Recent comments

  • House Fails to Pass Massive Lands Bill That Would Have Aided National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Congressional leaders have moved quickly on this, using some parliamentary maneuvers in the Senate and an agreement to avoid a filibuster to get the Senate to pass a revised version of the bill and send it back to the House. The procedures used by the Senate on this one mean that it will not be open to amendment in the House, and so passage should now be relatively straightforward:
    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/senate-passes-lands-bill-one-more-time/

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Bob Janiskee
    On March 18th, 2009

    I get your point(s), Beamis. However, with all all due respect, I will continue to believe that branding matters, and that having a designation system that makes sense is better than having one that does not.

    Does the National Park Service and the federal government maintain a monopoly on the use of the term "national park"?

    Here's a "what if?":

    Say I buy a few thousand acres of land. Maybe many thousands of acres. Or perhaps more likely (because that wouldn't happen without a heavily taxed windfall) a group of concerned individuals creates a non-governmental organization to acquire the property. What's to stop them from designating their property a national park?

    To digress: The federal government pretty much has a monopoly on open lands, what with the federal government's theft of Indian lands to turn over to the Dept of Interior and the Dept of Ag. But let's assume for this "what if?" that enough private land (or perhaps a privately owned sequoia or redwood grove) could be purchased and set aside for preservation.

    And what if I do get the windfall and purchase a privately owned sequoia grove and decide to call it, oh, I don't know, Frankonia Grove National Park? Will the federal government take me to court to ban me from infringing upon its "brand"?

    Certain NGOs (read: Nature Conservancy) have been highly successful at branding. Why should the federal government be the one to do the "branding"? (National parks are starting to sound more like cattle--a commodity--than land to be preserved in this discussion.)

    My point?

    A century of government monopoly and control of our natural treasures has endangered what it was supposed to protect. It's time for a change (and real change this time). Conservation trusts are not an experiment; they have a long track record of proven success. The federal government has a long track record of theft and mucking up natural ecosystems, and that same government is now on the verge of bankruptcy.

    I wrote it before, and I write it again, even more certain in its inevitability: "I look forward to the day I go home and see the sign: WELCOME TO CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK - A CONSERVATION TRUST".

  • Senators' Letter to Open National Parks to Concealed Weapons   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I spent 8 months driving around North America on a motorcycle exploring the multitude of diverse people and places this continent has to offer. I slept on the side of the road, whether that was in city, suburb, rural, or extreme backroads (aka four-wheeler trails). From Wisconsin to Florida to Southern California to Alaska to New Foundland to the East Coast. If there is one lesson I have learned it's that it only takes one use of a normally never used thing during an emergency of life and death to justify carrying it in the first place. It's a life changing experience, until you have it you cannot realize how powerful it is. I didn't carry a gun, but I did carry peppar spray (masquerading as a small fire extinguisher). A gun (or any weapon) is merely a tool, to be used for good or bad. The "bad" will always have a gun, why take away that right for the "good"? This age old question cannot be answered for a reason. I would love to believe we are in a society where there are no "bad" people but that is not yet reality. And as far as defense against wild animals goes, why would we willingly remove a tool that dramatically helped us become a resilient species? Unless of course you think humans in general are just a virus. Try reading the book " Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond. He won a Pulitzer prize with that book for a reason also. Good day.

  • Comment Now: General Gun Regulations for Areas Administered By the National Park Service   5 years 28 weeks ago

    People who have concealed weapons permits have already gone through background checks, and classes, which means the individuals who carry arent the ones who will be poaching, or anything else. I like to hike in areas where there are many illegal aliens, and smugglers( with AK47's I'm sure they will obey this idiotic ruling)., and you are infringing on my right of self protection. I also hike/camp in areas with bears and mountain lions, again you are infringing on my RIGHT of self protection. It is also MY tax dollars that help maintain these parks, and your salary. You need to worry about the criminals that are armed in parks....NOT law abiding ccw holders...

    Editor's note: This comment was edited to remove a gratuitous attack. Additionally, the Traveler is not part of the National Park Service and draws no funding from the NPS or, for that matter, any taxpayer.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    This is not surprising to me, but what might be surprising to you is that I'm an avid mountain biker. I'm in my 40's and ride with dozens of other riders, they're all nice guys, however they just don't care about the environment. All of them belong to a local MTB association whose mission statement says that it is dedicated to promoting the recreational use of mountain bikes on trails, in a safe and environmentally sound manner. This is far from the truth. There are illegal trails everywhere, in fact most of the trails were illegal when they were cut and there are areas of the parks bikers have ruined because they like to ride all over everything that might be fun.

