Recent comments

  • Reader Survey Day: Have Fee Increases Prompted You To Buy An America The Beautiful Pass?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Fee increases have prompted me to avoid NPS units in favor of National Forest lands as much as possible. And it has been much more pleasant not having to deal with jack booted kojaks with backpacks and attitudes to match their weapons.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Only, the Keystone Pipeline would carry Canadian oil SOUTH.

    So what - it is traveling south now using trains, using the pipeline would be safer.

  • Reader Survey Day: Have Fee Increases Prompted You To Buy An America The Beautiful Pass?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I have often got two summer vacations out of one annual pass by just planning next years trip to happen before it expires. $80 seems like the logical choice. I wouldn't doubt it will go up in the near future.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Only, the Keystone Pipeline would carry Canadian oil SOUTH. In the Bakken, it is all about carrying U.S. crude WEST. Even the oil companies want to take advantage of the best markets, which does not mean being tied down to any pipeline.

    Obviously pipelines are far safer than rail, but do read THE WALL STREET JOURNAL. The surge in rail traffic is also about flexibility, which our pipeline system does not necessarily serve. A pipeline everywhere? The railroads would fight that, as they did coal slurry pipelines years ago. In short, follow the money, not just the emotions. Keystone is fast becoming "old news."

  • Burros Inadvertently Save Life Of Hiker Lost In Death Valley National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Thanks Jim, know there are some issues with these animals, but I love the burro's.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Excellent piece of writing, Kurt. And, echoing EC, I've never read a more effective endorsement of the Keystone Pipeline.

  • Burros Inadvertently Save Life Of Hiker Lost In Death Valley National Park   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Alert move to follow the burros to water - and then stay there until help arrived. This situation also offers a couple of reminders for any trip to remote locations: even on a day hike, take along a daypack with the basics for survival in case something unexpected comes up, and let somebody (not part of your group) know your plans, so they can notify authorities to investigate if you don't return as expected. Even experienced travelers can become careless and fail to do one or both of those from time to time, but given the remote location, this guy should be thankful for the successful outcome.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Thank you Traveler for an informative post, and thanks Jim for your insights. In 2007, 6000 tanker cars, 2013 435,000. It does not make much of stretch to wonder how much railbed upgrades, etc, have been done, little would be my guess. Why is it no surprise the American Petroleum Insititute has filed a lawsuit already protesting the new rules and efforts to provide for environmental protection and public safety, a no brainer in my view. I call it political corruption, my friends say that is to harsh a term, it is now known as a "political funding" problem in this era of neo-liberal economics.

  • Forests At Valley Forge National Historical Park Coming Back After Deer Culling   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I am curious if there is the same outrage over this as for the elk culling in the Tetons? I am also amused every time I read an article about us intervening to restore what we consider if not the natural balance of things, a better balance. I'm not implying they are doing either right or wrong here, I just find the whole topic of what is "natural" interesting and rife with ethical dilemmas and logical contradictions.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Yes Megaera, we all can come up with potential disaster scenerios despite their miniscule probablitly. The cost of preventing all of them would be crippling.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Transporting crude oil in pipelines would be far safer than trains but enviormentalists have blocked pipeline construction. Top enviomentalist Bill McKibben has pretty much said that the reason he opposes, and has organized against, the Keystone Pipeline isn't because there is some great danger of spills from the pipeline, or because the pipeline itself is a direct threat to the environment. Rather, McKibben and his fellow enviomentalists oppose the pipeline because they want to force an artical scaracity of crude oil that will drive up fuel prices in the belief this will spur the development of alternative sources of energy.

    Also, as bad as an accident would be in the parks, my biggest fear would be an accident or sabotage inside a city. Every city of any size has track right through the middle of town. This is one of the few areas where I would support increased regulation to ensure the safety of the public and maybe that means these trains need to routed in a way that would avoid concentrations of population.

  • Reader Survey Day: Have Fee Increases Prompted You To Buy An America The Beautiful Pass?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I renew my car tabs and buy a parks pass every year. It's just part of owning a car, IMHO. I live within a daytrip of five national parks, and a weekend trip of several more, and I'd feel hamstrung without one. Have there been any rumors of a price increase for the pass, or was the $30 increase a few years ago enough to keep that at bay for a while yet?

    I'm going to the Canadian Rockies this summer, and the Canadian parks pass was the sticker shock. Per person, not per car, and their per-park entrance fee is for a day. I'm going to end up buying an annual pass for a week's vacation. Unreal.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Some of those tracks the oil trains are on run under the city of Seattle, and the infrastructure is old enough that it's widely acknowledged an explosion under there would be catastrophic.

    Think about that one, too.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I hope a lot more lives won't be lost in future accidents before "incremental benefits" result in changes.

    How many lives have been lost so far? It would appear not many:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/aug/19/train-wrecks-keep-us-on-...

