Recent comments

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Bart you couldn't be more right. I remember a newbie that I was training to become a backcountry ranger (I later learned that she thought it would be a quick path to a law enforcement career) and she insisted that I always walk in the lead because she was terrified of spider webs and snakes. It was a shocking event in my park at the time when I later fired her. The proposed sex discrimination lawsuit died in its tracks when it was learned by her counsel that I had replaced her with another female who didn't mind hiking near spiders and actually liked the scenery in the backcountry. The time I was required to spend documenting her obvious incompetence could've been used to train five other employees.

  • Lake Quinault Lodge: A Tale Of Two Rooms   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I know: I'm obsessed. But isn't the Quinault Lodge supposed to be haunted?

    Kurt, maybe it was more than mold you were smelling? ;)

  • Video Tour of Lake Quinault Region of Olympic National Park   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Just Gorgeous! Jeremy you and Katie and the rest did a fantastic job. Wish I was there!

  • Leadership Summit: Some Afterthoughts   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Excellent points Michelle. You sound like a courageous insider. I welcome your presence in this forum and look forward to more of your insights.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Hi Karla,

    You can email me at www.bobdjphoto@gmail.com. I'll give you all the information I have. I have made contact with Mack and can tell you he's a fantastic person who's going to be a tremendous help in to resolve this issue. I'll ask him if I can send you his email.

    PS: Yhe comment made prior about the video being a fake was nonsense. I know all the people involved. In fact, I know who ownes the plane you hear in the background.

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Given the distance that most NPS units are from major population centers (most) again, I don't feel this is NPS' problem. It is a larger problem altogether.

    I live in an area with much public lands surrounding an urban area and the percentage of people who DON'T use it versus those who do it quite stunning.

    One quick comment, though, about the article. I lead tons of children on outings and once they get away from the parking lot, there is a quick and distinct change... quoting a kid from a mall talking about nature (that is, if i read the article right) is just a kitschy way to put a hook into a story. Give the kids a few minutes and their brains shift, the questions begin and they would never say that again. You just need a good guide/leader/interpreter or whatever to make them comfortable, set the context (they often have zero context coming from the city) and tie it back to stuff they are learning in the classroom.

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    The Park Service's latest crisis is lack of interest in nature--and therefore, national parks--among America's youth. It seems juveniles are too enamored with computers, cell phones, and ipods to care about national parks. Could it be that the Jetsons have finally usurped the Flinstones in popularity?

    While it saddens me that proportionately fewer and fewer kids seem interested in national parks, I'm not altogether convinced that NPS strategies to reach them will be very effective.

    And what are those strategies? To break kids away from their computers, cell phones and ipods, the NPS is now spending bucket loads of tax dollars on....drum roll, please...computer field trips, cell phone tours, and podcasts!

    But wait, there's more...

    ...painfully more. Part of the problem may be because significant numbers of NPS employees themselves are no different from the kids they're trying to reach. Non-NPS readers may be shocked to learn that many, many park rangers are more content to gawk at their computers, blab on their cell phones, or diddle with their ipods than to directly connect with nature. Many NPS rangers I've known seem disinclined to look at a bird, marvel at a rock formation, or explore an old fort. In fact, I've personally witnessed NPS rangers who are uncomfortable (even afraid) when exposed to nature!

    In Simple Proposal #2 I discussed the lack of knowledge and enthusiasm many NPS employees have for their places (while I made sure to acknowledge the notable exceptions). I proposed that NPS staff be REQUIRED to learn about and directly connect with their sites.

    Simple Proposal #9: Before connecting others to national parks, try connecting yourself first!

  • Alaska Regional Director Responds To Outrage Over Katmai Preserve Bear Hunt   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Just a quote from Director Bomar to make people think ...
    QUOTE
    the director went on to say that throughout her Park Service career she has "worked with archaeologists, historians, biologists ... and often we don't sit down and listen to their information that they've gathered."
    UNQUOTE

  • Is New Jersey Delegation Unduly Forcing Great Falls of Paterson Park on NPS?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    "The National Park Service recently announced the site meets its criteria to be included in its park system, but questions remain about who will ultimately oversee the site and how. The Waco Mammoth Foundation has more than $1 million committed in its $3 million fundraising campaign to build the project's first phase, which includes a visitors center, roads and a climate-controlled pavilion to protect the bones."

