Recent comments

  • Saguaro National Park Officials Considering Use of Microchips To Slow Theft of Namesake Cactus   5 years 49 weeks ago

    This chip-technology is called RFID, Radio Frequency Identification.

    Because this new technology elicits privacy concerns and has a negative public relations image, the industry promoting it has shown a propensity for approaching potential users who have an attractive & positive profile, and who have some plausible application for RFID. The industry offers to assist in designing a way to solve some problem they have.

    The shortcoming with this activity is that on a number of occasions, the arrangement is not especially practical or workable. It puts RFID in the news in some commendable & sympathetic context, but is less than effective in solving the problem.

    A common misconception about RFID is that it can used to 'track' the chipped object, the way we might track a radio-collared animal as part of a wildlife study. That is not how it works. Instead, the chipped object must be scanned, at close range. At Wal-Mart and other large stores where valuable merchandise is chipped, scanner-coils are built into the store doorways (or invisibly into the floor). In other situations such as a veterinarian's office, subjects are examined with a hand-held wand-scanner.

    If plant nurseries that deal in the types of plants being poached from Parks are set up to use RFID routinely in their business (it can be used for inventory ... by scanning a plant a hand-held PDA might report the last time it was watered, fertilized or its price), then chip-implanting wild protected plants might reasonably lead to additional information about poaching activities.

    If nurseries do not use RFID this way, then it is a huge burden to expect them to suddenly begin doing so.

    If plant-poachers are selling fairly spectacular specimens directly to housing-developers for incorporation into new construction landscapes, then approaching the local builders' association (say in Tucson) to start scanning plants, as good as accuses them of buying hot plants on the black market. Similar illicit services might be offered directly to established home-owners.

    Any experienced plant-person can readily distinguish between a plant that came from the wild (and thus was likely poached) and one that was grown commercially. The problem isn't so much to identify wild plants, with say RFID - they are easily identified by eye - as it is to secure the cooperation of those who are in a position to intercept & halt the demand-chain ... and those parties are mainly nurseries, builders & home-owners.

    If any or all of those parties are surreptitiously encouraging/rewarding poaching, then we can chip Park-plants until they glow in the dark, and it won't solve the problem.

  • Visiting the Parks: Petroglyph National Monument   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Wikipedia has the original map in full size at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/PETR_map1.jpg - on the NPS web site there is only an edited version with lower contrast: http://www.nps.gov/petr/planyourvisit/images/brochuremap_1.jpg

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    S. please stop exadurating. Yes it is Oregon Inlet north side (Bodie Island Spit). The fact that it is an Inlet would mean there are currents and tides flowing back and forth to the sound. Tell us more about these drownings. Just by chance was the symbolic fence run down blocking retreat from an unusual high tide by just a couple of feet? Or, was it run down by civil disobedience? Could you also provide the dates and locations that "birdwatchers" organized and participated in a beach cleanup on the beaches of CHNSRA? Show us what fruit you have plucked with a FOIA search.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    S.R., please stop exaggerating. An inlet is where the tide and current flow into and out-of the sound. Just when was a beach user drowned from swimming in the inlet, not in a "rip current"? The swimmers I have seen have been on the calmer sound side by the bridge. Please list the the what's, whens, who's of these many dog bites. Plus just by chance is the symbolic fence you refer to being run over, one that cut off retreat from an unusual high tide by a few feet? Or was it just run down by civil disobedience? I am also curious about just how many times, and at what locations inside of CHNSRA did an organized trash collection effort involve "birdwatchers"?

    Exaggerating has not gotten anybody anywhere in these times. Post up your FIOA info. Now tell us how bad it was at Oregon Inlet (Bodie Island Spit) this year 2008. If compared to the staggering figures from years past, they would have had to build a second story to the Inlet beach this year. Got any pictures to show how bad the ORVS were stacked up on the spit, this year, 2008?

