Recent comments

  • Is Senator Feinstein Speaking Out of Both Sides of Her Mouth on National Park Matters?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    You'd be surprised what's in the enabling legislation. Part of it allows for hunting at the discretion of "the Secretary" (of the Interior?). I personally think that would be a non-starter to allow anything more than the current non-native deer culls, but that's actually in the legislation.

    The fact is, there is an existing extension clause in the currently effective reservation of use. It's been pretty well known that it exists.

    I personally think it wouldn't be inconsistent for the NPS to allow this use to continue. Whether or not this area is or is not considered "wilderness" - good management will have far more to do with the health of the ecosystem rather than some artificial designation. Human impacts will not be reduced to zero, as there's a road right on the edge of the estero and kayakers and boaters will still be allowed inside and hikers will still be allowed on the Estero and Bull Point Trails.

    Feinstein has spent a lot of time on this issue. She's personally sat in on meetings with Lunny, Neubacher, and (I think) Jarvis. She's spent time discussion this with the media and even appearing on a radio call-in program on this subject. I think this is personal to her.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Rivers to Ride in the National Park System   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Thanks for the correction, poetrycreek - I've fixed the link in the story.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 38 weeks ago

    More of this Al Gore stuff here. I like the parks as much as the next guy, but I do not believe anyone has proven that the so called global warming is caused by other than natural changes, not withstanding the huge spin machine. Like Frank, I am not buying in. Had those that worry so much been open to nuclear power 20-30 years ago, we would have lots of efficient, clean power taking the place of coal and gas powered plants. But NO! So many stand in the way of progress based on unproven science. I guess some will not be happy until we are back in caves again.

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 38 weeks ago


    There are numerous articles on the yearly bison slaughter and hazing on this site (including one fairly recently); for a lot more information, you should check out .

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

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I wonder how much CO2 the president will be generating for this photo op. Air Force One don't run on fairy dust.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 38 weeks ago

    In some cases it's visible through the retreat of glaciers.

    Debatable. The causes of glacial retreat, occurring since the mid-1800s, are still under investigation. A recent study from India casts doubts that CO2 is causing Himalayan glaciers to retreat. New research indicates that the Earth's orbit and increased solar input is what drives ice ages, not CO2.

    It will take decisive action on the part of our federal government

    Hmm. Of course. Expand the role of the federal government. That's always the answer. Look how decisively the federal government handled Katrina, Iraq, and the management of national parks.

    Coral reefs protected by Biscayne and Virgin Islands national parks might not survive if we fail to reduce carbon dioxide pollution ...

    Carbon dioxide is not pollution; it's a naturally occurring gas. Life on Earth depends on carbon dioxide. It's also a trace gas, and makes up only 3% of the natural green house gas effect. (Water vapor accounts for about 85%, clouds about 5-10%.)

    The following graph shows how much the CO2 content of the atmosphere has risen in the last 50 years at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The graph has a vertical scale that only extends to 1% of the atmosphere, and as can be seen, the increase in CO2 is barely visible. This graph is not a trick…it looks different from what you are used to seeing because CO2 is usually plotted with a greatly magnified vertical scale to make the CO2 rise look more dramatic. Yes, we might double the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere by late in this century…but 2 times a very small number is still a very small number. Graph here.

    I'm sure many readers will dismiss this comment due to the cognitive dissonance it causes. Skeptics are needed to counter the statism and dogmatic pontification associated with global warming hysteria. We need more debate, less fundamentalism, and a balanced approach.

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 38 weeks ago

    What exactly is the trajedy (sic) that has befallen our last truly wild and genetically pure bison herd?

  • Traveler's Checklist: Canyonlands National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    At least one company offers a multi-day mountain bike trip through the Maze ( and there are other multi-sport trips as well (

  • Traveler's Checklist: Canyonlands National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    In the reading I've done, it seems to me the only way to see the Maze is via a three day jeep trip in some pretty rough terrain. Are there other avenues of seeing this part of the park?

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Of the 50 or so hikers who we encountered on the trail I can think of only a handful who belonged on that trail. We saw people in flip-flops, hiking w/o water, and even a gaggle of 12 year olds who were too stupid to be scared.......

    I think there's a very simple solution. Close the trail as a "regular" hike and reclassify it as backcountry. You then have to go to the backcountry desk, get a permit (can be free of course), and made aware of what you're getting yourself in to. Just by having a 2 minute conversation with a Ranger I think a few morons would be saved.

