Recent comments

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 12 weeks ago

    It isn't the responsibility of the Park Service to ensure your safety. Sanitizing the trails is a poor alternative. The loss of human life, while tragic, isn't the fault of the parks, it is solely the responsibility of those who undertake the trek to various points of interest in the NPS, who then discover too late their vertigo or other associated conditions they might not have even known existed. The parks are to blame for people's fears, lack of skills, over-estimating their ability, under-estimating the terrain, and not taking proper precautions and making proper preparations? You can install all the safety chains you want, carve steps into the sandstone, place enough warning signs to scare off a mountain goat and it will have no effect on the human animal and their inborn bravado. How do you plan on taking "cost effective" or for that matter "ecologically responsible" and perhaps "esthetically acceptable" steps to ensure that some idiot isn't going to attempt a running ascent or worse, descent, in flip-flops or sandals? What measures will guard against the fools who start a July climb at 11:00a with no water, figuring, as I have heard commented on the West Rim Trail that "it'll only be a couple of hours, we'll be alright".

    The trail itself is highly manageable without any modifications, unless of course you're intention is to make EVERY trail in the system wheelchair accessible. Go to your local congressman and see how quickly that appeal falls on deaf ears, since they would have to provide the funding. On the other hand, get the hell out of Iraq, spend $100B annually on the parks service and all God's chillins are happy. The point is that currently, to scale this peak, like Half Dome, takes no specialized gear or experience. This isn't like entering the Subway. Unless you plan on stringing safety nets along EVERY cliff in the NPS you cannot possibly hope to be ABSOLUTELY certain that there is never a cost to be paid in terms of human life. Whatever happened to personal accountability? Why are we always seeking to place blame for our failures everywhere but where they belong? Life ain't no video game. You start with one life and there aren't any opportunities to refill your health or pick up any bonus lives. And yet a certain segment of our populace calls us the most advanced species, when we whine and cry about the lack of safety in nature? Instead of sanitizing, try thinking first. It'll save a lot more lives than ANY safety gear you can imagine. It's simply the most cost-effective safety device we have. Sorry, it requires effort on your part, which puts it above the reach on most I guess. Pity.

  • Park History: Director Hartzog and the Automobile   6 years 12 weeks ago

    I would submit that Yellowstone is also a national park devoted to the automobile as a recreational experience. The road system was specifically designed to get cars to each of the primary park resources (the falls, Old Faithful, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth, etc.). Enormous parking lots cover acres of land in these destination sites and the overwhelming majority of visitors do not venture more than 100 yards from their cars. Numerous guides are printed to direct visitors to auto touring the park and waysides in pull outs are designed to be read from the car. Pretending that this park is not primarily a auto visit experience for the majority of visitors is to ignore reality.

  • Park History: Director Hartzog and the Automobile   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Oh no - not at all! Sorry for the misleading post. The two National Parks "devoted to the automobile as a recreational experience" are of course the Blue Ridge and Natchez Trace Parkways*. I picked out Colorado National Monument as just one example where the automobile as a recreational experience is also a part of a larger mix of recreational experiences, and the auto-touring works within the overall mission of the Park - unlike auto-touring in Yosemite Valley. Obviously, many other National Parks successfully include auto-touring as a significant part of the recreational experience including Yellowstone, Glacier, and Gettysburg (or pretty much any of the military Parks) - among many others.

    Sabattis

    * - I didn't include the George Washington Memorial Parkway in this category because you can at least make the case that it is not devoted to auto-touring by virtue of things like Great Falls Park and the Mount Vernon Trail. That, and the fact that it is used far more heavily for commuting than auto-touring anyways.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Sabattis, you've said that

    the National Park Service has the responsibility to minimize the loss of human life in any cost-effective way possible.

    To "cost-effective" I would add, at a minimum, "ecologically responsible" and perhaps "esthetically acceptable."

  • Lost Backpackers Reunited with Families at Denali National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Yes, Traveler characterized Nelson and Flantz as experienced hikers with very limited Alaskan wilderness experience. And yes, Nelson took her cell phone with her. Why would she do that if she didn't entertain the notion that she might want to use it? Experienced backpackers don't haul extraneous weight around, not even on an overnight jaunt. They'll even whittle the extra plastic off a toothbrush handle, for crying out look. We'll see how this thing shakes out when we get access to facts gleaned from the debriefing. Meanwhile, Traveler does not back off on its position that wilderness hikers can get into trouble for reasons that include failure to appreciate the limitations of cell phones and PLBs as factors mitigating inexperience, lousy judgment, and other elements of risk. We do understand, as I'm sure you do as well, that any one instance, such as this DENA rescue episode, doesn't affirm or disprove that general observation. One last thing, Sabattis. As a defender of the English language I must insist that you stop using the term "shibboleth" incorrectly. ;-)

  • Park History: Director Hartzog and the Automobile   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Are you implying that Colorado National Monument is one of only two national parks "devoted to the automobile as a recreational experience"? I find that statement somewhat curious, not just because COLM offers hiking (14 trails totaling 40 miles), bicycling, and other recreational opportunities of the nonmotorized variety, but because many other parks have heavily invested in windshield touring. That said, COLM's 23-mile long Rim Rock Drive, with it's three neat tunnels and spectacular vistas, remains one of the more scenic drives in the National Park System.