  • Visiting the Parks: Petroglyph National Monument   5 years 49 weeks ago

    There is a nice NPS map of Petroglyph Nat'l Monument on the University of New Mexico website; go there to see a larger version. The page also mentions Native-related issues pertaining to the monument.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I'm observing more and more Cynicism, people who think with their subjective view is the right one makes me wonder if they think this planet and other lives on it are theirs to dictate. These parks are for all, not just the ones with the preconceived notion that what they think the parks are for. We need to quit trying to dictate what others should be doing. The land is for all of us to experience, not just what one or a group of people thinks their experience should be. The concept of Freedom is being pushed more and more out. This land is all of ours, not just one or a group of persons. Keeping an open mind isn't that tough, preconception of what will happen is prejudice. If we think that we are entitled to our individual right for peace and tranquility and the other doesn't have a right to ride a Segway. We have stepped out of our personal zone and trampled on another’s. We all have a right don't we? If someone thinks that the other one doesn't have a right to choose then we're moving towards a Communist country.

    Mark who wrote "it's a motorized vehicle. NO." Nice observation Mark, I see you see things in Black or White only. Such an open mind you haven't. Your analogy of no motorized vehicles on bike paths to keep speed down to keep it safe for others. Bikes travel faster than Segways, bikes can travel up to 30 MPH while Segways are limited to 12 MPH. Nice try...or was it? I usually insist that others do their own homework but, we all need a helping hand once in awhile.

    I challenge everyone to let go of the 'Controlling Attitude', this is what America is about. Give others a chance, many more are as much intelligent, responsible and respectful as you...in fact the majority. I have a simple analogy myself; we all know we don't need the Speed limit signs, it's the few that ruin it for the rest. That's always going to be that way, laws and rules don't fix things.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    National parks are far from pristine, and the NPS has played a major role in facilitating their degradation.

    I never said that national parks are perfect. But you're letting the perfect be the enemy of the very good. You have cited a few oddball situations as if they're the norm in national parks -- they're not. But they are the norm on other federal, state, and private lands.

    • Mining, Oil, and Gas. I'm sorry to hear that there are a few old mining operations, waste dumps, and junk yards in national park areas. They should be eliminated. But how much land do these cover? A few hundred acres? Major expanses of national forest and BLM lands are threatened by mining, oil and gas drilling, and oil shale and tar sands mining. Mining is a looming threat, even in highly sensitive ecosystems and roadless areas such as these. Oil and gas drilling is a huge threat on national forest lands in California, Pennsylvania, and across the country. BLM lands are even more threatened, such as those in Utah and Colorado. Then there are plans for vast oil shale and tar sands development on millions of acres of BLM lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. It's absurd to even begin to compare the tiny infractions on National Park System lands to the massive abuses on other public lands.

    • Roads. Of the 84 million acres of National Park System lands, almost all of it is roadless backcountry. About 40 percent of the National Wilderness Preservation System is in national park units. You think 8,500 miles of roads spread across 84 million acres is a lot???? The National Forest system has 380,000 miles of roads! And that's not including countless miles of ORV "trails" that crisscross the national forests. The BLM is even worse. For example, the agency is proposing the designation of 1,947 miles of roads for ORVs and conventional vehicles crammed into just 1.4 million acres in the Monticello Field Office area in southern Utah -- adjacent to roadless national park lands, by the way. That's 22% of the total National Park System road system! And this is typical of all BLM lands. So national forest and BLM lands have at least 100 times the road density of National Park System lands. It's a joke to even compare them.

    • Logging. When it comes to logging, there's no comparison between the National Forest System and National Park System. Yes, over the last 118 years Sequoia National Park has apparently cut a few sequoia trees (and that's not a good thing). Meanwhile, next door in Giant Sequoia National Monument, "protected" by the U.S. Forest Service, the agency has already done extensive logging and has been rebuked by the courts and members of Congress for planning additional illegal logging under the guise of "fire prevention." Conservationists are advocating transferring the National Monument from the Forest Service to the Park Service because they know that the Park Service offers the best protection available for this area.

    • Livestock Grazing. You didn't mention livestock grazing, but it is almost nonexistent on National Park System lands. However, it is endemic on national forest, BLM, and even many national wildlife refuge lands, and it is deeply subsidized by the public. Livestock grazing is tremendously destructive to native ecosystems, endangered species habitat, scenic values, and recreational uses. It is almost everywhere on western public lands -- except national parks. In fact, National Park System wilderness areas provide the strongest protection of any federal lands, because the do not allow grazing.

