Recent comments

  • GYC Explains Value of Latest Agreement for Yellowstone National Park Bison   5 years 51 weeks ago

    the deal marks yet another illustration of the bankruptcy of the collaborative model for species advocacy in the west - as it relates to the livestock industry. When will GYC be willing to fight for what it alleges to believe in ? Instead, these groups demonstrate the desire to avoid controversy as an endeavor even more important to the group than the wildlife it purports to afford advocacy for.

    $2.8 million for those CUT cattle is extortion. It's wrong. Proclaiming the deal to be good for bison floating the idea on such lofty generality is weak. GYC's inability to muster the courage to identify and decry the livestock industry's political stranglehold of this entire process, and join with the others who see that this politicized myth-mongering must stop - not by placation - is a shortcoming that GYC needs to mull-over.

    I implore GYC, and urge members and leadership alike, to take the time to redress this wayward path the group has chosen to pursue. It's wrong.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Instead of movies that pretended to be in national parks (Thelma and Loiuse) there are more and better examples of actual national park locations. Some examples: Journey to the Center of the Earth (James Mason version) filmed in Carlsbad Caverns. Close Encounters filmed at Devils Tower. Splash, filmed at Statue of Liberty. Rocky II - Independence NHP. Planet of the Apes (original version) at Glen Canyon NRA. I would choose any of these over Thelma and Loiuse or The New World.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Good catch, Kraig. I always liked Mary better, anyway!

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Wait! Laura Linney is in Dances With Wolves? Where? And how could you select her over the wonderful Mary McDonnel?

  • Lake Powell Expected to Rise 50 Feet This Summer   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Nicely said Mr. Anonymous. I'm not convinced that there is a "climate crisis". I also doubt that there is very little, probably nothing, that we could do about it anyway. Here's an interesting piece you might enjoy reading:
    http://johnrlott.blogspot.com/2008/04/are-we-heading-towards-ice-age.html

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Star Wars Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi (1983): Remember the Ewoks? Living on the forest moon of Endor? Those small, bear like creatures hunt and live in one of the most spectacular forests ever seen on the big screen. Well, filming on the actual forest moon obviously was too expensive even for George Lucas, so he left Skywalker Ranch in Marine County and went north almost to the Oregon border. There in Redwood National and State Parks http://www.nps.gov/redw stands the forest of mighty trees, more then 300 feet high, more then 2000 years old, with an all but closed canopy so the light is filtered green. Factoid: Tall Tree Grove, where parts of the filming took place, is host to the then known highest tree on earth. And in late 2006 further exploration found a new record holder in the vicinity. The highest known tree is called Hyperion, after a Titan from Greek mythology, and was 115.55 m (379.1 feet) in September 2006. Its exact location is unpublished, but it is known that it stands on a slope over Redwood Creek, near Tall Tree Grove.

  • GYC Explains Value of Latest Agreement for Yellowstone National Park Bison   5 years 51 weeks ago

    I cannot agree that there is any value to the latest agreement and argued as much in a recent essay on my blog (see link for Jim's Eclectic World) below.

    Let's look at Amy's response more closely:

    She writes


    This agreement signifies the first time since federal and state agencies have been managing bison together that an investment will be made in the welfare of bison rather than simply hazing them back into the park or shipping them to slaughter when they attempt to leave the park. The Park Service has secured $1.5 million, the State of Montana has committed $300,000, and Greater Yellowstone Coalition and other conservation organizations have pledged to raise the remaining $1 million by this fall to have everything in place for next winter.

