Tag Archives: National Park Service

Global warming and Glacier National Park

One of the main activities for almost everyone visiting Glacier National Park is to drive across the park on Going-to-the-Sun Road, which crosses the mountains and probably has some of the most spectacular scenery of any road in the United States. During our visit this week we entered the park from the west side, spent several days there hiking trails, then took this road across to the east side, where we did more hiking.

The highest point on Going-to-the-Sun Road is Logan Pass. The park service has built a visitor center there, where everyone stops to do a short hike and admire the views. The trail head for the more challenging Highline Trail, which we did soon after arrival, is also here.

Outside the Logan Pass visitor center are a variety of displays. One focused on the changing environment at Glacier, and not surprisingly, it made a point of talking about the documented shrinkage of the glaciers during the past century. Below is an image of the pertinent quote from that display:

Display outside Logan Pass visiter center

When I saw this I was quite amused. The glaciers in the park are expected to be gone in only three more years, by 2020? Not a chance. I thought, they are going to have to change this sign soon. In fact, based on my experience with past failed global warming predictions, I was actually surprised they had let this display stay there this long, and hadn’t already made it vanish to be replaced with a new doomsday prediction that was far enough in the future that they could use if for awhile to generate new fear (and funding) before it too turned out to be wrong.

Anyway, in driving east and down from Logan Point, Diane and I eventually reached the east entrance to the park, where there was another visitor center. Like Logan Pass, this center also had a collection of outdoor displays, with one display once again focused on the park’s changing environment. Below is the pertinent quote from that display:
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Trump shuts down public communications at numerous federal agencies

As part of their effort to gain control of the executive branch, the new Trump administration has ordered a range of federal agencies to cease all press releases and other forms of public communications.

New restrictions on social media use and interaction with press and lawmakers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and the Interior have sparked concerns of a President Trump-backed effort to silence dissenting views.

The Trump administration’s newly imposed communications rules vary at different agencies. At the EPA, staffers were ordered to stop issuing press releases, blog updates and social media posts, according to a memo to employees. The Agriculture Department’s research arm was reportedly told by its chief of staff to stop issuing news releases, photos and other “public-facing” documents — although the agency disavowed the order late Tuesday, saying that new guidance would replace it.

The new prohibitions come as Trump seeks to reverse many of former President Barack Obama’s policies, which requires the cooperation of a federal workforce that is broadly perceived to be hostile to him.

As is typical for an article written by a mainstream Washington news outlet, the story does whatever it can to take the side of these federal employees, all of whom work for us and for the President. They don’t have a say in this. If they don’t like Trump’s policies, then they can quit and find jobs in some leftwing Democratic political organization, not paid for by tax dollars.That is their right, just as it is Trump’s right to clamp down on their leftwing advocacy.

Or they can be fired, as will likely happen to many managers at the National Park Service, based on the following quotes from the article:

In an apparent act of defiance, the official Twitter account for Badlands National Park in South Dakota on Tuesday afternoon posted information about climate change.

And this:

The moves come after Trump was reportedly infuriated over reporting on the turnout at his inauguration, which included a viral photo comparison showing Friday’s crowd next to the one that attended Obama’s 2009 swearing-in. The tweet was retweeted by the National Park Service (NPS).

In the first case whoever runs the official Twitter National Park service account at Badlands acted in outright defiance of his employer, certain grounds for firing anywhere in the real world. In the second case the Park Service very clearly was pushing a political agenda, something that is none of their business, and also justifiable grounds for dismissal.

Then again, the management at the National Park Service has been working for the Democratic Party and its political goals for years. Firing the entire upper management there would probably be entirely appropriate, even if they didn’t do something defiant at this particular moment.

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Republican Congress passes National Park bill that raises fees

More bull from the House Republicans: In an effort to fix budget problems at the National Park Service, caused by years of Congressional and Presidential budget malfeasance, the lame-duck Republican-run House today passed a bill that would raise the lifetime fees for a park senior pass.

The House of Representatives moved quickly Tuesday to pass legislation designed to provide the National Park Service with badly needed funds to help the agency chip away at a staggering $12 billion maintenance backlog. However, without concurrence by the Senate by week’s end, the measure could die.

