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Old 04-13-2015, 10:59 AM   #29
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It's up to all of us.

It really is about education and, related to that, volunteerism and responsibility and citizenship. People don't really understand what the idea of having public lands means. This concept doesn't seem to square with the modern, selfish attitude of entitlement that permeates our society. Our idea of federal public lands--and access to all and any of them, in whatever form, manner, or means--really should be predicated not on the feeling of "entitlement of access" to any and all such lands, but on the idea of selfless and simple and quiet engagement with them, and this presumes a genuine acknowledgement and expression of responsibility toward them. You really have to learn this, either as a child or as an adult. Whether this is manifested in something as simple as the idea of "leave no trace," or taking the time to pick up trash when you see it on the trail or pathway, or signing up for a ranger talk or tour (fee-based or not), there is a commitment to educating yourself and hopefully someone close to you, perhaps your children or grandchildren, who can pass the gesture on to the next generation. It's not that hard, and the resulting enlightened national park (or national forest, etc.) experience and increased sense of pride is much more rewarding and enduring.

We are all ignorant until we seek to educate ourselves. The history of the National Park Service is loaded with successful examples of balancing the needs/wants/interests of divergent groups and interests. All this with a continuing explosion of visitation, and devastating cuts in the budgets of the individual parks and the park service itself. The lack of funding itself is a national disgrace. For example, next year the Park Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary. But have you heard anything at all about it from our Congress or administration? Yet in the late 1950s hundreds of millions of dollars was legislated to fund the Mission 66 program in honor of the 50th anniversary's approach in 1966.

On a related note, if you've looked at a road map of the Southwest and have wondered why Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado simply stops at the Utah border, take a look at this link. There is a good argument to be made that all of southeastern Utah from the Colorado border west to the Colorado River should be in the National Park System. If you've ever spent time in that area you know, and have been rewarded for your efforts.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/op...=fb-share&_r=0
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Old 04-13-2015, 11:09 AM   #30
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I'm not sure that the state of affairs involves such a stark distinction, but it is true that it is very, very difficult to reconcile the fundamental profit motive of business with the fundamental mission of the NPS, which incorporates no profit motive whatsoever.

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Yes. Sad indeed. It seems we really do get the government we deserve. On the topic of outsourcing management of our parks. This is one of my observations. Consider two young people. One chooses a career in the NPS and puts in the time, effort, and money to get the education and training for their career and because they believe in the mission of the NPS. The other a minimum wage employee poorly supervised whose primary concerns often seem to be when is the next smoke break and the design for their next tattoo. Sure an oversimplification but something I have observed.
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Old 04-13-2015, 11:12 AM   #31
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A lot of national parks have concession companies running the hotels, restaurant, retail, gas stations etc. They can do the job more efficiently than the NPS. Campgrounds now have volunteer hosts to run the daily operations. Its a hard compromise to balance the need to protect the parks and still allow visitors to view the parks. It has always been the NPS mandate to provide the public access to the parks.

Yes, many of the campsites are not friendly to RVs but that would mean creating RV park campgrounds. An example is Fishing Bridge RV campground in Yellowstone. I haven't camped at that campground but the photos I've seen of it doesn't entice me to use it. I'd rather camp at the dry campgrounds with sites that offer more privacy and in a more natural environment. After all I'm self contained. All I need is a dump station and a water source. I've got solar to keep my batteries charged.

For RVers who need full hookups there are often private parks outside the park to provide those services.

I'm going to North Rim Campground at Grand Canyon this June. All the sites have pull through to support RVs and they are paved. I'll be staying at Watchman campground at Zion. Several loops have electricity. Then on to Bryce. I'll be staying at North Campground which has some pull through sites.

What I've observed at Glacier National park there are more people camping in tents than RVs.