    In the welfare of bison? How so? There are 25 buffalo that will be allowed in under the first year of the agreement; they aren't allowed in permanently. They continue to be tested, they will be fitted (the cows) with vaginal transmitters. It's not "simple hazing"; it's in some ways worse. When the buffalo return or are forced to return back to Yellowstone in the spring, there's no telling what will happen with those 25 buffalo the next year. Another 100 might be allowed in to face the same torture. So, how has any buffalo's life been improved? As I suggest in my essay, this doesn't in any way move forward the situation of the buffalo; all it means is that the government agencies are changing the parameters of their testing / hazing / slaughter / torture program. In fact, where those 25 aren't really even protected over the long term, it's perhaps too generous to say that out of 1,601 killed buffalo when this plan was announced, 1,576 would still be dead. Those 25 don't live better, lives, at the number of 25, they are separated from their family units in their herds, and they face a very uncertain future. For what, $800 per animal unit month for the life of a lease that's otherwise unnecessary?


    Funding for this deal will support a positive step towards much-needed habitat for bison and reducing the senseless hazing, capturing, and slaughter that has devoured tax dollars in years past.

    In what way? As Glenn Hockett of the Gallatin Wildlife Association has pointed out; there already are public access lands that bypass the Royal Teton Ranch. Of course, this isn't actually new habitat for wild buffalo. It's not a step towards it, either, since these animals aren't really allowed to stay on the land. To give minimal grazing habitat to a small number of buffalo for the winter season under these conditions is not better than the current hazing program. But, it gives the impression that it is, actually sending the fight for habitat for these animals backwards - given the pretense that the government actually is making progress and making it seem as though we are closer to a solution for the buffalo. In fact, only the terms of the boundaries have changed, and the Church Universal & Triumphant has gotten rich. It also makes it seem as though certain environmental groups are making progress on wildlife issues so that they can continue collecting funds and stay in business. But, the buffalo? Not a single buffalo - not even the 25 - benefit from this deal.


    While this agreement is a huge step forward

    This is exactly the sort of reasoning that I argue against in my recent essay.


    The Royal Teton Ranch agreement should be viewed as a beginning of, not an end to, positive change for Yellowstone bison.

    Don't be fooled. This is not a positive change for the Yellowstone bison; not even a mere beginning. Buffalo gain nothing by this deal, and if we believe that they have gained, they will actually lose because I'm afraid we will lose sight of the continuing clear injustice that the buffalo face. Over half of Yellowstone's herds have been killed or have died this winter; no progress has been made on their behalf, and it's unfortunate that these environmental organizations are promoting a deal as beneficial that's completely unnecessary and - worse than that - will give people a false sense of progress. Now, unfortunately, we have to fight this new deal as part of promoting respect for Yellowstone's buffalo populations.

    ***as an aside, I am speaking here as an individual and not speaking here on behalf of the buffalo advocacy grassroots group I belong to in Bozeman or with Buffalo Field Campaign. Buffalo Field Campaign, however, has spoken vociferously out against the plan (as have members of the Gallatin Wildlife Association).***

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

  • Are Blue Ridge Parkway's Historic Guardrails At Risk?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    The look and feel of the parkway will be at risk once the modifications are made. Replacing and adding new railing will change the look, especially for those that frequent the parkway. It seems pretty straight forward to me.

  • Lake Powell Expected to Rise 50 Feet This Summer   5 years 51 weeks ago

    What a bunch of baloney! Science has not spoken! There is not a scientific consensus on "Global Warming." Many legitimate scientists disagree with the idea that Global Warming is caused by man or that Global Warming is even occurring. So what happens if we have this same kind of winter for about 3 years in a row? Will the alarmists start shouting that man is causing a new ice age? To save face their mantra will change and become "Global Climate change." What a bunch of bunk! Man has no idea what is going on or how to control it. One volcano has the capacity to spew more material into the air than most people can imagine.

  • NPCA: Health of Everglades National Park Requires a Longer Bridge Along the Tamiami Trail   5 years 51 weeks ago

    The opening of this blog post reads as if the Tamiani Trail was built "through Big Cypress National Preserve." Of course, Big Cypress Naitonal Preserve was not established until 1974 - some 44 years after the construction of the Tamiani Trail.

  • Are Blue Ridge Parkway's Historic Guardrails At Risk?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Guardrails at risk? A parkway remaining unmarred? Hmm.

