Recent comments

  • Robin Winks on the Evolution and Meaning of the Organic Act   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Kurt, I am going to 'pull' this outstanding compilation of considerations of the National Parks Organic Act into the current thread-display, since it is so germane to present discussion on National Parks Traveler.

    I have only scanned this, and must return to snow-control work as we have a new storm approaching this afternoon, but I will explore it in detail.

    Ted

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    Snow? Yeah, we're bulldozing the road, and I still can't get on my trail-routes ... but it is a lot of fun. ;-)

    In arguing against the use of the Alaska National Parks as an example of customization and independence of the Parks, you use the term "local rule". That may be just a 'turn of phrase', without an intended meaning in your debate-point, but "rule" and "authority" are different things.

    Furthermore, on this same point, when I talk about "local and/or distributed authority" for the Parks, I mean that we can benefit by letting the local Park-unit exercise more authority, not that the Parks should be 'ruled' by non-Park local authorities that surround them. It is the Parks, not the locals, whom I say should have more authority. Nontheless, local interests & local authorities do also have a closer and more-direct relationship with Park-units within their jursidiction. Locals will have a degree of 'claim' & 'influence' with 'their' Parks ... who else is going to put snowmobiles into Yellowstone - Alaska or Minnesota?

    Kurt, I think we have more than ample signs that the special steps taken in forming the Alaska Parks would very much pertain to a number of our most-prominent conterminous Parks, if we were trying to establish them in the modern era. The particulars of Alaska would not all pertain to Yellowstone, which would not all pertain to Yosemite, which would not all pertain to Olympic, etc, but the real point is that various special considerations do pertain most everywhere ... the notable thing about Alaska not being that special considerations pertained, but that we did actually include the considerations in the Alaska process, unlike elsewhere.

    The way things were done long ago in forming the early Parks, not only wouldn't fly today (any more than it could fly with Alaska), but indeed, some of the issues that we 'ran roughshod over' are not gone and some will pose serious challenges in the future. That is to say, the presence of special conditions that we recognized & honored in Alaska, also were often present when we formed earlier Parks in the south-48 ... but instead of recognizing & honoring those conditions, we chose to do otherwise.

    It's not that Alaska is so different; it's that our behavior & practices in the past were so 'different'.
    ==========

    There are several complications with the National Parks Organic Act that affect its use.

    The popular phrase quoted from the Act by Park-supporters & environmentalists is:

    ... conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein 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.

    Note first that the lead word is "conserve". While it is sometimes argued that the difference between "conserve" (or Conservation(ism)) and "preserve" (or Preservation(ism)) is a complicated & murky matter that is too hard to make sense of, and/or it does not matter much, that is really not the case. And even more emphatically, it certainly was not the case in the early 20th C., when the Organic Act was written. (There was a 'culture-war' between the Conservationists and the Preservationists, it was conducted on the record, and we have the record.)

    Today, many environmentalists and Park-aficionados read the word "conserve" in the Organic Act, and interpret it to & among themselves as "preserve". Actually, the two words have conflicting meanings, and this was dramatically the case at the time the Act was written. "Conserve" means to use and even 'develop', but not waste, and see to replenishment. "Preserve" means to exclude consumptive uses, and no development. The National Parks Organic Act, in its call to "conserve", intended that resources be used, and developed. Forests, for example, are "conserved" by cutting them down, selling the logs, then seeing to their replanting & regrowth. That's Conservation ... and "conserve".

    But the fuller reality of the Organic Act gets worse from there.

    In Sec. 3 of the Act, we see:

    [The Secretary of the Interior] may also, upon terms and conditions to be fixed by him, sell or dispose of timber in those cases where in his judgment the cutting of such timber is required in order to control the attacks of insects or diseases or otherwise conserve the scenery or the natural or historic objects in any such park, monument, or reservation. [emph. added]

    This is one of the passages of the Act that preservationists avoid quoting. Notice that not only can the Parks be logged under the Organic Act, but this lawful activity is done to conserve the values of the Park. This usage makes perfectly plain that the previous use of the word 'conserve' does indeed mean to 'use and develop' the values of the Park, as distinct from "preserve" them, as I described.

