Recent comments

  • 28 Years Ago, the National Park System Gained Millions of Acres   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Kurt -- it is such a kick to see so many pieces, and comments, in this website about Alaska over the past several days. Now with this piece you bring it all together, by highlighting President Carter's Alaskan National Monuments.

    -- On how long it took to get the Alaska Lands Act (ANILCA) passed, it DEPEMDS on how you count.

    Ted Swem, the NPS genius who headed the national park service planning team and first defined (in 1973) all the areas included in Pres. Carter's Monuments, wrote a piece in the NPS newsletter about the origin of the park proposals. He mentioned NPS studies going back to the 1930's, and also the effort to create large national monuments -- including a two-unit Gates of the Arctic NM -- for President Johnson to establish. But in a last-minute conflict with Sec. Stewart Udall in January 1969, most of these proposals died.

    Then, in 1973, Ted's team submitted their proposals through the Director to the Secretary (Rodgers Morton) to be sent to the Congress. Morton had to coordinate his proposals through the Nixon then Ford White House. Several bills started to be introduced from that time on, either based on the Morton/Swem proposals, or on larger conservationist plans. When Carter was elected, the Administration revised the Ford proposal, led by Secretary Andrus. That is when the national preserves were identified, so as to close the "national parks" to sport hunting. Andrus prepared draft legislative language, introduced by Senator Scoop Jackson, Rep. Mo Udall on behalf of the environmentalists introduced the famous "H.R. 39," and Senator Stevens his bill on behalf of the opponents of the parks and refuges. Ultimately, there were many more. From the beginning Senator Jackson maneuvered to have his bill end up as "the" bill.

    But all the bills died at the end of 1978, forcing President Carter to create the Monuments, even though Senator Mike Gravel said Carter did not have the guts. Not the first time Gravel was wrong. The concept of ending all further Presidential Proclamations under the antiquities act was fully supported by Carter and Andrus, and was one of many ways included in the final bill to salve the opposition or anger of those in Alaska who opposed the parks. Carter and Andrus wanted a bill passed by congress, a concensus vehicle as much as possible.

    Throughout, Carter and Andrus made numerous efforts to avoid vindictiveness, and achieve a balanced bill that accomplished Rogers Morton's Vision Statement to "Do Things Right For the First Time." In their efforts at statesmanship, Andrus and Carter reminded me of Abraham Lincoln. Carter said he thought that many years in the future, historians would say Alaskan conservation was the most important thing achieved in his Administration.

    But Kurt, you are also right about the key point, that at a time Alaska was being carved up for development and land disposal, the President and the Congress insisted that CONSERVATION be built into the development plans. rather than as an afterthought.

    You mention Dick Proenneke and Lake Clark National Park. I had a chance to meet Dick Proenneke at Twin Lakes about a year before Carter and Andrus make their proposal in 1977. I have never seen such a beautifully CRAFTED piece of woodworking or architecture as that cabin. At that time Dick thought he would have to leave his cabin as soon as the park was created, because he said BLM had told him he did not have a legal claim, and would be run off by the NPS. He accepted this philosophically, saying the most important thing was to protect large, beautiful parklands for the future, not what happened to him.

    Despite the flack that everybody in Alaska was against the new parks, if it had not been for the support of so many Alaskans like Dick, I think the bill would not have passed, or at least, so many areas this large would not have been created. There is an amazing, long list of inspired people who, working together (and sometimes in opposition), made these great national monuments happen.

  • Study Says Loss of Wolves Damaging Olympic National Park's Forest Ecosystem   5 years 50 weeks ago

    we need to reintroduse wolfs, why? it is because, the elk and deer heards are tearing up our forests! they are eating the plants that contain river banks, they eat the shoots of new trees. if we allow controlled hunting, people from all over the USA will come to Washington, to hunt the elk, and even with the hunting being controlled the elk numbers will still drop like flies.

  • China Moves to Designate its First National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Thanks, Sabattis, for bringing up the Kobuk Valley National Park.