  • Proposed Settlement Filed in Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV Case   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Respectfully, to suggest that "(t)he settlement, in effect, does what the National Park Service hasn't done -- provide some guidelines for off-road driving along the seashore" is to believe the distortion of the facts by the plaintiffs.

    No guidelines? In August of this past year, over 60% of the beach was off limits to ORVs due to the combination of resource, seasonal and safety closures. To suggest that Cape Hatteras had no guidelines is an insult to Superintendent Mike Murray & his staff. The NPS, and especially under the leadership of Murray, have actively and in recent years aggressively managed Cape Hatteras to protect the birds and turtles while trying to allow, where possible, access to seashore for recreation by the publics. His open and transparent management style was embraced by most of the ORV groups and users.

    While there were 15 nesting pairs in 1989, last year was the highest number of nests and chicks since 1999. And as has been the case for many years, weather events and predation not ORVs were the cause of the loss of eggs & chicks. Blocking access to ORV’s will do nothing to change this.

    http://www.nps.gov/caha/naturescience/upload/CAHA%20Piping%20Plover%20Report%20(2007)-Pgs.%201-11.pdf

    The terns and skimmers relocated to spoil islands in Hatteras and Ocracoke inlets where they reported had an excellent fledging season and somehow this counts against the Seashore numbers. .

    No, the suit was filed because NPS failed to implement a permanent, approved plan years ago – simply a technicality. Despite a USF&W-approved interim plan put in place by Murray that seemed to appropriately balance protection and access, this was the loophole the plaintiffs needed. That and a willing Federal judge who seems bent on micromanaging a National Park.

  • Groups Sue Park Service Over ORV Use in Big Cypress National Preserve   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Preserve Superintendent Karen Gustin has just been transferred to my park: The Olympic National Park in Washington state. Please help me understand the kind of changes this person might implement. I feel like we need to get ahead of her on the information front. We don't want ORVs or even bicycles in our Olympic NP Mountains or anywhere near its beaches.

  • Are Blue Ridge Parkway's Historic Guardrails At Risk?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Title of this article is a bit misleading, as the issue has already been settled. I expect better from NPT.

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    None of the land is owned by the National Park Service. The land is still owned by the Navajo Nation, while the monument is administered by the National Park Service. It's a very interesting arrangement for everyone involved!

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    I find the word choice in the article's title interesting and revealing, especially the choice of "given". Given implies original ownership. I think "returned" would be a better word choice, especially in light of the history of America's original inhabitants their treatment by the federal government.

    Sovereign nations, such as the Dine (what the Navajo call themselves), successfully manage magnificent landscapes such as Monument Valley. To state that "The Great Father" can better manage their sacred lands smacks of 19th century paternalism, racism, and greed, and I wonder if those who make such comments understand the history of how the federal government abused the Navajo (such as how school children were forced to learn English and were chained and beaten in school basements when they refused).

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    I know I seem to be the only one commenting here, but I wanted to point you to an essay I just wrote, which is in part a criticism of the CUT deal and the rationale cited here by those mainstream environmental groups who support it. It's also in part an answer to critics who wonder why people like me work on this issue when there are so many other "more serious issues." Both answers I see in the same root philosophical inconsistency.

    In any event, for those with time to read through my passionate verbosity, check it out:

    Why buffalo and why not the CUT deal? Against utilitarianism

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

  • Strange Bedfellows: The National Park Service and the American Recreation Coalition   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Laverty would be a nightmare for the NPS and he should be opposed at all cost.

    http://www.denverpost.com/sportscolumnists/ci_5630828

  • Creature Feature: Hellbenders   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Chance, I am so happy to see the start of this new article. As a youngster I was always looking for any and all animals. I am really going to enjoy reading these articles and reliving some of my youth! To explore and find animals was always my favorite thing to do. Just ask your mother!

    Love ya lots....

