Recent comments

  • Op-Ed| Let's Bring Grizzly Bears Back To The North Cascades   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Who wants to hear passionate illiterates discuss things they don't know much about?

    I personally like the controlled environment, and by law they include all the comments. Otherwise you have showboaters taking too much time and saying things others might not want to hear.

  • Op-Ed| Let's Bring Grizzly Bears Back To The North Cascades   2 weeks 2 days ago

    I don't know what the answer is but the whole EIS process sucks. It is tedious, time consuming, expensive, repetitious, and frustrating to all involved including the public. I no longer attend scoping meetings where the government says we don't have a clue on what we want to do, but we want you to tell us what all we should consider. I do get involved when a draft EIS or EA has been published and at the same time recognize no manager in their right mind would go thrugh the process unless they had already decided what they wanted to do.

  • Wolves Wander From Grand Portage Indian Reservation To Isle Royale National Park And Back   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Very interesting article.

  • Op-Ed| Let's Bring Grizzly Bears Back To The North Cascades   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Thanks for elaborating on the public meeting process, Jim. I agree it's gotten too complicated and think that itself is a source of some of the public frustration. I remember plenty of the old-style meetings with "vent[ing] of emotions", so it's understandable why officials would prefer a more controlled environment.

    On the other hand, I think the current style of subtopic "stations" concentrating on details discourages general opinion comments. Many rural people may be uncomfortable expressing their opinions in a written format. I have also seen "open houses'' scheduled during weekday work hours and at inconvenient locations. Also, those larger later stage meetings rarely have enough time for everyone to express oral comments.

    I helped prepare for public meetings during my NPS career and saw how they were viewed by mangement as a necessary evil, to be gotten through as painlessly as possible. It seemed pretty rare for anything but their preferred alternate to be adopted. A few years ago at a Mount Rainier meeting on raising climbing fees, one of the staff inadvertently let the cat out of the bag by revealing that they wanted to tie the fee to inflation, "...so we don't have to go through this again."

  • Op-Ed| Let's Bring Grizzly Bears Back To The North Cascades   2 weeks 2 days ago

    It's got similar veins to the wolf reintroduction in central Idaho. You have a few vocal screamers, and then you have many that just go about their daily lives and aren't affected by wolves in their back yards. I personally, am all for grizzlies being back in the North Cascades, and in other areas too. They should also be back in Central Idaho from the Frank to the Bitteroots down into the Sawtooths, and also back in the Wind Rivers, where they can beging to get a foothold back into the plains and grasslands regions of Wyoming. There is definitely habitat and food to sustain a moderately healthy population of around a thousand or so in the Cascades, and Central Idaho. Once these areas get re-established, then of course places like the Unitas in Utah/Wyoming could be next, which would then guide them back into Colorado... but maybe that's being too optimistic.

    A population in the Cascades is another area that needs to happen. Once they start to prosper again, they can be guided back into Oregon, and northern California.

  • Op-Ed| Let's Bring Grizzly Bears Back To The North Cascades   2 weeks 2 days ago

    In fairness to those involved in this planning process, the recent sessions were advertised as "open houses," not public a "public hearing" where "open mic" comments would be made in front of an audience. The "open house" is an early step in the planning, where anyone interested is invited to come to an informal session and talk one on one with agency reps, ask questions, and gather information. I would think the public would welcome that opportunity. At a more formal "public meeting" there's rarely the chance for those extended one on one conversations.

    Sounds like those involved might have done a better job explaining the expectations for the recent event - but after reading some of the rhetoric in the article in the above link, I don't think that was the problem. Those opposed to this idea are going to be opposed, and will complain about any process that is used.

    If this plan follows the usual pattern, there will be additional meetings in the future, and more chances to comment. This plan is in the very first stages called "scoping," and a draft plan hasn't even been written yet. Personally, I think the process has gotten too complicated and drawn out, but that's due to efforts to allow public input at more stages in the plan.

