I Lucked Out

THIS PROMISES TO BE HOT

At the backcountry office at Old Faithful I was seeking a place to camp for the week. As I was waiting for the newly minted worker to gather up my forms a phone rang and the gist of the conversation was that a choice campsite on Slough Creek was available – including reservations with the outfitter. I quickly made the arrangements and am going fishing starting today, right now, out the door; 4th of July and all.

The Webliography on snowmobile wars is in very rough draft form. It may take two or more weeks after I get back; so be it.

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

The wildfire north of town is laying down and looks to be about controlled.

Here’s Some AQ Poop

WANT TO SEE WHAT YOU’RE BREATHING?

nps-aq.jpgThe National Park Service Web Cameras Site currently lists just the cameras that provide AQ data. We hope it gets to all cameras and hope that eventually they all have AQ monitors. CHECK IT OUT.

There is also a monitoring station site, (I mentioned this before,) and the data is near real-time. CHECK IT OUT. By the way there is an ozone health advisory for Yellowstone National Park today!

big-yell-hg.jpgThe NPS is finally making their AQ programs public and have updated their “Explore Air” page with some nice images and some good information.

Sadly, the NPS page “Greening Of The National Parks” has been abandoned since June of 2004.

Finally, the USGS mercury monitoring guys have been working hard for Yellowstone. CHECK IT OUT.

Want to see the current status of in-park emissions inventories conducted to date? Click here.

Want to see the Executive Order for strengthening federal environmental, energy, and transportation management? Click here.

The Yellowstone Incubator

BREED PROTECTED ANIMALS & DAMN THE CONSEQUENCES

I knew it would come to this. I just didn’t want to say it for fear that I would be accused of being an alarmist – which I’m not.

ridum.jpgThe breeding factory that is Yellowstone has finally produced results that are making the cheerleaders and whiners very happy. Now that the park has produced too many bison for the forage, it is trucking them back into the park to destroy what little grass is left. These bison no more belong in Yellowstone than they do in your back yard – or do they? Bless the whiners and bless the cheerleaders.

feed-elk.jpgSoon the migratory Bison of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho will join the Welfare Elk of Jackson in a perfect charade of stupidity.

The cheerleaders have taken giant steps toward diluting wild genes in the Bison Herd – three cheers for them!

feedum.jpgSoon, too, I fear, the “managers” of Yellowstone will return to the mentality that established the Buffalo Ranch – feed ’em and herd ’em.

If the “managers” want ‘wild’ bison they should look to Wind Cave National Park for a sane model. The park was established to protect a cave, (Yellowstone for the geological curiosities,) then it was expanded to preserve and restore prairie, (Yellowstone devoted its prairies to the incubator,) then the ecosystem was evaluated and a few bison, (disease-free from Yellowstone,) were added.

Wind Cave National Park looks to the ecological intricacies required to manage a system. It culls Bison. It culls Prairie Dogs. It is conscious of the fact that visitors don’t always get to see the bison – so what? It is managing an ecosystem to the best of it’s ability – can Yellowstone and it’s incubator mentality say the same?

wolfpack.jpgThe USFWS recognized just how good an incubator Yellowstone was when they introduced wolves. They had an end game in mind and it is being played out now as surrounding human populations are beginning to take responsibility for these migratory animals.

Yellowstone has allowed the incubator to pump out elk, (laden with brucellosis,) and the surrounding humans love it – hunting dollars are big in Montana and Wyoming and Idaho – the cattlemen aren’t screaming about the elk; now are they? [But perhaps they should be!]

Grizzly bears have taken a bit longer, but the Craighead’s predictions of the 60’s and 70’s (Review,) have come true. They are finding habitat in Grand Teton Park, (and becoming habituated to vehicles and humans in the process.)

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition suggests a sensible plan to deal with migratory bison — don’t just pretend the bison are wild and keep pumping them out and trucking them back to eat the rapidly disappearing forage. Treat them like the critter we would like them to be. In their own words:

 

In Montana, big game species such as elk, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, and bears thrive because their habitat and conservation is supported by hunting. We can enjoy similar success with bison.

Boy oh boy, watch the whiners and cheerleaders scream about this.

