Recent comments

  • Mammoth Cave National Park Tours Not Affected By White-Nose Syndrome   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Weren't all the caves in the Smokies already closed to the public and cavers.

  • Rooms Available for The Summer At Zion National Park -- At Least Right Now   5 years 28 weeks ago

    If you go, be sure to stay in one of the historic "Western Cabins" designed by Underwood. They are fully restored, with modern touches. Very nice combination of historic charm and modern convenience. Hopefully the restaurant and service level have improved since my visit! For my photos see
    http://www.historic-hotels-lodges.com/utah/zion-lodge/zion-lodge.htm

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Jim.hiker great observation on who is really getting rescued. Before we launch into Human Error, Gross or Reckless Negligence or Intentional Rule Violator decisions the National Park Service needs to start treating our visitors like adults. When we accept responsibility for creating the nuisance in the first place and mitigate it, post appropriate warnings and honestly relay what the ramifications are if you choose to disregard the warnings we might see some folks make the right decision in the first place. Our visiting public is smarter than we give them credit for. When you are drawn like a moth to the flame towards the lava spewing into the ocean to get a glimpse of Pele you pass signs that tell you in no uncertain terms what your fate will be if you play with lava. I think most adults can figure that out. Nowhere on that hike do we accurately post the ramifications for walking on unstable terrain for 2 miles in flip flops, sandals, motorcycle boots and high heels. These unsuspecting visitors embark on the journey only to meet their fate of a serious knee or ankle injury that keeps them from their original destination. Human Error, Gross or Reckless Negligence or Intentional Rule Violator? If we spent the time and energy at this level we would decrease our SAR work load significantly. I'm all for holding people accountable for their actions, it's a tool we have and use. Clearly it's not the answer to this significant fiscal dilemma. I’m not ready to charge the public (honest error) for a rescue if we’ve not done our due diligence and as you’ve pointed out this is where we spend the majority of our time and energy.

  • National Park Quiz 53: Castles   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Re: #4 - The water for the Pelton water wheel was more than sufficient when the system was new in the late 20's, but because of aging infrastructure there is no longer sufficient water through the original water main to leave it running now like it did then ... the actual generator still works like new, the spring puts out more than enough water, it's just that the pipe just can't get enough water from the spring to the generator anymore.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I see the damage that can be done by idiots that drag their rear tire down the hills. This is what causes most of the damage. I’ve biked and hiked the same trails every weekend for years, I also carry a 357 GP100. I’ve never had a problem.

    I wish Bush would have left it alone, now it’s an issue……

    Please forgive my writing skills, I went to public school before the no child left behind initiative started….

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

    I climbed AL last week. The entire park was amazingly beautiful. The views from AL were spectacular but they were from many other places as well. Without a doubt, there is adrenalin climbing AL. There are a few narrow places where extra caution is required but caution is recommended on pretty much the entire trail - an accidental loss of balance or trip, even by the most experienced and prepared people, can result in an undesirable fate.

    I disagree with any suggestion that people who fall are necessarily acting foolishly - when coming down AL in several sections, I was mentally focussed, had proper hiking boots, not carrying too much, and all that was needed was for me to accidentally trip or lose my balance and I could have had an undesirable ending. Accidents happen to the most experienced and prepared.

    Although all 5 non-suspicious deaths off AL are tragic, I'm surprised there haven't been more since the park was established - that's over many decades. I think the warnings were clear. Leave these places open. Every time we hop in a vehicle or cross a street, we're put in danger but I don't see anyone saying we should ban automobiles. I think the place should be closed in icy/snowy conditions and perhaps at night. I'm not sure about kids - in groups, it's not a good idea - too much peer pressure. Although kids tend to have more physical stamina than adults, they are also less conscious of danger and generally less responsible....and often act more foolishly when in groups. I wouldn't bring my young kid up there, but that's me. Carrying a young child in a pack up there is plain stupid.

    I'd be more hesitant going up there in heavy tourist season. There are some sections where I'd want to be the only person going through them. I'm sure in summer there are far more people going up and down on many sections at the same time - I wouldn't want that. It wasn't bad when I was there.

    Enjoy the place. It's amazing. Oh, if you notice any loose post or a problem with the chain, please report it to the park officials.