    Following the above passage in the Act is another that says:

    [The Secretary of the Interior] may also provide in his discretion for the destruction of such animals and of such plant life as may be detrimental to the use of any of said parks, monuments, or reservations. He may also grant privileges, leases, and permits for the use of land for the accommodation of visitors in the various parks, monuments, or other reservations...

    And following that we see:

    That the Secretary of the Interior may, under such rules and regulations and on such terms as he may prescribe, grant the privilege to graze live stock within any national park, monument, or reservation herein referred to when in his judgment such use is not detrimental to the primary purpose for which such park, monument, or reservation was created, except that this provision shall not apply to the Yellowstone National Park.

    The use of the word "conserve" as the leading verb in the "fundamental purpose" of the Act which Kurt quotes decidedly does not mean "preserve" in the contemporary sense, and furthermore the same word "conserve" is also used later in the Act in a way that makes it bluntly obvious that the word has a meaning & usage in stark contradiction to the way many modern nature-lovers like to think it means. They are perfectly mistaken.

    Then, add on top of the true meaning of "conserve", that the Act lays out in detail the opportunities for extensive resource-exploitation within the Parks, and it becomes overwhelmingly evident that many Parks-enthusiasts and contemporary Preservations actually have the National Parks Organic Act completely upside down & backwards.

    This document does not provide the protections or guarantees you ascribe to it, Kurt. On the contrary, the National Parks Organic Act explicitly repudiates your core principles.

    Ted

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Fred, I hear you, but much to your dismay, cyclists crave single track not fireroads. In my experience, I've found fireroads to be way more dangerous than single tracks simply because it's a lot easier to go fast on a fireroad and encountering a family walking 4-5 across the road can be a problem. What I've also seen as well is that beyond a mile or two from the trailhead, there are very few users of any kind, and the shared trail issue just goes away.

    As Ted posted earlier, I also believe that giving some amount of decision making power to the local park management is way more sound than keeping that authority with DC, thousand of miles away from the parks. Opponents hate it, because up until now, they were able to maintain bikers at bay by lobbying simply the headquarters. Now, they'll have to duplicate the effort with each and every park, which, most likely, will result in some parks opening to cyclists. Once it's proven in a few parks that multiple user groups can share the backcountry trails, it will be that much harder for the rest of the national parks to hang on to an outdated management model. IMBA understands this, and so does every other bike opponents who would love to keep the national parks to themselves.

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Thank you, Kurt, for your reasoned comments on the proposed mountain bike rule. I agree that there is a place for bike use in the parks, ideally on old jeep roads such as the White Rim in Canyonlands, where conflicts with hikers are minimal. Possibly also on new, dedicated trails outside of proposed wilderness areas. But my blood pressure goes up when I hear of IMBA talking about turning hiking trails into "singletrack." Their concept of shared use has a fundamental flaw--it is almost always the hikers that must give way to the bikers. In ten years or more of hiking the mountain trails in the Wasatch Range where I live, I have encountered cyclists many times. Most are courteous, but only twice has one stopped to let me and my family (including a young child) pass. Every other time, the cyclist calls out a warning, or lets it be known by their silence that we are to get off of the trail to let them by. This is in spite of clear signs at trailheads giving hikers the right of way. Our trails are mostly on steep hillsides covered with brush, and it is not always easy to make room for an onrushing cyclist. I find that I hike with an ear cocked for the sound of an approaching biker--when I'd much rather just be listening for birds.

    The other day I was hiking with my family when we observed a pickup truck pull up to a trailhead that was visible across the valley. Five young men got out, mounted their bikes, and took off down a trail on the opposite hillside. The lead cyclist hit speeds of at least twenty miles an hour. I would not have wanted to be coming up that trail on foot--especially with small children. In fact, years ago I gave up hiking on that trail, which is an important historical route, for just that reason.

