Recent comments

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago


    Sorry to conduct NPS business in the comments thread. All this information should be publicly available by next summer: our primary customers are the park superintendents & resource managers, so their needs come first.


    That nrinfo capability isn't on the production server yet, sorry. The ability to generate reports of species richness for taxonomic groups across sets of parks, and the ability to get a list of all units a species occurs in, are both up and working on the development server. [None of that's my doing. My minor contribution will be R code running on the server to dynamically make maps for species: green dots for units where it is present, red where it is absent, systemwide or by region.]

    For now, if you just want to explore, you can go to my species reports page on the NPS intranet, with summary tables & figures I generated to help the I&M networks produce reports on certified species lists for each park (actually part of my job):

    Scroll about halfway down to the sentence about downloading Table1 for all units here and click that link to get a spreadsheet. These numbers have subspecies and invalid species names synonomized to species level ITIS names, based on a March 10, 2009 snapshot of the NPspecies database. You are likely to want to use either just Present in Part or Present in Park + Probably Present: sort by the status column, delete the blocks of rows with other status values, then resort by unit code.

    If you have specific needs, email me at the address at the bottom of that page. I'm analyzing these data for papers on mammal species in NPS units, and bird species in NPS units and FWS refuges (another part of my job), so I know most of the quirks of the data, and I have other information like lists of all bird and mammal species whose geographical ranges overlap with each NPS unit.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    1: The latest map is at:

    2: From the acting superintendent's q&a transcript:

    Why did the National Park Service ignite the Big Meadow fire in August
    The Big Meadow prescribed fire was initiated based upon a written and pre-determined "window" of very specific conditions (temperature, humidity, fuel type, wind speed, smoke dispersal, etc.). At the time of ignition all conditions were within this window. Prescribed fires may be done any month of the year depending upon the objectives of the burn.

    Why couldn't the meadow be burned in much cooler conditions
    The Park uses prescribed fire to accomplish specific objectives. In the case of the Big Meadow fire, those objectives were meadow restoration and the maintenance of fire resistant vegetation for the Foresta Community. For vegetation to burn it must be sufficiently dry and flammable to maintain a fire. The prescription for the Big Meadow burn was based upon these objectives.

    3: To the south, FS already is being criticized for not having burned enough in Angles NF: they got the air quality permits last year, but didn't have enough days of conditions meeting the prescription for a safe, controllable, effective fire:,0,2624824,full.story

    The Forest Service Wednesday also answered criticism that it had not cleared hundreds of acres in the Angeles National Forest, despite obtaining permits to burn away the shrubs and brush that fuel wildfires. Officials said that just because the permits were granted, the Forest Service would not necessarily conduct the permitted burns.

    The agency only sets intentional fires under ideal conditions, officials said, taking into account temperature, humidity and environmental concerns.

    "All conditions must have been met before we can engage in the burning," said Jody Noiron, an Angeles National Forest supervisor. "We have had very few days for prescribed burning."

  • PFDs Are Proven Lifesavers. Should Boaters be Required to Wear Them?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The answer to your title question, at least where the person is question is an adult, is an unequivocal NO. Freedom means the right to make your own choices, and yes, perhaps to be stupid in them. We already have way too much nanny government, interfering with our choices because "they", in their infinite wisdom, know was is best for us.

    Warn of the dangers? Certainly. Encourage use of PFDs? Yes. Require? Absolutely not.


  • An Untimely Accident Fatally Injures a Colorado National Monument Bicyclist   5 years 38 weeks ago

    "I once punctured and destroyed a tire doing about 30 mph on that descent, but fortunately, I was able to remain in control of the bike." Saltsagge

    I had a front tire blow out while descending a steep hill during a Cycle Organ ride a couple of years ago. I feathered the rear break and concentrated on keeping the bike upright letting the bike slow gradually. Fortunately, it was on a long straight away. I have cracked two helmets in accidents and cannot say enough about the importance of a good brain bucket.

