Recent comments

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Dave -

    Despite your stated intentions, I still hope you'll follow the park's excellent advice:

    If you see any activity which looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not intervene.

    Therein lies one of the possible pitfalls for people carrying concealed weapons. I believe you'll be hard-pressed to find many cases of visitors actually observing some of that drug smuggling activity - and cases of visitors being threatened by such activity at Big Bend are even rarer (if they exist at all.) However, a guaranteed way to make any such encounter worse is for an untrained citizen to pull out his concealed handgun.

    I understand your point is to be able to use your concealed weapon in self-defense, but drug runners in remote locations aren't looking for a fight, and the last thing they want to do is attract attention to themselves by accosting park visitors. Follow the park's advice, stay out of the middle of such situations, and pass the information along as soon as possible.

  • Aging Activists Gather at Congaree National Park to Recall a Nick-of-Time Rescue   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Lots of people have never heard of Congaree National Park, Jess. Publicity has been stepped up since the park was redesignated (from National Monument) nearly six years ago, but Congaree is still one of the better kept secrets. Since you're interested in photographing big trees, you should be aware that light conditions are apt to be a bit tricky because the canopy is closed over extensive areas, leaving just filtered light on the forest floor. Another problem is the sheer size of the forest giants. Often, getting it all in is just not possible, so it's common for photographers to have somebody stand near the base of a tree "for scale" when they take the picture. To see the best giant trees you'll need to float the Cedar Creek Canoe Trail or walk one of the dirt trails (which is not to say that the trees you can see from the boardwalk are slouches). Heavy rains in the Congaree-Broad-Saluda watershed can put the dirt trails underwater or leave them too muddy to use, so if your travel schedule is flexible it's always a good idea to phone ahead. Have fun! Bob

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We were planning a trip to Big Bend National park in Texas, which borders Mexico. One of the things it says right on the NATIONAL PARK website:

    "Visitors should be aware that drug smuggling routes pass through the park. If you see any activity which looks illegal, suspicious, or out of place, please do not intervene. Note your location. Call 911 or report it to a ranger as quickly as possible." -- http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/border_travel.htm

    I'm excited about the Brady Campaign because they will make it illegal for drug smugglers to carry guns through the national park, which means everyone in Big Bend should be safe. I guess there's going to be some bins or something at the border where the smugglers can deposit their guns. And after they make gun laws maybe the Brady Campaign could focus on some illegal drug laws too, maybe setup some more bins at the border for the runners to drop off their pot and cocaine.

    But until then, I'm headed out to Big Bend to enjoy nature and I'll be carrying a concealed handgun with me in case one of the "safest places in the nation" ends up being not so safe. And the best part is, you'll never know, because it's concealed :)

  • Designations Just One Example of Disparities Within the National Park System. Web Sites Are Another   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Thanks to everyone for this engaging conversation and for your interest in the design and information quality of park websites on NPS.gov. I manage the NPS web team, which works to make certain that every park, regardless of resources or size, has at least a basic web presence to help visitors get to and enjoy their parks. Although I formerly worked at a park, I cannot speak to how parks choose what or how much content that they provide since the choice of how each park's resources is allocated lies with their management. However, since I've been with the NPS web team for a decade, work with every park and office and see behind the scenes, I thought that it might benefit this dialogue if I clear up some of the confusion about our site.

    It is true that we have begun to use a content management system (CMS) to manage our site, primarily because it provides our park and national program subject matter experts the ability to more quickly develop content rather than focus their resources on web development and design. Thus, instead of having a single web expert versed in web technologies (HTML, etc.) who is the only person that can manage a park's website, we now have some parks with up to 20-25 authors adding content to their sites (including employees, volunteers, partners and contractors), and there is no limit to how much content they can provide (some parks now have sites with a thousand or more pages). For those parks that do have web expertise at their disposal, those skills are now focused on more advanced content, such as flash features, webcams, video and podcasts.

    While this system can seem a bit constraining to the aspiring designer, the consistent design allows our visitors to focus on the information rather than constantly relearning the look and feel, which should be (and is) one of our usability goals. When you are serving many millions of visitors a month, many of them first timers to NPS.gov, consistency can be key to their experience. However, this post originated as a discussion on information quality, and any variations in that quality are now more apparent because of our consistent presentation. This has not gone unnoticed by NPS management and our team, and thus, we have started working with offices and parks to address the issue.

    In addition, as one poster pointed out above, there are numerous legal requirements to which we are bound to adhere. Trying to manage those requirements across 600,000+ pages and approximately 2,000 web authors can be extremely difficult without a CMS. Now, though, as an example, if we have to address a Section 508 issue in a design, we can do it once to a handful of templates that then automatically correct the issue throughout the site. It's impossible to automate every requirement, but the more pressure that we can take off of our parks and allow them to focus more on serving the visitor and caring for the resources, the better.