    I suppose this will sound like morose whining to the members of the cycling community, but I ask only that you consider what it is we hikers are trying to experience in the mountains--a chance to relax, listen to the sounds of nature, and pass a friendly greeting to our fellow hikers as we comfortably slip past each other on the trail, each making room for the other. There are mountain bike advocates in this area who understand that, and as a result certain trails are on an odd-even system, which works fairly well. But this is an urban region where one can plan a hike to coincide with "no bikes day." That's not so easy when visiting a distant park on one's vacation.

    I do not see how this situation can be transplanted to the national parks and not cause conflicts with hikers. If that is "shared use," it is a mighty funny version of the concept.

    Fred Swanson

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 34 weeks ago

    And what are we getting for NOT having local control? How effective is managing Crater Lake from Seattle or Washington DC? How effective is managing Zion from Denver or DC? How practical are overarching federal mandates, such as banning pets in parks, when urban parks in DC must comply with the same ban? If administering these far-off places from the banks of the Potomac is so effective, why is one of the categories on this blog "Plight of the Parks"? (And please don't tell me parks faced no plight under Clinton.) How effective is managing 21st century parks with a flawed, early 20th century charter made malleable to special interests of the time?

    How is a 674-page budget (FY2009) helpful to local parks? What are local parks getting from $170,000,000 it takes to operate regional offices? What is $220,000,000 in service-wide programs netting local parks? And $150,000,000 in "external" administrative costs? Is it really necessary to local parks?

    Local lobbyists are so effective with the present system because of its oligarchical nature and lack of accountability. That can be addressed through implementing of individual park trusts, operated by an accountable board of directors, and comprised of members from the local and regional community. Try influencing a board of eleven comprised of local academicians, scientists, businesspeople, policy makers, planners, community members, nonprofit representatives, etc. With diverse local control comes insulation from national politics.

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 34 weeks ago

    My goal as an NPS employee, supervisor and manager was to attempt to accomplish in every park to which I was assigned three fundamental tasks: preserve and protect resources; provide high quality visitor services; and to maintain productive relationships with park interest groups. Among those interest groups were the communitiies that surrounded the park areas. Obviouly, park staffs have special relations with these communities in ways that they don't with people living, let's say, in Milwaukee. This does not mean, however, that the people in the surrounding communities should have a greater voice in park decision-making than others living in more distant areas. Make no mistake, these are national park areas, not state, county or municipal parks. This is a system of national park areas to which each generation of Americans gets to add the areas they believe merit protection in perpetuity. We ought to apply to these areas the highest standards of ethical, transparent management as a matter of generational equity. The shoddy, last-minute rule making that we have seen in the last several months is the antithesis of those standards.

    Rick Smith

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Ted,

    Wish I had more time to delve deeply into this, but all the fresh snow of the past few days is too inviting to ignore;-)

    That said, Alaska I don't think is a good example to point to regarding the intent, need, desire, or benefits for local rule in the context of the entire park system, not in light of how the Alaska park units were put together. As I'm sure you know, there was much local opposition to creating parks in the state, and President Carter and others tried to ameliorate those concerns as much as they could. My post of December 2 touches on that organization and the need to insert local concerns into the package. In part:

    Of historical significance, President Carter wielded the most substantial use of the Antiquities Act when he proclaimed those 15 national monuments after Congress had adjourned without passing a major Alaska lands bill strongly opposed in that state. Now, Congress did pass a revised version of the bill in 1980 incorporating most of these national monuments into national parks and preserves, but before it did so it saw that the act was worded in a fashion to prevent further use of the proclamation authority in Alaska. (Similar language was seen back in 1950 when Congress placed most of the Jackson Hole National Monument into Grand Teton National Park.)

    Some believe the act's passage marked the most significant moment in Alaska's history, both because of the lands it protected and because of the 103 million acres of land it allowed the state to pluck from the federal landscape.

    And....

    But don't get the idea that ANILCA was controversy-free. After all, it placed scads of acreage off-limits to mining and logging, created access problems by designating wilderness, and generated concerns over how the legislation might impact Native American subsistence and access rights. The results regarding the latter point have been mixed. On one hand, recreational all-terrain vehicle use within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve has been controlled, if not banned, while ATV use for subsistence purposes was permitted.

