Recent comments

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 6 hours ago

    Exactly, Ec.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 6 hours ago

    What comes with paying for the LSI is relinquishing ownership rights to the facilities to NPS.

    Who in the world would do that? Pay for buildings and then not own them?

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 6 hours ago

    What comes with paying for the LSI is relinquishing ownership rights to the facilities to NPS. There is no equity included in the transaction for any perspective concessionaire. Throw in a quadrupled rate increase on retail sales (to NPS) with added park taxes on top of that and it becomes a pretty significant. These downsides are why there are no other concessionaires bidding, I believe.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 6 hours ago

    they very well might just be worth the figure.

    If noone is willing to step up and pay the price, they aren't worth the figure.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 7 hours ago

    I had stay brief and general befor and will need to do so here as well. If the canyon view visitor center has no view, if the new train station hub has no train, if the new recycling plant never put a chard of glass back, if the roads get moved befor ever opening up while others fill with debri at the slightest downpour...Then welcome to your NPS dollars at work. They will even feel like the true protecters of the park when you get service concessions without a concessionare.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 7 hours ago

    Also, the Railway came to the South Rim in 1901. There is such a rich Fred Harvey History at South Rim and the Southwest a "Retro-Branding" change in name and action from Xanterra to the original Fred Harvey would be welcomed by many, I believe.

  • Nearly Five Years Later, Congress Balking On "Road To Nowhere" Payments At Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 days 7 hours ago

    Please read the story and the facts. It is Congress that has failed to act, not the NPS. The NPS cannot release funds it does not have or does not have the legal authority to transfer.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 7 hours ago

    ec, they very well might just be worth the figure. Most all of the Historic Village including El Tovar and Hopi House, Hermit's Rest, Phantom Ranch, Desert View Watchtower property and facilities plus housing. With a guaranteed 4+ million visitors a year it could well be worth more but that's what the holdings were agreed to after the appraisal.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 7 hours ago

    the Park Service and Xanterra agreed on a figure of $198 million.

    And therein lies the root of the whole problem. The properties aren't worth $198 million.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   5 days 7 hours ago

    At least the NAS is more honest about the status of the debate.

    " However, due to the nature of science, not every single detail is ever totally settled or completely certain. Nor has every pertinent question yet been answered. Scientific evidence continues to be gathered around the world, and assumptions and findings about climate change are continually analysed and tested. Some areas of active debate and ongoing research include the link between ocean heat content and the rate of warming, estimates of how much warming to expect in the future, and the connections between climate change and extreme weather events"

    But interesting - their proof of man causing warming is that models showed increasing CO2 would warm the lower atmosphere more than the upper. They then claim that has been what has happened. Yet for the last 18 years that is not the case. Their models have been horribly wrong.

  • Unknowns In Terms Of Funding And Personnel Await New Units Of National Park System   5 days 7 hours ago

    Thanks for the fact-checking, Sara. We've fixed it.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 8 hours ago

    Roger, re LSI figures, the Park Service and Xanterra agreed on a figure of $198 million. Under the new Delaware North contract for South Rim operations, that concessionaire agreed to pay Xanterra $41 million. The NPS buy-down of $100 million left a balance of $57 million, which Xanterra would be owed if a different concessionaire landed the outstanding South Rim contract.

    As to whether Fred Harvey was operating for "decades" before the Grand Canyon became a park, that can be debated I'm sure. The El Tovar was built in 1905, Phantom Ranch in 1922. Grand Canyon National Monument was established in 1908, and it was redesignated a national park in 1919.

  • Unknowns In Terms Of Funding And Personnel Await New Units Of National Park System   5 days 8 hours ago

    Blackstone is in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, not New York.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 8 hours ago

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    Let us all take a closer look at what is being said here:

    “...lawyers for the NPS argue...concessionaire...trying to thwart competition and (feels entitled) to remain there.” - The actuality is that all National Parks put their contracts up for bids every few years. This is standard procedure and the GC is no exception. The only difference is is that the grandfather company of Xanterra, the Fred Harvey company, was here long before this was a National Park and put in a lot of the historic buildings that make up the history of the GC. Whoever takes over the bid has to pay for them and no one wants to. Also, with the new bidder must pay the NPS a much larger chunk of the proceeds from sales than Xanterra has in the past which is intimidating to new bidders.

    “...there is no temporary contract....” - There was; the NPS just yanked it out when Xanterra sued them.

    “...the Park Services $100 million buy-down....not welcomed by Xanterra.” - That is because the amount was $157 million (the article states $198 million. Which amount is accurate is somewhere in their paperwork). The GC came up with the $100 by borrowing it from other National Parks who in turned raised their rates and the GC itself also raised its taxes and entrance fees (in other words YOU are paying for this whole situation). The main purpose of the buy out appears to be that the NPS does not having to share control of the Park with any other entity than its authoritarian self and does not like the clout that Xanterra has from owning the historic buildings and railroad. The reason for the Parks buyout in the first place is that no one else wanted to put forth that much money to take over the concessionaire.