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Jim,

    After reading your comment, I did a little research on Rockefeller and was quite surprised to find out he was a moral man, a devout Christian. He never smoked or drank and was very adamant about tithing his 10%.to the church.

    He amassed his fortune into the billions, wealthier than the Waltons or Gates, and he donated billions to the welfare of the people. "Where is it written that no one can get rich"?

    Evidently, he was smarter than the average "brown or black bear."You speak of a global energy crisis, adversely hurting the poorest people in society. I'm going to rephrase and say Rockefeller taketh away and giveth back. How is this abuse? I wonder if the comedian , Mrs. Hughes is right.
    Is menopause and hot flashes, Global warming. I am constantly looking over my shoulder to see if Al Gore is stalking me!!!!!

    Bottom Line: The little fish can swallow the big fish as long as he has a strong bottom line.
    Using the statement: bottom line is the last line of an income statement, revenue is the top line..

    Strictly,my opinion: Rockefeller had the revenue to purchase the land, he gave the land back to the people and the government to oversee its welfare. To me that was quite a loss or net income,the last or bottom line of an income statement.

    Ends and means, a morally right action taken to produces a good outcome.

    I thank the Rockefellers for the wonderful gift of God and nature

    Brenda Byles

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 12 weeks ago

    The Naitonal Park Service frequently does "visual inspections" for certain Ranger programs. So it can be done.

    Human life is precious. If cost-effective steps can be taken to reduce the loss of human life, then they should be taken. Period. The National Park Service is already involved by virtue of building, maintaining, and advertising the trail to Angel's Landing. Thus, the National Park Service has the responsibility to minimize the loss of human life in any cost-effective way possible.

  • Lost Backpackers Reunited with Families at Denali National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Previous reports have indicated that Ms. Flantz and Ms. Nelson were both experienced backpackers, and were working as concessionaires in Denali. It seems unlikely that they ever planned on using a cell phone as a safety net. Indeed, it took them many days to establish a signal. I know the issue of inexperienced hikers relying on cell phones to summon expensive SAR operations is one of the shibboleths of this blog - but it doesn't seem to apply in this case.

  • Park History: Director Hartzog and the Automobile   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Well its a little overblown to say that "the automobile as a recreational experience is obsolete." The Blue Ridge Parkways is one of two National Parks devoted to the automobile as a recreational experience, and remains one of the most-visited Units in the National Park System. What works in a Parkway however, or at Colorado National Monument, does not necessarily work in Yosemite Valley. Yosemite already has one of the best bus systems in the Park System, and hopefully they can take it the whole way in removing those unsightly parking spaces from the rest of the Valley...

  • National Park Quiz 7: Islands   6 years 12 weeks ago

    9 out of 11! I had initially put down Apostle Islands - but then changed my answer! Darn!

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 12 weeks ago

    No worries...we WILL soon be allowed to carry LEGALLY in our national parks. As it should have always been anyway for LAW ABIDING CITIZENS. Sheesh....

  • Bodies of Three Mexican Nationals Found in Big Bend National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    No sympathy here, they were breaking the law. Darwin candidates.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Wow: Maybe it's time for the people in the park to read the Constitution again. Next I won't be able to say wow, that's pretty. I wouldn't want to influence the guy next to me by using my rights to speach.

    One of my least fun places is watching a person smoking a joint during the fire season. Does that cause more damage than a gun? Yes, in California it does.

    Oops, sorry, if I can't take a managment tool to protect my wife and companion dog, I just won't go. My dog is search and rescue, and no he will not become part of the food chain if you get lost.

    Enjoy...

  • Lost Backpackers Reunited with Families at Denali National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    This does make for a compelling example of how better cell phone coverage in the national parks can save lives.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Please contact your local Congressional delegation and urge them in the strongest possible terms NOT to co-sponsor and support Bills H.R. 6233 and S. 3113. Park beaches are not for cars. Yeesh. Must every square inch of the earth be accessible to motor vehicles?