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

And, while we’re at it, let’s remind the “managers” in Yellowstone that they are encouraging the destruction of streams by invasive and introduced fish such as brn.jpgThe German Brown Trout, The Loch Leven Brown Trout, The McCloud River Rainbow Trout, and other fish that the commercial interests want to remain in the rivers.

There is a catastrophe brewing in streams such as The Firehole, The Gibbon, The Madison, The Lamar, Soda Butte, and Slough Creek.

The Yellowstone River and Yellowstone Lake are already badly, if not fatally, degraded. There is not a fly shop within 500 miles of Yellowstone National Park that cares one whit about preservation and restoration of native species. They care about $$$$ and the fish incubator that the American Public maintains.

Did you know that Yellowstone National Park protects destructive, introduced, invasive species with it’s catch and release regulations on the Firehole River. How does that protect our natural heritage? It just protects and subsidizes the private fishing industry and a group of snobs that would rather catch foreign fish than American fish.

Do You Really think that it’s the fish or the fishing that the fishermen care about? Let’s see a meaningful alliance between Fly Fishermen, Suzanne Lewis, Mary Bomar and Dirk Kempthorne to; as Kempthorne said:

“By the Park Service’s 100th birthday, the President’s Centennial Initiative will have provided significant resources to restore and better protect the parks’ natural, cultural and historic resources.”

Let’s restore the Firehole River and it’s tributaries, above Firehole Falls, to the way they were before there was a National Park. We have the technology, it would cost less than a new visitor center, it would be “natural.”

Now there is a meaningful bit of work for the National Park Service. Far better than trucking bison back to a rapidly changing and degraded forage base. But the fly fishing cheerleaders and whiners are just as blind as the others.

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

pet-fish.jpgSisters, if the American public wants Tame Bison, Denuded Prairies, Sick Elk, Habituated Wolves and Grizzles, along with Artificial Streams and Foreign Pet Fish – so be it. Just don’t run to me when your children ask you what Yellowstone used to be like before global warming.

After all these are National Parks, and the cheerleaders and whiners are always talking about public opinion as if it were right.

Fishing On Opening Day

THERE’S SO MUCH MORE THAN FISH

another-bison-jam.jpgI went fishing on Saturday. Went up to the Firehole and fished in Biscuit Basin – just like about 300 other people. It was fun and it was sunny and it was just like a picnic.

There were buffalo and elk and tourists and fishermen and rangers and smog and honking horns and tour buses and all of the good things that make Memorial Day Weekend such a joy in Yellowstone.

I talked to some women who felt that the crowds detracted from their experience, but they went along because their husband’s just wouldn’t miss the chance to be first on the river.

I suppose that’s important. I was about number 200. I caught some fish and I enjoyed the beautiful weather. The temperature was just perfect if you found the right patch of shade.

A nice fisherman in pretty blue waders told me that the Blue Wing Olives and March Browns were hatching and that I needed to use his special fly. I asked him what it was and he said it was a Midge imitation that he invented himself. It was so small that I had trouble getting it on the tippet.

prince.jpgI didn’t catch any fish with it. It didn’t float too well. I did catch a real nice trout on a Prince Nymph that was about 1/2 inch long – size eight or ten; I’m not real good at this yet. I found a neat web page that is written by a local kid that has good information about the Firehole River. It’s called “Firehole River” at Yellowstone National Park.com.

baby-trout.jpgThe baby trout were very hungry and I caught a bunch of them. After a bit, I went to the car to get my camera so I could take a picture. What a jinx that was. But I did get a nice baby trout picture of a fish caught by a fisherman from Utah.

I’m going to wait until the end of the week before I go back. There are just too many cars, and the kid at the fly shop said that we should have a slow week starting about Friday.

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

griz.jpgThere’s been a lot of talk about the “grizzly bear expert” that was mauled by mom while defending her cub. And gee, he was only three miles from the road and alone and in the Springtime, and in bear country, and he’d been mauled before – a genuine expert at getting mauled!

There’s an article that I wish I’d written: An Open Letter To Jim Cole, Grizzly Expert. (Once He Gets Out Of The Hospital.)

