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Thread: The Parks are ruined

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
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    Baraboo, Wisconsin
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    7,697

    The Parks are ruined

    We have "pockets of pristine nature that are not for photographers or anyone else but only for themselves." They're called wilderness areas. The parks aren't supposed to duplicate wilderness areas, by design and intent they're reasonably accessable to anyone . The Park Service may be doing a good or bad job, I don't know I'm not an expert on this subject by any stretch. But with budget issues and manpower issues and environmental issues and competing interest groups and politicians and bureaucrats all thrown together into the mix this strikes me as a complex subject and not one susceptible of simple solutions like closing all the parks for three years.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
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    141

    The Parks are ruined

    Here in MN we have the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Only a set number of people get permits to camp each year. Motors are not allowed on boats. People hike or portage canoes, carrying all their stuff in and out. Its still pretty pristine up there. When I was a kid you could literally drink right out of the lakes. Can't do that now due to pollution.

  3. #13
    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Jul 1998
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    3,693

    The Parks are ruined

    the whole concept of the Parks is basically to exist a a mangaged landscape/environment, not as a pristine, untouched wilderness (in many cases, I'm not even sure what theat woudl be).

    Yosemite, for example, wasn't a pristine wilderness when it was set aside for the nation at the time of the Civil War. Indeed the particular "look" of the Yosemite valley as it was discovered by the early explorers and travellers West was very much a part of it's being cultivated and "managed" by the the aboriginal/first nations inhabitants. Yosemite valley in European memory has never really been a pristine natural environment as such. It's always been managed to a greater or lesser degree to fit variously with our imagination of what such a landscape should be.
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  4. #14
    tim atherton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1998
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    3,693

    The Parks are ruined

    (wish the site had a spell-check...)

    the whole concept of the Parks is basically to exist as a managed
    landscape/environment, not as a pristine, untouched wilderness (in many
    cases, I'm not even sure what that would be).

    Yosemite, for example, wasn't a pristine wilderness when it was set aside
    for the nation at the time of the Civil War. Indeed the particular
    "look" of the Yosemite valley as it was discovered by the early
    explorers and travellers West was very much a part of it's being
    cultivated and "managed" by the aboriginal/first nations
    inhabitants. Yosemite valley in European memory has never really been a
    pristine natural environment as such. It's always been managed to a
    greater or lesser degree to fit variously with our imagination of what
    such a landscape should be.
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  5. #15

    The Parks are ruined

    So this is a conversation about a foreign country's (a sparsely occupied country for that matter) attitude towards its recreational areas. Hardly a concern peculiar to LF photographers? I'm sure there are more relevant forums for such a debate?

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    S.W. Wyoming
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    1,137

    The Parks are ruined

    I agree in a sense that the parks are much too crowded and I'm sure you can find rangers that are in a foul mood. I would be, too, if I had to deal with some of the things they do on a daily basis. Thee are things you can do to help and get great photo ops at the same time. VOLUNTEER! There is always a need for volunteers in every aspect of park operations, from greeting folks in a visitor center and answering questions, to maintenance projects, and photography, too. I have put in over 4,200 hours of volunteer service. Mostly running heavy equipment (my real trade) doing major habitat restoration, to photographing wildlife and historic structures for educational programs. I am now too decrepit to do much of that, but I take great pride in the things I accomplished and wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. My experiences were and still are with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Parks need the same things. I am proud to have many awards and have photos on permanent display at various refuges. Don't gripe! Do something! It feels good.

  7. #17

    The Parks are ruined

    Jason,

    Sorry to hear you had a bad experience at Yosemite, but don't let that experience sour you on all parks, or even Yosemite in particular. As others have mentioned, Yosemite Valley is in better shape now and less crowded than it was 30 years ago (or even 15 years ago based on my personal experience). As Tim pointed out, back when Yosemite Valley was first designated as a park in 1864 (signed into law by Abraham Lincoln), it was far from a wilderness. In fact, it was being homesteaded and settlers were grazing their livestock in the Valley. Yes, Yosemite Valley can seem crowded and over run by automobiles and tourists, particularly during the busy summer months, but over 95% of the Park is designated wilderness. That means no roads, no cars, no throngs of tourists. Did you only visit the Valley, or did you venture into the high country? Even in the Valley, I have found it easy to find pockets of solitude during the most busy times of years. If you want to get away from the crowds, get away from the roads. Did you do any hiking? Other than the very popular Valley trails (Mirror Lake, the Mist Trail, etc.), if you get a 1/2 from the tailhead, you will get away from the crowds. It's really easy to get away from the crowds if you're willing to abandon your car and use your feet to get around.