  • Stranded Boaters Rescued from the "Narrows" at Zion National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Lynn, what's so stupid? To kayak the narrows, to go on an adventure that involves risk? My be to risky for you and it may be to difficult for many but certainly not stupid. Stay in your car with your cocker.

  • Floods Sweeping Gateways to Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Damn, what a mess. Ice jam flooding is miserable. Sounds like Eagle and Eagle Village will need some serious help when the waters recede. Good to hear that the Park Service was able to help. I remember traveling by dog team down the frozen Yukon from Eagle. It was some of the roughest ice conditions I had ever encountered.

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River   5 years 28 weeks ago

    we love and miss you saif. we're all praying for you at SHHS. all there is now is hope....stay strong. <3

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I think that each SAR callout should be reviewed and if it is deemed that "recklessness" is the over riding contributing factor then there should be repercussions to the parties involved. This could be in the form of fines, community service, teaching others or some other form of "pay back" other then a total reimbursement for the SAR expense. Recklessness is determined by what a knowledgeable prudent person would be doing and equipped for given the circumstances. In an example above someone mentions the diabetic not drinking for 24 hours prior to the race and bonking out 5-6 miles into it. This is reckless behavior. People hike into the Grand Canyon NP every year with "a bottle" of water, the rangers do their best to discourage this, but there is nothing they can do to stop this kind of behavior. This is reckless behavior. Going back country skiing without the proper avalanche equipment or when the danger is High is reckless behavior. If people knew they could suffer repercussions for recklessness then maybe many would think twice before engaging in activities they are not trained for or prepared for.

    The NPS, BLM, NFS can easily come up with a cost analysis spreadsheet that can determine the cost of a SAR operation. Accountants are very good at this and make it uniform throughout the fed and state governments so that services can factor in these operations into their budgets.

    Personally, I think more SAR operations are not for the crazies or the extreme high adventure people that get the press, but for the hiker who takes the wrong turn and gets lost, the backpacker who falls and can not hike out, the kayaker who gets rolled and entangled in river debris; but I think MOST SAR operations are for people who don't think about where they are going and are not prepared properly for their outing. Some would fall into the category of recklessness, but I think most would just make it to the "stupid" category. In my opinion.

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River   5 years 28 weeks ago

    My condolences to the familys of these young men. It's a hard club to belong to. Anyone planning to enter the Grand Canyon on foot or by river needs to read " Over tne Edge, Death in the Grand Canyon". This book is written by Ghiglieri and Myers. National Parks are spectacualar but dangerous places. Enjoy but be prepared and educate yourself to what can go wrong.

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I truly hope the families of these young men do not read the Comments Section of this report. Dottie

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River   5 years 28 weeks ago

    You shouldn't say things like that LynnBerk. You don't know what all went on. Were you there? NO. One boy may have gotten too close and fell in and the other two bravely tried to save him! Regardless of what happened must you be so insensitive? I think not. Maybe you should have listened to your mama when she told you "if you have nothing nice to say, then don't say anything at all."

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Death by stupid. Relatives will try and find other reasons, but basically, it's death by stupid. Doesn't anyone remember when your mama warned you that if you hold your hand over an open flame, it's gonna hurt? We're not e-volving. We're de-volving.Don't run with scissors. Don't pat the bears and go, "Nice bearsie, nice bearsie.' Don't step over the rail for that one last spectacular shot (because it wll BE your last spectacular shot). Don't eat buffet eggs if they're a little green. Don't give rides to strangers unless you have an AK-47 on speed trigger. Don't believe ANYTHING Dick Cheney says. Don't open the door to strangers or anyone who says they're from the government. Don't eat pretty flowers if that's all you know about them. Don't use the thermal pools as hot tubs. Don't wear that cute two two-piece short set into the wildnerness, particularly with high heels. Don't keep the Cheetoz close in case you want a midnight snac. Jeez, do I have to go on?

  • Stranded Boaters Rescued from the "Narrows" at Zion National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Nice to know stupidity is still alive and well in our national parks. We don't need to arm ourselves. We're dumb enough to kill ourselves off. But reading the story makes me remember our one trip into the Narrows--what a spectacular place. I used to think God lived in Zion. Now (nothing personal) I know She lives in Glacier. Whenever anyone's faith flags, all they need is a trip to pretty much anywhere outdoors. If you don't believe in something higher than yourself after a trip to Weeping Rock, or Glacier, or Yellowstone where my stupid 12 pounnd cocker spaniel tried to get "et" by a buffalo by barkin at it through the closed car widow, then there is no hope for you. God bless Teddy Roosevelt for his recognition of these treasures.

