Recent comments

  • National Parks Week: Perfect Time to Assess the "State of the Parks"   6 years 30 weeks ago

    It really is discouraging to read all the happy talk coming from the NPS leadership about the wonders of the Centennial Challenge and how much good it is going to do for parks. Most park managers I know are in despair because so little attention is being paid to operational deficiencies, the kind that gnaw away at the basic core of our parks. Until the NPS starts to address these kinds of problems, the Centennial will continue to be what it is now: an initiative that favors those parks that can gin up partnership dollar matches that may or may not address fundamental infrastructure and personnel issues.

    Rick Smith

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    There is a hunting season in Montana for buffalo, but there is no wild buffalo population in Montana. One step toward there being a viable hunting season is expanding the range of the buffalo so that they have a permanent presence in Montana. Right now, for a large licensing fee, people can line up at the border and wait for them to cross over. So, counting Nez Perce and Salish Kootenai hunts (don't ask me to get into the political complexities of that), 191 buffalo were killed along the boundary this winter; the rest of the 1601 (not counting those who died in captivity) were killed by the National Park Service and the Montana Department of Livestock. More buffalo have been killed this winter than at any time since the 19th century.

    Hunters are more and more involved with the bison cause because they are beginning to realize that there really is no hunt. What's more, for years, elk - the favored target of hunters (it's not very hard to kill a buffalo when hunting - I've seen videos; the buffalo stands there, their friends often don't even move when shots are fired) - have not had to face the livestock industry's wrath over brucellosis. However, this year, in Wyoming, elk have been trapped, rounded up, and tested in similar ways. There is a lot of thinking that when hunters see that elk are next that they will come around further.

    As for your remark about the "old west"; we are not actually removed from the rationale that killed the buffalo in the first place. While there's never any way or desire to turn back the clock, there should be a desire to change ways of making decisions that were wrong in the first place but are still applied today. Buffalo were slaughtered en masse in the 19th century to force indigenous tribes to reservations by starving them to death (think I'm being paranoid? Look at the public record, especially Phil Sheridan - they openly and outspokenly talked about it in terms of the total war strategy they applied in the Civil War). The herds were decimated in the course of 10 years, with market hunting openly encouraged by the military. Why? To encourage more farming; livestock raising (considered a lesser way of life than farming, but better than hunting and gathering, took sway in the West over time, encouraged by the same land ethics). Now, we still live in that world where people think it's proper to parcel off land for this and that purpose and deal with the consequences later. The buffalo are still caught in that process, and if we are going to stop the craziness in the future, allowing them more land to roam has to be part of the process.

    And, hey, who are the local people? Kurt may be in Utah, but there are a lot of us here in Montana who are very local and very upset. In Horse Butte, west of Yellowstone, there are no cattle, but buffalo are still being killed by the Montana government. The landowners want there to be buffalo; the government won't let it happen, even though it's on a peninsula without cattle. The families there have organized at times to allow buffalo; the government fights them. It's not the "local people" who have mattered on this issue, rather a certain kind of local person - the livestock owner (somewhere else) in Montana. If you are not that kind of local person, apparently you don't matter. Do you realize how few ranches there actually are? Who are the local people? And, some of them have lived there for many generations.

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

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    You make it sound as if they are trying to kill all the bison. Would you rather they starved to death? Why is there not a hunting season to help keep the herd to a sustainable level? As for this notion of a "wild and free roaming bison herd," it is not the old west anymore, it is 2008 and we are not leaving. So why don't you leave the management of bison to the local people who have to deal with them everyday and deal with more important things.

  • Snared Wolves At Denali National Park and Preserve Cast Ugly Shadow on Trappers   6 years 30 weeks ago

    What kind of credentials are required to be a trapper in Denali, and how close do the trappers work with the State Wildlife Services and the NPS? I hope these trappers are well educated in all aspects of wildlife sciences....and are not just bunch of renegade cowboys on the prowl for another trophy (on the wall). The picture speaks well of a botched up trapping that went array and I'm sure there's many other incidents like this that go unreported. Such a sad state of affairs.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Susan, you are absolutely right about Brighty of the Grand Canyon. Though produced over 40 years ago, this film still resonates with youngsters and the young at heart. How could you not love that little burro? :o) There is a Brighty of the Grand Canyon children's book available in paperback, and you can order a copy online for about five bucks. Here is how Christianbook.com describes the book:

    Long ago, a lone little burro roamed the high cliffs of the Grand Canyon and touched the hearts of all who knew him: a grizzled old miner, a big-game hunter, even President Teddy Roosevelt. Named Brighty by the prospector who befriended him, he remained a free spirit at heart. But when a ruthless claim-jumper murdered the prospector, loyal Brighty risked everything to bring the killer to justice.

    Brighty's adventures have delighted generations of readers, and he has become the symbol of a joyous way of life. Some people say that you can even see his spirit roving the canyon on moonlit nights-forever wild, forever free. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.

  • Snared Wolves At Denali National Park and Preserve Cast Ugly Shadow on Trappers   6 years 30 weeks ago

    It is so wrong to do this and then not put them out of their misery. I wish the trappers had this on their heads. If they can take a picture of this then they could just as well stopped the torture futher.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Forrest Gump also runs past Glacier National Park when he is on his long jog back and forth across the USA - a beautiful moment!

    What Dreams May Come also has scenes filmed in 'heaven' - although it was actually Glacier NP. One in the same for me ;)

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    My favorite National Park Movie is Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1967). I was even down at Phantom Ranch when the movie crews were filming it back in (1965?). I saw "Brighty" in the corral there and the movie crews on a sandbar near the north side of the Kaibab Suspension Bridge!

  • Snared Wolves At Denali National Park and Preserve Cast Ugly Shadow on Trappers   6 years 30 weeks ago

    This should not be happening at all. Park wolves should be protected both in and outside of Denali. Trapping is barbaric and unnecessary. All trappers around Denali are recreational -- one even works for the National Park Service. Disgusting.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Thank you Mr. Taylor. I couldn't have said it better myself. Actually, I wish I COULD say it as well as you.

    I too would be right there to back up a Park Ranger if the need ever arose.

    Don't forget to repeat these viewpoints next week when the NRPM for changing the rules about concealed-carry in the Parks is released.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Hey, CivilWarBuff, when are you going to get around to pointing out that the horse Robert E. Lee is riding in the photo accompanying this article is named "Traveler"? :o)

  • Are Blue Ridge Parkway's Historic Guardrails At Risk?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    I think it's worth to point out that this isn't just about guardrails. The FHWA wanted a 12 foot clear zone, which would have meant that NPS would have been responsible for removing anything in that 12 foot zone. Trees, rocks, rock walls built by the CCC, etc would have had to been bulldozed. Moreover, it's a great stretch to say that if there are places where the road is less that 12 feet from a cliff or some such feature, that it would have had to be widened. So yes, the compromise will keep the Parkway relatively unmarred. There won't be mass bulldozings or changes to it. People might not notice or care about these things, but they matter. This issue isn't already settled - until the consultant comes out with the new methodology for determining where to make changes, the railing and walls built by the CCC/New Deal workers are still at risk. I don't want to see a 12 foot clear zone. Do you?

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 30 weeks ago

    “In 2006, there were 384 violent crimes, including 11 killings and 35 rapes, reported in the more than 272 million visits to the nation's 390 national parks,”

    That's a really neat statistic, but like many of them, it's a bit misleading. First off, consider that most of those "272 million" visits to the national parks were fat tourists in RV's and minivans, hanging out at crowded campgrounds.

    "I, and the majority of ANPR members, are willing to accept that slight level of risk of violent crime to continue to enjoy and have American families enjoy the maximum amount of watchable wildlife in units of the National Park System."

    Well I'm not willing to risk getting killed -- and it has nothing to do with wildlife. The people that are killing wildlife are doing so illegally, and are carrying guns illegally. One example was cited of someone killing a bear that was "standing up on it's hind legs" -- but I have a feeling that events like that take place much less than women being raped, and unable to defend themselves, because they are supposed to be relying on Park Rangers -- who are hours away, and have no idea what is happening -- to defend them.

    If you are willing to let yourself or one of your loved ones be killed, raped, robbed, or beaten -- you are entitled to your own opinion. But I don't think it's fair for you to decide whether *myself* or *my* loved ones are going to have it happen to them -- I care about them, and would appreciate the ability to defend them from all of the other people that are already carrying guns, knifes, and bad attitudes out there anyway.

    Besides it would make your job safer and easier -- you'd have some armed *law-abiding* citizens out there to help you make the Parks safer, in addition to all of the armed criminals that currently roam the parks unhindered.

    -J. Taylor

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    I happened to be visiting Harper's Ferry during the filming of Gods and Generals, unfortunately it is probably one of the worst movies ever filmed in a NPS area. I've tried watching it, but it is incredibly boring. The day I visited I was accidentally walking through the set when the director told me through his megaphone "Please leave the set, you're in our shot, and trust me, you don't want to be in this movie."

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    My gosh....all this talk about great movies filmed in National Parks and no mention of the Western classic Shane (1953) filmed in Grand Teton National Park! "SHANE....Come Back Shane!" Of lesser note, the Russian tundra scenes from Rocky IV (1985) were also filmed there.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Devils Tower National Monument
    Grizzly Man - Katmai National Park

    Both these movies are highly entertaining.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Actually, I think you've got a really great list. Don't worry that you don't remember Remo Williams, nobody does (except me, for reasons I can't figure out). The Remo Williams movie is forgettable, and anything but classic, I was just teasing. Although, the finale does take place on the scaffolding of the Statue of Liberty, that part is true.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Jeremy, where have you been?! While you were gone, Repanshek conned me into writing this Top Ten Park Movies thing, and now my life has turned to crap. Not one single person, not even my wife, agrees with my list. And the feedback we're getting has been unrelentingly brutal. We've got the filters set to automatically delete all comments that include the terms idiot, half wit, meathead, moron, and twit, but we're still getting more nastygrams than you would believe. No good deed goes unpunished. BTW, Jeremy, who in the hell is Remo Williams?

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    What?? No mention of the 1985 classic "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins". Who could forget the exciting final fight sequence which takes place on the scaffolding built up around the Statue of Liberty? Have a look at the movie poster to remember back to those exciting times 20+ years ago.

  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 30 weeks ago

    I have gone to the island for the last 13 years(sometimes twice a year)and the thing that alters the ecology is the big amount of people and new developments (a lot in comparison with 13 years ago). I remember the old Chicomacomico station. There wasn't anything there, but look now. The development of new houses brings trash, sewage and obviously the appropriation of a piece of beach!!! And someone is complaining about 2 miles used by 4x4's (the island has almost 40 miles)!! I asked HOW MANY MILES OF THE PERIMETER OF THE ISLAND ARE OCCUPIED by BACKYARD HOUSES. Please, whoever is behind this needs to put more brains before bubble nonsense solutions. I am in favor of saving the little birds and let the people fish in peace. In general fishermen are not destructive human beings. Moreover, they are lot more sensible than many other human beings. Hoping the best for the endangered species birds and humans.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Good Grief; did I really call The New World an "over-hyped chick flick"?! I must have forgotten to take my lithium again. I should have said "masterpiece," of course. Thank you for setting me straight.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Dismissing Mallick's impressionistic masterpiece, The New World, as merely an "over-hyped chick flick" is not only sexist, it's insulting. If you didn't like the movie, perhaps you could provide concrete reasons and serious examinations rather than writing in cliches and soundbytes.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    The Pickett's Charge scene in "Gettysburg" is made all the more powerful by the fact that it happened on the actual hallowed ground of the battlefield.

    In "Gods and Generals," Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in WV doubles for the now-modernized town of Fredericksburg, VA. Although there is a national park in Fredericksburg, it is unfortunately an island in the middle of modern day America, unlike Harpers Ferry, which still retains its 19th Century charm.

  • Traveler's Top 10 Picks For Movies Involving National Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Don't forget "The River Wild" (1994) with Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon--filmed in Glacier National Park, with Meryl learning to negotiate the rapids without a stunt double!

  • Battle Mounts Over Off-Road Vehicles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 30 weeks ago

    After your comments it is obvious you have not been to the beaches your are so strongly trying to protect. I have been going to the Outer Banks for over 40 years. Do you drive a car? do you fly commercially? I am sure you do and by doing so you do more to ruin the environment that the vehicles on the beach.
    The Outer Banks has been one the most beautiful beachs for 100's of years and in the time I have been enjoying it I have seen no significant change. It is allways beautiful and the wildlife is amazing. I have seen whales to turtles to every sea bird I can think of.
    Your whining and complaining is sad and ignorant. No one mentions the 100's of othere potential reasons why the wildlife may be decreasing. Wall to wall with gas and oil dripping? Do better homework next time!