Recent comments

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Anonymous--

    Pardon me, but what exactly isn't acceptable?

    If NPS doesn't burn, the meadow becomes shrubs, but also the chaparral - forest transition builds up more fuel (downhill and upwind from Foresta!), and a bigger fire happens someday soon, most likely during hotter, drier, less favorable conditions. When that fire burns through El Portal and Foresta, it would be nearly impossible to protect the structures. Given the fuel, a burn in December or January simply wouldn't have killed the dormant shrubs nor reduced the fuel load: wet fuel in January won't burn without lots of napalm (or possibly permaganate).

    Fire is unpredictable (a slight wind change, or more variation in fuel moisture that was found when the crews tested leaf and duff moisture before setting the fire), and some fraction of controlled burns will always get away. But, by picking the time and place for the burn, the fire management folks had a pretty good backup plan. Even though the fire escaped, it hasn't burned a single structure. I suspect the fire was started on the El Portal / Foresta side and burned away (north & west), again reducing the consequences if it did jump the lines. If you look at a map, Foresta doesn't have many exit routes, so it needs to be evacuated even when there is little chance the fire will burn through it. The closures are all for smoke: 1 way with pilot cars isn't about dodging flames, its about avoiding head-on collisions due to low visibility, and keeping visitors out of the way of the 26 fire crews and 82 engines moving around to fight the fire.

    There have been cases of unacceptable prescription and unacceptable firefighting tactics, but so far I don't think anything about the Big Meadow fire is unacceptable at all.

  • Traveler’s Checklist: New River Gorge National River   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Kevin. I've associated the Endless Wall with rock climbing for so long I guess I forgot about the trail.

  • Traveler’s Checklist: New River Gorge National River   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Great article on a fabulous area. We loved the Kaymoor Trail, but hated the Kaymoor Miners Trail. The best trail we hit on our last visit here was Endless Wall. It is relatively short (I think 3 miles round trip), but it goes along the cliff edges and provides spectacular views, as well as access points for rock climbers. For a day hiker, Endless Wall should be the non-negotiable item on a trip.

  • Beneath the Surface of Cape Cod National Seashore   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thanks for this wonderful photo. Some years back, I went drysuit diving in Southeast Alaska (not in a National Park, however), and I was astonished at the rich colors and abundant sea life in such non-tropical waters. This photo brought that fine memory back.

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Mr Briggs should be charged with the total cost of the Rescue effort.

  • Updated: Missing Backpacker Found in Good Condition in Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This was AMAZING!! The person who created this video clearly has a deep love for the Johnny Quest mythos. Thank you whomever you are!! I really enjoyed the whole series of videos, and for animation enthusiasts like myself it was a real treat. If only most DVD extras were this in-depth and created with as much love for the source material.

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thank goodness that Mr. Briggs has a good constitution. And God Bless the Angels of mercy that rescued him.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Not acceptable!

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I am so glad that he is safe and sound, thanks to his good attitude and the good rangers who found him. Ohio
    resident

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Yay! Nice to have a happy ending. It reminds me that even the most experienced among us can get lost. I'll make sure to check my kit twice the next time I go backpacking!

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    That is one tough old bird. Kudos Mr. Briggs.

    P.S.- Bring a better map and compass next time.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Yes I do have to say you are right...because I was there that day and like I said in the story above."I was walking on the beach with my family and out of no where this BIG WAVE came I fell down and held on to my kid for dear life!It spooked me so much that I was a little iffy stopping at certain parts of the parks.There were people sitting on rocks taking pictures and I was like what in the heck are they thinking.The ranger did tell us not to go close but we were not half as close as the ones sitting on the rocks.I think that I have stayed scarred for life!I am glad you are ok and my heart does go out to the family that has lost their child.....Being a mom of an 8 year old daughter I cannot even imagine!They would still be plucking me off the rocks...OUFF!!!!I am sure you are feeling blessed ecspecially when you think what could have happened...Take Care.

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thanks for the kind remarks, Brad. It's great to hear from you, and very gratifying to know that you've found such a soul-satisfying career. Rangering isn't for everybody, but you're one of the good ones, and the Park Service and the visitors you interact with are much the better for it. I hope our paths will intersect again one of these days so we can sit down and have a beer or three and catch up on happenings. I've made tentative plans to revisit Yosemite next year, so who knows? BTW, don't pay any attention to Kurt. He just likes to talk to hear the wind blow.

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Dang it, Brad, now Bob's gonna ask for a raise! (Fortunately, we don't pay him now, so there's nothing to raise.)