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Interesting discussion on this topic. And it's surely one that will continue to pop up from time to time.

    A key problem with un-billed SARs, however, is that the NPS seemingly has no dedicated national SAR fund from which to reimburse parks for SARs. As a result, funds are redirected from elsewhere, to the detriment of those programs. And then, as Chief Ranger points out, different parks track SAR expenses differently.

    Anyone out there know why the Park Service hasn't created a dedicated SAR fund, or why parks don't follow the same paper trail in tracking their SAR expenses?

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    A topic we can all get our teeth into. Thanks for the thoughtful discussion. Much better than guns in parks. Search and Rescue is a huge operational cost to the National Park Service. The question to bill cannot be asked nor explored until the service can accurately identify the true cost of doing this business. Of the 391 units in the National Park Service I'd 3 of them report the same. Absent a pay code for this type of work too many of our employees and volunteers provide this service without any of us knowing what the true cost is. We do not look at what we paid out the previous year and factor it into our budgets as a line item. Each unit is left up to reaching that magic goal of $500 dollars to get a major SAR account and reimbursement from the regional and national level. It's not a mystery where that funding comes from, it is however a mystery of who's smart enough to use it.

    A second issue is certification/qualification. If we look at the staff that predominantly provide search and rescue many of them spend an incredible amount of time maintaining structural fire, ems, instructor certifications and law enforcement. It's not a bad idea of professionalizing SAR, however if we do let's increase the base budget and factor that time and cost associated with it so we don't have the same 5 people taking on the work load of 15. It all comes down to supply and demand. Before those of you who provide rescue to the general public say "no" too quickly, think about where the money is coming from. If the National Park Service could provide equal reimbursement, staffing and training to all of the units that respond day in and day out to SAR missions I'd think you'd hear a resounding "No". When they don't and parks are left footing the bill it leads to one thing.....shortfalls for field staff.....and at the end of the day once again we see our front line heroes pay the price. So who really should be paying for Search and Rescue?

  • National Park Mystery Photo 1: Wow – This is One Big Boulder!   5 years 28 weeks ago

    trip to jelly n 1969 from ogden,ut...family of 2 adults w/4 kids... n main park near geyser... out on side of road picnikn'.... big bear comin up road feddin car to car.... tnen a pick up truck with 2 adults suddenly jumep out of truck on opposite side... they forgot to roll up window...!!!!!end

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    ronlee67 -

    Thanks for some excellent first-hand perspective.

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    reading this article and comments changed my mind somewhat. There are questions, though Public lands are exempt from local taxes. Local police, fire and EMS staff and equipment are often involved in SAR operations. Shouldn't there be some compensation to the local taxpayer? Then there is the moral hazard issue. Do people take needless risks because they know that someone will bail them out?

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I think the "crazies" out there are quite rare.

    I spent some seven years on one of the busier SAR teams in Colorado. We clocked between 100 - 150 missions a year. I don't recall a single mission where a parent recklessly put their child in danger. I can count perhaps 5 or 6 where an adult acted irresponsibly which resulted in a rescue/recovery. Two died in separate incidents while thrill skiing off a cliff. One was caught in an avalance. All three were "expert" skiers. In another incident our team was providing support for a mountain marathon. One gentleman from Arkansas who was diabetic decided to challenge himself by not hydating for 24 hours before the race. He crashed and burned about six miles into the race on a hot August morning. We have had a handful of suicides. Not a single taxpayer's cent was spent to rescue/recover these people, yet they were cared for by our team. Of course it seems appropriate to charge or fine the guy from Arkansas for his stupidity but it's not worth the trouble. As for the others.....? Well... they are dead!

    There are no ski resorts in our county. I have read news articles averaging perhaps a couple per year where skiers in Colorado have gone "out of bounds" at resorts and into danger zones to end up missing, injured, or worse. These incidents generally get more press coverage so perhaps the public gets the idea that irresponsbile people are the cause of more SAR missions than is actually the case. I know that our missions rarely got press coverage and the vast majority were successful missions and did not involve significant irresponsibility by the victims.