    I couldn't agree more with this post. Angel's Landing is far too accessible to the general public because of the ease of the trail to Scout's Landing. It allows people to get to that point wearing nothing but flip flops, then find themselves on a much more precarious trail but because so many people are around, they dare not turn back lest they be labeled "chicken". There's a psychological bravado factor always present in large groups that pressures people to go along with the herd. Many people who wouldn't otherwise make the hike do, ill prepared or not.

    To illustrate, I was talking to a couple of hikers the day I decided not to make the hike beyond Scout's landing because a bus tour of at least 50 french woman had just hiked by (yes, all women, strange as it sounds). I knew there must be at least 100 people up there by then and it was only 8am! When I explained to the couple why I changed my mind, without batting an eyelash the man said "So you were afraid!?" (obviously looking for re-assurance for his own "cowardice"). I just rolled my eyes and left.

    Sure, keep things the same and you will continue to have several deaths every season. I also find their published statistics very suspect since there has been another death since this article appeared (I'm writing in response to a woman who died several weeks later than the man named. Maybe she tripped and fell off because there was standing room only up there?).

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    Thank you for your comments and insight into this tragic accident.

    Please extend our condolences to other members of the family.

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    This woman was my sister. She was an experienced hiker and she and her family had hiked this trail numerous times in the past. I am told it was one of their favorites. By all accounts she simply stumbled and fell. She was a very grounded person so I am sure there would have been no horseplay up there. I also believe that she would not want this place closed because of this.

  • Second Century Commission Explores Role of National Park Service in its Second Century   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Let's see continued integration of science/research into park management. This is key, as the NPS has lagged in this area when compared with other land management agencies. Jon Jarvis will be a great step in this direction. The idea of a more integrated system for all of our "protected" areas is a great one. Great write-up Kurt. Thanks for all the work.

    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • The First NPS Area to be Officially Tsunami-Ready? Redwood National and State Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Interesting. I always hear tsunami preparedness in association with the Oregon coast, but, not with the Redwood parks. This is a good thing.

    Thanks Jim.

    Robert Mutch
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute

  • Scuttlebutt Has It That A Hold Has Been Placed On the Nomination of Jon Jarvis as National Park Service Director   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Read more about Dr. No and his (in)famous use of the hold:

  • Traveler's Checklist: Canyonlands National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Thank you -- this article was so helpful. We are planning a trip to Canyonlands in a few weeks. The area is so vast, with so much distance between park entrances, it's hard to plan if you don't have time to visit them all. This kind of information is exactly what I've been looking for. Thanks!

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide For a Warming World   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Kurt, got the complete NPCA pdf report on climate change in the national parks. A real wake call...awesome work ahead! Many thanks for the article report.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I hiked Angels Landing back in the late 80's when I was in my 20's. I was and still am pretty fit and a reacreational hiker. I had no idea exactly how dangerous this hike was. I made it to the top. I was not proud or filled with wonder at the view. I sort of felt how you do after you almost get into a car accident, once the adrenaline stops. I think many hikers do not know what this hike is all about. I watched in astonishment as a man hiking before us had a baby in a backpack on his back during this hike. Talk about irresponsible. Anyway, I hope my son chooses not to hike this trail and I will not do it again. The payoff is simply not good enough to risk your life. My view from my deck is more majestic than that.

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Angel's Landing is a beautiful and exhilerating trail, but like any hike in any location, safety responsibility should rest on the shoulders of the hiker. The national parks can't be responsible for every fatality that happens in the park. I see irresponsible hikers all the time who think they can defy Mother Nature. Despite national park warnings, many people choose hikes beyond their skill level and cause accidents.

    That said, not knowing whether this woman was skilled for this hike or not, I would say the only reason to reopen the debate over whether to close the Angel's Landing trail is to ensure that the NPS can more closely control the number and skill level of people on the path in the face of shrinking budgets and resources. If closer attention on the part of NPS becomes essential, then those who enjoy the parks will need to be squeezed onto fewer, less "dangerous" trails just so rangers can keep a tighter grip on people in the park and hopefully minimize the number of accidents. As a true lover of our country's natural spaces, I hope this doesn't happen.

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    There have been 4 fatalities in the 6 years I've been associated with the Park. One teenage boy and 3 middle-aged people, 2 women and one man. I wonder about the "about 5" mentioned in the website.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I've done A.L. many times, and I want to add to some of the above comments. The texture of the hike changes drastically depending on conditions. I've been there in February when glaze ice made the trail technical and dangerous and I didn't dare go past Scout's landing. I've been there alone on blustery days when it felt intimidating and the knife edge was frightening. I've been there on sunny beautiful days when there was a picnic-like stream of hikers of all shape (including the proverbial tofu-shaped person in flip-flops) and it seemed like a walk in the park. Folks who have done it once or twice should consider the weather and "mood" of the day they were there, as it does color their memories quite a bit.

    I agree that there is risk here, but there is risk anyplace that a trail approaches an exposed cliff. A.L. merely has the distinction that there is a continuous run of exposure on both sides. The few deaths over the many years it has been open attest to the fact that it really isn't that dangerous -- certainly far less dangerous than the drive to Zion. The chain is probably a good thing to have -- but it is definitely overused by the "white-knuckled" hikers. For smaller hikers (kids), it is considerably more support than for adults, and the presence of the chain made me much happier when I took my son up in his early teens. Adults who feel that they absolutely cannot do the hike without the chain probably shouldn't be on it at all.

    I hold with the group that thinks that nothing "should be done" about A.L. The park service already has pretty serious warnings, and the view from Scout's landing is sufficient to turn many others away before they get into trouble.

  • Second Century Commission Explores Role of National Park Service in its Second Century   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for all the information on the pdf files. Opens good dialogue and recommendations for the NPS commission. Tremendous amount of work ahead for the Second Century. Global warming will dictate the quality of are natural resources and abundance in the national parks...along with it's future policies for the second century.

  • Thelma & Louise Redux? Man Drives Car Off South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I was at the canyon that day. It was 6:15 am and I had just dropped my husband and son at the Bright Angel trailhead and was walking east toward the El Tovar. There were rangers everywhere and they were stringing up the crime scene tape.

    There was no possible way for this to have been an accident. The area where the car came through between the lodge buildings was narrow and there was a good amount of landscaping, rocks, curbs, posts, etc. to prevent someone accidently driving through there. The tire tracks in the grass and on the path clearly showed no hesitation, wavering or braking in traveling to the rim. He also must have planned this carefully as there are few places where there are no walls to have crashed through.

    What I don't understand is why he chose an area with so many people around where he could have caused so much damage to others. There are m-i-l-e-s of road near the edge where he could have easily taken his own life without endangering the lives of others.

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 38 weeks ago

    They are also in those states because it takes 1 or 2 votes to pass that healthcare bill- The senators in these states need to vote against that bill.

  • Second Century Commission Explores Role of National Park Service in its Second Century   5 years 38 weeks ago

    "What do you expect from the National Park System? How would you like to see the National Park Service manage the 391 parks?"

    To answer this question it is important to first visualize how the world may change over the coming century. The future is always uncertain, but some reasonable assumptions have to be made. One of the most important questions is the likely state of energy over the next nine decades. National parks were born just as the nation and the world began to really tap into the enormous potential of oil. More material progress was achieved in following years than took place throughout the entire history of mankind. We have been living in the midst of a virtual explosion of wealth and power largely fueled by a finite supply of carbon based energy stored in the earth for billions of years. National parks would have been much different, or perhaps they would not have existed, without the changes wrought by the Carbon Century. We became a nation of travelers because of the wonders of abundant and inexpensive liquid energy. The great majority of energy analysts tell us that the era of "easy" and cheap oil is over. Based on the findings of government reports, transitioning into alternative forms of energy would be enormously difficult and expensive and require at least two decades to achieve. If indeed that is the case, how will national parks adjust?

    The most obvious change for the parks is the possibility of the shrinking of travel by the American public. Those parks distant from urban concentrations and without cheap alternatives to the private car, such as rail, would likely see a significant drop in visitation. A tightening national budget would translate into staff reductions, particularly in less visited parks. Concession operations in such parks would likely have to cut back on services or even close their doors. Protecting park resources would likely be more difficult in the short run, but possibly easier in the long term as fuel costs climbed to new records. Some parks would exist in name only relying on their remoteness and the cooperation of residents to maintain some semblance of protection. That is already the case in some of the more remote parklands in Alaska.

    If the parks can stay intact during a difficult transition period to a new energy regime, they could serve as repositories of natural regeneration and historic continuity. In this regard they would would be what NPS historian, Bill Brown termed "Islands of Hope."