As passed by the House, the National Park Service Centennial Act would increase the price of a lifetime pass for senior citizens 62 and older to $80 from its current $10 lifetime fee. Seniors who don’t want to pay the $80 could purchase an annual pass for $20. Park Service staff estimate that the increase in the cost of a senior pass would generate $20 million a year.

It appears that already purchased lifetime passes would still be valid, though I am willing to bet that, given time, these bastards will change that as well. What really annoys me about this is that the reason the Park Service is short of funds is not really because they don’t have enough money. The budget isn’t really any smaller than it’s been for decades. The reason it is short of money is that the federal government, and the Park Service, wastes enormous amounts on things that are not essential, on pork (such as dozens and dozens of tiny park facilities spread throughout the country that are really outside the Park Service’s original purpose and exist mostly because some elected official pushed for their creation).

What these idiots never do is find ways to reduce or rearrange spending to pay for things that are important. Instead, they constantly work to suck more money from the taxpayer, endlessly. And they wonder why they got Trump.

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The Grand Tetons used as the Obama adminstration’s private playground

The law is for the little people: Obama administration officials, including Vice-President Joe Biden, have been routinely using a closed lodge in Grand Teton National Park for their personal and family vacations.

Vice President Biden and several top White House officials have vacationed with their families at the same log cabin in Grand Teton National Park. Located on Jackson Lake, the rustic getaway is the perfect escape from the fast-paced Washington grind. The cabin also happens to be owned by the federal government, and was banned 20-some years ago by the National Park Service for anything other than “official use.”

This abuse is really not restricted to just elected officials. Park officials also often take advantage of their positions of power to use park facilities for their own pleasure that they ban the public from using.

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A House hearings yesterday, the partisan tactics of the director of the National Park Service was clearly illustrated by comparing what this government official did during the Occupy Wall Street protests versus his actions during the government shutdown.

Working for the Democratic Party: A House hearings yesterday, the partisan tactics of the director of the National Park Service were clearly illustrated by comparing what this government official did during the Occupy Wall Street protests versus his actions during the government shutdown. Watch:

The man should be fired. But he won’t be. Obama’s outrage over such activities is pure theater. He actually likes what Jarvis did, as it wholly supports the agenda of the Democratic Party.

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The director of the National Park Service now claims that the barricades around memorials in DC were put there to protect them from terrorists during the shutdown.

The director of the National Park Service now claims that the barricades around memorials in DC were put there to protect them from terrorists during the shutdown.

What kind of fools do they take us for? This is downright insulting.

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Tennessee and North Carolina have agreed to reopen Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Tennessee and North Carolina have agreed to reopen Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Like other states, they will pay the operating costs of the National Park Service, then get reimbursed when the government shutdown ends.

I wish they weren’t paying anything. They could have made sure the parks were open and available to all using state resources, and let the National Park Service throw a temper tantrum when it discovered it couldn’t control the parks.

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Thousands of Americans have stormed the World War II memorial, as well as other barricades monuments in DC.

Occupy America! Thousands of Americans have stormed the World War II memorial today, as well as other barricaded monuments in DC.

More here. The first link above says that there was some “pushing and shoving” between protesters and the police at one location. This is not confirmed however. This story says the protesting vets were carrying the barricades to the White House.

Update: It appears the veterans are bringing barricades from all over and are using them to “barricade the White House.”

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Privatize the National Park Service.

Privatize the National Park Service.

This recommendation will anger NPS employees. Well, for that, they can thank White House schemers for overplaying their heavy hand and unwittingly shedding ominous light on the abusive possibilities of this agency. That’s not a sentiment that the president and allies intended to foster when they began agitating and orchestrating their shutdown campaign. Rather than convincing us of the alleged evils of congressional Republicans, they’ve unveiled the roguish tendencies of some federal employees who blindly follow orders. Let’s respond by taking power away from those employees, so this cannot happen again. Easily maneuvered into providing propaganda for a president or party, these NPS workers have proven themselves unworthy of the mission entrusted to them. They are the embodiment of the dangers of unaccountable, big government.