    (Now, in light of that recognition of Native American rights to the landscape, if we went back in time and honored those rights in the creation of all other parks, the Yosemites and Yellowstones, etc., think what we'd have. But that's fodder for another post....)

    Further insights of that controversial creation in Alaska can be found in some of the comments to that post.

    As for using the gun issue as an example of trying to return local control to the parks, in light of the recent history of that rule change I would borrow some of your words and suggest that the Interior Department's move "appears to be a conscious & intentional nod - nay, "bow" - to that grand-daddy" of all lobbying bullies and power grabbers, the NRA.

    I think when you take the Organic Act, read Robin Winks' interpretation of that document, and toss in the 1978 Redwoods Act, you get a clear understanding of why these should be "national" parks. According to Winks even big business wanted central control over the parks:

    Both railroad and automobile interests advocated more consistent administration of the existing parks in order to protect them more effectively, and also to make certain that accommodations and campgrounds were held to a consistent standard for the public's pleasure. While the railroads wished to bring spur lines to the borders of the parks, they seldom argued for actual entry. Automobilists wished to see roads to and within the parks upgraded so that visitors could tour the parks in greater comfort. All spoke of "scenery" with respect to the principal natural parks, though with a variety of qualifiers, and all referred to the need for preservation of that scenery while also making the scenery accessible for the "enjoyment" of the public.

    The Organic Act outlines the "fundamental purpose" of the parks as being to is to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein 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." Note it doesn't say to "leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment" of the local residents. The intent was clear, that these places should be conserved for all to come, and for consistency across the 391-unit system (or is it 392 now?), I don't think you can give them over to local control.

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Kurt

    I admit that 'local authority' is hardly a panacea for or protection against mismanagement. Blagojevich is not an aberration, but one of many symptoms in a long history of local-authority-gone-bad, in the Chicago & Illinois region. Louisiana has a reputation for harboring squalid corruption, shielding it behind 'local authority'.

    But local or distributed authority, one of the signatures of the United States, and a celebrated genius of its founders, also confers adaptability and resilience. It enables a system to reinvent and reinvigorate itself. Failure to move with the times and be relevant in new circumstances are hazards better avoiding by letting locals be the Captain of their own ship. The pride and the robes of responsibility lead to markedly better performance (even when it's wrong!), than do the feeble exhortations of centralization.

    Although we call them "National" Parks, and though they are authorized under the "National" Park Service Organic Act, I don't get the sense that the intent was to "Nationalize" anything. To a high degree, Nationalization is associated with inefficiency, decay and decrepitation. No, the fact that the word "National" is used for our Parks is but a 'conventional rubric', and does not imply a commitment to centralization, such as we see experimented with in Latin America or Russia ... with predicable negative results.

    I see evidence that points to recognition at high levels in America, that the localization I refer to is a good thing which they are seeking to gradually work back into the system. (Sudden large-scale radical change is unwise, and I am glad to see it happening gradually.)

    Look at Alaska. Some Parks-aficionados do not like to. It is disturbing to some, that what they see is so unfamiliar, so different. The range of 'customized' Park-affairs in Alaska points to recognition that the local contexts of Alaska "National" Parks are not appropriately addressed, by imposing a "national" directive upon them. Instead, the priceless assets secured in Alaska are handled not only as local to, but also as local in the State. The State is large enough and varies enough, that different Parks within it are 'given their head' to better-fit to the local conditions they are embedded in.

    For a second example, consider an important but 'minimized' aspect of the recent change in Park gun-rules. It is a hugely pregnant 'detail', that the new authorization to pack loaded firearms in Parks is linked directly to the firearms regulation of the local jurisdiction (State) in which each Park is embedded. That is very 'un-National', and appears to be a conscious & intentional nod - nay, "bow" - to that grand-daddy of all distributed authority: States' Rights.

