Recent comments

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    There is an excellent book that chronicles a similar situation with another Civil War battlefield in Northern Virginia.
    The Book is titled "Battling for Manassas", by historian Joan M. Zenzen. Interesting reading... I don't believe it's in print any longer, but try and get it from your library if you can, especially if you are a member of the coalition working against the Walmart development.

    It could be a big-box retailer, or a strip mall of locally owned businesses, some crunchy-granola grocery store, or a national theme park chain...
    Anyone who tries to develop land directly adjacent to a Civil War battlefield will most certainly meet with prolonged opposition.

    Can we be realistic here? The NPS/historic site boundary has to stop somewhere. If friends of the battlefield in question are concerned about viewscapes, or being tainted by proximity to the commercial world, or that the land to be developed is historic but not protected by the NPS, then the local community and coalition of protectors has to get involved.
    The coalition that came together last summer to draft a letter to Walmart CEO H. Lee Scott, Jr. is well intentioned for sure. But they have to do more than just draft a single letter. The effort to chase Disney out of Manassas was a multi-year process, and took the involvement of nationally recognized historians and celebrities (that happened to live in the area) to get involved and fund the effort. If the NPS (or any of the community partners in Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania) didn't have the foresight to acquire and protect the land in question then maybe it's just too darn bad. A shame to some, but the process has to end somewhere.

    Let's please get away from the Walmart vs. Whole Foods tangent. These same broad strokes used to paint stereotypes were used in the comment string concerning loaded concealed firearms in the National Parks, and were just as ugly and ineffective in that debate.
    I assure you that ANY corporation expressing interest in commercial development on historic land would meet with the same opposition. The Civil War preservation crowd is nothing if not tenacious, vocal, and consistent in it's vocal opposition to ANY commercial development on or near hallowed ground.

    Beamis:
    Interestingly enough, there is a noticeable Confederate bias in much of the Civil War interpretation that occurs on the battlefields managed by the NPS (a topic of discussion for another comment thread for sure), so I'm not so sure that your rebel yell in the neighboring Wilderness Super Center parking lot would be unwelcome by the Gray and Green working on the battlefield!

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    It sounds as if this parcel was going to be developed no matter what. This is just a thought. In other parts of the USA, WalMart has built attractive buildings as well placed landscaping around the parking lot and the road that it was facing. Recently we were in New Hampshire and saw a WalMart that, if it hadn't had the sign, I would never have thought it was one. When I was north of San Francisco some years ago, there was a WalMart that was attractive and I couldn't believe how attractive they had made the parking lot. If WalMart is going to build there, see if they will work with the locals concerning the outward appearance of the building as well as the landscaping of the property. It doen't have to be a big box on a bare piece of land. Believe it or not, it could be a good thing for tourists to have access to WalMart or Target, etc. Maybe you all have never forgotten anything or needed cold medicine, aspirin, lost your sunglasses, etc. on a trip, but it happens. This could be a good thing for everyone concerned if people are willing to look at it in a different way.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    As a CCW holder, I completely agree with the right to carry anywhere and see no reason national parks should be exempt from the right to carry!
    CCW holders have to pass background checks for both the state they have registered in, and the federal government. There's absolutely no reason they shouldn't be allowed to carry anywhere.
    Why should I have to pull over, take my gun out, unload it, lock it and the bullets away, then continue just to go into or through a park? Just because I have it doesn't mean I'm going to shoot an animal with it. It's for protection, not for poaching!
    The individuals to worry about are those who are carrying illegally! Those who do not get a CCW because they do not pass the requirements, due to having already been arrested for breaking the law or for unlawfully using a firearm in the past. They will be carrying in the national park regardless of whether this law exist or not! The only protection a person has at that point is his/her self or the national park service rangers who are few and far between.

  • National Park Service Draws Criticism for Winter-Use Plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I have been following this issue for some time now from a completely legal perspective. As Judge Sullivan's most recent opinion reads, he struck down the NPS' new permanent plan as being "arbitrary and capricious," which is a legal term of art which basically means there is no rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.

