Recent comments

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    It never has to be a choice of "development" vs "no development."

    all the tools exist for any local or state government to manage their landscape so that the special character that makes them distinctive is not sacrificed as development proceeds.

    the problem in this area is that Route 95, the primary economic development force in northern Virginia, goes right through the Fredericksburg-Wilderness-Spotsylvania area. Lack of imagination has led to big box developments at all the intersections.

    The problem in Virginia is the fear of smart growth planning systems so that the "depression or development disaster" is not the only way forward. Fearful or small minded people who have had bad experience with government trend to want no government at all, rather than learn how to make government serve them and act smart. That is why in this area there have been a series of explosions where a development plan is either killed (with no options) or developed (with no options).

    Actually, you can save historic retail areas and town centers by marketing them as if they were malls, by designing effective but unobtrusive parking, etc. There are plenty of such successes all over the country where good zoning and thoughtful design and marketing have saved Main Streets. Virginia could have this instead of the horrors they are getting in the Fredericksburg area. There are examples of good development in VA, and the VA local and state governments need to use their power to require development to be properly located, design around significant resources, and be right-sized.

    But such enlightened retail districts may have trouble competing with Walmart, because what Walmart does well is use its tremendous leverage to force wholesalers to drop the wholesale price. That is why Walmart is one of the only thriving sectors of our economy today. This is exactly what the robber barons like Rockefeller did when he forced the railroads to give him preferential shipping rates unavailable to anyone else.

    So the next step is to get retailers to join together so they too can extract good wholesale prices. This is just like getting drug companies or physicians or hospitals or health insurance to charge reaonable rates. As Theodore Roosevelt observed, when (as Frank C says) the 'corporatists' have all the power and the people none, you need to bring "countervaling power" into the hands of the people trying to preserve a decent way of life, or develop in a way that does not savage their heritage and their civility.

    In the meantime, this development must be stopped. For right now, all that is left is to show the local government -- again -- that heritage DOES matter to Virginians, and it is time the government put planning controls into the hands of local people so good development techniques are followed.

    While it IS a good idea for the federal government to buy more land for parks, it is NOT a good idea for federal government purchase to be the ONLY option available for ALL significant parcels, especially in places where a lot of people live.

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I understand the need for development, but all too often the opening of a new shopping center only leads to the closing of stores elsewhere. This leaves us with less green space and more empty storefronts.

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Whether it's Walmart or Costco or Target, if the land is zoned commercial eventually it will be developed. If the federal government won't buy it, we need a modern day Rockefeller to buy the land and donate it to the national park system. (Rockefeller, as some of you know, donated land for Acadia National Park and others).

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Plus I used to work for Wally World and find them to be evil! =)

    I used to work for the federal government and find it to be truly evil. It extracts hard-earned money from its citizens through coercion and force and gives some of the money to unproductive citizens. A large chunk of the stolen loot goes to finance the American Empire and to purchase bombs and bullets that kill innocent civilians in far off lands.

    At least Wal-Mart earns its money through voluntary transactions.

    However, Wal-Mart is warming to the state, having called for a increase in the federal minimum wage, which would harm its smaller-sized competition.

    As our corporatist system evolves, it will become harder and harder to tell the state and corporations apart.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Wolverines of the Northern Rockies   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I did a fair amount of travel in the wilds of travel in the wilds of Alaska and considered a glimpse of a wolverine to be a rare treat. One once got into a winter camp I had set up on the North Slope and shredded the place. I pulled in by dog team sometime later and spent half the night cleaning up the mess and making repairs. They certainly do have an unusual gait that makes it look like it is bouncing along on springs. Wolverine have been known to drive wolves off their kill and take it over for itself. Natives prize the hide as a parka ruff, because it sheds frost easily.

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Several months ago, I attended the press conference held by Civil War Preservation Trust at Ellwood on the Wilderness Battlefield. Actor Robert Duval spoke eloquently about the need to preserve the land. Two U.S. representatives, one from Texas and one from Vermont (both states suffered terrible casualties in the battle) also spoke about how the area was "a cathedral of suffering" and how we need to show respect for the men who died there. There are some things that can't be measured in terms of the economy--what these men sacrificed is immeasurable and these fields are a monument to that sacrifice and should be preserved at all costs.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I love our parks and the Rangers and staff.
    My pet peeve in all the parks is noise and the people who make it! The only solution I can think of to reduce the volume is a national campaign by the NPS promoting the Natural Soundscape. It barely gets mentioned in the Park Newspapers. We need a visible and repeated reminder for people to respect the quiet. A slogan and a symbol a la "Give a hoot, don't polute" with Woodsy the Owl; "Don't be a Litterbug" was very effective in the past. The whole recycling campaign with the slogan and symbol has accomplished a lot worldwide. You see a blue barrel you know what its for.
    A sticker with a symbol (e.g. the index finger over the lips) visible on every sign in the Parks could have an impact over time at little cost to the Park Sevice. Its an idea that needs to be PROMOTED and REPEATED to be effective.

