Recent comments

  • Committee: Keep Mount St. Helens Out of the National Park System   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Well, that sucks. I disagree with the conclusions, however I'm at least glad the locals are the ones who made the choice rather than some office full of D.C. windbags.

    I only hope the decision was made honestly and not through undue influence peddling (like by mining firms who promise jobs in exchange for destroying the landscape & polluting the rivers).

    =============================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Hi, Jim.

    Thanks for the response. I do better understand the meaning of your original post. However, if you saw some of the photographs and read the first public made accounts of the Rapuzzi collection you will recall that along with the great early historical collectibles were toilets and items I would definitely consider trash and a waste of public funds to preserve. It would truly be ironic to allot funds for some of the collection, including the "nuts and bolts," while not being able to afford the restoration of one of the most famous buildings in Alaskan and Klondike gold rush history.

    Jeff Smith

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Jeff -

    No intention to downplay the role of "Soapy" Smith. Anything the park can offer for interpretation in downtown Skagway would be a wonderful asset for the town and the park, and a nice alternative for tourists to the souvenir shops. No doubt Soapy's saloon would be a hit.

    My comment was simply about the potential - and thus far probably unknown - cost to restore and maintain both of the donated buildings. Unless extra funds are made available for such projects, any donated historic building has the potential of being a budget buster for a park's limited funds.

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Soapy Smith was unquestionably one of the most interesting characters that America's frontier culture ever produced.

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Jim Burnett writes, "I hope the cost to restore and maintain the donated buildings won't make this a burden rather than a blessing." Reading this I have to wonder if he knows who Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith was? Naturally, being a descendant of Soapy I am a little bias but in my honest opinion Jeff Smith's Parlor outweighs a good portion of the Rapuzzi collection in importance, especially in the public eye.

    I still don't understand why the Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park is making the building into an exhibit on Martin Itjen rather than Soapy Smith. When Itjen owned the building he transformed it into a museum on Soapy. Once the Park Service reopens the display it will be a museum on a museum about Soapy Smith. Tourists to Skagway have been expressing disappointment for decades in not being able to enter "Soapy's saloon." I sincerely doubt that once open tourists will be referring to the building as the Martin Itjen display, but rather will be asking one another, "did you go into Soapy's saloon yet?"

    Jeff Smith
    Author, Alias Soapy Smith, The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, The Biography of Jefferson Randolph Smith II.
    Alias Soapy Smith website
    Soapy Smith Soap Box blog

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Yes, the Park Service may have done rather well compared to the Fish&Wildlife Service and BLM, but those agencies tend to have a lot fewer facilities and capital needs than does the National Park Service. And if you start making the comparison outside of land agencies, then the small stimulus boost for the National Park Service pales in comparison to the doubling of the usual budget for things like highways, education, and public transportation - let alone the massive infusion of dollars into the high-speed rail program (reportedly done at the personal insistence of President Obama as part of his "legacy" - which I guess makes it unfortunate that National Parks weren't a priority for that legacy.)

    At the end of the day, given the sheer size of budget increases being handed out to other programs, the only way I see to reasonably conclude that the National Parks "did quite well", is if one believes that despite all the press releases about maintenance backlog, at the end of the day the National Park Service simply didn't have the management wherewithal to absorb any larger of a funding increase in a short period of time. That may very well be the case, and if so, it would certainly be a sobering thought that should certainly color our expectations for appropriate NPS budgets for the next several years.

    Otherwise, if one doesn't believe that, and one honestly believes that the NPS should be receiving much more money towards the maintenance backlog each year in the immediate future, then I see few alternatives other than to admit that the stimulus package was a disappointment, and to start thinking about "what went wrong" and why despite the "Teddy" election campaign this year, National Parks still aren't a priority, even when there are trillions of dollars to be spent, and a Democratic Congress and President doing the spending...

