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Old 04-14-2015, 02:15 AM   #61
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First I want everyone to know that all the revenue taken in by the Park Service goes into the general fund, which gets spent any old way the Federal government sees fit. So its not a great sum of money that they receive to run the operation.
I usually take the amount I saved with my access pass (if I can afford to) and donate to the friends of the Park organization. In that way, the money gets used by the park you just visited.

And if you all do this, I will regret mentioning it. We visit National Parks during the off season, when the kids and families are in school. The weather can be funky, but Yellowstone steaming everywhere on a frosty morning is a sight you won't forget.

Most people do not realize how much damage is done by simple foot traffic etc. The story of Carlsbad explains why, especially fragile environments have to be closely protected. Try this at home, put up a sign that says please cross my lawn and see how long it takes for it to be destroyed. That is from hundreds, not millions of visitors.
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Old 04-14-2015, 06:22 AM   #62
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That certainly is one way to look at it, and it is frustrating to be asked to pay large sums for services when we already pay high taxes to support Parks.

There is another perspective however. When I was seven (now 65) my parents took the family on a trip to the west from Minnesota. I can remember my first visit to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. It was magical. Seventeen years later when I retraced my steps with my new bride to show her the magic of the west, the Caverns were 'self-guided'. I almost cried. There were broken stalagtites and stalagmites everywhere. There were fingerprints on everything. The Park Service had failed by 'trusting' the public. Bad move. My children never saw what I saw, and never will. I support the park service keeping Lechuguilla (a longer and much more beautiful cave discovered in the same area) closed forever, since people will destroy it. I now live in New Mexico, but find trips to the Caverns too depressing to visit any more.

Perhaps Mammoth NP is protecting an irreplaceable asset by keeping people off the rocks. I wouldn't try to defend all of the policies and fees, but once gone, it will be gone forever.
Again, there is no lack of funding, from what I see at many of the NP's. Not only was there the nice, new, big visitor center and surrounding landscaping I described earlier but, I counted no less than 16 uniformed NPS staff walking around the center, while we waited for the 'self-guided' tour to open.

I don't disagree there are people who are irresponsible, and/or downright malicious. But, how do you know the broken stalagtites were vandalism? I mean, they do break naturally. And 'fingerprints'? Really? That's a problem?

Look, I get some people are miscreants. But, why should my family and I be punished because of the misdeeds of a few? My children are taught to respect nature, and it's creatures. We are stewards of this earth, not prisoners.

For the amount of money it took to design, build and maintain what they have in the Historic Entrance, NPS could have round the clock custodians. Or maybe surveillance?

What I'm saying is; there are alternatives to securing these national treasures, and the way NPS is going about it is wrong. It denies responsible citizens access, and it does the very thing the NPS was instituted to guard against, i.e. development and commercialization
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Old 04-14-2015, 07:11 AM   #63
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Again, there is no lack of funding, from what I see at many of the NP's. Not only was there the nice, new, big visitor center and surrounding landscaping I described earlier but, I counted no less than 16 uniformed NPS staff walking around the center, while we waited for the 'self-guided' tour to open.

I don't disagree there are people who are irresponsible, and/or downright malicious. But, how do you know the broken stalagtites were vandalism? I mean, they do break naturally. And 'fingerprints'? Really? That's a problem?

Look, I get some people are miscreants. But, why should my family and I be punished because of the misdeeds of a few? My children are taught to respect nature, and it's creatures. We are stewards of this earth, not prisoners.

For the amount of money it took to design, build and maintain what they have in the Historic Entrance, NPS could have round the clock custodians. Or maybe surveillance?

What I'm saying is; there are alternatives to securing these national treasures, and the way NPS is going about it is wrong. It denies responsible citizens access, and it does the very thing the NPS was instituted to guard against, i.e. development and commercialization
One of Doug's favorite sayings was "the bad guys are winning"......restricting freedoms for all of us.

So true, in so many arenas.



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Old 04-14-2015, 08:25 AM   #64
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I don't disagree there are people who are irresponsible, and/or downright malicious. But, how do you know the broken stalagtites were vandalism? I mean, they do break naturally. And 'fingerprints'? Really? That's a problem?
Fingerprints, No -- Finger oils and dirt, Yes, really. That's a problem.

I think this paragraph returns the most likely issue at hand in your visit to Mammoth. That you don't understand speleothems, erosion versus human dynamics, etc. suggests that the failure at Mammoth was more likely that those with more knowledge or wisdom to the fragility or nature of the environment did not properly communicate the issues to teach and instill new wisdom onto you, when correcting a mistake you made in the environment.

That is something each individual ranger or guide needs to work on, or the overall training budget of the NPS needs to assure; that when a visitor makes a mistake, the corrective communication is a learning experience rather than a degrading feeling leaving the visitor flustered, or angry as is the case here.

I think what you may pull away from the experience is when you enter an ecosystem within a park, the rangers and guides are there to impart new knowledge or experiences; and its perfectly fine to be proactive on a question regarding filming, placement, climbs, etc. to introduce the opportunity for the teaching aspect of the NPS to initiate.