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   5 years 52 weeks ago

    I never bothered with the schedule of the cross-canyon-shuttle before, but checked it out now and you are right. Unfortunately you always have to spend one night at the North Rim, no matter which direction you go. So my advice would be to check occasionally for cancellations till your trip and check again once you got to the park. Ask the rangers on South Rim for advice, they might be able to help you. If nothing comes up, just take the shuttle anyway and check again on North Rim, whether someone canceled in the last five hours. If not, you just walk into the campground and ask a few friendly RV campers, if they let you build up your tent for the night in a corner of their site. Chances are that they are nice and actually excited to meet an adventurous person, who will do what they only dream of: hiking through Grand Canyon. Expect to get invited to their campfire. I did just that in a California State Park on a holiday weekend some years ago, and it worked.

    And regarding the two nights at Phantom Ranch: I think that's great. You will have no problem to spend a day inside the canyon, believe me. If you have no idea where to go, just ask a ranger. I haven't done Clear Creek Trail, but that would be my first idea how to spend a day in the canyon from Phantom Ranch. It's 18 miles and more than 1500 feet of elevation though! Of course you don't have to got the whole trail till Clear Creek, but there is the only source of water, so carry plenty. Please check out: http://www.bobspixels.com/kaibab.org/bc/gc_tr_cc.htm

  • Should Uranium Mining Be Allowed Outside Grand Canyon National Park?   5 years 52 weeks ago

    An update on this post - on April 4, a U.S. District Court in Arizona blocked further drilling for uranium mining until the Forest Service completes additional environmental analysis. This is a victory for the conservation groups involved (and for the Park). See http://www.grandcanyontrust.org/press/press_releases/default.php.

    The New York Times had an interesting take on this as well, arguing the ease with which the uranium drilling was approved argues for Congress to move ahead with the long-delayed updating of the aged Mining Law of 1872. See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/opinion/14thu3.htm.

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   5 years 52 weeks ago

    Removing Canyon de Chelly would be a tremendous shame.

    I hate to say this, becuase it's not entirely PC, but the Navajo nation is part of America, and all native tribes (those still in existance and those who were wiped out by European migration) are part of American history. Understanding tribal cultures and native history is vital to an understanding of American history, you cannot divide the two. Canyon de Chelly and other sites wholly included in tribal lands provide a vital mechanism to demonstrate this link to all Americans (and all tourists from foreign countries as well).

    If these sites are returned to wholly tribal control, I fear that this link will be lost. The only link between the two peoples (natives and "all others") will be through casinos, and that's a shame. Keeping Canyon de Chelly as part of the NPS will remind us all that there is a link between us that goes back not just hundreds but thousands of years.

    Also, having the NPS involved in Canyon de Chelly through this special arrangement will also help keep development away from the beauty of the canyon & the immediate surrounding area.

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   5 years 52 weeks ago

    A question for you veterans. I just got two nights confirmed at Phantom Ranch. Is it worth staying two nights at the bottom? I want to hike from North to South, Park at the South Rim, take the shuttle to the North Rim,camp and hike back to the south. The problem is there is no space available at the North Rim Campground. If I arrive by foot can I be assured of a place at the North Rim Campground? Another option is to delay my start by one day, that way I can get a campsite and go North to South, but will only have one day at Phantom. I can also start at the South, head down South Kaibab, spend my two nights at Phantom then hike up the North Kaibab the next day. I am fairly fit. What do you advise? Thx Avsfan

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 2 hours ago

    From the FBI National Crime Statistics for 2006, the last year for which data is complete:

    In 2006, 257 officers from the Department of Interior were assaulted, and 62 of these officers were injured. The following provides breakdowns by agency within the DOI:
    Bureau of Indian Affairs: 129 officers were assaulted, and 42 of these officers were injured.
    National Park Service: 101 officers were assaulted, and 20 of these officers were injured.
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: 27 officers were assaulted; however, none were injured.