    While the Organic Act creates two obligations for the NPS ("conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wild life 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"), the history around the passing of the Act, the Amendments to the Act (in 1970 and 1978), the NPS Management Policies, and judicial interpretation (from cases not involving Judge Sullivan, Brimmer, nor the issue of snowmobiles in Yellowstone) all support a legal reading and interpretation of the Act that favors conservation over use and enjoyment when the two are in conflict. Notice that nowhere in the Organic Act, nor anywhere in other Acts that the NPS must follow (NEPA, EDA, etc.), nor in the NPS Management Policies, is there anything about the economic integrity of a surrounding community being protected over preserving the National Park.

    Now, the Organic Act has been interpreted to allow for use and enjoyment that causes impairment - as long as that impairment is of great value and necessary to fulfill the purposes of the Park, and the impact is minimized to the greatest extent possible.

    Snowmobiles may be a great way to see the Park, and it is fact the machines and guidelines in use now are incredibly cleaner and minimize impact more compared to practices and machines of the past. The fact remains that there is still some impact, according to NPS' own science. The fact that impact is better than it was before is great, but really of no importance; same with the fact the impact may be less than that caused in summer by motor homes and other motorized vehicles.

    Judge Sullivan stated NPS gave insufficient reason for why the impacts are necessary to fulfill the purposes of the park, and as a result, use and enjoyment are elevated as a goal over conservation. Therefore, what his ruling says is that even 540 is too many in light of the explanation given for that number, and he required the NPS to try again. He gave no other guidelines as to what they should do going forward. Theoretically, the NPS could come back to Judge Sullivan with the same number, along with a better explanation for why that number works in connection with the minimal impact, and Judge Sullivan would then have to allow such a plan.

    However after Sullivan's ruling, the NPS stated they would not have time to come up with a new temporary plan for this season as they continued to work on a new permanent plan for the future. Yet, in early November, I think on the 3rd, they came out with a new temporary plan (the 318 limit), and opened up the public comment period. Then, 4 days later, Judge Brimmer makes his ruling. His express words say he cannot and is not overstepping his bounds with respect to Judge Sullivan's ruling, but in effect he has done just that since Sullivan stated the 540 number coupled with NPS' explanation of coming to that number was "arbitrary and capricious".

    If Brimmer had ruled before the NPS came up with their new temporary plan of 318, then the NPS' decision to follow Judge Brimmer's order as opposed to Sullivan would be more understandable. But by coming up with a new temporary plan, then getting the new order from Judge Brimmer, and subsequently trashing the new temporary plan shows the NPS' is in fact ignoring Sullivan.

    So where does that leave us? If you follow the actual law of this issue, the GYC has the better LEGAL argument on their side, as no where in any Act pertaining to National Parks and specifically Yellowstone is there any mention of the interests of the local economy. Unfortunately for Brimmer, the local economy is the main influence on the rationale he has used in his rulings throughout this entire issue. It seems the GYC was content with the 318 plan, which shows they are not some radical environmentalist group since they were not calling for the complete phaseouts of the Clinton era. And Judge Sullivan seems to state he would allow a certain amount in the park as long as the NPS could adequately support why that amount is necessary and the impacts are lessened to best extent possible.

    To answer a question of Sabattis from earlier, the reason the GYC timeline seems wrong is that Tuesday the 2004 temporary plan, minus the sunset provision which originally terminated the use of the plan at the end of 2007, was made into law by the Bush Administration. It is true that Brimmer's order was on Nov. 7, but the NPS decision to follow it was signed into law on Tuesday, and no matter when Brimmer ordered that, the timeline is stating that it simply was made law on Tuesday.

    The GYC waited to file their petition in Sullivan's court until the published decision by the NPS to follow Brimmer was made into law. I am not really sure why they did this, as they could have gone back to Sullivan seemingly as soon as the NPS published their decision in November to go back to the 2004 temporary plan and follow Brimmer's order.

    As for this winter, it seems as though the 2004 temporary use plan will be in effect, unless Sullivan does something about it in the next couple days. I guess technically, he could do something about it in the middle of the winter season, but that just seems ridiculous to me. My guess is the new administration will come up with a new permanent plan that allows some snowmobiles but puts more of an emphasis on snowcoaches. I don't see the complete phaseout happening, but that is just my opinion.

