Recent comments

  • Sequoia, Drugs, and Rangers   7 years 5 weeks ago
    One of the most active marijuana growing areas in Sequoia is accessed via the Mineral King Road. The NPS now has a 24 hour gate at that entrance. It seems that checking vehicles on the access roads would be better way of stopping marijuana growing that finding the fields, by which time the damage to the land has already been done. I had to submit to a bag search when I entered the Smithsonian for fear I would attack the historic/cultural objects there. Vehicles should be inspected for irrigation pipes, fertilizer and the other equipment used in marijuana growing before entrace to the park is allowed. My state, California, stops and inspects my vehicle for contraband fruit to keep out fruit flies, it seems that stopping cars to protect the park from environmental damage would be a smarter use of limited resources to protect the parks.
  • Sequoia, Drugs, and Rangers   7 years 5 weeks ago
    The marijuana problem exists not just at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks but also Sequoia National Forest, the Sierra National Forest, the Los Padres National Forest, etc. And the National Forests seem to have even less money and less resources to deal with the problem... ugh. I had the opportunity to help clean up a marijuana garden a few years back. The plants had all been removed. But what was left behind was atrocious - the most sickening pile of trash imaginable. Food, wrappers, cans, bottles, tp, bags of fertilizer, old leaking stove fuel cans, clothing, sleeping bags, and miles of irrigation pipeline. It was some of the toughest work I've ever done helping to clean it all up.
  • Mountain Bikers to Seek Access Through Listening Sessions   7 years 5 weeks ago
    Your criticism sounds oddly familiar to that espoused by snowmobilers, who would have you think snowshoers and cross-country skiers also are elitist or "egocentric," as you put it. But under your logic, the parks' trails should also be open to dirt bikes, ATVs and ORVs, and their lakes to personal watercraft and ski boats. I think you have to remember that there's a decidedly different management mandate for parks than for Forest Service and BLM lands. Those agencies actively manage for recreation much more than does the Park Service, which has a primary mandate to preserve the landscape. There's only 84 million acres of national parks, versus what, 191 million acres of Forest Service land and another 264 million acres or so of BLM land. Is it too much to hope that those 84 million acres could be preserved as much as possible, or should that, too, be given over to every form of recreation under the sun?
  • Mountain Bikers to Seek Access Through Listening Sessions   7 years 5 weeks ago
    Single track is attractive to mountain bikers for the same reasons hikers prefer it. Delegating "cyclists" to dirt roads reeks of a system of class whereby hikers get the choice trails, and cyclists get something less. Egocentric logic if you ask me. Share the trail people.
  • Forget FY08 Budget, Look at Things Now   7 years 5 weeks ago
    Re all the hoopla about 'new' & 'increased' funding apparently promised by the centennial initiative, if Memory serves, the parks have been steadily losing funding, and have deferred maintenance and personnel shortfalls. What is normal funding and staffing? Does the proposed 'initiative' merely add window dressing for the centennial Party, like putting make-up on a corpse? What funding levels are needed. really? Wouldn't there still be a huge deficit despite the 'new' money??
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk Moved into Place   7 years 5 weeks ago
    I may have misspoken. Technically, isn't the Haulapai a sovereign nation? So that isn't really the same thing as private land. I think. Could be wrong. If so, the US has no business telling other sovereign nations what to do, but clearly, that matters little to Americans who allowed the government to invade a sovereign nation four years ago. Your analogy is a little off. Unlike the tiny parks of Gettysburg and Manassas, the Haulapai land is far, far from the main visitor areas of the Grand Canyon. The skywalk can't be seen from there, and I doubt it is very visible from the remote western part of GRCA. It's doesn't appear to be over the main canyon. It appears to be suspended over a side canyon not far from Lake Mead, one of the most serious environmental disasters in American history. Check out the location by navigating to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Canyon_Skywalk Take the coordinates for the skywalk and copy them into Google Earth or Google Maps.
  • Mountain Bikers to Seek Access Through Listening Sessions   7 years 5 weeks ago
    Hell, don't diss the coffee and fingerfoods; that's the only reason to go to any of these things; in this town, if you wear a suit, trust me, you'll never go hungry. All you need is a daybook and an appetite for BS. There's no real reason to have these sessions anywhere near the big parks; that would only give them even more of a veneer of legitimacy. As for mountain bikes...I agree with you Kurt; everyone feels they are owed more and more; I'm tired of it. I don't mountain bike myself; I love touring and road biking. When I was in Big Sky for work last summer, I was a little overwhelmed by all the bikers who go up the gondola just to crash down it in full gear. I guess I don't understand it; there's so much erosion all over the place from the skiing and the biking. I just don't get it. I looked at that 9-mile road, though, down the hill, and I thought, "Wow, I wish I had my road bike to go up this thing." I don't know - aesthetics is a strange thing...but this entitlement...that I don't understand. In Rock Creek Park, we can't get the cars off the roads here so that bikes can have more space - only part of the park on the weekends. Last year, we had some flooding, and they closed the road for about a week to cars through the park, and it was divine. But, it's all so complicated.
