Recent comments

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    "There is created in the Department of the Interior a service to be called the National Park Service, which shall be under the charge of a director. The Secretary of the Interior shall appoint the director, and there shall also be in said service such subordinate officers, clerks, and employees as may be appropriated for by Congress. The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified, except such as are under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Army, as provided by law, by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
    I'm not sure that you would want to mess with the Organic Act. It may have more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese, but depending on the political climate (the current one for example) you could make things a whole lot worse. Kind of like people who want to "rewrite" the ESA. Once you open a can of worms, no telling what might crawl out! Someone might decide that there is oil under the Grand Canyon, and fickle constituants, weary of four or five dollar a gallon gasoline, might well cry, "Drill, drill, drill!!"
    "Road building? Who's talking about road building? Well ... you, mainly." No one is talking about road building. It's called sarcasm. They are called rhetorical questions and remarks.
    "Snowmobiles don't need roads, remember?" THAT IS PART OF THE PROBLEM! That is why current snowmobilers in Yellowstone are required to have a licensed guide, because too many folks either did not know, or did not care, that YES, IN YELLOWSTONE, SNOWMOBILES DO REQUIRE A ROAD!! By law, snowmobiles may only be operated in Yellowstone on the road. And then only on certain roads. (BTW, even licensed guides occasionally wonder where they shouldn't.)
    I have personally witnessed snowmobilers run wildlife off the road into deep snow. I have seen them chase coyotes down the road until they (the coyotes) were exhausted and dropped in their tracks. I have had snowmobiles blow exhaust (and snow) in my face. I have heard snowmobiles while snow shoeing miles from the road, as if they were just on the other side of a hill.
    Mr. Macdonald, excellent points regarding the cost of visiting Yellowstone in the winter. Either way, snowmobiles or snow coaches, you better be prepared to plunk down a pretty piece of change. Another example of a place I would like to go but can't because of my financial disability (deep into the interior in the winter). Reasonably priced shuttles summer and winter would go a long way toward making Yellowstone more accessible to all, including the physically challenged.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    I would be very hesitant to open the Organic Act to anendment There would be no end to the silliness that would ensue.

    Rick Smith

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Jim,

    I did make a couple over-night/weekend visits to West Yellowstone from my military station at Idaho Falls, 1972-3. Seemed like a regular little backwater (or as we fondly say, 'dirt-bag') town. Snowmachines were still very early then ... but your description of the culture jibes with what my expectations would be, even from that far back.

    The 'culture-war' component that I pick up from your description, I would guess has probably intensified in many rural communities. Emboldened, too. Next time you drive through, I bet it's plastered wall-to-wall with signs for Gov. Palin & That Old Dude.

    Being obnoxious & rude, if I understand correctly, is what the locals use for ammo, in the Culture-War. And the Liberal factions return fire by defaming the Trogs in every way conceivable.

    "We need the fiction of pure places and evil machines that defile them."
    Verily, I think you capture the true spirit of it.

    The "process" that so vexes you, Jim, I think is intended to do that. It is intended to sweep up those who think they will engage & strive for honorable solutions. It's designed, IMO, to dissipate the honest impulses of principled folks. Why? It helps keep the many & small distraught & dissipated, and the few & big in relatively secure control.

    For example, to lead you to acknowledge that your car is no less an affront to Nature than some West Yellowstone redneck's blatting snowmachine, you are unwittingly manipulated into 'threatening' the 10s of millions who hear talk of eliminating automobiles, and sense instantly that the speaker is their enemy.

    "Watch David Suzuki on Thursday evening TV? Sure, fine. No more automobiles? That's crazy." Click - they turn you off.

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Ted,

    My point about snowmobiles and their use for the poor has mostly to do with Arctic areas where they are the main means of transportation. I can't imagine that they are for too many people in these parts. But, there are a lot of indigenous people in the Arctic regions who depend on them to survive. I have absolutely no interest in supporting the snowmobile industry as it exists here in this country or any other industry for that matter.

