Recent comments

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    One big problem I have with snow coaches (and I'm no fan of snowmobiles) is access. Both modes of transportation are expensive and shut out a great many people. The biggest advantage of snowmobiles over snow coaches - as far as I can see - is that the snow coach choice in the park is monopolized, perpetuating the age old government / corporate rule over the park. So, while they provide access for all kinds of people who might not otherwise see the park in winter, the "all kinds" are almost entirely rich or upper middle class people. And, while Yellowstone, by its very distant nature tends to exclude many demographically poor people from being able to see it (except for poor people without families and with summers largely open), there is never any reason to exacerbate the problem. If snow coaches were publicly owned and free-to-use vehicles, or if there were some kind of progressive scale of cost, or on and on ... it wouldn't be so bad to me. But, as is, eliminating snowmobiles (a vehicle that depends upon some privilege but at least allows for some possibility of avoiding cost) without addressing the access issues involved with snow coaches removes one problem while creating another.

    Others have suggested plowing all or most Yellowstone roads and allowing cars. I'm not sure I'm for that one, either. Others suggest just leaving the park more or less closed and leaving it to those who can get in on snowshoes and skies. I don't really have an answer, just that the considerations are more than environmental versus mode of enjoyment but that they must also consider the public nature of the park and the economic class disparities that also exist in our society.

    And, of course, they need to consider the effect on wildlife. Evidence is mixed on the effect of groomed roads on wildlife migration. With bison leaving the park - often along these roads - to almost certain death, it does no good to continue the debate on these grounds without considering the implications to bison policy. That has to be part of the discussion as well. However, in some way that might be negligible, because bison eventually will find ways to leave the park to better grazing grounds. What bothers me is what I've personally witnessed in the north of the park, where the policy to keep roads open is followed so zealously at times that snow plows have hazed bison off roads within the park just to clear the roads. The bison are forced into full gallops and then get panicked, trip in the snow, hurt themselves, and put visitors in danger. Does grooming roads put unnecessary stress on animals? What will be done to make sure that doesn't happen?

    So, for me, economic class, remembering the land and the wildlife as equal considerations in the process, and of course noise and air quality, all fit into it. Aesthetically, I'd prefer to see skis and snowshoes; however, if we can, where we can, we should find other ways of access, so long as we consider fairness. If fairness becomes too costly, then it's generally not worth doing at all. So, if a clean snowmobile is either a fiction or just costs too much to do in a way that allows a wide variety of people from different classes to use them, then I don't want them. That goes for snow coaches - as it stands, I don't want them, either, for anyone - until access to them is fair. If a middle class person like me isn't willing to spend the money for my family to take one, I know it's downright impossible for many other people.

    One other note - I read a lot by politicians about the parks being for "benefit and enjoyment of the people" and that environmentalists forget that. There is a fallacy lurking. The mode of enjoyment cannot be abstracted to mean that enjoyment cannot be had. One way of enjoying being denied does not rid people of enjoyment. If enjoyment can only be had by destroying a place, then the Organic Act is simply nonsensical. There is no inherent right to the mode of enjoyment or for people to be able to make a living providing means that are destructive to the purpose of a place. The question isn't rights and what the people deserve, but what we should be doing. Anyhow, that aside helps me to think about things differently and may be a useful way to re-frame all our ethical quandaries.

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

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    We have to understand that use of the courts should be merely seen as a tactic not a strategy in the overall fight and understand that there is something disingenuous about using the law as a means of protecting places that have no reason to be chained by any national or state law. I'm afraid that the success of the tactic of using the courts has convinced some of the ultimate good of it.

    It is a correct statement that use of the courts has become a strategy over a tactic, if not a mantra. Our litigation-happy society now sees this as the norm. "I don't like what you're doing, and you won't change it for me, so I'll sue to make it happen".

    This cannot long stand. A tipping point will eventually be reached, and the ability to sue so readily may be taken away. There is now enough national attention to these issues to bring about such change, but I would not look for anything substantial until after the election/New Year.

