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

Buy A Blogger

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.

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.

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.

Dinner In Yellowstone: 1908 – 1930

BOY, THE SWELLS HAD IT GOOD

The elite underpinnings of Yellowstone National Park are worth revisiting, if only for the nostalgic value and the lessons that can be learned.

Most visitors to Yellowstone in the early days expected that the best of contemporary civilization would be available – even in the wilderness. They demanded comforts and amenities commensurate with their station in life. The Railroads and concessionaires did their best to comply. They catered to the “upper crust” and the remunerations were commensurate with the amenities.

If you were wealthy enough to be at Lake Hotel in 1908 you would be able to enjoy the following dinner, (original spellings retained.)

Dinner:

Tomatoe Bouillon Sago
Potage a’la Maryland
__________

 

Dressed Lettuce, Sweet Gherkins,
Corn relish
__________

 

Baked Lake Trout a’la bordeleise,
pomme Louise
__________

 

Boiled Brisket of Beef, Fresh Horseradish Sauce
Boufalon Potatoes,
Lamb kidneys saute a’la Rachel,
Chocolate Cream Fritters,
Almond Sauce
__________

 

Roast Prime Ribs of Beef au Jus
Roast Leg of Pork with Apple Sauce
__________

 

Mashed Potatoes, Boiled New Potatoes
Carrotes a’la Vichy, French Green Peas
__________

 

Spanish Salade
__________

 

Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie Sago, Pudding Cream Sauce,
Apricot Sherbert, Assorted Cakes
Imperiant Turkish Figs
__________

 

Eastern Cheese, Toasted Biscuits
Coffee, Cocoa, Tea, Milk

By 1930 elegance was rampant, and the dinner at Old Faithful Was a full seven courses: and a string quartet thrown in for good measure, (preceded by dinner music from the “crow’s nest.”)

Dinner was announced by the ringing of a bell in the lobby, and of course guests were expected to ‘dress.

No ‘walk-ins,’ no ‘general public,’ no decisions, no complaints, no waiting; just a perfectly planned and executed experience. (Original spellings retained.)

DINNER
Cream of Tomato, Salt Wafers
Consomme in Tasse, Melba Toast

Sweet Pickles, Radishes, Ripe Olives

———————–

Fried Filet of Sole with Tarter Sauce
Boiled Ham with Green Spinach
Broiled Sirloin Steak Maitre de Hotel
Compot of Rice with Fresh Fruit Sauce
Chicken Fricassee with Steamed Rice

————————–

Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower au Graten,
Candied Sweet Potatoes,
Carrots Saute in Butter

——————–

 

Sliced Tomatoes French Dressing
Heart of Lettuce Salad 1000 Island Dressing

——————

Rolls
French, Raisin, Rye, and Wheat Bread

 

—————————–

Maple Cream Puffs, Hot Mince Pie,
Melba Peaches, Table Apples,
Chocolate Ice Cream,
Assorted Cookies

 

—————————
American, Swiss or Cottage Cheese, Crackers

Coffee, Postum, Tea, Milk, Iced Tea,
Cocoa, Demi Tassee

_______________________
Old Faithful Inn
Sunday, August 31, 1930
_____________________
Lectures by Ranger Naturalist on the Geysers, history,
bears, etc., at Bear Feeding Grounds at 7:00 p.m.: at
Museum at 8:15 p.m.

Searchlight on Old Faithful Geyser
Time announced in lobby.

I really like the “searchlight on Old Faithful Geyser,” bit. Now, that was dinner. A single sitting, come dressed, just the members of your own class, hotel guests only, enough wait staff to present a seven course meal, a bit of music, lecture by a pet ranger, feed Yogi, and a stroll on the veranda.

And a delicious evening was had by all.

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

Talk About Stupid

AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE

why-laugh.jpgI wonder how many people are going to get sucked into the pie-in-the-sky promises that are being spewed by Secretary Kempthorne and Director Bomar. You can read about the great things promised at National Parks Traveler (Here and Here and Here.) The rhetoric is splendid.

If there is anything that is apparent from the great and glorious promises being made, it is that these guys know nothing about that which they are talking. If they believe that the parks are going to be known as “America’s best classrooms” then they better start concentrating on the ecology and not the critters. Fat Chance Sister.

If they intend to restore native habitats they are going to have to remove all the fish above Firehole Falls and all but the grayling above Gibbon Falls, FATTER CHANCE! You can bet that their rhetoric is as hollow as the interior of a balloon. Neither Corporate America, nor the American Public, nor the NPS want to restore native habitats. What they all want is a picture postcard to retreat into: SCIENCE BE DAMNED!

I’ll bet a nickel that they will never address the problems caused by introduced trout in the Firehole River, the Gibbon River, and Slough Creek; including the destruction of native fauna that these fish cause. I’ll bet another nickel that they will find a project funded by “sportsmen & other interested parties” to enhance the fishing for introduced fish in many National Parks – especially Yellowstone. I’ll bet a third nickel that Dirk Kempthorne and Mary Bomar will avoid any effort to follow scientific inquiry. I’ll even bet a fourth nickel that a pile of supposedly concerned individuals and organizations will be seduced by the money. While I’m at it, I’ll make it an even quarter that there is no money or project that deals with global warming and the inevitable changes in the next century – ‘Centennial Initiative’ – BAH HUMBUG!

Go ahead Ms. Bomar, count the birds and thermophiles. Go ahead and remove the boardwalks that inhibit thermal feature discharge. Go ahead and follow science that says that the Firehole River would be better off without the introduced and invasive trout that sustain the multi million dollar tourist fishing industry. Go ahead and cull the bison herd to save the range. Go ahead and remove the dam that is preventing the calcification of Suzanne’s house. Go Ahead and re-align the road [again] so that the discharge from Beryl Spring is natural. Go ahead and restrict the geyser gazers from tromping around in restricted thermal areas. Go ahead and follow science to the detriment of visitation and tourist dollars – I dare you!

worse-than-snowmobile.jpgGo ahead and talk about snowmobiles and ignore the enormous and gaseous clouds of summertime diesel tour buses. Go ahead and ignore pollution in favor of winter whiners and increased visitation. Go ahead and celebrate the birthday of the NPS, maybe another 100 years and you’ll get it right.

Girlfriend, I promise that we are about to see the dashing of principles against the overwhelming flood of private money.

At least one thing is true: private money will line up to get a piece of this pie. Well, another thing is also true, park administrations across the land will eagerly line up, flat hat in hand, to get the money to increase visitation – no matter what they have to do. And, it’ll be worse by far than turning the parks over to DISNEY.

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