Recent comments

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   5 years 50 weeks ago

    In fairness, despite the comment about the "generally neglectful attitude", it should also be noted that the Bush Administration / Republican Congress (I list both only because I'm not sure which took the lead in this proposal) passed a law in 2005 that created a new grant program for "Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands" that uses transportation dollars to fund transit options in National Parks, Nationl Forest, USFWS Refuges, and BLM Lands. In other words, the use of "transportation dollars" for this means that these transit programs don't come out of the Department of the Interior's Budget (they come out of the Dept. of Transportation's budget), and so these projects don't have to compete with other Park Service priorities for funding.

  • Bigger Boat Tours Coming to Voyageurs National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    I'm curious as to what the source of this funding is - the first paragraph makes it sound like a Congressional earmark, but the last part sounds more like a private charitable donation. Perhaps the most surprising thing, however, is why hasn't the Park Service entered into an agreement with a private concessionaire to offer tour boat service? Would it really be so impossible for a private tour boat service to make a living in Voyageurs?

  • Lake Powell Expected to Rise 50 Feet This Summer   5 years 50 weeks ago

    The "sky is falling" amateur climatologists love to point out the increase in man-made carbon dioxide emissions due to the automobile and the mechanisms related to the Industrial Revolution. All well and good. But as Bob pointed out above, our Mother Earth and her environment is a slightly more complicated issue than we would care to imagine. And basing the doomsday forecast on 135 years worth of meteorological data is akin to standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, peering in for a few minutes and believing you've "seen" all that comprises the Abyss. Funny how it goes that until recently our planet had the ability, much as does our human physiology, to effect repairs and maintain the status quo in spite of us. Unfortunately, we have begun to cut away at the very foundations of planetary climate maintenance and garbage control. The amount of carbon dioxide emissions is not the issue, per se, unless you couple that along with what we have done to reduce the effectiveness of Earth's ability to "recycle" those gases but our new-found love for slash and burn agricultural techniques. By reducing the rainforests at a greater rate than ever, and not having time to replenish those mature stands of trees that were once able to shoulder the increased burden of burning off the vegatation requried to maintain the delicate balance in nature, you in effect over-burden that remaining plant life, some of it lethally, and thereby the snowball races down the hill. You can take whatever steps you like to "green" yourself, but the real issue qutie literally is the lack of green that we have let proliferate on our planet.

    Unfortunately and most conveniently, Big Al doesn't mention much about that, since it involves upsetting the "developing" world.

  • Lake Powell Expected to Rise 50 Feet This Summer   5 years 50 weeks ago

    So you're happier with the theoretical benefit not losing our place on Earth with species extinctions, habitat loss & environmental disasters. If you lived in the southwest, you would have been out of water for the last few years had it not been for Lake Powell. I think we should do all we can to make it easier for humans.

  • Yellowstone Bison Population Healthy; Montana Priming For Hunts   5 years 50 weeks ago

    If the available range for bison is expanded, it might be nice to be able to hunt them the same as deer or elk. Idaho and wyoming are all about elk feed grounds because they make so much money via outfitters, even if these turn into disease hot-spots. I just thought that such an opportunity might make people want to support bison populations more, ya'know, give them a way to really benefit from it.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 50 weeks ago

    "We the People" ceased to be the government since the onset of the 2-party system, both losers know matter how you define the term. You have no true options any longer when it comes to your representation in Washington. Recently some good men have made the trip, seen the system, refused to play and left after one term. Rebuilding America first sounds so noble, but since Dem-donkeys and Rep-tuskers can't sustain the profiteering domestically without intense scrutiny from the media, foreign interests will be the primary source of political payback for the forseeable future. Which means funds being peed away to rebuilding foreign countries, supporting the overthrow of foreign governments and maintaining the ridiculous system of foreign aid in our "buy your allies" campaign. With funding for domestic programs of all nature continually being pared for the "war effort", whatever that may be, your faith remains with DC? Bureaucratic meddling knows no bounds, and if by chance there might be monies to divert to campaign supporters, the money will be cyphoned off prior to any real progress in "cosmetic" improvements to our homeland. Face it kids, Washington pols don't give a damn about what "the people" think, except for that brief period in an election year, where they will say literally ANYTHING to place a smile on your face, even though by now you must be absolutely stupid in you buy into their crap. Most are too concerned with lining their personal retirement funds and those of their financial supporters, and the only way to accomplish that is to play kiss-ass with the few tenured on Capital Hill. Since these programs don't fall under any particular "pork" jurisdiction with any real impact on local economies, little will be contemplated and even less with be enacted to bring the public lands up-to-date. There simply isn't enough money in it for DC to care about. Unless, of course, you happen to be a significant source of campaign funding...........

