Monday, August 28, 2006

Yellowstone Is A Park

Perception Is Prime!
What is to be protected?

.. Too often verbal discourse degenerates into harangue because the topic of discussion is perceived differently by the participants. This is complicated by starting the discourse "in the middle," without a clear statement of bias or perception. This is just preaching to the choir.
.. Today there is much wringing of hands and wailing about the National Park Service and it's mishandling of parks, poor record of protection, and other perceived shortcomings.
.. Seldom is the question asked: "What is to be protected?" Yellowstone National Park was established because of it's geological curiosities, (19th century perception.) Long after it was established the park continued to be hunted for food for the visitors. Certainly no thought was given to preservation of non-geological elements of the park. Hotels and Inns were built willy-nilly, roads diverted streams, trees were utilized for fire and construction. Why? Because none of this "impacted the curiosities."
.. Each park, as it was added to the system, had it's unique aspects that were to be protected. Some were historic, some biological, some geological, etc.
.. As the National Park Service evolved, it incorporated values from each park into it's overriding management mandate. Soon the NPS was promulgating rules for all parks that were initiated in single and unique parks. It was easy to do it this way.
.. And then,without ever bothering to define what was being protected, everything was protected. This has come to be the modern perception of a park. Protect it all, unique or otherwise. The perception that a park is a wilderness area is pure fiction. Yet that is the place that most polemicists start their argument.
.. Some people, today, believe that parks are a good place to feed squirrels. See an article in the St. George Spectrum. Some people, today, believe that parks are a good place to: - etc., add your own bias.
.. This is both a logical and practical problem. Why is there no hunting in parks with introduced species? Because we are preserving them. Even if they are eating the park to death.
.. Why does Yellowstone National Park protect invasive Brown Trout to the detriment of native Cutthroat Trout? Because we are protecting them. Even if they are out competing the natives.
.. Today there are many people who view the NPS as the one governmental agency that should preserve all things natural and cultural and otherwise within the boundaries of each and every park. Driven by this perception they have heaped an enormous, (and impossible,) burden on the NPS. Of course they are going to fail. The polemics of this mis-perception demand that they fail.
.. It's time for America to decide just what is worth preserving in each park & do it! Once the "ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE" perspective is abandoned the NPS will have a lower failure rate - AND the American Public will be better served.
.. One problem facing the parks has little to do with preservation. Maintenance. The National Parks Conservation Association has detailed the problem very succinctly. This too, needs be addressed from a responsible point of view.
.. The one thing that is constant in all parks is change. The same should be said of the NPS. Parks change, times change, perceptions change. The current wailing and gnashing of teeth by special interests, (such as skiers, backpackers, snowshoers, snowmobilers, etc.,) reflects this change.
..It's time for the polemicists, the American Public, and the NPS to decide just what a park is. We know what it is not! It's not a wilderness area, it's not a National Forest, it's not an arboretum. But, WHAT IS IT?
.. The value of each park is unique. It's perceived value should not be imposed on other parks. The current Bush Plan takes the opposite view. It perceives that all parks can be subsumed into a single perception. It is doomed to failure.
.. The Denver Post editorial of 08/11/2006 provides an excellent commentary on the current state of affairs.

"The national parks are the most valued possessions in Interior's vast inventory of public lands, and they deserve the kind of leadership and support that will properly protect them from this generation to the next."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Blogging Yellowstone

.. The beginnings of what look to be a fine blog about Yellowstone have appeared at: The Yellowstock Blog is in it's infancy but has already picked up on the pulse of Yellowstone - our nation's first political park. Excellent driving instructions for getting to Yellowstone are presented in the second post - good place to start.
.. Nando Stöcklin is the blog's author. He is active in the blogsphere with another web page as well:, and is participating in the growing movement of "WIKI-POLITICS."
.. This is an interesting forum for the rational discussion of political points of view. It may have the appeal and impact of WIKIPEDIA, the free encyclopedia. Look for the blogsphere to be populated with rapidly proliferating sites based on the WIKIA SOFTWARE.
.. The WIKI-WORLD is a growing community of participatory, multi-national, bloggers with a software that allows all to participate in the topic of interest - and build a cconsensus knowledge base. WIKI-YELLOWSTONE - anyone???
.. We wish Nando Stöcklin good fortune in his Yellowstone endeavours. We've activated the sidebar link under Yellowstone Links.
.. The Yellowstone National Park official home page on the web has changed. We miss the picture but the organization is better. Thank you Tom Cawley.