  • Proposed Settlement Filed in Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV Case   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Please contact your local Congressional delegation and urge them in the strongest possible terms to co-sponsor and support Bills H.R 6233 and S. 3113

    Dole, Burr and Jones Introduce Legislation to
    Allow Off-road Vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore
    June 11, 2008

    Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Walter Jones today introduced legislation in the Senate (Bill S. 3113) and House of Representatives (H.R. 6233) that would reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS). The reinstatement of the original Interim Management Strategy, issued by the National Park Service (NPS) on June 13, 2007, would set aside current mandates and requirements which were put in place in the wake of a consent decree filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, that prevent off-road vehicle and citizen access to a significant portion of this National Seashore.

    “I share the concerns of many North Carolinians about the negative ramifications that severely restricting off-road vehicle use at CHNS will have on the local community and economy,” said Dole. “Beach users and members of the local community deserve to have their voices heard to ensure the development of a long-term plan that protects the natural habitat of the Seashore while maintaining its economic and recreational benefits.”

    “As Ranking Member on the National Parks Subcommittee, I always try to make sure that North Carolinians have access to our state’s scenic treasures,” said Burr. “It is unfortunate that people are prevented from accessing Cape Hatteras at times because of the new restrictions. I am certain we can come to a compromise that allows people to have access while at the same time addressing any potential environmental concerns.”

    “The consent decree has once again shown that managing the Seashore through the courts – without public input – is always a bad idea,” said Jones. “This bill would restore reasonable public access and would bring the public back into the process on a level playing field by reinstituting the Interim Management Strategy until the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee can produce a final rule.”

    If enacted, the National Park Service’s Interim Management Strategy will go into effect immediately and end upon the National Park Service establishing a long-term off-road vehicle management plan for the use of CHNS by the public.

    Background

    In 1972, President Richard Nixon issued an Executive Order that required all federal parks, refuges and public lands that allow off-road vehicles access to develop and implement a detailed management plan to regulate and assess environmental impacts. CHNS never developed a management plan, and as a result, Cape Hatteras has been out of compliance for over three decades.

    In December 2005, the NPS developed a three-phase plan to begin the negotiation process and create regulations that would allow CHNS to meet compliance standards; however, on July 17, 2007 an injunction was filed by the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society to prevent off-road vehicle use until a management plan is established and approved. A settlement negotiation process ensued, and on April 30, 2008, a federal judge approved a consent decree, proposed by the plaintiffs and agreed to by the parties involved in the case – the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Superintendent of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The settlement, which went into effect on May 1, 2008, requires that all seashore ramps be closed to ORVs from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. through November 15, 2008, that buffers for nests and chicks are clearly defined and in some cases more restrictive, and that deliberate violations of the buffers will result in an expanded restricted area.

    [Ed. Using "CHNS" as an unofficial indicator for Cape Hatteras National Seashore is probably not going to confuse the average citizen, but you should be aware that the Park Service code for the park is actually CAHA.]

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Please contact your local Congressional delegation and urge them in the strongest possible terms to co-sponsor and support Bills H.R. 6233 and S. 3113

    Dole, Burr and Jones Introduce Legislation to
    Allow Off-road Vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore

    Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Walter Jones today introduced legislation in the Senate (Bill S. 3113) and House of Representatives (Bill H.R. 6233) that would reinstate the Interim Management Strategy governing off-road vehicle use on Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS). The reinstatement of the original Interim Management Strategy, issued by the National Park Service (NPS) on June 13, 2007, would set aside current mandates and requirements which were put in place in the wake of a consent decree filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, that prevent off-road vehicle and citizen access to a significant portion of this National Seashore.

    “I share the concerns of many North Carolinians about the negative ramifications that severely restricting off-road vehicle use at CHNS will have on the local community and economy,” said Dole. “Beach users and members of the local community deserve to have their voices heard to ensure the development of a long-term plan that protects the natural habitat of the Seashore while maintaining its economic and recreational benefits.”

    “As Ranking Member on the National Parks Subcommittee, I always try to make sure that North Carolinians have access to our state’s scenic treasures,” said Burr. “It is unfortunate that people are prevented from accessing Cape Hatteras at times because of the new restrictions. I am certain we can come to a compromise that allows people to have access while at the same time addressing any potential environmental concerns.”

    “The consent decree has once again shown that managing the Seashore through the courts – without public input – is always a bad idea,” said Jones. “This bill would restore reasonable public access and would bring the public back into the process on a level playing field by reinstituting the Interim Management Strategy until the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee can produce a final rule.”

    If enacted, the National Park Service’s Interim Management Strategy will go into effect immediately and end upon the National Park Service establishing a long-term off-road vehicle management plan for the use of CHNS by the public.

    Background

    In 1972, President Richard Nixon issued an Executive Order that required all federal parks, refuges and public lands that allow off-road vehicles access to develop and implement a detailed management plan to regulate and assess environmental impacts. CHNS never developed a management plan, and as a result, Cape Hatteras has been out of compliance for over three decades.