    Most mountain bikers are out there to have fun, take risks/practice, and exercise. Not a bad thing unless it is at the expense of preservation for all to enjoy.

    I can only hope that people do not allow mountain biking in National Parks.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Following Kempthorne's logic, I'm wondering why the previous administration proposed allowing concealed weapons only in parks. Why not allow them in airports as well? After all, such a rule wouldn't authorize the USE of such weapons in an airport, just their presence.

  • Panoramic Photography, Or "How Do I Get All of the Teton Range in the Picture?"   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Mark- you can just copy and paste my text into a word processor to print it.

  • Panoramic Photography, Or "How Do I Get All of the Teton Range in the Picture?"   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I agree - treehugger that is a cool movie. I love QTVRs. Not to date myself, but I remember stitching these things by hand. Lots of math involved to make QTVRs in the old days.

    I had actually not realized that Canon's PhotoStitch could make QTVRs until I played with it a bit for this article. Now I have to try stitching my own...

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Nice comments Dave. This is a great start. We do have many great thinkers on this subject, such as Bob.

    rob mutch
    --
    Executive Director, Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Dave,

    Your point is well-made and a valid one. We've actually got something in the formative stages that more than likely will do just that.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I agree that his point is we need clear guidelines and why. My point is the next step is to write an article with several steps to a possible solution. Suggest Guidelines and ask us to help promote. I feel Bob Janiskee and many who post here have a great insight to the solution. I am just suggesting that they start a forum in the right direction. The article is a great start. It is the second time I have read this and I am only pointing out the direction that might bring change. Don't just point out the problem---- point out a possible solution.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The essential point that Bob is trying to make here (as I see it) is that there must be CLEAR guidelines as to what the NPS is going to manage. Make it clear what can be a park and what cannot. The premise that Congress or politicians are innately going to mess things up is wrong. How parks are designated makes a BIG difference in how they are managed. Great write-up Bob.

    rob mutch
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography,
    www.robmutch.com

  • Park History: Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I found this page very helpful, i am working on an essay about mammoth cave. thank you for your great info!

  • National Park Quiz 46: Glaciers   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Ugh! I did not do well...chuckle. I went through it more for the informational value, however. Very informative and interesting. Good job Bob!

    Your weekly quiz should have a prominent link on the Traveler home page. It would draw in more people. Although, I know how easy it is to 'clog' up the home page with links. I'll have to mention this to Kurt.

    rob mutch
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography,
    www.robmutch.com

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Bob,
    While I love your current and past articles on this subject, and agree it points out the problem, I think it would be more helpful if someone with your expertise and many who read and write here, would offer solutions or fixes. Then even if some consenses is formed, send it to a helpful congressman (if there are any). I am sure many here would jump on the band wagon to help promote a change if they can see why it matters.
    Dave Crowl

  • Congressman Seeks Stimulus Funds For Restoration Work at Gateway National Recreation Area   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The "developer," Sandy Hook Partners, has in fact committed to "design sustainable energy-efficient restorations." The architect working with SHP is Robert Kellner, AIA, a graduate of Arizona State University, with graduate research in solar and energy-conscious design. ASU has been a leader in this field, their program being featured a year ago in an episode of NBC’s Nightly News.

    School of Sustainability Featured on NBC Nightly News
    NBC Nightly News
    3/24/2008
    NBC visited Arizona State University in February 2008 to explore in depth the nation's first School of Sustainability. Their report aired nationally March 24, 2008, on NBC Nightly News. Interviews with students, professors, and administrators shed light on challenges facing this generation of students, opportunities that await graduates, and how ASU's School of Sustainability prepares students for the future.

    A link to that Nightly News program can be found at: http://sustainability.asu.edu/gios/news/archive.htm

  • Statue of Liberty May Once Again Open to Top   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I have always had an infascination with the Statue of Liliberty since I was a little girl. I am now 32 years old and I still have one till this day. It would be a life long dream of mine to actually travel inside the Statue of Liberty and to get a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to the crown of Lady liberty. This would be an ulimate experince for me to behold. Also this would be a cherishable event that I would truly cherish for the rest of my life. When it is determined that the crown is safe and it will be reopened to the public, I will be the first one in line. If it was an all day or night experience I would do what every it took to get to the crown. A true supporter of Lady Liberty.