  • Sequoia, Drugs, and Rangers   7 years 5 weeks ago
    Having not set foot in Sequoia-Kings since my seasonal days in the 1970s, I have no idea whether this reallocation of resources is a good idea or a bad idea. However, I do know that selectively deploying one's resources to deal with the most pressing problems is what law enforcement management is all about. In this Bushite era of depleted staffs, the choices have become especially difficult. And I can't help wondering if the following paragraph from the anonymous complainer explains a lot about where he or she is coming from: "As a consolation for losing their enviable jobs, those of the wilderness ranger corps who hold law enforcement commissions may be given the opportunity to join the marijuana program. However, in spite of the skills and experience of the wilderness rangers, few if any are trained in special operations necessary for nighttime surveillance and commando-style raids. Fewer still are likely willing to relocate to a new duty station to work a 10PM to 6AM shift scrambling through poison oak instead of protecting visitors and wildlife at their beloved alpine posts." It's certainly tough to say goodbye to an "enviable job," but I'll reserve judgment on the wisdom of this decision until somebody can show me facts and figures to back up their arguments.
  • Public Lands Fees PushBack and Pork   7 years 5 weeks ago
    By the way Kurt, for your readers in the State of Washington that are interested in this particular issue, there is some immediate help that is needed. The Chairman of the Rules Committee in the State Legislature has put a hold on this bill, for unknown reasons. If you care to see this Memorial succeed, and you live in Washington, perhaps you could take a minute and write Representative Chase a note asking that HJM 4003 be moved from the Rules Committee to the floor for a vote. The message is that simple. Here's his contact info: Honorable Speaker Frank Chopp 360-786-7920 chopp.frank@leg.wa.gov If this Memorial is not voted on by Wed the 14th, it may be done for this year. The Rules Committee is meeting this weekend, so now's the time, if you want to take action.
  • Public Lands Fees PushBack and Pork   7 years 5 weeks ago
    It's not just the State of Washington which is crafting this type of message to Congress. In just the last couple years, Alaska, Montana, Oregon, and Colorado have written similar resolutions. You can read the text of these bills from the Western Slope No Fee website: http://www.westernslopenofee.org/NoFee/resolutions.php
  • Mountain Bikers to Seek Access Through Listening Sessions   7 years 6 weeks ago
    Let's see. The "listening session" will revolve around a series of little tables supporting poster displays focusing on different topics, all of which will somehow be related to strengthening the "productive relationship." The gullible public will walk from table to table, filling out little 3X5 index cards at each on which they will write out a sentence or two expressing their thoughts on the various "issues." At the 12th, and final, table, they will get to greet an agency grand poohbah, who will shake hands and thanks each and every person for coming out. Coffee and fingerfoods will be served over in the far corner, the java underwritten by REI and the food by Trek bicycles and Volkswagen.
  • Sequoia, Drugs, and Rangers   7 years 6 weeks ago
    Let's keep using federal funding and resource to round up and deport illegal immigrant workers, and handcuffing seven year old American Citizens, like the incidents in San Rafael and Novato California instead of pursuing drug cartels and abusers of our National Treasures.
  • Sequoia, Drugs, and Rangers   7 years 6 weeks ago
    Good question, Green. The short answer is that DEA doesn't have the manpower needed to tackle each and every incident across the country. Swed pointed out to me that, while DEA officials are working with park officials as well as Forest Service and county officials to track down the cartels involved and bring them to justice, Sequoia is the jurisdiction of the National Park Service and the park rangers are tasked with upholding all laws in the parks, whether that be illegal camping or illegal drug running. I agree that things are getting crazy out there, that park rangers in many areas are being asked to wear a multitude of hats, from park ranger to Border Patrol to Customs Agent to DEA. Unfortunately, the financial resources don't adequately exist to help the rangers in all those areas, so they have to pick and choose.
  • Sequoia, Drugs, and Rangers   7 years 6 weeks ago
    How come Swed is not receiving/demanding the necessary resources from the DEA? Back country rangers should be focused where primary Park use occurs not battling large drug plantations. That should be the focus of the DEA. Both organizations undergo significantly different training and offer different skills to the public.
  • Sequoia, Drugs, and Rangers   7 years 6 weeks ago
    I'm curious as to how these drug lords get access to the park. Are there that many roads into the chaparral areas? Why doesn't the park or the DEA set up checkpoints on the roads, looking for vehicles carrying fertilizers, irrigation equipment etc. Or are all these things being packed in on foot?
