Recent comments

  • UPDATED: Think You Have a Knack for Outdoor Photography? Here's a Chance to Show Your Stuff   5 years 29 weeks ago

    As an intellectual property attorney, I agree with the way that Mr. Burnett is reading the rules. The actual physical copy is retained by the National Park Service and the photographer grants a non-exclusive, royalty free license to the National Park Service to use the photos. It is the only real way to rationalize the statements. Having reviewed the materials related to the National Natural Landmarks program, it is obvious that the NPS uses some of the same winning photos in other contexts, e.g. in brochures and other materials, and to announce the winners.

    I personally don't see what the big deal is to "Chip, " as it does seem pretty similar to other photographic contests. But if "Chip" doesn't enter, that's OK with me because it will improve my odds.

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Thanks for the Usefulle Info, tomp. You obviously know a lot more about swamp eels -- and the people who are studying them -- than I ever will. One of the truly frustrating aspects of writing for Traveler is that I don't have the time, energy, and expertise to dig as deeply as I should into complex subject matter like this. Sigh......

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Thank you, Frank C, for providing some essential background to this story. If Grant Grove is a telecommunications center, "a small community" and a visitor node possessing a "huge parking lot," a new cell tower and impacts from cell phone usage will be minor issues for park management. Been there and done that in similar situations at another jewel in the crown.

    Keep in mind that new broadband and wireless technologies will render cell towers obsolete within five to ten years while SEKI will be there in perpetuity. Tower maintenance is a huge expense for the industry; they're eager to eliminate it. When that day arrives, the only delay will come from the NPS's desire and ability to buy the new technology. Seen that, too.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Safety issue? LMAO!

    Absolutely it's a safety issue, Random Walker.

    There have been a few seasonals and volunteers at Grant Grove who are in their 60s and 70s. Imagine being in that situation and having some kind of health emergency, say a heart attack or a fall that results in a broken hip. Now imagine you're in a tiny cabin without a phone. No phone, no ambulance.

    Bears are a safety issue, too. Imagine a bear tried to break into your cabin when you're in it. (This happened at Grant Grove, but fortunately when the resident was outside at a nearby campfire.) No phone, no help from law enforcement or wildlife biologists.

    This area is also prone to fires. Now imagine that you live in Wilsonia and your chimney starts a wildfire. No phone, no fire fighters.

    Grant Grove and Wilsonia are not wilderness. Not even close. The cell phone tower will go with many other towers in an already developed area.

    So go ahead. Keep laughin' yer ass off. Many do not consider it humorous to be without help during an emergency.

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I want to give a shout out to Tim Collins at FIU, who did the molecular genetic work that demonstrated the multiple introductions (of several species from different SE Asian countries), and to Bill Loftus, who recently retired from USGS but performed the long-term fish monitoring in ENP and S. Florida.

    Collins T.M., Trexler J., Nico L., and T. A. Rawlings. 2002. Genetic diversity in a morphologically conservative invasive taxon: Multiple introductions of swamp eels to the southeastern United States. Conservation Biology 16: 1024-1035.

    Also, we'll know a whole lot more about swamp eels if and when Duane Choquette finishes his dissertation in Collins' lab.

    My point is that much of what's known about swamp eels has been nickel & dime projects, and beyond the minimum job duties for the USGS folks.

    ps: Tim's also done the molecular genetics work on the burmese pythons, showing not just reproduction in the Everglades (as opposed to mere survival of released pets) but parthenogenic reproduction (no mate needed). Not bad for someone who's real research interests are snails.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I totally see Frank_C's point about seasonals. I've worked as a seasonal several times, and it's a terrible feeling when you're cut off without landline, cell, or Internet access. It's easy to become lonely and frustrated.

    I'm not in favor of building oodles of cell towers, but we need to find a way to treat seasonals better. It's too easy for management to take them for granted.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Safety issue? LMAO!
    Just when did "they" decide that Our National Parks were not safe?

    "We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: in wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men." Aldo Leopold

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Having lived in Grant Grove, I say build the tower already. Park employees live in 200 square foot cabins without telephones or access to the outside world. While tourists might be able to disconnect as a luxury, seasonal park residents are expected to go without Internet access and personal phone communication for 3 to 6 months. Seasonal park employees have to wait in line for hours for a solitary phone booth, walk a half mile to the VC, or, if they do have cellphones, drive a half an hour to get a signal. This is not a safe situation, especially in an area where black bears have broken into employee housing.