    And don't get me started on motorcyles! Require MUFFLERS when riding in the parks.

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Random Walker, I've experienced a few AT hikers that do the same thing. Sometimes I think it's the oder of an unwashed hiker that does the same thing

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 32 weeks ago

    She found out that if she walked up to campers eating dinner and growled, they would run away and leave all their food.

    Hey, that worked for me in Curry Village after 8 days in the back country of Yosemite this spring :-)

    "...adventure without regard to prudence, profit, self-improvement,
    learning or any other serious thing" -Aldo Leopold-

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I've heard that black and grizzly bears generally react about the same to hazing and attempts to scare them off. I think the big difference is that a grizzly sow with cubs is far more likely to react defensively. I recently encountered a tagged/collared campground-raiding black bear that didn't respond to three campers trying the usual (posturing, making noises, throwing a small rock near it) but did react to a ranger without anything other than yelling. I think it knew from experience that projectiles were eventually coming at it if it didn't leave immediately. I haven't heard enough about this bear at Glacier - if it just took off and returned later or if the hazing didn't phase it at all.

    Of course in the Sierra there's a completely different level of bear with demonstrated abilities to peel open car doors. My personal favorite story is of "Camaro Bear" - a bear that scored some really nice food from one particular Camaro and then proceeded to break into maybe 20-30 more (apparently on sight without necessarily sniffing for food) over the course of that summer.

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I hate sprawl too, especially near historic sites, whether it's Walmart, housing developments, or factories. Couldn't the federal government use its powers of eminent domain to take the land and add it to the park. They could buy it with some of the money allocated to the National Parks in the Stimulus Bill. This would benefit the park more than some of the short term fix-ups and renovations that are currently slated. Those fix-ups will inevitably have to be done again in the coming years. Using the money to buy this land would preserve it forever.

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Opps...forgot to put that I was talking about black bears

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I don't know much about grizzlies, but in Shenandoah one female had to be removed and put into captivity because of her behavior. Hazing just wasn't working on her and she was teaching her cubs the same behavior. The NPS tried for years to get her to stop but finally it was getting to the dangerous point. She found out that if she walked up to campers eating dinner and growled, they would run away and leave all their food. Bears are so smart but sometimes that intelligence can get them into some bad situations.

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I grew up near Fredericksburg and spent many hours on the battlefield. My grandparents backyard was part of the battlefield (not NPS land...private) I spent so many hours exploring the woods and of course collecting memorabelia. I went back last summer and was shocked at how much the place had grown in only 10 years. I remember when I couldn't walk down the street without some person knowing my family and pinching my cheeks.

    This time it was full of strangers and huge shopping centers. Within a 2 mile stretch of road I saw 4 Starbucks! I went back to the battlefields and had a very difficult time immersing myself in the story because I could hear noise everywhere. Traffic going by with the bass thumping form speakers, car horns...I just couldn't picture a battle going on there.

    Wal-Mart should not be adding to this. Save what little is left. I think that the Wilderness Battlefield is the best chance someone has to really experience things. Plus I used to work for Wally World and find them to be evil! =)

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Translocation Project Aids Endangered Humpback Chub in Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Thanks, tomp. I've edited the photo caption to reflect that information. The photo source clearly indicated that these were juvenile fish. I was just asleep at the switch.

  • Translocation Project Aids Endangered Humpback Chub in Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    The photo is of the juvenile fish: when adults they will have a huge hump behind their heads, which hydrodynamically helps keep them at the bottom of the river:
    http://www.fws.gov/coloradoriverrecovery/Crhbc.htm

    Most if not all of the 6 native species in GRCA formerly ranged far up the Colorado & Green rivers. When Flaming Gorge dam was put in on the Green in 1958-1960, a major effort was made to poison out all of the "trash fish" downstream in the Green and replace them with gamefish (salmon & trout). That poisoning also wiped out an unknown number of species of aquatic invertebrates: the Green River wasn't inventoried until George Edmunds rushed out to collect during the poisoning.

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Bruce,
    I love your passion. I hope you can be their for the fight. According to the NPS web site on the park it is only open 'til dusk so i am not sure about the light pollution but I agree with the other impacts. It is to bad they didn't make the park boundary bigger in the first place if it seems like it should be part of the park. I still say the building codes could force Wal-mart to re think their placement if the restrictions are harsh enough.

  • Search for Human-Habituated Grizzlies in Glacier National Park Ends With Two Dead Bears   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Those who venture into the backcountry of Glacier National Park are not "most casual park visitors."

    By entering the backcountry, certain risks must be accepted. These risks include the possibility of encountering bears.

    When I last visited Banff and Jasper National Parks in 2005, I noticed that trails known to be frequented by grizzly bears were posted and well marked. Hikers were requested to enter in groups of 6 or more. Pets were prohibited in sections of the park posted for Grizz.