    There are plenty of new areas that use a new paradigm for construction, maintenance, and management of the "park". This could well be one of them. I don't know if that's being considered in New Jersey or not.

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Yes, visitor center -- OUTSIDE the park. Parking lot -- outside the park, and you walked INTO the park from there. Wow, what a concept! And no car required all day long. I took the train, then the bus, and it drops you off right there at the entrance.

    It was Tyresta Nationalpark, south of Stockholm.

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Welcome back Merryland to the real world of a hyper-ventilating society with tantrums to throw in with the spoil kids. It seems the general poplace in Europe do a much better job in educating there children to "tread softly and leave no rock unturned" than we do...I wonder why! I know that European outdoor flavor very well. Welcome back and skoal!

  • Is New Jersey Delegation Unduly Forcing Great Falls of Paterson Park on NPS?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    If local communities want to hang the NPS shield on less than nationally significant sites maybe they should be required to pony up a substantial amount of the operating funds. They get the arrowhead, the agency gets much needed funding from locally derived sources.

    In St. George, Utah the Feds helped pay for private land that a local developer had cleared for a subdivision and then subsequently discovered a huge layer of rock strata that was full of dinosaur footprints, trackways and long tail drags. The local U.S. Representative got the Congress to appropriate the needed funds for the initial purchase of the land and then had it transferred to the local government for development into a park. No one that I know of has lamented the lack of an arrowhead on the exit ramps of I-15.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Bob and Mack,
    I would love to volunteer,
    I would love to get so much more information on this,,
    And I would definitely love to talk to Marcia myself.
    At this point I am just so relieved the "hunt" is over.
    But I want it stopped and NEVER to happen again. EVER!
    I would leave my email address for you to directly reach me,,
    But if so many butcherers are reading these comments,
    I'd be afraid to give them access to me.
    Please let me know what I can do.
    Just because it's past the 21rst,, doesn't mean this is over by ANY means.
    I will speak for the bears who were slaughtered.
    They will not be killed in vain, and will not be forgotten.
    I PROMISE.

  • Leadership Summit: Some Afterthoughts   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Here's how I see it:

    1. The National Park Service (and the government in general) established a legacy of mismanaging funds, which ticked a lot of people off (remember the outhouses which cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands?).

    2. The taxpayers finally got savvy to the fact that the NPS really isn't a bunch of altruistic Dudley Do-Rights.

    3. For this and other reasons, money was taken from the NPS, thereby enabling the corporations to make more.

    4. Now that the NPS can't take care of itself (lack of adequate funding coupled with continued mismanagement), the agency has to go begging to the corporations for its money back.

    5. This has made the problem worse, because begging for money takes even more time and costs even more money... and is therefore even more inefficient.

    6. Plus, once we get the money, there will be strings attached!

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    katmai lover, at this point my issue is not about the size or health of the brown bear population nor is it about hunting brown bears in general - I am not well enough informed to discuss those issues, but soon will be.

    My issue is with what is clearly and unquestionably evidenced in the video: non-fair chase shootings of brown bears.

    I am 100% opposed to non-fair chase shoots. I will no longer call them "hunts" as there is no hunting involved.

    Marcia Blasak informs me that fair chase or non-fair chase is a *cultural* issue. And this is true.

    If these bears are so habituated to humans that a shooter can easily approach and shoot with difficulty, then this practice should be prohibited, in my opinion. And apparently many agree.

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Merryland:

    Where were you?

    I worked at a national park in Bulgaria as a Peace Corps volunteer and experienced the same situation as you. None of the Bulgarian national parks had paved roads; they built visitor centers OUTSIDE the park. That's not to say that the parks there didn't have problems or issues, just that they were generally more peaceful and natural.