    The above comment says attendees were invited to leave written comments after talking to the agency reps. I have to wonder why written comments are deemed less acceptable than those made orally? My limited experience with public meetings with an "open mic" for comments is they offer a chance to vent a lot of emotion, but I have to wonder if that really leads to the better decisions - or just good soundbites for the media?

  • Parks Canada To Return Plains Bison To Banff National Park   2 weeks 2 days ago
  • Op-Ed| Let's Bring Grizzly Bears Back To The North Cascades   2 weeks 2 days ago

    Bingo, Tahoma.

  • Op-Ed| Let's Bring Grizzly Bears Back To The North Cascades   2 weeks 2 days ago

    A county adjacent to North Cascades NP is exploring a lawsuit in response to this plan:

    "About 100 people attended the open house in Okanogan.

    “It’s a very, very disgruntled public. They’re not happy with the process. It was set up so you really couldn’t comment. It’s divide and conquer. They diffuse the situation as best they can so they can check the box when they go back to wherever they go and say, ‘Yes we had a meeting in Okanogan County.”

    "There was no general forum for oral presentations by federal employees or public comment. Instead, multiple stations were set up where people could get information and interact with state and federal agency employees and then put written comments in a box."

    http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20150306/county-may-sue-to-stop-g...

    While I would support grizzly restoration, I have seen these same public meeting tactics used to defuse potential opposition on other issues at other parks and gotten the strong impression the gatherings were more about negotiating hoops than honestly seeking public input.

  • The Complete Guide To The National Park Lodges   2 weeks 3 days ago

    I'm rarely willing to pay the asking price to stay in one of these lodges, but we've enjoyed an occasional meal in several of them. Lunch is usually reasonably priced, and you can enjoy the same great view as you'd get during the higher priced evening meal from a window table in places like the Many Glacier Hotel and Prince of Wales Hotel. And ... there's no charge to just stroll through the lobby of these grand old buildings and take in the ambience.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Rick and Jim, thanks for the tips and invite. It's gonna be awfully hard waiting for July.

  • Birding In The National Parks: Return Of The Snowy Owls   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Updated numbers for Acadia Snowy Owls reported to eBird: New record set with 17 separate sightings as of our latest blog post, about the first Snowy in Maine to be outfitted with GPS transmitter, and to be named Orion.

    http://acadiaonmymind.com/2015/03/snowy-owl-orion-acadia-national-park/

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Lee - Hope you have a great trip to Alaska. Yes, the glaciers at both Mendenhall and Glacier Bay are definitely worth seeing now, rather than later - dramatic reductions in recent decades. Glad you're going to make the guided boat tour at Glacier Bay!

    Our trip was 6 years ago, so info is a little dated, but there are several nice trails at Mendenhall. We enjoyed the East Glacier Loop (3.5 miles; it has a lot of steps on the east side of the loop, so take it going clockwise so all those stairs are on the downhill leg :-)

    For breakfast or lunch try the Silverbow Bakery downtown in Juneau. We had a great and reasonably priced lunch, and the bread pudding shouldn't be missed :-)

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Perhaps I'll be able to buy you a cuppa or a local Spruce Tip Ale when you're in Skagway. Kurt can tell you how to get in touch with me.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Rick, I will be in Glacier Bay only one day -- on the NPS guided boat excursion Wednesday, July 29 departing at 07:00. How I wish I had more money, but this is a poor man's trip. So I booked with Viking Tours out of St. Petersburg. Will ride the Alaska Ferry from Bellingham to Skagway. Take an excursion on the railroad. Then fly to Gustavus for the Glacier Bay trip. From there to Juneau for three days including the trip onto Mendenhall. Finally will fly back to Bellingham.

    I could have tried to do it cheaper by trying to wing it and go for the adventure. But I learned a long time ago that adventure usually winds up being more expensive in the end. This is totally unfamiliar territory for me, so it may be more rewarding to let some people with more knowledge help me this first time.