//teaching on

regarding fingers and stalagtites, the natural oils or dirt you carry can permanently stain the features; and as the features are formed through mineral laden water flows uninterrupted over the eons, simply touching the formation can cause a break in the surface tension, permanently altering the formation dymanics.

//teaching off

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Old 04-14-2015, 08:31 AM   #65
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NPS to manage to conserve and for enjoyment

Everybody loves National Parks, America's Best Idea, but everyone has a different idea about what constitutes "enjoyment." National Park Managers do the best they can to manage conservation and enjoyment, but all too often they think in terms of open or closed, when there may be better alternatives to management that will conserve and still provide for enjoyment.

Somebody on this thread quoted only part of the NPS Mission, which always bothers me. Here is the complete NPS Mission Statement: "The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world." Note the use of the term partners, i.e. concession contractors. This partnership concept goes back to the origins of National Parks and the NPS Organic Act.

When the NPS was established in 1916, the Organic Act says their mission is, "....to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

It has been said that both to conserve to the exclusion of enjoyment or to enjoy to the exclusion of conservation will result in detriment to the whole concept of National Parks.

So, the real answer is that appropriate uses should vary from park to park, use to use, resources to resources, and the real challenge to NPS managers is to find more creative ways to manage uses that do not cause impairment of the resources and move away from the binary decisions of open or closed.
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Old 04-14-2015, 08:40 AM   #66
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Not terribly unusual. In the four corners region, we find a lot of what is called cryptobiotic soil or crypotbiotic soil crust. In fact, it's not soil per se, but living organisms in the high desert region, and it plays a crucial role in the lifecycle of desert flora and fauna. It takes many, many years to form, but just walking on it will destroy it. Sure, natural wildlife contributes to its destruction, but that is very minimal in the end.

Alas, in spite of ubiquitous signage and explanations, it is difficult to locate any stretches at all of undamaged crypobiotic soil in places like Arches and Canyonlands. The microbiological landscape in many parts of these parks is, for all intents and purposes, dead and gone, trampled to smithereens by hordes of tourists who outright ignore admonitions, warnings, signs, and barriers.


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Originally Posted by IanPoulin View Post
Fingerprints, No -- Finger oils and dirt, Yes, really. That's a problem.

I think this paragraph returns the most likely issue at hand in your visit to Mammoth. That you don't understand speleothems, erosion versus human dynamics, etc. suggests that the failure at Mammoth was more likely that those with more knowledge or wisdom to the fragility or nature of the environment did not properly communicate the issues to teach and instill new wisdom onto you, when correcting a mistake you made in the environment.

That is something each individual ranger or guide needs to work on, or the overall training budget of the NPS needs to assure; that when a visitor makes a mistake, the corrective communication is a learning experience rather than a degrading feeling leaving the visitor flustered, or angry as is the case here.

I think what you may pull away from the experience is when you enter an ecosystem within a park, the rangers and guides are there to impart new knowledge or experiences; and its perfectly fine to be proactive on a question regarding filming, placement, climbs, etc. to introduce the opportunity for the teaching aspect of the NPS to initiate.

//teaching on

regarding fingers and stalagtites, the natural oils or dirt you carry can permanently stain the features; and as the features are formed through mineral laden water flows uninterrupted over the eons, simply touching the formation can cause a break in the surface tension, permanently altering the formation dymanics.

//teaching off

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Old 04-14-2015, 09:18 AM   #67
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That is something each individual ranger or guide needs to work on, or the overall training budget of the NPS needs to assure; that when a visitor makes a mistake, the corrective communication is a learning experience rather than a degrading feeling leaving the visitor flustered, or angry as is the case here.



I think what you may pull away from the experience is when you enter an ecosystem within a park, the rangers and guides are there to impart new knowledge or experiences; and its perfectly fine to be proactive on a question regarding filming, placement, climbs, etc. to introduce the opportunity for the teaching aspect of the NPS to initiate.

Very well thought out and stated!

We do our very best, when visiting any park of any kind, to have a minimal impact. We are also very proactive in seeking out knowledge and information from park staff.

I do have to say, though, that during our visits last Spring to Badlands, Tetons, and Yellowstone we found the desk staff, and in some cases the field staff, to be very friendly but often shockingly ignorant of their own parks' amenities. Rules and restrictions were conveyed clearly and with vigor, but questions about what we COULD do and where we COULD go and how we COULD enjoy the park - other than driving to a parking area - were often met with glazed looks or pointing to the brochure racks. Even questions of a scientific nature were sometimes a challenge for staff to answer.

The notable exception to that pattern - and it WAS a pattern across all three National parks - was the volunteer staff. Whenever we encountered staff who were not only friendly but knowledgeable, we always discovered that they were volunteers! Their passion for their parks came out in technical and scientific knowledge in their areas of expertise and great suggestions for experiencing the park beyond glancing out the car window.

As with many organizations, it seems the NPS management has decided to put the newest and LEAST knowledgable/experienced professional staff in positions with MOST customer contact.



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Old 04-14-2015, 09:21 AM   #68
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Fingerprints, No -- Finger oils and dirt, Yes, really. That's a problem.