  • Congressman Seeks Stimulus Funds For Restoration Work at Gateway National Recreation Area   5 years 28 weeks ago

    First, yes, if all the restoration of Ft. Hancock COULD be achieved with the stimulus package, bring it on.

    These are splendid structures, and in their own right are designated National Historic Landmarks. It is silly to challenge their significance, inasmuch as they independentally were designated NHLs -- with criteria equal to a national park in distinction -- with no questionable Congressional thumb on the scale. Ft. Hancock was already an NHL before the national park service came into the picture.

    If the national park service would fight for the Stimulus money, design sustainable energy-efficient restorations, and secure funding for modest continued maintenance, these buildings could be made available to a wide array of non-profit groups who's missions are similar to the park service's.

    Those non-profit groups would have had an incentive to support greater Stimulus funding for national parks; imagine, with the kind of leadership the park service once had, if energized supporters for Stimulus for Ft. Hancock was repeated hundreds of times on behalf of parks throughout the Country. But the chain of command has been stripped of energetic and imaginative people, and must be restored if the park service is ever to be ready again when the opportunities happen. None of the great work of the national park system could have been accomplished with the kind of passive leaders installed during the Bush Administration, which of course was the point. Those people are still there, and the fact the NPS could not fight effectively for full Stimulus funding really makes it all very clear.

    Second, as Water Witch rather gently points out, Congressman Pallone's behaviour has been not just craven, but destructive without being effective. A real Congressman would have made sure that the national park service absolutely understood the need for Ft. Hancock development to be fully included in the Stimulus package. But this is nothing new. Pallone NEVER fought effectively for funding for Ft. Hanock. All he did was undermine the efforts by the NPS to get funds any way they could, even though he reversed his support when donors came out against the project. Other New Jersey Members of Congress of his own Party are known to complain how poorly they regard Pallone's real contributions. Even if the park service leaders in new york/new jersey WERE motivated and able, why spend time with a major park project when the congressman there cannot hold up his end?? There are other fish to fry.

    Third, years ago the key staff person for the Washington Office for the national park service (who was reviewing the fund raising effort to make sure it complied with the highly complicated park service rules [IT DID]), argued that Gateway should just request the funding through the normal construction funding process. The park people at Sandy Hook/Ft. Hancock would have been delighted for Ft. Hancock to be the funding priority for Gateway, for the Regional Office and for the Washington office. The problem is, the Gateway managers were not paying attention to Sandy Hook. Nothing about Pallone encouraged them to make the New Jersey unit a priority. Susan Molinari had made sure the Staten Island projects at Ft. Wadsworth WERE priorities. Then-congressman Charles Schumer showed continued interest in the projects around Jamaica Bay in Long Island.

    The local Ft. Hancock park managers are doing the best they can, without the aggressive and imaginative support of their Congressman or the top brass for the new york/new jersey parks. The best solution WOULD be Stimulus funding, designed to minimize long-term maintenance. Without that, they need to push for funding from non-government sources. Pallone should demonstrate some leadership and decide to support one, or support the other.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Don't get put off the hike to Scouts' landing by others!!

    The majority of the hike is to 'Scout's Lookout'. Angel's landing is almost a separate section .

    I've just re-read other posts and realised that some people (eg StudentPilot) are being put off visting this hike altogether because they don't realise that 80% of this hike is to get to Scout's Lookout.

    It would be a crying shame to decide not to try the portion of this hike that is incredibly safe, very rewarding.. and provides much of the great views. I would feel very comfortable walking my children (3 and 1) to Scout's lookout.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I hiked up Angel's Landing with friends a couple of days ago.
    It's a wonderful place and in those warm, dry, benign conditions, was really no more dangerous than many of the world's most beautiful spots. There were signs telling us that people have died there and I think it's down to the individual to decide if they're uncomfortable rather than legislating against personal freedom. I assume safety is why the park authority put the chains there in the first place.
    I agree it'd be significantly more dangerous in ice, snow or darkness and this needs to be (and is) made clear.
    However, even in bad conditions, a properly prepared hiker who takes it gently would not be at very high risk IMO.

