Featured Articles on National Parks Traveler

Recalling Yellowstone National Park's Historic 1988 Fire Season

No one realized it at the time, but when a lightning strike ignited a single tree in Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley 20 years ago, it was a dire harbinger of what would become a historic fire season.

A Solution to the National Park Service's Funding Woes Lies Within Each of Us

A few weeks ago, a colleague and I were discussing the financial plight of the National Park System and I wondered aloud how it possibly could be improved. After all, this country has some enormous bills, starting with those from the Iraq war and running on down to Social Security and the national infrastructure, just to name the most obvious.

Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?

Who runs the National Park System? Is it the National Park Service, or communities that fuel their economies off the parks? That's a good question to consider in the wake of the moxie and clout that tiny Cody, Wyoming, summoned to turn the heat up on its golden goose, Yellowstone National Park.

How Can We Build Advocates for the National Parks?

What draws people to national parks in general, and to national park issues specifically? Why is it that gun issues and deaths inevitably draw attention to the national parks, but stories of insufficient budgets and deteriorating infrastructure and harsh impacts on the "parkscape" draw comparatively scant notice?

Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System

There is no need, nor justification, to allow concealed weapons into the National Park System. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne needs to stand up to the National Rifle Association and for the National Park System.
NPS Firearms-history.pdf149.38 KB
NPS Directors-Guns.pdf93.94 KB

Is Your Backcountry Safety Net A Personal Locator Beacon or Cell Phone?

Do you skimp on backcountry preparations, figuring you've got your trusty personal locator beacon or cell phone to summon help at a moment's notice? It's tempting, no? Why prepare yourself equipment-wise and possibly skill-wise when help is just a push button away?

National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?

A two-week search for a missing hiker in Yosemite National Park. A search for a missing snowshoer on Mount Rainier. Recovery of bodies from climbing accidents in Grand Teton National Park. A week-long, and unsuccessful, search for a missing 8-year-old at Crater Lake National Park. Each year, thousands of search-and-rescue missions cost the National Park Service millions of dollars. And each year the agency eats the costs.
Rescue Cost Recovery.pdf338.09 KB

Report Shows Visiting National Parks Could be Hazardous to Your Health

Visiting national parks could be hazardous to your health. That's the conclusion that can be drawn from a snapshot of health and safety conditions across the National Park System.

Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks

Moving at a politically expedient speed, Interior Department officials are proposing to allow national park visitors to carry concealed weapons with them.
DOI-Proposed Gun Reg.pdf28.75 KB

Railroad's Tweaking Delays Glacier National Park's Decision Against Bombing Avalanche Chutes

Long after the public comment period closed on Glacier National Park's draft environmental impact statement regarding a railroad's request to bomb avalanche chutes on the park's southern boundary, the railroad apparently has succeeded in tweaking that document.

GYC Explains Value of Latest Agreement for Yellowstone National Park Bison

Yellowstone bison, Kurt Repanshek photo.
On April 17, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis announced that an agreement had been struck that opens up additional habitat for bison north of the park. This deal signifies the biggest step forward for Yellowstone bison in over a decade and will result in bison roaming onto traditional winter habitat over six miles north of Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park Bison Agreement: How Big A Step Forward Is It?

If the winter of 2008-09 is as severe as this slowly retreating winter, will it matter that 25 Yellowstone National Park bison have been saved from slaughter while another 1,200 or so are trucked to their death? Those paying $2.8 million to gain grazing rights to a ranch just north of Yellowstone think so.

Park Lands For Sale: Can the National Park Service Afford Them?

America's national park system is interwoven with more than 4 million acres of private lands, nearly half of which the National Park Service would love to own, but can't afford. Does Congress, or the American people, care?

Valley Forge: Once Again A Battleground, This Time Pitting History Against Development

More than two centuries after General George Washington and his Continental Army somehow endured a bitterly cold and exacting winter at Valley Forge, the landscape is again in turmoil. On one side is a national historical park, one that helps preserve the memory of America's birth. On the other, an organization whose questionable motives could sully that landscape.
VAFO-ARC Briefing Statement.pdf16.75 KB
VAFO-ARC Implications.doc134.5 KB

National Park Service Revenues Down $1.3 Million On Transition to America The Beautiful Pass

The demise of the beloved National Parks Pass cost the National Park Service more than $1.3 million last year, although agency officials expect revenues to rebound as folks grow accustomed to the America the Beautiful Pass.

