Recent comments

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   5 years 51 weeks ago point is more directed to the limitations in skill set that candidates bring to the table. You can only hire from the available pool of candidates, substandard as they may be, and the lack of intellectual development and presentation skills has nothing to do with the NPS, since to the best of my knowledge, they aren't in the business of either basic or remedial education. While it's true that the content of the presentations to be given is indeed the responsibility of someone "higher up" at the NPS, those who are most interactive with the crowds have the duty to competently express the material and subsequently field whatever questions or concerns arise within each unique group after the speech. You can train a chimp to do most anything, but over and above the specific skills with which you endow him or her it is still, after all, just a chimp. Reading or memorization of prepared materials is quite easily accomplished. Thinking and responding over and above what you've just recited is quite another issue.

    That said, I'm quite sad that you're guide was a moron. The person in the uniform is a direct reflection on the organization that they represent however, and that thought leaves me personally feeling less than enthusiastic about the present state of the NPS overall.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Yes, the closing have had a detrimental affect! I love the birds, the deer, the fish, and all the other critters! I have done all I can do to drive with care, protect the animals and environment, leave with more trash that I brought, and reported violators. But while I am currently on the island for my family vacation I have made the hard decision not to return after vacationing years and years here, along with other weekends during the year. I find it interesting that I see no more wildlife than what I saw the first time I was here, even though the closures are now in place. I can't for the life of me understand why the bird fanatics can't accept Pea Island as the refuge it is, no driving there either...greed begats greed I suppose. In fact, we come here about the same week every year...I think I actually see less people, less cars. Has it hurt the economy? I bet it has...bad.
    Please, somebody open the beaches back up!

  • Decisions on Controlling Elk in Theodore Roosevelt, Wind Cave National Parks Likely to Linger Into 2009   5 years 51 weeks ago

    I'm not sure that in extraordinary circumstances allowing hunters to help the NPS cull elk herds is such a bad idea. As a Denverite and frequent visitor to Rocky Mountain National Park, the elk are so abundant and unafraid of people that I've seen visitors walk up to grazing elk near a Trail Ridge Road overlook and pet them. I'd rather the NPS use their sharpshooters and birth control, but when the elk are wreaking such great havoc on Rocky's ecosystem and visitors are displaying such ignorance in the face of fearless elk, drastic measures must be taken. I'm no fan of hunting in national parks, but perhaps in extraordinary circumstances such as these, a few hunting permits should be issued to the public. I don't think extraordinarily rare hunting permits would be an affront to national parks as institutions. I think it's a step toward increasing the viability and sustainability of those parks and their ecosystems. Releasing wolves into the parks is a mistake unless managers of the public lands surrounding the parks are prepared for wolves in their territory. I think that may be wise in the long run, but I don't think the public and the Park and Forest services are ready for that yet.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Owen, You've made some great points here, especially about what worked in the NPS's "golden age" of interpretation. To answer your question, I feel both hiring and training are root causes for the decline in interpretive program quality. Your mention of a "plethora of restrictions and preferences placed on hiring" missed a few other problem spots which include veterans' preference and non-competitive hiring status for permanent federal employees. These two practices can have disastrous effects in middle management as those with extensive front-line NPS experience are passed over for those without NPS experience. I've seen this happen many times.

    Even once skilled and talented interpreters are hired, the NPS cannot retain them due to the seasonal nature of employment. As others have mentioned, what kind of professionals want to work for $15,000 a year and live without benefits? So, until the NPS scraps its arguably unfair hiring system and commits to paying its educators a livable wage and providing them with benefits, I think we will continue to see a decline in interpretation.

