Recent comments

  • Traveler's Gear Box: Take A Stick When You Go For a Hike   5 years 38 weeks ago

    A stick works well too.

  • Picnic Area on Blue Ridge Parkway Closed Temporarily Due to Bear Activity   5 years 38 weeks ago

    A fed bear is a dead bear ! Kudos to the Park Service for trying to educate the visitors instead of just "doing away with the bears". They are hungry and like us humans, they learn to take the easy way out when possible !

  • Battle Against Marijuana Growers Temporarily Closes Crystal Cave at Sequoia National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    While I'm not a fan of the legalization of loaded firearms in national parks, I don't think the new law really makes that much of a difference when it regards bringing in firearms to protect illegal activities. It's been legal to transport firearms in national parks as long as they're broken down and rendered inoperable. This rider has a requirement that people have a concealed carry weapons permit and actually carry them concealed. I don't recall anything in the legislation that allowed for open carry.

    I'm not sure that an LE ranger could even stop anyone randomly unless there's probably cause. If they had something like a traffic stop and then noticed a large cache or firearms, then there's something to work with. At the very least I'd think they'd notice regular vehicles/people entering. I don't think weapons are the big thing - they'd probably notice the large quantities of fertilizer and big bags of weed.

    For the most part I'd think they'd want to avoid major roads or might even use off road vehicles.

  • Traveler’s Checklist: New River Gorge National River   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Wow, what a great article on the things to do here. So many people focus on the white water rafting that they do not take the time to explore everything that is available.

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Anon, would you have said that if the man had not been found alive? Shame on you. The way I see it, my tax dollars paid for that rescue; and I'm glad that money went to save a life.

  • Big Meadow Fire At Yosemite National Park Up to 4,382 Acres, Restricted Access Monday Along Tioga Road   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The best map I've seen is at:

    I _think_ that's a publicly available site (the certificate error is ok: they put their map on a different server). If not, somebody let me know in the comments and I'll mirror it elsewhere.

    From the map, the burn was northwest of Foresta (but uphill) , and grew both south and northwest. If the topo basemap is correct, Big Meadow is adjacent to Foresta so the fire burned uphill and away from the structures. Foresta looks pretty safe, but you can see that the fire has burned to or across all 3 roads in and out. The active burn appears to be to the WNW and contained along the road to Tioga Pass, although at least one patch jumped to the north half a mile.

  • Great Smoky’s Highway 441 to be Closed Temporarily for 75th Anniversary Rededication Ceremony   5 years 38 weeks ago

    It is interesting to me that they are catering to "invited guests" instead of the regular folks that come to the park all the time. I wonder what you needed to do or pay or otherwise influence someone to be an invited guest?

  • Proposed Power Lines at Everglades National Park Highlight Several National Issues   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Having lived in Port Jefferson Station in the 1980s, I agree with Bruce: I, too, would run the transmission line there rather than the Everglades.

    But seriously, I also spent 8 years in Miami doing research in the Greater Everglades (EPN plus Big Cypress plus the SFWMD water management areas (WMAs) to the north and Loxahatchee NWR, and poor Biscayne NP is always an afterthought). If you look at the FPL "Overall_website.pdf" map (Jim's first map link), the major issue is the tan "west southview" part. [North of Tamiami Trail the dark green corridor follows the canal and thus wouldn't affect flow (the small triangle between the dark green line, Krome, and Tamiami is the Miccosukee casino, which isn't going anywhere, and is visible for miles).]

    Krome Ave (aka SW 177th Ave) has a ton of (rather deadly) traffic and an existing high voltage transmission line from ~ S 42nd St (1 mile S. of Tamiami Trail) pretty much all the way south, and I believe that there has to be some separation of the transmission lines. [There's also a major line up the turnpike corridor if I recall correctly.] So from a view standpoint, putting another 150' high line half a mile west along the levee won't change much: where you'll see the new line you already see the existing line.

    Immediately south of Tamiami Trail, the dark green corridor still follows the canal: between the canal and Krome are a couple of big aggregate quarries and the Krome detention center: again, no impact on hydrology, and given the draglines in the pits, not a pristine skyline, either. [Google maps shows the development, and even the shadows of the transmission towers, and pretty clearly shows the FPL right of way through the 8 mile area).

    However, the tan area where the green preferred corridor leaves the canal (L-31N) and heads due west is the problematic/infamous 8 mile area, which is crucial to Everglades restoration. It is the only residential area west of the canal: roughly from the ENP boundary to the north and west to L-31N to the east and the diagonal L-31N to the southeast; again, google maps shows what's there.