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Old 04-13-2015, 11:36 AM   #32
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It is a shame how controlled access and freedom have become in our National Parks. But it really is the result of what Mike and Bold&Adventurous have said. So, Moose, when you want to breath and relax in some great, wide-open country just come out west and spend some time here on Forest Service and BLM lands...we'd love to have you at the camp fire. jon
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Old 04-13-2015, 11:38 AM   #33
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We need National Parks

There have been a number of great responses, but Youngpeck said it very well. The mission of the "National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources" and that is extremely difficult with the attitude of the original poster. If you want to see the damage done by tourists traffic, walk any of the trails and note how many areas a devoid of vegetation due to foot traffic. When you have millions of visitors a year to fragile places, you have to be strict. Nanny government, perhaps, but perhaps because of out of control childish behavior by the visitors. Go to Karshner caverns in Arizona, they want to strictly preserve it and you need to go through several air locks to enter. You can not touch anything nor even carry a camera, and this is in Arizona, one of our more conservative states. One hand does damage, a million hands cause destruction.
A number of years ago I tagged along with folks from the Federal Government who were responding to a legislator's complaint that we did not have a National Park. The explanation of the different roles of National Forests, Parks, BLM, Preserves etc etc was amazing. Once declared, there are a whole set of specific goals and rules to live by, differing dependent on the designation. Forests can be harvested within limits, wilderness forests can not, etc. People no longer, and perhaps never did very well, respect the need to leave it for the future (The Petrified Forest is a great example, as is the volcanic glass at Yellowstone). The numbers make serious restrictions necessary to have any hope of preservation. The damage done by human traffic is beyond belief
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Old 04-13-2015, 11:48 AM   #34
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Not just NP's, State Parks, and Forest Service, all have some great personal and some cranky folks that need to be kept away from the public. I understand the frustration of working with an unthinking or uncaring public, I see it almost everytime I go to the trees for relaxsation. Near one of my favored camp sites is a cematary on National Forest property. I used to pickup trash and treelimbs inside the fence, when camped in the area. One time Ranger Bob pulled up, watched for a while, got out of the vehicle and came to thank me for my service. He also took the time to explain how it would be better if I became an official volunteer. Gave me the phone number of the corridinator. I called several times and left messages each time. No return call was ever received. Ranger Bob is great but not everyone is that good or cut out for the job. Another example of someone excellent in handling the public was related by a friend that smokes cigars. He was at Epcot center, outside and without thinking lit up a cigar. With in seconds there was an employee at his elbow and said. "That cigar has a wonderful aroma, and there is a place right over here, where you may smoke it" Friend said he didn't mind being escorted to the smoking area at all. :-)
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Old 04-13-2015, 11:54 AM   #35
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I for one am getting fed up with the anti-government people out there. Our park system is fading but the causes are easy to see. First we are loving them to death. More and more people want to see them and the infrastructure isn't holding up. The anti-taxers are the first to complain that things are running down and in poor condition. Then the American Freedom lovers show up and think that they can go where they want and do as they please hence the slow destruction of our heritage sites. Those two morons destroying the rock formation is a good example.
Interesting.
On the contrary, every NP I've been to has top notch infrastructure. The visitor center at Mammoth was new, architecturally designed, and had a very well done educational exhibit- complete with professionally produced movies and documentaries shown on 60" flat screen monitors, interactive models, and descriptive kiosks.
Maybe you missed the subtlety in my OP but, the 'Historic Entrance' was also very well maintained. The walkway leading to the entrance was all professionally landscaped pavers and planters. The actual entrance had stainless guardrails and turnstiles, and a security wall and locking door integrated right into the cave walls to lock up the cave good and tight outside the hours of 10:00am to 3:00pm. The short distance the general public was allowed to walk also had finish pavers, most of the cave walls were barriered with heavy duty stainless and lexan gaurdrails. The entire length was wired and lit with indirect lighting.
No shoe string budget anywhere I saw.

"American freedom lovers" responsible for the "slow destruction of our heritage sites"?
Wow. I'd say you're not only painting with a really broad brush, but you're getting it all over yourself.

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Secondly, the move to cut taxes and privatize everything is proving to be a bad decision in many instances. The park system is a very good example. So, save a buck but don't complain that things aren't the same as they used to be. Look at what has happened to Yosemite with overcrowding and underfunding. Throw in a gun happy population and it is little wonder that the rangers there are now police officers first and rangers second.
"gun happy population"?
You lost me there. Are you referring to inner-city gun violence related to drugs and gangs?

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Boondockdad, to avoid any more stress in your life, I suggest that you start boondocking and stay away from places that might raise your blood pressure. It isn't a healthy thing you know and all the state and national parks have rules. Rules about trash, noise, pets, parking, visitors and such. Yeah, downright Un-American if you ask me.
Well, I do enjoy boondocking.. but, I also enjoy the many attractions found within our National Parks.
You might not realize but, the whole reason NP's were established was to protect these natural resources for all generations of Americans to enjoy.
In my opinion, the massive development of these Parks is exactly what their charter is supposed to protect against.
Over building and developing the Parks is not the answer; actually, I would wager the reason the Parks are getting more and more visitors is because they're being developed like a Disney attraction.