  • Is New Jersey Delegation Unduly Forcing Great Falls of Paterson Park on NPS?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Good on you guys for continuing to ask the hard questions about dealing with corruption at the higher levels.

    My apologies in advance for comments which may appear irrelevant to the initial postings, by submitting "Simple Proposals" at the park level. However, problems I'm attempting to address are microcosms of a much higher level of corruption, and every bit as vile. If we can't get our acts together within the boundaries of our own parks, how can we ever fix the mess that is Washington, DC? Therefore, I continue to post "Simple Proposals"... and ask for your indulgence.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Today, a significant amount of NPS work revolves around implementing a constant barrage of initiatives. Some initiatives come and go, while others linger, like the bad smell of fish in your kitchen. Occasionally an initiative will start out small, then grow, resembling some horrible, radioactive mass from a bad 1950's movie...to eventually engulf everything and everyone in its path...

    Most NPS employees, from the lowest paid "essential" staff to the highest paid "non-essential" levels, hate initiatives. Well, at least that's what they say in private.

    Regardless, many staff have learned to embrace, cultivate, and even promote intitiatives, not because they agree with them, but because initiatives are their ticket to career "success." Spend a lot of time and tax dollars implementing the latest initiative, even if it doesn't make any sense, and you can slather it--and its acronym--across your resume.

    Who knows, to assuage any guilt, maybe you'll even come to believe that the initiative is brilliant!

    Yes, some will argue that we have no choice; initiatives are mandates from much higher levels. Fine. But pay the initiative what bare minimum attention it deserves...then get back to the important business of caring for your public and your park.

    Simple Proposal #3: Please Don't Feed the Initiatives!

  • Is New Jersey Delegation Unduly Forcing Great Falls of Paterson Park on NPS?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    There's a place up for consideration in Waco, Texas as well... a site of many mammoths found back in 1978, all buried from a single mudslide event (as far as they can tell at the moment). Baylor University is currently overseeing it, but there's definite excitement locally about getting the NPS shield put up on the interstate to have people stop, look, and spend their money. And face it, the NPS logo has much better stopping power than any state park sign ever would.

    Here's the story I read when I was out in New Mexico a coupla weeks ago:
    http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2007-10-17-waco-mammoth-site_N.htm

    Can't say I blame 'em for trying though.

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I was in a national park in Europe this past weekend. And only 15 miles from a major city with a million residents I was able to experience total silence, save the occasional warbling warbler or pecking woodpecker, or my own footsteps. As the day warmed up, families started appearing here and there on the trails and not a single one of them annoyed me in that special way only ugly Americans can seem to annoy. No screaming at the top of their lungs, no throwing rocks at the wildlife, no swinging from the tree branches -- just a bunch of families out enjoying the outdoors together, singing songs, roasting things over the fire, poking sticks in the mud, tossing pebbles in the lake. What's happened to us?

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Here's the latest dodge from the NPS that I'm sure many of you also received...

    I'm not sure why Alaska manages the land if it's truly a NATIONAL Preserve. And the games we play with words to hide what's really going on are silly. Preserve? Harvest? Sounds more like they're picking berries to make jam.

    The National Park Service should have no business monitoring, managing, or mismanaging land where bears are annually slaughtered for fun. Hand it over to USFS or BLM where harvesting is actually something that's done.

    <><><><><>

    IN REPLY REFER TO:

    N1623(AKRO-ARDC)

    October 22, 2007

    Dear National Park Friend:

    Yours was one of many e-mails we received since television, internet and
    print coverage of the recent bear hunt in Katmai National Preserve was seen
    by people in Alaska and around the world. While I do not expect to change
    your views on this matter, in the next few paragraphs I do hope to explain
    the position of the National Park Service, including some of the research
    which guides us, and the limits to federal action.

    Katmai National Preserve was established in 1980 by the Alaska National
    Interest Lands Conservation Act. It mandated, in Section 202, that this
    area be managed for “high concentrations of brown/grizzly bears.” Section
    203 provides that sport hunting in national preserves shall be permitted.
    Sport hunting is regulated by the state of Alaska.