    It is also true that the parks are made to be used, by humans, for their own enjoyment, while ensuring that the indeginous wildlife is not harmed. While I advocate conservation alongside access, I find it totally unpalatable to think that many wish for the parks to become vast widlife refuges, with humankind completely excluded. That would be a travesty.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Just a couple of questions for you Anti-Gun, Anti-Loaded Gun Types.

    1) What does a criminal look like?
    2) What does a rapist look like?
    3) What does a child molestor look like?
    4) What does a murderer look like?

    My point is, you can not tell the differance on looks alone. Criminals don't care about the law as it is, so why restrict the law abiding from protecting themselves against the lawless. Trouble never makes an appointment, it never scheduals a time when it will strike and make you the victim. Just because you have the tool doesn't mean your going to use it for illegal purposes like poaching or worse. Heck if I were a poacher in the park, I sure would not use a firearm, bowhunting is actually more quiet and bows are perfectly legal to carry in the parks as there is no law that I know of preventing it.

    When law abiding citizens carry concealed firearms, and the criminal element knows that they could run into an intended victim that just might be able to protect themselves, the crime is less likely to occure. It is far better to have and not need it, than to need it and not have it as I did one time out away from everyone, out in the country where I had a guy pull a knife on me. His mind was change abruptly, as he dropped his knife and headed off in the other direction. Had I not been armed with a LOADED FIREARM, the results would have turned out differantly.

    As an ex-cop with 20 yrs experience, I welcome more people legally licensed to carry and defend themselves.

    And oh yes, the reason I carry a concealed firearm, it's simple.... because a cop is just to large and heavy to carry around in my back pocket.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This thread is getting really good. Many points to ponder written here.

    Terrorism, attached to any cause, is never the answer. It will only breed hatred for the cause and the people associated with it. It is also immoral, as well as illegal. Reprisals from the opposition will surely ensue if this is allowed to escalate.

    I think it is rather elitist to say that you must visit these areas at a certain age. Sure, there are those folks out there who beat the odds and stay very fit past retirement age, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I also am not advocating the creation of new roads, etc. for any reason. However, I am against road removal and severe limitations to existing access unless there are sound scientific reasons supporting these actions. Soft science of the heart does not apply, in my opinion.

    Many of you have mentioned "Snow Coaches" as an alternative for access. A quick search on Google gave me my first look at these machines. Kind of a van-meets-snowcat arrangement. Quite impressive! Please help this East Coaster to understand the differences in use/access for the 2 types of machines in question here. Are the snowcoaches allowed on the same/similar terrain as snowmobiles? I would imagine simple size differences between the two would keep the coaches on wider trails and flatter terrain. Do they go high over passes and such?

    I would agree that these would be a completely viable alternative vs. snowmobiles for access for those not able to hike in. However, will these systems suffer the same fate as snowmobiles, and be banned in the future for the very same reasons? A similar situation is under way in CHNSRA, where Jet Skis were first banned in 1999, and the push to ban vehicles began in 2008. The gates have been opened, and the final outcome has yet to be determined. This may be the beginning of the same for Yellowstone.

  • Sierra Club Caught Standing Atop Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    why?? Humans have been out of the natural selection loop for quite a while now...lol

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Yes, it is dangerous to quote the law. What drives people nuts with snowmobiles is not the law but the incoherence of the policy and the process that brings it about. That leads groups to pursue various strategies to deal with the incoherence. One common strategy is to use the courts, and courts presumably base their decisions in law. Unfortunately, we often forget in these legal discussions that the impetus for our action is rarely a love for the law but rather a love for what makes sense to us. But, as those discussions are even more treacherous, people often stick with what's safest for them.

    I've tried to in my own thinking, writing, and advocacy go to the more dangerous places. In the case of national parks - particularly Yellowstone National Park - I have questioned the rationale for its own existence (see this series of essays), not because I don't believe that the national parks aren't places worth adoring but because we need to justify our beliefs on the firmest grounds possible. These places are too important for us to be lazy, for us not to pursue truth and justice with the utmost seriousness.

