Recent comments

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I think the reality is that the American public, through taxes, pays for the bulk of the park and those salaries. Snowmobile permits are a small, small pool of revenue in the overall picture, particularly when you factor in how much summer entrance fees generate for the park vs. winter entrance fees. Hikers and mountain bikers do pay entrance fees, too, when they come into Yellowstone.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 34 weeks ago

    The reality is that permits for snowmobiles pay for the park and those who maintain the parks salaries. Are the mountain bikers paying anything for stickers? Hikers paying for stickers for their hiking boots...?
    I don't think so.
    Snowmobiles should be allowed on public land. We as outdoor enthusiasts deserve to use the park in the winter just as we are allowed to drive into the park in the summer!
    Do they limit campers or cars in the summer?

  • Plenty of Options For Visiting Yellowstone National Park This Winter   5 years 34 weeks ago

    George,

    At Yellowstone you have to ski shuttles to choose from:

    From Mammoth, they run you south to the Indian Creek Trailhead.

    From Old Faithful, they run to both Divide Trail and Fairy Falls.

    You can find some details at this site: http://www.travelyellowstone.com/winter-activites-dates-rates-5563.html#snowcoachtours -- though pricing hasn't been set. Also, the times of departure from Old Faithful's Snow Lodge are off by 15 minutes. They should read 7:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., etc.

  • Another Cellphone Tower OKed for Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 34 weeks ago

    One has to bear in mind the legal and business contexts of these decisions. As mentioned in the article, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires land management agencies to consider all applications for the installation of cellular equipment on NPS lands. The burden of proof in these cases is on the agency to demonstrate harm to resources if it is to deny a permit to a telecommunications provider. In a case where the proposed installation is in an already-developed communication site, it is rightfully difficult for an agency to demonstrate resource impairment from an additional antenna or tower structure of a height consistent with the existing development. In terms of business, telecom providers require a certain customer-density to make these things pay. They are targeting developed areas - busy road corridors and areas with lodging or residences. The bars you might get on a backcountry trail is a happy or unhappy accident, depending on your perspective (I don't carry a phone in the backcountry, but I don't mind if you do). So I see little risk that cell towers will proliferate in remote areas. The profit just isn't there. All this said, it seems reasonable to expect land management units to develop NEPA-approved plans that provide clear guidance for assessing resource impacts from proposed facilities. This will give agencies a much stronger basis to deny a permit when the proposal would create unacceptable adverse impacts on park resources.

  • Plenty of Options For Visiting Yellowstone National Park This Winter   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Can any reader explain whether snowcoaches will drop a passenger off at a suitable trailhead for snowshoeing or skiing? If you could do that, then catch a later snowcoach for the return trip, it would be a real advantage. I remember a snowshoe trip I made up Hurricane Hill in Olympic NP 50 years ago -- the great mountain view, and the quiet. (This was before snowmobiles in the parks.)

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I wrote an essay on what I thought - see A critique of national parks as "America's best idea" at http://www.yellowstone-online.com/2009/09/critique-of-national-parks-as-americas.html

    The opening paragraphs:

    Anyone who has been watching the epic Ken Burns six-part documentary on PBS entitled The National Parks: America's Best Idea cannot help but be swept up by the places captured by his camera. When I see Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, I want to drop everything and plan my next adventure, discovering new places I have never seen. When I see familiar video and old pictures from my beloved Yellowstone, a flood of pleasant memories overwhelms me. For evoking such responses in a well-traveled man like me, for doing so to a large number of people for whom the national parks is but a sketchy mystery, Ken Burns should be applauded for that alone.

    Ken Burns does many things well both at the sweeping level as well as in minute points (for instance, one I quickly noticed was in not sharing the discredited story that the national park idea was dreamed up at Madison Junction in Yellowstone back in 1870). What I'm writing from hereafter shall be critical, but I don't want to take more away than I will in the following paragraphs. By all means, if you've never visited a national park, if you want a basic primer on the history, if you want to see beautiful things and be inspired, please take the time to watch this documentary. I can't imagine watching it and not wanting to visit some of these places, not wanting to know them more, and not having a greater sense of many of the complicated issues that surround the parks. It is worth at least some of your time.

    My biggest problem with The National Parks: America's Best Idea, filmed by Burns but written by Dayton Duncan, is that we are left with a generally positive view of American history. Whether we are talking about the "national park" idea itself, the process by which national parks were "saved," or many of the characters involved - coming to mind right now are Teddy Roosevelt and John D. Rockefeller Jr. - I am afraid to say that I believe that the story is far bleaker. That we can be inspired still by these lands is less a testament to the so called "national park idea" so much as the accidental force of American history that allows them to be temporarily saved while everything else is ripped to shreds.

    More at http://www.yellowstone-online.com/2009/09/critique-of-national-parks-as-americas.html

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

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, nothing was left on the cutting room floor! Compared to Ken Burn's previous work, this is a bloated turkey. Rambling, repetitive, tediously paced, poorly edited. Needs to be condensed by half, and could be an interesting, compelling story with more continuity, not a snooze.

    The stunning contemporary photos aren't shown enough; while the historical photos are great to see, the same one's are shown again and again.