    For the past decades, SFWMD has shifted water flow well to the west of the pre-engineering flow via a series of canals in WMA3 (north of Tamiami Trail (L-29) and west of Krome Ave.), combined with the major canal (L-29) & levee along Tamiami Tr. on the north edge of ENP. This puts water into ENP at only a handful of canals under Tamiami Trail, too much water (deeper and longer than natural) in areas to the west, and much too little water to the eastern Everglades, including Shark River slough (SRS, about the western edge of the FPL map). A first major project of Everglades restoration (technically, the project predates Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan or CERP) is restoring sheet flow of water past Tamiami Trail and into the park, which would also restore more flows to the east.

    One major holdup to restoring natural flow to the eastern Everglades is the 8 mile area. It's west of the big L31-N canal & levee, but very low elevation and on very porous limestone. Therefore, even though it has a moderate levee around it, re-wetting SRS and the eastern Everglades around it (both ENP) will necessarily flood the 8 mile area: if the water levels are natural outside the levee, they will be higher than the ground elevation inside the levee, and thus water will percolate up and flood the 8 mile area faster than it can be pumped. CERP needs to buy out those landowners in order to restore the eastern Everglades, but that's a politically difficult task. [In theory the money is there in the $8B Everglades restoration.]

    My concern about the proposed transmission route is whether the line would make it more difficult to buy out and re-wet the 8 mile area. Perhaps the towers could be built with the current dry access, but with fill so that they would be structurally sound isolated footprints if and when the area is re-wetted, with access via airboat. But if that's not possible, or is possible but not done, then the transmission line would become one more impediment to restoring the hydrology of the Everglades.

    Finally, the FPL right of way through ENP to the north of the 8 mile area (dashed black & bright green) is in areas that should be re-wetted. Levees for access roads that far west would be a major problem for Everglades restoration. So, while I don't like the principle of NPS land swaps, in this case I'm in favor of swapping the right of way inside the park for area along the boundary that is now and will remain disturbed. I'd like to tweak the corridor to follow L-31N canal & levee from where it first intersects it, keeping the corridor outside the 8 mile area.

  • Angels Landing Trail at Zion National Park to be Closed Briefly on September 1st   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Back in 2006, we spent 4 days backpacking the West Rim Trail across the Horse Pasture Plateau. When we came out past Scout Lookout, the toilets were closed! Let's just say we descended Walter's Wiggles quickly because my wife needed one. Better to close the trail than disappoint needy users.

    If I had to make a choice, I think I'd rather get hit by a chunk of blue ice than a barrel of brown goo.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I just came back from Thunder Hole and was wandering where the 7yr old girl and father were standing when they were hit by the wave. Does anyone know ?
    We were on the walkway and I felt such a sadness and ery feeling there, and with that just happening There was a family sitting on a rock with the waves splashing on it, to the left and out further than the
    beginning of the walkway.

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


    Pardon me, but what exactly isn't acceptable?

    If NPS doesn't burn, the meadow becomes shrubs, but also the chaparral - forest transition builds up more fuel (downhill and upwind from Foresta!), and a bigger fire happens someday soon, most likely during hotter, drier, less favorable conditions. When that fire burns through El Portal and Foresta, it would be nearly impossible to protect the structures. Given the fuel, a burn in December or January simply wouldn't have killed the dormant shrubs nor reduced the fuel load: wet fuel in January won't burn without lots of napalm (or possibly permaganate).

    Fire is unpredictable (a slight wind change, or more variation in fuel moisture that was found when the crews tested leaf and duff moisture before setting the fire), and some fraction of controlled burns will always get away. But, by picking the time and place for the burn, the fire management folks had a pretty good backup plan. Even though the fire escaped, it hasn't burned a single structure. I suspect the fire was started on the El Portal / Foresta side and burned away (north & west), again reducing the consequences if it did jump the lines. If you look at a map, Foresta doesn't have many exit routes, so it needs to be evacuated even when there is little chance the fire will burn through it. The closures are all for smoke: 1 way with pilot cars isn't about dodging flames, its about avoiding head-on collisions due to low visibility, and keeping visitors out of the way of the 26 fire crews and 82 engines moving around to fight the fire.

    There have been cases of unacceptable prescription and unacceptable firefighting tactics, but so far I don't think anything about the Big Meadow fire is unacceptable at all.