    While I am glad at a practical level if we are rid of snowmobiles - not only in the parks but in the forests as well and every place except where the poor depend upon them for survival - I am wary of the reliance on the strategy of legal parsing in order to achieve the ends of environmentalists. We have to understand that use of the courts should be merely seen as a tactic not a strategy in the overall fight and understand that there is something disingenuous about using the law as a means of protecting places that have no reason to be chained by any national or state law. I'm afraid that the success of the tactic of using the courts has convinced some of the ultimate good of it. But, when we look carefully at what gave rise to the law, what the law actually says, the incoherence and ambiguity in the law, and the worldview entailed by the law (in general, or in particular looking at the Organic Act or Yellowstone's Act of Dedication), I think we are left lacking. Our motivation has to come from somewhere else. It had better be for justice, truth, and love; that's why we fight. That's why we use the law; it's best that we not let the law use us.

    Ironically, that suggests I'm all for cherry picking so long as we are honest about why we are doing it. That may rip people of the motivation of cherry picking; if so, so be it. At least there are a lot of other ways to fight against injustice, but all of them are messy at some level (this is a dirty earth).

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

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    A “thank you” to Anonymous for providing us with some real meat in the clarifying memo, and reinforcing how critical it is to follow the money if you want the real answers. Re the Baltimore collection, my point was not to study the origins, but to examine the evolution of the sites over the past 25 years. Granted, there are some obvious differences between them, but I’d like to know why the Baltimore museum – operations and management, whatever – made such a remarkable recovery. Re Reagan and Cumberland Island, the seashore was established in 1972 and operating before Carter was in office, so wilderness was the legacy issue. I can’t imagine Reagan liking any park legislation and I don’t know who drafted the letter for his signature, but they certainly understood the consequences. It may have been a noble effort in the ‘70s and early ‘80s to support a “wilderness” designation for Cumberland Island, but it certainly wasn’t realistic. Following the money and power will tell us why the NPS lost that one, too.

    Anonymous raises an interesting point with legacy parks. In a single term, Jimmy Carter was one of the lucky presidents to get two parks for his home state, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, and Martin Luther King National Historic Site, and much of Alaska for all of us. He has quite a legacy when it comes to preservation.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Good evening--

    I concur with the posts that say that snomos have no place in Yellowstone or Grand Teton. And, I really don't believe it is a question of access. You will remember that the original winter use plan called for a two-year phase out of snowmobiles to be replaced by snow coaches, a much more environmentally-friendly form of access. The two-year phase out was proposed to give the snowmobile dealers around the park some time to make the kind of business decisions they would need to make. Older people, families, people with disabilities, or those who don't have the time or energy to ski or snowshoe into the park can ride on these snowcoaches. They cause less pollution, make less noise, carry more people, and are, in my opinion, a viable option to the snowmobiles.

    No doubt the park will devise an emergency rule to get by this winter, but let's hope they pay more attention in the next round of rule-making to what their own scientists are saying to them and less to the political agendas that they appear to have followed for the last 7 years.

    Rick Smith

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The most commonly-cited clause from the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 is:

    "... to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
    Less commonly cited passages include:
    "[The Secretary of the Interior] may also, upon terms and conditions to be fixed by him, sell or dispose of timber in those cases where in his judgment the cutting of such timber is required in order to control the attacks of insects or diseases or otherwise conserve the scenery or the natural or historic objects in any such park, monument, or reservation."
    Thus, the Organic Act provides for the logging of Parks, under certain conditions. As Sec. of Interior:
    "He may also provide in his discretion for the destruction of such animals and of such plant life as may be detrimental to the use of any of said parks, monuments, or reservations." (emph. added)
    Which suggests that Parks were intended to be used. And:
    "He may also grant privileges, leases, and permits for the use of land for the accommodation of visitors in the various parks...

    ... may, under such rules and regulations and on such terms as he may prescribe, grant the privilege to graze live stock within any national park [except Yellowstone]...

    ... may grant said privileges, leases, and permits and enter into contracts relating to the same with responsible persons, firms, or corporations without advertising and without securing competitive bids...

    The usual impression we receive of the Organic Act, that it conveys a single message, clearly, forcefully & unambiguously, is not well-supported by the rest of the document.

    If the remainder of the Act (beyond the popular quote used to support contemporary environmental positions) is still part of the law, then indeed the Parks have considerable legal latitude - under the Organic Act per se - to take a wide array of decisions which environmentalists will decry.

