Recent comments

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    The issue of race in the national parks is not a new subject on Traveler. As a point of reference, please see this link and the ensuing discussion that Wayne Hare touched off. Look closely at the links to the research done by Dr. Nina Roberts on this issue (listen to this audio piece at http://www.wildebeat.net/index.cgi/2007/01/25#E073 and read this pdf report at http://nature.nps.gov/helpyourparks/diversity/pdf/RMNP_FinalTechnicalRpt_Dec04.pdf.)

    This is a very important issue that needs more attention; however, if we are going to do so, it would be helpful if we look back at what has already been said here about it.

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

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    I'll go out on a limb and propose that non-white people (as opposed to the "white" people Kurt speaks of) don't have a cultural interest in conservation or nature like many segments of the white community do. Maybe this is an artifact of the way minorities have gravitated to urban areas - not because they love the city, but because the city loved them. Regardless the reasons, it seems to me if you look at the naturalists with conservation societies, the students in environmental programs at universities, the employees that go on the company canoe trip where I work, and yes, the rangers in the National Parks, you see white people. Does this mean non-whites are excluded? More likely it means they have little interest in these things. So we should force them to like it, right? We should spend a lot of money making sure we have some non-white rangers in high profile positions so little non-white kids can become more "white" and learn to love nature?

    Saying we need more non-white rangers so we'll get more non-white park-lovers sounds like a desire for homogenization of cultures and of races. Let's quit trying to make everyone like the things white people like.

    Propping up manufactured role models is not - and never has been - the answer to anything. Picture two rangers: Ranger A is a white woman who grew up hiking in the woods and has a life-long love affair with nature and conservation. Ranger B is a African American woman who became a ranger because it was a good, secure government job and a diversity program existed to make it easier for her to get the job, and her career counselors highly recommended it. Now, a group of young minority children from the city go on a tour to the park. Do you want Ranger A or Ranger B to talk to them? I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts the kids come out more enthusiastic from Ranger A's tour. And if they don't, then they don't because the subject doesn't appeal to them, not because the ranger was pasty white. Cultural differences, tastes, and traditions will continue to make the world go round.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • A Section of the Appalachian Trail Designed for Wheelchair Access Opens in Vermont   5 years 43 weeks ago

    As a disabled person who wants to keep hiking as I did when I was younger, I am thankful that Merryland's attitude is not shared by the masses. Wheelers (hikers using mobility devices) should be able to experience a few of the exceptional trail opportunities out there.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    I rarely comment on any posts, but I feel I must this time. Kurt made a statement. A mere observation. An observation of fact. Nothing more, nothing less. And now he is called out for his statement. Why? Is it because he said, "The King isn't wearing any clothes."? A fact is a fact. Instead of condemning his statement, why not find out what the federal goverment/NPS has to say about it. Where are the minority rangers? Aside from a few women, I can't ever recall seeing one. The federal government loves to tell every agency, state, county and local, what ratio of minorities they must have or face the consequences. This appears to be a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." What's next, is the anti-alcohol crowd going to get upset over the review of the beer?

    I'm done...

  • Sunset Over Flat Mountain Arm, Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    WOW!!! What a great photo. Its like De Ja Vu all over again.....

  • Yellowstone, Grand Teton Officials Searching For Snowmobile, Snowcoach Solution   5 years 43 weeks ago

    I own a snowmobile but I do not live in that area. With all the national forest land to ride in why do people want to ride in there; if its to see the sights I have a an idea. Use a fleet of snowcoaches like a bus route and take your snowshoes or x-country skis get off at one of stops on the route and see the sights and the animals instead of distrubing them. I go into the national forest where I live by and get out and walk in my snowshoes so I can enjoy nature without scaring the H**l out of it. Bottom line is there's plenty of land out there to go on with snowmobiles have senseable rules I have proposed the sightseers can still see the park that way, if they are just there to snowmobile it's wrong.

  • Sunset Over Flat Mountain Arm, Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing a lovely shot. This was one of those moments that made all that paddling on the lake worthwhile :-)

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    I'm glad to read your article on Yellowstone; I enjoy learning more about parks, and your writing usually informs as well as entertains. However, I think you might be turning readers off by making comments like "distressingly white". From Wikipedia: "Rather than a straightforward description of skin color, the term white functions as a color terminology for race." So using "distressingly white" was interjecting race into the discussion of Yellowstone. This was not a reference to "cultural diversity" (unless that is a new code word for "race") as it is impossible to identify someone's culture just by looking at her skin color.