I think this paragraph returns the most likely issue at hand in your visit to Mammoth. That you don't understand speleothems, erosion versus human dynamics, etc. suggests that the failure at Mammoth was more likely that those with more knowledge or wisdom to the fragility or nature of the environment did not properly communicate the issues to teach and instill new wisdom onto you, when correcting a mistake you made in the environment.

That is something each individual ranger or guide needs to work on, or the overall training budget of the NPS needs to assure; that when a visitor makes a mistake, the corrective communication is a learning experience rather than a degrading feeling leaving the visitor flustered, or angry as is the case here.

I think what you may pull away from the experience is when you enter an ecosystem within a park, the rangers and guides are there to impart new knowledge or experiences; and its perfectly fine to be proactive on a question regarding filming, placement, climbs, etc. to introduce the opportunity for the teaching aspect of the NPS to initiate.

//teaching on

regarding fingers and stalagtites, the natural oils or dirt you carry can permanently stain the features; and as the features are formed through mineral laden water flows uninterrupted over the eons, simply touching the formation can cause a break in the surface tension, permanently altering the formation dymanics.

//teaching off

Ian
Something tells me you also consider yourself equipped to educate on anthropomorphic global warming and it's imminent devastation, as well

"Leading climatologists" put the impending "ice age" at 1999, based on your 'human fingerprint', so to speak... I think the latest money grab at the UN pushed it out to 2017. Let me get Algore on the phone and check...

Sorry, no human interaction can match the power found in one natural event like a volcanic eruption, hurricane, earthquake...

and Mother Nature is too resilient, too creative, too formidable to be forever and immutably changed by some shuffling feet or greasy fingers.

If a delicate crust gets stamped out in one location, or a dune drifts off one shore- nature simply adapts and balances in amazing and unexpected ways.

Nature is constantly changing whether we humans like it or not. Posted earlier:
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The Mammoth NP caves formed and continue to form through solution of limestone by surface and subsurface water. Carbon dioxide in the water makes it acidic enough to dissolve the limestone...

Tim
So Ian, essentially what you're saying is humans are parasites.
Are oily fingers more or less altering than the CO2 in the air? Should we hermetically seal the caverns, or just reduce the population?
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:28 AM   #69
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Boondockdad is right on. And "aftermath" still has not explained why my lawful enjoyment of guns and shooting is decimating the national parks. I have seen documentaries showing that more guns equal less crime. I would venture to say that more guns and bullet proof vests on NP Rangers is more an indication of increased drug activity in the parks rather than law abiding citizens causing problems there.
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:49 AM   #70
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.....

Sorry, no human interaction can match the power found in one natural event like a volcanic eruption, hurricane, earthquake...

and Mother Nature is too resilient, too creative, too formidable to be forever and immutably changed by some shuffling feet or greasy fingers.

If a delicate crust gets stamped out in one location, or a dune drifts off one shore- nature simply adapts and balances in amazing and unexpected ways.

......
You're so right - Mother Nature seems exceptionally well equipped to deal with single cataclysmic events - natural or unnatural - it may take a bit of time but she does get the job done.

What you don't seem to understand is that she has a bit of a problem compensating for the incremental and continuous degradation of any single one of her resources - but even then she does find a solution - unfortunately we are learning that her solution may not be to our liking.

The impact of one fingerprint? - I have no idea - but it's clear that oceans are turning acidic one raindrop at a time - the atmosphere is changing one tailpipe at a time - freshwater resources are shrinking one tap at a time ...... the list goes on .... and on .... and on .... for whatever global measure you care to choose and the consequences if incremental change are becoming increasingly clear.

So - again - the impact of one fingerprint? - I have no idea - but it sure seems to me that we need to learn the lesson of treading lightly on our resources - looking backwards and saying "oops" is not a sustainable strategy.


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Old 04-14-2015, 11:01 AM   #71
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Something tells me you also consider yourself equipped to educate on anthropomorphic global warming and it's imminent devastation, as well

"Leading climatologists" put the impending "ice age" at 1999, based on your 'human fingerprint', so to speak... I think the latest money grab at the UN pushed it out to 2017. Let me get Algore on the phone and check...

...

So Ian, essentially what you're saying is humans are parasites.
Are oily fingers more or less altering than the CO2 in the air? Should we hermetically seal the caverns, or just reduce the population?
Nice troll attempt -- it wont work. Nothing you're suggesting I've written, have I indeed written. My only point is that your posts suggest you are ignorant (as are all of us) as to the full ecosystems in many of these parks; that your mistake at Mammoth is likely a bad interpretation of an improper phrased request as a personal attack. I wonder though in your original self-professed /rant, and subsequent replies in this thread if the original request by the ranger or guide was indeed proper and educational, but a pre-disposition may be clouding your judgement or influencing your reaction on the issue and the discussion.

Regarding consequences, touching a stalactite may not have the same level of regional consequences as an eruption or global warming; but the consequences to that stalactite can be substantial and permanent from the actions of a single individual; let alone half a million visitors per year to Mammoth.

I will signoff from the thread with a posting of the current NPS mission statement:

Our Mission
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

[edit - moved an improperly placed comma]
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Old 04-14-2015, 11:46 AM   #72
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