    I agree with the other poster re: more comments from Park Rangers.

    I'll watch the remaining episodes because I don't want to miss the good parts, if I can stay awake.

  • Coalition Calls for Sen. Feinstein's Rider Extending Life of Oyster Farm at Point Reyes National Seashore To Be Stripped   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Richard Smith:
    It would be a wilderess with too many people, planes overhead, and ships going by. Not untrammeled by man.

    Not to mention a heavily used road (which sits right against the edge of Drakes Estero) with cars, motorcycles, etc taking visitors to/from the lighthouse, Chimney Rock, and beaches. There's also lots of commercial traffic to/from the dairy farms and cattle ranches.

    Once I went to the Chimney Rock area for a scheduled ranger guided hike. We had to take the shuttle ($5) from the Patrick Visitor Center because it was peak whale watching season near the lighthouse. They nice enough people, but there was a large group riding at least 15 Harley-Davidson motorcycles. As that group passed by Drakes Estero, I'm thinking the noise must have carried at least 2 miles. If there's any negative impacts on wildlife, that kind of noise would be it and not the relatively quiet 4-cycle boat motors that Kevin Lunny uses for the oyster farm.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Mr. Burns' film taught me a lot about the history of the creation of the park system. He went under the surface and presented details not widely known. Both Ranger Johnson and the Native ranger offered astounding insights; I'm not so sure about some of the other commentators. I like how the music complemented the documentary, instead of overwhelming it with a grand score. My better half and I have vowed to go see all those Western parks. I have been glued to this series and already have ordered the DVD. It will be interesting to see in the next installments how they present the politics of the parks closer to our own time. Finally the parks are getting some well-deserved attention.

  • Coalition Calls for Sen. Feinstein's Rider Extending Life of Oyster Farm at Point Reyes National Seashore To Be Stripped   5 years 34 weeks ago

    This is only for the park to get wilderness designation of that area. It will not make any significant change for the better if the Johnson Oyster Co. leaves. The area will not be pristine, as nearby in Tomales Bay, there was a recent article on an invasive Atlantic snail that eats the native oysters, and they don't know how to get rid of them. It would be a wilderess with too many people, planes overhead, and ships going by. Not untrammeled by man.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I've watched three out of the three nights offered so far and enjoying it. I find it very inspiring. I'm inspired [as a former psychiatric nurse] to discover more about Mather. I'm inspired to read Muir. And I'm definitely inspired to fill in the rest of the stamps in my passport book.

  • Would You Love Zion National Park As Much If It Were Called Mukuntuweap National Park?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I am Australian. I used to live in Wingecarribee Street. Terrible things were committed against native Australians and the least I can do is pronounce their names and be proud to honour them. If people aren't intelligent enough to be touched by the word Mukuntuweap and its meaning and the disgraceful way this land was wrested from the people who owned it, in the European sense, I think they come to this amazing place to climb all over it and take photos and be thoroughly materialistic. I can stay at home and watch amazing footage without trampling all over it and depositing my Eureopen leftovers. I'm going to find out more about Southern Pauti.
    Zion - what a disgrace.

  • An Analytical Look At The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 34 weeks ago

    If you have to question why Hot Springs is a national park, I suspect you've never had the opportunity to visit. Most importantly, since Andrew Jackson set it aside as a national reservation in the 1830s (the FIRST such designation) the waters have enjoyed federal protection. True, this park is small and very unique in that it protects a natural wonder as well as the industry of the spas, but that makes it even more worthwhile in my eyes. I'm suprised this park and it's uniqueness is being overlooked. Even more disappointing is the omission of Sulphur Springs Reservation/Platt National Park in Oklahoma, which was the 9th park established. For years the smallest park in the system it, like Hot Springs, was designed to protect the water and was actually a partnership with the Indian tribes and the government. It is also one of only a handful of parks to ever be redesignated as something other than a national park.

    [Ed: Platt National Park, which was established in 1906, was abolished in 1976 and is now part of Chickasaw National Recreation Area.]

  • Find Your Spot in the National Park System Via the National Park Foundation   5 years 34 weeks ago

    It appears to work fine in firefox 3.5.2.
    On my machine it works ok (albeit slow page loads!) in ie7, too.

    I see a lot of java in the page source and it uses asp, but I don't see flash, so your solution isn't going to be simply updating your flash plugin.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I don't know if I just have unrealistic expectations when it comes to Ken Burns, or have already read too much of the history, but so far, I'm not particularly impressed. I feel he has missed or glossed over so many poignant stories that help visitors/viewers connect to the parks from their perspectives (an important aspect of park interpretation) rather than what 'we' want them to experience.

    For example, I also would have liked a little more time devoted to the context of Teddy Roosevelt's parks work within the extreme political and business corruption of the day, even going against those of his own party and social status--another great interpretive lesson for today's Americans.

    I think Burns missed an important opportunity to inspire many Americans by avoiding saying Mather was mostly likely bi-polar. (Albright admitted this in his 1980’s book, The Missing Years.) The story would have been much more powerful if Burns had explained Mather's tremendous passion and energy followed by 'break downs' in this context. It’s inspirational for everyone, but especially those struggling with mental illness or even the stress and depression that have accompanied current hard times.