    As for the attitude toward snowmobiles themselves, there's no doubt real hatred toward the machines. I hate them; I have a gut dislike for them. When I drive into West Yellowstone in the winter, the air is disgusting, many of those riding the machines are rude and obnoxious. It is a strong cultural feeling. I don't want them even in the National Forests. I don't want them in town. I don't want them anywhere. I really dislike them. But, I think I am smart enough to know that my dislike for these machines and my not quite so strong feelings about other machines - like my car - is not reason enough for me to fit a rationale ad hoc to fit my strong aversion. Even so, is there not a reason to wonder what we are doing to a place we love by allowing these things in - and be willing at the same time to follow it to its logical conclusion (even if that might sweep our cars under as well)?

    So, yes, I'll concede that there's a strong emotional hatred driving things as well, but at the same time it's not a hatred that is necessarily devoid of reason. People are driven to stronger emotional reactions because something rationally is off kilter. If someone really said that the scientists concluded that snowmobiles were not harmful to the environment, even those of us who hate the machines would at least say they are being consistent with themselves. We wouldn't be as angry. And, really, I'm not angry personally about snowmobiles - because I really think there is a pox on every house here - but I hate this process. I hate how meetings are organized, how decisions are made, how the EIS process is such a charade. I am angry that people don't sit down and consider the larger issues at stake, I am angry that this place is being held hostage by the fruits of industrialization (that grew things bigger and bigger to the point we have no idea how to care for them). Snowmobiles are but machines - they are beside the point - the problem is us and our attitude toward each other and toward the planet that leads to a world where we are honestly pissed off over freaking snow machines. What a messed up and bizarro world this is.

    And, I think at some level, some form of that realization drives people to find symbolic targets for their angst. We need the fiction of pure places and evil machines that defile them. Because, something truly is afoul, and beauty is possible, but the reduction is so easy. And, when something goes against it, when something hits to the core of what doesn't make sense, people go up in arms. The snowmobile enthusiasts hate the intrusion on freedom in a world that seems more and more restricted, the environmentalist hates the continued abuse to the world we inhabit - not by law, not by simple snowmobiles, not simply by an emotional drive - but by something truly and rationally afoul. If we would look at that seriously, we would get somewhere. It's too easy to point at laws, to point at scientific studies, to pretend as though we are working on a stable framework (the parks and forests systems, as one example) in which to explore these things. But, it's so much more than that, and if we truly care, then why don't we put our passions to good use, to look at these things seriously. How did we get here? Why are we here? What should we be doing? And, since we need specificity to those questions, let's talk about them in the context of the places that mean most to us, or the people or beings that touch us the most. There's no reason that the snowmobile issue - which hits people at some core - couldn't serve as the focal point for truly serious discussion.

    But, on and on we go ... so what will the next court decide? And, what will it matter? It won't. But, so much sweat and tears will go into it. These are the days of our lives.

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

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Anonymous, and Kurt;

    Ok, since my characterization of the 'mentality' or 'correct-thinking' issue embedded in main environmentalism themes is distracting from the actual discussion-points, I will set aside that 'device', and work to frame a more-palatable way of illustrating the point I'm making.

    True, Kurt, importantly true, there is a range of 'attitude' among environmental organizations ... though a dominant view has asserted itself in recent times (that environmentalism is properly "preservation" and that "conservation" is something else).

    My father taught me to shoot, from the prone position using Grandpa's (relatively low-powered) .30-40 scabbard-Krag, when I was about 5 or 6. It seemed the recoil would almost lift me off the ground. I value my firearms and hunting highly ... but I am not a member of the NRA. I have thought about joining: especially the recent reversal of the Parks' firearms regulation, and the dramatic advent of Gov. Palin and everything she represents, give me impulse to 'put my two-bits in' - but I haven't.

    A major part of the problem the NRA poses for myself, is indeed the mental & attitudinal liabilities ... that I've agreed to find other ways to express.

    Actually, I do not "disagree" categorically with environmentalism: but I do see & describe a serious weakness in what they are & how they work, a liability that could be so costly as to effectively remove them from the public stage in the future.

    The NRA would like to define me as an extension of my firearms ... and then take upon themselves the authority to define weapons. Environmental organizations likewise seek to define me in terms of my relationship with the environment ... which they then want to define.

    I have affiliations to both, but join neither.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    I understand that you can only go through Yellowstone with a licensed guide. The snowmobile industry doesn't like it, but they have taken it rather than lose all snowmobiles. My point was economic; there are more guide industries, more ways to obtain snowmobiles, borrow snowmobiles, etc., and more varieties of guides. Still, it's not equitable access for those able to be there.