    Citing chapter & verse under the Organic Act 1916 looks risky, once it is actually read.

    To protest that all those 'stupid' things the Act says are just so much old-fashioned noise, and that the only part that really matters is the cherry-picked excerpt that happens to match our viewpoint, well ...

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Well, Frank, I guess that's kinda, sorta what I was saying too. :-) But, expressing it like that usually doesn't endear one to your opinion.

    Perhaps I've been watching too much Judge Judy. (Having lived in New York, I sure miss the days where I could say "get over it" and no one thought it unreasonable.)

    But I stick by it. Get over it. There are millions of acres to snowmobile. In a previous comment, I listed the dozens of chemicals in gasoline (which I remember my college girlfriend's dad spilling all over Medicine Lake from his snowmobile tank). Loud. Obnoxious. They have no place in Yellowstone.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Frank C. summed up his edict ...

    "People should see parks while they are young and capable."
    Deciding that some people are worthy, and that others are not, is a role the more fortunate among us decline. However, to act upon such a decision, one must be a leader, and to be a leader one must run for office and win at the ballot-box. That's tougher duty than the prison you couldn't handle, Frank.

    ... he sets snowmobiles up as a straw-man:

    "... I doubt anyone who can't hike Yellowstone is going to be racing at 70 miles per hour down a snowmobile trail."
    • In truth, older, softer & pudgier folks speak of their snowmachine in the soft cadence of surprised lovers. You're just not listening, Frank.
    • Happy old snowmobile users in the Park (and often outside it too) drive & ride slowly, quietly and yes, considerately. They have no fiendish intent, or character. You're seeing things, Frank.

    ... and he soft-peddles the charges:

    "Abbey, an anarchocaplitalist?, inspired people fed up with corporatism (government and corporate collusion) ravaging wilderness to make a stand.
    ...
    But we might not have radical environmentalism if our corrupt, small-f fascist government (read: corporatist) didn't pillage wilderness for the benefit of a select few."
    It's not "radical environmentalism" "inspired" "to make a stand". It's amateurish guerrilla/civil warfare, using arson, firebombs, and terror. It's contributing to the criminal delinquency of the weak & addle-brained, to commit social suicide in a fit of petulant pique falsely represented to them as heroism.

    Ed Abbey not-so-coyly promoted terrorism as a way to protect nature. But Edward himself knew better - knew that in truth such acts are capable of yielding no such benefit. But he had a sufficiently poor grip on his principles to incite others to sacrifice themselves pointlessly as proxies for his own disgruntled bitterness.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Life sucks and is unfair. Get over it.

    Well, Frank, I guess that's kinda, sorta what I was saying too. :-) But, expressing it like that usually doesn't endear one to your opinion. Quite the opposite, actually. Like I was saying, we all play different parts in these discussions.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I have both a two year old son and a 73-year old father. I simply cannot ask them to make the same treks that I am capable of. Does that mean that they should be excluded from viewing our national treasures simply because of the limitations placed upon them due to their age? I think not.

    Thanks to roads and ease of access, most of the iconic national treasures, both natural and artificial, can be enjoyed by your father and son. However, there are vast areas of wilderness with stunning sights that they cannot see. No roads go to these places and no vehicles are permitted. Should we remove any restrictions and build roads there? I would propose most of our parks are big enough to accommodate those who need a sight at the end of a road and those, like me, that need sights far from the end of the road.

    Those of you who are hale and hearty at this moment in time may find yourselves on the other side of the fence one day, looking in longingly.

    Indeed I shall. There will be a day that I can't get across the river and up the Queets Valley in Olympic like I do today. I just hope to God they don't build me a road to get there. There's something to be said for aging gracefully, accepting the onset of limitations, and continuing to love the wonders of wilderness just because they exist - whether you can see them or not. I look longingly now, at 35 years old, at those who climb 8,000 meter peaks and circumnavigate arctic islands in kayaks. I live vicariously via the magic of words and photographs. I harbor no bitterness that these things aren't accessible to me due to physical, emotional, or financial limitations.