  • This Park Has Ties to a Pirate, a Forgotten American Holiday and a Chart-Topping Song   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Its interesting that the Treaty of Versailles would not have allowed them to keep New Orleans even had they won. A Park Ranger at Chalmette once told me that the British force engaged at Chalmette had also sailed with two colony ships laden with women, children, and supplies - the subtext seemingly being that they didn't intend to leave quickly if they had won.... I guess Treaties are not final until ratified, and even then....

  • House Committee Studies Proposal To Expand Saguaro National Park By 975 Acres   5 years 33 weeks ago

    One of the amazing experiences at this Park is to stand on the mountain and be able to almost literally trace the Park boundary with your eyes, solely based on the lines of vegetation. This Park is being quickly surrounded by urban development, and is already becoming something of an island. This Park seems to clearly need additional acreage to achieve a viable critical mass for its habitat - so this news is a welcome development indeed.

  • National Park Quiz 44: Potpourri II   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Good job, Barky. You'll soon be ready to take over as Quizmeister. That site you referred to (full name Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site) is an Affiliated Area.

  • National Park Quiz 44: Potpourri II   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Wow, 10 out of 12! But what about the Tenement Museum in Manhattan, isn't that an NPS site??

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Chris "Bugsyshallfall" wrote:

    "Money is always good..."

    Unless it isn't actually money, but is instead fiat currency printed out of thin air or borrowed from foreign creditors.

    Fiat currency was anathema to American Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Jackson went so far as to pass the Specie Circular in 1836, which required all payment for government lands to be in gold or silver coin. The Austrian School of Economics has long held that no sound economy can long endure under fiat money, with prominent Austrian Economist Ludwig von Mises arguing in this book Human Action that, "What is needed for a sound expansion of production is additional capital goods, not money or fiduciary media. The credit boom is built on the sands of banknotes and deposits. It must collapse."

    Fiat currency has also been criticized by some, such as G. Edward Griffin, for increasing the number and severity of boom-bust economic cycles, causing inflation, and allowing nations to initiate or prolong war.

    Dumping fiat currency willy-nilly into a particular economic sector or area of the government inflates the money supply and leads to higher prices and costs, neither of which is good for the long-term preservation and maintenance of national parks.

    Anonymous wrote:
    Do you really think that adding 20 positions to the Legislative branch would have any added value?

    It's doubtful that anything politicians do 3,000 miles from small parks like Lava Beds or Lassen will add any value; it will increase cost, though.

    Rick Smith wrote:
    I sense that the NPS has lost its mojo on the Hill.

    All the more reason to remove park management from the kings of the Hill.

  • National Park Quiz 44: Potpourri II   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Pooey, missed numbers 6, 9, and 11. I may have to hit GEOG 370 yet.

    Rick Smith

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    20 more people cleaning restrooms would always be welcome, but let's not sell the legislative positions short. I had the privilege of working in the legislative division in the late 70's in the Service's DC headquarters. People in that division had the responsibilty of doing the research related to any pending legislative activity, maintaining effective relationships with the members of authorizing and appropriating committees, preparing NPS testimony for Congressional hearings, and coordinating the preparation of responses to Congressional inquiries. I sense that the NPS has lost its mojo on the Hill. A few more people doing the work that the legislative division used to do would certainly help regain it.

    Rick Smith

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Do you really think that adding 20 positions to the Legislative branch would have any added value? I'd rather have 20 more people to clean bathrooms.

  • Going to Olympic National Park this Summer? Plan Ahead Due to Major Bridge Work   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Thank you for the heads up. I will def reschedule my plans for that area.

