in Whitehall--nice try, but you're not fooling anyone.

    Kurt, you're half right. Politicians are bringing home the bacon, and we all know that NPS sites draw tourist dollars at little or no expense to the local economy. But there's also the element of shaping public history. They are a hagiographical effort, aimed at elevating the historical stature of their honorees. But by elevating so crass a structure as Billy Carter's gas station, we dull that particular instrument of public history. A particular Warhol quote comes to mind...

    Bob: There's a decommissioned historic gas station in the historic district of Longmire, at Mount Rainier. However the one belonging to Billy Carter is just... embarrassing.

    Frank C: Jefferson may have forbidden his image on coins, but he spread it all over the West on medals carried by Lewis and Clark.

  • This Just In : Fort Hancock STILL a Mess   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Officers row and all the surrounding historical bldgs MUST be saved. I simply cannot understand why this is debatable. Save Sandy Hook should want to save the bldgs - whatever it takes! They should all be brought back to their formal glory, but it is going to take a ton of work and money. There should be local fundraisers going on. Anyone who wants to stand in the way of that is an idiot! What the heck is going on?!?!?!?

  • No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Well, MRC, that was about the most cold-hearted post I've ever seen...glad I'm not related to you. I was a feature writer/journalist for many years and those "personal details" you seem to abhor make people human to readers, make people care about them and everybody needs someone to care about them. How do you think that man's family feels after reading your post--oh well, too bad, bye, gramps. Anyone who travels our national parks--and my husband and I love them--is concerned about what could happen to them and what happens to others and it has nothing to do with sensationalism. It has to do with empathy. Kurt is right, there are no gory details given here--this is not tabloid stuff. But it IS news and the more people know about someone who is missing, the better.. Now, if you wish, if you go out on an outing and vanish somehow I'll make sure not to give it a second thought. As for the others--I'm going to hope and pray and think about them.

  • How Low Is the Bar For National Park System Inclusion When You Add a Gas Station?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I'm not sold that society has lifted these men up onto statues and so Congress feels indebted to honor them with NPS units. Rather, I think it's simply politicians trying to bring home the bacon so they can get re-elected.

    I think it's a combination of the two. "Society" wouldn't buy into this garbage if there wasn't a predisposition toward executive worship.

    We overthrew the British in part to be free from a distant, single authority figure, but yet we now spend more per year to maintain the office of the president than the British spend on the monarchy. While president, Jefferson forbade his image on coins; now he and others' faces are all over coins and etched larger than life in to sacred Sioux stone in the Black Hills. The populace is more concerned about Michelle Obama's wardrobe (oh my god, is it J. Crew or an expensive designer label?) and the President's dating schedule than auditing the Federal Reserve or preserving national parks. The presidency has been elevated to celebrity status at incalculable expense to our republican form of government.

    This reminds me of my time spent in a former Soviet satellite country in Eastern Europe. To keep people employed, the central economic planners ordered literally thousands of monuments built. Now, they lie in ruins, a testament to the folly of state worship.

    But at least the Soviets didn't memorialize a gas station. Amerika is entering uncharted waters on its journey to the bottom of the ocean.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Yellowstone National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    We just returned from a three day stay at Madison Campground over the Memorial Day weekend. There are two things that really struck me.

    First, is the massive amount of traffic leaving the park via the west entrance every evening. At one point, we counted over 100 autos in a row. And, none of this was caused by any buffalo on the road - just a huge amount of traffic. Made us feel like we had gone to the big city for the weekend.

    Second, is the massive amount of damage caused by the bison. This is most obvious damage is around the sensitive thermal features. As you walk along the boardwalks and designated trails, you can't help but notice how the bison have trampled the ground everywhere around you. In the Old Faithful area, there are many of the large evergreen trees that have been killed. I noticed no sign of bug infestation, which was my first thought. Then, I began to notice that all the bark had been rubbed off of the trees, causing their death. Many of these trees are probably over 100 years old, and have survived the fires and other natural disasters, only to be killed by the bison. Finally, I notice the destruction by bison of the native vegetation in the riparian areas around the park. It used to be that sightings of moose were not uncommon. Now, with their primary food source gone, such sightings are rare.

    One has to wonder why we never hear from the park service on the issue of bison population within the park. It seems that they prefer to divert attention from that issue. Does the park service consider the population of bison appropriate? Does the park service consider the park to be overly populated with bison? Is it appropriate for the park service, within their misson, to ignore the issue? Does the park service recognize that there is a population problem, but quietly hoping that someone or something else will take care of it for them? (ie wolves, disease, State of Montana?) Why does the park service always dance around the issue? If anyone can answer this issue, I would appreciate hearing it.