    It would be interesting to obtain more details on the criteria used by the NPS to make the decision to put the bear down. What I have learned thus far is that the 17 year-old sow was euthanised due to a pattern of increased encounters with backpackers and backcountry campsites, and a lack of responsiveness to purposeful hazing. There was also the concern that this sow would pass on her behavior to her offspring, increasing the number of grizzly bears in the Glacier NP backcountry lacking a natural fear of humans.

    I wonder, to what extent is this same criteria being used in other parks (including Alaska and Parks Canada) to cull backcountry bears if they are observed to be habituated to the presence of humans (i.e., behavioral deviants)?

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Did You Hear the One About President Obama's Trip To Yellowstone National Park?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Well Jim, depends on your idea of way ahead of time. It was posted on this web site 8 days before he came and was in the national news as well. His order of travel was posted with a full day traveling from park to park which meant he could only be in Yellowstone in the morning. We are a world of complainers and some complain louder than others. I agree that the road closer would have sucked and the National Park Service should have warned travelers up on entrance during the week leading up to the visit that they could expect long delays on that morning in that area of the park. I bet it would of happened any way.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Wolverines of the Northern Rockies   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I've seen their tracks while backcountry skiing in Canada, and was lucky enough to get within 50 yards of one on a remote beach in Alaska in 1968. Also, I saw the silhouette and distinctive gait of a very large mustelid crossing the road in my winter headlights at Mount Rainier some years back, but the Park Service seemed not to take my report seriously.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Wolverines of the Northern Rockies   5 years 32 weeks ago

    That's interesting news, Tahoma. I wonder what they used for a den? Sounds like a follow-up call might be in order.

    Thanks.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Wolverines of the Northern Rockies   5 years 32 weeks ago

    It's probably not a real solution, but for a hopeful story about one of my favorite animals, see this press release about captive breeding: http://www.nwtrek.org/files/library/a0a9bf67bc072c61.pdf

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    We all need to learn to live with development. It is a driver of our economy. However, this project is a travesty that would irreversibly destroy a significant part of the heritage that makes our country what it is. This would be an insult to the people who gave their lives on this ground fighting for what they believed in.

    This impact goes well beyond the specific ground where the Wal Mart will be built. The views from the existing parts of the preserved battlefield will also be impaired. No longer will visitors be able to come here and get a true feel for what the terrain and ground looked like during the battle of the Wilderness. Of all major battles of the Civil War, the Wilderness is where terrain and vegetation were perhaps the most significant factors. Light pollution will forever change the night sky emitting a glow from the parking lots and signs for the commercial development. Increased traffic will produce noise, lower air quality, and further damage any opportunity for a positive visitor experience to a valuable cultural resource. Views and what they invoke in our souls are often the number one reason people give for visiting National Park areas.

    The local economy of tourism will also suffer from this type of development at this location. Thousands of people come to view the ground where the battle of the Wilderness took place. Much of this battlefield has already been lost to private development. This final step would be another nail in the coffin for this valuable cultural resource.

    I urge the government of Orange County, Virginia to take the destructive impacts of this development and not just the quick financial fix of local tax revenues into consideration. I urge Wal Mart to choose another less sensitive location closer to areas already developed to place their new store.

  • Final Public Hearings Set on Proposed Wal-Mart Super Center Next to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Although I have never been there and cannot picture the area, my advice to those concerned is if you can't stop it from coming, dictate the building code within proximity to the historic site. Require a certain percentage of green space per square foot of parking, require some unique facade to the building, require smaller signage restrictions including height, etc... These code restrictions have to be passed by the Planning commission. If you wait until after they give the go ahead, it will be too late. Some times the restrictions are to costly for even Wal-mart to want to continue because they like to make a cookie cutter store just like their last one. Worst case its slightly less an eye sore than no restrictions. Maybe this has already been done...just my thought.

  • Reader Participation Day: So, How Was Your Most Recent National Park Visit?   5 years 32 weeks ago

    In early August I drove with a friend along the southern shore of Lake Superior, hitting three NPS sites: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, Keweenaw National Historical Site and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. We also dropped down and spent a few hours at St. Croix National Scenic River in Wisconsin.

    Surprisingly, because I usually favor natural spots, Keweenaw was my favorite of the stops. The ranger in Calumet was enthusiastic and informed, willing to talk about copper mining culture and architecture, which was of particular interest to my friend. A trip into one of the mines was an eye-opener -- both literally and figuratively.

    Also surprisingly, the rangers at the information desk in Apostle Islands were clueless when I asked about the formation of the Great Lakes and their geologic history. They said no one had ever asked them that before. Hard to believe. Thankfully they directed me to the one ranger who seemed to know something about it.

    The Lake Superior trip, from Duluth, MN, to Munising, MI, is worth a week of your time. See www.myhandicapparking.com for more personal essays.