Climate Change & Skeptics

COBY BECK DID THE HARD WORK

hot-world.jpgI’m often asked “How do you know that . . . { pick one: . . . there is climate change, it’s bad, it is real, it’s not a hoax, computer models work, it’s not the volcanoes, etc., etc., etc.”}

I used to take a lot of time with the questions and even thought that I might have had some influence on the thought processes of the questioners. Now I just provide a short & simple answer, avoid arguments, and refer the questioner to the series by Cory Beck in Grist. Somehow it seems to have more credibility than do I.

I’ve grown to rely on this series, not so much because of it’s authority, but because it’s so perfectly suited to dealing with all levels of skepticism – from the stupid to the sublime and from the stubborn to the spurious.

No, it’s not perfect, (nor am I,) but damn, girlfriend, it’s a brilliant piece of hard work. There are a pair of companion pieces by Michael Le Page that need to be mentioned also:

CLIMATE CHANGE: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED,
CLIMATE MYTHS: THEY PREDICTED GLOBAL COOLING IN THE 1970s

There are many web sources that serve to illustrate the situation. One that is current and fairly straightforward is the Global Warming Blog.

I’ve copied the references to Cory Beck’s series on my DISTRACTIONS page under the title Talking To Skeptics, it’s also available in the sidebar. This is just in case Grist goes out of business.

Before I Rest

analysis COMPLETE, report PRINTED, boxes SHIPPED.

shipped.jpgWell, gals, the report is done and gone – HUZZAH! The staff is moving on to other projects, and I’m going to take a break.

Before I take a week or two off, (Mom’s coming here for Mother’s Day. We’ll go to Yellowstone – I’ll drive, she’ll pay,) there are a couple of things I need to say – as if I wouldn’t!

The stir and hubbub about raising fees to our National Parks is gaining attention in the media (Link, Link, Link.) This has been building since the “Fee Demonstration Program” was initiated about 11, or so years ago. Believe me, fees are going to continue to rise. There is no public outcry loud enough to stop them: it just makes a good story so it gets written.

One thing that is galling about the outcry is that it is a generalized and unfocused whine. It does not address the real costs of visiting parks – all of which are escalating at a pace that far outstrips inflation.

go-to-yellowstone.jpgYellowstone in the winter is an extreme example. Yet it does show that it’s not just park fees that are necessarily responsible for attendance figures. In fact, the Yellowstone case tests the conventional altruistic wisdom.

There has been no outcry about the way the National Park Service has forced the visiting public to spend exorbitant amounts of money to “enjoy the winter in Yellowstone.”

They have mandated that any person wishing to visit Old Faithful must pay no less than $100/day. And they have mandated that any person that wants to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone must pay an additional $100/day.

The very people that decry the petty increases of $5, or $10, or $20 for entrance fees at parks across the nation are blatantly silent about the gross and inappropriate monetary burden placed on the Yellowstone winter visitor.

The very people that whine about a few extra hydrocarbons in the air over Yellowstone, are afraid to mention that it now is a park not much cleaner and very much more expensive.

Interestingly, winter visitation figures for Yellowstone are showing a gradual upward trend, (watch the pollution figures climb as well.) This is not because the park is cleaner but rather, I suspect, because it is more exclusive. It is now attracting more affluent visitors. Visitors who can afford to spend their money on riding in a diesel bus in the warmth of splendor. Shielded, they are, from the very elements that they profess to adore.

poor-folks.jpgThis is the first step in a trend that Scott Silver calls a plan to DISNEYFY the parks.

Now that the “RIDES” cost more money, and now that the common people have been removed from underfoot, and now that exclusivity reigns, of course Yellowstone will attract more of the “right” people.

This injustice is certainly more offensive and obscene than a $15 fee increase. Where are the news sources decrying this injustice? Where are the bloggers pointing out this prostitution of our park system? Where are the activists that so sanctimoniously proclaim that the parks should be available to the common man? Where is Tom [“Really-Loves-Yellowstone”] Brokaw? You & I know exactly where they are – riding on a diesel powered bus, or an obsolete, unsafe, gas guzzling Bombardier. They don’t dare admit that they are just as happy that the guise of pollution has rid their beloved Yellowstone of the “little people.”

