Recent comments

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Rangertoo--

    I'll see your 350 species at Indiana Dunes (353 in the certified species list, although that number includes 47 considered "historic" like Passenger pigeon and Ferruginous hawk, and only 303 currently considered there at least as vagrants) and raise it to 363 at tiny Cabrillo NP (.6km^2, but they cheated & certified species in the entire 4km^2 federal reservation). Numbers can be deceiving: I'd probably enjoy birding at Indiana Dunes more than at Cabrillo, as Cabrillo has great views of the city and bay, but primarily coastal sage scrub habitat, much less diverse than the habitats at Indiana Dunes, and much of their bird list is vagrants occasionally blown far outside of their geographic ranges, and thus unlikely to be seen on any given day.

    The top 10 NPS units in terms of birds on their certified species lists (present only, not counting probably present, unconfirmed, false report, or historic) are:

    Big Bend NP 412
    Santa Monica Mountains NRA 400
    Death Valley NP 394
    Cape Cod 375
    Cabrillo 369
    Cape Hatteras 364
    Carlsbad Caverns 363
    Padre Island 356
    Everglades 356
    Channel Islands 356
    Point Reyes 348

    #15 Yellowstone 321
    #18 Grand Canyon 312
    #23 Indiana Dunes 303
    #33 Rocky Mountain 260
    #73 Great Smoky Mountains 208

    Being on a major flyway matters; 7 of the top 10 are coastal; BIBE, DEVA, & CAVE are habitat islands. [Long histories of intensive birding also helps with list completeness and rare/vagrants.]

    Rangertoo and other NPS folks can get certified species lists from http:/nrinfo
    Those numbers are different, because they include species of all status types (historic, etc.)

    I hope to have an application for publicly-facing websites including individual unit's websites up by the end of the year. It will have links to NPS information on that species (any technical reports, what other parks it is in, etc.), plus links to good outside resources like FWS t&e status, Cornell's AllAboutBirds, ITIS, etc.. My crude proof of concept is sitting at:
    http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/monitor/DemoSpecies/CABR

    Suggestions & criticisms are welcome

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I just took a very quick look at Zion's management plan. There is a section on page 26 that explains their rationale, basically some folks think that permitted outfitting will increase overcrowding (it won't if they stipulate when and where guides can operate) and displace non-guided users (again, it won't if they stipulate when and where guides can operate). They also allude to managing the park as wilderness and that's great, but by itself that is not a reason to prohibit commercial guides from operating in the park.

    Again, I spent about 30 seconds looking at the plan, but that is how it appears to me.

    --

    GUIDE SERVICES
    Currently, guided hiking or climbing activities in
    the park are not permitted. NPS staff-led activities
    include visitor center and evening programs,
    and ranger-led hikes. Some visitors and guiding
    organizations have requested that guided activities
    be allowed in Zion, believing these operations
    will enhance many visitors’ experience,
    reduce potential impacts, and help prevent accidents.
    Other people believe that guided activities
    should not be permitted, arguing that these
    operations will increase use in already overcrowded
    areas and displace or impact
    nonguided users. Many questions exist regarding
    what guided services (e.g., guided hiking,
    bicycling, climbing) are appropriate in the park.
    Other questions relate to when and where the
    services should take place and to what extent.

    The wilderness management plan and carrying
    capacity studies will determine whether or not
    to permit guided activities in Zion. Permitting
    guided services will have both positive and negative
    impacts, as noted above.

  • Traveler’s Checklist: New River Gorge National River   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Good article -- plenty of memories for me as I learned to climb at nearby Seneca Rocks in the early 80s and continued climbing at the NRG during the sport route boom during the late 80 and early 90s. One of my all-time favorite routes is at Summersville Lake: Apollo Reed.

    Regarding the mountain bike loops planned for the NRG, Senator Byrd has earmarked $2 million for the construction of a stacked-loop, shared-use trail system in a new segment of the park. The New might soon be to mountain biking what it already is for paddlers and climbers.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Bat-

    The prescriptions I'm familiar with require some direct measurement of leaf moisture and soil/duff/woody debris moisture right before the fire is set as well as air humidity, local weather forecasts, etc., and not quite so immediate data on fuel loads (LandFire plus some empirical field data). If the soil/duff is too moist, the fire will be hard to keep going, if it is too dry the fire may be too hard to control & too hot. If the vegetation has too much moisture, it might singe and not kill or top-kill (depending on the vegetation type and goal of the burn), too dry and it might torch.