    So much world to explore and so little time and money!!!!!

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Explain just one thing: If we are as innovative as you say we are, why aren't we Americans leading the world in innovations?

    Lee, I think you would have a hard time arguing that Bangladesh or Canada or any of those others have on the whole generated more innovations than America. But that is beside the point because I am talking about the innovation of man in general not any specific country. Innovations come from all over the world.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Lee - we too plan on a trip to Glacier Bay NP at some point this summer; hope to see you there. Mendenhall Glacier, in Juneau, is easily accessible and dramatic in scope, although of course photographs from the early 20th century show the changes. Let me know if you get up the Lynn Canal to Skagway. Here, our closest glacier - Harding Glacier, directly in front of my living room window - is covered in a snowfield right now, and through the early summer the snow recedes exposing the remaining glacier underneath. The view dominates town. What is sad is to see how much of it is no longer there.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Explain just one thing: If we are as innovative as you say we are, why aren't we Americans leading the world in innovations? Why are we trailing nations like Norway, Canada, China, India, Bangladesh and even some of those insignificant little places in Central Africa when it comes to innovation?

    What does this have to do with glaciers in Glacier? A lot. The glaciers of the world are just one of many coal mine canaries (pun intended) that are trying to warn us to stop resisting progress and arguing against everything in the world and start seeking solutions. Our lack of leadership in seeking those solutions will cause us to lose American business, research and development, and manufacturing in the field of alternate energy and all the American jobs that could go with it.

    Now it's time to go enjoy a sunny Sunday where most of the snow has melted from our mountain trails.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Yes, we can endlessly allow some people to try to divert attention from the real issues

    Another strawman. How have I tried to "divert" attention. By pointing out the facts?

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Yes, we can endlessly allow some people to try to divert attention from the real issues by setting up endless circular arguments that accomplish nothing or we can work toward finding the innovations that will actually help us solve the problems.

    Read Debbie Ackerman's book and then get back to us. I know it will take a little effort, but y'just might actually learn something if you would just take a chance and step out of the echo chamber.

    I'll be visiting Glacier Bay and Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau this summer. I'll be interested to learn how those glaciers' stories compare to the histories of glaciers in the lower 48.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    A chart of life expectancy by nation ranks the U. S. as # 37, b

    Ilrelevant in relation to my comment. I was talking about life expectancy over time. There is no doubt that virtually worldwide, life expectancy has risen dramatically over time.

    BTW - Did you notice that those WHO numbers were made up and not actual reported numbers? You anti-fossil fuel types sure have a liking for made up numbers.

    According to this site, "Air pollution has now become the biggest environmental cause

    While I am sceptical of their conclusions even they attribute it to cars not coal and note that it is countries like China and India that are the primary source. Yes, China and India should clean their air.

    HOW you believe we have improved our world

    Already told you - increased life expectancy, better health, higher standard of living for the vast majority of the worlds population.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    A good place to start might be to actually prove your claim that the world is somehow not finite.

    In the broadest sense the universe is infinite and there is little doubt we will be expaning into the universe and exploiting its resources. Closer to home what today seems "finite" is likely to be expanded in the future. Take oil for example. Original peak oil production was predicted to be hit in the 1970s. Innovations that improved drilling exploration and development have us producing more oil than ever before. Similarly there were predictions that we wouldn't be able grow enought food to feed the world's population. Again innovations in farming techniques have proved that fear unfounded. That was the context of my comment. That the Debbie Downers don't see the potential to expand through innovation. They see the issue as how to divide the pie rather than on how to grow it for the betterment of everyone.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    Good post, Lee.

    re: "What could happen if we, as a nation, were to launch an effort similar to that of placing a man on the moon to find solutions to our energy and climate challenges?"

    I believe we could make significant progress...but perhaps the biggest hurdle is getting anything approaching consensus that we even have any challenges/issues in terms of energy and climate. As long as significant numbers of Americans (including those with political and financial clout) don't feel there is a problem, there won't be any will to proceed.