They certainly are not going to suggest that the very ranting that they have used to force commercialization is limiting access. They don’t dare suggest that a family of four can afford $800 for two days in Yellowstone, (plus $250/night for hotel.) Oops forgot about travel expenses, meals, souvenirs, gratuities, photos, etc. Is a two day visit to Yellowstone worth $2,800 to the average American Family of four – you bet it is, they just can’t afford it.

denali-ride.jpgThis condition is coming to all parks, even one near you. The Presidio is already long down this road, as is Denali. And as each park realizes that they can mandate tours in lieu of individual experiences – they will.

As each park unit discovers ways to allow concessionaires to take over NPS duties, they will. As each park unit manufactures unneeded services that can bring money to the trough, they will drink.

Just how many luxury hotels (with $500/night suites,) are needed in a national park? Just how many trinket stores constitute a “service” to the public? Just how many horse back rides, stagecoach rides, bicycle rentals, (with regulations and dedicated bicycle trails,) visitor centers, museums, (centralized or dispersed, or for the birds,) resource centers, paved pathways, parking lots, luxury diners & fast food emporia, etcetera ad infinitum, are justifiable as services? The NPS is busy selling the parks – or giving them to private interests as fast as they can. They call it ‘visitor services. They also call it a wilderness.

Americans, as a general rule, want their entertainment done to them: TV, MOVIES, TOUR BUSES, GUIDED EXPERIENCES, LUXURY SUITES, GLAMOROUS DINING, etc. This is what we’ve been sold, and this is what we expect. The USA is a capitalist place and capitalism rules the mindset of us all. After all; it can’t be good if it’s cheap, it must be good if rich people covet it. This is the American mindset, and it demands that the parks cost more – not less.

Even the the NPS believes that they should have expensive luxury and exclusivity. If you don’t believe it just call (307) 344-7381, and ask about the private, not open to the public, island facilities that the executive rangers use for their own enjoyment. Ask about the “White House” china service and the fancy catered meals. Ask where it is in the budget, while you’re at it. (Oh, planning retreat? – I get it!)

The NPS model flies in the face of our overriding cultural values. It suggests that the best things about our country can be had for bargain basement prices. It suggests that the government does amusement parks better than Disney. It’s time to change the model, or it’s time to change the culture. Go ahead pick your task.

Actually the Disney model is a better deal.

compare.gif

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

Question of the day:
Why are back country permits free?
Answer to the question:
There is no good answer!

In Yellowstone there are entrance permit fees, campground fees, photo permit fees, fishing permit fees, boating permit fees; but no hiking or back country camping permit fees. In the winter there are no snowshoe fees; and even though the park grooms ski trails there are no ski trail permit fees.

Did you know that if you bring your own horses, and weed-free fodder; you can take up five parking spaces with your rig, saddle up and ride in Yellowstone without a permit or a fee. Of course you didn’t know that; you can’t afford a horse, or a Hummer, or a six-horse trailer. Sad for you!

The NPS is missing a bet here. These kinds of activities could easily be taxed with ‘special user fees’ – this would defer costs of trail maintenance, back country signs, trail grooming, back country patrol and rescue, as well as toilet duty. In fact, very high fees would attract more elite visitors and generate more revenue.

We wonder where the righteous outcries will come from.

Yellowstone: Obsolescense Personified

JUST WHY IS THE NPS SO OBSTINATE ?

onesno.jpgI’m tired of this subject. I’m tired of hating snowmobiles and calling it a discussion of winter use and access in Yellowstone National Park. I’m tired of breast beating and post pissing in the name of righteous indignation. The charade stinks and is transparent to any person who honestly admits that more is at stake here than the stink of snowmobiles.

The NPS is busy raising fees around the nation. The outrage is palpable – except that no whine or wail is heard about the fact that it now costs $100/day/person to visit Old Faithful in winter. donot.jpg(How many members in your family?)

The NPS won this one without even going to bat. Americans have been duped into thinking that “motorized over-the -snow travel” is the sensible solution to winter use in Yellowstone. It’s not!