    Strictly legally speaking, Sullivan has followed the law throughout this issue more faithfully than Brimmer. That doesn't mean the law couldn't change. If this issue continues, its possible it could get to the Supreme Court, and they could decide that economic issues do play a role in the interpretation of the Organic Act. That of course is simply pure conjecture.

    Sorry for the length of this comment, but I felt this needed to be said.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Kurt, I find it interesting that you lament seeing the Golden Arches from the Olympic ski jump because nothing says crass corporatism to me louder than the Olympics. It is the very essence of commercial exploitation on steroids.

    So if your view from this hallowed mountain spot is of the very symbol of mass commercialization maybe it was by design. There may have been a bidding war for the "official" Olympic viewshed, with the highest bidder being McDonald's instead of Starbucks.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Frank C., there have been multiple zoning discussions involving the Spotsylvania-Wilderness-Fredericksburg battlefields.

    No one is sitting on their hands, except perhaps for the fact that the local government does not have one overall land protection and development strategy for all these areas.

    It is an extremely high-development prone area (on a major exit of Route 95), and the tendency by local government is to work on land use preservation one parcel/crisis at a time. Almost like spot zoning. It would be better if a concensus plan could be developed identifying both appropriate development areas. At one point there was a county planner who wanted to work that way, but one or two of the local elected officials either lacked his sophistication, or philosophy of planning.

    Many parcels of land have been purchased, too often at the last minute, in the heat of a "develop it or preserve it" conflict. Many of these conflicts have involved numerous local voices showing up at hearings to protest an insensitive development. Several have been resolved, some of them involving a compromise both by developers and preservationists.

    Previous efforts in the area to negotiate with Wal Mart have shown Wal Mart to be less open to working something out in common good than other developers, in the opinion of local groups. On example: when Wal-Mart proposed to develop George Washington's "Ferry Farm" in Fredericksburg, an NHL because of archeological value, there was no middle ground toward a compromise. In the perception of the local preservation group in their communications to Congress on Ferry Farm, they said you either raised the money to buy the land out from under Wal Mart, or Wal Mart built whatever it wanted, in the way it wanted to.

    Frank C., I don't rightly know if Superintendent Smith has been out in front of this one or not. He, personally, is an Interpreter by background, without a career of land use protection strategies behind him. However, the second-level staff are well known for their expertise and tenacity from multiple land use fights throughout the 'reigns' of the last 4 or maybe 5 superintendents. My guess is this park has been way out ahead of this issue for a long time. This group has received a lot of support from Senator John Warner (R-VA), who is retiring at the end of the month. Warner also had a brilliant staff. They knew how to wait until local political support gathered on behalf of the protection of a specific site.

    So, if I were to guess, I would think Superintendent Smith would be smart enough to back up all his Alpha-staff, but I would worry about what will happen with Sen. John Warner and his great staff gone. I would guess leadership will have to fall back on the Civil War land trust groups.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I also doubt people would so rabidly protest an REI or Whole Foods. It's so easy to blame Wal-Mart, but in their defense, as they have also said, the area was zoned for commercial development. It's also at the intersection of two State highways.

    A fair amount of blame here rests with government for its zoning decisions and for building major highways on or near "sacred" land.

    An umbrella group formed to fight the big-box store, the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition includes Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, the Civil War Preservation Trust, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Parks Conservation Association, Piedmont Environmental Council and Friends of Fredericksburg Area Battlefields.

    Certainly these groups could have raised enough cash to buy the 55 acre lot in question. Why have they been sitting on their laurels until now?

    And where has Superintendent Smith been up to this point? He slams Wal-Mart: "Wal-Mart's answer seems to be: It's zoned commercial, so we have no responsibility." I don't believe that is Wal-Mart's answer, but I agree that they do not have a responsibility in the zoning of the land.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Kurt: I agree. So I guess I will be "Preaching to the Chior".

    Basicaly, I have always believed that if you wish to control what occures on any piece of land, then you need to own that land. If you do not want to SEE what is done with somebody's land, then again, you need to own that land also.

    We have enough land use and zoning laws. After you see what business has to go through so that they can open their doors for business, people would have more respect for the process.

    I have as yet to ever see an occasion when Walmart, or any other business, go to the time and expence to open a business just so that they could "clutter up the landscape".

    We recently had a Walmart store open up in our community. I view their store as just another option when I go shopping. They have never forced me to come into their store nor made me purchase any item. It is all free choice.