    Yes, some of us would help construct fences. But I assure you that some of us build them for far more than personal desire of the here-and-now. You won't hear a peep from us when we find ourselves fenced out. I call myself a lover and defender of nature. I would be a hypocrite to propose the rules be changed when the painfully natural processes of age and infirmity confine me to my books, leaving the forest to the next generation.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    As for motorized access, I have no sympathy for people like my mom who, at age 70, has not taken care of herself and can no longer get to the same places I can. But she got to see Yellowstone in the 1940s. People should see parks while they are young and capable.

    Much, likely a majority of the population is incapable of accessing our Natural Wonders, on foot.

    There are MANY, MANY older citizens who have taken care of their health and can enjoy the parks without a motorized device. As a fire lookout, I remember a gentleman in his 80s making the 600 foot ascent up the cinder cone on which I worked. At 7,000 feet on Mt. Hood, a man easily in his 60s zoomed past me with a youngster. And those who can't? I'm sorry, but too bad. Life sucks and is unfair. Get over it. Anyway, I doubt anyone who can't hike Yellowstone is going to be racing at 70 miles per hour down a snowmobile trail. If we had to provide access to everyone to everything, the NPS would have to build a 1000-foot elevator shaft to Cleetwood Cove so everyone could take a boat tour of Crater Lake. Ridiculous!

    I've heard, "Oh, but I was working when I was younger! I didn't have the time or money to see national parks!" Well, these people made the choice to work and be sedentary and not to do parks on the cheap when they could physically do so. My choice was to work in parks in my 20s and forgo financial rewards for non-material rewards. Now, I'll work until I die.

    Abbey, an anarchocaplitalist?, inspired people fed up with corporatism (government and corporate collusion) ravaging wilderness to make a stand. Under most circumstances I would not monkeywrench myself (I'd never survive prison), but maybe if it came down to it--if the Forest Service decided to resume logging in sequoia groves (an unlikely proposition), I very well might monkeywrench as a last ditch effort to save the trees I love.

    But we might not have radical environmentalism if our corrupt, small-f fascist government (read: corporatist) didn't pillage wilderness for the benefit of a select few.

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Removing politics from the process won't be easy. In fact, it probably can't be completely accomplished.

    It can be completely accomplished, but it requires a radical rethinking of management structure and philosophy. But as long as interest groups (of every stripe--including CNPSR) pressure bureaucrats and politicians and achieve their desired results, you're right; it probably won't happen.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    And when I am old I shall take to the over abundance of roads and nature trails that Our National Parks provide me, all the while holding to heart Our National Parks doctrine of Protection and Preservation for Our Future Generations.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Among the problems bedeviling environmentalism, eco-terrorism easily strikes me as the most discrediting.

    I couldn't agree more, Ted. While I find merit in some of the ends Abbeyism seeks, the means do a grave disservice to the cause.

    My point in invoking Abbey here is that Anonymous' post was nearly a quote from Desert Solitaire. And I'll stand by that book being entertaining and a classic. There's a reason tens of thousands of people (who would never send a cent to Earth First) still cite it as a favorite and an inspiration. And in every debate on subjects such as these, there will be an actor playing the Abbey part - as evidenced above. I'd rather audition for the less incendiary parts myself - perhaps Aldo Leopold?

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    CLARIFYING RESPONSES to RoadRanger; to Beamis; to ChrisBugsyShallFall:

    -- to RoadRanger: Your Baltimore idea as the better site, of course misses the point that the only reason NPS got a Steamtown is because the congressman was from Scranton, high on the Appropriations Committee, and was looking for something to do for Scranton. There was no study, to determine either if there was a better collection elsewhere, or what a feasible protection strategy could or should be. In fact, there was no legislation, per se, because it became law via an insert into an APPROPRIATIONS bill, not a normal legislative "authorization."

    You also indulge in a little political naivete with your Reagan Quote on Cumberland Wilderness , "Don't even think about sending me something this absurd again." Reagan must have know Cumberland was one-of-a-kind because it was the legacy NPS project for former President Jimmy Carter. It is true that some Presidents get more than one legacy project, but the point is they often do not fit any pattern. Look, for example, of FDR's St. Paul's Church near the Bronx (a project of his mother's, and actually enacted after Roosevelt's death) and the Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park, owned by a friend of Roosevelt's who needed to unload it: neither area is nationally significant or nationally distinctive. So Reagan was just pretending he had virtue, when he knew in advance Cumberland Island was one of a kind. Carter just wanted the NPS to figure out a way to save the place, but under Reagan no one was going to go in and acquire all the inholding land parcels, as Roosevelt so often did.

