Recent comments

  • Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I have hiked this trail several times. I consider it to be among the very best short hikes in the entire National Park System.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Where I would like to see comments collected would be at the gates of our National Parks. My guess is that your AVERAGE, actual bona fide visitor has no idea that this is even being considered; while you can bet your bottom dollar that every single NRA member has received an e-mail or mailing instructing them to comment, whether they ever actually visit National Parks or not. What do you bet?

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 40 weeks ago

    In response to Fred Miller, who asks "why bother" to solicit comments if "they just do what they want anyway" ...

    First off, I think some decisions are pre-ordained politically, including this one on guns in the parks as well as snowmobiles in Yellowstone. It IS a sham when the NPS is forced to put the public through the guise of considering comments when we are unable to actually consider those comments. It's a waste of the public's time and it's a waste of huge amounts of agency (i.e. taxpayer) time and money that could be doing something more useful in the national parks.

    That said, most decisions (thankfully) don't reach this level of political interference. Having been the decision maker on a number of plans where we solicited comments, I will tell you that I have personally read every comment that came in. I've looked in each for some kernel of reasoning that we had not considered, or that made me reconsider something we had analyzed. It unquestionably is not a vote, and organizations that think that telling me 100 times what they want me to do will somehow be more effective than telling me once, but articulately and thoughtfully, simply do not understand the process. In fact, organized letter writing campaigns rarely work and probably shouldn't as they don't reflect a cross section of opinion, merely those that are best organized.

    I know that in one comment period we went through a single specific letter made a remarkable difference because it raised issues that were pertinent and nuanced in a way we (and the rest of the comments) had not considered, but should have. That one letter, from an ordinary citizen, was more influential than thousands of rote letters from interest groups.

    I also remember getting an "action alert" at home from one particular interest group that I belonged to and believed in. It advised that I write a letter -- to me, the park superintendent -- and gave me talking points in favor of the groups's views. I was appalled at how simplistic and inaccurate they were. This from a group I supported, and in favor of a position I agreed with! It's made me highly skeptical of "groupthink" responses.

    So the fact that the comments are highly in favor of relaxing the gun regulation in the national parks is pretty irrelevant, for two reasons. One, I don't think this administration cares what the public thinks since they have clearly indicated their preference and intend to ram it through before they leave office. And two, it is testimony to the (impressive) organizational skills of the NRA and other pro-gun organizations, little more.

    J Longstreet
    A National Park Superintendent

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Kurt - you're right on about the snowmobile issue and the comments. Almost makes you wonder why they bother to solicit comments. They just do what they want anyway. Whatever happened to "We the people"?

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Solar panel as currently engineered as lacking in efficiency to be sure. But the required modifications to the "layering" that would increase the viable wavelengths from the current single to a multiple nanometer collection panel are available now. True again that conversion to a single-source power generation that would immediately and effeciently substitute for coal / nuclear / hydro generation for any large metropolitan area is not feasible with even next-gen technology, but that's really not the issue. Let's not allow the general public to succomb to that special interest smoke-screen. The issue is obtaining and manipulating viable sources of SUPPLEMENTAL energy, which would have an immediate impact on our requirements for fossil and other fuel sources. And let's not ignore the easiest to find and most economically efficient source available RIGHT NOW, which is geothermal energy. It's availability is much further reaching, nationally speaking, whereas solar is dependent on a panels proximity to enough sunlight to make the system feasible, which effectively eliminates a vast percentage of the country. If we were smart, which is a big assumption, we would be attempting manipulate ALL available sources of energy, ignoring the lobbyist propaganda and not allowing the local power company's blockade in regards to developmental technologies.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    The question is whether this is necessity or convenience. In 1942-1945 the National Park Service had Newton Drury as its Director. Then as now, there were calls from big business and the politicians on their side to enter national parks and extract natural resources. They claimed these needs for fighting the World War II effort, and really how much more dire situation could our country ever be in than that? Thankfully, Director Drury resisted and President Roosevelt did not overrule him. Their reasoning - because their investigation coupled with their intuition was that what big business was truthfully saying was "we want to extract these resources from national parks because its cheaper for us to do it there, and then when we sell the finished products back to the government for the war effort, we can make a bigger profit." That episode was convenience not necessity. Salute to Drury and Roosevelt for understanding that!

