Recent comments

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Ted,

    The current plan calls for snowmobiles to be accompanied by a guide and that they be 4-stroke. So, if that isn't good enough, it's not clear what would satisfy the judge in this case.

    On the science of noise and snowmobiles, I defer to others. Whether snowmobiles or any other vehicle should be allowed is one question, but that the government here put in plans that went against their own scientific advice (even from the EPA) is really the stink bomb that is behind the success of this lawsuit. (And, throw in Cody, where the Park Service basically got pushed around - by Cheney, apparently - into keeping Sylvan Pass open against their own better judgment - now all moot apparently by this order).

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

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, National Park Service Director Mary Bomar and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne each wholly deserve this finely worded 63-page bitch slap, IMHO.
    Reads to me like Judge Sullivan did his homework.

    To read up on this years long SNAFU click here. (I find the reader comments most entertaining :-))

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    bearguy,

    Alaska!

    Do you have a sense how the general Alaska snowmobile community stands on this question? Is it typical or atypical for an Alaskan snowmobiler to oppose their use in Parks?

    I note that you characterize snowmobiles as involving "damaging activities". If we identify specifically what these damages are, and then take measures to prevent the damage - then what?

    In fact, bearguy, I suspect the perspective of Alaskans, and the situation in Alaska, has more to do with how the question of ORVs in Parks will be settled nation-wide, than many folks realize (or are willing to admit).

    I have watched the hearings and rulings on snowmobiles in Denali fairly closely, but I can't discern an outcome or intent.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Why do we keep allowing these motorized machines to pollute the environment in all our parks. The parks are not meant for racing etc they are meant to preserve the plants and animals and allow for guarded enjoyment by the public in such a way that the environment or animals are not interfered with. The use of our parks by the loud zing zingers only occurs because of intense lobbying by those selling and using these noisy, disturbing machines. Thank God someone defends the silent majority obviously our politicians don't!

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    There might be some pertinent insight to be gained, by looking into the background & history of Judge Sullivan. There's always been hangin' Judges, and warnin' Judges.

    From the points Kurt quotes the Judge as listing, the bench is basically 'fixing' the Park's winter use Plan. "You need to do better here, you need to be more specific there."

    For the Judge to say ...

    "(T)his is not blanket permission to have fun in the parks in any way the NPS sees fit."
    ... sounds a tad unprofessional & weak. He's basically coming off as a 'smart-mouth'. He faulted the Park for 'winging-it', then he turns around and does the same thing.

    Going by the emphasis placed on how loud & polluting snowmobiles are ("the science"), it strikes me as likely they will eventually be allowed. All ya gotta do is make them quite & clean. Problem solved!

    New (and increasingly popular) four-stroke snowmobile engines make the machine a whole new ball game. (It's the inherently/easily more-powerful, lighter-weight and more-compact 2-cycle engines that make snowmobiles 'loud & smelly'. It costs more to make a similarly small, light & powerful 4-stroke, but once you do, it's dramatically quieter & cleaner.)

    Set standards for noise & emissions, and the manufactures will meet it. End of problem, right? Or maybe not ...

    Many who object to snowmobiles rattle off several objective reasons ("the science") why the machines are bad and should therefore be banned. Yet many also reveal clearly enough that their true objection is emotional & subjective in nature. They are attentive to benzene levels, not so much as a problem to correct, but as a pry-bar to get rid of snowmobiles ... whether they are really - objectively & "scientifically" - hurting anything or not.

    The main 'real' issue with snowmobiles that I'm seeing is, the potential 'running' or disturbance of wildlife. Preventing this could involve some regulation, and active/adaptive management, but it should certainly be possible to have both contented buffalo, and contented snowmobilers.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Geezer, I think everyone has had enough "good models" falsehoods, lies and fake science from you people from the darkside. Quote "The consent decree was a valuable first step toward reasonable long-term limitations on ORVs." We have more than eleven thousand people on a petition that would beg to differ with such lies. Futhermore if it was really about reasonable limitations for ORVs why won't the NPS allow the reg/neg meatings to be recorded. Whats to hide? let me tell you, "good models" ,falsehoods, lies and fake science.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I am not saying that anything should be banned. All I did was point out the difference in the reaction to similar cases in YELL and CAHA. And wonder why the CAHA crew hasn't jumped on the bandwagon to allow snowmobiles in YELL....

    Moreover, the judges are doing what they are supposed to do - interpreting and enforcing the laws to the best of their understanding and ability. Of course it's going to be one judge - it's not like there's a whole panel of them sitting up there at this point in the system (yes, I know if it is appealed, then there will be more than one...) That's why judges are there - to make tough decisions like this. They aren't around to make people happy, and the whole "activist judges are out to ruin the country and are ignoring the majority of Americans" argument, no matter who it comes from (liberals use it just as often as conservatives) is getting old as dirt. Grow up already. People who say things like that make it sound like one day we'll wake up to find breathing and eating banned.