    In December 2005, the NPS developed a three-phase plan to begin the negotiation process and create regulations that would allow CHNS to meet compliance standards; however, on July 17, 2007 an injunction was filed by the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society to prevent off-road vehicle use until a management plan is established and approved. A settlement negotiation process ensued, and on April 30, 2008, a federal judge approved a consent decree, proposed by the plaintiffs and agreed to by the parties involved in the case – the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Superintendent of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The settlement, which went into effect on May 1, 2008, requires that all seashore ramps be closed to ORVs from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. through November 15, 2008, that buffers for nests and chicks are clearly defined and in some cases more restrictive, and that deliberate violations of the buffers will result in an expanded restricted area

  • Park History: Director Hartzog and the Automobile   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Don't forget, Stephen Mather was a mjor advocate for roads in parks and saw roads as a key to getting visitors to parks and increasing the public support for the National Park idea. Both the Sierra Club and AAA, as well as numerous regional and local governments, supported road construction such as the Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier. Now we have an overpass and stoplights at Old Faithful.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 12 weeks ago

    My husband and son are in Zion NP as I write this post. Yesterday the group of boy scouts ranging from 13-17 yrs old hiked Angels Landing. I was terrified all day knowing that they would be ascending upon this hike. Somehow, somewhere my husband got cell service and called me to let me know that my son who is almost 14 and in great physical condition, as is my husband, decided upon arriving to scout landing that he would go no further. I applaud his ability to be aware of his own unsuredness about the hike and not continue on because everyone else was doing it! So he, one other scout and my husband headed back down the path. Bravo to those who are in touch with their inner voice that tells them to do or not to do!

  • National Park Service Issues Beach Access Report for Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV Users   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Sad to hear that our great national treasures are slowly being cordoned off from American travelers. Thanks for blogging.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Yes indeed, if I were a criminal, I'd have absolutely no qualms "doing my thing", as I'd be quite certain that whether you're armed or not, since I'd have the element of surprise over you, and be brandishing my artillery first, your weapon becomes inconsequential. Actually, while I'm in the process of relieving you of your valuables and possibly your life, if you're stupid enough to resist and I'm sufficiently pissed off, you're serving to supplement my arsenal with your own weapon, which I can utilize in further criminal activity with total impunity, at least for a while, since it's registered to YOU.

    Over and above that, the pointless, thoughtless arguments about matches, pencils and tools are completely off base. Maybe you can answer this basic question........what specific purpose do firearms serve BESIDES inflicting bodily harm?

    An unarmed person is also a citizen. Nice try.

    Criminals prey on those to which they stand to gain the greatest profit at the specific instance that they require something, the profit being whatever suits their purposes at the time. Sometimes it pertains to money, sometimes sex, sometimes transportation; the possibilities are limited only by the need of those in need, not by whether you are weak, armed, or vulnerable. If that were indeed the case, then car alarms would be totally effective, as would guard dogs, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, and peace officers.

    Maybe we should all relocate to this alleged nirvana with a zero crime rate and no criminal element. Where is it?

    Please explain how the revolution would have been inhibited by gun control. Unless of course you're referring to gun control as the total outlawing of all guns, which is NOT what anyone believes the definition of gun control is, was or ever will be. That statement has no basis in logic.

    Finally, the elimination of guns would indeed bring peace. Not total peace. Other weapons would serve the purpose, but the cowardly killings would cease. Personally, I'd encourage buying stock in Louisville Slugger.

  • National Park History: Big Bend National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Here's the skinny on javelinas from Wikipedia:

    (And as a year-round resident of Terlingua and BBNP area, i have to go with the "hell on earth" statement...it's obviously not the best place to spend summer!)

    Peccaries (also known as javelinas and by the Portuguese and Spanish name javali or Spanish pecarí) are medium-sized mammals of the family Tayassuidae. Peccaries are members of the Artiodactyl suborder Suina as are swine Suidae and hippopotami Hippopotamidae. They are found in the southwestern area of North America and throughout Central and South America. Peccaries usually measure between 90 and 130 cm in length (3 to 4 feet), and a full-grown adult usually weighs between about 20 and 40 kilograms (44 to 88 pounds).

    People often confuse peccaries, which are found in the Americas, with pigs which originated in Afro-Eurasia, especially since some domestic pigs brought by European settlers have escaped over the years and now run wild in many parts of the United States. These feral pigs are popularly known as razorback hogs.

  • Lost Backpackers Are Reported Alive and Well at Denali National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Thank God !!

  • Air and Ground Search Under Way for Missing Backpackers in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 13 weeks ago

    The 2 girls have been found and are OK. They got lost but they survived!