    And RoadRanger, the Real Politik missing in your comment about the terrific RR managed through agreement with
    Cuyahoga Valley National Park is once again, Cuyahoga is one-of-a-kind, because Republican Congressman Ralph Regula has provided them all the money they needed. These are all sweet insights, but naive because first you need to consider: where's the money??

    RoadRanger is right about the staff at Steamtown: the superintendent is once of the nicest and quickest project manager in the NPS. However, he is not an economic development specialist, and not a tourism or heritage area development specialist, which they needed about 10 years ago. Within the limited scope of work, and the now-limited available money, this superintendent cannot do more for Scranton or Steamtown. He would be a brilliant superintendent at a different park, and Steamtown is lucky to have him.

    -- Beamis is wrong to blame Bud Shuster (R-PA) for Steamtown. Steamtown is the creation of ANOTHER Republican from Pennsylvania, Congressman Joe McCade of Scranton. The deal was put together by his congressional staffer, Debbie Weatherly, of Scranton herself (who as a result of this Experience was moved by McDade to become the lead Republican congressional staffer in the Appropriations subcommittee that funds national parks, the Arts Endowment, Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, etc), and aided by another congressional staffer from Sranton, who was on the Full Committee of Appropriations but actually working for McDade. Weatherly has been enormously important to Steamtown, all the more interesting because of her dominance of the NPS budget nationwide for the past 12 years. All the money that has gone to Steamtown was apppropriated by McDade. At one point, he was actually scheduled to become the Chairman of the Full Committee of Appropriations, but the threat of an ethics investigation worried Gingrich, who made Bob Livingston (R of LA) chairman instead, in order to delay or forestall the investigation. The first time the National Park Service said anything nice about Steamtown was when Ms. Weatherly and the Republicans moved into the Majority and Weatherly took over the NPS budget. The Deputy NPS Director at the time, formerly head of the Denver Service Center, would introduce Ms. Weatherly to room-fulls of park superintendents and "assure" them that Ms. Weatherly was doing a great job and Steamtown was completely legit. We all thought he'd be turned into sushi if he said anything else. All this is a lesson in the ethics of the Republican Party. Although McDade had to resign, Ms. Weatherly is still there, although now in the Minority.

    But Beamis is wrong, most of all, to suggest that the money that went to Steamtown would have gone to some other worthy NPS project elsewhere if it had not gone to Steamtown.

    OVERWHELMINGLY, money from "pork" is only available for what the congressman wants.

    It would not go back into the general NPS coffers! WAKE UP everybody! It would probably would have disappeared into a different project in Scranton.

    (Look at what happened to the famous "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska: Governor Palin still got ALL the money, but just for SOME OTHER PORK PROJECT of hers! I am always dazzled by these assertions that if you take the money from "pork" it would go to something the speaker thinks is more legit. Well, the fact is, the Constitution makes the money bill originate in the Congress, not the Presidency. There are good reasons for the Constitution to make the congress, not the President, in charge of the money. But the point is: You cannot solve the problem of "pork" by saying you are just against the whole "category" of spending via congressional initiative. SOME congressional projects are good. Some are dogs. Each one needs to be evaluated on its own merits. We need transparency. We need evaluation. That is what the new Appropriations Chairman says we will have. We will see. But when McDade and Weatherly did Steamtown, they did it with no oversight, and later when the parks Authorization subcommittee chairman (D-Minn) tried to put the brakes on it, he barely accomplished anything. People like McDade and Weatherly should be made to operate in the sunshine.

    -- to Chris BugsyShallFall, I would only observe that Oklahoma City should be no model of anything. The NPS has no real accountability over that site, because once again the money just comes from congressional initiative against any common sense or actual oversight. Again, unlike Steamtown and Cumberland Is, Oklahoma City has had all the money it needs for what it needed to do. Ditto, Cuyahoga.