    However, I was glad Burns addressed Mather's willingness to make "deals with the devil"--i.e, railroads and business interests, including wealthy industrialists--in order to gain the legislative support the parks so desperately needed. That's is a good lesson for park advocates who are often dismissive or too suspicious of business interests, as well as a good role model (and hopefully inspiration) for business leaders of today.

    Also left out was much of the context of what the country was dealing with when the Park Service was created, yet it's very relevant to today's audiences. There was recession, serious food shortages, and the world was involved in the scariest thing it had ever faced, the War to End All Wars. Yet in the middle of all that, there was enough public support for the parks idea to create the Parks Service. It was a time when people really struggled on a personal level with the move from a rural and agricultural life, where they were tied to the land, to factory work and industrialized life. We are still trying to figure all this out today, so focusing on that for a few minutes could have been very influential.

    I would have liked it if Burns had included a but more about the women behind the men behind the parks, especially Albright’s wife. The story of Allbright’s truggle between courtship vs. Mather and the parks, his working honeymoon where he and his bride bundled in blankets on a caboose as he read geology to her as they passed lands that would become parks, followed by her endless volunteer hours in support of his dreams is a great story for couples who help fulfill each other's dreams or work on public issues together.

    I also would have preferred to see more national park rangers (current and retired) used than so-called 'writers'. First, no one can talk about the parks and what they represent, or displays more passion for them than the rangers. Second, their public image is second only to Santa Claus with the American public, so their words would carry more weight, have more influence, than ‘writers.’
    That said, I think the African-American ranger has done a fine job, and the choice of an African-American--a part of the American demographic under-represented in national park staff and visitors but supporting conservation in greater percentages than whites, was a great choice.

    Burns could have made room for these aspects of the story by condensing some of the story-telling about the individual parks. Yet, like Mather, he has done one thing especially well--he's effectively used his camera lens to connect Americans to the inspirational beauty of the parks, something many of us have forgotten about in our fast-paced artificial worlds. Hopefully viewers will want to go out and smell the glorious scents, let the fresh air fill their lungs, feel the ground under their feet, and laugh with family and friends around a campfire.

  • National Park Quiz 70: Bad   5 years 34 weeks ago

    #3 is definitely an eerie coincidence, tomp.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    It is not what I expected, but I am really enjoying it. It has the right balance of scenery and history. I have learned a number of things I did not know, despite visiting most of the parks featured.
    Saving the $99 and recording my own DVD!

  • National Park Quiz 70: Bad   5 years 34 weeks ago

    A sad followup to #3:
    Early reports are that yesterday's 8+ earthquake and tsunami wiped out the visitor's center at National Park of American Samoa. The good news is that all employees and visitors are accounted for. The bad news is that roughly 100 people died in Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    it is great,yes i will buy the dvd,mr. burns has done a really good job in explaning how the parks were brought into the gov.,and his story of john muir were really good,i didnt know a thing about muir before,now i am really in awe of him...

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    This is very exciting, informative and inspiring. I will order the DVD. Ken Burns always raises the bar, and has done so again. A new respect for our National Parks, and the devotion to keep them intact.

  • Coalition Calls for Sen. Feinstein's Rider Extending Life of Oyster Farm at Point Reyes National Seashore To Be Stripped   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Ed, just to clarify, the situation in Chesapeake Bay was not entirely human-caused. True, increased oystering down through the years greatly depleted the stocks, but of late warmer ocean water, diseases, and pollutants washing into the bay are greatly responsible for the decrease in oysters.

    You're absolutely right about the job they collectively do as mini-filtration systems. Of course, one question to explore at Drakes Bay would be whether managing for natural oyster beds could provide the same benefits you outline without a need for cultured beds.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, What Do You Think of the Ken Burns Film So Far?   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I love the history aspect of the film. it so far brings everything home. I do plan on ordering a copy of this film. so far I have to put it up with his other masterpieces. great job Mr. Burns!!!!

  • Find Your Spot in the National Park System Via the National Park Foundation   5 years 34 weeks ago

    One problem for some reason I get a message that I need to upgrade to explorer 7, when I use explorer 8. I don't think this site was tested very well.

  • Updated: Tsunami Waves Slam Into American Samoa and National Park of American Samoa, Leaving Death and Destruction in its Wake   5 years 34 weeks ago

    I used to work as a volunteer at the Pago Pago National Park Visitor Center located in the Pago Plaza building. It is such a terrible tragedy to see and read about the damage that has been caused not only in the visitor center area/pago pago but in American Samoa and Samoa overall. May God bless my people and get them through these tough times. I send my prayers out to all of pago pago's NPSA employees and volunteers. May God and peace be with you all.

    Soifua & Mahalo

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 34 weeks ago

    To the family who lost their loved one, My very sincere condolences.

    I just came back from Angel Landing hike. My opionion is that they should put in more chains; At least i can see one place there 's a gap.
    People (including me) have problem of reaching the next chain.
    If there 's not enough safety, then this hike should be closed! Safety first!