Of Geologists, Paleontologists, And Science in the National Park System

Since boyhood I've embraced a vision of the National Park Service as an agency that not only cared for forested mountains, shimmering lakes, foaming cataracts, dusty trails and a wildlife menagerie that stretched from alligators to wolverines, but also as one with a science mission built around these wonders. How accurate is that vision?

Clinton, McCain, Obama Answer Questions on National Parks

Where do the top three presidential candidates stand on the National Park Centennial Challenge? If omission is any indication, only one supports it.

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on America's National Parks?

Where do America's national parks figure in the minds of the presidential candidates? It's a good question, but one that so far hasn't elicited much more than a sound bite.

National Lakeshores Threatened by Non-native Species

Loons, mergansers, cormorants and other waterfowl are dying by the thousands in the Great Lakes due to an invasion of non-native species that are threatening to turn the lakes' ecosystem upside down. At Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore even piping plovers, a threatened species, are dying.
Cornell Botulism info.pdf699.4 KB

Climate Change and the National Parks

Climate change slowly is changing the landscape of America’s national parks. As temperatures warm and storm traits alter, ecosystem change is anticipated and expected to carry a range of impacts.

National Park Service Retirees Outline 2008 Goals for Park Service

Science-led decisions. More principled leadership. A halt to fee hikes. Those are some of the things the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees would like to see from the National Park Service this year.

2007's Top National Park Stories

Politics stalked the national park system throughout 2007. From snowmobiles in Yellowstone to off-road vehicles in Big Cypress, it seemed natural resources and careful stewardship were trumped too often.

Robin Winks on the Evolution and Meaning of the Organic Act

Robin Winks
The late historian Robin Winks long has been heralded for his distillation of the National Park Service Organic Act. In this, the latest parks essay from the George Wright Society, his words are recalled. Denis Galvin, a former deputy director of the National Park Service, provides an afterword.
George Wright Society-Winks.pdf139.73 KB
Winks-National Park Service Organic Act.pdf309.52 KB

Are The National Parks Not Part of Our Federal Lands?

A funny thing seems to have happened to U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Mike Crapo on their way to fighting to keep public lands in the public's hands: They overlooked the 84 million acres of the national park system.

Former Park Service Director Mainella: Interior Department Called Yellowstone Snowmobile Decisions

Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis (left) and former National Park Service Director Fran Mainella (right) review snowmobiles in this J. Sullivan photo illustration.
Former National Park Service Director Fran Mainella says her bosses in the Interior Department in effect tied her hands on the question of recreational snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. And now she says science should have the final say in whether snowmobiling continues to be allowed in the park.
Don Barry, Wilderness Society Executive Vice PresidentRecently, former assistant secretary at the Interior Department and current executive vice president at The Wilderness Society, Don Barry, spoke at the Association of National Park Rangers' annual conference. He described a right-wing program to systematically shrink the size of the federal government, called "starve the beast," that he says has detrimental effects on land-management agencies.
Tallgrass Prairie; Jeremy Sullivan photo.A 3 minute video postcard from a recent visit to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas. Interpreters show the historic house, and lead us on a bus tour of the prairie. Follow along on a short hike as well.

The Yellowstone Precedent

As the latest decision on permitting snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park draws to conclusion, the question of the impact that decision will have comes up. To those closely following the issue, the National Park Service's stance could have devastating effects across not just the park system, but over all public lands.

How Will National Park Service React To Museum Proposal At Harpers Ferry?

Park Pork?
Two-hundred-and-fifty million dollars buys an awful lot of museum. But does that mean the latest proposal to "save" some of the private land surrounding Harpers Ferry National Historical Park from development is a good one?

Big Cypress National Preserve: The Latest Battleground Over ORVs in the Parks

In the not-too-distant future the swampy landscape of Big Cypress National Preserve will become a key battlefield over off-road vehicle use on the national park system.