  • Traveler’s Checklist: New River Gorge National River   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Kevin. I've associated the Endless Wall with rock climbing for so long I guess I forgot about the trail.

  • Traveler’s Checklist: New River Gorge National River   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Great article on a fabulous area. We loved the Kaymoor Trail, but hated the Kaymoor Miners Trail. The best trail we hit on our last visit here was Endless Wall. It is relatively short (I think 3 miles round trip), but it goes along the cliff edges and provides spectacular views, as well as access points for rock climbers. For a day hiker, Endless Wall should be the non-negotiable item on a trip.

  • Beneath the Surface of Cape Cod National Seashore   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Thanks for this wonderful photo. Some years back, I went drysuit diving in Southeast Alaska (not in a National Park, however), and I was astonished at the rich colors and abundant sea life in such non-tropical waters. This photo brought that fine memory back.

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Mr Briggs should be charged with the total cost of the Rescue effort.

  • Updated: Missing Backpacker Found in Good Condition in Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    This was AMAZING!! The person who created this video clearly has a deep love for the Johnny Quest mythos. Thank you whomever you are!! I really enjoyed the whole series of videos, and for animation enthusiasts like myself it was a real treat. If only most DVD extras were this in-depth and created with as much love for the source material.

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Thank goodness that Mr. Briggs has a good constitution. And God Bless the Angels of mercy that rescued him.

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

    Not acceptable!

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I am so glad that he is safe and sound, thanks to his good attitude and the good rangers who found him. Ohio

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Yay! Nice to have a happy ending. It reminds me that even the most experienced among us can get lost. I'll make sure to check my kit twice the next time I go backpacking!

  • 70-Year-Old Backpacker Airlifted Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    That is one tough old bird. Kudos Mr. Briggs.

    P.S.- Bring a better map and compass next time.

  • Updated: 7-Year-old Dies At Acadia National Park As Hurricane Bill's Waves Wash Three Into Atlantic, Injure 13   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Yes I do have to say you are right...because I was there that day and like I said in the story above."I was walking on the beach with my family and out of no where this BIG WAVE came I fell down and held on to my kid for dear life!It spooked me so much that I was a little iffy stopping at certain parts of the parks.There were people sitting on rocks taking pictures and I was like what in the heck are they thinking.The ranger did tell us not to go close but we were not half as close as the ones sitting on the rocks.I think that I have stayed scarred for life!I am glad you are ok and my heart does go out to the family that has lost their child.....Being a mom of an 8 year old daughter I cannot even imagine!They would still be plucking me off the rocks...OUFF!!!!I am sure you are feeling blessed ecspecially when you think what could have happened...Take Care.

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Thanks for the kind remarks, Brad. It's great to hear from you, and very gratifying to know that you've found such a soul-satisfying career. Rangering isn't for everybody, but you're one of the good ones, and the Park Service and the visitors you interact with are much the better for it. I hope our paths will intersect again one of these days so we can sit down and have a beer or three and catch up on happenings. I've made tentative plans to revisit Yosemite next year, so who knows? BTW, don't pay any attention to Kurt. He just likes to talk to hear the wind blow.

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Dang it, Brad, now Bob's gonna ask for a raise! (Fortunately, we don't pay him now, so there's nothing to raise.)

  • Follow Kelly On Her Trip Through Congaree National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Hello Bob, My name is Brad Benter and I work as an Interpretive Ranger in Yosemite National Park. I am currently holding out in my house in El Portal, diligently watching the fire fighters saving our town and fighting this crazy "prescribed" turned "wild" fire. It has kept me on edge, but allowed me to catch up on my to do list, including emailing you.
    You see, I once was a student of yours in Columbia, SC (USC) in your National Parks Course. I have been thinking of you and wanting to THANK YOU for the passion and devotion that you have for our parks.
    Through your course, my life was touched and and my path changed. I worked in Yellowstone NP immediately following the semester I took your course and dreamed of visiting and working in Yosemite too. Well, it was 1998 when I first worked in Yosemite and then after leaving and using my degree in Education for a few years, I returned to work for the Yosemite Institute as an Outdoor Educator. Well, I continue my career in Outdoor Education now as a Ranger Naturalist in my third year. I have thought about the influence your course had on my past fifteen years and it is extraordinary. I have not only spent many years working in the national parks, the rest of my vacation time has been spent exploring and experiencing them as well.
    Again, thank you! I wouldn't be here without your teachings and inspiration. You really did make a difference in my life, B-rad Benter