Recent comments

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument should definitely be transferred to the National Park Service. The BLM is an agency oriented to livestock grazing, mining, oil and gas, and other resource exploitation, not land preservation.

    The current Monument has weak protection, with hundreds of miles of roads and ORV trails. The BLM has allowed illegal ATV use for years. When the BLM recently tried to stop illegal off-road driving up the Pariah River, it degenerated into a "freedom ride" by a bunch of off-road extremists. See http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2009/05/raucous-offroad-rally-revs-in-river.html

    Unlike national parks, the Monument allows livestock grazing, which causes significant ecological damage. The weak Monument protection also allows oil and gas drilling and mining.

    This area would be far better protected under National Park Service administration.

  • Staying Safe and How Not to Become A SAR Statistic in the National Park System   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Uneducated recreators and high risk takers not only put their lives in jeopardy but also put the lives of rescuers at risk. I have worked as a park ranger and an emergency medical technician and sometimes cannot beleive how unprepared people can be when venturing outdoors. Many people are simply uninformed about the potential dangers. It makes sense to warn people about the hazards before so they do not become statistics.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Currently the Tillamook Air Museum is based in a World War II Blimp Hangar tht is said to be the largest wooden structure in the world. From a historical architectural view, I believe this should qualify as a national historical site. I wouldn't suggest it as a park, but the historical building should be preserved.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    My family traveled through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument a couple of years ago. I was amazed at its beauty. I would love to see a Visitor center, lodge, campground, and a little development. We were on our way from Capitol Reef to Bryce and Zion. I absolutely would recommend the drive to any one. We stayed in a hotel in Escalante. Not great. Some trails or view points may have been missed because we happened on to it. A national park entrance with a map would have been a great help. I will know more next time through.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I think Sequoia National Park should be expanded to include Sequoia National Monument.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Anonymous,

    You make some good points. Specifically regarding the Staircase, I would hate to see it become more developed, say with a lodging footprint placed somewhere along the Cottonwood Road.

    However, I see no reason why the NPS couldn't manage it as a wilderness preserve with lodgings and campgrounds in the towns surrounding the Staircase. I tend to think the NPS is better at people and recreation management than the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which has more of a multiple-use mandate and so is more likely to authorize mineral development, logging, grazing, or other uses on its lands that could adversely impact natural resources.

    Indeed, in Utah the BLM has a miserable track record with managing ORVs on public lands. Already there have been numerous examples of ORV travel in parts of the Staircase that are supposedly off-limits to such travel. One area is Hackberry Canyon.

    And then, of course, there's the issue of energy leases on BLM lands.

    Is it time for a reordering of management priorities? Do we need to take a close look at what the BLM, NPS and Forest Service manage and for what results and reshuffle the deck as well as the management missions and nuances of each of those agencies? Sounds like fodder for another post.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I recently did my yahoo home page over and added "National Parks Traveler" to it I think its great and I love reading it. When I was a kid my Dad was in the US Army and I lived all over this country and was blessed to have seen many of our National treasurers. I took your Quiz and it looks like I need to do an awful lot of reading and visiting to get up to speed. I think it would be great if we move forward and create "Maine North Woods National Park". Thanks and I will continue to read, travel, take your tests and participate.

    Mike - Maynard, MA

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I don't know the politics behind it all, but as a user of both National Parks and BLM-managed land, I find the no-infrastructure and free camping approach of BLM-managed land in the southwest to be far preferable to the zoo of RV parking lots in our National Parks. I have found that the National Parks over-promote front country access, to the detriment of backcountry access. The user quotas go to RVers, not people getting further in. Camps get over-used, and low-impact use is not effectively managed.

    So I disagree with your contention that "the Clinton administration botched things back in 1996 when it created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and gave it to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to manage."

    From what I've seen, development is what the Park Service does. In my opinion, the goal of making more space accessible to more people is not the best management approach to these special places.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Quickest way into the National Park Service is through "Dispatch". This is one place where jobs are always available and advertised to the public, not just open to current federal employees. Once in (6 months), the World is your oyster! LE Rangers get 20 year retirement. Real sweet deal, in most NPS units. Go to an undesireable NPS unit, get them to pay for your FLETC, and away you go!

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I think Both Boundary Waters and Maine North Woods should be National Parks. Those are 2 valuable resources that are just not being protected.