    Removing the responsibility of maintenance and upkeep from Washington is not only practical, it's mandatory. They've done nothing but ignore the issue for decades, and the backlog continues to grow exponentially due to that negligence, and is not localized by region or any other factor. No place across the system are monies being allocated save those few projects that can be held up a "shining examples of your tax dollars at work" that play like press conferences in front of constituents and a media circus. A special taxing body needs to be enacted, independent of federal bullying and able to stand on its own as a true representation of "we the people". A system based on ALL citizens and taxpayers of the country equally, since we are indeed referring to what are supposed to be public lands. Possibly tied into your 1040. Possibly based on sales or utility taxes, or a deduction directly from your payroll based on any number of factors, such as family size. The possibilites are numerous as to the most efficient method of collecting the revenue. Whether you choose to utilize these lands or not, since you are part of the system you're responsible for the maintenance and upgrade, which is absolutely no different than the system as currently devised. The major differrence is that being removed from federal hands, the monies are more-than-likely to end up where they belong, as opposed to some Swiss bank accounts belonging to your ever-lovin' lobbyist groups. Sounds more than fair to me.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 50 weeks ago

    "What fatigues me -- and a number of other NPT readers I've spoken with -- is that you repeatedly (and I suspect deliberately) fail to make the necessary distinction between the politically-appointed masters of the NPS and the public servants who work in the trenches despite those masters to achieve the mission of the agency."

    Unfortunately it is not easy to have much confidence in either group. As hard as it may be for you to believe there are many of us out here in the hinterland who don't see much qualitative difference in lifetime tenured agency bureaucrats (whom I am quite familiar with) who have a big stake in maintaining the status quo or in vote grabbing pork-minded politicians swilling freely from the feeding trough. You'll find this to be a common viewpoint among the vast majority of the American populace.

    I know that there are many dedicated front line employees toiling honestly as park rangers who I am certain would be just as skilled and proficient in their work if they were to someday come under a different form of management. Many of them would actually advance and thrive once the shackles of petty politics and civil service work rules were removed and the careerist self-perpetuators shown the door. I know this to be true because I interact and live among NPS employees, most of whom would welcome a radical change in the way the business of park management is conducted. Due to a culture of fear and reprisal their voices remain mostly silent when it comes to speaking up about what is wrong with the way they are forced to "achieve the mission".

    Mr. Longstreet, you have yet to confront or engage me on any of my ideas, suggestions or replies but steadfastly attack me as being unrealistic or full of antagonism towards your agency. That's certainly your right but I can assure you that I am not in the minority when it comes to seeking other ways to accomplish societal goals without the heavy hand of the U.S. federal government.

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   5 years 50 weeks ago

    I see your point, Anon, but I think you’re a bit off the mark in implying that we are part of the problem instead of part of the solution. All of us here at Traveler agree that reducing vehicle-related air pollution in our national parks is a high priority goal. Towards that end, Traveler endorses a variety of policies, practices, and alternatives, including – to name just a few – using cleaner burning fuels, providing concessionaire-operated shuttles or trams in the parks, and encouraging park visitors to walk or bicycle whenever and wherever practical. The Park Service is slowly but surely implementing these and other measures, constrained by woefully inadequate resources. (And in the opinion of many, a generally neglectful attitude on the part of the Bush administration.) Eventually we may routinely be able to tell people that they can enjoy their national parks without driving their privately owned vehicles on the park roads. Meanwhile, those POVs remain the only practical medium through which the vast majority of the public interacts with the parks. I rather doubt that many of those POV-using visitors would agree that driving in a national park is just “driving around for the sake of driving around.” It is for leisure-recreational-educational purposes, and telling people they shouldn’t use their POVs in this way is tantamount to telling them not to visit the national parks. Traveler will continue to publish information that will help readers make informed decisions about POV use in the parks. Wherever possible, we will draw attention to alternatives to POV use that are currently available in the parks. This Windshield Touring article offers several examples of these policies in practice. It tells readers planning Acadia National Park visits that they should consider leaving their POVs in Bar Harbor and riding the Island Explorer shuttle instead. It tells how Denali’s managers have gotten people out of their cars and into concessionaire-operated buses on the shuttle road to protect wilderness values. It suggests that a circuit of the loop road at Cades Cove in Great Smoky might best be done via shuttle or bicycle instead of in a POV. We welcome additional suggestions about how Traveler can promote clean-air alternatives to POV use in the parks. And yes, you can be sure that Traveler will be spotlighting public transit issues and options whenever and wherever possible.