    It might not be anyone's responsibility to make sure that every sort of person can have access to every sort of terrain (speaking to Frank's point), but for those who can make it, it's stupid to make the barriers that much worse, i.e., to ensure that only people from a certain class can use the park. That certainly is a problem for a place that is supposed to be a public treasure. Even those who live near Yellowstone are forced to succumb to the class enforced, monopolized access. In some ways, making snowmobiles guided is a step backwards. Get rid of them all or do it right.

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

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    MRC,

    Your point is well taken.

    To succeed in court, the other side must have violated the law. If you use a lawsuit just as a weapon, you need very deep pockets, because if your claim is unfounded, you will lose the lawsuit and lots of money. Environmental organizations are not known for suing lightly. But if a government agency is acting in violation of the law, a lawsuit might be necessary to stop them.

    My point was probably too broad and unspecific. I was refering to our tendency to litigate rather than to negotiate over polarized issues. You are indeed correct that a sound legal basis must be present to make a lawsuit worthwhile. However, groups like Audobon Society have very deep pockets, and can easily steam-roller over smaller, less well-funded groups. I also agree that lawsuits may become necessary to stop even gov't. agency illegalities, but should only be used as a last resort, not as an SOP.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Dear RoadRanger

    -- thanks for clarifying the point about Baltimore. Yours is a very important point. Not enough is known about when a site or museum is self-sustainable, and why not when it is not. Baltimore is an interesting overall case, because it has more successful tourism than the much larger, and presumably higher-quality (re: # of nationally significant sites) Philadelphia. But the issues in Gettysburg and Valley Forge and many others will continue to plague --ASSUMING WE DEMAND SITES TO BE ECONOMICALLY SUSTAINABLE RATHER THAN SEEING FEDERAL APPROPRIATIONS -- until real and predictive feasibility studies can be done as a matter of course.

    -- yes, you are right about Cumberland Is Wilderness, and right about Carter. I think Reagan and the NPS should have made a better solution at Cumberland Is, in the same way NPS followed up on Ickies and FDR and made parks of the 30's and 40's work. And of course, the Alaska Lands Act by carter, and his national monuments is the largest conservation action by any American President.

    -- I don't think MLK site is his legacy, though, any more than other parks created during his time were his. Most were really established by Phil Burton.

    thanks for this dialog.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Frank C.,

    I did indeed misread the author-name, and attacked you for someone else's statements. I'm sorry.

    Frank C, a related issue/question I have been mulling and do not know how to approach, is the relationship between the Wilderness Act, and the Organic Act. Since some "wilderness" are lands covered by the Organic Act, how is the conflict between them resolved?

    I certainly agree - the Organic Act (often held aloft as some shining standard) is in reality not far shy of being an ordinary piece of pork.

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Ted,

    I don't think it's fair for you to characterize an entire group (or in this case groups, plural) as 'my-way-or-the-highway'. That could easily be said about the NRA, or any number of conservative groups. What would happen if, for instance, Sierra Club et al wins this court battle, and the Blue Ribbon Coalition or similar pro-snomobile group sued in a few years to allow the vehicles. Isn't that a 'my-way-or-the-hwy' approach to things? Environmental groups aren't the only ones with tightly-held, strong convictions.

    Such harsh words for people you don't agree with...

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Dapster, sorry got behind and missed your question on species held up to ridicule. Cannot be a surprise to anyone. Several examples, such as Snail Darter, liverwort, etc.

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Ted, I would disagree that the groups you cite walk strictly in lockstep. While they are all in the same "lane," some certainly are more strident than the others when it comes to appropriate degrees of environmentalism in general and what's appropriate on public lands.

    As to the abilities of electric snowmobiles, some years ago -- but not too many -- a Utah company by the name of Raser Technologies developed a hybrid electric snowmobile that reportedly was just as powerful as a two-stroke machine. Now, why this option wasn't pursued I can't say.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Frank raises an intriguing prospect, that of revising/updating the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916.

    His suggestion particularly struck me today as earlier I was listening to an NPR show about the presidential nominees and the U.S. Constitution and whether it is a static or living document, whether it should be strictly interpreted in the context it was set down in, or whether future generations should be allowed to interpret its provisions in consideration of present-day circumstances.