    A better model is a heritage area in which the NPS should approve a plan based on what will be protected and interpreted and how it will be done (strategy), and should then fund the area based on performance. It should be part of a regional tourism strategy heavily leveraged by local governments, the private sector and the State.

    As several point out in this thread, of course, the truth is the local business community either does not support or cannot support this stragegy sufficently. And the idea that tourists would drive over from NYC on the newly-constructed Interstate HyWy across New Jersey, itself built in order to CREATE economic development in northern Pennsylvania, not RESPOND to development, did not revive Steamtown OR Scranton.

    The trains are impressive. But people like to see things MOVE. Perhaps they would like to see the countryside, if real excursions were available. No static exhibit of trains will attract anyone to Scranton. The notion that the trains would make a shopping mall viable is only one shade better than the Sevens-Palin bridge-to-nowhere.

    I think the reason this particular brand of politicians get away with this sort of thing is, ultimately, they and their colleagues of the same stripe do not really care about national parks, or an effective transportation system either. We have had in History great Republicans like T. Roosevelt who believed in National Parks, or more recently great Republicans such as John Chafee who had the power to get whatever he wanted, but would not support "dogs" no matter what benefit to some donor. We need elected officials in BOTH parties who believe in parks and historic preservation, not these cynics we have today.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Kirky Adams,

    I'll bite. Let's have a quick look at Ed Abbey.

    Favorite quote:

    "Abbey's abrasiveness, opposition to anthropocentrism (sometimes characterized as misanthropy ), and outspoken writings made him the object of much controversy. Conventional environmentalists from mainstream groups disliked his more radical "Keep America Beautiful...Burn a Billboard" style. Based on his writings and statements--and apparently in a few cases, actions--many believe that Abbey did advocate ecotage or sabotage in behalf of ecology. The controversy intensified with the publication of Abbey's most famous work of fiction, The Monkey Wrench Gang. The novel centers on a small group of eco-warriors who travel the American West attempting to put the brakes on uncontrolled human expansion by committing acts of sabotage against industrial development projects. Abbey claimed the novel was written merely to "entertain and amuse," and was intended as symbolic satire. Others saw it as a how-to guide to non-violent ecotage, as the main characters attack things, such as road-building equipment, and not people. The novel inspired environmentalists frustrated with mainstream environmentalist groups and what they saw as unacceptable compromises. Earth First! was formed as a result in 1980, advocating eco-sabotage or "monkeywrenching." Although Abbey never officially joined the group, he became associated with many of its members, and occasionally wrote for the organization." (emph. added)

    Among the problems bedeviling environmentalism, eco-terrorism easily strikes me as the most discrediting.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Belling cats. It's what I do....

    Much, likely a majority of the population is incapable of accessing our Natural Wonders, on foot.

    I have both a two year old son and a 73-year old father. I simply cannot ask them to make the same treks that I am capable of. Does that mean that they should be excluded from viewing our national treasures simply because of the limitations placed upon them due to their age? I think not.

    One day, we shall all be old, if we are lucky enough. Those of you who are hale and hearty at this moment in time may find yourselves on the other side of the fence one day, looking in longingly.

    The other side of a fence that you helped to construct.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    No vehicles should be allowed in any national park. Park all them RVs and cars at the entrance and walk in! You wanna see Old Faithful? Hop on a mule.

    You're joking. On multiple levels. One certainly hopes.

    Ed Abbey's dead, so someone has to play that part. While I don't wholly agree with them, his rants on this subject are classic and entertaining.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    dapster belled the cat:

    "Also, we haven’t even broached the subject of the access for the disabled."

    Seriously, this is it - the basic reality.

    Much, likely a majority of the population is incapable of accessing our Natural Wonders, on foot.

    Yet that is the appeal-of-choice of the 'mystical solitude' contingent. "The presence of snowmobiles ruins my wilderness-experience. Let them walk."

    "Oh, let them eat cake." "Marie, they'll have your head." "Nonsense: It's wilderness - they can walk like the animals, be limited to the level of animals. Make it so, Jeeves."