    Kudos to all those out there who somehow made it into the system and are working hard to deliver quality programs while moving every 6 months and scratching out a meager financial existence without receiving recognition or quality professional development.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    As for the Anonymous that wants and answer to "Can someone give me one damn good reason why a well managed motorized tram system that fits well ecologically with the Cape wouldn't work?" HURRICANES, INSURANCE, LIABILITY, WHO SALL RUN THIS? Shall I continue. This again proves the point about the people who reject the idea tha man and beast can cohabitate. THEY CANNOT RESEARCH OR THINK FOR THEMSELVES!!!!!!! TUNNEL VISION. Please people before you tear into someone who drives a vehicle on the beach put some thought into your comments and before you try to save the beaches from the horrible demise of the SUV please realize without us paying into the economy is the outerbanks there would be no outer banks National RECREATIONAL seashore.

  • Creating Cape Cod National Seashore Forced the National Park Service to Think Outside the Box   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Bob - you make so few mistakes (and even the ones you make are provocative in the best way !),

    and your readers so much enjoy your pieces,

    my guess is you get 100% credit for everything you do for us.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Frank, is the problem really one of recruiting subtandard employees, or is it the absence of training, auditing, and mentoring?

    If it's the former, how does the NPS as a Federal agency rise above the plethora of restrictions and preferences placed on hiring and pormotion of women and minorities that now prevails throughout the Federal government, and beyond? Certainly, the NPS can recruit the best of the best minority candidates to achieve the over-arching goal of building a professional staff that is diversified in gender and ethnic background to reflect the fact that the NPS and our parks are for all Americans, not just white males.

    In my era, the NPS worked hard to hire the best of the best candidates, even for seasonal positions. There was a strong preference for candidates with an academic background in the natural, geological, and cultural sciences. Experience as a professional educator was given a high priority for seasonal hiring. Law enforcement procedures and interpretive techniques were part of on-the-job training. Guided walks, formal presentations, and evening programs were audited frequently and evaluated often.

    We were also encouraged to audit the programs of our peers. Observation of excellence in the performance of one's colleagues was incentive in and of itself to achieve a high standard in one's own work as a ranger-naturalist. Of course, positive feed-back from the public helped greatly in that regard as well.

    However, if the problem is mostly due to a decline in NPS training, auditing and mentoring of newly hired employees, then I wonder what has happened within the NPS structure to allow a culture of apathy to flourish? Regardless of the organization, there are two fundamental objectives of management: (1) to maintain standards of performance, and (2) to demonstrate to staff that management cares about them and the effectiveness of their product.

    Could it be that the performance expectations of us former NPS'ers are that different from the general public? My friend, PJ Ryan, editor of the newletter Thunderbear, once said, "The primary reason why interpretation in the NPS has experienced a decline over the decades is that no one has ever sued because they experienced a substandard presentation by a park ranger."

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Will someone please provide one scientific reason, backed by real data, to support the extreme closures dictated by the consent decree? I'm not asking for answers such as pristine wilderness, protected seashore, lazy fishermen, loud ORVs, blah blah blah. Give me one real reason to destroy a tradition that has been in place at Cape Hatteras for many decades. Show me one piece of scientific data that proves any animal species is in danger of becoming extinct due to ORV access at Cape Hatteras. The Interim Plan provided more than adequate protection for shore birds and turtles while providing reasonable access to some of the best fishing locations on the east coast. A return to that plan would not be detrimental to the wildlife on the island. The vast majority of ORV users on the island care deeply about conservation. There can be a compromise. Should the wildlife be protected? Absolutely. The consent decree, however, attempts to proctect a handful of birds (some of which are neither endangered nor threatened) through restrictions that go far beyond what is reasonable. I would argue that it has not and will not help the birds at all.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Could be that maybe one of those fools who are permitted to carry, might just save your life one day.

  • Visiting the Parks: Yellowstone National Park's Shoshone Lake   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Thanks so much for writing about bats, Kurt. I actually do mention bats in one of my essays in almost just the way you do - as part of a story to suggest that Yellowstone needs new myths, that those myths need to consider what's not being written about.

    It's really neat to read this story about bats, especially in a way that makes them stand out. Prior to this, my dominant memory of Shoshone Lake was being nearly devoured by mosquitoes.