    • Natural Experience. I don't know where you have gone in national parks and national forests, but I have been in a lot of both across the country. As touched on above, the natural experiences on national forests, except in wilderness areas, are being destroyed by logging, drilling, mining, roadbuilding, and other abusive activities. There are a few areas in national parks like the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, Yosemite Valley, Cadillac Mountain, and Cades Cove in national parks. From the way national park advocates rail about these areas, one would think that they are typical. In reality, along with roads and other facilities, far less than 1% of National Park System lands are developed at all. At least 99 percent of National Park System lands are designated or de facto wilderness. There is no question that overall, the national parks are far more natural than national forests or BLM lands.

    • Budget. It's totally unrealistic to think that we can decommission some National Park System areas and still keep the money in the system. That would be the next step in the downward spiral. The anti-park forces want to totally get rid of the parks and privatize them. By talking about eliminating parks, you just offer them an opportunity to get their nose under the tent. And I don't agree with your premise that Golden Spike, Steamtown, or any other national park areas should be eliminated, even if it would free a few million dollars for other parks. I think E.O. Wilson addresses the futility of this grasping for crumbs approach well in the latest National Parks mag.

    • Bureaucracy. I'm sure that anyone who has worked inside the National Park Service has had negative experiences with the bureaucracy. I'm fully supportive of significant reform of the agency, which clearly has some significant problems. But I can see the results of National Park Service versus other public land management, and it is far superior. The facts speak for themselves. My point is that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. The idea that National Park System units even come close to being as threatened as other public and private lands is a dangerous myth that needs to be debunked.

  • Will Second Century Commission Succeed With Its National Parks Assessment and Recommendations?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    The challenge facing a Commission underwritten by the National Rifle Association to study the future of our Parks would be that the NRA is known to bring a specific & strong bias to the table.

    The exact same issue arises in the case of the National Parks Conservation Association, backing a commission for the same purpose.

    Furthermore, the National Parks Conservation Association has shown no better ability to work beyond their preferred viewpoint than the National Rifle Association.

    Neither organization recognizes the validity of the full spectrum of the American public, and that limitation disqualifies each of them equally, in any project to define the future of a resource held in common by all citizens.

    Questions of the future of our National Parks belong before real representatives of the people: both the NRA and the NPCA aim to promote a specific viewpoint - and discount all others.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    What country/state is CHNSS in ? The correct name is CHNSRA, and for those that are clueless the RA stand for RECREATION AREA,not reserve area. As far as the supposed endangered species there are none on CHNSRA. Both the plovers and turtles are threatened,not endangered. One of the reasons that these animals are in the threatened category ia that in numerous foreign countries they are table fare, some of the same foreign countries that we send taxpayer funded aid to. Maybe this gives some validity to the" tastes like chicken" adage. According to the Census Bureau by the year 2050 the US population will increase by almost 50% to 439 million, and if the wackos have their way the available beaches will decrease by the same 50%. If this happens the only beaches future generations will ever know will be the Ocean Cities,Virginia Beaches etc.
    Some people seem to believe that Promises such as "Free and Open Beach Access " are meant to be broken. The disabled have no right to enjoy the beach in direct violation of The Americans with Disabilities Act. The safety of the American public is of no concern, ie the Bonner bridge, lightning shelters for beach users, means of access for the disabled and eldery, the animals are so way more important. Why is the American public being punished for the failure of the NPS to do its job? Do the plovers really need 1000 meter buffer zones, do all turtle nests magically require full beach closures on Sept 15? Show us the science, you can't because it doesn't exist and we all know it.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Anonymous (not verified),

    There is no question that lots of cars drive out onto the Cape beaches. There is also no question that some are offended that this long-standing practice takes place. I accept those two things, at face value.

    The issue I have raised is that one of the photographs Kurt Repanshek used to illustrate this article shows plain evidence of having been altered in a manner that exaggerates the density of the cars on the beach.

    I have found the source of this image that Kurt uses here, on the Southern Environment Law Center website, labeled "©SELC". I see no opportunity to view a larger version of the picture.

    It is possible to create this alteration unintentionally. We can stipulate the dimensions of an image as it displays on the webpage, in code. Normally, though, we are careful to keep vertical & horizontal proportions the same, since a picture 'looks funny' if we change them. This picture 'looks funny' in a way the creates a stronger impact than the picture would have in its original proportions.

    It is unethical to modify an image - to use distortions of the facts - to increase the force of the message one hopes to convey. If Southern Environment Law Center is indulging in this practice, it would reflect adversely on them & their mission.