    We have only just begun to reap the benefits of moving to a CMS. Since we're still in transition, we've got a ways to go before all of the tools are in place.There are some legal and policy barriers that affect our ability to do so more quickly, but our management is working to address those issues as well. This system puts us in a good position, though, to respond to the public's desire for more interaction, transparency and sharing of data. The NPS is the steward of a wealth of information about our national treasures, some of it managed by the individual parks and some of it not. When our site was static HTML, it was often not easy to find all of this information. Slowly but surely, though, we are making all of this information more discoverable and at the fingertips of our stakeholders, the American public (and our global audience, as well).

    As I've indicated, there is often more at play than meets the eye, and sometimes even a bit of confusion about what we are doing (for example, we have not removed any park content from NPS.gov unless requested by the managing park or park's regional office). However, I can assure you that we work diligently on the parks and national programs' behalf, looking for ways that we can help them achieve their goals and the NPS mission, while at the same time working within the framework provided to us by Congress, OMB and our Department.

    Thanks again, and if anyone has additional feedback that you feel would benefit our efforts (including constructive criticism...it's all welcome!), please feel free to email me anytime.
    Tim Cash
    Acting NPS Web Manager

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Volcano plumes also can bring airplanes down. It's essential for the safety of air traffic that we have up-to-date information on ash from volcanoes. I live about 50 miles from Mt. St. Helens, though I'm not in the path of any possible lahars.

  • Designations Just One Example of Disparities Within the National Park System. Web Sites Are Another   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Thanks for the insights from the inside, Tim. Providing templates is one thing, finding enough folks with the time to populate them is another;-)

    The additional multimedia content that more and more parks are providing hasn't been overlooked. Indeed, it's been a valuable resource for the Traveler and well-received by many of our readers.

    As you noted, the NPS stewards a wealth of information. Bringing much of that to the Internet is a great way to help educate and inform the public about those treasures in their backyards.

  • At the Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson Delivered an Easter Sunday Performance for the Ages   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing, LD. I never got the chance to see Marian Anderson perform, much less get to meet her personally. Wow! That anecdote about the piano pedal is a hoot. Marian had a tremendous stage presence and seemed to know how to handle any situation.

  • At the Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson Delivered an Easter Sunday Performance for the Ages   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Random, I didn't even know that Eleanor Roosevelt was a DAR member. Not surprising that she resigned. She was an activist on a lot of fronts and was never afraid to speak her mind. Quite a lady.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 28 weeks ago

    At incredible-adventures website tickets are already on sale.
    Our Wilderness, National Monuments and Parks are not a commodity to be sold for profit by private elitist corporations.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Mr Burnett failed to mention the reason for my confidence in our jump team. Jump leaders are former members of the elite US Special Forces and train NATO forces from around the world in military freefall. A special forces medic/flight surgeon will jump with every group. Staff are highly trained in wilderness survival and will jump with their own arctic survival gear. The jump equipment they use is the same equipment trusted by our US military. They have sophisticated GPS and communication systems. He also failed to mention that this is to be a one time event. There is no plan to do this again. This isn't a normal skydive and the costs and challenges are high.

    Last year, some of these same jumpers were the first to skydive over Mt Everest. Government officials there welcomed jumpers with open arms and encouraged organizers to come back. Another Everest Skydive is being planned for this October.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    i'm headed back to grant grove in two weeks for work, and would be really disapointed if i have to listen to cell phones all summer. if you need your phone that bad, stay home and out of nature.

  • Injuries From Fall Prove Fatal to 73-Year-Old Hiker In Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I knew Robert and his wife, Judy. My wife and I have hiked many trails with them . They are excellent botanists and have wide knowledge of wildflowers in the southeast US. Knowing the two of them, I am sure they were on a hike to view pink and yellow ladyslippers which are known on that trail. I will miss Robert and his gentle kindness. My sympathies are with his family.

  • The Forge of Vulcan   5 years 28 weeks ago

    It is a classic. The guitar work in the background distinctly sets it apart as being made in the late 70's and early 80's. It was well written and very enjoyable. Thanks for making it available. I wonder how many such documentaries that have been made over the last century are lying in a vault or perhaps a cardboard box, waiting to be rediscovered. What treasures.

    Thanks,
    Don

  • At the Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson Delivered an Easter Sunday Performance for the Ages   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Not long before I managed to start a Park Service career in Yellowstone, I had the great privilege of attending the last public concert given by Marian Anderson in Cleveland, Ohio. Through a mix-up by the ticket office, my date and I were seated in about the fifth row center directly in front of the stage. Surrounding us were many dignitaries of the time including Roy Wilkins of the NAACP. As she sang, Ms. Anderson was acutely annoyed because every time her pianist stepped on one of the pedals below the piano, it squeaked badly. She finally stopped the concert while a stage hand came forth with an old-fashioned pump oil can, applied a few drops and stopped the squeaking. After the concert, Roy Wilkins invited my date and I backstage where we had the grand opportunity to meet and greet Marian Anderson.