.. The message delivered by Secretary Kempthorne yesterday in Yellowstone was wondrous to behold. It was insubstantial, convoluted, chatty, and quick.
.. The main points:
1)-Parks have accomplished much in the past,
2)-Parks can do more with less,
3)-Wait ten years to see how it's done,
4)-I won't be around then,
5)-My boss told me to say this.
6)-I hope this makes the news!
.. This sounds like a new reading of the law of diminishing returns. It reminds us of the perpetual graduate student who was so good at going to school that he continued his specialized studies until he died. Through his years at the university he continued to learn more and more about less and less. On his deathbed he finally knew everything about nothing.
.. The Bush Administration is demonstrating this principle by continuing to cut the NPS budget and by requiring that more be done with less.
.. The ultimate goal, of course, is to do everything with nothing. The insidious aspect of this is the certain knowledge that Americans love their parks and will help however they can.
.. Significant donations of private funds helped to build the new visitor center at Canyon - the Heritage Center at Gardiner, and the currently 'under construction' visitor center at Old Faithful. Of course maintenance is another issue; Yellowstone had to cut programs to pay the light bill at the Heritage center.
.. This privatization of monumental architecture is just the start of the creeping privatization of the whole system. Concessionaire tours for the rich are well established. Ads are beginning on government web pages, and even your national parks pass belongs to Ford & Casio. "Tasteful" donor plaques are making their appearance. The trend is apparent, and this is bigger than a camel's nose!
.. In time, the Bush goals will be reached - we will have allowed the NPS to do it all with nothing - except for private funds.
.. This creeping privatization is beginning to gallop. The folks at Wild Wilderness are keeping track of it for us. All the rationalizations in the world will not allow us to escape the fact that we have started to give away the responsibility of NPS functions to the private sector. Of course, this means giving away the authority to manage as well.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


your comments welcome
(good Pictures please have patience)

Fran too!
.. Now that the Old Faithful Web Cam is firmly anchored in it's tree house, adjustments are being made. Yellowstone National Park staff have posted a new page on their web site with information and progress reports. LINK.

<- nps photo

.. This satellite image shows the location of the new Web Cam and the field of view of Geyser Hill in the Upper Geyser Basin. LINK.

<- nps photo

.. There is also a photo identifying the major geysers visible from the new location.
.. There is a visitor in the foreground with a cell phone to his ear waving to the folks back home.
.. Just another attraction provided by the NPS - HI MOM! LINK.

.. LINK to live Old Faithful Web Cam.
.. LINK to Yellowstone Web Page.

Cute FranDirk Baby

Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne will open the visitor center at canyon. As the official press release notes, (below,) one way to get around the disastrous maintenance backlog is to build new buildings. This may also be the last official appearance of Fran Mainella, the outgoing Park Service Boss. You're invited to come and say goodby.

Yellowstone National Park News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (307) 344-2010 or
August 22, 2006 Joan Moody (202) 208-3280

DOI Media Advisory—Secretary Kempthorne Will Open Yellowstone Visitor Center in Celebration of National Park Service's 90th Anniversary

YELLOWSTONE—On Friday, August 25, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will help Yellowstone National Park celebrate the 90th anniversary of the National Park Service and christen the park’s new Canyon Visitor Education Center, the first major visitor center development in the park in more than 30 years. A full day of activities is planned to celebrate the event including ranger programs, a concert and lecture.

