A Step Apart

A Few Random Musings

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  • Apology Tendered

    Posted by skyblu on November 2, 2007

    I APOLOGIZE TO KURT RAPANSHEK

    I besmirched his name as a “Bought Blogger” by believing the list I saw published in The West Yellowstone News. It was my inference that the plea for funds to entertain and provide amenities issued by the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce pertained to the names that they listed as their visitors. According to Kurt Rapanshek this is not true and, he has never been subsidized by the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce. I apologize.

    I can’t remove his name from the list as he requests. It is not my list, but the list of The West Yellowstone Chamber Of Commerce, published in The West Yellowstone News. I’m sure that, as journalists, they will make the necessary adjustments when Kurt Rapanshek lets them know about it. The West Yellowstone News has not yet responded to my requests for clarification of the article.

    ….. Skyblu

    Posted in Commercialization, National Park Service, Travel, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

    Eighty-Six Members Of Congress Can’t Read

    Posted by skyblu on October 30, 2007

    I DON’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP — I COULDN’T

    I’m constantly hearing and bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgreading about how the “SCIENCE” tells us that snowcoaches are better for Yellowstone National Park than are snowmobiles. First off, “SCIENCE” tells us nothing about good and bad, or better and worse. Secondly, summer pollution in Yellowstone is higher than winter pollution. Thirdly, dirty old Bombardier snowcoaches produce more pollution than clean new 4-stroke snowmobiles

    If “SCIENCE” tells us anything, it is the following: 1] people don’t care about the stink of summer, 2] people would rather pollute in winter with nostalgic obsolescence than have clean transportation, 3] 86 members of congress haven’t looked at the data.

    You do know, don’t you, that we have decided that it’s pollution from vehicular emissions that are harmful to the park. It’s not the type of machine that counts, it how dirty or clean it is!

    An Associated Press Article tells us that New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt is leading another congressional charge to rid Yellowstone of snowmobiles. I suggest that he and his 85 other ill-informed colleagues read the:

    FINAL
    AIR QUALITY MODELING REPORT
    SNOWMOBILE AND SNOWCOACH EMISSIONS
    WINTER USE PLAN
    Environmental Impact Statement
    YELLOWSTONE and GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARKS and the
    JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, JR., MEMORIAL PARKWAY

    In case he can’t read, I’ve reproduced two summary tables for him to review. There is nothing about good or bad, better or worse in the tables, but there is something about how the snowcoaches pollute and how the snowmobiles pollute. I just hope that he can count.

    SNOWMOBILE TABLE

    snmbl.jpg

     

    SNOWCOACH TABLE

    snch.jpg

    The bottom right cell in each table is the telling comment, if any, from “SCIENCE.”

    If Mr. Holt wants a simple version he, (or one of his junior staff,) can go to the NPS Nature & Science site and see how the current growing fleet of diesel buses are about to increase pollution. Below is an interesting table from that report if he can’t find the appropriate button on his mouse.

    snch-00.jpg

    I realize that appealing to members of congress will get me nowhere. However I can appeal to the people who really care about Yellowstone National Park — PLEASE ELECT CONGRESSIONAL RPRESENTATIVES THAT CAN AND WILL READ.

    nono.jpgworse-than-snowmobile.jpgThere are better ways to visit Yellowstone in winter than in obsolete, noisy, gas guzzling, polluting, Bombardier snowcoaches. There are better ways to visit Yellowstone in winter than in a fleet of diesel buses that are converted for over-the-snow travel. There are better ways to treat our national parks in both summer and winter. Just think about it.

    Posted in Environment - Ecology, National Park Service, Politics, Snowmobiling, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Buy A Blogger

    Posted by skyblu on October 28, 2007

    IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PERQUISITES

    bribe-000.jpgDid you ever wonder if what you read is all true, partly true, sort of true, not true, or bought and paid for? Some blogs are egocentric, some blatantly commercial, and some masquerade as news but are really just P.R. They are bought and paid for by commercial interests and the praise that they get in return.

    Tour companies, travel agents, journalists, and others with an audience all are in a position to trade favors with interested parties – it may be tit for tat, or advertising, or just plain scam. But believe me it goes on and is not reported to the client, reader, patron, or believing citizen.

    One classic example from our little town should serve as an example of how this works. The West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce recently had an article in the local “newspaper” and begged for money to bribe “independent voices” “to get the word out.”