    Much has changed since the Organic Act was written 92 years ago, and while Congress reaffirmed its key provisions via the Redwoods Act of 1978, it easily can be argued that revising the Act to take into consideration evolution of both the National Park System and societal views of natural resources would not be a bad idea.

    But where would you start? Should each application of "conservation" be replaced with "preservation" in the Act? Should the sections Ted referred to earlier regarding livestock grazing and logging be struck? While it's already clear that the Organic Act places preservation of park resources above enjoyment of those resources, does that section need to be clarified or strengthened?

    How far would you go with a revision?

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    I swung my brush at "environmentalism", not at an environmentalist. Please check the spelling. Sure, there are plenty of us around who know how to squirm out of any stereotype. But there an awful lot of folks who fall in with the herd mentality, too ... and they are indeed assembled into herds that swing institutional and highly politicized brushes. This is the problem I was pointing at.

    You illustrate the problem I'm speaking of in a recent & closely related post, "Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park", saying:

    This is a who's-who of 'My way or the highway' environmentalism organizations. These are the folks who don't care that the Organic Act contains plenty of "discretion" to nuance the single message they want to be heard.

    You may well be an independent-thinking "environmentalist", Kurt, but the "environmentalism" that I criticize is indeed attempting to assert a single 'correct' mental posture ... while ignoring legal (Act of Congress) language that disputes their claim to control of talking-points.

    I made clear in my comment that the "delusion" I was referring to is the idea that a single mental posture or attitude is the only appropriate way to view & interact with our Park resources. I stand by that as the core problem - and weakness - of environmentalism.



    For sure, Kurt, electric vehicles are very interesting, and I'd say, "promising"**. I had visited this reference you provide on the topic, only days ago. At the present time, these machines are woefully underpowered, and will fail to provide satisfactory range. Of course, when (useful) electric snowmobiles cause zero pollution or auditory disturbance, there will still be those (individuals & institutions) who oppose them ... eh? ;-)

    ** My specialty in the nuke plants was 'electrical operator', and my specialty as an electrician was the submarine battery. I have followed electric vehicle technology with acute 'professional' & personal interest for many years.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Ted, please note that the comment to which you're presumably referring was made by FrankN, not me (Frank_C).

    As for the Organic Act, I have read it many times over. I was the only new seasonal interpretive ranger in Zion in 2000 who actually knew that the Organic Act is the National Park Service's founding charter. (One coworker, now a chief of interpretation, thought it was the California law establishing a legal definition for food labeled "organic"!)

    I have advocated for a new charter, one that shuns special interests and places preservation above tourism. The Organic Act is seriously flawed, outdated, and was heavily influenced by interest groups that tilted the balance from preservation to conservation and opened the door for a hundred years of development and industrial exploitation.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   5 years 50 weeks ago

    As usual, who's the bigger fool? You or the ones your calling "Fool's". These people you are calling fool's are law abiding citizens, that have gone through the rigorous and sometimes expensive task of getting CCW's, ( Carry Concealed Weapon) licenses after a complete back round check, by the FBI and complete proficiency test to be,( Honored) as you would think , with their constitutional rights to carry a weapon for self protection of themselves, their families and even you, in the event they are around when you are in trouble! Yes, they might even help you or yours? They are not the Criminals, they are the Honest Law abiding Citizens that ignorant people like you call fools! Get a dictionary, look up criminal, and you will find the definition of the people that you should be afraid of, very afraid!! My only hope is to have brought an ignorant person up to light of what is really going on in today's society!!!!!!!!

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Frank C.,

    Road building? Who's talking about road building? Well ... you, mainly.

    Snowmobiles don't need roads, remember?

    You consistently caricaturize "access" in ways that are not real, not happening, and not a threat.

    You should actually read the National Parks Organic Act of 1916, posted on the National Park Service website. It shows that there is plenty of room within the law for both access and usage of our National Parks. It's short, but may be a jarring read.

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Ted says:

    People 'of a certain perspective' - environmentalism - have deluded themselves that only one special mental posture is 'right' for those entering the National Parks, and that all other are offenders.

    I think that's an awful broad brush you're using, Ted. I consider myself an environmentalist, but also would like to think I'm open-minded enough to consider each case on its own merits, whether it's snowmobiling, Jet Skiing, or what not.