WHO: Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne
nator Craig Thomas of Wyoming
National Park Service Director Fran Mainella
llowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, Host

WHAT: Canyon Visitor Education Center Grand Opening: The grand opening of
the new facility marks the first major visitor center development in the park in three decades. Because $8.6 million of the $10.5 million used to fund the project came from entrance fees, this is the largest fee demo program in the National Park System to date. The fees were collected from people who visited Yellowstone between 1997 and 2005.

WHEN:10:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m. Opening Ceremony
10:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Secretary Kempthorne media availability
11:00 a.m.- Director Mainella gives media tour of center
11:00 a.m - 4.p.m Center opens to the public for full day of activities
starting with a concert by Bruce Anfinson, western folk recording artist
and including “Yellow Bus” tours, ranger talks and walks and a young
scientist program.
7:00 p.m. Lecture, center’s theater, “Yellowstone Hotspot Theory,” by University of Utah geophysicist Dr. Robert B. Smith.

WHERE: Canyon Village in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. For logistical
info, call 307-344-2013.

WHY: The new visitor center addresses the park's deferred maintenance goals by replacing the obsolete visitor center with a new, state-of-the-art center where interactive exhibits will help visitors understand the geology of Yellowstone and its underlying “Supervolcano.” Aug. 25 is the 90th anniversary of the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


official position corrected

Aubrey Haines, management assistant, and Lemuel Garrison, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.
Courtesy National Park Service, Yellowstone NP, n.d.

.. In 1994 a standard "parkspeak" conference was convened by superintendent Mike Finley. It was designed to inculcate park employees and interpreters with the 'correct' view of the park. It was, in fact, as much to familiarize Finley with his new park assignment as it was to provide "official" insight to the gathered masses.
.. Aubrey Haines was in attendance and provided the sanctioned park perspective on the early inhabitants of the park: "There were never any Indians in this park except for a few Sheep Eaters, and they were poor for even Indians."
.. Also attending the conference was Lawrence Loendorf, an ethno-archaeologist, who was astounded at the statement. It seems that Haines was just repeating the myth that popular opinion, and the Federal Government position, had generated - and that he had help to propagate. It is wrong.

.. The University of Utah has just published the book that Loendorf wrote to help correct the mistaken image of the people that lived in Yellowstone. It's title is "MOUNTAIN SPIRIT" and is well worth the read.
.. Loendorf has produced a work that will help dispel the NPS position that Yellowstone was not inhabited at the time it was purloined from the indigenous residents.
.. The Casper Star Tribune recounts the story of how Loendorf decided to write this book. We thank him for his effort.
.. Another book, "Alpine Sentinels" is another popular impressionistic telling of the same history.
.. Of course the Shoshone folks have always known that they lived in and around what is now Yellowstone National Park.
.. Although the Shoshone people are sundered and live in two places - thanks to government capriciousness (boy is that a story!) - they are beginning to assert the story of their life in Yellowstone.
.. The Lemhi Shoshone have a nice web site at, and have included excellent details of their life and history on the site.
..The Shoshone folks that live at Fort Hall also have an excellent web site. It also contains their story and the history that the NPS so conviniently forgets. There is also a page about contemporary life called "REZ BRIEFS."

.. Perhaps the most famous Shoshone in history, from the conventional "American Perspective," is Sacajawea, the local girl with a baby that saved Lewis & Clark's expidition.
.. You can read the Shoshone perspective on this brave woman at the web site. These are folks that are central to understanding the place of Yellowstone in North American History. They are also the pivotal people in the disemination of the horse in the American West. Of course as far as the NPS is concerned, the story of Yellowstone starts with white folks that "discovered" the stinking wasteland.
.. To be fair, there are some other folks that are white and that appreciate the place of the Shoshone People in the history and prehistory of the Yellowstone Plateau. You can read a bit about it at the Bitterroot Dude Ranch Site. At least someone has it right.