    A comfortable life-style and financial self-interest are powerful disincentives for change in the status quo.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 4 days ago

    I haven't gotten very far into Diane Ackerman's book, but what I've read so far tells me that this is not, as Dr. Runte alluded, just a book pointing out THE PROBLEM. Instead, she spends much of her writing telling us of hopeful -- but in America -- unheard of innovative solutions from other places in the world.

    As ec said above, man is capable of innovating. But for some reason we in America seem to be falling farther and farther behind the rest of the world. Ackerman tells us of innovative projects in such places as the Thames River, Nederlands, Norway, Bangladesh and other places around the globe. But her stories of American innovation are sparsely populated.

    Yet on page 64 she does share the story of an aquafarm in Long Island Sound that is the work of a young man from Newfoundland named Bren Smith. He he is working with something he calls "vertical farming" underwater. One of his crops is kelp. As we read, we learn that "Kelp is over 50 percent sugar. The Department of Energy did a study that showed if you took an area half the size of Maine and just grew kelp, you could produce enough biofuel to replace oil in the U.S. That's stunning. And without the negatives of growing land-based biofuel . . . It wastes a lot of water, fertilizer, and energy. But here you can have a closed-energy farm, using zero fresh water, zero fertilizer, and zero air [and also absorbing huge amount of carbon from the atmosphere] while providing fuel for local communities. I grow this kelp for food, but you could plant it in the Bronx River or in front of sewage treatment plants which would reduce their polluting. Or you could grow kelp for biofuel."

    Yet we are not even exploring this seriously in America. Why not?

    Could it be political? Could it be economic pressure from corporations that stand to lose profits from oil or coal extraction? Ackerman doesn't address those questions, but those of us who are paying attention already know the answers. That pretty well explains why even Bangladesh is ahead of the United States in efforts to create a sustainable system of agriculture and life for its people.

    Is our American myopia driven by profitgreed?

    What could happen if we, as a nation, were to launch an effort similar to that of placing a man on the moon to find solutions to our energy and climate challenges?

  • Reader Participation Day: Do Predictions That Glacier National Park Soon Will Be Glacierless Have You Planning A Visit Sooner Than Later?   2 weeks 5 days ago

    Remembering Blackfoot Glacier set me to thinking of other memories of that time long ago when another theory of earthly dynamics was being hotly debated.

    It was something called "Plate Tectonics" and it had the scientific community sharply divided. To some old school geologists the idea that continents and ocean floors could actually slide around on the planet's surface was ludicrous. The battle raged in much the same way as our current arguments about anthrpomorphic climate change.

    But as tools such as Glomar Challenger and the cores samples it drilled from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean began to provide solid evidence to support the theory, the scientific world began to offer more and more support -- even though some of it was certainly grudgingly given. Finally, when enough evidence had been collected, opposition to the theory faded to nothing and Plate Tectonics took its place as established fact.

    Right now, all we have to either support or disprove anthropomorphic climate effects is tentative evidence. No one really can say for certainty just how it will all finally shake out. The problem, however, is that while human survival didn't rest upon Plate Tectonics, climate change might be different.

    Some of us fear that by the time the science is settled on the question, we may have reached a tipping point -- a point of no return. It would be horrible if some of those old science fiction movies portraying a post-apocolyptic earth came true.

    Shouldn't we, the intelligent apes who inhabit the planet at this point in time, at least try to address the possibility that the theory now being addressed might be valid?

    Then, on the other hand, since none of us will be here to have to endure that uncertain future, why should we care? Why not just continue to enjoy what we think is The Good and Prosperous Life and damn the future inhabitants of Spaceship Earth?

    Blackfoot Glacier is gone. Middle Teton Glacier is going. Neither of them are really consequential in the long run. But my great-great-great grandchildren might be.