  • Visitation On Record Pace in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Environmental terrorist? And Obama is not because he believes all the rhetoric from Al Gore? With all the other problems we have in this country, including BIG unemployment just to start the list, although many of us would like to funnel more money to the parks, they will probably take a back seat to other needs.

  • Senator From North Dakota Trying to Legislate Elk Management in Theodore Roosevelt National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    The NY Times has a good editorial against the proposed legislation.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Would You Like to See Added to the National Park System?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    There are no national park units dedicated to an American composer. There are sites connected to writers, such as Carl Sandburg and Eugene O'Neil, but nothing to music (New Orleans Jazz not withstanding). There are a lot of possibilities: Irving Berlin, Aaron Copland, William Rogers, and others. American music is uniquely American and it would be a fitting theme addition to national parks preserving the culture of the U.S.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Wow, you guys have some interesting stories and experiences. If you don't mind I'll ask a question. I came out of undergrad with an Criminal Justice degree and knew that there was little chance that I'd actually be able to get hired on with NPS or any other federal agency. I didn't want to work with the local police stations (undergrad taught me that). So I joined the military so I could get my foot up on the other applicants. I don't see how being is a negative thing. I knew what it would take to get hired and have given years to my country to build my resume.

    So now the question. For those of you who have worked for the NPS would you work for them again? I've got an interview in a couple of months.

  • Visitation On Record Pace in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Anecdotally, I can say that visitation has been quite dense. However, statistically, it seemed to be trending that way. I have a rough way of measuring likely visitation numbers, which has worked surprisingly well, over the past few years. Interestingly, this has nothing to do with visiting the park and counting people, or understanding advance registrations.

    What I do is fairly simple: I take the file size of my "newspaper" on Yellowstone, which I archive every month. I compare that file size with what I had the previous year. When the file size is greater, visitation has tended to be greater. When it is lower, it is usually lower. There are exceptions that are easy to identify. When Yellowstone has anything like an earthquake swarm, like we had this past winter, interest in Yellowstone explodes (forgive the pun) outside of any correlation to visitation. The other factor that can throw it off can be the extent of the fire season. If Yellowstone has a lot of fires, there will be a lot of articles, but visitation won't necessarily mimic the number of stories in the paper. Comparable fire seasons will produce reliable numbers, however.

    In any event, it works well, and I think the reason is that my newspaper looks at more than simply what's in the newspapers or government press releases but also posts a large number of blogs, especially trip reports. Those sections of the newspaper increase greatly in the summer months, and the size of them can determine the overall file size.

    What is interesting to me, looking at this, was that I thought that given the economy, my way of predicting was probably wrong for May when my file size increased. And, yet, May visitation surprisingly spiked. This month, the paper is much larger over last year, and I was not in the least surprised to see the trend continue. In fact, it's taking me an awful lot of time every day (in upwards of 3 hours) to maintain the paper - something for which I don't receive one dime. In November, it might take me just over half an hour per day.

    Last year, if I relied on my eyes, I think I would have thought Yellowstone had fewer visitors than was being claimed, but the paper size predicted otherwise. It's interesting that visitation trends tend to correlate with the number of bloggers on Yellowstone, though I don't pick but a small fraction for inclusion in the paper. It's nevertheless a surprising thing to discover.

    As for whether this is good or bad, I know and most people I know who follow Yellowstone, can't wait for the crowds to clear out. However, we go in all the same, if only because it's so easy to escape the crowds. You still find almost no one in backcountry, outside a few popular trails. We hiked the Beaver Ponds Trail just two weeks ago; we went almost the entire 6 mile loop, which begins right smack in crowded Mammoth Hot Springs, and saw our first people less than a quarter mile from our ending point. So, an interesting discussion is whether Mission 66 for Yellowstone at least partially got it right - to sacrifice a few areas to the throngs while the vast majority of the park remains empty even at the busiest times. I don't know, but it crosses my mind almost every weekend that I spend camping and hiking in the park.

