Recent comments

  • Volunteers Needed to Help Monitor Sea Turtle Nests at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 40 weeks ago

    how do you become a volunteer.i am very interested,love sea turtles and have some working knownledge and free time.

  • Is an International U.S.-Mexico Park At Big Bend Moving Closer to Reality?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I for one would love to see wilderness areas, parks, conservation areas...whatever you want to call them established without regard for the international border. R. Stefancik excellent story of the trinkets sold out of a basket on the honor system shows what is possible with the vast majority of us humans regardless of location of birth.

    However, another factor sometimes dominates our reality perpetrated by a very small human faction. While visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument along the US/Mexico border we came across the Kris Eggle Visitors Center. We were curious about who Kris Eggle was and how the visitor center came to be named for him and was enlightened by a sign and tribute outside the center. The story is a sad one as well as maddening...Kris was killed in the line of duty, performing as a NPS law enforcement ranger by thugs of a drug cartel.

    I only add this to the discussion as a concern to be a reality that must be faced in that region of the country at this point in time. A sad reality for us all...on both sides of the border.

  • Web Page Provides Keys To Finding Olympic National Park's Waterfalls   5 years 40 weeks ago

    That's a cool offering. Marymere is pretty easy, since there's a well-trodden trail right to it. Some of the others can be a bit dicey. I notice they don't point out Service Falls up at the head of the Queets Valley. Gorgeous, big waterfall, but supposedly only a couple people have ever managed to see it from the ground. Olympic certainly has some remote attractions.

  • Is an International U.S.-Mexico Park At Big Bend Moving Closer to Reality?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    “Building upon our shared history of ecosystem and species conservation, the plan will develop a model of bi-national cooperation for the conservation and enjoyment of shared ecosystems for current and future generations,” said Secretary Salazar.

    A key word to me in that sentence is "enjoyment". Currently, it is impossible for the people of Mexico and the US to easily enjoy the other country's portion of the region because there is no longer a border crossing within Big Bend NP. The nearest crossing is at Presidio, TX., some distance of about 40 miles from the park, as I recall. The residents of Mexico across the Rio Grande from Big Bend would greatly benefit from tourists stopping over to "enjoy" their part of this incredible wilderness. One of my lasting memories of my most recent visit to Big Bend was a spot on a hiking trail near a canyon (I won't identify the canyon in order to protect the Mexican "criminal") where someone from Mexico was crossing the river and leaving home made trinkets on the side of the trail with a basket for tourists to leave money on an honor system. I was pleased to purchase a few wire scorpions and leave some money behind. I was more pleased to see about $30 that had accumulated without someone from our side pocketing the money for themselves.

  • Glacier National Park Officials Decide to Remove Grizzly Bear Family From Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    @ R. Stefancik:
    With your excellent background you should be able to deduce yourself why it would be harmful to move a Rocky Mountains Grizzly to Alaska, where she could reproduce. Small hint: We are talking about a protected specie in protected areas.

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I was hiking the morning this happened, you are warned about the skill level it takes to do this hike. There were many children on the hike ..It was a simple slip and fall, so you must be careful..all we need is MORE government telling us what we can and cannot do....

  • National Park Mystery Photo 12 Revealed: It's Voyageurs National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    As long as we are talking about Voyagers NP and the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness, I would at least like to give praise to the Canadian Quetico Canoe Wilderness just over the border from the Boundary Waters. The Canadians issue fewer backcountry permits and the 3 times I visited there, I found a much more serous wilderness experience. I honestly saw more moose than I saw groups of humans, as opposed to the Boundary Waters where I saw an average of 5 groups/day and very little wildlife. In my three 1 week treks in the Quetico, I never saw more than 3 other groups the entire trek. Access to the Quetico can be made through border crossings from the Boundary Waters. I believe the outfitters serving the Boundary Waters in Ely, MN can provide the necessary forms to send in to the Canadians to reserve a permit in advance. I would forwarn you though that to get into the Quetico requires a couple of serious portages of more than 200 rods. But is is well worth the effort because those portages scare away a lot of casual groups.

  • Glacier National Park Officials Decide to Remove Grizzly Bear Family From Park   5 years 40 weeks ago


    Thanks for your reply. As a pathologist who has studied biology, genetics, and zoology while an undergrad, I was most of the time led to believe that genetic diversity was a good thing. Do you know of specific instances where the introduction of genetic "strangers" has harmed a wild population? It would seem that inbreeding would lead to more dire consequences as harmful recessive traits would be more likely to manifest themselves in a given population. I know this has been an issue with the wolf populations at Isle Royale NP, but I also realize that is a much smaller population. Just wondering.