  • Traveler’s Delightful Dozen: Windshield Touring Trips in the National Park System   5 years 50 weeks ago

    I can't help but find it the teeniest bit ironic that NPT sometimes publishes articles about climate change and the parks, yet is also publishing an article about driving around (read:burning gasoline, contributing to climate change) for the sake of driving around...hopefully, there'll be something on public transit in the parks :)

  • 2008 National Park Service Centennial Projects Run the Gamut, From Traveling Trunks to Biodiversity Inventories   5 years 50 weeks ago

    From a basic accounting standpoint, expenditures on items that are greater than $5,000 and have a useful life of greater than one year, are typically considered to be capital expenditures, and would not typically be funded out of an "operations budget." At some point, I think it would be good to not be so grumpy. First the concern was that the Centennial Challenge wouldn't be funded, or wouldn't receive enough private mach. Now its that the money is there, but it is going to different priorities. My goodness - these projects represent $50 million in additional funding for the Parks! Isn't it in order to just be a little positive about this development? Sure, maybe power hook-ups for campsites aren't your priority - but they are surely a priority for anyone who has been turned away from an NPS campground because it was full! And yes, while the processes of democracy and of private matches has resulted in a hodge-podge of projects, this system is probably better than all of the other ones.

  • Congressman Introduces Legislation To Double The Size of Big Thicket National Preserve   5 years 50 weeks ago

    An interesting idea - but how should Congress prioritize scarce dollars for National Park System expansion? Should these dollars go towards Petrified Forest in-fill, for example? Or go for relatively new resources like Big Thicket?

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Yes, "nothing seems speedy when the Federal government is concerned", but at the end of the day, that is probably one of the advantages of democracy - not one of detriments. Extended periods of consultation have been used by defenders of the Parks on many occasions to prevent ill-considered decisions that would adversely affect the Parks or the government at large. In this case, I do look forward to improved natural quiet at Grand Canyon. At the same time, I am somewhat comforted by the fact that the Federal Government is being rather slow and deliberate about making a decision that would ultimately cost some well-meaning individuals their jobs.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Beamis and Frank:

    What fatigues me -- and a number of other NPT readers I've spoken with -- is that you repeatedly (and I suspect deliberately) fail to make the necessary distinction between the politically-appointed masters of the NPS and the public servants who work in the trenches despite those masters to achieve the mission of the agency. I for one, admire most of those colleagues and what they are attempting to accomplish as part of, yes, a United States Government bureaucracy. When you have reserved your suggestions for political reform and restructuring to the posts that are indeed on that subject, you'll see no argument from me. May I suggest (as Frank has indeed done in the past on occasion) that you stay germane to the topic Kurt leads with: in this case, there are severe safety issues in the national parks and other DOI facilities. While we await the governmental reorganization and wholesale replacement of most of the incumbent managers of the national park system that you so fervently wish for, I'll ask again, more specifically: what's your realistic solution?

    J Longstreet

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Thank the Lord for the vet & volunteers who saved the wolf's life. I shed tears for this beautiful animal, when I read about the valiant effort. The moron who snared these wolves ought to be made to wear a tight snare around his/her neck. Yes...that's my opinion about those people. They're all just a waste of good oxygen!!

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 50 weeks ago

    My deepest gratitude to the volunteers and to Dr. Denise Albert for their conscientious pursuit in finding this half strangulated wolf. Your efforts are most admired for it's conduct in the love of all "beautiful things large and small". A job well done!

  • Vet Removes Snare From Neck of Wolf in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Hey - How about some GOOD news for a change ?? This is GREAT !!

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   5 years 50 weeks ago

    It is amazing that these people are allowed to waste such resources on something they have never seen. I personally challenge any of these yahoos to show me video of what they claim. If in fact these accusations were true don't you think they would have a picture of donut marks with hundreds of oil puddles on their website? I have been staying if Frisco for over ten years and I have abided by every sign designating a habitat or nesting area. These idiots lose sight that when they eliminate all the traffic (ORV and Pedestrian) from the beach there will be no reason to rebuild it from the next hurricane.