    As for who will pay for the parks in the future, let us now embark on an experiment to make parks more self-supporting as the NPS founders intended.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    My attention was caught by your comment about the two guys who drove up in the Norris parking lot and "asked whether there was anything interesting to see."

    Long-time Yosemite naturalist Carl Sharsmith is quoted as giving the following response when he was asked what he would do if he only had a day to see Yosemite. "Madam," he replied, "I'd sit by the Merced River and cry."

    I can only hope there are more Carl Sharsmith's in the world today than are apparent to the casual observer.

    Thanks for taking the time - and effort - to get out into the backcountry in Yellowstone.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Frank,

    You, not I, inserted "race" into the equation. I merely made an observation to diversity, with the unstated but understood (at least to me) implication of "cultural" diversity.

    I don't think there's any argument that Yellowstone is a beautiful setting. But who will protect that setting years down the road when Caucasians are a minority and few head to the parks? If Yellowstone and the other national parks are to be protected, shouldn't it be by a unified effort with input from all Americans, regardless of their color, creed, or culture, and not from one declining segment of that population?

    You seem to consider soap in bathrooms a higher priority than a broader cultural network in the parks, whether that be reflected in the NPS staffing, concessionaire hiring, or visitation. While cleanliness shouldn't be overlooked (and no, there was no soap in the NPS outhouses), nor should role models, and those I think should come from all cultures.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Yes, interesting word choice, "distressingly white". Way to put the "race" in "race consciousness". I'm truly surprised that people go around looking to make sure there that everything, every location has a "proper" balance of races.

    Kurt, you comment a lot about the concessions (it almost seems like an advertisement for Xanterra) and their facilities, but what did you notice about NPS facilities, particularly bathrooms? Did they have soap? Were they clean? I think many Americans feel it is the primary responsibility for the NPS to maintain parks, not maintain some sort of nonsensical employee ratio system of "whites" to non-whites to avoid "distressing" race-conscious individuals.

    By the way, race is a bogus, non-scientific concept, but this post proves that some will not refuse to allow such a bogus concept to permeate their thinking, not even when in a beautiful setting like Yellowstone.

  • Floods Washing Across Big Bend National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Great article, Jim. Welcome to Traveler.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Uh oh ... here we go again.

    Kurt, I appreciated the entire post. I know that perhaps you love Yellowstone more because you dare to understand and appreciate and contemplate Yellowstone as richly as possible. Yellowstone the land cannot be improved, but we can always learn to improve our relationship with the place and love it more. Noticing the ways we as a society are falling short is part of that experience. You cannot separate the two. And, yes the magic of Yellowstone is always more profound then all that isn't going right on our end of the stick. Often, when we look at the contrast, that in spite of the ways that we might be better in Yellowstone, the place never lets us forget how beautiful it is. That only drives us to love the place all that much more.

    Thank you,

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

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    I agree whole heartily with Ginger on the “Distressingly White" comment. Why is it that some people cannot do anything these days without bringing race into it. Yellowstone is a beautiful, magical place and should not be a forum for race discussions. We go there as often as possible; our last trip was in August of 2007. I am an avid reader of the National Parks Traveler and held them in high regard until now. Please limit your articles to the majesty of Yellowstone. This might be the time but it certainly is not the place for that type of discussion.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Ginger,

    My comments about diversity were not intended to put down active rangers, but to highlight a problem that the leadership of the National Park Service itself recognizes: There simply is not enough diversity in the agency.

    More diversity is needed not just to more accurately reflect America's population, but also to encourage more minorities to both discover the national parks and see the career possibilities within the National Park Service. Without such diversity, when "white America" becomes a minority itself in the not-too-distant future there's a very real concern that there won't be enough interest in the parks to support and advocate for them.

    As for the Roughrider cabins, you're absolutely right that there's a certain romance to them. That said, I've brushed enough cobwebs out of the corners and dirt off the floors to know that most park visitors don't want that type of experience. I do see the value in these cabins, but believe a little more attention to maintaining them would make them an even better value while still holding on to the romance you cite.

    As for the gift shops, I also didn't mention that, while the bulk of Yellowstone lies within Wyoming, there's an astonishing lack of items from Wyoming artisans.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    "Distressingly White", excuse me but what is your problem. We have been going to Yellowstone every year for the last fifteen years and if you spent your time noticing how "distressingly white" the backcountry video and rangers were then I feel sorry for you. I truly hope you don't ever need help from any of those "Caucasian" rangers that you saw everywhere since it would be truly "distressing".

