Recent comments

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Jess Stryker makes a good point.

    If a decision is made to allow a cell antenna in this area, it doesn't sound like it has to go on yet another tower - use what is already on-site. Unless there are technological barriers to different users sharing tower space, such sharing and/or use of existing structures should be a requirement for all such installations in parks.

  • UPDATED: Think You Have a Knack for Outdoor Photography? Here's a Chance to Show Your Stuff   5 years 32 weeks ago

    John -

    Thanks for the input and expert opinion.

    I've requested clarification from the contest coordinator as well.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Good Idea, cell phone coverage in National parks is necessary and needed in case of accidents or snake bites. If someone wishes to avoid people using cell phones, then simply go down another path, there is usually more than one path in the National Parks.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Well said Frank C. Sense and reason should trump all else.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    I'm very familiar with the Grant Grove area, having hiked every front-country trail and driven all the forest service roads within 15 miles. I'm familiar with the Park Ridge communications site, which sits on the boundary of the park having been up there many times. It sits almost right on the park boundary. There are several large clear-cut logged areas just east of it. Not only is the community of Wilsonia within range of the tower, but the large Hume Lake recreation area is also, as well as the Big Meadows area across a canyon to the east- which is a major recreational area with summer cabins to the south outside the park. If there was not already a big, ugly metal fire lookout tower at the site as well as existing antenaes I would be against this new tower. But the damage is done and there is a need. What I would like to see is a better effort at concentarting these towers in one small area, as opposed to the current habit of having one compaies tower on one hill and another's on the next. When you start hiking around the front country of King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks you quickly discover there are antenaes all over the place. Many of them have been there for years. To see the location of the existing fire tower with Google Earth go to 36°43'29.03"N , 118°56'35.26"W . Then scan to the right past the park boundary to see the areas with small trees recovering from clear cut logging operations.

  • Verizon Wireless Wants Cellphone Tower Near Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 32 weeks ago

    Verizon does not give a wit about your safety.
    I do not have to imagine as I happen to live in a neighborhood where bears (and other critters) are very present.
    If you fear for your safety, then by all means never ever venture outside of your cell phones range.
    Make sure the contract stipulates that the corporation dismantle towers no longer in use, I found this out the hard way..

  • UPDATED: Think You Have a Knack for Outdoor Photography? Here's a Chance to Show Your Stuff   5 years 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 32 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 !