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

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Can someone give me one damn good reason why a well managed motorized tram system that fits well ecologically with the Cape wouldn't work? Instead of being wall to wall with ORV's, we could have good spacial geography between acquired fishing posts...and with better visibility. We could have connecting cabs (like say ten light connected cabs to a jeep) to a good in Yosemite. Drop offs and pick ups could be at pre-designated locations which can discussed with the local citizens of Cape Hatteras (and with pro access groups) and the National Park Service. To prevent over crowding, set up a quota system to prevent massive crunch time during peak tourist season. Is possible to set up such a tram system that could be beneficial to wildlife with less human impact on the shoreline and yet still provide the visitor with a quality fishing experience...and with less intrusive motorized traffic on the shoreline. Basically, the theme is to think green! In regards to your comments Stephen C., this is not a "eco-nazi" plot to throw you out of your ORV, but a proposal that might instigate some kind of environmental change that could be beneficial to man and wildlife without all sharp provocative forces clashing who owns the Cape.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    The true impact of the consent decree will not be felt until next year. The agreement was reached May 1st, after many reservations were already made. The increase in occupancy tax revenues quoted in the article is inflated by Dare Counties increased efforts to collect the tax from private homeowners, which is where the majority of the increase comes from.

    The impact of the Judicial Consent decree that limited beach access at Cape Hatteras National Seashore is having a major and direct impact on park usage and the local economy. According to National Park Service information total visits to the park were down by 144,548 visits in June 2008, or over 20%. Total visits to the park have declined by almost 15% for the total year. (1)
    According to the NC Dept of Revenue, the state taxable revenue reported in Dare County in the May period declined by 16% ($11.8M) compared to May 2007. For the same period Hyde county Revenue was down 15%. During the same time period taxable revenue for the state of North Carolina did not decline (2)

    Walking and ORV beach access are major attractions for visitors to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The unnecessary limits put in place by the consent decree are now having a dramatic impact on the park usage and the local economy.

    · June Park visitor access downs 20.92%

    · June Park Service campground usage down 24%

    · Vehicles on Bodie Island down 27% in June

    No other National Park in the area experienced such a significant decline.

    Visits to Wright Brothers National Memorial are up 8.26% year to year. (3)

    Visit to Blue Ridge Parkway National Park are only down 3.7% year to year. (4)


    (1) Cape Hatteras National Seashore Monthly Public Use Report,

    (2) NC Department of Revenue, Monthly Sales and Use Tax Statistics for the Fiscal Year


    b. Dare County Taxable Sales: May 2008 = $64.2M, May 2007 = $76.1M. ("May data reflects sales primarily in April.." which was the first month of ORV and Beach walker restrictions )

    (3) Wright Brothers National Memorial Monthly Public Use Report

    (4) the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park Monthly Public Use Report

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    ATTN PHIL G and the REST of the uniformed:

    To all here who state their opinions the Pro Access people are the ones who do not use lies to get our stories told. We can and will show you scientific studies and real data that will and does refute any and all claims by the special interest suing groups. In fact I can point you to all the data you want using the NPS/CAHA website, But I am sure that you will hold your hands over your ears and start screaming so your brain will not be poisened by the truth. I am sure the you PHIL G live greener than any human alive, but to insure your comments are true why dont you post your address , occupation, and please include pictures of your bicycle you use to coomute to your job. I also would like for you to stop putting everyone in the same group I for one have no need for welfare, but unlike you I would like my kids to be able to see the world while not sitting in a sealed glass container. ... lets see you prove your side with scientific data.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    @Tommy Linday: It is sad to hear about your back and I wish you well. And I understand that you would like to go to remote places despite your condition and need an all terrain motorized vehicle for that. But please understand that your wish is unreasonable in a National Seashore. Please accept that with age and illnesses all of us have to say goodbye to some activities we could do in our youth and can't anymore. It is not acceptable to demand that the public has to allow us each and every action we wish to compensate for our individual limits. Motorized access to undeveloped parts of the shore line is not consistent with the dedication of a National Seashore and must be phased out.