    Supervisors at Grant Grove have told me that they're having difficulty attracting highly qualified younger candidates because of the lack of Internet and cell phone coverage.

    Additionally, the article doesn't mention the Wilsonia Historic District, a private neighborhood of historic cabins just behind the seasonal housing area. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 and includes 139 contributing structures. This small community would also benefit from the tower located on Park Ridge, especially in emergency situations.

    And about that tower. I'm not sure 80 feet dwarfs 40 feet. Certainly doubles. But the tower would not be visible from any of the local sequoia groves or from most of the heavily forested area. A sequoia would triple (not sure if that counts as dwarfing, either) the height of the proposed tower.

    And while it will be unpleasant to see people on their phones around the Grant Tree, it's already unpleasant enough with a huge parking lot, screaming kids, people crossing fences to climb trees, and the general cacophony a July day brings. If one really wants to get away from it all, he or she can turn of the phone and explore one of the dozens of primitive groves within a hour drive of the Grant Tree.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Bad idea. If I'm out camping or hiking in the woods, I'm trying to get away from that sort of thing. And I don't want my peaceful time away interrupted by the annoying sound of a cell phone ringing or someone yammering away on the phone.

  • Missing Cavers Found At Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    That isn't Rainbow Falls. It's called White Oak Sinks.

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Not good news for the Everglades and other parts of the country, and further proof that introducing an exotic species can lead to big problems.

    You're correct - as far as fish go, this one is downright ugly!

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  • National Park Service Ban on Lead Ammo, Fishing Gear Draws Ire of Shooting Sports Foundation   5 years 29 weeks ago

    More socialist politics. This is a beginning, not an end. The complete disarming of Americans is a beginning, not an end. We currently have an administration that wants to control every aspect of our lives. Let's just ban people. That would end "pollution". Would that make the liberal crowd happy?

  • Musings From Virgin Islands National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    One question and one question only, 50 SPF???

  • UPDATED: Think You Have a Knack for Outdoor Photography? Here's a Chance to Show Your Stuff   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Thanks for the comments. The previous two concerns are certainly valid, which is why I included the following information in the original story:

    You'll find a complete list of rules and an entry form on-line. As is true of any contest, be sure to read them before submitting your photos.

    I'm not promoting this contest, and have no involvement in it, but as an avid photographer who has had the good fortune to sell a few photos, I will point out that the type of rights granted by entering a photo in this contest are similar to many similar contests for outdoor photos.

    If I read the rules correctly, those entering the contest do give the NPS permission to use the photo as they wish, at no cost. Perhaps that's an issue only if you envision the possibility of selling the photo yourself elsewhere.

    The trade-off is that winners will have the satisfaction of seeing their work in print on a quality calendar, and getting credit for their work. Whether that potential satisfaction (and nice entry on your photo resume) off-sets the possible loss of a future sale of the same photo is a personal decision for each photographer.

    The one item that might be a point of confusion in the rules is the statement, "All entries become the property of the National Park Service and will not be returned to the entrant." I took that to mean the physical copy of the photo entered becomes the "property of the NPS..." because the organizers don't want the time and expense involved in returning all of the items entered to the submitter.

    It appears that what you're granting is a NON-exclusive license to the NPS by entering your photo, which I understand means that you're still free to do what you please with the photo elsewhere. You aren't giving away your ownership of the photo, only a license to use it as described - that's a pretty significant difference. If it's published as a result of your entry in the contest, the photo's market value would probably be diminished, at least for similar uses.

    I'll see if I can get clarification from the contest organizers, and will post any follow-up information as a comment to this story.