  • Public Comment: Grand Canyon Overflights Noise Reduction   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Thanks for linking us up Kurt!

    If there's a volunteer out there who wants to take on this task....

    Don't know about that, last time I volunteered it took me four years to get out of it!

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Yes, a permanent web page of issues and comment periods with how to / where to voice our opinions would be very advantages for us “National Parks Traveler" users.

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Comment periods are open to everyone and all parties interested in the National Parks need to take advantage of them. In reading your article on the GCNP overflight comment period I did not see a link or information to where to send our comments. Would you please provide that informaion in future columns and add it to this one? Thanks!

  • In the News: Loss of Cougars in Yosemite National Park, "Uranium Rush" at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: in wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.

    Aldo Leopold “Thinking Like a Mountain”

  • Interior Secretary Opens Door for New Gun Regulations in National Parks   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Rick, what I find most amazing is all across this country when this issue of government (that would be the Interior Department also) violating the people's Second Amendment Rights, it appears that the public is overwhelmingly in support of them to NOT do it. More and more often I randomly find these BLOGS/COMMENTS and articles, and in this case, and in this article, by an author who opposes the changes in the NPS gun regulations. Don't you find that interesting?

    Maybe that's why the NRA is so vigilante? Maybe it's because they really do represent the people, and want to make sure any government, that we the people create, try not to dictate to us as to what we need?

    Congress has set aside all public land for the people to enjoy. Each jurisdiction has different mandates. None of them (mandates) ever suggested that they become all too powerful to regulate the Constitution. The mere idea of an elite few, to suggest that we "good sheep" need to be protected by them is unacceptable dictatorship tendencies.

    Scott Woodruff

  • In the News: Loss of Cougars in Yosemite National Park, "Uranium Rush" at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for bringing this critical issue to light. As a strong supporter of Aldo Leopold's conservation concepts on land ethics, I severely chastise the Bush & Cheney administration for their rape and pillage polices towards more exploitation of energy resources at the borders of our national parks. Whether it be the Arctic Wilderness or the Grand Canyon, we should not allow this corrupt administration to move one more inch towards this foolish and selfish goal to rip away at our natural resources out of reckless wanton. It's more then foolishness based on pure stupidity but blatant disregard for the concept of conservation of our resources. If this country had established decent energy policy years ago maybe we wouldn't be talking about this absurd issue of poking and pocket marking holes around our national parks for more energy resources. It has already begin to show that fur, fin and feather starting to collapse within it's natural habitats and boundaries to survival. What's more important, saving and conserving our natural resources for "Chance F's generation," or suck it for all it's worth for a short term energy package when energy conservation (and green energy policies) is truly the answer. Aldo Leopold had it right!!

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Since there is at present an existing backlog of "between $9.6 billion and $17.3 billion" I wonder whose position is the more laughable Mr. Devil?

    Every poll that is taken these days shows that "we the people" are overwhelmingly against "massive military programs and overseas adventures". Yet does this make any kind of a tangible difference? It is clear to the entire world that it does not. Evidence of massive war profiteering is there for all to see and yet no one in Washington has been moved to change a single thing. Again whose position is the more laughable?

    It is high time to transition our national treasures out the hands of their current masters in DC before they go completely bankrupt, a time that is drawing ever nearer, and into the hands of locally based institutions that will nurture them and sustain them beyond their role as political footballs on the gridiron of Washington politics.

    The time for "collective attention and agitation" concerning the imperial mandarins in DC is now long past. The whole world is increasingly bypassing and ignoring their hollow edicts and proclamations, making them more and more irrelevant to a forward thinking planet. Continuing to put our trust in them to do what is right for the national parks would be nothing short of foolish. It is clearly time for a new direction in administering these precious preserves, one that does not involve politicians housed along the banks of the Potomac.

    I'm done on this subject------over and out.

  • Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Regarding Beamis' idea to move parks from the US government to non-profit control is laughable. There would be less money available for maintenance if that happened. Interior is moving forward in all agencies to improve safety and facility maintenance. Since we the people are the government we need to keep talking this up to our representatives and voting for people who will spend money to rebuild America first instead of wasting money on massive military programs and overseas adventures. Read the news for the evidence of massive war profiteering and waste in the Defense Dept. It takes our collective attention and agitation before we'll see an improvement.