    Also, keep in mind Yosemite is one of the crown jewels of the National Parks System. It is within a few hours drive of multiple major metropolitan areas. So, it's bound to attract crowds - especially during June, July and August when the kids are out of school and families all over the US are taking their annual summer vacations. Like Yosemite, most of the heavily visited parks contain true wilderness that is almost entirely devoid of humans and their impact. In many of the popular parks, 99% of the people never venture beyond the developed areas.

    Yosemite is also an older, more developed park. Starting about 35 - 40 years ago there was a big shift in the way new parks were developed. Most of the older parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Glacier, etc. all have large lodges and networks of paved roads. Many of these lodges are quite luxurious. Some were built by the railroads as the only people who could afford to travel to these remote places 100 years ago could also afford, and were accustomed to the finest accomodations. Almost all of the newer parks lack lodges. Some don't even have developed campgrounds. Some don't even have any paved roads. If it is a wilderness experience you seek, try visiting one of these parks. I have spent multiple days in several parks without contact with another human being. Many of these parks are BIG. If you spend all your time in the 1% - 5% of the area with paved roads and developed facilities you are going to share those facilities with the 95% - 99% of the visitors unwilling to venture more than 1/4 mile from the comfort of their automobiles. Don't blame that on the Park Service, that's just human nature. If you want to leave the crowds behind, it's up to you to do so.

    I actually think the Park Service is doing a GREAT job managing OUR Parks, in lieu of the abyssmal level of funding they receive from OUR federal government. In spite of increased visitation levels, all of the Parks I have visitied in the past couple years seem to be in better shape than they were 10 - 15 years ago. Could they be even better? Sure, but that takes money - money our elected officials seem to think is better spent in far off lands rather than right here in our own country. If you don't like the way the Parks are administered, start by voting for politicians that actually seem to care and vote out of office ones that clearly don't.

    Finally, regarding rangers... Like all other segments of the population, some are great and some are jerks. My experiences with rangers have been overwhelmingly positive. Keep in mind there are different types of rangers. Some are "interpretive" and some or "law enforcement". They have different skills, educational backgrounds and most importantly different job descriptions. The guy who gives you a ticket for parking illegally has a different set of priorities and responsibilities than the ranger who leads nature walks describing the parks geology, flora and fauna. In general, I have found if you give a law enforcement ranger attitude, you well get a healthy dose of attitude right back - just like any other "cop", this doesn't change because of the color of the hat he's wearing. For best reults, address NPS law enforcement officers with the same respect and courtesy you would other police officers who are just trying to do their jobs. Like most other officers, they are likely overworked and understaffed. I'm not trying to excuse rude behavior, but I have found that a friendly and courteous attitude is usually repaid in kind. Be nice to them and they will (usually) be nice to you.

    Finally, don't let one bad experienec in the most crowded part of one of our most heavily visitied parks during a time of peak visitation clound your opionion of the entire National Park system. That's a bit like judging a photographer to be a talentless hack based on one poorly exposed out of focus image. We all have our good days and our bad days. Give the Parks another chance. I'm sure you'll be glad you did.

    Kerry

  8. #18

    The Parks are ruined

    So this is a conversation about a foreign country's (a sparsely occupied country for that matter) attitude towards its recreational areas. Hardly a concern peculiar to LF photographers? I'm sure there are more relevant forums for such a debate?

    Mark,

    Many of the photographers who participate in this forum also happen to photograph in the US National Parks. This includes our gracious host, who has authored an article titled "Photographing in US National Parks and other federal public lands" for the static pages of this site. This is obviously a topic of interest to many who particpate in this forum. If it is not of interest to you, it should be easy enough for you to ignore it should you so desire.

    Kerry

  9. #19

    The Parks are ruined

    Nobody goes there anymore, it's way too crowded...

    I'd give my left arm to be ambidextrous...

  10. #20

    The Parks are ruined

    I believe that there is an organization called the Nature Conservancy.

    http://nature.org/

    that does just that. It buys up land for the exclusive purpose of saving it for the future. No one can use it for anything after that.

    The National Parks are just that "Parks". The people that pay for them want to use them. More and more however, the parks are makeing larger and larger sections very difficult to get to which is putting a much greater strain on the areas that are accessable.

    I for one, will not contribute to the National Park system (other than the obvious taxes I pay) because we have pets and big cameras and the government has chosen to make the Parks very unfriendly to people like us.

    Furthar, some of the National Parks like Big Bend are getting down right dangerious and the Federal Government has a policy of not allowing law abiding citizens to protect themselves in while in the parks. There is a urban legend that even park rangers are instructed to stay out of certain areas of Big Bend near the border.

    The simple expedient to accomplish the poster's goal is not to try to fix problems with other people's money but to use your own and send a check to the Nature Conservancy.

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