    I do not expect to 'convert' those who have long embraced a view of our National Parks as being above & beyond the local scene they are embedded in. However, I do think we have already embarked upon a course to try out & adapt new ideas for fine-tuning the management of Parks in different regions, to the different local situations of each. We see it with the Civil War Parks. We see it with the East Coast beaches. We see it in Yellowstone, big-time! We see it in the Southwest, and with the archaeological locales. We see it in the contrast between Crater Lake, and Glacier, even between Rainier & Olympic, which on a good day can see each other.

    Local contexts make a big difference, and the way to make the most - and avoid the worst - of them, is to provide a meaningful element of local authority for the different units. Although there will of course be missteps with independence, the risks are a lot less scary than with the embarrassingly skimpy and startlingly flawed National Park Service Organic Act.

    Those who appeal to the Organic Act invariably 'cherry pick' a couple sentences from it which they reiterate over & over, while shunning & disowning the rest of the document, which can be described as a mixture of babble & venality. The Organic Act is very short: anyone can easily pick it up and within minutes know for themselves just how inappropriate this document is for managing any national resource. It resembles the kind of nonsense you'd expect to find on a Blagojevich tape.

    Sorry, but I honestly don't see the Organic Act as a credible instrument on which to base any rational national-scale management-plan for the Parks. Acknowledging that nobody is willing or able to fix it or throw it away and start over, then our present course - to ignore the Organic Act and move forward without much regard to it - seems the prudent & pragmatic ... option which we have evidently already adopted.

    One last point: recognizing & empowering local authority does not "remove the hierarchy". On the contrary, the assignment of local or distributed authority creates, implements & structures the hierarchy. Although the United States explicitly distributes local authority to States, Counties, Municipalities, and Citizens, the hierarchy of authority within the system is intact & orderly throughout, clear & understood by all, and perfectly secure. It would be exactly the same, within a local-authority-endowed National Park System.

    Ted

  • Twenty Boats Destroyed by Fire in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 34 weeks ago

    Anyone have information about affected slips, or the section that caught fire

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Ted, with all due respect, I disagree that the discretion over park-specific activities should be given over to the local parks.

    Perhaps I'm over-reaching on your comment, but think about the problems giving control to park units over many of their management decisions could produce. Even though an overwhelming majority of those who commented on the Yellowstone snowmobile winter-use plan thought snowmobiles should be phased out in favor of snowcoaches, snowmobiles are on the ground in the park due to local influence/interference.

    Where else might something like this happen to "national" parks? Wherever there's a well-connected political lobby that can manipulate the process.

    When you're talking about national parks, I like to think the National Park Service Organic Act is the over-arching authority that should be followed, and if you remove the hierarchy from the process, you end up with situations like snowmobiling in Yellowstone where the science clearly speaks against the numbers the lobbying arm has managed to achieve.

    That said, if the Washington office says bikes are perfectly fine in the parks, then I'd agree that local park managers should be given the discretion to say, 'Yes, we have great biking terrain that can fit with our management plan,' rather than having biking (or whatever activity) stuffed down their throats.

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Zebulon,

    I favor the part of this that shifts discretion to the local Park-unit ... which is also what the bike-opposition, the 'pure hikers', are objecting most strongly about. This is the way these user-decisions should go: The central Park HQ should be concerned with high-level policy and the overall-management of local managements. They should not be stroking their chin over each & every stretch of trail, nor should they be making up one-size-fits-all blanket rules to crudely regulate a range of situations across the NPS ... which is how your opposition hopes to ensure that what you'd like to see, neva happens.

    Really though, this is a corruption of the American way, which says that central authority deals with the stuff that only the central office can deal with, while all the decisions that pertain to local stuff, should be made by the local offices. Written right into the United States Constitution ... and good enough for the Park Service, too.

    Centralized authority was how they did it in the USSR, who now exist only in the history books.

    Obama will make the call on the new bike-rules. None of this comes out of the oven, until middle of next year. So yeah yeah, it's the evil Bush crafting this cunning violation of Mother Nature, right? Well, might be a good move to think again.