Gunnison NP was a good example of what a NP should be. Very little development. I think there was one parking lot that took you near the higher elevation, maybe the Painted Wall exhibit... and there was a rustic scenic overlook that was built-out. But, the canyon itself was wide open. If you wanted to stand on the edge and peer straight down 200', you could. No barriers, no handrails, no 'stay away' signs.

As for rules, someone said it better than I:
"good men do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad men will find a way around the laws."
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Old 04-13-2015, 12:13 PM   #36
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One of the first actions that Stephen Mather, the first Director of the then newly established National Park Service, took in 1916 was to establish the fundamental regulations governing the parks. Of those "prime directives" was the determination that the Park Service would never engage directly in commerce -- all hotels, restaurants, gift shops and the like would be run by concessionaires after competitive bid. It has always been that way.

There are parks that have concession run tours that, while commercially operated, may have a Ranger tour leader. An example is the Yellowstone Lake Boat Tour. Two of the day's eight scheduled departures have a Ranger on board while the other six are narrated by the concession employees. Most of the parks with cave or tram tours have similar arrangements.

The NPS does collect fees for things like admission, camping, boat inspections, fishing etc. But if you buy a cheeseburger, a gallon of gas or rent a hotel room, you are buying from private enterprise. On the taxpayer's behalf, the NPS does receive some payment from the concessioners.

In Yellowstone, all the infrastructure is owned by the NPS. Whatever company (presently Xanterra) running the operation is responsible for maintenance and improvement. So, if you are dazzled by the Old Faithful Inn, you should be more dazzled by the fact that you own it. It is part and parcel of our national heritage.

As for campgrounds, they are almost all dry camping. The exceptions, like Fishing Bridge RV, are almost universally run by concessionaires. The Park Service really tries to avoid any kind of new development that requires power lines or sewer plants in keeping with the idea of " minimal footprint". The many private concerns that run RV Resorts at the various park gateways would also scream bloody murder if the government went into competition with them.

Granted, I am biased, but I think the National Parks really are "America's Best Idea" and most of the folks wearing green and grey really work hard to do the best they can with the means at hand.

Mike
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Old 04-13-2015, 12:34 PM   #37
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I, too, am confused about how the "gun happy population" is contributing to, or causing the deterioration of our national parks. I am a frequent user of the National Park System sites, as well as a life member of the National Rifle Association and a holder of a CHL. Based on "aftermath"s assertion that the "gun happy population" is partly to blame, I would be interested in knowing what I am doing wrong, other than exercising my constitutional rights. I would be glad to make amends and change my ways if only I knew what I am doing wrong. I love the National Park System.
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Old 04-13-2015, 12:43 PM   #38
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Grand Canyon

Has anyone else heard of a move to allow a privatized concession on the rim of the Grand Canyon complete with a tram to the bottom? Think I saw this on Facebook
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Old 04-13-2015, 12:44 PM   #39
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I read an interesting book on NPS Rangers

http://www.amazon.com/Ranger-Confide...l+park+rangers

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Old 04-13-2015, 12:47 PM   #40
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The Grand Canyon proposal is planned on tribal land outside the park

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Old 04-13-2015, 12:50 PM   #41
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Has anyone else heard of a move to allow a privatized concession on the rim of the Grand Canyon complete with a tram to the bottom? Think I saw this on Facebook
The project would be on Navaho land near where the Little Colorado joins the Colorado. That part of the canyon is on Navaho land.

National Park Service calls development plans a threat to Grand Canyon - LA Times
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Old 04-13-2015, 12:52 PM   #42
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NPS regulations

You are experiencing the result of massive overpopulation (the first of many). When you combine this with relative affluence (read Americans), devastation of the environment occurs. We have a very limited number of "wilderness and natural areas" remaining. The only way to preserve them is to keep the masses from trampling, desecrating, destroying, and using forms of "artistic" graffiti on these treasures. We, as a culture, seem to be unable to care for and respect the beautiful world in which we live (check out the trash along any highway or street in the U.S.). Get over it.
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