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk Moved into Place   7 years 6 weeks ago
    Like the government doesn't put environmental restrictions on private land. This tourist trap is akin to the proposed casino close to Gettysburg or the proposed Disney Americana theme park close to Manassas. Both, thank goodness, were voted down. They would have been on private land but would have degraded the area around a National Park.
  • Listening Session Two-Step   7 years 6 weeks ago
    Well, Kurt, as I also mentioned, actually Washington, D.C., is close to many parks run by the NPS, several battlefields, Great Falls NP, Shenandoah, and of course the city parks of DC. We have a whole different experience with the NPS here, and they are definitely noticed due to the very complex and overlapping law enforcement jurisdictions. But, I get your point.
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk Moved into Place   7 years 6 weeks ago
    The Hualapai built the tourist trap on their own PRIVATE land. They are not legally bound to the 1916 Organic Act like the NPS. If you're not familiar, that establishing act requires that the NPS leave parks UNIMPAIRED for future generations, and I'd say that all that Disneyesque development at the Grand Canyon is a major impairment. Don't think it's Disneyesque? Here's another fact for you: there are more hotel rooms in the Grand Canyon than there are at Disneyland! The price is about the same for both, too.
  • Sequoia, Drugs, and Rangers   7 years 6 weeks ago
    You had me at hello. For a second there, I thought someone tipped you off about my time at Sequoia. Just kidding :) But seriously, this is yet another reason to decriminalize.
  • In Desperate Need of the Gray and Green   7 years 6 weeks ago
    K's working on one of the hats on e-bay. Pray for me. Heh.
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk Moved into Place   7 years 6 weeks ago
    To make this Skywalk even more attractive, charge extra for free base jumping. Just a gruesome thought but who picks up the mess if don't make it...and there's the suicide jumpers to contend with...does the NPS pick the tab on this one? Being cynical of course, but the Skyrink is pure junk and bad medicine for the tribe.
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk Moved into Place   7 years 6 weeks ago
    It's also revealing that not all the tribe wants this Skywalk. And do I think that travelers will drive many miles over dirt roads and pay $25 a head, $100 for a family of four, to spend a few minutes walking on this thing? No. But we shall see.
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk Moved into Place   7 years 6 weeks ago
    So if the Hualapai build a skywalk over the canyon, it's okay. If the NPS were to do it, it's not okay. Yeah, I see the double standard. Do I think that too much development in the park is a bad thing? Absolutely. But it's naive to think that people want to endure the hardships of a John Wesley Powell in order to see the canyon. Some development is necessary. Is the building of a skywalk over the canyon necessary. No. It is the attraction, like a Disneyland attraction, not the canyon itself. Do I think that the Hualapai should live in poverty? Of course not. But do I think they should be held to laxer environmental rules and standards than everyone else? No.
  • Audiocast #1 : Washington State Plan to Abolish the FLREA   7 years 6 weeks ago
    We need at least some of the money brought in by fees to keep up the park lands. Maybe abolish the entrance/parking fees so everyone can enjoy the parks and increase the cost of camp sights. The sights in the parks, although without hookups for rv's are much nicer than most comercial campgrounds where you are packed in right next to each other. The cost of the sites at the parks, at least in my opinion are too low for the size of the camp site that you get. I would gladly pay more for this type of camping. We love going to the National Parks and will choose them over private campgrounds any day.
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk Moved into Place   7 years 6 weeks ago
    "The arhitects of the El Tovar and the other buildings at the South Rim kept the buildings aesthetically in line with the canyon." What a load of crap. The Market Plaza at the South Rim is the size of a K-Mart. Why do we need such a big store in a National Park? "The facilities the National Park Service built at the Grand Canyon are, for the most part, necessary in order for people to visit the canyon." Again I need my hip waders. John Wesley Powell and early travelers didn't need a small city on the South Rim to sustain them. Nor did Clarence Dutton or John Muir or Teddy Roosevelt, who expressed his wish that it remain pristine for future generations. Today, the Canyon is anything but pristine with houses and pay phones at Phantom Ranch, a water pipeline across the canyon, a bank, an ATM, 11 restaurants, an auto mechanic shop, Internet access, a kennel, a medical clinic, a post office, gas stations, gift shops, six lodges with almost 1000 rooms costing up to $300 a night. There are 228 miles of roads and 1143 buildings. This isn't "necessary". It's excessive and it's impossible to find solitude on the South Rim. So back off the Hualapai. I'm fed up with this racist double standard. After everything the US government has done to native peoples, how dare you smugly anticipate the financial failure of their tribe! Condemnation of the Hualapai smacks of Anglo hypocrisy. It's like that 1990s drug commercial where the dad catches his son with marijuana and asks how he learned to do drugs. His son replies, "I learned it by watching you! Ok?! I learned it by watching YOU!"