    This quote should give you some idea of the perquisites that are given to these “independent voices:”

    “There are some days at the Chamber of Commerce where we seem to spend a majority of the day on our knees begging for donations in order to assist travel writers, major media and tour operators. Donations of rooms, meals, tours, food, gift items, bags and bows, even bottles of water make a huge difference in our ability to have these folks come to West Yellowstone-they are independent voices for us to “get the word out” about what a great destination we are.

     

    In a small community like West Yellowstone, our Chamber Marketing budget is small and already allocated. So, when unexpected groups of tour operators, magazine or newspaper writers, photographers, web travel writers, radio talk show hosts, or television producers call and ask for help in setting up their trips. In turn, in order to take advantage of these opportunities for West Yellowstone, we have to reach out to you, our community.”

    The list of “Independent Voices” is extensive:

     

    • Kurt Repanshek, Travel Arts syndicated writer writing about West Yellowstone as the “best gateway to Yellowstone.”
    • David Sason writing an article on Montana meeting sites with a focus on West Yellowstone.
    • Utah freelance writers working on a November/December article for Salt Lake Magazine about winter vacations in West Yellowstone.
    • Carol Calicchio with JohnnyJet.com, the most popular travel planning website in California.
    • Steve Cannon with KIDK-Channel 3 exploring the Painted Buffalo Project.
    • Sam Dalton with Boomeradventures.com who will be creating a web page about winter activities for boomer travelers.
    • Steve Pastorino with Fodor’s Travel Guide.
    • Eric Peterson with Frommer’s Montana and Wyoming Guidebook.
    • Eric and Sue Hansen, representing Oregon-based newspapers and Northwest Travel magazine, writing about birding and our birding trails.
    • Salt Lake City-based Western Leisure with a Chinese FAM tour including eight tour operators from the largest tour companies in mainland China.
    • Terry Mansfield with majesticradiotours.com who is creating a web site with downloadable radio spots about West Yellowstone.
    • A German journalist & a photographer representing Markische Allgemeine Zeitung, a large daily German newspaper.

    Now then, with all this mutual back-scratching going on I wonder if what I read in, and hear from these commercial blogs, travel guides, TV stations, travel magazines, and tours is a product of journalism or just plain hype?

    In the interest of full and honest disclosure, I have not received a bottle of water, free room, complimentary bicycle, free meal, discounted film, complimentary Internet connection, or any bribe or other compensation from the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce. Would that the entities above would disclose how much baksheesh they received.

    At least I know that my site visitors are smart enough to take with a grain of salt anything that they read in a travel magazine or commercial blog.

    Posted in Commercialization, General, Girl Stuff, Politics, Travel, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

    Do It All Yellowstone

    Posted by skyblu on October 17, 2007

    ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE

    Well, I’m still tired and work is consuming most of my energy, but I find it interesting that wd-kil.jpgthe NPS has not figured out that Yellowstone can’t be all things to all people. The concept of compromise reigns supreme in the minds of politicians, bloggers, cheerleaders, and NPS planners.

    Take invasive species in Yellowstone for an example. The National Park Service spends tens of thousands of dollars trying to eradicate botanical species, (but not in Mammoth where they save them to feed the pet elk,) and hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to remove Lake Trout. Yet they encourage and even protect invasive and non-indigenous trout to placate the fly fishing industry in parts of the park that were fish-free. This is “compromise,” and it is successful only in encouraging the spread of additional invasive species, (like the mud snails and whirling disease,) on the one hand, and increasing resident invaders, (Lake Trout,) on the other.

    bis-360-x-270.jpgThe NPS just released the Summer bison population estimate. The herd is within 200 individuals of the historic high of 4,900. Unlike Wind Cave National Park, Yellowstone continues to “compromise” its bison management plan to make sure that neither ranchers, tourists, bison advocates, nor news hounds are too badly offended. Keep it up and soon the park will be so deep in poo that someone will be offended – they will eventually eat themselves out of forage.

    And, of course, we have finally heard from the New York Times on the “compromise” winter use plan. Again, by reducing snowmobiles, the park increases pollution by increasing diesel buses. The planners of Yellowstone seem not to have heard of the concept of constraint. Given the demand for winter visitation in Yellowstone, transportation must accommodate it. Certainly we shouldn’t limit visitation.

    Given a totality: reduction of one part must necessarily result in the increase of another part. Given the totality of the ever increasing numbers of fishermen, there is a reduction in the opportunities for a solitary yus.JPGfishing experience. Given the totality of available bison habitat, the increase of bison results in the reduction of available forage. Given the totality of numbers of winter visitors, the reduction of clean snowmobiles results in the increase of dirty diesel buses, and the retention of obsolete and dirty Bombardier snowcoaches.