    Somebody took a wrong turn on the road to the future, thinking it will exclude or ignore those who do not meet a certain standard of physical robustness & endurance. Yes ... cake was a nutritious & healthful commodity-byproduct of the bread-baking industry, and national enshrinement of Teutonic ideals energized late-1930s Germany ... but note that the lowly & homely won the day, hard & fast.

    The snobbery & elitism of "Let them walk" is self-defeating.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Anons I & II,

    Why do we keep allowing these motorized machines to pollute the environment in all our parks. The parks are not meant for racing etc they are meant to preserve the plants and animals and allow for guarded enjoyment by the public in such a way that the environment or animals are not interfered with. The use of our parks by the loud zing zingers only occurs because of intense lobbying by those selling and using these noisy, disturbing machines.

    And by the lobbying of the park users who use said machines to access the park areas that they prefer. Again, please note that NPS rangers also employ the same mode of transportation in the fulfillment of their duties. Look, I’m all for a viable replacement to the IC engine, but unless you’ve got one in your back pocket you’re not telling us about, then we’re stuck burning gas for a while yet to come.

    No vehicles should be allowed in any national park. Park all them RVs and cars at the entrance and walk in!

    Mr. Clayton so eloquently handled the latter part of this post, so I’ll take the former. Vehicles in the parks, also used by NPS personnel, are absolutely necessary to the safety and upkeep of the park. As far as I know, all vehicles are bound by some level of emissions controls mandated by either Fed or local laws, sometimes both. Some parks are so large that a foot-bound NPS simply could not manage it in this manner. I’m sorry, but I do not share the guilt that some do over burning fossil fuels in the best means of personal transportation that mankind has produced to date. I also refuse to step back in time and harness either equine or wind power to travel.

    Mules? Egad. Have you ever been around areas with high levels of livestock & riding animals? Care to guess what the fuel-economy and emissions levels of horse-culture looks like? The landscape effects of churning hooves?

    I used to run a horse stables facility with 20+ animals counting both horses and ponies. We gave either ½ hour or 1-hour trail rides through the Virginia woods every weekend during the warm months. We literally had to clean the trails of dung periodically during peak season as the trail would become clogged with it. Just imagine thousands of visitors on the backs of thousands of animals and the mess it would cause.

    This business went under due to the high cost of insuring the riders against injury. Do you think the NPS would enter into such a high risk venture? Doubtful.

    Also, we haven’t even broached the subject of the access for the disabled. Do we dare want yet another branch of government, (The DOJ this time), and the ADA folks involved in this? Hiking trails up the sides of mountains with wheelchair ramps their entire length, anyone? Sidewalks everywhere?

    Well regulated, reasonable, low-impact motorized access can certainly become a reality, if both sides are willing to give a little. Lawsuits just bring yet more lawsuits.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Beamis is right when he says

    All I'm saying is that Steamtown was a dog from the git go and the NPS more or less said so when it was proposed way back when. It was deliberately conceived and forcibly shoved through the legislative gauntlet as an economic development project by one of the legendary grand masters of pork barrel politics Congressman Bud Shuster.
    but the idea of turning it into a park and museum was not the bad Idea. The bad idea was making a national park run with taxpayers money. It should have been a partnership run with the help of NPS much like the National Monument in Oklahoma City is run.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The car has done one good thing for Yellowstone. Because people travel further and faster over a day, there are far fewer structures and buildings in Yellowstone than there used to be. The theory for awhile has been to horde large crowds of people into fewer areas so that the larger area of the park is protected at the sacrifice for the few. So, Old Faithful in particular is the sacrificial lamb.

    None of these questions is very simple. It's what happens when a natural place is artificially set aside to prevent people from following their natural instincts. It's never easy to play God.

    Snowmobiles certainly have no right to be in Yellowstone, but denying them access doesn't really do anything much to go at the larger problems. I'm not even convinced the air will be cleaner, if it means that visitation simply transfers to the restricted access and monopolized snow coach industry and if more and more cars (like mine) keep using the north of the park in the winter. If roads are still being groomed, what difference will it make to wildlife and the bison who continue to leave the park to face hazing and slaughter? I'll be glad if they are gone for a lot of personal reasons, but I've never understood the amount of passion over the issue without an equal amount of passion on the larger Yellowstone issues.

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