    In my experience, outdoors people, are generally quite responsible, care for the environment, and take pride in their skills to remain safe. A good many of them know more about survival than the average person. They are clearly not a burden on the system.

    There will always be people with bad judgement. Everyone is a novice when they first venture into a new environment. We have to take care of them along with the others... no charge!

  • Change is in the Wind for Offshore Energy Leases. How Might Parks Be Impacted?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    P M -

    You're correct about reports of offshore winds being both stronger and more consistent, at least in certain locations. I've read the same information a number of times recently.

    Here's a link with a 2008 summary of a study underway to map areas with the best potential for wind power projects.

    A University of Delaware study in 2007 seems to have some pretty good data to support their claim that "the wind resource off the Mid-Atlantic coast could supply the energy needs of nine states from Massachusetts to North Carolina, plus the District of Columbia--with enough left over to support a 50 percent increase in future energy demand."

    More about that study is found at this link.

    A big question is whether that potential can be put to use while meeting the challenge you identified:

    Hopefully a constructive balance can be made preserving the coast and harvesting the wind.

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    "Seriously, why is this even being debated?"

    It's being debated because some people have different opinions. I personally don't feel having a child in tow should give someone carte blanche to act recklessly and expect rescue with no repercussions. Someone mentioned above that local law enforcement often have the discretion to bill (or presumably even file charges against?) people that take unnecessary risks that require SAR. That sounds like a good system to me. But what if the people with the 5 year old know they might get a bill? Will they hesitate then? Should we make it clear that no one gets billed under any circumstances so these folks can go wild and put their children at risk without threats to their finances or liberty? I would think it would be in the best interest of the 5-year-old if the parents could expect some serious repercussions for putting the child at risk in the first place. Making sure the parents know there's free rescue available seems like a horrible thing to do for the welfare of the kids when their parents are this ignorant to start with.

  • Snowbound Couple Rescued From Fire Tower at Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Ron -

    Thanks for providing some excellent information on this subject.

  • Snowbound Couple Rescued From Fire Tower at Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 28 weeks ago

    quoting Anonymous: "In the State of Colorado, which Dinosaur NM is in, the State covers all SAR costs through a special hikers tax generated from the sale of recreation gear within the State".
    This is not quite accurate.

    1. The state does not "cover all SAR costs". In Colorado all mountain SAR teams are volunteers and raise their own funds. They are not supported by the state to the extent inferred in that statement. There is a Search and Rescue Fund adminstered by the state Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). This is not state money. Is is money provided through the voluntary purchase of a COSAR card ($3 per year/$12 for 5 years) or through a 25 cent surcharge on hunting and fishing licenses, vessel, snowmobile, and off-highway registrations. 2/3 of the money from COSAR card sales is put in this fund (presumeably the remaining 1/3 is DOLA's share for administrative costs).

    In Colorado, county sheriffs have the authority/responsiblity for SAR in their jurisdiction (not the state). The first priority of the fund is to reimburse local Sheriffs for the costs incurred while conducting a search and rescue for a licensed person. Since the sheriff's have working agreements with their local volunteer SAR teams, there is rarely any significant direct cost to the sheriff for most SAR missions. Each year, any remaining monies in the fund can be used to reimburse the local volunteer SAR teams to help pay for training and equipment (team equipment, not personal equipment.) These reimbursements are in the form of a grant, and teams must apply for the grants.

    2. It is not a tax nor is it hiker specific. Anyone may purchase the COSAR card and many do to help support the SAR.

    3. It is not a tax that generates money "from the sale of recreation gear".

    Simply put, people who obtain licenses and permits for hunting, fishing, and operating off-road vehicles pay a 25 cent surcharge and others may volunteer to buy A COSAR card to help fund the SAR Fund. The fund is small and does not cover even a very small percentage of the cost of SAR in Colorado. By far, the largest portion of the cost of SAR is born directly by the SAR teams and the individual contributions of time, equipment, training etc. of the team members.

    A common misconception is that the SAR Fund provides "insurance" for the contributors. This is absolutely not the case, nor was the fund ever established for that purpose. Sheriff's have the option to charge for SAR expenses and ocassionally a sheriff is tempted to try when his direct expenses are exceptionally high. I'm not aware of any that were successful, not to mention the uproar that would occur from the sAR community who oppose such action.