    And for goodness' sake, quit calling it CHNSRA. No one in the rest of the country calls it that (not even the people who write their brochures!), and even though it's the right name, you don't need to throw it in our face as if it's proof that it's justified for people to run all over the park.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    As an Alaskan who has spent time on a snow machine I support this decision. Snowmachines, ORVs, and other such vehicles have no place in parks whose mission is to protect and preserve the scenery and the ecosystems. These recreational activities are not compatible with this directive. There are other public and private lands where these damaging activities can occur. I hope the same ruling can apply to Denali Park where snow machining still occurs in some areas. Let us learn to appreciate the wild at the wilds pace.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    It's ironic that most of these comments are in favor of keeping snowmobiles out of YELL, yet most of the commentators on CAHA issues want motorized access. Perhaps many of the CAHA people aren't interested in YELL? Or is YELL somehow different than CAHA? If so, is it really our - or anyone's - prerogative to say that one park is more deserving of protection than another?

    I would take exception to that comment, anon. Protection of all NPS units should be our mission. However, in all fairness, to compare YELL to CHNSRA is akin to comparing Mars to Jupiter. Please do not infer that we care only for our area of this country.

    -"White noise" caused by the surf interaction on the beach reach levels sufficient to be heard for miles. There are no such noise issues in this arena.

    -PWC's, (Personal Water Craft), usage has been banned for over a decade.

    -ORV's allowed in the area are state licensed vehicles only, not ATV's.

    The CHNSRA Rangers employ both ATV's and either Ford or Dodge 4WD vehicles to perform their duties. I would assume that YELL rangers employ similar vehicles from 4WD autos to snowmobiles to snowcats to patrol their boundaries.

    Should these be banned as well?

    The similarities in this situation and those unfolding in the CHNSRA are curious. Single Federal Judges are blocking public access to public lands on the basis of type of access.

    Beware that hiking may one day be denied...

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I agree with Paul. There has to be other places for people to snowmobile in the winter besides Yellowstone NP. Or any other National Park for that matter. Animals and habitat are already under stress in the winter. Why add more? My hats off to all the people involved in reaching this decision.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 44 weeks ago

    RE: NPS Organizational Codes (i.e., Yosemite=YOSE)

    Please excuse this tangent.

    Lepanto, you're right, we should stop using the abbrev. to refer to NPS units. It's an old NPS habit. One reason why it's used in the NPS is to make it easier to identify property. I had to engrave "LABE" on all Lava Beds National Monument flashlights. (Imagine if I had to engrave the whole thing!)

    One case where the NPS definitely got it wrong was Carlsbad Caverns (CACA). Imagine the Hispanic population's surprise to see the English equivalent of "sh*t" written on everything from flashlights to helmets. Guess that's why Carlsbad Caverns now uses CAVE as its abbreviation.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Barky----glad to have your clarification. All I'm saying is that Steamtown was a dog from the git go and the NPS more or less said so when it was proposed way back when. It was deliberately conceived and forcibly shoved through the legislative gauntlet as an economic development project by one of the legendary grand masters of pork barrel politics Congressman Bud Shuster.

    The fact is that most people, when given a choice of destinations, do not want to visit Scranton or a third-rate museum. That $176 million has already been shoveled into this monumental waste of taxpayer money should make all who support federal control of the parks take a moment to stop and consider what that kind of cash could've done to support and preserve other more deserving parks and historic sites.

    As it stands now Capitol Hill crooks like Shuster can use their power to designate national parks for the sole purpose of income redistribution by bringing home the bacon on an NPS platter. Is this really how the park service is supposed to be run?

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    It's ironic that most of these comments are in favor of keeping snowmobiles out of YELL, yet most of the commentators on CAHA issues want motorized access. Perhaps many of the CAHA people aren't interested in YELL? Or is YELL somehow different than CAHA? If so, is it really our - or anyone's - prerogative to say that one park is more deserving of protection than another?

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Let's see if this one holds...we've been here before. Its time to give the park back to the native species as much as possible during the stressful times of winter (especially last year), and to allow those who visit the park in winter for the very reason of skiing within a pristine landscape with no mechanical noise--or as little as possible. This just goes to show how the NPS gets stuck between a rock and a hard place by trying to appease every single group out there who believes they have a right of access and a right to block access. Its time for the business's who rent sleds to step up and buy a coach or two and stop whining about their right to access. Respect the park, repsect the decision, respect the science used to make the decision, and move forward.

  • Getting American Youth More Involved in the National Parks is a Difficult Challenge and a Golden Opportunity   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Nice article, Chance. Especially like this part:


    The Park Service should consider adapting the WebRangers program to work as an application for Facebook or Myspace, the two most popular social networking sites. Youth would then be able to proclaim their NPS pride right on their profile, and learn something in the process.