What it is, however, is a way for the NPS to limit access to Yellowstone. It limits access to those wealthy visitors who can afford $100/day, (or more,) to visit. This is capitalism in it’s finest form, and it’s your park service at it’s worst. Even the past directors have been duped – and they are proud of it.

finnfun.jpgSnowmobiles are a rotten way to hurt Yellowstone, and the NPS knows it. (An excellent review of the current situation: Boise Weekly, “Return Of The Bubbleheads.” It’s got a couple of real and journalistic inaccuracies but it’s a good review.)

What the NPS refuses to admit is that the current crop of “SNOWCOACHES,” (what an interesting amalgam they are,) are probably just as bad, if not worse. The disaster is, that this has not been addressed in any serious way. Nor, for that matter, has the de facto fee increase.

And don’t let the cheerleaders dupe you into thinking that they are talking about the park and it’s environment. They are just lobbying for less access, more wealth, fancy accommodations, and more dependence on commercial guides. This is not access – this is restriction.

If this is such a good approach in the winter – why not apply the same principles in the summer?

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

The NPS is busy talking about Best Available Technology (BAT) but not for itself and certainly not in reference to the visitor experience. How about a summer BAT ??

Let’s talk safety and visitor experience as well as pollution. The NPS was willing to mandate BAT for snowmobiles in an instantaneous fashion, but not for the outmoded Bombardier Snow Bus. Why? Because then they, (the NPS,) would have to comply with the rules instantly. (Did you know that the only concessionaire, beside the park, still running these dinosaurs is an ex-Yellowstone Park Ranger?)

The NPS has allowed themselves and their pet concessionaire a “phased approach” to comply with BAT. HOGWASH – the Bombardier Snow Bus fleet needs to be scrapped. The money sink that these single-purpose vehicles provide is never ending. They will never be BAT. Their nostalgic value is no match for the continuing costs that will be associated with them for the foreseeable future.haynes-2.jpg Might just as well demand a return to the Tally-Ho for the summer visitor. After all, methane is “natural” and the apples will add an interesting diversion to the monotonous sameness of bison poop. That’s environmental sensitivity – right? Maybe Toyota can retrofit an engine to these?

Nuts !!; just put a couple ‘Bombs’ in the transportation museum, drag them out for Ted Turner and Mike Findley, and let Mary Bowmar polish them – but don’t pretend that they are any kind of solution to winter access. Certainly they are not BAT.

bi_bus

If the NPS, the cheerleaders, and the philanthropies were serious about these relics and over-the-snow travel they would convince a major automaker to build them oneclean and safe and quiet and BAT! (****OOPS, they already did that; and it can be fitted with modern track systems – – so why stay wedded to an obsolete single purpose vehicle that is duplicated by a modern multi purpose vehicle?olyellers-at-olfaith.jpg) Who is the NPS catering to? [Don’t ask this question!]

If the past directors and the current cheerleaders were really serious about the environment they would look at the savings and environmental advantages associated with plowing the roads, (instead of grooming them for private interests only.)

The NPS needs to address the environmental sensitivities and economic factors that come with using vehicles as they are designed to be used.

They had better look at dumping a fleet of “never-to-be-BAT” vehicles and realize those savings. This action would address safe access and still allow the ‘swells’ to have a pet tour guide in a big bus or van.

Riding in a Bombardier Snow Bus is like sitting inside a giant tin drum – sideways. The sound level is obnoxious. The views are impaired, and craning your neck is not the best way to enjoy the views. Entrance and egress demand a dexterity that only a Canadian Army Trooper would tolerate – of course that’s who they were designed for. These relics of WW II were designed to cram a fighting unit into a small space – not for leisurely touring of Yellowstone.

The heater is so inefficient that blankets are needed and carried by the drivers. This is probably a great bit of nostalgia, and an intriguing history lesson – but not a pleasant ride in the park. Of course, marketing and sales are king in this arena. The drivers call it “The Real Yellowstone Experience” – DUPED AGAIN. Thank you, NPS.

Do the drivers of these things really offer the passengers ear plugs? (Click HERE for an honest account of the “Real Experience.”)

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

Here are some hard questions regarding the Bombardier Snow Bus. Questions that the planners have avoided in the hopes that the cheerleaders and the public will ignore these obsolete, single-purpose vehicles:

nono.jpg1] Are these “BOMBS” as safe as converted vans and buses?
2] Do they have seat belts?
3] Are their breaking systems BAT? Windshield wipers? Windshield washers? Defoggers? Mirrors and signal lamps? Headlights? Track system? Heaters?
4] Is entrance and egress as safe in a “Bomb” as it is in the conversions? In emergency situations? Why is there a seat in the doorway? (I know the answer to this one, an additional $100 – safety be damned.)
5] Is the auditory health of visitors considered in BAT? Really, where?
6] Is there adequate, safe, and comfortable storage for all camera gear, tripods, lunch bags, crutches, walking sticks, backpacks, child-seats, luggage, and a stroller for the screaming 2-year-old? By the way is there any way to put a child seat in the things? Does the NPS care? Are the seats DOT approved? Should they be?
7] Are they accessible? Is this a Federal requirement for Yellowstone Concessionaires?
8] If these things are so good, why isn’t the NPS busy buying up a bunch of them? When was the last time they bought one for the fleet? I know where they could have gotten one for only $10,000.
9] Will the engine conversions of today still be BAT in 5 years? 10 years? Will they need more new engines? How often? Will the NPS forgive it’s own fleet?

Shame on them; and the rangers and employees that still ride 2 cycle snowmobiles! What will all this cost the taxpayer in the out years? Is this sensible policy? Is this what planners do? Is this what cheerleaders want?

I think it’s time to BAN THE BOMB!

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

The consequences of pretending to talk about winter access while really following a “limit public access agenda” are far reaching and do not bring about an uplifting visitor experience.

The NPS has already shown that they don’t care about pollution by preferring an alternative that allows too many snowmobiles into Yellowstone. They have also shown they don’t care by allowing one of their pet concessionaires to use diesel engines for winter access – just like the stench of summer. Is this BAT? Who defines & adjusts BAT?? Has the public ever had a chance to comment on BAT??

They have shown that they don’t care about individualized experiences by demanding that all visitors in motor coaches and snowmobiles have ‘guides.’ They have shown that they don’t care about any kind of individualized experiences – except for skiers who don’t need guides, and snowshoe travelers who don’t go too far. Skiers are saints and have never violated the park in any way; therefore there is no need to transfer the law enforcement function of the NPS to ski guides. Really?

These consequences, are going to compound themselves in the future. Here’s a few the NPS has yet to address:

1] If it’s true that bison need to leave the park to wander, why are plowed roads a problem? Do we trap the bison in the park, or do we let them roam? Elk? Wolves? Is it Yellowstone, or is it pollution, or is it snowmobiles, or is it access, or is it a winter use plan, we’re talking about?

2] Global warming is real, and even if we corrected 100% of the anthropogenic component today, the trend will continue for at least 100 years – very probably much more. Is this accounted for in the winter use plan? How? What reasons will the NPS use for limiting visitor access in 10 years? Twenty years from now? Ahhh, I get it, perpetual employment for planners.

bombie.jpg3] Is the NPS catering to the short term concerns of the wealthy and their pet concessionaires to the detriment of the long term health of Yellowstone?

4] Is the current winter use plan a real plan, or a justification for nostalgic exploitation of Yellowstone by those that can afford $100/day? This cost of visiting the park will greatly increase as capitalists discover that they have the park held hostage; and, that only the wealthy are visiting. Of course inflation, NPS policy, and rising fuel prices will aid this.

5] Are the planners, the public, and the cheerleaders so blinded by a “snowmobile crisis” that they have ignored the real problems of the future? For instance; are Americans adjusting to increased fuel prices apace with the supposed, (summer & winter,) future visitation? Oh, I get it, you mean that the roads will need to be widened for the wealthy and their land yachts, and the poor in diesel buses – I really do get it .

doozie.jpgWell, like I said, I’m tired of the discussion. The NPS isn’t listening, the cheerleaders aren’t listening, and certainly the wealthy never listen.

They collect Duesenbergs and Bombardiers & demand that Yellowstone build buildings and accommodations that the NPS can’t afford to maintain. They demand catered wilderness in the nostalgia of obsolete transportation. They demand that you and I stay out of their park.

I hope that the park can afford this consequence. Really, I do. I hope that someday I will be rich enough to enjoy Yellowstone in the winter – – Really!

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