To this I say amen! I spend a lot of time visiting the national parks, and more often than not have been consistently disgusted with the National Park Service and its possessive and dictatorial attitude. In the past two decades the park service has changed. Once it considered its job that of a mere custodian, administering these parks for the benefit of the American public, the parks’ real owner. Today the park service instead sees the parks as their private little playground, and the public as annoying trespassers whose access should be limited as much as possible.

It is time to fire these thugs and give the job to someone else.

Note also the ease in which state governments are taking over operations of the major parks out west. For less money too. This illustrates how bloated and unnecessary most of the park service actually is. It can be replaced.

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More defiance of the Obama administration’s attempt to lock Americans out of public lands.

Occupy America: More examples of defiance of the Obama administration’s attempt to lock Americans out of public lands.

The most telling quote from this story, however, is this statement by a park service spokesman about the first amendment exception they have instituted at the World War II memorial:

Michael Litterst, a National Park Service spokesman, said the First Amendment exception applies only to several Washington and Philadelphia parks related to the government and its history, “due to these parks’ long history of hosting First Amendment events, their expansive outdoor grounds, and their location in major metropolitan areas. You could not host a First Amendment rally at Chaco Culture, Grand Canyon, Manassas or any one of the 395 other parks where such activities are prohibited during the shutdown. They can be held only at the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the areas of the White House administered by the NPS, and Independence National Historical Park,” he said. [emphasis mine]

Since when is freedom of speech limited to only certain places, and those places are determined by the government?

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The National Park Service is permitting a leftwing rally for illegal immigrants to take place on the National Mall, supposedly closed because of the government shutdown.

Working for the left and the Democratic Party: The National Park Service is permitting a leftwing rally for illegal immigrants to take place on the National Mall, supposedly closed because of the government shutdown.

Much like the favoritism exhibited by the IRS, the park service is now clearly favoring leftwing protest. Want to gather at the World War II monument to celebrate the courage of Americans to free the world from Nazism and fascism? No! Want to gather on the National Mall to celebrate illegal immigrants? Yes!

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Freeing the Smoky Mountains

Maddron Bald trailhead during the federal shutdown
The Maddron Bald trailhead on October 3, 2013, during
the government shutdown.

Today we did our last hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As I described yesterday, we decided to go to a place where we could park on private land and easily hike to a trail in the park. That way, we would reduce the level of power any fascist-minded ranger from the National Park Service might have over us should they confront us for being in our park.

As it turns out, there was no evidence at all of a shutdown at the trailhead we choose. We went to the Maddron Bald trailhead, just off state route 321. The parking area here is small, capable of holding no more than 5 or 6 cars. When we arrived there were three cars there, so we had no problem finding room, as you can see from the image to the left.

There were also no signs indicating the park was closed. Nor were there any barricades or cones. As far as we could tell, it was a normal day in the national park, which to me proved that the restrictions the park service is imposing on New Found Gap Road (as well as elsewhere across the nation) has absolutely nothing to do with their lack of funds. This particular trailhead is not as well known or visited, and is off the beaten track. Moreover, it would be hard to monitor. Thus, the park service chose to make believe it wasn’t there. Smart tourists could come here and enjoy the park, as intended, despite the shutdown.

If the shutdown really required the closure of the park, the park service would have sent a ranger here as well. They did not, proving that their obnoxious efforts are really aimed at causing problems for as many Americans as possible, not securing the park as they dishonestly might tell us.
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The Obama administration has demanded that hundreds of private venues close, merely because they are on federal land.

Shutdown fascism: The Obama administration has demanded that hundreds of private venues close, merely because they are on federal land, and even if they use no federal funds to operate. Key quote:

“I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy,” Meyer said in his letter. “The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the U.S. Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation.”

A spokeswoman for the National Park Service told MyFoxDC that it is still federal land, and the rule is that if there’s no Congressional appropriation, no visitors are allowed. [emphasis mine]

That last so-called rule is absolute hogwash. It doesn’t exist. All the lack of an appropriation means is that the federal government should hang a “closed” sign on the door of the buildings and lockable facilities and go home. Public lands are exactly that, public. They have no right to keep the public off them, since it is the public that actually owns them. The park service is merely a maintenance crew. Their attempt to close these parks is like the janitor at the Empire State Building standing at the door and telling its owner he or she cannot enter.

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Veterans plan to storm more DC monuments today.