    Also, at least in NPS fire management is it's own self-contained unit, with only broad guidance about goals from the NPS planning folks. The folks writing the prescriptions aren't just desk jockeys with scientific training and rudimentary GIS skills: they're the same people in the field running the crews measuring the conditions and setting the fires, and fighting the fires when necessary. You pretty much have to have your red card (active wildland firefighter ratings) for those positions, although former red card holders may qualify.

    The latest perimeter map for Big Meadow is at:
    http://inciweb.org/incident/maps/large/1869/0/

  • National Park Quiz 68: Fishing   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Dead minnows & shiners can still have viable fertilized eggs & embryos (remember, minnows are live bearers, but all the nutrients mom gives the developing fry were put in the eggs at the beginning, so freshly dead mom can have viable fry). They also can have fungi and viruses that would be introduced to the waters of the Everglades. An argument could be made about the numbers of exotic species of fish already in the Everglades meaning a couple more fish species won't matter, but the diseases could be an issue for all species presently there.

    One of the trickier issues in the Greater Everglades Restoration Program is sport fishing for bass, primarily in the water management areas just north of the park. Bass are mostly in the deeper canals, which need to be filled to fix the flow of water. One plan was to fill short sections of the canals every mile or so, keeping most of the deep habitat for the (introduced) bass, but blocking the rapid flow of water. Unfortunately, those shallow bars would also prevent deeper draft bass boats (deeper draft than airboats) from going long distances via the canals. I'm not sure what the current proposed engineering solution is, but I'm confident that recreational fishing for bass and other introduced gamefish will continue. I hope the methyl mercury (driven by sufate) issues can be cleaned up so that folks can safely eat the fish they catch.

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    We're looking into that, Marshall. Stay tuned.

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    What's the rationale for not allowing any guiding services in the park? The only reason I can think of is the liability of inexperienced people in places they shouldn't be. Are there others? I'm assuming so, but just can't think of them right now. Thanks in advance!

  • National Park Quiz 68: Fishing   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I would like somebody to explain how a dead minnow/shiner can reproduce and pose a threat to the indigenous marine population of the Everglades. I have been to the Everglades and there's water everywhere that evidently comes from outside sources.Should we block those sources to avoid contamination? My point is that the sport of fishing is now being controlled by environmentalists. I have been fishing for over 65years, 20 years in salt water. And I have seen, over the years, the restrictions imposed on the average fisherman. Restrictions placed on size, limits, and type of bait used. Some of the restrictions make sense, to control over-fishing of some species. But other restrictions make no sense to me, other than to satisfy the whims of the "green" people. What's next? Insects and nightcrawlers? I'm betting the makers of artificial lures are smiling all the way to the bank.

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota is absolutely beautiful in the Fall and we would highly recommend it. Voyageurs is a water-based park where you must leave your car and take to the water to fully experience the lakes, islands and shorelines of the park.

    http://www.nps.gov/voya/index.htm

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Bob: Agreed.

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I've visited each region (except Pacific Northwest) in the fall. Although for variety of tree species it is difficult to beat Shenandoah in the fall and Great Smoky Mountains in the fall, my favorite is still Acadia because of the vegetation found in more northern latitudes, such as berry plants. In general, the Western Parks lack red maples, which add an essential color to fall colors.

    Tuan.

    National Parks images

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Thk you for your reply to my comment.....
    I hope the acadian park serive learns from this unfortunate event that not all tourists understand the risks of the ocean and how storms can create a sudden larger waves than the prevoius ones. The park needs to concentrate on safety and not just tourism.
    I also would like to thk the kind couple that assisted me. My friend and i had trouble getting some one to help me at first. i needed to be pulled up away from the rocks where i had landed and everyone around seemed to just stand there, not willing to help. If the nice couple is reading this blog-- i have your tennis jacket you loaned me while i was freezing due to the cold wet water
    THX

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    The National Park Foundation has put out a Special on their website announcing the the showing of the documentary on PBS on 9/27. You can read about it here: http://www.nationalparks.org/files/connect/GoParks-v7-2.htm

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Last year we were in Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes during peak color. We hiked in both parks and were surrounded by vibrant color. We took the boat tour along pictured rocks and loved seeing the beautiful rocks with the colorful trees. Definitely would love to return somday. We also went all through Keweenaw and although we were late for color, it looked as if it had been great as well.

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I saw part of this last night.....amazing footage and great stories. I can't wait to see more! Makes me want to get in the car and see some of these places for myself. We are blessed to have so many wonderful spots to visit in our country.