    What a special place. Is there anything else like it? And yes, other than the Kobuk River, and the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes (that actually might not be on federal land), tourists don't usually go there. But it is a crossroads of the arctic and the subarctic, of the flyways and caribou migration routes, midway between the coastal zone and the Interior, of nearly every phase of Alaska pre-history, and a nearly complete ecological zone.

  • National Park Quiz 31: World War II   5 years 50 weeks ago

    You're welcome, Fred. When my wife and I toured "Big Mo", I was puzzled by the fact that it was impossible to get a good view of the USS Arizona Memorial from the quarterdeck of the battleship -- that is, from the part of the Missouri where the Japanese surrender ceremony took place. Finding out why was a real revelation. The symbolism is very powerful. Those unfamiliar with the setting might want to take a look at
    this site. It is the single best photo I have ever seen of the two vessels' relative positions.

  • National Park Quiz 31: World War II   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Although I lived on the island of Oahu for many years, I never knew why the Missouri is placed the way it is.

    Thanks for sharing this piece of history with us.

  • China Moves to Designate its First National Park   5 years 50 weeks ago

    If this is truly the "first" National Park - it sounds like this really raises the question of what is a National Park. It sounds like China is interpreting a "National Park" to be a place that is oriented towards visitation in a way that does not necessarily apply to all of the US National Parks - say like Kobuk Valley National Park in the United States.

  • National Park Quiz 31: World War II   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Nice catch, MRC. I fixed it. This was an especially dumb mistake on my part. Several months ago I even started to write an article about the Minidoka redesignation and expansion, emphasizing the satellite site on Bainbridge Island. Might still do it.

  • National Park Quiz 31: World War II   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Minidoka is a National Historic Site since May 2008. It was vastly expanded in size but downgraded from NM to NHS by this years Omnibus Bill.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Dang! Your right on target Bob! Bobby Kennedy did indeed scale Mt. Kennedy in 1965 and with the world famed mountain climber Jim Whittaker. I kept thinking along it was Mt. Denali. Thanks for the research.

  • Study Says Loss of Wolves Damaging Olympic National Park's Forest Ecosystem   5 years 50 weeks ago

    From Sightline Daily
    Bringing Wolves Back to Washington
    Posted by Eric de Place
    11/21/2008 11:05 AM

    "In Washington, state officials are already drafting a Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. (The section on the history of wolves in Washington is especially fascinating.) The plan is undergoing scientific peer review now and will be available for public comment in early 2009. We expect that the plan will develop a management scheme for wolves that have returned to the state on their own; it likely won't have provisions for actively reintroducing them, not even into hard to reach places like Olympic National Park where they would surely thrive. I think that's a shame -- but the public comment period will be an excellent opportunity to offer corrections to the state's plan. Stay tuned."

  • Study Says Loss of Wolves Damaging Olympic National Park's Forest Ecosystem   5 years 50 weeks ago

    the hunters need to stay away and the wolfs need a reservation to keep pochers away

  • Study Says Loss of Wolves Damaging Olympic National Park's Forest Ecosystem   5 years 50 weeks ago

    hunters need to stay the hell away and it would all be fine

  • Reading the Fine Print – Did the NPS Ever Manage This National Monument?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    All good points on wilderness. On the other hand, without the provision to land on skiis or floats, we probably would not have gotten nearly as much Wilderness in Alaska.

    Plus, although perhaps NOT in Southeast Alaska, in Interior Alaska there is some strange connection between the small, single-engine airplane and the sense of what is wild in Alaska. I know it seems weird, but the mythos of wild country in Alaska is as much about airplanes as it is about sleddogs. There is a whole literature on this Alaskan romance of the small plane. Read Sheppard's "Flying North."

    We also thought at the time that restricting flights to small, fixed wing aircraft would have minimal physical impact, due to landing on snow cover, or landing on lakes or rivers. We tried to make it clear that by definition aircraft could not be a subsistence means of access, but the ambiguity of the language, and especially the interpretation, of the law means that preverse interpretations of the law have seemed to allow ATVs and aircraft. But during the debate, the very powerful republican Senator Hansen, who had been trying to show some flexibility to the need of some money even in the subsistence economy, had finally had enough. He barked: I don't care: if it is by air, it is sport hunting, NOT SUBSISTENCE!