    Since the planners in Yellowstone refuse to set limits on fishing, bison, and pollutants; all will increase as they play a numbers game. It’s not the number of snowmobiles that count – it’s the pollution that’s important. Bless the capitalists that are now propagating fleets of diesel buses to invade Yellowstone in winter, (just like Yosemite in Summer.)

    fis-375-x-244.jpgBless the feather merchants that continue to encourage fishing for non-native species and the spread of mud snails and whirling disease. Bless the bison advocates that encourage the herd to proliferate and eat so much ground cover that the rivers are muddied.

    Soon there will be confrontations between the fishing industry and the bison advocates. Soon there will be confrontations between diesel buses and bison. Soon there will be a park that is all things to all people and then – finally, there may be planning that is sensible and acknowledges the concept of constraint. Well probably not in my lifetime.

    =======================

    As a pertinent aside, check out the note about Lions For Lambs on You Tube.

    -

    Posted in Bison, Commercialization, Environment - Ecology, Invasive Species, National Park Service, Snowmobiling, Wildlife, wolves, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Considering The Modern Approach

    Posted by skyblu on October 6, 2007

    IS PRESERVING NOSTALGIA WORTH HARMING YELLOWSTONE?

    eluka-xcountry-ski.jpgThere is an insidious mentality among people who profess to care about Yellowstone. bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgThey will forgive a world of sins for the maintenance of nostalgic elements of the park’s past – however detrimental to both the park and the visitor experience.

    Since we’re getting our first persistent snowfall here in West Yellowstone, it’s only appropriate to rekindle the winter transportation conversation. As people get their minds set on visiting Yellowstone this winter the cross country skier is busy checking his gear. Composite materials, synthetic materials, nylon and spandex, hollowfill and qualofill, -etc. Not a single thought is given to wooden skies or bamboo ski poles. Those are reserved for museums and restaurant walls.

    snowshoes.jpg

    Never is it even imagined that the nostalgic value of unsafe, heavy, splintery, and warped equipment should be considered. Yet it’s this same skier that uses waxless skis, and graphite poles, and modern synthetic materials, that wants the polluting, obsolete and unsafe, Bombardier Snow coach to deliver him to the drop off point for his hi-tech tour of the park. Think nostalgia – act modern?

    The same goes for the visitor that intends to snowshoe about the park. They want lightweight metal and nylon shoes. Something that is “easy” and modern – not nostalgic, heavy, cumbersome, and unsafe. Certainly they don’t want the effort involved in learning to walk on traditional snowshoes – nostalgia or not it’s just not safe!

    The NPS in its infinite wisdom has chosen to forgive the vile emissions, damage to visitor’s hearing, and poor safety of the Bombardier Snowcoach until 2011. This stupidity is allowing this noisy and polluting unsafe machine to continue to harm Yellowstone while snowmobiles have become cleaner, quieter, and less in numbers.

    The Bombardier is a single season vehicle, as are the old White Touring buses. Yet the park planners refuse to save money and avoid pollution by looking to a multi-season, clean alternative to park transportation. nono.jpgA vehicle that could do double duty, and save money, and pollute less.

    And, yes there is a safe, clean, modern, alternative available. yellowbus.jpgThe NPS even endorses it as the best way to go. But the insidious thinking of planners and cheerleaders is not allowing this alternative to be implemented, or even considered. The Yellow Bus Project has been dropped in favor of multi-million dollar restoration of old White Touring Buses and the preservation, and “upgrading” of an unsafe and obsolete Bombardier fleet. Don’t spare any expense, this is nostalgic!

    There seems to be some sort of NPS blinders issued to the staff as soon as their blood turns green and they are give a flat hat. “Damn the park, it’s nostalgia that must be preserved.”

    There are, in fact, many alternatives to protecting the park that neither the cheerleaders nor the Park Circus choose to consider. The appearance of nostalgia ignores the continuing & potential damage that can be, and is being, caused by over the snow travel.