Monday, August 21, 2006


.. The new, (looks very much like the old,) visitor education center at Canyon Village will officially open on August 25, 2006. The grand opening will take place on Friday, August 25. It coincides with the 90th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service.
Fanfare items include:
1), Superintendent Suzanne Lewis will host the ceremony, which begins at 10:00 a.m., in front of the new building. The doors to the visitor education center will open to the public for the first time at the conclusion of the event,
2), A concert by western folk recording artist Bruce Anfinson,
3), An evening lecture by University of Utah geophysicist Dr. Robert B. Smith.
.. The exhibits concentrate on the geology of the Yellowstone Hot Spot, the Yellowstone Supervolcano, and the animals of the Hayden Valley. Our sneak peek suggests that this is a well executed education center, and that it should serve the park for at least another 30 years - until the rampant edifice complex strikes again.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


National Park Foundation Agrees
(PS FORD wants you too)

.. On the Official Site of THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE (link above,) is a box with flash presentations that are labeled "National Park Features."
.. These are the "FEATURES:"
. #1 Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System,
. #2 Official Federal Recreation Lands Photo Contest,
. #3 From Sea To Shining Sea,
. #4 Purchase Your National Parks Pass,
. #5 The Soul Of America.
The Federal agencies and bureaus participating in the Share The Experience™ Photo Contest<br />do not endorse the views, businesses, products or services of any other participating entity.

.. Go to the Official Federal Recreation Lands Photo Contest Page, and read it carefully. Your Park System asks you to send the National Park Foundation some of your pictures with the possibility of one of those photographs being used on the National Parks Pass. They also tell you that you have a chance to win a Ford Escape, trips to Federal Recreation Lands, and Casio digital cameras and gear. Good deal - right?

.. The Fine Print: The National Park Foundation, has a "privacy policy" that gives your personal information to Casio, Ford, ePrize LLC, and other 'partners.'
Notwithstanding the foregoing, whenever The National Park Foundation sponsors any contest or sweepstakes or other promotion (each a "Promotion"), any personally identifiable information ("PI") you may submit as a participant in such Promotions will be used and archived only in accordance with, and for the purposes of, such Promotions and shared only with third parties who administer the Promotion.
.. The Casio Policy is just about the same, but worse.
The Information We Collect and How We Use It
Required information. There are pages on this site where we request specific information about you, in order to register you for membership on the site, process your orders, fulfill your requests for information, and to communicate with you about past orders and to keep your knowledge about our products and services current. The types of personal information collected at these pages are:

* Name
* Address
* Email address
* Phone number
* Optional Demographic Information
* Age Group
* Earning Bracket
* Gender
.. Ford's Policy is similarly self interested.
There are instances where Ford Motor Company requests personally identifyiable information to provide site visitors with a service. This information, such as name, mailing address, email address, and type of request, is collected and stored in a manner appropriate to the nature of the request, as determined by Ford Motor Company, to fulfill your needs. To reiterate, all information you provide is used to improve the services offered by Ford Motor Company. This information may also be provided to our agencies for use on behalf of Ford Motor Company in accordance with our proscribed privacy statement.
.. So here's the deal. You submit some pictures that become the property of The National Park Foundation & can be used by them for whatever purposes that they choose. Ford, Casio, & ePrize, LLC get invaluable - highly targeted - marketing information. You get a "CHANCE" to win something.
.. Just another way that your NPS serves the mission of the parks - by directing you to this supposed contest. Who paid for web site development? Who pays for the hosting? Who does the processing?
.. These are legitimate questions about the doings of the NPS. especially in times of diminished resources. It's a shame that the NPS has such poorly talented photographers that they need to be bribed to get some suitable photos. There is a photo below we'll allow them to use for free.
.. In case you're wondering just what the NPS should be doing;
below is an excerpt from the
that created the "SERVICE?"