    I made a webpage to display the image in 3 widths: the width used in this article and on the SELC site, and at 2 wider widths. If you are not sure about the distortion-question, study these versions for a few seconds.

    Increasing the width of the image does not make the cars go away. There are still lots of cars there. It does make it clearer, though, that the image was substantially altered.

    It would be helpful to have access to a larger version of this image; preferably the original.

  • Visiting the Parks: Petroglyph National Monument   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Thanks for introducing me to Petroglyph National Monument. I didn't know about this one. El Morro National Monument near Grants, NM is another area of petroplyphs and historical graffiti that is fun to explore.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Having worked at Cape Hatteras NS as a ranger for many years I can identify the locations for readers in these two pictures. The top picture is Hatteras Island with Hatteras Village in the background. It was taken from South of Ramp 49 in an area that is open to ORV usage before it reaches a seasonal closed area in front of Frisco village during summer months. The amount of beach that is ORV accessible is relatively small when turning south from the ramp; most visitors prefer to go north towards Cape Point. During Saturday when most of the houses turn over the beach on Hatteras is empty which is probably when this picture was taken, or later in the fall as the beach may be this beautiful until late October or early November.
    The second picture is Oregon Inlet. Yes, it can be absolutely this packed every day during the summer and fall weekends. This picture is not doctored. It is crazy, it is scary, and I wouldn't go to Oregon Inlet if you paid me a ton of money. Yes, there is a symbolic fence to protect bird nests and turtle nests but people run it over. The current and tides rip through the inlet and people drown because this isn't a safe place to swim and yet people continue to flock to this insanity. At night people have fires as large as their cars, dogs run loose biting people and rangers, it's Mardis Gras moved north. And before anyone shouts me down check the public record--FOIA requests can be your friend.
    Now, many ORV users can be respectful. Many users--ORVers, walkers, birdwatchers support the seashore by volunteering and removing trash, presenting programs and helping in many ways. It's not just the ORV users that volunteer to clean the beach, it's a community effort.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    "If [National Park Service units] had been managed by other public agencies, they would have been logged, roaded, grazed, mined, drilled, and open to ORVs."

    The NPS has conducted mining in national parks. Check out a satellite image of an open-pit mine in the side of a cinder cone at Lava Beds National Monument. The National Park Service mined (still mines?) cinders here. A satellite tour of other national parks will reveal more mining operations conducted by the NPS. They will also reveal toxic waste storage in a variety of NPS junkyards.

    Roads? Search for roads at the NPS site, and you'll get 14,700 hits. As for "roaded", 8,500 miles of roads, including 1,736 bridges and 67 tunnels, slice through national parks.

    Logged? Well, cutting a 1,500 year-old giant sequoia to protect a 50 year-old cabin, which the NPS did in Sequoia National Park, might not count as logging, but it might be arguably worse. Does removing trees to build parking lots, visitor centers, and other facilities and then selling the wood in the campground count as logging?

    The NPS uses ORVs at least in one national seashore and allows ORVs in several national recreation areas.

    I could continue, but won't.

    My point is not to tear down the NPS, but to urge all of us to remove our rose-colored glasses when viewing governmental land management. National parks are far from pristine, and the NPS has played a major role in facilitating their degradation. My first few seasons, my coworkers and I berated the Forest Service believing the NPS was far superior. I discovered that many USFS areas provide a far more natural experience than parks, and that the NPS isn't perfect, which is evidenced by the current state of national parks. The system is highly political, and this affects preservation.

    If anyone doubts how highly politicized the NPS has become, check out this graph showing the establishment of NPS units by type and year. You'll find that far more NPS sites were created during election years (to curry favor in home districts in the hopes of reelection). And if you check out this graph, you'll see that non-"national park" and non-"national monument" (such as national recreation areas, national historic sites, etc.) consume over 60% of the NPS operating budget.

    So all those expensive (in terms of visitor to cost ratio) sites, such as Golden Spike and Steamtown, which have questionable historical integrity or national significance, are draining resources from Yosemite, Yellowstone, and our other national treasures. Turning some of those over to state park systems or non-profits could help save our national parks.

  • Who Visits Alaska's National Parks?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I am saving & planning, to spend several months in Interior Alaska, to see whether it could work for me to move there. Possibly over this winter.