    I'd be happy to have anyone with expertise in the area of contract law for photographers weigh in on this - and by all means, please correct me if I'm wrong :-)

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 30 weeks ago

    oh, and just so all you CCW people know- i am a member of the NRA. i completely agree with the law to own and to carry. (i own 14 firearms). just not in the parks. those rules are in place for a good reason. i believe that it is more dangerous in downtown Seattle on a Saturday night than in the middle of nowhere at any time.

    yet, i still don't feel the need to carry.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 30 weeks ago

    SKEETERS! you mean, the Alaskan state bird? those critters will be harrassing me on the entire trip. i am Alaskan sourdough- so i know how to deal with them. i will have a my trusty head net at the ready at all times. and i shall bathe in DDT! lol

    so, i can bring some bear spray with me into Canada, eh? excellent! thank you very much, Anonymous. that is very good news. i worry about not being able to hang my food properly. (the further north you go, the smaller the trees get). i won't have much, but it takes very little to attract that very long nose. i've driven the Alcan twice, and i almost hit a black bear on the road. (and several moose, and mountain goats, and a porcupine).

    i read a book by Elmer Keith, the man who designed the .44 MAG, (and .357 MAG). he took down a lot of animals with it. and he had a story of a brown bear coming into their camp in Alaska unexpectantly, and very upset. after reading that story, i knew my .44 wasn't ever going to be big enough. in fact, i'm willing to bet they wish they could have blasted that bear in the nose with spray!

    two cans is a great idea. my brother and i will both have them in Yellowstone. Shoshone Lake has a history of bear attacks, albeit most are just quick confrontations and fake charges. i'm still much more concerned with the lone bison. those guys have no fear, and walk wherever they please. i completely agree with Frank N. about the people in the back country. very nice, courteous, and genuinely happy people out there.

    i'm not surprised by Beamis. i've known many people like him- and i would never hike with ANY of them. EVER. they were the people i would have considered as "sketchy". i believe the psychological term is "paranoid". once upon a time while living in Alaska, my paranoid boss pulled his .25 auto out of his posket and pointed it at me to prove that carrying was a good idea. i immediately knocked it out of his hand, and pinned him to the wall. then he fired me. then the owner found out he pulled a gun. i got my job back, and my paranoid manager lost his! he did not have a license. definitely the paranoid sketchy type.

    thank you for your kind wishes, Jim B and Anonymous. i cannot wait to get on the road again. yet another epic adventure. i'll be riding to the Arctic Circle, and all the way down to Homer. by myself. no gun required.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The current law only allows guns if they are secured and the ammo is secured separately I can have gun just not on my person or concealed or easily available. That may be a problem in the back coutry since iti s hard to secure the ammo and gun separatly in a back pack or in a campground.
    I look forward to the time I can have can easily with me without it being concealed but that time is going to a long time away. The current injuction will probably stand.

    The body armor is not a reaction to the proposed rule but to the fact that park rangers have a higher rate of assaults than FBI and the danger in particular parks is acute.

  • UPDATED: Think You Have a Knack for Outdoor Photography? Here's a Chance to Show Your Stuff   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Sorry, I'm NOT comfortable with giving up the rights to my photos so I won't even consider entering.

  • Upon Further Review: Pocahontas meets Hollywood   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thanks for your comment ... and for keeping your sense of humor on the job :-)

    It's amazing how long questions persist after the movie's release, but it still shows up regularly on various TV channels, so I guess you're seeing a whole new generation of Pocahontas fans - and their questions !

  • Upon Further Review: Pocahontas meets Hollywood   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thank you for the article, it made me laugh. I worked at Jamestown last summer and the movie questions were of constant humor for us. So...when did Pocahontas marry John Smith? Really, she was 11? I was fond of that rather large pagoda oak in the civil war earthenwork next to the fort though. Perhaps we will call that the talking tree...

  • UPDATED: Think You Have a Knack for Outdoor Photography? Here's a Chance to Show Your Stuff   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Be sure to read the rules of the contest carefully. From the contest rules

    "All entries become the property of the National Park Service and will not be returned to the entrant. Submission of an entry shall constitute the grant of a non-exclusive, royalty free license to the National Park Service, and its’ sublicensees, to reproduce, display, prepare derivative works, distribute to the public by sale or other transfer, and to utilize the photograph submitted for any governmental purpose, including but not limited to publication on the World Wide Web, interpretive publications, and commercial uses. Entrants further grant to the National Park Service the right of use and to publish their proper
    name and state of residence on the World Wide Web and in print, or in any other media in connection with the Contest. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for the National Park Service to use winners’ names and likeness for promotional purposes without additional compensation."

    Make sure you're comfortable with these terms before entering the contest.