    The 'net is the only true social circle right now, other clubs & organizations (like the Scouts) are going the way of the dodo.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Huzzah! And what a way to bring a flame-bait topic to NPT! ;-)

    I'm not a big fan of motorized recreation in any NPS site. As I always say, the NPS is not there to guarantee recreation, it's there to protect America's natural wonders and historic treasures. Allowing activities that threaten the integrity of those wonders needs to be prohibited (or at least controlled to lessen the impact).

    I don't know that much about that part of Wyoming, but I'm sure there are plenty of places people can snowmobile for fun.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Don't forget that decades ago Steamtown was a private interest in Vermont (I remember hearing the ads on TV when I was a kid). The original owner (er, perhaps I mean primary financial supporter) died in the 60's and the Vermont park went out of business. So would Steamtown survive today as a private concern again? I am actually a fan of separating the NPS from the federal government (turning it into some sort of an NGO), and that means it would have to survive as a self-supporting enterprise.

    Beamis, to clarify my earlier comment, I wasn't making a comment as to whether pork-barrel projects are worthwhile or not, or whether the government (and thereby the taxpayers) should spend millions (or billions) in ill-considered economic development projects. I'm simply stating that the NPS shouldn't move sites simply because they're in an economically depressed area, which I got from the tone of your earlier post.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Another case of one person (judge) deciding how a public asset can and cannot be untilized by the public.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Art Sedlack was ahead of his time!

    At any rate - here is a relevant historical article on the history of snowmobiles in Glacier Park and Yellowstone.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3951/is_200310/ai_n9338664/pg_1

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I have to say, this seems like a good thing to me. Hundreds of loud, polluting machines will be kept out of yellowstone. You don't need to tear up the landscape if you can ride in snowcoaches.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Way to go, Judge Sullivan! And congratulations to the dedicated people at GYC, Wilderness Society, NPCA, SC, WWA and NRDC who have kept at this fight all these years! (Cheers to JC and KB!)

    I only hope that when Palin revs up her rhetoric against this decision that our conservation-minded pols don't shy away from speaking out in defense of park protective policies.

    Thanks for covering this, Kurt.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 44 weeks ago

    STEA is another example of "build it and they will come" mentality compounded by Rust Belt welfare handed out where commercial capital will not go. In the bit of research I've done on this issue over the last day or two, it seems that STEA was half of the anchor designed to revitalize downtown Scranton. The other half was the Mall at Steamtown, funded by UDAG (federal money) grants, state grants, the PA state employees pension fund, and the IBEW (electrical union) pension fund. Apparently not a bank dollar in sight. The Mall of Steamtown's history page indicates projections for visits to STEA at the time the mall was developed (about 1995) was 500,000. Here we are ten years later and visitation is about 70,000, and the Mall at Steamtown is facing loss of several tenants either through bankruptcy or moves to better markets in the suburbs. This is not good for the park regardless of ownership/management.

    I recall back in the mid '80s that the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore, the cradle of American railroading, was a potential competitor with the STEA concept. For whatever reasons, the B&O's extraordinary collection of American railroad stock and its significant history were not enough to overcome that of what's been described as a "third rate collection of mostly Canadian stock" and a very narrow focus on the steam story. I suspect it's politics at it worst. Regardless, today the B&O Museum is a remarkable success story with visits of about 250,000 per year. A comparative history of the development of these two sites over the past 25 years would make a great MA thesis, and probably answer many of the questions raised in this post/thread.

    FWIW I think STEA is a prime candidate for deauthorization if we want to go by NPS guidelines and put political expediency aside. It would make a fine state or local museum with a concessioner or non-profit operating the excursions. A potential model for this is Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio) where a cooperating entity (Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad) operates excursion on Service-owned track. Another model may be San Francisco Maritime NHP where innovative methods and community involvement have resulted in the restoration and operation of several vessels.

    As a former Service employee, I feel for the park staff, knowing that they are doing their best under really tough circumstances. They are well aware that many of their colleagues think the $172 million spent at STEA could have helped the NPS gems crumbling under the impact of millions of visitors. All of this reminds me of Ronald Reagan's response when he signed the Cumberland Island National Seashore's wilderness designation back in the early '80s. Basically it was, "Don't even think about sending me something this absurd again." He signed the politically charged legislation knowing it would be a land management nightmare. Sure enough, it has been a legal and management quagmire from the beginning, and will remain so until 2100 when - let us hope - all the CUIS life estates and their inevitable extensions expire. STEA's future seems almost as troubled, given their complex, costly responsibilities, diminishing resources, and limited alternatives.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    "(T)his is not blanket permission to have fun in the parks in any way the NPS sees fit."
    Right on Judge Sullivan!
    Reminds me of one of my favorite Aldo Leopold quotes, "Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind. "

  • Getting American Youth More Involved in the National Parks is a Difficult Challenge and a Golden Opportunity   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Thank you Chance.

    And I credit my Mom for sharing the Smokies with me.

    May you find the peace and joy in the mountains as I do.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 44 weeks ago

    There is no mystery about what is going on here. Just have to look to see what elected officials live near Yellowstone and Grand Teton.