    I certainly am aware of the potential damage that vehicle emissions can do to the park and the visitor experience. I wish that there had been acceptable park-wide maximum ppm emission standards established. I certainly wish that the standards would be incrementally lowered through time as a means to protecting the park. And I certainly wish that the cleanest mode of transportation would be the preferred mode of winter transportation. That, however, is not the wish of the NPS.serch-and-rescue-026.jpg

    Sadly for me, and for future generations, the cheerleaders and NPS lackeys have concentrated on snowmobiles; not on preservation and protection of the park. This insidious stupidity is couched in phrases like tradition, nostalgia, history, and access. It results in higher fuel consumption, perpetuation of waste, continuous ongoing upgrades, and job security for park employees.

    hunters-point.jpgEven the loudest cheerleaders acknowledge that it’s the private automobile that is the cleanest, most convenient, and most conducive to a successful visitor experience in Yellowstone. So, just plow the roads and be done with it. Do an honest cost analysis and allow year-round visitation. This has never been seriously addressed – and you can bet that there’s a lawsuit in the wings.

    If that destroys some concessionaire investments, please be advised that our national parks are not designed to be a welfare system for entrepreneurs, despite the actions of the political planning staff. Nor, in fact, should the protection of the park take a back seat to nostalgic values about transportation.

    Finally, if the NPS continues to insist on the nostalgic value of over the snow travel, then let them upgrade their vehicles to machines that are modern and built with safety and clean operation as design criteria. Spending millions of dollars to retrofit the unsafe and obsolete Bombardier fleet is just another glaring example of the waste of money and resources that the NPS is famous for.

    serch-and-rescue-013.jpgThey could buy a fleet of modern vehicles for far less money, and still do a cleaner and a better job. And if they don’t want to stick with the yellow bus that they designed, then how about a Snow Bear or a Snow Fox? Cheaper, safer, cleaner, quieter, and modern. Pshaw, just too sensible!

    How about a 3 cylinder engine that is clean and fuel efficient? How about a vehicle that is light, safe, warm, comfortable, and accessible? How about an American design that is already in production and used for touring, fishing, search and rescue, and an ambulance? Naw! There’s no nostalgia there.

    Posted in Commercialization, National Park Service, Skiing, Snowmobiling, Winter, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    I’m Still Alive – More Later

    Posted by skyblu on September 17, 2007

    The Staff Are Great

    I was sick for a bit. Still am; and am still a pretty private person. I’ll blog a bit less and live a bit more. The upcoming winter is going to be a challenge. msk.jpgmsk.jpgAt least the park is getting pressure to be sensible about research findings. It’s a shame the centennial challenge does not acknowledge upcoming weather and demographic patterns. The GAO thinks it should.

     

     

    Here’s where I was.

     

    ……….skyblu

    Posted in Girl Stuff, Sisters Of The Fly, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park | 5 Comments »

    6mm BR or Keep the 308?

    Posted by skyblu on September 17, 2007

    THE 6’s ARE JUST WORKING BETTER

    My shooting this year has been limited to the close to home matches, and it’s taught me a lesson that I should have known before. When time is limited, stick with what works. My foray into hunter class has proven rewarding and very informative. The thing that score-ee.jpgI learned that has stuck in my mind is that the 30’s require more tinkering than the 6’s.

    I have done well with the 22PPC and the 6PPC in the varmint classes. My 308’s, however have been inconsistent and I’m sure that the variety of ranges and altitudes has something to do with it. I don’t have the time to arrive early and establish a load for the elevation at each range. My best scores are at ranges with elevations similar to the elevation in West Yellowstone. The greater the elevation, the better my scores. I’m no ballistician, but it makes sense that pressure and air density play a great role in this.

    So I’m going to have some BR’s built. A 6mm BR and a 30 BR.

    I’ll be relating the progress of these tools during the next several months. For now you can check the best web resources for the BR movement at the following excellent sites:

    6mm BR @ Varmints for fun,

    The 6mm BR Remington @ Chuck Hawks,

    The 6mm PPC @ Chuck Hawks,

    The 6mm BR Norma @ Norma,

    The 6mm BR Norma @ Lapua,

    The 6mm BR project @ F-Class Info,

    My 6mm BR Rifle @ Benchrest Central Forum.

    Posted in Girl Stuff, Target Shooting | Leave a Comment »

    Semper Fi, Redux

    Posted by skyblu on July 4, 2007

    HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY

    I hope this works. I’m sweltering in the hopper-laden meadows of Slough Creek. This post should appear at noon on July 4, 2007. I’ll find out when I get back. Have a safe and joyous celebration of our independence.

    …..skyblu

    skyblu tribute

    Posted in Etheral, Fly Fishing, General, Girl Stuff, Sisters Of The Fly, Travel, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park | 3 Comments »

     
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