    Research by state and federal biologists show that the density of bears in
    the preserve is high. This August, three survey flights over the preserve
    produced an average count of 279 bears, with a high of 329 in one instance.
    Because you never see every bear, this translates into an estimated
    population of about 580 bears in the preserve, or more than one bear for
    every square mile. A similar count in August 2006 showed an estimated
    preserve population of 331 bears and an average count during three flights
    of 159 bears. Researchers have also seen a high proportion of single bears,
    another fact reflective of a healthy, high-density population.

    Hunting takes place the fall of odd-numbered years and in the spring of
    even-numbered years. During the last open fall-spring hunt, 35 bears were
    taken. This translates to an annual harvest rate of no more than 5 percent,
    considered by biologists to be a conservative harvest.

    The bear population in the preserve (and in the neighboring national park
    and state lands) is mobile and individual bears move from areas where
    hunting is legal to areas where hunting is prohibited. Food supply is among
    the factors in this movement. As a result of this movement over many miles
    and often among jurisdictions, they may also move from where they are
    relatively easily seen by bear-viewing visitors or biologists to areas
    where they are less likely to be seen. This means counts will necessarily
    be approximations, and that observations at different times of the year and
    in different locations will result in varying data. Our management and that
    of the state Department of Fish and Game takes mobility, variations in food
    supply and counting techniques into account by looking at population
    numbers over a large area and over time, and not at the numbers of bears in
    a particular location.

    The seasons, harvest limits and other regulations regarding the hunt are
    established by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Board
    of Game, a group appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Alaska
    Legislature. These regulations define “ethical” in a regulatory sense, and
    it is those rules which we and the state of Alaska enforce.

    Alaskans and others may talk to their elected and appointed officials about
    the hunting rules they want to see on public land. When Congress last spoke
    on the issue, it mandated that sport hunting was legal in Alaska’s national
    preserves and that, absent extraordinary circumstances, hunting would be
    managed by the state of Alaska.

    Some letter writers also described their views that bears in the preserve
    are used to seeing people through the summer, including fishermen and bear
    viewers. It is true that bear viewing has grown as an activity over the
    last several years. Bears have also been the targets of hunters on the
    Alaska Peninsula for decades, including the period since the establishment
    of the national preserve in 1980. Our experience with bears indicates that
    there is significant variation in the tolerance level which bears have of
    humans, regardless of the activity in which people are engaged.

    The National Park Service will continue to closely monitor the population
    of bears in Katmai, as well as scrutinize harvest levels and other visitor
    activities. We appreciate your concern for the park and its resources and
    welcome your continued participation in the public process.

    Sincerely,
    Marcia Blaszak
    Regional Director

  • Is New Jersey Delegation Unduly Forcing Great Falls of Paterson Park on NPS?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    I think that this is going to be an uphill battle because all of the other Congressman have their own chips to throw into the ante of that expensive game called pork barrel poker. How much will my Congressman realistically care about the creation of a park in faraway NJ, especially since he might need Pascrell's support in the future for something he wants to lavish on his own district? Why should he risk alienating Pascrell over a lousy waterfall and some dingy buildings on the Passaic River? Mencken's adage that elections are nothing more than an advance auction on stolen goods seems especially apt at this moment as I contemplate the way Congress recklessly wastes its ill gotten wealth like sailors on shore leave.

    The ultimate answer should revolve around a reform movement to change the way parks get created in the first place. If Steamtown and Keweenaw NHP (much of which was a Superfund cleanup site) were easily voted in, I don't see this park getting rejected by the bandits on Capitol Hill.

    If they have already blatantly ignored the findings of the very people that they will soon charge with the responsibility of maintaining this new park, what difference will our cards and letters make?

    It's simply time for this corrupt system to end. There is no practical way to reform it that I can see.

  • Director Bomar: Let Science, Not Politics, Decide the Yellowstone Snowmobile Issue   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Regarding science and emotions: Science can predict how much impact will be produced by "x" number of snowmobiles or snowcoaches. Science can not always tell us how much impact we should allow.