    If you do not like a store, DO NOT SHOP THERE! I personaly do not shop at "Smoke Shops"or "Adult" stores, but I defend their right to exist within the same scope of laws that govern all "Growth".

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Beamis, as much as I'd like to hear your rebel yell...while Wal-Mart certainly is a favorite punching bag of many, I'd venture that folks would get similarly upset if Whole Foods or REI or Best Buy moved to develop this much acreage next to a park.

    Heck, I was bummed when a nice open field on the outskirts of Park City was turned into a commercial development with two groceries, a hotel, timeshares, a bank, and more. Did you know you can see the Golden Arches from atop the Olympic ski jump?

    As far as some "concerned group or individual" having moved to buy the land to preserve it, I'd hazard a guess that their pockets aren't quite as deep as Wal-Mart's.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Not too surprising, considering the "Yellow Tavern" battlefield just North of Richmond is the site of an expansive mall complex today. The site where JEB Stuart received his mortal wound can be found nearby, after a tedious search through suburbia, surrounded by homes.

    To have more of these sites compromised would be a travesty. Let's hope the coalition of groups listed above can influence the final decision as to where to build yet another supercenter.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Would a Whole Foods or let's say an REI outlet cause as much ire from the NPT readership as a Wally World? If this parcel of land was so important to preserve you'd a thunk by now that some concerned group or individual would've purchased it. Am I right?

    I'm sure the new store will sell a wide range of Civil War souvenirs and memorabilia, just like their Tuscaloosa, Alabama store which has a whole section devoted to the Crimson Tide or their Destin, Florida outlet that sells a wide range of seashells, sand dollars and conchs for way cheaper than the roadside rip-off shops strung along U.S. 98.

    I can't wait to visit the new Wilderness Super Center when it opens for business. Think I'll buy me a Confederate infantry hat and give a great big rebel yell in the parking lot.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Frank and Anonymous, you both hit on a point that comes up time and again when there's talk of development beyond a park's borders, whether it's the case of the American Revolution Center near Valley Forge, this Wal-Mart proposal, or oil and gas drilling in Utah.

    Does an amicable solution exist? Where do a park's borders end, its viewsheds? What's appropriate in those settings?

    My concern is that as more and more growth and sprawl occur, many of these places are going to become isolated islands and slowly wither on the vine. But private property rights are private property rights. That's not a complaint; that's just the way it is.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Absolutely, Anonymous. If the land is outside the park and privately owned, the owner does have the right (at least under a free society) to develop the land. How long has this land been there, unused, sitting? How long has there been an opportunity for a conservation easement, for someone, like the Nature Conservancy or other concerned citizens, to buy the land and set it aside permanently?

    But let the Wal-Mart bashing continue.

    Let the looting continue.

    Why?

    Who is John Galt?

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I agree with the previous comment that this is not about Walmart. Would people be as concerned if it were a housing development? If the land is privately owned, does not the owner have the right to use the property as he/she pleases?

  • National Park Service Draws Criticism for Winter-Use Plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Following this, what I keep noticing is the somewhat more timid stance on the issue that GYC has taken. First, when it appeared after Sullivan's ruling that they could have stopped the entire winter season, they suggested that 280 or so snowmobiles would be appropriate as a daily limit for this season. Before that, NPS was suggesting there might not be a winter season. That's when they came up with 318.

    Then, when Brimmer's ruling comes down and NPS decides to go with 720 as a temporary rule, GYC decides to go back to Brimmer's court and makes a point of saying that they aren't going to worry about this winter season. I'd be curious why these tactical choices have been made.

    Is it simply to fight the characterization that GYC is somehow a radical environmental organization? (wish they were, but they're not). Or, is their pressure from within to make sure that there remains some snowmobiling in Yellowstone?

    In any event, we're still smarting over the Royal Teton Ranch deal over buffalo -where GYC and other groups have raised money in support of a deal that spends a lot of money to the Church Universal and Triumphant for not much (perhaps less than not much) for bison. And, others on the wolf issue have noted that GYC has supported de-listing the wolf, one of their people even blasted the feds recently in a very conservative newspaper in Cody, Wyo.

    So, what is the deal here?