    Everything Bush does after his meeting with Obama a week or two ago, he very likely arrived at in consultation with Obama (during that meeting - which both of them refuse to discuss). It is now time for Bush to earn brownie points with everybody who has the future in their hands (#1, Obama) because that's how he minimizes the amount of crap he ends up carrying in the history books ... which at this point is looking like a helluva crap-load.

    Do we have clues to how Obama is leaning in matters of Parks-management? Yes we do: He just appointed Ken Salazar as Sec. of Interior. That gurgling sound you hear is the enviro-purists, on the floor choking until they're blue. Salazar is Evil One In Training, in their view.

    The selection of Salazar informs us very strongly, how NPS policy will go under Obama. There are 2 posts current on National Parks Traveler about this selection:

    Updated: Salazar Pick For Interior Secretary Labeled a Failure, and

    Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration

    The Salazar decision is far, far away from where 'enviro'-Obama was supposed to go, and is an indication of potentially historic changes in the management of our common resources ... which some have long presume should only be handled according one narrow (purist) point of view.

    I think the correcting of that longstanding situation is overdue - and may now be in the offing.

    Ted Clayton

  • Twenty Boats Destroyed by Fire in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Given the time of night and year, the remote location, and the unusual challenges (and dangers) presented by a fire in a marina, the staff did an incredible job in this situation! Under the circumstances, it's amazing that they saved the majority of the boats.

  • Gun Rules for The National Parks: Will They Really Make It Easier To Pack in the Parks?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Kurt wonders:

    ... if this rule change really wasn't intended to be an economic stimuli of its own.

    In English & Spanish, right?

    Don't we have regulations for the mounting of signage? What do we do about buildings that don't offer proper mounting surfaces/structures? Rebuild them!

    And structures like trail-signage that are smaller than the gun-signs - oh no!

    This should keep half the country busy for years ... must be a genius of economics behind it. ;-)

  • Upon Further Review – Does the River Run Downstream?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    People with this lack of experience should not be out alone ----- travel with others to gain knowledge before heading out alone.

  • An Ancient Road System Still Puzzles Us at Chaco Culture National Historical Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Thanks for the article. I just visited Chaco Canyon in October, and was astounded. I still have a hard time understanding how such a large native population could seemingly thrive in such a difficult (i.e. dry & hot) climate. The ruins there are spectacular, the American version of Tikal.

    ===========================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    There are some simple solutions to cut down on the user conflicts. Some places have instituted an even-odd day regulation for some more crowded trails. On odd days, horse riders can use the trail, on even days, cyclists can use it. Hikers can use it all the time, but also know what kind of other users they'll encounter. This seems to me like a very fair and reasonable way to share a common public good.

    Dave, you make some great points. I would add that the way Yellowstone was intended to be used say 50 years ago can change over time as users change. As long as the use of the park does not harm it, I don't see the problem. At the end of the day, if we restrict the parks to a diminishing number of people (horse riders numbers are dwindling and kids tend to gravitate more toward biking than hiking), it'll do the parks no good. This regulation has the potential to bring practical solutions to the bike access issues (I'd rather see these issues solved on the ground than in Washington) and as a result more users to the park. This seems like a win win to me.

  • Gun Rules for The National Parks: Will They Really Make It Easier To Pack in the Parks?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    You know, I wonder if this rule change really wasn't intended to be an economic stimuli of its own. Think of all the signage that will have to be changed throughout the national parks: gun ban signs at entrances, at trailheads, etc, etc.;-)

  • Gun Rules for The National Parks: Will They Really Make It Easier To Pack in the Parks?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Gary Slider said:

    [The law (18 USC 93) says] they must post the building if they don't want anyone carrying.

    You're right, unambiguously.

    Certainly, I see these postings when I go to 'real' Federal Builds & Courts, in the big city ... but I don't see them on many Park-buildings.

    Could we be looking at some kind of "Don't ask, don't tell" situation, in the Parks? ;-)

  • More Fishers Soon To Be On the Loose in Olympic National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    First of all, it does seem like a very good idea, to focus on species-reintroductions that are less controversial & polarizing. The fisher is being used in this way in many places across the U.S.A, and it's a good thing.