    It was one of those always-to-be-remembered moments.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The attitude of the trauma nurse is understandable since they try to repair the damage done to a human from bullets. But the bullet and the gun is just the tool used b y the human. I really do not care about the bad person killed by gunfire, It doesn’t matter from gang warfare or not. I care about the innocent victim of bad people. I refuse to be that victim and believe in the right of self-defense. The best tool of self-defense for women and the elderly is the gun.

    This is totally unrelated to carry in NP. The fact is that I already have the ability to have a handgun or rifle in NP as long as they are stored and ammo store separately.

    Those that hate guns and focus all there negative feelings about damages from guns on the guns rather than the bad guy. They will feel that way no matter whether the carry is in the city or the park. Others do not feel that the parks and their neighborhoods require self-defense measures. I hope they are right. But the unfortunate fact is that death comes at inopportune times and places. And that has been by a murderer in parks, schools, and restaurants. The simple fact is that man does murder and wherever man is, the possibility of murder exists.

    The isolation of the NP reduces the chances of rescue by another person and thus the victim is required to depend on him or herself for rescue. If that rescue is from a bad man then a gun is a useful tool. If the rescue is from a fall then other tools may be needed. Being lost the tools are whistles and cell phones. These risks exist and we plan for the contingency.

    CCW holders plan for the human risk. Many others have no fears of the human risk. That is good. That means that most human interactions are positive rather than bad or malign

  • At the Lincoln Memorial, Marian Anderson Delivered an Easter Sunday Performance for the Ages   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Eleanor Roosevelt did more than speak up, she resigned from the DAR.
    Besides being at the forefront in the fight for civil rights,
    Eleanor Roosevelt also took a stand against the commercial exploitation of the redwoods in California.
    My kind of woman :-)

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I'm not quite sure I understand your point, Nick. Are you implying that volcanoes in the U.S. don't really threaten to injure or kill tens of thousands of Americans -- that it's some sort of hoax? Are you implying that it's not the Federal government's business to warn people of impending danger to property and human lives?

  • Injuries From Fall Prove Fatal to 73-Year-Old Hiker In Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Sad, but there are worse ways to go.

  • The Forge of Vulcan   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Ah, great memories! Katmai is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic and awe inspiring places on earth.

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I once read that one way to visualize the earth's atmosphere is to think of a standard desk model of the earth. The atmosphere would be represented by a single coat of varnish on the globe. The envelop of gasses critical to life on earth is literally tissue paper thin. Now, imagine countless millions of tons of CO2, methane and other human generated greenhouse gasses being released into this amazingly thin layer. Can we impact our climate? The answer seems obvious.

  • Yellowstone and the Snowmobile: Locking Horns Over National Park Use   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I, too, will look for this book. The issue of snowmobiles in Yellowstone is only the tip of a much larger iceberg. Off-road vehicles (ORVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are slicing and dicing ever expanding vast stretches of public lands across the nation. Conservation lands in Alaska are particularly impacted. This includes fragile parklands in Denali, Wrangell-St. Elias, Katmai, Gates of the Arctic, etc.. For those interested, Shredded Wildlands, published by the Sierra Club and Alaska Conservation Foundation addresses the ORV/ATV issue in Alaska. http://www.sierraclub.org/wildlands/ORV/shredded_wildlands.pdf

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I agree with the last few comments; I wish to articulate as such; patience over rides I wrote back about the inner city trauma nurse who evedently understands nothing about CWP

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We got people out of work all around this country, and we waste 15.2 MIL on this crap?

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   5 years 29 weeks ago

    The link to the USGS Cascades observatory in the story has a lot of information about Mount St. Helens. Although their services aren't specifically tied to NPS areas, a number of the volcanoes the observatories monitor happen to be located in parks.

    The USGS volcano observatories seem to provide a very useful function, and I trust the added funds will be used efficiently.

  • Interior Secretary Salazar Sends $15.2 Million to USGS Volcano Observatories to Improve Monitoring   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Don't forget Mount St. Helens, just because it is administrated by the forest service. On October 2 2004 the USGS issued a full blown level three alert about an imminent major eruption.[*] Fortunately the pressure was reduced by steam and ash venting and the uprising magma did not erupt but spilled slowly in form of dacite in a new lava dome.

    *http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/Cascades/CurrentActivity/2004/current_updates_20041002_volcano_alert.html