    In the past, I worked as a logger first on Kuiu Island then at Hobart Bay, in Southeast Alaska.

    On Kuiu, wolf-packs would position themselves close to the edge of camp (a tiny town), then 'on cue' cut loose with a tremendous din of yipping & squealing and weird noises - trying to lure camp-dogs out into the timber. Unrestrained dogs would often dash immediately for them, and those indoors or tied would struggle to get loose. Dog-owners ran frantically to secure their pets. Those who made it into the brush were considered good as dead.

    The Alexander Archipelago of Alaska is especially wilderness-like, even where it is not protected. Other parts of Alaska, I understand, share a good measure of this. The Olympic Peninsula, my home, has a taste of this, and I might like a larger helping.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Having seen, first hand, hundreds of cars parked at Cape Point in rows, I can attest to the validity of the photo you've called into question. It is no exaggeration and I have no doubt the photo has not been altered. Your suggestion of some devious manipulation is, itself, somewhat scurrilous. Check out the photos on the website of The Island Free Press and other websites that overtly oppose restricting ORV driving on our national treasurer.

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.islandfreepress.org/2008Archives/03.08.2008-CapePointCelebration.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.islandfreepress.org/2008Archives/06.18.2008-ShootingTheBreezeReturnTheManagementOfTheSeashoreToTheParkService.html&h=332&w=384&sz=156&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=thEorJ3x7tDsnM:&tbnh=106&tbnw=123&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcars%2Bcape%2Bpoint%2Bhatteras%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den

    I have to agree with "Anonymous", that "[t]he ORV groups at Cape Hatteras are a crass bunch that has insisted on 24/7 access to all portions of the seashore." I spent some time at Cape Hatteras earlier this summer and, curious about the all the silly road-side signs that appear randomly along Hwy 12, I initiated conversation with several locals about the beach-driving issue. I was shocked at how ridiculous and misinformed some locals are. For example, the check-out staff at an Avon grocery store insisted the environmental groups' true intention is to close the CHNSS beaches to all human access, permanently, forever.

    People need to know that not all local residents agree with the loud and threatening proponents of unrestricted beach driving. I brought the issue up about 7 times during my visit. In 2 conversations, the locals seemed overly angry about having beach driving restrictions of any kind. But on 3 separate occasions, the locals, out of earshot of others, expressed quiet support for the wildlife protection efforts. Of these, 2 long-time residents and merchants expressed fear of the unlimited-access proponents who, apparently, are threatening and intimidating locals who openly disagree with them. A couple of merchants refused to speak about it and were visably uncomfortable when I brought the subject up. It happened twice -- one store clerk just walked off hurriedly, disappearing into the back of his store. One check-out clerk said nothing, stared down nervously as she made change and handed me my fishing bait. (Yes, I surf fish, but I walk to the beach and my fishing spot!)

    It is obvious Dare County and the ORV groups who oppose NPS's current efforts to protect CHNSS's natural resources are doing so for their own self-serving benefit and gain. They seem to forget the national park is for any and all who visit the park -- not just the ORV-driving few. They ignore the fact that the Park's mission to protect wildlife and its habitat is paramount to recreation. They also fail to acknowledge that driving on Cape Hatteras National Seashore remains illegal in the absence of a management plan, in spite of the consent decree -- a consent decree that all parties, including the counties and ORV groups, negotiated and agreed to. The deplorable methods they are using to further their own self interests reveal the extremes of selfishness and ignorance. They seem to hold no regard for non-driving users of park, for the creatures that need the Seashore to exist, or for the future generations of humans and animals (if they happen to survive) who will be forever harmed by its destruction and loss.

  • Climber Dies In Accident In Grand Teton National Park   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I wonder how those people drowned at Hoosier Dunes....were they wearing life vests? Was alcohol involved? Were they in an area they shouldn't have been? Fill us in anon. The adventurous souls who lost thier lives on the Grand no doubt were doing what they loved... a highly skilled activity. No doubt there are idiots who try and climb the tetons who have no business being there, but for the most part those that climb there certainly know what they're doing. I'd dare to say a good number of us who visit this site would salute those (and all) souls who died on that mountain, and respect the type of individual who pusues such activity. I've lived in the south and I've lived in Jackson, and let me just say this...nope never mind. I think my message is clear.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    why would people park there cars right on the edge of a beach?no common sense perhaps?