    There are some potential issues and even risks with this project, though. See Feasibility Assessment for Reintroducing Fishers to Washington September 2004, by Washington State Fish & Game, for additional details.

    Ecologically & biologically, the Olympic Peninsula has a small population of marten, which are very much a smaller version of the fisher. Both are upland & forest weasels, and dry-ground, semi-arboreal versions of the mink. The range of fisher & marten does overlap in some regions, but in other regions only one species is present. It seems that the risk to marten got a fairly easy 'pass' in this project, and certainly it is not publicized that a potentially unfortunate conflict exists.

    From here, the issues become less certain, but no less potentially problematic.

    First in this category of considerations is the role of trapping in the demise of Olympic Peninsula populations of fisher. Although trapping took place in the Olympic Mountains (now the Park), this is extremely inhospitable trapping-country. Trapping was mainly a low-land occupation on the Peninsula. The interior regions of the mountain range were entirely "terra incognito", until the 1890s. Penetration thereafter was generally slow & light (that's why it's a Park today..). The terrain is a great barrier to the sorts of 'blanket coverage' or 'saturation' trapping-patterns that generally lead to severe reductions of fur bearers. There are very generous swaths of the mountains that will & did serve as 'reservoirs' or 'refugia' within which target-animals had protection, and from which they could later rebound and repopulate over-worked adjoining districts.

    Let me emphasize the terrain-consideration: Although the Rockies and others are higher & grander than the Olympics, there are few features on Earth that approach the sheer ruggedness of the Olympics. You have to go places like The Grand Canyon and the worst of the dissected Andies to find such impediments to entry & travel, as exist in the Olympic massif. Without the installed trail-system, entry into the Olympics would be a world-class and extremely unusual adventure.

    I - and others with experience in this country - will find it highly unlikely that the Olympic Mountains fisher were "trapped out". Furthermore, habitat was not significantly disrupted within the mountains either. Habitat was heavily altered in the low-country, but not in the high Olympic country, which is now Park.

    It may be too snowy to support high-country fisher in the Olympics, especially during the colder swings of the climate ... which we may well be watching take place today. Fisher found in the high country, may be on summer outings from the low-country. It could be a slight embarrassment, if the introduced animals soon prove to like the lower country outside the Park better. Slightly worse, this is also where the remnant population of marten are also most likely to reside.

    Inaccurate assumptions about the cause of the original extirpation of Olympic fisher could result in the introduced population simply suffering the same fate.

    That one of the introduced fisher was found killed by a bobcat in the Elwah Valley is an immediate Ah-ha! Many do not realize the extent to which the Olympic Peninsula is 'cat-country'. It is more than passably possible that the more-important reason for the downfall of fisher, was the increase in cats brought on by the opening up of the low-lands and timberlands, which causes 'explosions' of prey-species. The cats then multiply, supported by the increased food-supply. With a higher density of cats, the fisher (and wolves & coyotes, etc) could not avoid their natural enemies as well as before, and declined or vanished.

    That one of the fisher was road-killed near Forks suggests that they are already leaving the high country of the Olympic National Park where they were introduced, and taking to the low-lands outside the Park (the Elwah animal suggests this too). While it doesn't seem like the fisher will come into direct conflict with the humans who live in the low-country, for the species to abandon the habitat that the project-designers placed them in calls into question the planning of the project, etc.

  • Gun Rules for The National Parks: Will They Really Make It Easier To Pack in the Parks?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Ted, I agree and I read the law that way also. I read it even if the building is posted I can still carry there if I have a permit/license that makes it legal for me to carry in the state the National park is located in. The law also states they must post the buildings. If they post them and they say it applies to those with a legal permit/license to carry is what we have to find out. This will take a court case to decide since I believe the feds say that this means everyone and that section does not pertain to those who can legally carry. But getting back to the law that to me is very black and white they must post the building if they don't want anyone carrying. Every entrance must be posted and it must be very visible.