    I doubt many responsible citizens would deny resource extraction from the National Park System if they truly believed that the USA was approaching that point of no return where we either had to do it or the country would be lost. But many of us national park lovers are skeptical of big business and the spin that they put on their ad campaigns and press releases (i.e. tobacco companies, Exxon & the Valdez oil spill, mining companies and their lobbying efforts to prevent revision of the 1872 Mining Act, etc.). We remain to be convinced that this current situation is necessity and not just convenience again. It will take more than opinions. It will take irrefutable scientific facts.

    And one such fact that seems irrefutable to me is that 4% of the world's population with 3% of the world's known energy reserves within it borders that utilizes 25% of the world's energy output does not sound sustainable over the mellinnia to me.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I guess the question is, why do we need to allow loaded, concealed weapons in the parks? How many of the millions and millions and visitors to our national parks have been killed in the parks over, say, the last ten years? Hardly any is the answer. So what is the need for this change in the law? What do we need of protection from, except for other people with guns? I realize that some "law abiding citizens" already are breaking the current law by carrying loaded, concealed weapons into our parks. I am concerned about these unlawful people—either in a national park or outside of one—who obviously love their guns more than the laws of their country, and I consider them far more dangerous than bears or other wildlife. But that still doesn't make me feel like I need to stuff a loaded .45 into my pants before hiking in Big Bend. Like I said, given the extraordinarily low levels of violence in our parks, why do we need to change the law? And if we do change the law, can I bring loaded, concealed gun into the Statue of Liberty and national other parks that don't have typical wilderness areas? One might say that common sense would preclude me carrying a gun there. But in light of the obvious LACK of need for loaded, concealed weapons in any of our national parks, it's clear that common sense has nothing to do with this argument. This is a political matter, not a safety issue, so let's not confuse it with anything to do with the common sense or public good. It is neither. For those counting, here is a vote against changing the current law, which seems to be working just fine.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I get the feeling from this blog, there's few individuals would rather see us drown in Big Oil (at the whims of oil executives) then give up frivolous style changes. I see a bit of propaganda for oil exploration off are coastal waters...even when ninety percent of are coastal fringes are dying from heavy pollution. Folks, the oceans are showing strong signs sulfuric acid poisoning. It's easy to find this written material in most science and nature magazines at your local news stand. Now, if you read these articles, it's most distressing and alarming. To drill into are coastal waters is pure nonsense and foolhardy. Most oil executives know this, but it's the corporate dollar that matters more then a healthy fish habitat. Look folks, the OCEANS are dying and next it will be the National Parks if the oil companies get there way. I'm not a doomsayer, but the handwriting is on the walls, were in dire need of a responsible energy czar that has a healthy approach to productive alternative energy sources...and not ride on the coat tails of Big Oil. The key is lifestyle changes and less consumptive appetite for more things that usually junks are garages and trash bins.

  • Yellowstone National Park Sees Record Visitation in June   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Good questions. I know when I give them my annual pass, they scan it each time - which seems to count as a visit. So, when I camped in the Tetons, they seemed to count my entries into Yellowstone twice (once at the West and once again at the South Entrance). In past years, I don't know how it was counted - when you'd show them the 7 day pass, did they register that more than once like they do my pass when they scan it?

    I did notice fewer RVs but no shortage of cars - this, of course, at the very end of June when the weather was phenomenal. It was very crowded the two visits I made. However, like I said, in the Tetons, the campground at Colter Bay was never full even at night. If numbers are up, I can only think that lodging capacity outside the park has to have something to do with it, especially in West Yellowstone. If that's the case, then your questions are more pertinent.

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

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Oil is sold on a global market. The oil found in our country is NOT sold to us at a discount because it was found here. Any oil found through more exploration will never be enough to offset the increased usage in China, India and Brazil. Think back to China 5-10 years ago, the cities were jammed with bicyclists, but today there streets are crowded with more cars than our own.

    If gas prices did miraculously decrease people would just start to drive more. Come on people, no matter how much oil we find it is a FINITE resource and no matter how much of the environment we destroy looking for more, someday we will have to do without it. Why not start to pay the piper now instead of selfishly delaying the inevitable for our kids and grand kids to deal with?

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I want to point out that solar energy farms are not viable for electricity generation and pose real hazards of their own to the environment. The electrical output per acre of solar panels is surprisingly small, so to meet the energy needs of a city like New York you'd need a tremendous amount of land surface, greater than the size of the city itself. That would mean filling up all the parks and open spaces, and clear-cutting forested areas to make room for the panels. That would be a significant amount of environmental damage, far greater than drilling using modern techniques. Solar is really only useful for hot water generation, which would be a significant contribution, but it's not a panacea.

    Every non-petroleum based energy alternative presents its own risk for the environment and the health of the National Parks. That's just the truth of the matter.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Fred, totaling the votes doesn't matter when the government considers public comments. If that were the case, there wouldn't be any recreational snowmobiling in Yellowstone, where there were tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of more votes against snowmobiling than for snowmobiling.

    The bottom line is the substance of the comment. Just saying "I believe in the 2nd amendment" makes no difference if said 1 million times or just once.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I really do not care what the final event is, I packing. I will not shoot an animal that is not on top of me! I will not shoot a person who is not trying to abuse my civil rights to enjoy myself in the great outdoors! Simple. Know there are idiots who would fire into the dark and that is what scares me though. They are going to be out there anyway and there still won't be a ranger where I go. Some people don't understand real back country and off road camping like Death Valley or Big Bend. You damned well better carry some protection especially in the Saline Valley from the nudists! Just joking of course. It was Chalie Manson's ol' stomping grounds though. He did settle in further south in the Panamint Valley (well, almost) which I believe is now part of Death Valley Nat'l Park.

    Read a lot of good information on this forum and a lot of mis-information. Non-gun owners need to get educated before they comment because they look like idiots otherwise.

    Later, Bill R.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    We need to become energy independent and need to do it soon. The reason we are in this predicament is due to the people who yelled to stop exploration in this country over the past 10-20 years and yelled about the building of additional nuclear plants. I like the national parks as much as the next person does, but what if nobody can afford to go to them because energy is too expensive? I think too many people are very much idealists when it comes to energy and think alternative energy will solve everything and that it can be done at the snap of a finger. Those of us that are realists believe that some day, those alternatives will be useful, but until then, lets get going on what we know works. For the guy who hopes gas goes to $10 per gallon, I hope his job does not depend on people using enegry to buy his product. He has a real soft heart for all of those people that cannot decide whether to buy food or buy gas. Maybe all the people who think we should not drill or not build nuclear plants would like to ride horses and read by candlelight like we did in the 1800's.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Had a little time on my hands and I was curious so I did another unscientific sampling. I selected pages at random: 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 25, 26, 39, 44, and 57. I read the comments on each of those pages. There should have been 100 comments but I might have counted one twice. Guess what the results were. You're RIGHT!! There were 95 posters who FAVORED the rule change allowing concealed-carry, while there were only SIX that OPPOSED the rule change!!

    Yes this is very unscientific. But give me a break. How long will this "foot dragging" go on?? There's already more than 20,000 comments. Are we really expecting this ratio to change?

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Thanks for the information, I'll pass it on.

    Has anyone done any kind of tally on the comments? The last time I did one, I picked 11 pages at random. I recorded the number of those in FAVOR versus those OPPOSED on each of those pages. There were 77 that SUPPORTED the rule change while there were only 30 that OPPOSED the rule change. This is incredibly UN-scientific, but I think I can pick out a pattern here. How long will this denial of the obvious continue?

  • Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road Open End to End   5 years 41 weeks ago

    This is an obvious sign of global warming and we should all be scared out of our shamies. And, beware of the global warming in Antarctica. Not only did the continent record it's greatest ice coverage on record last year but are about 60% above that level this year. be afraid, be very afraid of global warming!!!

  • Prescribed Fire in Grand Canyon National Park Now Out of Control   5 years 41 weeks ago

    What. again? A prescribed fire in 2004 on the south rim quickly burned out of control and all the way to the rim. It killed trees over many acres at the south entrance road/Desert View junction and will not recover in our lifetime. The man in charge of prescribed fires for Grand Canyon was given award earlier this year for the quality of his work.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    So more drilling in the US bu US companies will stop THEM from taking over OUR land?!?! How does that make any sense? We will never be energy self-sufficient as the simple fact is as a country we use more energy than we could ever find within our national borders. The only solution is alternative energy. I think the recent increase in oil is exactly what we need and deserve. Hopefully this drives us more quickly to alternative energy. We all knew this was coming, but most chose to ignore it and more idiots bought pickup trucks so they could pick up milk and a loaf of bread. I laugh at those people and I hope gas goes to $10 a gallon within the next two years. Maybe at some point 'cheap' plastic will stop being 'cheap' and we'll move away from all the disposable packaging and products we use today. Think back to the 'old' days when things might have cost a little more, but they lasted a lot longer. How much oil would we save then?

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    We need to preserve our beautiful Parks, but we've got to be smart about it. If we don't become energy self-sufficient soon, we are going to become slaves to all of of our current energy suppliers. Once we're in THEIR control, you can be sure THEY will drill wherever they want (including IN our Parks) and we won't be able to do anything about it.

    We already have the Chinese drilling off our coasts. How do feel about THAT?

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I read an interesting proposal not too long ago for solar farms out in Nevada... I am all for exploring the potential of the solar farms that Germany seems to making such great strides with before I am for drilling and mining. If Germany can do it with great success... why can't we? Granted, solar farms will have an impact as well on the environment, but prehaps not as bad as tearing up the earth in a quest for fossil fuels!

  • Yellowstone National Park Sees Record Visitation in June   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I talked to several locals during the month of June and almost universally they were talking about how "empty" the park was. Much less traffic than normal for June, they were saying. Personally, I only visited twice during June and my impression was that there was SLIGHTLY less traffic than normal. Certainly fewer RV's. This, added to the fact that much of the park was still buried under snow early in the month (and a fair amount of bad weather), makes these figures curious to say the least. I don't question or doubt them, but find them interesting. I too would like to see a breakdown of the numbers. If there are more people staying outside of the park, for example in a motel in Gardiner, rather than camping in the park; and are leaving and re-entering the park two or three times a day, are they being counted as two or three different visitors each day? Same for locals. If I live in Gardiner or West, and I go home for lunch and then return, is that two visits? Especially if the first time I entered was before there was a ranger at the gate, therefore only clicking the counter and not showing my pass? I would like to know if camping was up or down? I would like to see figures related to average stay, numbers of locals as opposed to out of area and foreign visitors. How many locals, who normally rarely visit Yellowstone, are making multiple day trips into the park as opposed to one long trip overseas or to another state (as they normally would). How were sales at the Park stores? If sales were down, that COULD indicate a larger number of repeat visitors (locals?). How did businesses in border communities fair? Lots of questions, the answers of which would tell us a lot more than the raw visitation numbers.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Alternative energies ARE ALREADY HERE AND VIABLE. I keep hearing about the cost, which is certainly more than the cost of traditionally subsidized energy sources. But if you remove those old subsidies, or add on similar subsidies to alternative energy production, then the cost different disappears and depending on who you talk to, may in fact reverse itself.

    Conservation is something we can do right here, right now. Conservation "produces" more energy than any of the proposals for drilling, etc. I keep hearing how we need to drill now because alt energy sources are still a decade out. What you never hear is that the traditional sources that corporations want to drill right now won't produce any energy for at least as long!

    More traditional energy production now is simply short-sighted and stupid.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Isn't ironic when the Bush & Cheney regime is due to leave office the gas prices go convenient! Now, it's all out massive attempt and assault by this corrupt administration to explore some of the worlds most pristine and sacred places called our National Parks...for what...more oil? If this is allowed to happen, either it be off the coast of California, or near the national parks in Alaska, Montana or Wyoming, I assure you the parks are doomed. These oil executives live in there little shangrila's, or in some peacock ranch afar from all this smoke, haze and pollution that most Americans suffer each day. They could careless about are visual quest for more beauty in our National Parks. They are completely oblivious to are suffering and economic demise. Do you really think they care or give a damn if they ruin our National Parks in the name of Big Oil? Hell no! To drill near, or in our National Parks is a well executed ploy by the Bush & Cheney administration to give "Big Oil" it's last huge gulp of windfall profits. God forbid!

    Lifestyle changes that are advocated by Ed Begley's, Lifeboat Foundation is a format and guide that can help us all to live more sensibly and harmoniously with are environment. No more hummers or big McDonald's homes that can burn enough energy that can light up a small city in India. Are piggish lifestyle must go and the time is now. Let's start pushing "Big Oil" out of the equation and start putting alternative energy back on the drawing boards with urgency.
    Time is no longer on are side!

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    The harsh fact is it will take decades to develop truly reliable alternative energy solutions that meet our needs, even with conservation. The goal should be to reduce fossil fuel use, for sure, but there are no clear-cut solutions.

    Wind farms run into NIMBY-ism. Solar is a poor source of electricity (it's more useful for hot water generation, which is not where the research dollars are going). Nuclear is a great answer, but obviously has it's own risks. Hydroelectric power causes its own environmental damage. Harnessing tides is a great idea, but will take decades to properly build out. Conservation can only take us so far.

    Solving our energy problems requires a mutli-pronged "attack", it's naive to think that we can only solve it with alternative fuels, at least in the short term. We have to allow responsible drilling.

    Of course, the current administration has been anything BUT responsible ...


    My travels through the National Park System: