Apology Tendered

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

Eighty-Six Members Of Congress Can’t Read

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.

Do It All Yellowstone

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.

Considering The Modern Approach

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.

It Was Grant – Dufus!

GOOD REVIEW RUINED BY MISTAKEtroosevelt2-hunting-buddies.jpg

Why does GADLING think that Teddy did it? In a very positive review of the ‘new’ National Parks Traveler, (which is well worth a visit,) Erik Olsen says:

We should all thank Teddy Roosevelt for having the foresight all those years ago to set off Yellowstone as a place that would be protected from development and where all Americans (and others) would be welcome3 to enjoy.

usgrant.gifWell, girlfriend, you can thank Teddy for going to Yellowstone after it was created by congress and signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant, if you want to.

Teddy went to the park to shoot game, catch and eat fish, enjoy the company of his elite buddies, and coincidentally got roped into laying the cornerstone of an entry arch that he probably knew nothing about.

I don’t intend to add to the myths about Teddy. But I would like to say that it’s important to keep your history straight when talking about the “crown jewels of our national heritage.”

After all, Mr. Olsen worked for the Department of the Interior, and should know his history. Especially about the establishment of our National Parks. I guess it’s excusable; certainly “Teddy did it all” – in legend if not fact.

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

griles.jpgSpeaking of the Department of the Interior: former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles had his plea sentence doubled to 10 months by the judge when he continued his arrogant ways in court. You can read about the interaction in the courtroom HERE. I’m pleased to see that my advice was heeded.

Now we’ll see if he serves the time or gets to play footsie with his buddies in the recreation industry. I’m not usually interested in these kinds of political shenanigans, but in this case it’s somehow interesting.

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

iphoney.jpgI’m not going to get an iPhone. As cute as it is, and as useful as it may be, it’s just not worth $6,000 for a two year contract. Maybe you can afford the price tag, but that $6,000 will buy a lot of good Cabernet, a trip to Goleta, some new flies, and a new benchrest rifle – with some left over!

Wired has posted a spreadsheet about the costs associated with the new gadget. You can read all about it HERE and at the Apple site, HERE.

Toledo Would Rather Rant Than Read

I GUESS THE WHINE IS STRONGER THAN REASON

There are still whiners fighting the “snowmobile wars” of 15 years ago. They certainly seem to be living an uninformed fantasy in Toledo.

dumb.jpgA recent editorial at the ToledoBlade.com website could easily have been written 10 years ago. The same old, and absolutely false – today, phraseology is used. The language is charged with words and phrases that exude ignorance of the current situation. It’s a shame they don’t turn their Pulitzer-Winning brains to the facts of this matter.

I just can’t believe that the good folks of Toledo believe this kind of whining. They can’t all be illiterate. What does the author mean by: “The vehicles erode the air quality in the park, adversely affecting the health of visitors, employees, and wildlife.” – as I’ve noted before, (just search ‘snowmobiling‘ or read the data,) the current fleet of 4-cycle snowmobiles is as clean as the vans, and cleaner than the diesel buses and the Bombardier fleet. Poor Toledo, being fed such pap!

And the author bemoans: ” . . . keep tourist dollars flowing and 720 snowmobiles per day whizzing through Yellowstone.” The only whizzing through Yellowstone is being done by the Park Service’s own 2-cycle snowmobiles – some chasing the speeding Bombardiers. The guided snowmobile groups follow the same speed limits as all vehicles, and do it better than the enclosed vehicles. Or maybe “whizzing” means something else in Toledo.

What does the author mean by: “The noise levels, also unacceptably high, shatter the quiet splendor of the park in winter.” Golly Gee, sister; the buses, coaches and bombardiers are all louder than the current generation of sleds. Poor Toledo, they’ll believe anything. [The report says: “Although on average snowmobiles were audible for more time than snowcoaches, snowcoaches in general had higher sound levels, especially at higher speeds. The reduced sound and audibility in the report is largely explained by fewer snowmobiles in the park, the guided group requirements and the change from two to four-stroke engine technology.”]

What does the author mean by: “Loud snowmobiles that emit harmful exhaust gases into the air should be banned in national parks.” Well, dufus – they have been banned: best read a little bit before your vomit up such tripe.

Does the author really believe: “And another study on the environmental impact of the noise and air pollution associated with snowmobile traffic will undoubtedly yield the same conclusions of prior studies on the subject.” The studies, (obscenely expensive and occasionally redundant, have shown differences as technology and regulations have changed.) Maybe nothing changes in Toledo.

I wonder what the author means by: “But when it comes to conservation, and one of the country’s most magnificent natural wonders, Americans cannot allow Yellowstone to be surrendered to lobbyists and commercial interests.” Does this mean that it should be surrendered to psudo-journalists ranting against a situation that no longer exists? Should we surrender the park to uninformed editorial writers? Where have these folks been for the last ten years – Toledo?

The sad truth is that the grotesque amount of money spent by the NPS, and the public results that are available, have not been read or studied by the whiners or the cheerleaders. This sort of dunderheaded resistance to facts and figures will continue to plague not just Yellowstone but the whole sphere of visitation in the national parks. And, girlfriend, ignorant diatribes like this will not help a thing.

Finally, the author says: ” . . . the administration is prepared to ignore public and scientific opinion and act unilaterally to implement its snowmobile policies.” Poor thing, willing to ignore scientific opinion in favor of their own uniformed view.

Now then, don’t get me wrong, snowmobiles have a long way to go before they are the perfect winter transportation for Yellowstone. The snowmobile industry needs to fully embrace the concept of clean and pleasant transportation. So too does the NPS. The real issue is winter access for all. The current solution fails on numerous counts: cost, intimacy, pollution, and others come to mind. Nothing is perfect in the NPS. But, girlfriend, tilting at windmills is not going to improve matters.

The current proposed policy substitutes expensive access in polluting enclosed vehicles for unlimited access in any vehicle. It’s a step. Is it in the right direction?

But, like they say; ‘If it plays in Peoria Toledo . . .’ — well, we will see.

Washington Closing Ranks

GIVE THE GUY A BREAK – BULLSHIT!!laughing.jpg

There is a series of posts over at Scott Silver’s site (1, 2, 3,) that everyone interested in Yellowstone should read and digest. They address the upcoming sentencing of disgraced Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles, (above left, with ex NPS Director Fran Mainella, and Derrick Crandall, President of American Recreation Coalition – right.)

The power politics and good buddy network is swinging into action to keep this criminal out of jail and on our streets; working to further the causes that he espoused while in office. It’s not surprising, but it is shameful!

The cast of characters is led by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC,) and includes such sterling personalities as: Congresswoman Barbara Cubin, Former Interior Secretaries Gale Norton and Donald Hodel, and long-time motorized recreation lobbyist Bill Horn.

This is a classic situation of “scratch mine and I’ll scratch yours.” As Scott points out:

Very soon J. Steven Griles may, once again, be working in support of ARC’s core mission — that, of course, being to commercialize, privatize and motorize recreational opportunities upon all of America’s public lands.

I personally think that they should throw the book at him.

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