The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.
*** This title is not an official short title but merely a popular name used for the convenience of the reader. The Act has no official short title. The National Park Service Organic Act (16 U.S.C. l 2 3, and 4), as set forth herein, consists of the Act of Aug. 25 1916 (39 Stat. 535) and amendments thereto.
.. By the way, The National Park Foundation is a congressionally chartered organization with corporate members and the Secretary Of Interior. CHARTER, ABOUT, STORE -SPEND SOME $$$$, Proud Partners - FORD OF COURSE!
.. If Ford really cared, they would develop the zero pollution - silent - vehicle for Yellowstone's Winters. Fat Chance - skiers would still complain!
Lake View (c) yellowstoner

Friday, August 18, 2006


Here's Exposure # 400
-- To view the new-new webcam: here:

Exposure # 352 shows Beehive erupting.
This new location could be a real time-waster!

Monday, August 07, 2006


Is This Is Part Of The NPS Mission?
Save $$$$ with Security guards!
If It's Green - Is It Right?

.. With all the flap about the "Plight Of The Parks," and the lack of funding, and the need for administrative adjustment; it's reassuring to know that concessionaires are still turning a healthy profit.
.. One of the most popular "attractions" in Yellowstone National Park is the Chuckwagon Cookout at Roosevelt.
.. This is the perfect thing to enhance your Yellowstone experience. Enjoy the wonders of nature, see the unique geology, count the thermal features, take pictures of Old Faithful, and go on an NPS sanctioned cookout. For an economical $51.00 you get to ride in a wagon, (or on a horse,) eat beans, listen to jokes and ride home with other folks as the beans do their work.
.. This attraction is advertised on the official Yellowstone Park Web Site so you are sure to "Not Miss It!" You can read a very glowing report of the "adventure" in the Salt Lake Tribune. Stay tuned for previews of coming attractions.

.. The National Park Service is now using "tasteful" advertising to show you the sponsorship of pages on the Web.
.. "Web Rangers," the official National Park Service children's page is brought to you by Best Buy. How sweet that a children's page gets this cute little advertisement.
.. In keeping with revenue generation and cost cutting there is certainly innovation in the air. Ranger Gord tells us of a scheme to save money by doing away with Rangers. The City of Ft. Lauderdale is considering replacing it's Rangers with Security Guards. This move is anticipated to double the force and reduce costs. This works fine in theme parks, malls, and movie theaters. It should do just as well in the National Parks; particularly Yellowstone National Theme Park.

<- National Archives Photo

.. Considering that August 25th is the birthday of Allan Pinkerton, this might just be the time to institute a change from Rangers to Security Guards.
.. This would be in keeping with the attitude that if chuckwagons make money then so should Security Guards. This is just another way the NPS can interpret it's mission.
.. Of course, the first to go would be the geriatric fossils that staff the toll booths at the entrances. At least there would be animation in the seasonal "Flat-Hat." Maybe the Disney Corporation could handle this.

.. NewWest, a normally rational and insightful source of happenings in our neighborhood, brings us an article about Keeping Yellowstone From Being Loved To Death.
.. The extensive report details the many "GREEN" aspects of the National Park Service and it's capitalistic hand maiden XANTERRA. We are just a bit concerned that the whole premise of the article is that "No matter what you do in the parks - it's OK if it's green."
.. There seems to be a trend here.

Get your ticket at Best Buy to view this feature.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


sentimentality trumps science!

Montana Bison on vacation in Yellowstone National Park. Shown here resting on an exotic, introduced, invasive, species of grass that is maintained for their pleasure, (the tame elk like it too.)**