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

  • World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is Established by Presidential Proclamation   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Why would President George W. Bush have used the word "Valor" to name this national monument?

    Is "Valor" the best word to describe a national monument or national historical park, or the best description of this national monument? There is no "valor" or any comparable word, in the title of Valley Forge, or Gettysburg, or Shiloh, or Cowpens, or African Burial Grounds, or Guam/War In the Pacfic.

    Are these the best exemplars of "Valor" represented in the Pacific war?

    Does "Valor" come closest to describing what makes each site within this new National Monument distinctive? I would have thought the key story with the USS Arizona was an unprovoked sneak attack, perhaps adding the related story of the vulnerability of the American Fleet and our sailors in the way they were positioned at Pearl Harbor. The heroism of American sailors fighting to save their doomed ship and comrades seems to be the equal of the greatest stories of valor in the war in the pacific; but, were there not many, many examples of equal valor by Americans all over the Pacific? With Attu, I had thought the key story was the only occupation of American soil; my history books always said the war in the Aleutians was treated, and was, a sideshow -- not to take anything away from the suffering and courage of American troops and Aleuts. But is Attu particularly notable for "Valor?" And, is "Valor" the best way, or first way, to describe what makes the Tule Lake Relocation center nationally significant?

    Is it a good idea to stick descriptive words of human behavior in the titles of national parks? It the past, the name of the place itself has overwhelmingly had the greatest dignity and meaning.

    Why would the President in this case so title a new national monument? Would somebody in the National Park Service have recommended the word "Valor," after careful professional analysis, to the President? Something the NPS apparently did not do for two of his other national monuments, African Burial Ground and Governors Island: in their way, couldn't each of them have an argument for a valorous history?

    Or did the President choose this title because he was trying to bring attention to himself, he was pandering, after a decidedly un-valorous Presidency, and trying to enhance his "legacy?"

    National monuments, national parks, don't need this President's editorial opinion of the significance of the experience of the participants at each one of these sites. The experience of the heroes and/or the perpetrators stands for itself, just as it does in all national historical parks.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    If it isn't Walmart, will it just be some other development? Walmart is always an easy target bash. The real issue is what to do about this property if it is important to the battlefield.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Walmart = Greed.....plain and simple.

  • Wal-Mart Request Would Put a Super Center Next to The Wilderness Battlefield   5 years 32 weeks ago

    NO NO NO NO NO!!! Have respect for this precious land! ! ! !...............there are ENOUGH Walmart's & shopping centers!!!!

  • World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is Established by Presidential Proclamation   5 years 32 weeks ago

    While I am certainly happy that those sites are protected as Monuments and Memorials , I hope this National Monument will not stay for long. This hotch-pot of nine different sites in three states and under the jurisdiction of four cabinet departments will be hell to administer and impossible to cherish as a visitor.

    Hopefully congress will create some decent umbrella park unit for all Hawaiian Wold War II sites, the Alaskan sites are out of the focus anyway and no one cares how they are administered. And finally Thule Lake deserve to become unit in its own right. A NHS would be nice, following Manzanar and Minidoka. Or to think bigger, how about a highly visible Memorial for the Japanese internment in downtown LA or SF at the site of one of the assembly centers? Besides the actual internment/concentration camps that were of course in very remote parts of the country. Have any of those first assembly points been in a federal building that still is owned by the federal government? Could a part of the first floor be cleared as a small museum and visitor center? Something along the African Burial Ground NM in Manhattan?

  • National Park Service Draws Criticism for Winter-Use Plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Sabattis,

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're confusing Judge Brimmer with Judge Sullivan when you refer to who wanted the Park Service to revert to the 720 limit "because of the inherent impossibility of going through all the necessary procedures to set a new limit in time for the 2008-2009 Winter Season."

    Indeed, as I read Judge Sullivan's ruling it's silent on directing the NPS on how to remedy the problems/flaws raised by the plaintiffs. Rather, it was Judge Brimmer who directed "that the NPS shall reinstate the 2004 temporary rule until such time as it can promulgate an acceptable rule to take its place."

    As to whether the NPS had enough time between Judge Sullivan's ruling and the Dec. 15 winter opening day to develop a new rule, well, the agency has nearly a decade of studies, including two full-blown EISes as well as a Supplemental EIS. to turn to, and had come up with a plan in time for this winter when Judge Brimmer ruled.