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    I try to do it all: fish, hunt, bike, bird, photograph, sleep, eat, etc. What I recognize is that groups do not self-regulate and we tolerate idiots in the ranks. As a result I struggle with the mountain bike "issue" in the parks, particularly Yellowstone, in the event bikes are permitted on trails. The nature of mountain biking is the challenge, not simply a conveyance, though would I be tempted to use a bike to convey me faster and easier to the back country with all my photo gear...probably. But I need to think about what I am doing: do I meet the park on its own terms or set up a system of rules which makes its enjoyment easier?

    My answer is obviously selfish: I do not want to see bikes on trails in Yellowstone. I'm 62 now and know I will not be able to enjoy the park as I did years ago, but I do not expect the park to accomodate me at the expense of other users who are using the park as it was intended.

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Apology accepted, Zeb, not that it was entirely necessary. This can be a rough and tumble place from time to time;-)

    I do sincerely invite you to stick around and weigh in on some of the other issues when the mood strikes. There are some important ones out there.

  • Sen. Salazar Seems to be the Interior Secretary Pick For the Obama Administration   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Beamis,
    Thanks for saying what I meant to say. You missed how government murders its citizens, but I'll cover that in a bit. I wanted to respond to d-2 that if he wants to "govern the greedy and the powerful", he needs to begin with the Federal Reserve, a pseudo-governmental cartel of bankers that operates above the law and without impunity. I was going to mention fractional reserve banking, a return to sound money, and returning to the rule of law through adherence to the Constitution, all of which government politicians sold out in 1913 and 1933, but I think your comment makes the point far more efficiently and effectively. My empirical mumbo jumbo would fall on deaf ears.

    It's how the world works.

    I'm reminded of Ludwig von Mises's motto, borrowed from Publius Vergilius Maro:

    Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito. Do not give in to evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it.

    I'm not sure comparing natural selection to government is accurate. Take, for instance, the worldwide democide carried out by governments in the 20th century. Governments murdered almost 200,000,000 people in the last 100 years. This figure does not include those the state compelled to die in combat. Senseless. Evil.

    And I think Alinsky embraces, rather than proceeds against, evil. After all, he dedicates "Rules for Radicals" to Lucifer, who Alinsky terms as the "first radical". "The most effective means are whatever will achieve the desired results." It took Alinsky 11 words to paraphrase Karl Marx's far more succinct "The ends justify the means." More evil.

    I'm glad to have discovered Obama's mentor, though. It's been eye opening.

    Back to the DOI. The Department has been rife with controversy. Oh, I'm sure some will put this all on Bush while failing to consider the BIA's multicentury screwing over of American Indians.

    It's time to abolish the DOI and other agencies that have limited or no Constitutional authority. It's time to stop concentrating power in unelected bureaucrats. Enough with the czars! Our country was not to be ruled by emperors or autocrats. Returning to the Constitution and limiting government's power and scope is the only revolution that will protect everyone, not just the poor or the rich.

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Agreed. Long day, short fuse, my comment was inappropriate. I sincerely present my apologies to Kurt.

    I had a longer reply typed, but an operator error erased it. :) At any rate, I am certainly an one issue type of guy, not that I'm insensitive to some of the other challenges that the national parks are facing.

  • Gun Rules for The National Parks: Will They Really Make It Easier To Pack in the Parks?   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Here is an easier-to-read copy of 18 USC Sec. 930.

    I believe that published assessments generally recognize a conflict, or at least the appearance of a conflict, between the new guns-in-Parks rule and "18 USC Sec. 930".

    Do note that Subsection (d), explicitly referenced in the first words of Subsection (a), contains 3 paragraphs, providing exceptions to the thrust of the ban on guns in Federal facilities. Subsection (d) and Paragraph (3) jointly state:

    "(d) Subsection (a) [no guns in Federal buildings] shall not apply to - (3) the lawful carrying of firearms or other dangerous weapons in a Federal facility incident to hunting or other lawful purposes." [emph. added]

    Paragraph (d)(3) certainly appears to be capable of providing for the explicitly authorized lawful Concealed Carry provided in the new regulations.