    That said, these machines have their places, and I don't think one is delusional, as you put it, to believe they're inappropriate in many national park settings. Is one delusional to oppose snowmobiles in the parks, but willing to endorse snowcoaches? Is one delusional because they think park resources should be protected from the heavy erosional forces of off-road vehicles, such as those witnessed in Big Cypress?

    As for the case at hand, I would have a hard time arguing against snowmobile use in Yellowstone if the park only allowed electric machines. The technology exists, but for some reason is not being encouraged, either by the NPS or the snowmobile industry.

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    @dapster: sorry, but that is nonsense. To succeed in court, the other side must have violated the law. If you use a lawsuit just as a weapon, you need very deep pockets, because if your claim is unfounded, you will lose the lawsuit and lots of money. Environmental organizations are not known for suing lightly. But if a government agency is acting in violation of the law, a lawsuit might be necessary to stop them.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    @dapster: Both snow mobiles and snow coaches are only allowed in Yellowstone NP on roads - or to be precise where roads are under the snow. And coaches have much less impact per passenger.

    @Jim: You can run you own snow mobile, but you can only go with a licensed guide - there is no unguided snow mobiling in the park - so if you take a licensed coach or hire a licensed guide does not that much of a difference. Frankly - if anyone wishes to get the feeling of freedom on a beautiful winter day by running a snow mobile through the landscape: Go to a National forest, Yellowstone NP never was a place where this was possible.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    "I have both a two year old son and a 73-year old father. I simply cannot ask them to make the same treks that I am capable of. Does that mean that they should be excluded from viewing our national treasures simply because of the limitations placed upon them due to their age? I think not."
    Although I don't necessarily agree with the total elimination of vehicles from Yellowstone, the idea isn't automatically without merit. Let's face it, 90% of Yellowstone ALREADY is inaccessible except by horseback or foot; and many of these areas contain national treasures that are as great or greater than those visible from the road. So it is in most National Parks. Shall we build roads to every mountain top? To every canyon bottom? To every Alpine meadow or pristine lake? Along the spine of the Sierra Nevada's? Aren't all citizens entitled to see these wonders? I am financially handicapped. I would love to go to Hawaii, but I can't afford it. Shouldn't someone buy me a ticket? There are always going to be places we would like to visit but cannot. I am never going to climb El Capitan in Yosemite, because I am not physically capable. I am never going to vacation in Hawaii, because I am not financially capable. Even the very old, the very young and the handicapped can ride on horseback or in a horse drawn carriage. They did for thousands of years. Whenever I think of all the places I would like to visit, all the mountains I would like to climb, I ask myself if I have seen all that I CAN? Have I driven every back road in Montana, for example. The answer, of course, is no. It wound take several lifetimes for me to do so. Have I visited every state park, snowmobiled every forest trail in the millions of acres of National Forest open to that activity? Soon I realize that there is too much that I CAN do to worry about what I can't.
    Our National Parks were never intended to be substitutes for Disneyland. They were, and are, intended to preserve unimpaired for future generations, a slice of what America was...sometimes before it was even America. When study after study shows that allowing snowmobiles is not in the best interests of doing that; and survey after survey shows that the majority of Americans feel that snowmobiles should be banned (and, yes, Yellowstone is owned by ALL Americans; not just those living within a hundred miles of her borders), then why are we even having this conversation??
    Snowmobiles should be banned. Once and for all, and permanently. Period.
    In the summer, a quota system should be set up allowing only a certain number of private vehicles in the park each day; and when that quota has been met, further visitors (on that day) would be limited to foot, horseback or tour (shuttle) bus. It would be better for the wildlife, it would be better for the air quality, it would be better for each individual park visitor's experience AND it would go a long way toward actually accomplishing the mission of the Park Service.

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Jim Macdonald says:

    "Ironically, that suggests I'm all for cherry picking so long as we are honest about why we are doing it."
    Yes, you're right - 'discretion' is part of both law enforcement by cops, and law interpretation by courts, and that word is just another way of saying 'cherry picking'. The Organic Act is liberally peppered with the word 'discretion'.