    And to all who complain about the hardship for business owners: Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a national park. It is the duty of its administration to run it to the benefit of the nation and the general public. Not for the local community. As business owners: Be happy to make business with visitors, give your input to the administration, but do not expect the park to be run according to your percieved needs. It is a national park, not your backyard.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Dr. Mike Berry speaks the truth here, unbiased! Go to Island Free Press also an unbiased editor and read the truth.

    Now, my turn to say a few things.

    Who are any of you to tell me what I can drive and how much gas I can burn. Why don't you walk to work and save the fuel for the farmers to grow your food? Yes, I farm. I burn hundreds of gallons of fuel to feed you and a few more thousand just like you! Want to know what burns me? Driving 200 miles one way and I can not get on the beach after working my rear off all week to feed you! Opps, someone forgot to tell most of you uninformed non-resident, non-hatteras supporting, eco-nazis that you can not even walk on the beach where there are closures. Let me say it again. You can not walk on the beach where there are closures. Got it! If you wanted to walk three miles down the beach to fish where the fish are biting or just to sight see you can not do it. Again most of you do get that it is not about a handful of birds and turtles. It is about driving on the beach. Get your PhD in science before passing judgement. Want to here the something sad? These eco-nazis have have forced the National Park Service to kill hundreds of other animals so less than a dozen birds can mate on the beach. Look and you will find the pictures all over the internet of uniformed NPS employees with shotguns in hand on our great Cape Hatteras National Recreational Park killing foxes, racoons, opposums and such. Your special interest groups are playing God and are killers not environmentalist! DOW SELC and Audobon are killers!

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Just so you all know, the new bridge allready has funds allocated for it from ncdot pending ongoing lawsuites from DOW, SELC and Audobon for public lands they think they own.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Phil G:

    Addressing your comments, sir, I say this:

    -How does the "link to a fishing message board" effect the content of an editorial written by a local journailst? Mrs. Nolan clearly defines both sides of the issue for consideration. Find the original article for yourself.

    -ORV access is written into the original charter of the CHNSRA. Read the above.

    -The same people whom you deride for driving on the beach, wasting war-concerned oil will simply drive elsewhere than Hatteras, leaving local businesses in financial ruin, burning said fuel elsewhere. Again, see above. Do you not own a fossil fuel burning car/scooter/furnace/stove yourself for personal convenience? I would assume that you have a reason to travel, and/or accept goods and services through means of such travel as provided by fossil fuel burning devices. Do you attack them in the same manner? Doubtful.

    -No one expects a handout, as you so wrongly suggest. Just adequate beach access ALONG WITH species proteciton, but not human species elimination.

    Educate yourself before you choose sides.


  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Tommy, I have back problems too and it's sever but I do walk and hike. It's part of the back therapy program. However, would you give up your ORV and take a convenient small tram system to your fishing destination at Hatteras, if such a system could be provided with good ecological planning and sound management?

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    The business and people should have know this was coming. just as we all know the Bonner Bridge will be gone over
    the next 5 to 10 years and they wont replace it because of the enviros. After the next Isabel plows
    thur the area and washes the road out for the 15 million times. the place is disolete its like a closer artic circle just not as cold.
    I visit there about 20 times a year all thoughout the year. It's a beautiful place for sure. The fishing and surfing is outstanding but
    at what cost to the tax payer. A new bridge will cost 100 of millions and millions of dollars at what cost is it prohibitive to have
    access. Have a tax increase of the islanders???? I know Id be pi^%$off if I lived in chapel hill and had to pay taxes on a bridge that
    I would never use or see, only for going on vacation .The cost per island resident would be about 300,000,per resident oh and for vacationers
    tax the vacation home owners? The free lunch is over it you want it you write the check my checks are gone..... to pay the stimulus
    to the poor. out

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Yeah well.....try walking the beach in 2 years when it IS CLOSED TO PEDESTRIAN ACCESS TOO!!
    You are all being mislead into thinking you will still have pedestrian access. You will not! Furthermore, walk the beaches 3 months ago and tell me there was sufficient access. What you dont know is that a large portion of the beaches are open but the access ramps are closed so you cant get to those "open" sections....hence the warcry - "free and open access" Can't have free without the open! Open your eyes!!! You are being made a fool of!