    “In an effort to maintain its advantageous position...” - Advantageous? In the deal with Delaware North the Park Service took away critical employee housing from Xanterra, the more populous concessionaire and gave it to themselves (they kept the nicest apartments at the Desert View site for their Rangers) and to Delaware North which, if imposed in the middle of winter, would leave many Xanterra employees out on the street, in unheated cabins or having to double up in already crowded facilities. It is more like the Park is playing favorites.

    “Xanterra fails to show that it will suffer irreparable harm...” - Hundreds of employees thrown out of work and their homes during the Christmas Holidays in a remote area of the country, many of whom do not have transportation is not 'irreparable harm'? Losing the framework between t he major hotels, restaurants, train, tour buses, mule rides and information center of the whole South Rim of the Canyon is not 'irreparable harm?” Shall we let the whole thing collapse and see if the NPS and all the rest of the people involved in the Park do not also suffer 'irreparable harm'?

    “...the expiration of Xanterra's contract...which has already been extended...maximum period allowed...” - That is because no other concessionaire would step up to take over the contract. The Park would have essentially shut down had Xanterra not stayed.

    “...alleged injuries are not traceable to any NPS action...” - Does constantly limiting Xanterra and other Canyon businesses in many ways not have something to do with it? Outmoded streets not wide enough for buses, lack of sidewalks in major areas endangering pedestrians, unclear signage confusing already lost drivers, lack of restrooms in areas heavily visited by guests, refusal to update facilities for a growing number of visitors (we get 5 million a year now) while at the same time wanting the revenue thereof, inadequate lighting in crucial areas endangering guests and drivers, not allowing the building of facilitates to house the employees needed to run the Park (the same is a chronic problem at most National Parks) to name some of the short-comings.

    “...they denied that visitors...would be greatly impacted....” - Hmm.... Hermits Rest shut down, no taxi's, no tour buses to the extreme west and east parts of the park, limited transport to the airport and the nearest town Tusayan, no historic mules rides in the Park, no daily train bringing guests from the transportation hub Williams, no restaurants and hotels except one that normally closes down for winter, no repair service for broken down guest's autos, no fire and safety, no security. OK, if you say so...........

    It definitely took lawyers to come up with these complaints, or shall I say taxpayer-funded highly paid piranha who don't give a hoot what the real truths of the matter are. Here is what is apparently at the root of the whole problem:

    Xanterra, the offspring of the Fred Harvey Company that began business at the Canyon DECADES before it was made into a National Park and instituted the majority of the historic businesses, sites, roads, trails and other attractions at the Canyon, owns the majority of what makes the GC what it is. The NPS is known for liking to have an authoritarian hand over its parks and does not like having to answer to anyone else, especially concessionaires. It looks like the Park would like to be rid of Xanterra because of its clout and influence on GC affairs and replace it with a number of smaller concessionaires who would be more malleable to its rule. In ousting Xanterra the Park has shown amazing coldness for an organization that prides itself on being the visiting public's 'friend in green'. At the very first hearing on the transfer of concessionship the Park took away a huge amount of Xanterras housing (which was already crowded) and gave to to the much smaller concessionaire. When Xanterra commented that this was not enough space to house their people the Park's literal answer in so many words was “That's your problem.”.

    This won't be the first time the Park has kicked a grandfathered group out of its boundaries. In the early 1900's they evicted the Havasupai Natives out of Indian Gardens, a major hiking destination, an oasis in the midst of the barren inner desert and one of the few populated areas down inside the Canyon. The Havasupai had been living there for hundreds of years before the new landlord showed up. They also had to pack up and move on- no questions asked and no rebuttals tolerated.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 8 hours ago

    re: "I believe Xanterra is in the transient employee business. All employees below Director and manager status are looked on as transient employees." That may be the way top management looks at it, and that's probably not unreasonable for employees like the entry level housekeeping and food service staff, but the reality for any organization the size of this one is that there is a great need for experience, skills and institutional knowledge at supervisory levels and sometimes the "worker bee level."

    Example: maintenance functions (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc) in large structures are always subject to quirks, and even something as basic as knowing where shutoff valves and circuit breakers are located isn't learned overnight. Those concerns are complicated in old buildings such as the El Tovar hotel, where systems have undergone numerous changes over the years.

    If I were taking one of the mule rides into the canyon, I'd certainly not want a "transient" wrangler in charge of the animals or the tourists. Plenty of other examples, but in order to run a quality operation that's as broad in scope as those at Grand Canyon, you've got to have experienced employees at many levels. If these employees are given the boot, it will be very hard to replace that knowledge by hiring off the street.

    I have no personal insights into the contract questions, but it sound as if both NPS and company management have handled this situation very poorly.