    The beauty of the 2006 Park Management Policies is that they do not set an arbitrary limit to the amount of pollution (for example) or other impacts that will be allowed. Instead, these Policies state, “The NPS managers must always seek ways to avoid, or to minimize the greatest degree practicable, adversely impacting park resources and values.”

    Further, for individual resources these Management Policies elegantly set resource protection measures that allow each Park to be protected to the maximum practical level for that Park. Therefore, the wildlife and soundscape protection measures at the Washington Monument are set differently than they would be in Yellowstone. The Policies require that both sites be protected to the "greatest degree practicable" given the unique attributes of that site.

    Here's a sampling of some resource-specific protection measures afforded by the NPS Managment Policies:

    Air Quality: NPS shall “seek to perpetuate the best possible air quality in the parks.”
    Natural Soundscapes: "preserve to the greatest extent possible the natural soundscapes of the Parks.”
    Use of Motorized Equipment: use “the least impacting equipment, vehicles and transportation systems”

    While science may not be able to tell us how much impact is acceptable, it can answer the question, "Which alternative will result in the least impact to resources while allowing the public to access and enjoy their National Parks." With respect to Yellowstone winter use, the wealth of scientific study on this topic provides a clear, scientifically defensible answer, as the hosts of this site have already pointed out.

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Who to blame? Their parents, of course. Children who are introduced to the wonders of nature at an early age like going to National Parks. Children who are plunked down in front of a video game grow up liking video games.
    The other contenders aren't factors. Fear of nature? Only kids who've never been out in nature, fear nature. That's not a reason but an outcome. Urbanization has been going on for decades. Higher park entrance fees? For kids who have $300 video games? No.

    Sending your kids out into nature requires more parenting than just setting them in front of the TV. You have to go with them and get exercise yourself. Kids age 9-12 can't just be sent outside to play anymore (except in the backyard) by themselves. We've cranked up the fear level so high over pedophiles, kidnappers, and missing children that any parent who did that would be viewed as negligent. Then parents have to make sure their kids are sunscreened every few hours. You can't just send the kid outside to get burned and risk skin cancers as they grow up. They have to be in cell phone contact with the parents if they're out by themselves or again, you'd be looked at as a bad parent.

    To be a good parent today requires that you be more protective of your kid. In the 'olden day's good parents sent their kids outside to play all day, no phone, no sunscreen, nothing and didn't worry so long as they came back by dark. Not today.

  • Kids Detached From Nature? Here's One Example   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Kurt, I saw this news article in the San Francisco Chronicle (10/22/07) and I thought of sending it you. But, I figured you probably had the article on your front desk before the day would be over. I guess I was right, there's nothing more distressing then seeing are young children more detached and oblivious to nature every day. I see the kids in my very neighbor that have that blankty-blank look of what's nature and so what, or show me the nearest mall and I'm one happy camper. Geez, all I can say, we have a long, long ways to go with these kids. Iv'e seen what nature can really do to heal these children from that numb spaced out look. I give you much credit Kurt for bringing this issue to the public light. When we are wasting billions of dollars on a sicking war that should of never happened, we are in the mean time wasting children away from a lack of good quality health and dental care, decent housing, clean air, and child brutality...you name it! The bottomless war chest (for Bushs corporate buddies) goes un-checked while are kids are starving for holistic conscientious care and simple basic needs. Who do we blame?

  • Is New Jersey Delegation Unduly Forcing Great Falls of Paterson Park on NPS?   6 years 25 weeks ago

    Frank,

    The short answer in this instance is to contact your senators and urge them not to pass this legislation in the Senate. The longer answer probably is a mix between getting groups such as the National Parks Conservation Association to lobby against such park pork and getting an organized email blast system to protest directly to congress-folk.

    Of course, as Jim MacDonald has pointed out several times (and long ago), the effort needs to be both concerted, continual, and personal -- tracking down your congress-folk and staffers when they come to town and telling them point-blank your position.