  • FAQs About the Out-of-Control Big Meadow Fire at Yosemite National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    With all controlled burns, control is very important. Man power making fire breaks where years of no burn costs hours of labor. We need to use prison labor to cut costs of labor and give those people work to help pay back their debt to the state.
    Bringing in labor from other states to fight fires has the costs out of control. Why not use our prison labor preparing fire breaks before the fire season and get a upper hand to help stop large fires. In the 1940's, we used prisoners of war in our national forest, making trails, building road and fighting fires.
    Stop giving these prisoners a free ride, health care, dental care, room and board. The taxpayers have footed the bill for the prisoners to the point of bankrupting the state. If a prisoner doesn't want to work, make prison life worst than outside the walls.
    Take an look at the prisoners working in Pina Co. Arizona. Less returning criminals to the system. Prisoners paying their own cost of lockup.
    Awake up taxpayers. For every prisoner, it costs over $20.000 per year. Isn't that enough reason to make a person work for their keep? How many family members of your home, cost $20.000 a year to support?

  • A Silly Way to Die - Friends Don't Let Friends Teak Surf   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    Since there's some question about the details you mentioned in the incident cited at Glen Canyon, I've modified the text. The key point in this tragic story is how quickly CO can affect people who are in the vicinity of a motor which is running.

  • Another Gettysburg Witness Tree is Lost   5 years 38 weeks ago

    So sad to lose another direct link to our history. My favorite witness tree in the park is the one at Devil's Den. I saved an acorn from it. Perhaps the park can do the same when it comes time to cut the tree down. They could then plant the acorn and we could at least have a descendant of the tree in that spot.

  • Sequoia National Park's Crystal Cave: Time For Some Serious Upgrades   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Caves are fragile. Boots can scuff rocks; stalactites break easily; touching the rock can affect it chemically; and the presence of many people can raise the temperature. To preserve these unique environments, some countries restrict access to caves and monitor conditions closely.

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    There really aren't a whole lot of trails in Zion. I could understand the rationale is that it might get overcrowded if guide services started up.

    The backcountry areas are indeed different. They've got a quota system and perhaps they're worried about guide services using up reservations that would otherwise go to individuals. I'd be surprised if this company went through the trouble of getting permits out of the quota given that they didn't have a permit to operate in the park.

  • A Silly Way to Die - Friends Don't Let Friends Teak Surf   5 years 38 weeks ago

    If you want the full story of the Evans/Tubbs incident go to and scroll down to comment #4. This same problem can exist on a boat with canvas up and going downwind. The wind keeps the fumes with the boat and the canvas (bimini), especially with a dodger, concentrates the fumes in the cockpit. It can be very dangerous. I have been on Lake Powell in a boat and the problem here is the long narrow nature of the lake with many narrow, high, side canyons and very little wind.

    As to the teak-surfing; I have been a boater for many years and I must admit, this is the first I have heard of this. I cannot even imagine a sane person wanting to do this. My main fear would be the propeller. It is amazing to me all of the "jackass" stunts people come up with, especially on the water.

  • Another Gettysburg Witness Tree is Lost   5 years 38 weeks ago

    RIP Tree

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The point of the article is certainly that this guy ran afoul of the law and - deservedly - has been punished. Since I don't think that alone would warrant much interesting discussion, why not pursue the begged question of why this policy exists at Zion?

    It seems to me allowing qualified guides would do nothing but promote appreciation of the aspects of the parks many people would otherwise be afraid to ever explore. Capping the numbers and requiring a rigorous certification process would be at the discretion of the park and should be easy to implement. I'm really having trouble grasping the negatives.

    I know whenever my wife and I explore a backcountry area, we usually hire guides the first time. This helps us get to know the area and leads to a more rewarding return trip when we're on our own.

  • An Untimely Accident Fatally Injures a Colorado National Monument Bicyclist   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Claudia, we're happy that Traveler can serve as a vehicle for conveying the sentiments you've expressed here. By telling people what a warm and caring person Stan was you've helped to put a personal face on this tragic incident. I never had the pleasure of meeting Stan myself, and more's the pity.

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago

    tomp - I once worked at Cabrillo. I am not in NPS resource management so I do not understand how to work the nrinfo database website you sent. Can you explain how to generate the list of top parks like you did for such things as fish and mammals? I figured out how to look at one park at a time, but how did you identify the tops parks in order? You have piqued my curiosity.