    Agencies seem to be able to move with incredible alacrity when it's politically expedient to do so.

  • National Park Service Draws Criticism for Winter-Use Plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks   5 years 32 weeks ago

    The timeline provided by the conservation groups seems pretty disingenuous. Normally in a timeline you place events in the order that they occurred - only makes sense, right? In this case, though, they put the "Bush Administration published a rule authorizing up to 720 snowmobiles a day", which occurred today on December 9th *before* the US District Court in Wyoming ruling that plainly mandated a 720 snowmobile rule that occurred on November 14th. Its quite some timeline that places December 9th before November 14th, eh?

    Moreover, the timeline provided by the conservation groups completely mischaracterizes the ruling from Judge Sullivan when they imply that Judge Sullivan contemplated the possibility of the Park Service implementing a limit lower than 720 snowmobiles per day for the 2008-2009 Winter Season. The plain language of Judge Sullivan's opinion clearly contradicts this, as Judge Sullivan explicitly sets the 720 limit for the 2008-2009 Winter Season because of the inherent impossibility of going through all the necessary procedures to set a new limit in time for the 2008-2009 Winter Season. So Judge Sullivan made it clear that he was reverting to the 720 limit for 2008-2009 in order to give the rulemaking (and near-certain protests) time to play themselves out, while giving certainty for the short term in 2008-2009.

    I know that the conservation groups want to see a bogey man behind every corner, but I don't think there's a single career official in the government that's familiar with the time needed for rulemakings and protests that would have made any different decision in this instance. As much as the conservation groups might wish that we lived in a world where the snowmobile interests could not protest the 318 rule, we live in a world where the snowmobile groups will get their day in court, just as the conservation groups got their day relative to the 540 rule. In the meantime, wishful thinking won't change the plain reading of Judge Sullivan's decision - and quite frankly they lose a little bit of credibility to me the longer they persist in it.

  • Shenandoah's Camp Hoover   5 years 32 weeks ago

    My wife and I hike to Hoover Camp when we're in the neighborhood at Skyline Drive. Last year we had the opportunity to be the first "visitors" to receive a guided tour of the renovated facilities. What a treat! We were just nosing around peeking into the windows when the curator came over to talk to us. We started to ask some questions and the woman just smiled and invited us in and said this would be an opportunity for her to practice her presentation. We, of course, obliged her and had a delightful visit.

    The place has been restored quite well and the facility is a good look into the past. Lots of photos and you can really get a good sense of the history there. I would imagine sumer nights there would get rather hot and humid.

    This place is quintessentially "rustic." I don't know about Jimmy Carter but I can guarantee you Amy didn't have much of a good time when they stayed there! The fishing stream was nearly bone-dry when we were there but if there's water - and fish - this would, indeed, be a great way to pass the time.

    The hike to get there is (I think) close to 2.5 miles and probably nearly 1,000 feet in elevation. Going back up can be a bit of a workout for those folks in less-than-optimal condition. This hike gives your knees a good workout. You can schedule a ride down to the camp to see it, too. I think it's somewhere around $12 for the round trip (I may be wrong about that). If you look at a topo you'll see this is a winding road that wraps around the hollow to get there. I can't imagine what it was like in the good old days when you would most certainly sink to the axles in crummy conditions.

    This is a nice hike and you won't encounter many - if any - visitors.

    Rick

  • NRDC Calls For Endangered Species Act Protection for Whitebark Pine Tree   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Should we not be concerned for the trees because of their own qualities?

    If you aren't among the charismatic megafauna, good luck getting protection...unless, of course, you have some economic value or direct health benefit to humans. Unfortunately, you're not going to get most people to think of conservation in anything but an anthropocentric context. If you want a bog plant, a not particularly attractive tree, a rodent, or a worm protected, you gotta tie it to something charismatic or monetarily valuable. Fortunately, ecosystems are such that these links are readily there and don't need to be contrived. It's just a shame that the tactic is necessary at all.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • Interior Officials Release Rule Change to Allow National Park Visitors to Arm Themselves   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Anyone have a link to the pre 1979 (?) NPS rules (exactly) before they initiated the ban on open weapons in the parks?