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Hello Bob, My name is Brad Benter and I work as an Interpretive Ranger in Yosemite National Park. I am currently holding out in my house in El Portal, diligently watching the fire fighters saving our town and fighting this crazy "prescribed" turned "wild" fire. It has kept me on edge, but allowed me to catch up on my to do list, including emailing you.
    You see, I once was a student of yours in Columbia, SC (USC) in your National Parks Course. I have been thinking of you and wanting to THANK YOU for the passion and devotion that you have for our parks.
    Through your course, my life was touched and and my path changed. I worked in Yellowstone NP immediately following the semester I took your course and dreamed of visiting and working in Yosemite too. Well, it was 1998 when I first worked in Yosemite and then after leaving and using my degree in Education for a few years, I returned to work for the Yosemite Institute as an Outdoor Educator. Well, I continue my career in Outdoor Education now as a Ranger Naturalist in my third year. I have thought about the influence your course had on my past fifteen years and it is extraordinary. I have not only spent many years working in the national parks, the rest of my vacation time has been spent exploring and experiencing them as well.
    Again, thank you! I wouldn't be here without your teachings and inspiration. You really did make a difference in my life, B-rad Benter

  • End of a Curious Era at Mount Rainier National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I got to visit the old building one last time last October, and I'm still mourning it. The new VC is sterile, the views aren't that good, and it seems to be centered much more on the gift shop than on the actual mountain. Yes, I know the old rotunda was a maintenance nightmare and horribly inefficient by today's standards, but I spent much of my life, from very early childhood, running those ramps and climbing the curving rock buttresses, and I always looked forward to going back. It may have looked like a 'flying saucer', but the new VC looks like a maintenance shed.

    You'll be missed, Henry.

    -c

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I AM SO GLAD THIS ENDED THE WAY IT DID , I HAD A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS.G.P.S.?

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Here's the deal, Anon. If you travel up the Congaree River to the Fall Line (close to downtown Columbia), you'll see exposed granite boulders like those in the video. You won't see rocks like that at the surface in Congaree National Park, however, because the Congaree River, the park, and the floodplain forest it protects are all perched on an ancient alluvial terrace. The bedrock there is buried under a deep layer of sediments. When the main river is low at Congaree National Park, what you see is sandbars, not rounded and polished boulders.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I was one of the persons swepted over by the wave sunday the 23rd and sustained a broken left leg and right hand and felt very lucky. I must correct some of the comments. I was w a small group far far from Thunder Hole., maybe a mile or 1 1/2 miles. I entered the Park from Otter Cliff Road where we started our walk down the shore line path. There were no warnings posted and none expressed by a ranger that i passed on the shore line path. The "wave " came up as i stood a good 65 yards from the cliff edge. Before this "wave" the prior waves were not theatning or crashing near our feet but at the rocks edge. With a sunny day and no comments from the Ranger i thougth i was at a safe distance. Most of the visitors are not from Maine and do not know the dangers of a rocky coastline w high surf waves.
    Here on the Gulf Coast-- the beaches and roads are closed when there is a tropical storm or hurricane is offshore .
    My thoughts and prayers are w the little girl's family

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Hey, does anybody know where the river rocks were located in the video. I have not seen them in the park. Are they at the end of the river trail?

  • Proposed Power Lines at Everglades National Park Highlight Several National Issues   5 years 30 weeks ago

    While my first reaction is "no way, not on national parkland," I suppressed that. As you said, this is a complex issue.

    FPL's rights to the land predate the 1989 park expansion. Would it be fair to seize those rights through condemnation should FPL refuse to sell the existing right of way, as they have indicated? As you said, this would "involve expensive and lengthy litigation, and the political clout and resolve to see the process through."

    No, despite my initial instincts, it appears to me that the land swap is a quite fair and sensible solution, since environmental impact will be minimized by running the lines along the eastern edge of the park. An examination of those maps that you linked to is quite useful in realizing this.

    Edit: This works in this case. Normally, however, running power lines or allowing development of any land designated as part of a National Park should not be allowed. This means it is irresponsible to expand such parkland without some provision for "immediately" (as possible) and "fairly" (to the environment and the general public, but with more than a nod to private ownership rights) settling the issues of "inholdings." If that meant condemnation of new Everglades parkland back in 1989, it would be resolved by now (hopefully). I'm no expert in any facet of this, but how is it possible to designate private property as national parkland and still have private property rights survive?

    Edit 2: I'm showing my naiveté, I guess. Perhaps the intitial preservation of such rights was necessary for the legislation that authorized expansion of the park. Still, it seems like a contradiction to me and a postponement of controversy for a future generation to handle.

    Edit 3: Sorry for the multiple edits, but the thoughts keep popping up. It's a bit unclear whether both proposed Everglades rights of way are included, but you say there are a total of nine possible routes? That means 7 or 8 alternatives, including up Route 1, that are all eliminated by NIMBYism? Sounds like Florida could use a bit of alternative YIMBYism. Not in anybody's literal backyard, of course, but why not along Route 1? No where else possible? Yeah, yeah, I'm naive. ;-)

    But if I were presented with a choice of destroying part of a local, national treasure like the Everglades and running transmission towers down Route 347 in Port Jefferson Station NY, the main drag a mile or two from my house, I would vote in favor of preserving my park.

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Nicely done.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thank you for the information update. I know that the situation will be investigated & any missteps will be dealt with accordingly. Living in the Black Hills near Rushmore makes the situation all the more concerning, as we constantly live with the possibility of fire - whether a prescribed burn or nature's own doing.
    Best wishes & the very best of luck in bringing this situation under control as quickly as is possible.

  • Flamingo Lodge is No More   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It's a shame that our government can't afford to keep up the parks better. I've been waiting for this lodge to open for years. Maybe we'll try to camp there. The Everglades are full of beautiful creatures.

  • Updated: Missing Backpacker Found in Good Condition in Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thanks for the update, this fellow has been worrying me. Looking forward to the follow-up.