    No risk = no reward = a potentially rather unfulfilled life.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Ford's Theatre now has it's own superintendent.

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I see the choice to restore Smith's parlor to the museum stage as one which embraces the most historical material. Jefferson was certainly a major player in Skagway history, and continues to be so today, but he was not the only figure. By interpreting the 1920s tourism era, it helps to explain what happened to the physical structures over time and how Skagway becomes the town it is today. It provides room to discuss Itjen, Rapuzzi and others like Harriet Pullen and how they shaped the image of Skagway and in some cases, how they shaped the physical landscape. This gives interpreters and historians the leeway to move from not only the Gold Rush but to the following years, and shows how Skagway was indeed based on a tourism economy after the Gold Rush just like today. This story is also one which would best be told by a structure that embodies this transition like the parlor museum. Certainly visitors will continue to take away Jefferson's prominence in the town as his is a colorful and exciting story, but hopefully they will consider how history did not cease to be made when he died.

  • Yellowstone National Park's Wolf Population Down More than 25 Percent   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Of course they can't inoculate wolves against any disease. They are suppose to be wild animals. Nature will work out the survival issue. The strongest and those with a healthy immune system will survive, and their offspring will then inherit the strength of the parents. To immunize wolves would be declaring them 1) they are not a wild animal or 2) they are a non native species unable to survive without human intervention in the ecosystem to which they were transplanted.

  • Should Ocmulgee National Monument Be Transformed into a National Park By Stimulus Funds?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Hello,

    I have been working to expand the Ocmulgee National Monument to a National Park for about twenty years. You are right that 700 acres or even 2,000 acres is too small for that status. If archaeology were the only value, I would also agree that it is insignificant to change the status. Ocmulgee is a major multiple mound site, which has been inhabited from Clovis to historic Creek times. Many more mounds and sites lie downriver, in an area which has been recognized as the third wildest area in Georgia, with one of the State's only three black bear habitats. Only one road crosses this fifty mile stretch of river and half of the landmass is already owned by a multitude of State, federal and local governments. The Ocmulgee Monument is Macon's number one tourism attraction and the Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Authority are pushing and funding the local share of a NPS boundary expansion study. The adjacent land being proposed to expand the Monument has already been donated or is already permanently preserved as wetland's mitigation or is county-owned. No Stimulus money is needed for this expansion. However, the larger vision is to create a 60,000 acre, 46 mile long National Park, by acquiring land to link the 47% of the existing river corridor, which is already preserved, yet under utilized. Since 90% is floodplain wetlands, the cost should range from $42 to $62 million. The benefits of unifying these lands and managing and promoting them for wildlife, cultural education and preservation, tourism, recreation and as a buffer zone for adjacent Robins Air Force Base, Georgia's largest employer, can be maximized by designating them as a national park.
    If we don't save this area now, the archaeological sites will continue to be looted, the bears will gradually disappear and we will lose a last opportunity to save a unique portion of our natural and cultural heritage.
    A new, local courthouse is estimated to cost $80 million and a new 5 mile, four-lane highway is estimated to cost $120 million. Where is the better, long-term value?
    Please judge Ocmulgee on its own value. Not everything that has value has been saved and why not brand it for the highest economic return? We do want to get the most out of our public resources.

    John Wilson
    Macon, GA

  • Congressman Seeks Stimulus Funds For Restoration Work at Gateway National Recreation Area   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Estimates for Fort Hancock restoration have been reported at $60-70 million, or roughly 10% of the total to be made "available" to NPS. While I disagree with Beamis on the historic significance of the Fort, I would concede that there are far greater priorities within the system.

    To state that "Congressman Pallone joined the fight when he learned of the commercialization plans" is misleading. Congressman Pallone some time ago supported a far more extensive development and "commercialization" of Fort Hancock, including, as I recall, a proposal for a large hotel and convention center, so it would appear to be more a case of "who" than "what," raising issues of how he might be beholden to Mrs. Stanley-Coleman, a (once) local political power.

    Kurt's noting that the letter was addessed to Mary Bomar highlights Congressman Pallone's lack of serious attention to this matter. Had this been other than political posturing, the Congressman would have made sure that he and his staff were familiar with her and hers, and been more knowledgeable of the issues.