    A series of weak leaders and strong pushes in the Reagan and the two Bush administrations have slowly confused an already complicated law.

    I was moaning one day, years after the law was passed, about the way the Reagan-Bush people had twisted the Alaska lands act (ANILCA), to a very senior and very distinguished chief of staff to the Senate committee with jurisdiction. I said something infantile about how this law cannot handle the bad faith from the people implementing it. This guy looked at me like I was born yesterday and said: ALL laws are like that. ALL laws require good faith!"

  • Reading the Fine Print – Did the NPS Ever Manage This National Monument?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    MRC -

    Good comment about wilderness in Alaska, and the impact of a lot of small aircraft.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Beamis,

    I doubt the NPS spends an "exorbitant" amount of money on SAR at Denali. (Compared to pork barrel spending and the millions spent on planning, research, etc, NPS SAR expenses are mere pennies.) They do, perhaps, risk an exorbitant amount of rescuer's lives on Denali.

    I suspect that the poop on Denali is more impact on the aesthetics and safety of the human experience than it is on the environment.

    This may be a justified case of limiting access to improve the quality and the safety of the human experience.

    I think your Parunaweep (Zion) example is a better case of the NPS participating in unjustified closing of an area to human visitation.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Interesting questions, Beamis. Unless you made the purchase of (costly) insurance mandatory, it’s likely that the fatality rate would increase dramatically after you announced that climbers must pay the full cost of SAR operations conducted in their behalf. People in desperate trouble would be disinclined to ask for help, and that’s a ticket to disaster. Anyway, climbers have always been disposed to “take care of their own,” and that is the ethic at work on Denali (no mountaineers that I know of call the peak “Mount McKinley”). The SAR team positioned at about the 14,000 foot level on Denali during the climbing season consists of ranger volunteers. They are there because they love it, and because they care about fellow members of the climbing fraternity. I’m not sure the NPS would save much money if this service were discontinued. For one thing, the SAR personnel would still be on the NPS payroll and working in some other park. (I do understand that military/contract helicopters needed for high-altitude rescue are expensive.) BTW, the SAR work on Denali is more dangerous than most people appreciate. There are lots of ways to get killed, and that includes the air shuttle from Talkeetna. Several years ago, three ranger volunteers and their very experienced pilot died when their plane crashed in bad weather en route to Denali. As for your Obamacrats comment, I can only say this: Please don’t ever again mention feces and “sink your teeth into” in the same posting.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Anon, if Bobby Kennedy ever climbed Mount McKinley, I sure don’t know about it. I think Bobby Kennedy Junior may have scaled McKinley in the mid-1990s. (Perhaps one of our readers could help with this?) Be that as it may, you are probably thinking about Bobby Kennedy’s summitting of (the then newly-named) Mount Kennedy in 1965. That climb is very well documented because the mountain (in the Canadian Yukon) was named in honor of President John F. Kennedy and was climbed for the first time ever by a team that included JFK’s brother Bobby. Alas; I can’t help you on the fitness program front.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 50 weeks ago

    One market focused approach to reduce climbers would be to have them sign a waiver from receiving an immediate rescue or else be on the hook for the FULL amount of a SAR. It seems downright stupid for the government to be spending exorbitant amounts of money and risking their employees lives to rescue those who have willingly exposed themselves to extreme danger. That's how private insurance works and the NPS should be no different. The SAR account should always be full and ready to serve those who have the means and responsibility to shoulder the burdens of their voluntary activity.

    As for the observation that:


    Warming temperatures have already melted enough ice and snow to expose large amounts of human feces originally buried 14 feet beneath the surface.

    This definitely sounds like a public works project that the Obamacrats could really sink their teeth into. Someone should alert Rahm Emanuel that Americorps needs additional funding to procure some pooper scoopers, enviro-hazard bags and a contingent of "volunteers" to set out for Alaska to start cleaning up the mess that global warming has exposed upon the pristine slopes of Mt. McKinley.

    The dawning of the green collar economy is now upon us!