    So, true enough, it's not that we aren't supposed to ... use our judgement to fit the law the situation and vice versa (we are), but that we shouldn't delude ourselves or deceive others, that there isn't more latitude & flexibility in a statute such as the Organic Act than our own preferred passage. Obviously, there is plenty of latitude in the Act for decisions & actions that run counter to 'modern environmentalism' - some of them very dramatic.

    But Jim also stumbles, saying:

    "While I am glad at a practical level if we are rid of snowmobiles - not only in the parks but in the forests as well and every place except where the poor depend upon them for survival."
    • Snowmobiles are enjoying an explosive period of technical improvement & innovation, and market enthusiasm. Everywhere there is decent snow, these machines are growing in popularity. (Clean, quiet (fuel-injected, turbocharged, computer-managed) 4-strokes are quickly setting new standards, and attracting new market-sectors.)
    • The snowmobile industry is primarily driven by purely recreational values. It is the entertainment-motive that pays the bills for developing new & better types of machines. And the new machines are considerably more expensive. From the wealthy rancher who runs his fences and moves his cattle to open pastures with a snowmobile, to the impoverished subsistence northerner who run his muskrat trap line with a snowmobile, and everyone in between, utility-users make-do with equipment design choices and model-selections created for the entertainment market. Even overtly utility-oriented models such as the outstanding Ski-Doo Skandic line are adaptations of equipment developed with recreationists in mind.
    • No, we are anything but rid of snowmobiles, and it is not some feeble & tattered underdog who is served by them, but the Bull of the modern economy, the almighty discretionary-income consumer to owns & runs the snowmobile industry.

    Finally, Jim plea-bargains:

    "What drives people nuts with snowmobiles is not the law but the incoherence of the policy and the process that brings it about."
    Actually, I think what drives people nuts about snowmobiles is snowmobiles, pure & simple.

    People hate them, period. Neither the law, nor the policy & process mess is what gets people's goat. It's the infernal contraption itself. It's rhetorically the muddy boots, clomping into their church. "You should wear slippers, like me! And mince thusly down the aisle, like me! You should be in a state of rapture, like me!"

    That's what it really is: one group insisting their own way of looking a things is the only way.

    Ain't gonna happen. No reason why it should. People 'of a certain perspective' - environmentalism - have convinced deluded themselves that only one special mental posture is 'right' for those entering the National Parks, and that all other are offenders.

    The snowmobile defies the 'sanctity' of their 'church', and that's what 'drives them nuts'.

    Problem is, the unwashed are too numerous, have too much money, and way too many rights under the law.

    I entirely agree with dapster:

    "This cannot long stand. A tipping point will eventually be reached, and the ability to sue so readily may be taken away. There is now enough national attention to these issues to bring about such change, but I would not look for anything substantial until after the election/New Year."
    Obviously, right at half the citizens of the USA would like to see President Palin and her ol' side-kick calling the shots.

  • Federal Judge Blocks Recreational Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    One big problem I have with snow coaches (and I'm no fan of snowmobiles) is access. Both modes of transportation are expensive and shut out a great many people. The biggest advantage of snowmobiles over snow coaches - as far as I can see - is that the snow coach choice in the park is monopolized, perpetuating the age old government / corporate rule over the park. So, while they provide access for all kinds of people who might not otherwise see the park in winter, the "all kinds" are almost entirely rich or upper middle class people. And, while Yellowstone, by its very distant nature tends to exclude many demographically poor people from being able to see it (except for poor people without families and with summers largely open), there is never any reason to exacerbate the problem. If snow coaches were publicly owned and free-to-use vehicles, or if there were some kind of progressive scale of cost, or on and on ... it wouldn't be so bad to me. But, as is, eliminating snowmobiles (a vehicle that depends upon some privilege but at least allows for some possibility of avoiding cost) without addressing the access issues involved with snow coaches removes one problem while creating another.

    Others have suggested plowing all or most Yellowstone roads and allowing cars. I'm not sure I'm for that one, either. Others suggest just leaving the park more or less closed and leaving it to those who can get in on snowshoes and skies. I don't really have an answer, just that the considerations are more than environmental versus mode of enjoyment but that they must also consider the public nature of the park and the economic class disparities that also exist in our society.