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    "What would be the reaction if the National Park Service only oversaw "national parks," ie the 58 units that carry that distinction? What if some/most of the other 333 properties were spun off, some back to the states, some to NGOs, some to the National Trust for Historic Preservation? Give the NRAs and national preserves to the BLM; that's surely a better fit, and perhaps even the national seashores."

    This is a horrible idea. And I'm appalled that many commenters here support it. Despite the problems, National Park System units are managed WAY better than any other federal land units and almost all state lands. They are permanent, unlike any private or corporate arrangement. And they have a longer proven record of continuous protection than any other public or private land systems.

    The Forest Service and BLM are disasters -- they're rapidly ruining the lands under their "management." We should be taking lands away from them and adding them to the National Park System. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows a wide array of destructive activities. Many of our wildlife refuges should also be transferred to the National Park System.

    The idea of privatizing ANY public lands is totally unacceptable. If you want to see the results of a mostly privatized landscape, take a look at Maine Woods, where conservationists have been working to create a new national park to save the area from private developers and corporations that are clearcutting, subdividing, and developing remote wildlands. The only reason our parks are still intact today is that they were under National Park Service protection. If they had been private they would be long gone. If they had been managed by other public agencies, they would have been logged, roaded, grazed, mined, drilled, and open to ORVs.

    It's a sad day when people who are supposed to be national park supporters are openly talking about decommissioning parks and turning them over to anti-preservation federal agencies, state governments, or private interests. The National Park Service and park system clearly need to be revitalized. So let's do it. But we should not even consider dismantling or gutting a system of park units that took more than a century to create.

    On the contrary, we should be greatly expanding our National Park System. Just look to the north at Canada, or at other countries that are creating new parks. Argentina, Australia, China, Denmark, French Guiana, Gabon, Iceland, and Russia have all created new national parks in just the last few years -- ironically, many with the help of American conservation organizations. Meanwhile, the American national park movement is not only stalled, it's going backwards.

    But there is hope. There is a new generation of grassroots activists across the country who are advocating the creation of new national parks. They are proposing new or expanded national park units to save not only the Maine Woods, but also West Virginia’s Blackwater Canyon, Utah’s Glen Canyon, Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, California’s Giant Sequoia National Monument and Tejon Ranch, Oregon’s Mount Hood, Washington’s Mount St. Helens, and other extraordinary places. This would save millions of acres of endangered wildlands. We should be supporting their positive vision and helping them in their efforts.

  • Toyota's Donation to Yellowstone National Park: Corporate Greenwashing, or Good Partner?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    A year from now few if any people will know or remember that this was a gift from Toyota. Most people will view it as another government vehicle. When I was at Hagerman Fossil Beds earlier this year they had two Toyota Prius's in the parking lot of the visitor center. I have no idea if they were bought by the government or were a gift from Toyota. All I know is with the better fuel economy they are not spending as much of their budget on gas as they would have if they were using another type of vehicle.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    MRC,

    As I understand it, the main distortion-effect of a long telephoto lens is to shorten the apparent depth of field, and it happens uniformly all around the lens.

    If telephotos caused a side-to-side compression, things would always look taller & skinnier than they should ('weird'), when viewed through a telephoto, but they don't: vertical & horizontal proportions are normal, through a telephoto.

    The effect visible in this photograph isn't the normal side effect of any conventional lens: it took effort to achieve this distortion. We should view a larger version of the image: The oddness will really stand out ... as will the questions.

  • Saguaro National Park Officials Considering Use of Microchips To Slow Theft of Namesake Cactus   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Geez, thieves will steal anything ...

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

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Toyota's Donation to Yellowstone National Park: Corporate Greenwashing, or Good Partner?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Jim Macdonald,

    You raise several important cautions about the current crop of 'creative' income-generators Parks are working out with corporations.

    Conservatives like to say, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance". That's really true about a lot of things in life ... and in the National Parks. Rarely can we make a single-shot investment to create a certain arrangement, and expect our achievement to remain as-is without further effort ... without monitoring, reassessing, and generally remaining vigilant.

    Privatization of Parks is a worry many respond to. Funding can be arranged with the private corporate sector, though, without putting Parks under private control. We have to stay on our toes, sure - but that's something life demands of us anyway.