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Yep Phil, I did it, and and I'll bet ya want to know why? Well I'll tell ya. I did it for my kid. With all the negative influences our children are exposed to these days like MTV poluting their minds, peer pressures at school and general madness of knowing their futures aint as bright as ours were promised to us. Spending quality time with our families is more important now than ever.
    Using an ORV to access the beaches on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area is how I spend my quality time with my child two weeks a year, once in the spring and once in the fall every year since she was old enough to walk, she will start high school this year. ORV use, surf fishing and bird watching, in my opinion aint a bad way to raise a kid these days, teaching our children about nature, species and plant identification and a heathly respect for our enviroment is a heck of a lot better than planting them in front of a TV, or just giving them some money and letting them run loose in a mall somewhere.
    I cant even count the times over the years that my daughter has had to educate pedestrians on the proper use of our seashore and areas where they are allowed and not allowed.
    Proper use of an ORV on Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area is a benefit to wildlife, without it the place would look like a landfill.
    The prevailing currents that made the Outer Banks bring trash and debris from cargo ships and dumping off the seashore to the area, With out volunteers with ORV's the wildlife would have no beach to nest on and thrive, because NPS, Autobum and DOW sure aint gonna do it, thats a fact.
    Just because someone drives an ORV on the beach that does not make them an anti-enviro, or evil, far from it. You might just find that they care more than you.

    BTW, we love to watch black skimmers on the north end of Orcacoke, their so cool!

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    You have no clue. I for one have degenerative back disease. For me and my 9 year old daughter to fish, I would need to walk 4 miles, carrying fishing equipment, umbrellas, cooler (No alchohol), etc. I guess you have never been to Hatteras island to make such an asinine comment. Check your premise, you, like DOW, Audobon, SELC obviously have an ulterior motive. OR, are you one who would prefer mankind die off and leave earth to the Animals?

    Editor: The closing end of this comment was deleted for its unneeded harshness. While the Traveler welcomes the debate over this issue, the hope is that that debate can be conducted without directly and needlessly attacking others.

  • Odes to the National Park Rangers Who Wear the Grey and Green   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Here's to that Ranger just the other week, at the Camp Siberia Shelter in Olympic National Park who traded me honest to goodness to die for chocolate for a few hands full of GORP while the wind howled and the rain fell sideways.
    Here's to that Ranger who opened the door a half hour early in answer to my banging so that I could get a Bear Canister (free rental) because I just could not wait to get on the trail.
    My list goes back a little less than 50 years of camping and backpacking in Our National Parks,
    ...back to that first Ranger who took the time to answer a child's millions of questions all day long (what bug is this!)

  • Second Black Bear Euthanized In Yellowstone National Park   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Bravo Ted! It could not have been said better. I think that all of the bear and elk jams in Yellowstone and other parks certainly qualify as an unnatural human-induced circus. Frankly these situations frighten me way more than walking in known grizzly habitat. Your point is well taken and one not usually put forward in this forum.

    Your insights are a welcome addition. I look forward to more of your musings and observations which definitely extend beyond the normal fare of green-tinted left-leaning eco-environmental sentimentalism that seems to predominate among those who support and use national parks. Again bravo, keep the insights coming.

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   5 years 51 weeks ago

    Don't pay any attention to the above comments. This story was linked to a fishing message board and now they are all dumping their trash here. Cape Hatteras is a lovely place, but you don't need an SUV to enjoy it. Go out there and you will see hundreds of people driving all over the place. The country is in an oil crisis and a war and all they are worried about is being able to waste hundreds of dollars in their gas guzzling vehicles to go fishing. They stake claim to it with all the indignity of a welfare queen waiting for their monthly check.