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    "I could go on, but this is not the time or place. I'll close by saying that the NPS somehow needs to develop a visitor interface in the park setting that gives them a realistic picture of conditions and needs without alarming them. If the Service can't do it, the NPCA, NPF or other groups need to do so. Adding about 20 positions to NPS's Legislative Branch would be a good start." - Road Ranger

    You make an excellent argument for more candid communication with park visitors. The Park Service has historically been underfunded in relation to their responsibilities in protecting and managing park resources and values. I recall that at Katmai NP&P the lion's share of the meager park budget was spent supporting about 50 acres surrounding Brooks Camp. There was little left over to apply to resource management and protection elsewhere in the park, including the coastal lands vulnerable to the poaching of park wildlife. As funding becomes ever tighter there will be a natural tendency to increasingly withdraw into pockets of visitor accommodations and to maintain a facade of everything being fine - even while critical needs go unmet.

    All things considered, the current economic contraction/crisis is likely to be far deeper and last much longer than the typical recession. Indeed, this is a global phenomena, so we cannot rely on economic growth in other countries to help pull us out of our predicament. The "d" word is increasingly being used to describe the state of the world economy. The Park Service needs to proactively plan and prepare for the fallout of a prolonged financial decline. This includes setting realistic goals and establishing triage procedures to cope with the possible economic and even social impacts of the coming years.

  • Stimulating the National Parks: Good For the Short-Term, But Then What?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Money is always good, lets just hope that money will stay and not be eroded over time

  • Accessibility in the National Park System   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee/Kentucky has accessible boardwalks and trails along the river at Leatherwood Ford day use area.

  • Going to Olympic National Park this Summer? Plan Ahead Due to Major Bridge Work   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Thanks for the helpful comments about the ferries, pro and con.

  • Going to Olympic National Park this Summer? Plan Ahead Due to Major Bridge Work   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Spent 3 days wandering the Hoh River a week or so ago.
    Absolutely amazing, beyond the nature trails of the Visitor Center it was just me, the forest, the elk and the river.
    Always check in with the Keystone ~ Port Townsend schedule, low tides and high winds can delay or stop crossings.
    Also, you can reserve a space up to 30 days beforehand (this could change of course)

  • Going to Olympic National Park this Summer? Plan Ahead Due to Major Bridge Work   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Beware of the WA ferries when they cut back their schedule in early Sept. My wife and I waited 6 hours for a ferry to get to the Olympic Peninsula from Widby Island 2 years ago. It killed an entire day.

  • Would You Love Zion National Park As Much If It Were Called Mukuntuweap National Park?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    A fascinating story and some interesting comments.

    I can't resist a tongue in cheek observation on this subject. Perhaps the name change to "Zion" has helped reduce costs for taxpayers and the tourism industry. Just think of the extra expensive for all these years for larger signs to accommodate the name "Mukuntuweap" instead of the much shorter word "Zion."

  • Would You Love Zion National Park As Much If It Were Called Mukuntuweap National Park?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Interesting and useful additional info from Beamis ....

  • Yellowstone National Park: Poster Child For Goofy Gun Laws   5 years 33 weeks ago

    JD - you are so wrong! Read the 2nd amendment again. Nowhere does it give you the "right" to CCW or open carry a fire arm, anywhere! The 2nd was established when we were at war and the need to arm citizens against an aggressor was vital to our new nation. The 2nd amendment was not established to allow individuals to protect themselves from wildlife that might choose to eat them while they wander through the woods. The 2nd amendment was not established to allow you to protect yourself from an individual with felonious intent on the streets of New York. The 2nd amendment was established to protect this new nation from aggressors looking to destroy our new democracy.

  • Going to Olympic National Park this Summer? Plan Ahead Due to Major Bridge Work   5 years 33 weeks ago

    When we were out there last summer we usually used the ferries to get places. I was stunned at how smoothly and efficiently (and inexpensively!) the whole procedure was conducted every time. If that was the East Coast it would be anarchy.

    As for the Hoh, August is supposed to be comparatively dry, but it was raining buckets when we were there. Unlike the woman in your story, most of the guests at the VC were complaining that their trip was ruined because it was raining. My wife and I spent three hours strolling around the nearly-deserted (on a Saturday in August!) nature trail. There's just something right about walking through old growth in the summer rain.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI