Recent comments

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I guess this is my response to your list of "American this and that," from my previous post: "We humans need not always intervene unless the ecological balance will be way out of whack as a result." Some on your list definitely meet that criterion, from what I have heard and read (I am no expert). OK, I will read with an open mind your second installment about how disruptive this snake can be to the Everglades and beyond. That should include demonstrating how this new predator will be putting other walks of life out of business. Given the low survival rate of newborn pythons that you cite and the deteriorating ecology in general (a much bigger story) that may be hard to do, I think. Not meaning to challenge your expertise, obviously, just interested in a discussion.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 38 weeks ago

    If it "does well", accept its presence? Let me see: American climbing fern, American swamp eel, American piranha, American walking catfish, American snakefish, American python, American anaconda..... :-) In a more serious vein, you make a very good point about doing a better job of explaining the disruptive effects of the Burmese python. (Weaselspeak alert!) I will be doing that -- also discussing control strategies and tactics -- in the promised second installment.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 38 weeks ago

    As I was reading this article, for the first time I questioned the idea of "indigenous species." It seems that we often seek to protect certain "indigenous species" because we find them more desirable than, say, a big snake.

    However, if the Burmese python does so well in the swamps of the southeast U.S., why not rename it the American python and accept its presence? Yes, we don't like the idea of a species being introduced in a new environment by pet owners dumping their unwanted animal toys, but what about the other ways that species can spread to new habitats naturally?

    I guess what I am groping toward here is the idea that newcomers need not be badcomers just because they are new to an environment or introduced in a way that we deem "artificial." We humans need not always intervene unless the ecological balance will be way out of whack as a result.

    You do not make a strong case for that here. You do make a case that this new animal is dangerous to child and man. Heck, I would not venture, nor allow my child to venture, into such areas because of the alligators and other nasties that already inhabit those swamps.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Kirby, I will accept your "borderline sensationalism" criticism at face value, but you and I are going to have to agree to disagree on the rest of it. I contend that it's not fair to compare the Burmese python, an invasive, disruptive non-native, to the diamondback rattlesnake, an indigenous species. You get rid of the former if you possibly can, because it should not be loose in the wild here in America. Period. You protect the latter, which has long occupied its niche in proper balance with other species that share its habitat.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 38 weeks ago

    $70 pythons can be imported as pets, yet people can't bring a bottle of wine along from their trips to Europe?
    Looks like protectionism is rearing its ugly head...

    P.S. My browser (for better or worse) only displays the upper half of the picture.

  • Creature Feature: Burmese Pythons Prowl the Everglades, and That’s Not a Good Thing   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Bob,

    The Burmese Python issue absolutely is of critical importance and I'm glad to see it getting some press. The ecological damage is real already, with the potential to escalate exponentially.

    All that said, I think your piece here borders on sensationalism in a few areas.

    "...See if that doesn’t make you glad that damn thing isn’t on the loose!"

    "This thing is on the loose in America."

    So are European starlings, emerald ash borers, and marauding herds of feral house cats. If you're referring to the potential ecological calamity, then yes, this "thing" is a menace and we should fear its presence here. But it seems like you're playing to society's supposed innate ophidiophobia and that's not a good thing. Western diamondbacks are pretty dangerous too, and a bite can easily kill a man - nearly as gruesomely as constriction by a python. Should we support rattlesnake roundups where children may be present? I know your answer is no, so let's focus on environmental impacts and not feed a fear of snakes.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • What Is The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Great series on Yellowstone with the interview of YVO

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago

    "I’m afraid that there are too many ignorant people out there in the parks that are unaware that a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm, is not only protecting themselves and their families but everyone around them!" Tom J.

    You seem to see this issue and yourself in excessively heroic terms. It is one thing for you to carry a concealed weapon for self protection, but it is quite another to see yourself as the protector of "everyone around them" even if you have had law enforcement experience. If you indeed have this perspective then you are probably the last person who should be armed. It implies that you are looking for trouble and anxious for an excuse to use your weapon. Whether or not you are willing to admit it, that makes you a danger - to everyone. For what it is worth, I also had a law enforcement commission.

  • Accessible National Parks, Airline Division   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I agree with anonymous. Bigger airports are cheaper to fly into, example Salt Lake City go south to Arches/Canyonlands (about 4 hours), Las Vegas and drive 1.5 hours to Zion. We did Rocky Mt. from Denver in 1.5 hours, Mamouth Cave from Nashvile in 1.5 hours, Shenandoah from Baltimore and Everglades from Ft. Lauderdale in a little over an hour.
    Smaller airports have multiple stops and are costly. It's also nice to drive to many national parks with the beautiful scenery and pleanty to see.
    Thank you for the information.

  • Our Only Privately-Owned National Park Celebrates a Birthday and a Vital Conservation Easement   5 years 38 weeks ago

    The National Park Trust is not a government agency or a commercial entity. It is a private, nonprofit organization that the National Parks Conservation Association created in 1983 for purposes that include helping to establish new national parks.

  • Accessible National Parks, Airline Division   5 years 38 weeks ago

    There are some parks with decent shuttle bus systems and connections to the world outside. For example it is possible to fly to Visalia, CA take a taxi from the airport to the city center and hop onto the Sequoia shuttle bus. It will bring you to the Giant Forest area, where there is an in-park shuttle bus system, that connects the visitor center, the museum, the campground and a few trailheads.

    But by far the best public transport in a National Park I've ever seen in North America is in Jasper NP, Alberta, Canada. They have a train station with first class rail service and long distance bus connections to the town of Jasper plus local buses to most relevant parts of the park. Canada has some pretty good public transport to their national parks anyway. The Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island is spread over three units, one (Long Beach) is directly accessible by public buses, the second (Broken Islands) has a boat service from Port Alberni and the West Coast Trail has several private companies that offer shuttle services.

    And I won't even mentioning Europe.

  • Our Only Privately-Owned National Park Celebrates a Birthday and a Vital Conservation Easement   5 years 38 weeks ago

    How is this privately owned if the natonail park trust owns it... is it for personal profit??

  • Kurt Made it to Jones Hole on the Green   5 years 38 weeks ago

    It's great following along on Kurt's rafting trip. Wish I were there.
    It brings back the great memories of rafting Grand Canyon and The Middle fork of the Salmon. Wonderful!

  • Accessible National Parks, Airline Division   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Yes, these airports are close to our national parks, but then you all forget, you have to rent a car as well as fly. I live in Southeastern Oregon and plan a trip in the near future to Glacier National Park. For a 15-day trip and drivng over 2500 miles I will only pay $650 for gas. You cannot fly, rent a car and gas the car for that period of time for the same amount of money. AND, this is for two people. By driving, I can come and go as I please, spend time where I want and have the comfort of my own vehicle for less money. I have to think about ecomony since I am on a limited income. If I had money to spend, or throw away, I might consider flying.

  • Terrain Map Shows that Kurt’s Wednesday Campsite on the Yampa Was Way Cool   5 years 38 weeks ago


    Oh, yes. Google Earth is EXTREMELY friendly. You will have no problems.

    Just be careful at first when loading up too many special features you want to see on your maps. Your interest in so many things, Bob, is so dazzling, that you will have to make sure you don't get carried away !

  • Terrain Map Shows that Kurt’s Wednesday Campsite on the Yampa Was Way Cool   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Sorry. I guess that's why people prefer the downloaded program. I say "I guess" because I have never used Google Earth. Should I? Is the software user-friendly, I mean really moron-proof?

  • A U.S. – Mexico International Park. Will This Long-Standing Idea Be Revived?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I'm skeptical, too. Before the officials return to the pre 9-11 rules in a inconspicuous place like Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park on the border with Canada, I can't see any chance for flexible immigration on the US-Mexican border.

    Remember: Before 2001 anyone could cross the border between Glacier NP, Montana and Waterton Lakes NP, Alberta anywhere within the park, if he or she reported it crossing immediately after returning to the front country in a number of border report stations. So basically the two parks had one shared backcountry. Since 2002 only Americans and Canadians (international tourists are excluded) can cross the border at Goat Haunt only.

  • Terrain Map Shows that Kurt’s Wednesday Campsite on the Yampa Was Way Cool   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Bob, no, it's the dloaded program, did not know there was a browser plug in, a new toy!
    Whoa! That baby is a RAM HOG!

  • Terrain Map Shows that Kurt’s Wednesday Campsite on the Yampa Was Way Cool   5 years 38 weeks ago

    You're quite correct, Random Walker. Are you using Google Earth as a browser plugin?

  • Terrain Map Shows that Kurt’s Wednesday Campsite on the Yampa Was Way Cool   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I took the his coordinates (40.4793,-108.907) from Wednesday night and stuck them into Google Earth to "fly to" and with the ability to choose layers one gets more information on a given area than Google Maps, anyway looks like he was at Laddie Park campsite.

  • Staying Safe and How Not to Become A SAR Statistic in the National Park System   5 years 38 weeks ago

    With over 25 years of backcountry experience in the Sierras and Cascades I have been fortunate to never need any help despite taking many long solo trips in all types of terrain and weather conditions. I feel many SAR rescues could be prevented by simply having knowledgeable people with backcountry experience issue wilderness permits at Ranger Stations or as they say in Yosemite - Information Stations. Many of the Rangers are little more than campground cops and are totally clueless when it come to giving advise on important things like the danger present at creek crossings and the navigational skills required to "do your route" above the snow line. Hopefully some of the additional money going to the the National Parks system will be spent on educating the park employees.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    I think much of the debate on this issue - and there's been plenty - is not based on "a problem with the 2nd amendment," but rather in how it is interpreted. It's pretty clear that a vast gulf exists between the ends of the spectrum on that matter, and it certainly won't be resolved here :-)

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 38 weeks ago

    I don't understand the fuss about carrying a concealed weapon in a park. What is the difference between carrying a weapon in public (which someone can legally do with a permit) and carrying a weapon in a park. Are parks not a public place as well? When I got my permit there was a background check, fingerprinting, and an explaination of the laws that applied in my state. Through this process the state was basically confirming that I am an upstanding citizen with no history of committing violent crimes. Therefore, if I am allowed to carry a firearm while standing next to you in the grocery store line, then why would it be illegal for me to walk beside you on a park trail doing the same? If anyone would have a problem with either scenerio then I would say they don't have a problem with carry weapons in national parks--- they have a problem with the 2nd ammendment.

  • A U.S. – Mexico International Park. Will This Long-Standing Idea Be Revived?   5 years 38 weeks ago

    Seems unlikely anytime soon. Just opening the border crossings would be a big step, and right now amid swine flu and the drug problems it's hard to see that happening. But would love to see it happen.

    My trip to Big Bend was amazing. One of the "lowlights" was to see the crossing place, now closed, into Boquillas. NPS has a photo at their site, which seems to be intentionally ominous looking as it is in black and white.

    http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2720400170059461204mXpCOs

    NPS Photo: http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/border_crossings.htm

    Nice article on Boquillas here. Also Google Victor the singing Mexican (and search for him on YouTube) to get a taste as well. I did not see Victor, just his hut.

    [edited: The linked article did not download properly]

  • Accessible National Parks, Airline Division   5 years 38 weeks ago

    @Bob -

    Townsend rates about a 2 or 3 on that scale. The area has traditionally been relatively remote and less developed, thanks to the foresight of the Blount County government. A few years ago, though, then Gov. Don Sundquist (R) decided he wanted to four-lane the road into Townsend. He faced much local opposition, especially when TDOT began grading for the road and uncovered a fairly significant Native American burial ground, but Gov. Sundquist being Gov. Sundquist, he just built the road anyway.

    Anyway, point being that while there's a giant, uneeded 4 lane road in the area, Townsend is generally the most peaceful spot you'll easily get to. There's only three or four hotels, and some rental cabins. The new addition lately was a small Dollar General and grocery store well off the highway. You'll not ifnd a neon light in the whole place, and the only crowds are at the resturant. Note also that if you go during the off-season (Halloween-April), Townsend is a ghost town.