  • Upon Further Review: "But My GPS Unit Said Go Thataway..."   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I've experienced first-hand the shortcomings of GPS at Chaco Canyon. My Garmin Unit pointed me to a site that was one hour and half away from the real place. If it was not for a road sign, I would not have found it. As a result, I arrived too late and missed the light.


    National Parks images

  • Upon Further Review: "But My GPS Unit Said Go Thataway..."   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Thanks for the very interesting and well-written piece, Jim. I'm enough of a Luddite that I probably wouldn't use a GPS, even if I could afford one. I'm guessing spare batteries might be worth carrying. I'm also ancient enough to have made topographic maps the old-fashioned way with a surveyor's plane-table. The suggestions to also carry map & compass are very sensible, but one must be on guard with these as well. Metal objects and occasionally local geology can deflect compass needles. The generally excellent USGS topos produced from air photos can have errors ranging from misnamed and mislocated cultural features to incorrect drainage patterns due to floods, glacial advance/retreat, and very deep snowpacks present when the photos were taken. I've also seen pranks & vandalism regarding signs, even a few incorrectly placed by the Park Service.

    I think it was Mark Twain who wrote that ignorance is not as dangerous as what you think you know that just
    ain't so.

  • Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Are Costly To National Park Service, But Seem to Be Boosting Visitation   5 years 40 weeks ago

    As the price of something goes up, demand goes down.
    As the price goes down, demand goes up.
    Is the National Park Service stating something else?
    Seems rather suspect.

  • Upon Further Review: "But My GPS Unit Said Go Thataway..."   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I'd like to know which base map they were using: 24K or 100K. I have a Garmin with Topo USA maps but they're 100K so not too useful in canyon country. In fact friendsand I were lost for a couple of hours (missed a side canyon) in the Maze district of Canyonlands and we were using 24K topo maps (pre-GPS). Even that map scale is lacking in canyon country and Zion is definitely a challenging place for navigation.

  • Upon Further Review: "But My GPS Unit Said Go Thataway..."   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Some good comments!

    Bob Mishak is right on target with his comment for GPS use "off the road" or even on roads in remote areas.

    The moral of the story is, never depend on just a GPS, map or compass. Use all three and make sure you know how to use them.

    There's no question GPS can be a great tool. Earlier this summer I was on a couple of all-day boat trips in Alaska. The captain had a laptop computer running GPS superimposed on a detailed nautical chart, which made a great combination, and the screen on the computer was large enough to give quite a bit of detail. However... he also had radar, a depth finder, a compass, and a paper copy of that same chart.

    The small, hand-held devices many people carry can also be a useful tool, even in the backcountry, as long as we don't follow the advice blindly, or rely on it as the sole source of information for navigation – especially in remote areas that are unfamiliar terrain.

    Several earlier stories and comments in the Traveler are linked in the story above, and point out the reason for caution with GPS in such areas:

    A comment by Bogator on the recent Death Valley incident was an excellent one:

    One of the ways this can be fixed is for the GPS manufacturers and programmers to stop letting their programs use primitive roads as a viable option. As an example, in order to go from Escalante to Big Water, both my GPS and Microsoft's Streets and Trips wanted to send us down the Missing Canyon Road (Smoky Mountain Rd), BLM road 300.

    On the BLM map, this road is marked as a ATV road. I did research the road, as well as look at it on Google Maps, and saw that it was not a road we wanted to go down. And this was just one of serveral examples.

    The routing programmers need to classify these kinds of roads as primitive/4wd roads and not use them in routing unless the user has specifically requested primitve roads as an option.

    I did contact Garmin, my GPS company, about the problem, but so far, nothing has happened. GPS's are wonderful devices; My wife and I have traveled all over the US with one, but I never follow it blindly, especially in rugged areas.

    One other example: the website for Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico includes the following caution:

    Warning: Numerous visitors have reported that GPS devices are not accurate in the Chaco area. Please use our written directions below to avoid getting lost.

    So... no intention to dismiss the use of GPS away from the big city, but good judgment by the user is necessary. Sometimes, you need to take the information given with a block--not a grain--of salt.

  • Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Are Costly To National Park Service, But Seem to Be Boosting Visitation   5 years 40 weeks ago

    "The bottom line, according to the Park Service analysis, is that there was no obvious trend."

    A stunning statement. I'm no statistician, but my takeaway from their numbers is that 87% of the units had higher visitation on the fee-free weekends than on either one or both of the weekends before and after. Seems like a pretty clear trend to me.

    When Salazar announced the free weekends NPS estimated that they would lose $500,000 per day in entrance fee revenue. Now only two months later that estimate has morphed to $750,000 to $1 million. Something fishy going on there.

    The bottom line is that NPS has a vested interest in proving the inherently illogical proposition that entrance fees have no effect on visitation. They've been "marketing" and commodifying the Parks for years, claiming to take a more "business-like" approach, but they deny the most fundamental reality that real businesses have to face every day: the effect of pricing on supply and demand.

    For decades the highest entrance fee to any Park was $10 and most were $5 or less. Many more than today had no entrance fee at all. The Parks were managed as a public good, not as a profit-making enterprise. Then came Fee Demo and each Park got to keep all the money it could collect, with predictable results: entrance fees went up, and visitation went down. Econ 101. Some would view that as a good thing, after all the years of saying that overuse was damaging the Parks. Others would view it as a bad thing because of the social effects (those with the lowest incomes are impacted the most) and the likelihood that reduced visitation will be followed by reduced appropriations from Congress.

    Regardless of your point of view, the question of whether entrance fees deter visitation has been settled.

  • National Parks Will Waive Entrance Fees on September 27, National Public Lands Day   5 years 40 weeks ago


    They've renamed the Golden Age Passport. It's now called "America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Senior Pass," and costs $10.

    This is a lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. The pass provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free). The pass can only be obtained in person at the park. The Senior Pass provides a 50 percent discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services. In some cases where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 percent price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires.

  • Entrance-Fee-Free Weekends Are Costly To National Park Service, But Seem to Be Boosting Visitation   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Anon: Anecdotal evidence from the free weekend in June showed that some sales were up, some were down in the bookstores, restaurants, etc. Beyond that, those fees go to concessionaires and not to the NPS, so any increases wouldn't offset the loss in entrance fee dollars to the NPS.

    As to your second question, the Park Service did not question folks as to why they visited on the fee-free weekends, but it'd be a great answer to know!

  • Upon Further Review: "But My GPS Unit Said Go Thataway..."   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I think the key phrase here is,

    "That "level of detail" issue came into play on a May morning several years ago in Utah's Zion National Park."

    Note, several years ago. The GPS of today is a far cry from the GPS of even a few years ago.
    Kurt and I both found the even todays GPS may not be 100% accurate. We camped on an island in Muscungus Bay, Maine, that the GPS said didn't exist. We also paddled across dry land on Yellowstone Lake, according to our GPS that is.
    The moral of the story is, never depend on just a GPS, map or compass. Use all three and make sure you know how to use them. 'Nuff said...

  • Upon Further Review: "But My GPS Unit Said Go Thataway..."   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Great story ----- I have had 2 GPS one from Garmin and one from DeLorme ----- both are much less than accurate in the back country. From my narrow point of view DeLorme has no plauseable excuse because they put out nearly accurate maps in thier gazeteer book maps. I complained and they say "it is two different formats" maybe so but it is the same world. How ever they did give me a full refund . I now have a Garmin nuvi and a garmin map 76csx - both are great units but their maps still stink in the back country -- it is difficult to tell the roads from the elevation lines , in some places they just perpetuate errors from US Geological surveys done in the 1930's and 40's.
    Even the city maps that are a lot more accurate are about 2years behind on road changes and resturaunts that have moved or gone out of business. I guess that is somewhat undrstandable.
    To sum it up ---- GPS is a great step forward with many steps left to go --- Hope they get with it soon

  • Upon Further Review: "But My GPS Unit Said Go Thataway..."   5 years 40 weeks ago

    My GPS has saved me on many trips in the woods. I started using a GPS before they even have mapping GPSs for road use. Just a screen with the trail I've come from, waypoints that I've added, and lat/lon coordinates. I don't see how this is in any way the fault of the GPS unit. You should learn to use any tools you rely on. I would bet they were not better at reading a map. Of course when traveling anywhere dangerous, I take 2 GPSs and a map.

  • Upon Further Review: "But My GPS Unit Said Go Thataway..."   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Maybe I missed something but I don't know why you blamed this on the GPS. If the group had plotted an accurate waypoint on their unit before they left, the would have been led to within feet of the exact spot they were seeking.

    Like many of the other problems of this trip, the fault lies with bad judgment. Misusing a GPS unit is no more the GPS's fault than is misreading a map is the map's.

    But I do agree to you belt and suspenders approach. When using a GPS its always wise to carry a map and compass as a back-up. And most important, know how to use all three.

  • National Parks Will Waive Entrance Fees on September 27, National Public Lands Day   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I wouldlike to know more about the Golden Age Passport.

  • Pinnacles National Monument: Should It Be Labeled A National Park?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I'd agree with Paul. Having visited all the 58 parks, I'd probably "rank" Pinnacles slightly above Cuyahoga and Hot Springs. This is the "bottom,[b]" and certainly not the "middle of the pack" mentioned by congressman Farr does. I don't know how many of those Farr has seen in person, but his assertion that many National Parks in the East wouldn't qualify as California country parks sounds equally strange to me. I always thought of Cuyahoga as a politically motivated abuse of the designation, however it is kind of cool to have a restored area elevated to such a status. Hot Springs is a bit odd. It has been protected since 1832, making it older than Yellowstone (1872). Once you consider the hills and the planned transition from city to wilds it's quite interesting. Apart from those two, I wouldn't call any other Park dinky.


    National Parks images

  • The First NPS Area to be Officially Tsunami-Ready? Redwood National and State Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Nice post. World has been facing varied natural disasters in which millions of people have died and amounting of losses increased.But we can't control the natural disasters. Tsunami occured on 26 December 2004. It happened at the epic centre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. 230,000 people died in over 11 countries, the tsunami waves were as high as 30 meters that is 100 feet high. It caused major damage to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The earthquake was of 9.3 magnitude, one of the 2nd largest recorded on seismograph. There were many deaths and damages to property in Maldives, Myanmar, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. For more details refer

  • Fall From Tokopah Falls Kills Visitor to Sequoia National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I was there at Lodgepole Monday Aug. 10, and watched as the rangers (about 6 of them), prepared to make the 1.7 mile trek to Tokopah Falls to help this young man. Yes, it is a moderate hike, but with the rocks and some up-hill portions of the trail, it would take at least an hour for someone going at a very fast pace to reach the falls. As I was leaving for home this morning I asked a ranger about the accident and he said the young man had not survived. I feel very sad about this. Tokopah Falls is very beautiful place, and also very attractive for people to want to climb the rocks. I wish they would post strict signs warning people to stay off. Unfortunatley there are none.

  • Climate Change and National Parks: A Survival Guide for a Warming World -- Coral Reefs   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Rather than engaging in an adhominem against Mr. Hockey Stick Mann (oops, I did it anyway) who co-authored the Nature study, I will share what others are saying about this study:

    “The paper comes to very erroneous conclusions because of using improper data and illogical techniques,” said Chris Landsea, science and operations officer at the National Hurricane Center. In his criticism, Landsea notes that the paper begins by saying that Atlantic tropical activity has “reached anomalous levels over the past decade.”

    This ignores recent work by Landsea and a number of other hurricane scientists who found that storm counts in the early 1900s — in an era without satellites and fewer seaborne observers — likely missed three or four storms a year. The addition of these storms to the historical record, he said, causes the long-term trend over the last century to disappear.

    “This isn't a small quibble,” he said. “It's the difference between a massive trend with doubling in the last 100 years, versus no trend.”

    The two independent estimates of historical storm activity were consistent, said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, the paper’s lead author. Both, for example, pinpointed a period of high activity between 900 and 1100.

    “This tells us these reconstructions are very likely meaningful,” he [Mann] said.

    What is funny is that with that quote above, Mann is referring to the Medieval Warm Period, something he tried to smooth out in his tree ring study and previous hockey stick graph.

    "The levels we're seeing at the moment are within the bounds of uncertainty," said Julian Heming, UK Met Office. "It's been hotly debated, and various teams using different computer models have come up with different answers," he told BBC News.

    Rob Korty, an atmospheric scientist at Texas A&M University, said, “We must keep in mind the assumptions in this kind of work require are large by nature.”

    More here. This is a hotly contested issue being reported as fact.

    At any rate, I'm as skeptical of studies by Mann as I am press releases from PEER. Mann is very fond of using proxies rather than actual observations. In this case, it's sand sediments in ponds. Very dubious.