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 37 weeks ago

    I get your point, Rangertoo, but I have a problem with your use of the term "missing the boat." The Audubon Field Guide in the current edition of Audubon magazine is not an Audubon top 12 list or anything like that. These 12 national parks are simply among author Kenn Kaufman's "personal favorites."

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Boy - did they miss the boat. Indiana Dunes has more than 350 species. Much more than Great Smoky Mountains or Rocky Mountain.

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 37 weeks ago
    Ian

    Ian Edlind
    www.trailvoice.com
    You can't go wrong with a trip to Shenandoah, although I agree with the previous commenter. Visit on a weekday if you can! The neat thing about Shenandoah is that because of its linear shape peak colors in the northern part of the park area happen a weekend or two before the southern part hits its stride. Needless to say, it gives you options.

  • Was “Heaven’s Gate” the Worst Movie Ever Filmed in a National Park?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    If the surgeon was elegant in his cuts and the audience were med students minoring in art or chorepgraphy - then I guess so.

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    We don't usually do much fall color traveling to parks, as that seems to be when everyone is headed to the parks. Getting around Acadia or Great Smoky Mountains a few weekends from now will be miserable , though I hear the colors are spectacular in both.

    Personally, we'd head a couple hours up the road to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Maple-Beech forests give a nice spectrum from yellow to red on a background of the near-white dunes and the blue of Lake Michigan.

  • Was “Heaven’s Gate” the Worst Movie Ever Filmed in a National Park?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    At some point you have to ask: Is the operation a success if the patient dies?

  • Fall From Tokopah Falls Kills Visitor to Sequoia National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    i too was at the scene shortly after the accident..i arrived with the trail crew, i wish there was more we could have done, your family has the deepest regards from the trail crew and myself. RIP trevor.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    tomp and Tim, I have to tell you that I've learned more about the mechanics and uses of prescribed fire burn from your discussion than in a year's worth of classes. I'm just a neophyte compared to you but I'm curious about something. I'm sure the planners kept the drought conditions in mind; how much of a factor would it have been in their planning? That they did it under these conditions says to me that they thought it to be an acceptable risk.

    P.S. my captcha for this is: "1-inch foamy". Spooky.

  • Was “Heaven’s Gate” the Worst Movie Ever Filmed in a National Park?   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Heaven's Gate was a financial flop but is considered by many film critics to be an artistic success. I myself audited some film history classes where the film was used to illustrate exceptional work in cinematography. Slow yes but not a bad film at all.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 37 weeks ago

    Tomp,

    I come at this from a scientific and resource conservation viewpoint, but also am mindful of the danger of bureaucratic decision making.

    I fully agree that fire can and often is critical in myriad ways, and do have an understanding of forest biomes and the dynamics of fire as a beneficial agent, and while I also agree that in the long run fire is a suitable and natural agent to insure a healthly forest, I do think we can be too forgiving in the case of bureaucratic mismanagement, if in fact that is what occured here.

    Agreed, I don't want a scapegoat if there was no negligence in this case. However, the very fact of ordering a burn of this sort in the 4th year of severe drought, in extremely dangerous fire conditions, and with a low margin for error indicates that if there was not a personal act of negligence by someone on the ground, then there very well could be negligence in the process that moved this forward.

    Granted your argument about fires like this being necessary to restore pre European contact forest conditions may be a valid one, however the point must be made that this fire takes place in a very altered natural environment, in which pre-contact conditions are no longer a reasonable objective. There have been too many human caused impacts, from global warming, to road building in the park and development outside, to air pollution impacts, and the list goes on, for us to operate as if this were an undisturbed forest ecosystem needing burns like this one to return to a natural state. Having said that, I hope I can buy you a beer and the forest looks good and healthy again in 50 years.

    My guess however is human impacts already being recorded will alter that recovery substantially. Namely that an altered climate regime predicted in the Sierra (and already here by many measures) of lower than normal snowpack, warmer winter and summer conditions, higher snowlevels and less soil moisture retention into the summer due to these conditions will lead to an unpredictable forest recovery, slower growth, an altered succession cycle, and unpredictable results.

    No supernatural prediction is being required or expected here of our NPS fire managers. And I don't think perfection is a requirement or a possibility that anyone really demands. Just an understanding that we must have as you say a failsafe (some that appears to have not been part of planning) in case of unpredictability and error, real accountability, and an understanding that to allow fires to burn inside areas like Yosemite is much more complicated an issue than simply managing a healthly forest as in pre contact days. Those days are gone and our understanding of how forests behave post fire , especially temperate forests like those in the Sierra, is certainly incomplete given the accelerating impacts of climate change and other human caused factors.