    When a girl reaches puberty, it's a wonderful thing. Sure, it could lead to teenage pregnancy. One day, her new-found sexuality could lead her into a relationship with a man who abuses her. She could end up having to drag her children through the trauma of divorce ... and it all started with puberty ... the gift of sexuality.

    Does that categorize puberty as something we shouldn't let get started? Does the chance that things could - and in some case will - go bad further down the road puberty set us upon, mean that we condemn it? Of course not.

    We do have to keep an eye on relationships between Parks and corporations. In addition to the good that can come of it, there are risks. Occasionally there may be improprieties ... it's unrealistic to expect there wouldn't be.

    Overall, though, sensibly-crafted agreements with corporations can be good thing. There is nothing in the deals with Toyota, Canon or Coca-Cola that locks us to a privatized outcome. There are risks in this general course, but they are manageable and we are alert to possible adverse outcomes. That's more than half the battle.

  • What's the Solution For Cape Hatteras National Seashore?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I completely agree that beach driving and wildlife protection can co-exist, but it's not a question of the environmental groups' willingness to negotiate. The ORV groups at Cape Hatteras are a crass bunch that has insisted on 24/7 access to all portions of the seashore. They will not permit pedestrian only areas or wildlife areas as have been proposed in the negotiated rulemaking. And they chaffe at every single seasonal restriction that the Park Service tries to impose to protect nesting species. They want an ORV corridor through areas where there are chicks on the ground, significantly increasing the chance that native shorebirds and sea turtles can get run over.

    The environmental groups want about 12 miles of 67 closed during the breeding season from April 1 to around August 15 as scientists recommend. They will even allow an ORV corridor in these areas so long as the US Fish and WIldlife Service recommended buffers for nests allow room for one. When there are chicks running around, vehicle use should stop in those areas for the few weeks it takes chicks to fledge. The environmental groups want night driving restricted during turtle season -- a commonplace regulation at most every other seashore. That's it.

    So yeah, there can be balance. There can be ORV use on most of the seashore year round. But what will the ORV groups accept to protect wildlife during the breeding season? So far the answer is a big fat nothing.

  • Toyota's Donation to Yellowstone National Park: Corporate Greenwashing, or Good Partner?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Toyota has been making fuel efficient cars that are as reliable as cars come for since the "green" movement was in its infant stages. American car companies could learn a lot from Toyota and it shows as sales of all American cars keep slipping and Toyotas and Hondas increase. I recently was in the market for a used car and was looking for an Accord or Camry. They were few and far between. The majority of what was for sale? American Gas Guzzlers.

  • Toyota's Donation to Yellowstone National Park: Corporate Greenwashing, or Good Partner?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Thanks Kurt for raising the issue. I'm a little surprised by the comments - how much they've changed in the last year when the privatization of parks was a hot topic and almost anything that smacked of privatization was met with suspicion.

    It is a slippery slope to suggest that some Prius's - the car du jour - will open the floodgates toward privatization of parks. And, right now, I doubt people know that Coca-Cola has been donating money, that Canon has a protography project in the park (the live streaming webcam of Old Faithful being one example of their work), and I know I must be leaving out a half dozen other high profile corporate partners in Yellowstone. So, it seems relatively harmless.

    However, the worry of privatization remains. As foundations have to depend more and more for grants and funding on proposals to the philanthropy wing of a corporation, philanthropy arms that have specific strings attached to accepting any proposal, then those who control the funding, ultimately control the product. Non-profit after non-profit already has to contend with this - we can see for instance how the Gates Foundation is to the philanthropy world what Microsoft is to the corporate world (they have specific expectations, they are the main funder of so many non-profits, and so they ultimately figure out how to control the agenda - I speak in this case from firsthand experience). The more that funding is dependent on the desires of the corporations who give the money, then the more we have room for worry here.

    This gift is relatively meaningless as is; the question is in any gifts of this type whether it's considered the first step toward more. More sounds like a good thing, but it's not necessarily a good thing. We are probably a long way from "Toyota presents, 'Old Faithful,'" but we are increasingly seeing the welding of government power and corporate power in the parks, and that will make it all the harder to fight the abuses. When the bottom line comes from a large company instead of the public, then watch out. What happens with bioprospecting (an issue in Yellowstone that has been dormant the past year) agreements, for instance? Are we not to believe that this won't have some influence on policy?

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