    And, of course, they need to consider the effect on wildlife. Evidence is mixed on the effect of groomed roads on wildlife migration. With bison leaving the park - often along these roads - to almost certain death, it does no good to continue the debate on these grounds without considering the implications to bison policy. That has to be part of the discussion as well. However, in some way that might be negligible, because bison eventually will find ways to leave the park to better grazing grounds. What bothers me is what I've personally witnessed in the north of the park, where the policy to keep roads open is followed so zealously at times that snow plows have hazed bison off roads within the park just to clear the roads. The bison are forced into full gallops and then get panicked, trip in the snow, hurt themselves, and put visitors in danger. Does grooming roads put unnecessary stress on animals? What will be done to make sure that doesn't happen?

    So, for me, economic class, remembering the land and the wildlife as equal considerations in the process, and of course noise and air quality, all fit into it. Aesthetically, I'd prefer to see skis and snowshoes; however, if we can, where we can, we should find other ways of access, so long as we consider fairness. If fairness becomes too costly, then it's generally not worth doing at all. So, if a clean snowmobile is either a fiction or just costs too much to do in a way that allows a wide variety of people from different classes to use them, then I don't want them. That goes for snow coaches - as it stands, I don't want them, either, for anyone - until access to them is fair. If a middle class person like me isn't willing to spend the money for my family to take one, I know it's downright impossible for many other people.

    One other note - I read a lot by politicians about the parks being for "benefit and enjoyment of the people" and that environmentalists forget that. There is a fallacy lurking. The mode of enjoyment cannot be abstracted to mean that enjoyment cannot be had. One way of enjoying being denied does not rid people of enjoyment. If enjoyment can only be had by destroying a place, then the Organic Act is simply nonsensical. There is no inherent right to the mode of enjoyment or for people to be able to make a living providing means that are destructive to the purpose of a place. The question isn't rights and what the people deserve, but what we should be doing. Anyhow, that aside helps me to think about things differently and may be a useful way to re-frame all our ethical quandaries.

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

  • How Did The National Park Service Err So Badly On the Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    We have to understand that use of the courts should be merely seen as a tactic not a strategy in the overall fight and understand that there is something disingenuous about using the law as a means of protecting places that have no reason to be chained by any national or state law. I'm afraid that the success of the tactic of using the courts has convinced some of the ultimate good of it.

    It is a correct statement that use of the courts has become a strategy over a tactic, if not a mantra. Our litigation-happy society now sees this as the norm. "I don't like what you're doing, and you won't change it for me, so I'll sue to make it happen".

    This cannot long stand. A tipping point will eventually be reached, and the ability to sue so readily may be taken away. There is now enough national attention to these issues to bring about such change, but I would not look for anything substantial until after the election/New Year.

    It is also true that the parks are made to be used, by humans, for their own enjoyment, while ensuring that the indeginous wildlife is not harmed. While I advocate conservation alongside access, I find it totally unpalatable to think that many wish for the parks to become vast widlife refuges, with humankind completely excluded. That would be a travesty.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Just a couple of questions for you Anti-Gun, Anti-Loaded Gun Types.

    1) What does a criminal look like?
    2) What does a rapist look like?
    3) What does a child molestor look like?
    4) What does a murderer look like?

    My point is, you can not tell the differance on looks alone. Criminals don't care about the law as it is, so why restrict the law abiding from protecting themselves against the lawless. Trouble never makes an appointment, it never scheduals a time when it will strike and make you the victim. Just because you have the tool doesn't mean your going to use it for illegal purposes like poaching or worse. Heck if I were a poacher in the park, I sure would not use a firearm, bowhunting is actually more quiet and bows are perfectly legal to carry in the parks as there is no law that I know of preventing it.

    When law abiding citizens carry concealed firearms, and the criminal element knows that they could run into an intended victim that just might be able to protect themselves, the crime is less likely to occure. It is far better to have and not need it, than to need it and not have it as I did one time out away from everyone, out in the country where I had a guy pull a knife on me. His mind was change abruptly, as he dropped his knife and headed off in the other direction. Had I not been armed with a LOADED FIREARM, the results would have turned out differantly.

    As an ex-cop with 20 yrs experience, I welcome more people legally licensed to carry and defend themselves.

    And oh yes, the reason I carry a concealed firearm, it's simple.... because a cop is just to large and heavy to carry around in my back pocket.