Veterans plan to storm more DC monuments today.

More Americans have to join them. These closures are offensive, unnecessary, and clearly a political ploy by the Obama administration. The public has to tell the government it can’t do this.

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Shut down fascism in the Smoky Mountains

See my October 2, 2013 update here.

Today, October 1, 2013, my wife Diane and I went hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We did this despite the news from Washington that the federal government had shut down due to the lack of a funding from Congress and that all the national parks were closed.

The news reports had said that the National Park Service would close all roads into the park except for New Found Gap Road, the one road that crossed over the mountains from Tennessee to North Carolina. They couldn’t close this road because it was a main thoroughfare used by the public for basic transportation. Moreover, my research into the hikes we wished to do told me that several of those hikes originated on trailheads along this road. In traveling the road the day before, we had seen that these trailheads would not only be difficult to close, it would be dangerous and stupid to close them. For one, the road was windy and narrow. If there was a car accident or someone had car problems, any one of these parking areas might be essential for the use of the driver as well as local police and ambulances. For another, there are people still backpacking in the mountains who will at some point need to either exit with their cars or be picked up at these trailheads. Closing the trailheads will strand these hikers in the park, with dangerous consequences.

So, despite the shutdown, off we went to hike the Appalachian Trail, going to a well known lookout called the Jump Off, an easy 6.5 mile hike that leaves from the parking area at New Found Gap, the highest point on New Found Gap Road that is also on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is also probably one of the most popular stopping points along the road, visited by practically every tourist as they drive across.
Smokies from the Appalachian trail

The hike itself was beautiful, if a bit foggy and damp. The picture above shows one of the clearest views we had all day. Nor were we alone on this hike. We probably saw one to two dozen other hikers, heading out to either the Jump Off or Charles Bunion (another well known day hike destination along this section of trail).
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The head of the Interior Department has ordered the shutdown of a century-old California oyster company.

We’re here to help you: The head of the Interior Department has ordered the shutdown of a century-old California oyster company.

Two key quotes from the article illustrate the foolishness and oppressive nature of this decision:
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National Park Service is proposing the removal of several historic bridges in Yosemite because they interfere with water flow, according to environmentalists.

The National Park Service is proposing the removal of several historic bridges in Yosemite because they interfere with water flow, according to environmentalists.

Look, why don’t they simply admit it: They really want don’t want any humans to visit these parks, and simply outlaw them all? That way, the job of the National Park Service will be so much easier: They — and their environmentalist buddies — will finally have the park to themselves to play in without being bothered by all those disgusting American citizens.

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A failed public works project — from the year 1350 AD

Casa Grande

Yesterday my wife Diane and I took my 94-year-old mother on a sightseeing trip to see the Casa Grande ruins southeast of Phoenix, “the largest known structure left of the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert.”

This four story high structure was built around 1350 AD from bricks made of concrete-like caliche mud, with the floors and roofs supported by beams of pine, fir, and juniper brought from as far away as fifty miles. (The rooflike structure above the ruins was built by the National Park Service in order to protect it from rain.)

Though impressive, I must admit I’ve seen far more impressive American Indian ruins elsewhere. Casa Grande, which means “Great House” in Spanish, suffered as a tourist attraction from two faults:
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Family reluctantly gives up its hold on Santa Rosa Island

Theft by government: The family that once owned Santa Rosa Island off California finally and reluctantly gives up its property.

Fearing condemnation, Vail & Vickers sold Santa Rosa Island to the government for $30 million in 1986. . . . [Then, a] 1997 lawsuit by the National Park and Conservation Assn. hastened the end of both ranching and hunting.

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U.S. National Parks’ Cultural and Natural Resources Threatened

The pigs begin squealing again: According to a report written by a D.C. advocacy group, the national parks face serious problems due to a lack of sufficient funds.

It’s never enough. The National Park Service budget [pdf] has grown from $2.5 billion in 2003 to $3.1 billion in 2011. At the same time, they have increased fees on all public lands, often introducing fees where none had ever existed before.

Somehow, they managed for decades on smaller budgets. At this time of unimaginable federal debt, I have no sympathy for them, despite the fact that I am a passionate lover of the natural wonders contained in the national parks.

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