  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago

    tomp - cool stuff. Thanks for the info

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Canyoneering is probably a great outdoor activity and as one who has never done it I would absolutely want a guide. Isn't it better to go with Mr. Fisher than for someone inexperienced like myself to go into the backcountry alone and probably need some sort of rescue?

    If Mr. Fisher got the permits it would still be illegal to guide someone?

    The park policy, if I understand it correctly, sounds like the opposite of seat belt laws for autos and helmet laws for motorcycles.

  • Reader Participation Day: Which National Park Is Your Favorite For Fall Colors?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the place for colors in the fall. We try to estimate when in October every year for the last 20 years and three out of four times we have not been too far off. However, the temperatures have varied from 32 degrees to 80 degrees. But the colors cannot be beat!

  • National Park Quiz 68: Fishing   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Thanks, tomp. Your knowledge of this topic is one heck of a lot deeper than mine.

  • A Silly Way to Die - Friends Don't Let Friends Teak Surf   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Kayleen's mother was not showering and was not using a shower on the boat. She had been in the water behind the boat washing her hair. She was on the back of the boat watching Kayleen and Megan when Kayleen fell unconscious from the ladder on the boat. The reports were incorrect, and just keep resurfacing.

  • Illegal Guiding Service Busted in Zion National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Isn't the point the legality of the activity, rather than the rationale? I may or may not agree with policy, but the best way to change it is probably NOT to continue after "...previously contacted by park rangers regarding his illegal operation."
    I would advise a further evaluation for the reasoning, but studies of anything for the Federal Government cost SO much, in these austere times.
    Perhaps the imposed fine should have included an amount substantial enough to help offset such costs?

  • Too Many Deer in the Nation's Capital? Rock Creek Park Holds a Public Meeting on Wednesday   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I can understand the concern for the over population of deers. However, has anyone thought of why the deer are becoming more populated in this area? With all the new construction in the outer regions that surround DC, deer have no where else to go. A place like Rock Creek park is a safe area that will not have its trees torn town any time soon. Other places that continue to chop down small bits of forrest are forcing animals, including deer, to look for homes elsewhere. My mother's garden and other gardens around her are having the flower beds torn up because deer are now coming in to look for food. And she lives just outside Tysons!

    Look for the source of the problem...not just the problem itself.

  • An Untimely Accident Fatally Injures a Colorado National Monument Bicyclist   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Stan was not only an excellent scholar at a prestigious university known for research scholarship, he was also an exceptionally kind and gentle human being. He was deeply in love with his wife and a great father to his daughter throughout the years. As a university colleague and a friend of his and his family many years ago, I wish to express my sincere condolences to his wife and daughter. Stan was a scholar, a lover of nature and music, and a spiritual man. Although his death was untimely, it seemed to occur in circumstances and in the beauty that he loved. May his soul rest in divine peace.

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago

    No apologies needed, tomp. Total number of species that can be seen in a particular park is not the be all and end all of birding worth. Heck, it isnt even one of my top two considerations. Great Smoky is extra special because of the remarkable mix of northern and southern species. Big Bend is the only place where you can spot a Colima warbler. Congaree is a place where maybe, just maybe, there'll be a confirmed sighting of an ivory-billed woodpecker.

  • Audubon Touts Birding in a Dozen National Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago


    87(tie) Congaree Swamp NP 191

    Sorry Bob. But I highly recommend Congaree for the state & national record trees, and the vines/lianas, especially Campsis.

  • Was “Heaven’s Gate” the Worst Movie Ever Filmed in a National Park?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Bob, I don't argue that the file was not a flop/disaster/mistake/etc... It most surely was. But that is not because it was a bad film (except for that 20 minute college graduation at the beginning--yeesh). As was pointed out earlier, it would have made an excellent mini-series. But if we widen the scope of discussion to eliminate NPs, the mere fact that this film has a storyline makes it a better film than 50% of the films debuted this decade. "Heaven's Gate" is to "Taken" what "War & Peace" is to "Green Eggs and Ham" (okay -- I exaggerate a little).