    As for the roughrider cabins at Roosevelt, well from someone who has stayed in them, with our six kids I might add, we loved everything about them, from the cracks in the walls that let the cold night air in all the way to the wood burning stove that some brave person would have to get up and start in the morning. Instead you seem to be more attracted to the more modern amenities. But some of us enjoy the more rustic aspects of the park. Why is it that someone always seems to be determined to fix something that doesn't need fixing.

    But one thing that you didn't comment on is the way that the gift shops have changed since Xanterra took over. Would you like to try and find a gift, except for the Huckleberry Jam, that isn't "Made in China", well if you do please let me know. It is absolutely disgraceful that in our national parks we can't have more gift items from local AMERICAN artists that are "Made in America".

    And lastly, to many of us who enjoy the park every year, we don't concentrate on the negative but instead notice that it is the most amazing and beautiful place God ever created.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    All of our beloved National Parks have more than their share of problems, as does all of America. That said, Yellowstone is a very majestic and magical place !

    In my opinion, they are doing a much better job (ranger & concessioner wise) than several other large parks. Now if we can just work things out so the wildlife can migrate in late winter to find food and survive !

  • "Hidden Fire" Continues To Burn In Sequoia National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Yes, the west side of the fire is on the edge of the Skagway grove and is less than a mile from the Muir grove and the Park Ridge grove. The fire is being actively suppressed on the east side which is heading towards the road.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 43 weeks ago

    You are not the majority, you just think you’re important and therefore think you must be the majority. If you were the majority the park service wouldn’t be around anymore!

    State parks across the board do not have the money to be properly administered. When state budgets come out, it’s just like in Washington D.C., the parks suffer. Your solution is a non-solution; all it would cause is the closure and/or further degradation to the special places in America. And please, if you would leave places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite in the hands of non-profits, you have another thing coming if you think they are going to be able to get enough cash flow to run these places without federal grants…. If the government is going to be funding them anyway, what’s the difference? The answer is difficult and your shoot from the hip quick fixes are not going to help anyone or any public lands.

    Fight the disneylandification of your parks!!!!

  • Japanese Artist Creates Peace Sculpture for Tribal Connections Interpretive Site at Devils Tower National Monument   5 years 43 weeks ago

    It's a nice idea, and a fine acknowledgement of the spiritual nature of Devil's Tower.

    I'm not sure this natural park is the proper place for a modern sculpture, however. Sounds like it's out of place. But maybe it works.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Thank you for your comments, Anon. They lend valuable perspective to this story, and I couldn't have said it better.

  • At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Mr. Martinez... Remember this man jumped from the bridge in the middle of the night, so the beauty and majesty which may have stopped him in the daylight eluded him. One day he is a living, vibrant person, the next an anonymous "offender" of the beauty there. I have been to the bridge. It is one of the most spectacular places on Earth, and I agree the beauty of the area defies description. I also know the young man in question. The only thought I can offer to you and others who have heard about this tragedy is that he must have felt a sense of serenity in his choice. People who take their own lives do so at a time when their good sense is compromised in some way. The time it must have taken him to soar through the air to his final destination still offered him the opportunity to make his peace and be forgiven if somehow presence of mind returned to him. No one truly knows but him and God. Please remember both him and his family and friends in your prayers.

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   5 years 43 weeks ago

    your so right. i bet this fool doesn't even know what a hunter safety course is,or where to take one. now all of us hunters and sportsmen have to defend ourselves to the left-wing lobby about why we shouldn't have our hunter -sportsmen rights infringed on, because of one stupid drunk,from the big city.

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   5 years 43 weeks ago

    let me clarify my statement. what i meant was the media only lets you see what they want. it's not about us law abiding citizens that carry guns in the parks and mine is always put in view, never concealed. its the irresponsible people who choose to use drugs or alchohol ,who seem to have these types of problems. we should never punish the law -abiding ,for the actions of the few.

  • The Wild Side of Yellowstone National Park   5 years 43 weeks ago

    Great story. I spent a summer in Yellowstone and it was amazing the difference when you just got 100 yards away from the road and left the crowds behind. Most tourist don't bother to go beyond the pullouts .. yet they feel they have seen Yellowstone. Really that is just scratching the surface of this beautiful place.