    Given the lack of takers for a new contract, the NPS should have gone ahead with an extension of the existing one, to allow everyone time to regroup.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 8 hours ago

    'Pariah of the park' is mistaken. Dave Uberuaga did not break "up those pesky concessionaires at Mount Ranier..." He oversaw the park's plan to divide the former monopoly Rainier climbing guide concession held by RMI into equal thirds. When the dust cleared, RMI's share was increased to half, with the remainder split between two new concessionaires. The fact that Uberuaga sold his house to the owner of RMI for three times its value and lied about the transaction to investigators led the Inspector General's office to recommend him to the Department of Justice for prosecution:

    http://www.adventure-journal.com/2011/10/former-rainier-park-chief-under...

    A person of such questionable integrity should have been retired at the very least, instead of promoted to where he could cause the current mess. This makes Director Jarvis look to be lacking in integrity as well, especially considering his brother was a lobbyist for other Grand Canyon concessionaires.

  • Nearly Five Years Later, Congress Balking On "Road To Nowhere" Payments At Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 days 10 hours ago

    The government isn't keeping their bargain with NC? How shocking. Kind of like the bargain to keep the smokies free forever. Why would the NPS want "their" money released to Swain County. No wonder folks around here don't like the NPS. They and do nothing congress take care of their own.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   5 days 10 hours ago

    Lee, you are correct. Much more information about this can be obtained from the joint NAS/RS report, which has been authored by a collective team of climate scientists and peer reviewed. I find that "global climate change deniers" are actively engaged in a political campaign repeating the same pseudo facts over and over again in online media. I have a very high regard for the following report. It's worth your time to look through.

    http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/exec-office-other/climate-ch...

  • Congress Sends Defense Authorization Bill, With National Park Legislation, To President   5 days 11 hours ago

    $411,000 was taken (borrowed) from Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area to fight Xanterra Corp in court who wants to continue offering their services to visitors at the Grand Canyon. Inquiring Minds wat to know how much of that money was generated from Off Road Vehicle (ORV) permits ? Inquiring Minds know that none of the ORV monies can be spent for ANY other use but improvements in ACCESS to the Seashore. Inquiring Minds have tried with 2 FOIA requests to find out where the money was spent and received vague and less than clear information after months of waiting.

    Regarding the monies being transferred from our local NPS lands to fight Xanterra shouldn't we all have inquiring minds?

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 19 hours ago

    A very good discussiuon at this point. Addressing transient employees I believe Xanterra is in the transient employee business. All employees below Director and manager status are looked on as transient employees. In procedures and practice some of the folks that are entrusted to be the most responsible for visitor's safety and experience at the Canyon are looked on as short timers because they aren't supported to be any more, some would suggest. There is a tremendous amount of expertise and commitment that is evident by many employees. Perhaps more than is fully appreciated leaving many running on empty and move on. An issue that I've observed over many years and I believe has led to a less than favorable opinion by NPS people in the field and management. While I respect greatly the owner, Phillip Anschutz, I wish he would look closely at the operation model and integrity of his managers specifically in Denver. The trickle down from the top asserts how managers view their charges and continues on through to visitors and the employees that serve them. Xanterra could do a lot better and the statement that spoke earlier of "rebranding" holds sway with me. Not the kind that is window dressing & PR but one that, I believe, Mr. Anschutz could implement. So, all this discussion is good even at this late date and hope that there can be a fruitfull agreement where everyone comes to a mutual agreement that actually puts the Park, the employees that help give so much to the experience for visitors because, to many, the Canyon is a part of them and would not be there if it weren't.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 19 hours ago

    Later post is corrected.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   5 days 20 hours ago

    Yeah, for a hundred years co2 warms the air and then all of a sudden it decides to warm the oceans instead. Did any of the AGW models predict that? Of course not. The models have been horribly wrong.

  • Is Global Climate Change A Threat to National Parks? Another Response   5 days 20 hours ago

    Owen, am I correct in thinking that at lease some of the denial spouted by deniers is due to slower warmnig of the atmosphere while oceans are continuing to become warmer and warmer? Our oceans are heat sinks that will at some point become the tipping mechanism.

    Correct?

  • Some Good Reads To Prepare You For The National Parks   5 days 20 hours ago

    Highly recommend Mr. MacKinnon's book. It would be good if some of our frequent commentors here could (would) read it and do some serious thinking.

    But that's about like hoping for something sensible from Congress.

  • National Park Service, In Court Filing, Claims Xanterra Trying To Block Competition In Grand Canyon Concessions Business   5 days 21 hours ago

    I have a family, and I work in a NP, and view myself as a transient, even if i've been at the job for a little more than a few years. At any time something can shift and change, and which point i'll move on and adapt. All jobs are transient, and to think that a life time long term position should be granted to restaurant and hotel employees is not exactly a smart managerial decision.

    I get that the Grand Canyon has water issues, and that developing towns and cities to support the infrastructure is not exactly feasible. But on the same token, I would like national parks to remain more off the grid, than on them. That's why they are special places, and if anyone hikes more than 10 miles off into the canyon, they should know what they are getting into, and not need to rely on a xantera employee for expertise.

    Anytime I ever go into the desert, I carry my own water and food. It' just how I operate. It's nice that those amentities can be there, but it's not a necessity.