  • Top 10 National Parks: Do You See Your Favorites in This Short Video?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Where is??? Where is ??? The answer is easy. It's not your Top 10 list, it's someone elses. Make up your own Top 10 List and you'll answer your questions!

  • Descendants of Mesa Verde Anasazi Help Produce a Musical Masterpiece   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Mumbo Jumbo, or mumbojumbo, is an English phrase or expression that denotes a confusing or meaningless subject. It is often used as humorous expression of criticism of middle-management and civil service non-speak, and of belief in something considered non-existent by the speaker.*

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumbo_Jumbo

  • Where To Look For Spring Wildflowers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thanks for the information. Truly: Thanks!
    Regina

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Body armor is not a new development in the NPS. It's been around for years - and should have been made widely available to rangers even earlier. Improvements in armor continue to be made, and the equipment provided to rangers should be upgraded at intervals.

    The previous comment by "Anonymous" is well stated. The least the NPS can do is properly equip and train rangers for an often difficult and sometime dangerous job.

    As to some previous comments - there is a significant difference between risks to visitors and risks to rangers by criminals who happen to be in parks - which is why the rangers who have been selected and trained to perform law enforcement duties should be armed.

    As has been covered on multiple posts on a variety of articles on this site, the number of park visitors who are victims of violent crime is extremely low. Even bad people who are either passing through or intentionally visiting parks don't usually accost visitors, because they don't want to attract undue attention and end up in the slammer.

    However, sometimes these bozos do attract the attention of a ranger by doing something stupid - often a traffic violation. In that case, when the individual who may be wanted for another offense realizes that he is now at risk of being identified and arrested, the situation is much different, and the risk to the ranger is sometimes very real. In other cases, the person may not be wanted for a previous crime, but is simply a dangerous idiot who decides he doesn't want to be arrested.

    Park visitors aren't expected to confront drunk or reckless drivers to keep them from harming innocent motorists on park roads, and visitors aren't expected to confront poachers, or drug smugglers, or dope dealers, or .... That's one reason visitors are very rarely at risk in parks - because rangers are dealing with those individuals.

    There's absolutely no way to know how many rangers lives have been saved because the ranger was armed, and the criminal decided not to press his luck, or the ranger was able to keep the upper hand due to training and equipment - including body armor and weapons. However, if they are expected to perform law enforcement duties, rangers should certainly be properly equipped for the job.

    A different "Anonymous" a few comments earlier said

    "The police and law enforcement groups have gotten out of control in this country feeding us all crap "we are being outgunned by the criminals!" they say. Oh yeah? Has ANYONE seen any credible increase in the criminals using, carrying and killing with automatic weapons?

    Since you asked, and obviously need a little information:

    1. Ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed in 2002 at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona. The murderer was a criminal fleeing Mexican authorities. He reportedly used an AK-47 against the ranger.

    2. Ranger Joe Kolodski was shot from ambush and killed by man reportedly armed with a .308 rifle. The incident occurred on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1998. Perhaps not an automatic weapon, but clearly superior, long-distance firepower as compared to the ranger's handgun or shotgun.

    Other ranger deaths illustrate the risk of "routine car stops" or other "routine duties."

    3. Ranger Robert McGhee was shot and killed after making a traffic stop at Gulf Islands National Seashore in 1998.

    4. Steve Renard Makuakane-Jarrell was killed in a small park in Hawaii in 1999. Reports said he was contacted by visitors who complained that a man had several large dogs running loose which may have been threatening other visitors. The ranger was shot and killed during the contact with this individual.

    5. Ranger Ken Patrick was shot and killed at Point Reyes National Seashore in 1973. Reports indicate he made a car stop on 3 men suspected of being poachers. They turned out to be violent members of the Black Panther group and opened fire when the ranger approached their vehicle.

    To those who object to the sight of a ranger wearing a firearm - at least one report of the murder of Ranger Patrick states that he never had a chance to draw his weapon in self-defense. Why? He was wearing it out of sight, under his uniform coat. A L.A. Times story about the incident said, "At the time, it was common for rangers to keep their weapons out of sight so as not to frighten park visitors."

    Although everyone still doesn't agree, I'm thankful that policies no longer put that needless burden on rangers.