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

  • Should the National Park Service Rescue the National D-Day Memorial?   5 years 41 weeks ago


    American tax dollars are extorted to finance 'Holocaust Museums' across the U.S., but we can't find enough tax dollars to finance the National D-Day Memorial to honor the brave, patriotic Americans who died to preserve our freedom. Have we no shame? At long last have we no decency. Holocaust Museums should be in the European countries that were hostile to Jews. Americans liberated Jews and should not be compelled to finance 'Holocaust Museums". Israel receives ten million American tax dollars per day while many American veterans have to be place on a waiting list to get into a VA Hospital Is this justice for the brave men who fought, sacrificed and died America?

  • Yellowstone National Park's Wolf Population Down More than 25 Percent   5 years 41 weeks ago

    You mean like the State of Montana did with mange?

  • Social Networking Site Pushes Petition for a "Maine North Woods" National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I signed and invited ALL my fiends to sign - I hope you see fit to do the same.

  • Selecting Lenses For Your National Park Visit   5 years 41 weeks ago


    @Robert Payne- thanks for the kind words. I also love my 17-40mm lens. Go get that macro lens, you won't regret it!

    @MRC- Good points! The person pressing the shutter button really is more important than what the button is attached to. I've seen comsumer-level cameras generate amazng photos. I'm going to talk about aperture and its effects in one of my next articles- that goes hand in hand with the effect of focal length.

    @Robert Mutch- I couldn't agree more. Tripods are perhaps the most underutilized tool for the beginning photographer. I do need to get myself a nice carbon-fiber tripod. My current Manfrotto is a real tank- solid but heavy!

    Thanks all!

  • Social Networking Site Pushes Petition for a "Maine North Woods" National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Seriously Frank, give it a rest....

  • Social Networking Site Pushes Petition for a "Maine North Woods" National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    The Maine Woods wilderness of the mid-1800s made such a deep impression on Henry David Thoreau that he envisioned it becoming a “national preserve.”

    I believe this quote ("national preserve") has been taken entirely out of context.

    First, remember Thoreau probably wouldn't advocate federal land management. (He wrote in Civil Disobedience: I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all...".)

    Then review The Maine Woods. Search for "preserve"; the results are enlightening.

    Thoreau writes on page 105: "These are not the artificial forests of an English king, -- a royal preserve merely. Here [ in the Maine wilderness] prevail no forest laws but those of nature."

    Here Thoreau looks down on a preserve as being inferior to true wilderness where no laws, except natural laws, exist.

    Thoreau again references royal preserves in the passage from which some selectively pull the phrase "national preserve". Here's the entire passage from page 205:


    The Kings of England formerly had their forests "to hold the king's game," for sport or food, sometimes destroying villages to create or extend them; and I think they were impelled by a true instinct. Why should not we, who have renounced the king's authority, have our national preserves, where no villages be destroyed, in which the bear and the panther, and some even of the hunter race, may still exist, and not be "civilized off the face of the earth," -- our forests, not to hold the king's game merely, but to hold and preserve the king himself also, the lord of creation...

    Thoreau again alludes to royal English reserves, and treats them disdainfully. He references the Revolution against State ownership of land and envisions reserves as being truly free places, where humans' laws and governance do not encroach. It's the opposite of civilized; it's truly wild.

    The "national preserves" Thoreau envisioned are not those ruled and regulated by the federal government. They were places where no law or government existed, except natural law.

    I really wish the left would stop hijacking Thoreau's libertarian words and phrases for their statist ends.

  • Visitation On Record Pace in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    If Yellowstone National Park can be viewed as a bellwether, then those who fear the national parks are suffering from a decline in visitors will be relieved. The latest figures show that a visitation rebound in Yellowstone that started in May has now reached a record pace.

    Gee, that's, uh, great news.

  • Update: Presidio Main Post Won’t Be CAMP site   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I haven't shopped at the Sports Basement, ypw, but I'm familiar with the former commissary site. Do you think that particular location could get serious consideration for the art museum project?

  • Ban on Glass and Styrofoam Containers in Effect at Lake Mead National Recreation Area   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Bat -

    Thanks for the comment - and confirmation that the battle against trash can be won!

  • Social Networking Site Pushes Petition for a "Maine North Woods" National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I have been retired 23 yrs and have traveled across the US many times with 4wd and a camper. I find national forests much more people friendly than national parks.
    A national forest can have great environment friendly camp grounds, allow for local residents activities ,and prevent huge controversial housing developments without the restrictions and operating costs that a national park must have.
    Some one with the necessary clout should be looking at this alternative