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 2 days ago

    True, can't reduce risks to zero. Where some of us differ is determining the point of acceptable risks. As suggested in the story, the risks under discussion could be reduced for Glacier through several steps - and with measures such as better rail cars, risks could be reduced for anyone who lives near a rail line. Unfortunately, the industry seems to be fighting some of those steps. I hope a lot more lives won't be lost in future accidents before "incremental benefits" result in changes.

  • Reader Survey Day: Have Fee Increases Prompted You To Buy An America The Beautiful Pass?   2 weeks 2 days ago

    I have always bought an America the Beautiful Pass regardless of the entrance fees. I just hope they still have Golden Age Passes when I turn 62.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 2 days ago

    where an accident would not affect enough people, or cause enough economic harm, to be worth the cost of reducing those risks.

    Exactly. We can't reduce risks to zero without bringing the economy to a halt. Whether it is train safety, environmental pollution or any other issue, the incremental benefits must be weighed against the economic costs. Neither can be view in a vacuum or as absolute.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Article in today's news: "Oil industry balks at train safety rules. The Am. Petroleum Institute has filed a court challenge to new rules aimed at reducing the risks of catastrophic accidents involving crude moved by rail..."

    As the above article points out, any rail accident on the part of the BN tracks that run along Glacier's southern boundary would be very difficult to resolve. In places that steep-walled canyon is probably 1,000 feet deep; rapids in the river make access by anything other than small rafts impossible. The result: cleanup of an oil spill there would be more difficult than almost any other place in the country.

    In the late 1970s an avalanche in this area took out a bridge on US2 and swept a large truck all the way to the bottom of the canyon. Fortunately the driver escaped, but getting that single truck back "up the hill" took a full day, with specialized equipment that took many hours to arrive.

    I had a chance encounter and conversation last summer with a member of a volunteer fire dept. just outside the park. He brought up his concerns about rail accidents and spills, and said that although BN has sponsored some training and provided some basic hazmat supplies, it would be woefully inadequate for a major incident. He was concerned that BN's crews to handle such problems are small, and located so far away it would take many hours for them to respond.

    Prediction: Reducing these risks is a question of money for the railroad and oil industry, and as suggested by an earlier comment, little will be done until there's a major disaster in a major population area. To most politicans and industry officials, Glacier is simply a pretty place where an accident would not affect enough people, or cause enough economic harm, to be worth the cost of reducing those risks.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    I personally think that yellowstone would have followed the smokies model and had no yearly pass or cap. However, they saw the outrage from the smokies lawsuit and people who asked for that and it was ignored due to poor management at the time. The Yellowstone super is smart to add that option in. I also think if the smokies super had done something small like this it would have possibly made a big difference.

  • A Traveler Special Report: "Oil Trains" Pose A Significant Threat To National Parks   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Certainly worthy of taking precautionary measures but on an annual basis passanger trains and people walking on tracks have led to far more fatalities than oil cars. But your article is a good rationale for building pipelines (Keystone anyone) instead.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    There are definitely not complete standards that apply across the board at all the National Parks.

    Perhaps not but that still doesn't justify the Superintendents statement (assuming he made it). Annual backcountry fees aren't illegal or impossible, he just chooses not to take that route. Obviously he is free to make that choice but he should take the criticism for his stance rather than lie about why the decision was made and try to blame someone else.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    I'm not running. My gift to you, Eric, is that I'm chosing to walk away from the sorts of junior high school debating society drivel that you've sucked me into for the past too many years. As I turn my back on you, you can write anything in the world that you want to say and you will indeed have the last word. Go for it. I'll continue to discuss politely with those capable of it.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Yellowstone also has an entrance fee, which generates millions of dollars in revenue for the park to utilize. GSMNP does not have a gate fee, and relies mostly on federal tax dollars, and donations from the GSMA and FOTS to run the park. There are definitely not complete standards that apply across the board at all the National Parks. Should there be? That's a complex question with a variety of answers, that's not so black and white.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Gary, perhaps you will answer the question that Rick B as run from. How does Yellowstone have an annual back country fee when the SMNP superintendent claims establishing an annual back country fee in an NPS unit is not possible. That is the issue Smokies is raising.

  • Fees For Backcountry Travelers Kicking In At Yellowstone National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago

    There have been backcountry fees in most National Parks across the west for decades. Yellowstone also had a backcountry fee long before this year. Anyone that was planning a trip before they got there and wanted to guarantee their space used the backcountry system and paid a 25.00 fee to get a permit. I've given that park many of my george washingtons over the years, and none of my buddies and I griped about it. Yellowstone also has an entrance fee, something the Smokies does not. Jeez... a little perspective and knowledge of NPS history could really help your constant misunderstanding and constant misinterpretation of this thing called reality, John.