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Bob, didn't Bobby Kennedy climb Mt. McKinley sometime during the 1960's. I remember a photo of him mastering the peak but not sure when. Since you and Kurt are rich in national park history, I thought perhaps you both would know. I do know that the Kennedy's were great outdoor enthusiast and President John Kennedy instigated the famed 50 mile hike of America. Whatever happened to those fittest programs that Presidents supported and participated? I know this is off the topic but just curious about Bobby K. Thanks!

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 50 weeks ago

    As far as I can tell, Beamis, empirical evidence is the root concept here, not scientific research and analysis. Experience has taught the NPS that the current number of climbers, which is well below the cap, may already be too many. Climbers already clog the trade route (West Buttress) during the brief episodes of reasonably non-rotten weather. SAR capabilities are already stretched dangerously thin. Warming temperatures have already melted enough ice and snow to expose large amounts of human feces originally buried 14 feet beneath the surface.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 50 weeks ago

    I'd be interested in seeing what sort of documentation and scientific evidence the NPS has on hand that prompted this move. I seriously doubt that there is much in the way of tangible information besides the burning desire to close and restrict yet more access to the public who are out to "trash the park". Can anyone tell us what methodology was employed to arrive at this number?

  • Reading the Fine Print – Did the NPS Ever Manage This National Monument?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Jim, Wilderness in Alaska does not mean the same thing as in the lower 48. In an Alaskan Wilderness some buildings are allowed such as cabins, and sea planes flying in the wilderness and landing on the lakes. Either to bring visitors to their trailheads or cabins or just as day trips from Ketchikan, which usually include a landing on one of the lakes. IN their 2006 monitoring report the FS concludes that the noise from overflights and just seeing all those planes landing and taking off seriously impedes the perception of solitude in the wilderness.

  • Is Someone Missing in the Backcountry of Sequoia National Park?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Twin Lakes is one of my favorite spots to stop for a night in the SEKI backcountry. I hope no one is in trouble up there.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    Anonymous, I have refrained from using ad hominem attacks and arguments and would kindly request that you do the same. You might be new to the site and might not know of my repeated condemnation of interest groups and lobbyists, but that doesn't give license to attack or mischaracterize me in an attempt to discredit my argument.

    J Longstreet, you are quite right in several regards. I also bet Kurt "gets it" and am willing to guess the topic drives traffic to this site. The comment activity seems to reflect it. Controversy sells.

    Kurt, on this thread, I was posting the Founders' sentiments regarding the right to bear arms in response to the assertion of user "VERY knowledgable [sic] of US history" that Second Amendment proponents do not examine the issue in historical context. I've quoted the founders to put the debate in context, because, as Jefferson wrote, "On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."

    As far as slavery, many Founders were against it, especially northerners like Adams. Jefferson, himself a slave owner, wrote to Edward Rutledge, "I congratulate you, my dear friend, on the law of your State, for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent it forever. This abomination must have an end. And there is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who hasten it." He also initially wanted to blame England for slavery in the Declaration of Independence, but that was struck from the draft. Unfortunately, political, social, and financial factors prevented him from freeing his own slaves.

    So Jefferson, and many other Founders, did see the justice in freeing slaves. Should we dismiss the entire Constitution, rule of law, and the noble concept of individual liberty because they were postulated by (of course) flawed humans?

    I have not read the Supreme Court decision in the DC gun ban case. The Supreme Court is not above reproach, however. It has evolved into a partisan, activist, unelected committee with total disregard for the original meaning of the Constitution's text.

    As Lincoln said, "If the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court...the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned the government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."

  • Reading the Fine Print – Did the NPS Ever Manage This National Monument?   5 years 50 weeks ago

    d-2:

    Excellent analysis.

    There's no doubt in the The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 that the USFS would manage Misty Fjords. This article was forwarded to another forum, and a couple of NPS veterans on that board pointed out that Misty Fjords was carved out of the huge Tongas National Forest, and there was no way the Forest Service was going to give up that territory to the NPS.

    As stated earlier, the key is that this prime piece of Alaska was protected in a timely manner. Based on my very limited peek, it is a magnificent area.