.. Montana has just released it's new bison hunt regulations. The regulations allocate 100 permits for hunting the state's bison herd.
.. YES, it's true! The bison belong to Montana. They are in Montana. They are walking through fences in Montana. They cause human death in Montana. They cause automobile accidents in Montana. They carry brucellosis in Montana. They are regulated by Montana. They do not belong to Yellowstone National Park. However, like so many American Citizens, they spend their summer vacation in Yellowstone.
.. Trout that live in Hebgen Lake, (in Montana,) migrate into Yellowstone National Park every Fall. They spawn in Yellowstone National Park. They then return to Hebgen Lake and are nurtured in Montana. No one in New York City decries the catching of fish, (nurtured in Montana,) by fishers in Yellowstone National Park. Some of the fish are threatened species - far more rare than the bison in Montana.
.. The poor record of public education by Yellowstone's administrators allows for a "MYTHIC YELLOWSTONE." The reluctance to conduct scientific studies by these same administrators allows the public to think that the park can support an infinite number of bison; along with an infinite number of elk, deer, pronghorn, snowshoe hares, ground squirrels, and other plant eaters.
.. Even the wolves can't keep up with this sort of fantasy land - they are seeking other hunting grounds. And, even the best research can go wrong, it is very important to continue to adjust to "real world" conditions.
.. The ignorance about the condition, (and carrying capacity,) of the forage in Yellowstone National Park allows otherwise rational people to be swept up in the ignorant fantasy that somehow the bison of Yellowstone are the property of the park: the ignorant fantasy that whirling disease should be controlled but not bison: the ignorant fantasy that all fire is bad for the park: the ignorant fantasy that invasive weeds should be controlled - except in Mammoth, where they are incubated to spread to the rest of the park. Yellowstone Park lacks an integrated holistic environmental view. Their ad-hoc management by litigation, and emotional fiat, is destroying the ecology of the park.
.. It's a good thing that Montana has decided to deal with it's bison. Just as they have dealt with their wolves, (both around Glacier National Park - where Canada let them escape from their country, and in SW Montana where Yellowstone & Idaho let them escape after introducing them.)
.. The Yellowstone Sentimentality has even permeated the bison discourse to the point that it is commonly, (and incorrectly,) believed that brucellosis is the only concern of Montana's wildlife managers. It's not! Other concerns are: unrestricted growth of a game species, degradation of forage, public safety, property destruction, among others. At least Montana has an integrated environmental management plan.
.. Yellowstone National Park is not a wilderness area. The existing human impacts are enormous - and growing rapidly. The pretense that somehow 'natural management' means 'no management' is one more element of the myth. Management needs to proceed on all fronts - not just politically correct fronts: and certainly not just on those fronts advocated the wealthy social elite.
.. The whining and wailing about shooting a few bison should be reserved for the lack of budget monies that allow Yellowstone to maintain it's fantasy land image. Research and honest management would help the public, and the park, and the nation. Why do you suppose that the GREATER YELLOWSTONE COALITION supports the Montana plan?
.. Comments from the Netherlands seem grossly out of place when the state of Montana requests comments about it's handling of the management of it's own herd. Maybe the Dutch should remove the dikes and sea walls that destroyed the native lacustrian and riparian environments in Holland!
.. The emotional sentimentality that has dominated this discussion and argument is rampant on the web; in weblogs, on web sites, etc. It is also newsworthy for just a short period of time every year in the print press. Read about it below.
-- Montana OK's Larger Bison Hunt
-- Yellowstone Park Elk Count
-- Yellowstone Brucellosis Policies Suspect
-- The Sacred Elk of Yellowstone
-- NBC OnLineNews - Montana's Other Tools
-- - The Future Courts
-- - Analysis & Alternatives

-- AP Wire Post
-- Billings Gazette - news report
-- Billings Gazette - comments
-- Washington Post - an alternative
**For A Note On exotic, Introduced, Invasive, Species of Grass:

Wednesday, August 02, 2006



.. Back before there was a National Park Service, There was Yosemite and Irving Townsend. Today is his birthday. And, he's 100 years young.
.. Ranger Gord reminded us of this occasion, and has a fine tribute at his CAMPFIRE STORIES site.
.. The Official Press Release gives about the same details of this fine gentleman and his life.
.. Long ago in a former life, we lived in Carlsbad, California. We shared a few moments with "Doc," as some called him. This gentleman recalls a time of clear values, hard work, dedication, and guileless service.
.. We salute you, Irv.