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Thread: The Parks are ruined

  1. #1

    The Parks are ruined

    I drove across the country this summer. I'm supposed to still be out west except some people thought my 8X10 tripod would do better in their hands rather than mine.

    The parks, especially Yosemite, are in really bad shape. Yosemite is ruined. The NPS has turned that park into a Disney dump land.

    The parks should be made far less accessible. They should exist as pockets of pristine nature...not for photographers or anyone else..but for themselves. As is stands they are being destroyed by the people who go to see the very thing they are destroying.

    It seems that the single most important prerequisite for employment in any of the national parks is the ability to be an asshole. This is especially true if one wishes to be a ranger.

    The way I see it, all access to all the parks ought to be cut off for at least three years. All infrastructures, services, paved roads, etc. should be removed from all the parks except for a single visitor's center in each one.

    I'm not saying this so that the photographer's can have nice places to go to. If the photographers had to be banned from the parks forever to get them back to pristine condition I'd be all for it. 25,000 people in Yosemite Valley every day is just too much.

    Jason Kefover

  2. #2

    The Parks are ruined

    Yeah - that'll fix everything - stop everyone from going into them and they will "rescue" the parks with what funding? A little naive...

  3. #3

    The Parks are ruined

    I agree that the Parks are terribly under-funded and BUT U should be harassing your Congressman about that.
    BUT having lived in Northern CA for 12 years, I believe that U can find wonderful opportunities just get your but out of the most popular toursit traps. I used to drive to Yosemite for the day just to admire the beauty. As a photographer, you can find solitude just by getting out early in the day, gest out of the valley.
    I spent several summers touring all the parks in the West and ya know I really had no problems taking any photographs without just waiting 20 minutes ot so. Except for Delicate Arch, had to wait almost 30 minutes to get the tourists out of the way

    I now live in Arizona and ya know what, I still get the "favorite" places to take sunrise and sunsret shots of the Grand Canyon. Just sometimes you need to move up the trail a few yards or wait for the "crowd" to pass
    I was recently at the Bisti Badlands and Aztec Ruins near Farmington NM. At Bisti I saw 3 other people in 2 1/2 hours.
    So just get out from the toursit traps and enjoy and start complaining to Congress to spend some of the $80B we have allocated to Iraq to the NPS. On this thread before somesone said that the NPS needs $9B to get rid of all the needed renovations.

    That's my 2 cents

  4. #4
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    The Parks are ruined

    The trouble lies in the definition of a national park. Their charter is for land to be set aside for recreation and public enjoyment. They were not intended to be wilderness areas (and wilderness areas aren't even wilderness, but that's another topic).

    I would love to see more nature, less disney, but that will only happen if the park service is made to think that's the prevailing view.

    The good news is that Bob is right ... walk 20 feet off the paved parking lot and you'll leave most of the fat and loud tourists behind. Last I saw, only like 1% of the visitors to Teton National Park (my favorite stomping ground) ever leave the road. Unless you're on one of the most popular trails there, you can hike or climb all day, and only run into a handful of people. This is even more true in yellowstone. There are vast tracts of real wilderness there if you're willing to walk and to be very polite to the bears.

  5. #5

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    The Parks are ruined

    The park service take a lot of their orders from the elected officals we put there. A friend who just got back from Alaska told me that the privitizating of the parks up there is a disaster. To paraphrase Smokie Bear, "Its up to you (and me) to stop destruction of the National Parks".

  6. #6

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    The Parks are ruined

    Jason,

    As a resident of El Portal (the border town), I understand your frustration but would like to clarify some facts. First of all I agree that construction in the valley is horrendous and is especially untimely. The orange fencing everywhere is a photographers nightmare not to mention the traffic jams. The sewer system is in much needed repair - better fix it than having people go in the river. I just think the timing of the repairs is terrible.

    I'd like to point out that most of Yosemite is undisturbed at this point. In fact Yosemite Valley makes up less than 5% of the entire park. In fact I promise you if you hike ski to the Clark Range this week, you will be the only one there.

    The valley's meadows are in much better shape now than they were say 30 years ago. Today you cannot drive or camp in the meadows as people did in the past. Today the trails division is doing an excellent job protecting the parks wetlands and revegitating disturbed areas. Beaches that only 20 years ago were complete eye sores have been fenced off are revegetated with native saplings shrubs.

    Once again I understand your concern and frustration. As stated above congress must hear you loud and clear. Many essential resource projects have been halted due to the new republican agenda that does not include the preservation of our parks - the $$$ has dried up for anything that is the least bit controversial eg. owl studies.

  7. #7
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    The Parks are ruined

    Jason,

    As an author of one book on the history of the conservation movement in the US and with another in the works I think you are being very unfair to the Park System as per the earlier posts, find out more about it and do some more exploration. Also explore the National Forests and other more pristine protected areas.

    Finally, give the Park Rangers a break. No doubt there are jerks out there but I think you will find that the vast majority of them are knowledgeable and caring. I see 30 to 50 of them a year in seminars on Stewardship and they are definitely far from jerks. Many have advanced degrees in forestry,biology or ecology and most are very caring. On a more personal note I was on a casual visit yesterday to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical park in Vermont and got into an offhand conversation with one of the rangers about the Hudson River School of painting, early landscape photographers, etc. She blew me away with both her knowledge and interest. I am doing some research work their with their curator but will definitely look up this ranger again. Nor was she the only one, had another discussion later with a different ranger on pathogens that attack various species of Eastern trees. These folks area not ignorant. Nor are they unhelpful or uncaring. All civil servants should be as caring and helpful as National Park and Forest Rangers.

  8. #8
    Coot
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    The Parks are ruined

    "The valley's meadows are in much better shape now than they were say 30 years ago."

    I recently drove from Lee Vining to Lake Tenaya for the first time in 35 years. I was amazed to see how many more trees there are in what used to be meadow. Tuolumne Meadows is now forest! The difference is just dramatic.

  9. #9
    Is that a Hassleblad? Brian Vuillemenot's Avatar
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    The Parks are ruined

    I completely agree with you on the limiting access to some of the parks. Only a limited number of people should be allowed in each day to places like Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, and Grand Canyon- perhaps they should have to make reservations weeks ahead of time? I don't bother going near any of the "household word" national park in the summer- it's just not worth the aggravation. Plus, the light is usually the worst of all year.

    I moved to the SF Bay Area a few weeks ago, but I can forget about going to Yosemite until the fall or winter. I was in Arches late last October, and was surprised by how crowded it was that late in the season. There were about 100 people crowded into the slickrock depression area below Delicate Arch. Everyone just has to have a picture taken under it! There was even a couple with two young children who encouraged there 8 year old son to try to climb the arch! other than me, there were probably about 10 other photogs with tripods, and even one other LFer. Fortunatley, everyone left immediately after sunrise, leaving the place to myself. My best photographs of the arch by far were made at that time, and then I had this great transcendental moment, enjoying the solitude and ambience of the place!

    There are still numerous national parks that no one has heard of- you just have to go to those. Even in the popular ones, most people don't venture very far from the visitor center or roads- you can have the backcountry all to yourself.
    Brian Vuillemenot
    Images of Enchantment
    http://www.imagesofenchantment.com

  10. #10
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    The Parks are ruined

    I have to agree with the comments above--the backcountry trails are well managed. You have to be willing to plan in advance, apply for permits when necessary, and hike on foot to the places that are hard to get to if you want to avoid the crowds, and there are many such places.

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