    210 of the 257 DOI officers were attacked with personal weapons, such as hands, fists, or feet.
    28 DOI officers were attacked with vehicles.
    7 officers were attacked with blunt instruments.
    5 officers were attacked with firearms.
    2 officers were attacked with knives or other cutting instruments.
    5 officers were attacked with other types of weapons.

    As far as body armor is concerned, my personal belief as a police officer is that all uniformed law enforcement personnel, including law enforcement park rangers, should wear body armor. Granted, its probably more of a necessity in border parks like Big Bend and Organ Pipe (places with high rates of drug trafficking, etc) than it is in Acadia, but the reality is that bad things can happen anywhere, so why put yourself at increased risk by not wearing it?

    I don't find advertising the availability of body armor to law enforcement rangers directly related to the recent move to allow more guns. I find it to be exactly what it is: providing for the safety of your officers. If I were a park ranger, I'd wear body armor even if none of those assaults from 2006 had involved firearms.

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?   6 years 4 hours ago

    By the way, there has been independent confirmation on the NPS claims of 2,300 bison alive (that is, 2,400 dead). The biggest came out today in the Jackson Hole News & Guide. Now, according to Darrell Geist of Buffalo Field Campaign on Ralph Maughan's site, the NPS has counted 1,950, many close to death. However, the usual modeling for counting assumes an undercount and adds a couple hundred more (in this case 350 more). 2,300 is an important number in bison management because it's the point where the agencies are encouraged to use more non-lethal measures of control. At, 2,100 (a number we may be at), they are to do even more.

    Given we expect a winter storm this weekend that could dump a lot of snow in Yellowstone and given that many of the animals calving now cannot get food (Yellowstone has more snow than it's seen in a long time, which would in normal conditions be good news), given that they are weak from the winter and face predation, and given that they face the stress of hazing (as well as the stress in the case of bison still captured at Stephens Creek - where many are giving birth and face increased risk of abortion), that number seems likely to drop.

    This is enormous, enormous stress on these herds. They may recover again as they have in the past, but what kind of herds will they be? A lot has been coming out recently about the familial nature of herds and how they become increasingly dysfunctional the more stress they are under. The numbers may go up - because there is a survival instinct - but what kind of bison will be in Yellowstone? Ones that are lost, perhaps. I hope not.

    No matter how you slice it, this is a raw deal.

    And, as for the CUT deal, that deal would have saved 25 of these bison, who would have been tested and mistreated and then returned to the park after April 15 just so that next year's bunch would have the same mistreatment. Wildlife corridor? Ha! A rancher on a couple sites posted that per animal unit, the government will be spending approximately $800 per animal for the right to graze only part of the year. What is the average for cattle on public lands? $2 per animal! What is the highest this rancher had heard of - $60. And, this is $800 per animal unit for 30 years for six months of the year! This rancher was angry. For those of us strongly opposed to this, it was further evidence of the extortion money paid to CUT in service of the useless IBMP. Unfortunately, groups like GYC have invested a lot in this horrible deal, and they are willing to sell the bison out for it.

    If those of you reading this are upset, you should be. Are there groups to support? Yes. You should consider supporting either Buffalo Field Campaign or local groups like the Gallatin Wildlife Association. There are others; we're working on one in Bozeman that I've been involved with - it has strong support from both groups (and direct involvement by members of the Gallatin Wildlife Association). However, we are not likely to become a 501(c)3; you are better off sending your checks to these organizations. But, more importantly, your time might be even more precious. A lot of people across the country are going to hear from the large organizations that this is good for the buffalo; it's important for people to speak the truth and contradict it whenever they see it. While buffalo numbers will be so depressed next year that the slaughter won't likely ramp up next season, they will be sooner than we know. We have to be better prepared next time. Unfortunately, these groups celebrating the CUT deal as a "good step" will dampen public interest in the issue and think that government is being a good partner.

    That point of view needs to be exposed for what it is; it is a misstatement that only will send more buffalo to slaughter.

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