Archive for 2016 June

Stay on Trail: Jordan Fisher Smith on our Nat’l Parks Bday

Jordan Fisher Smith, who has an excellent new book out called Engineering Eden, (on the challenge of managing wild bears in places like Yellowstone and Yosemite), brings his experience as a naturalist, a ranger, and a writer to bear on the meaning of our parks in an essay in the author’s on-line magazine Signature Reads.

It’s fascinating. For one, for Smith’s grasp of the parks’ history, and its founders’ thoughtfulness.

In the early 1930’s the Park Service’s George M. Wright noted that it would have been far easier to operate national parks purely as nature reserves, without visitors. But, very presciently, Wright argued that in a time of growing human populations, it was far more interesting to try to meet the needs of people and wildlife in one place. Wright’s world had only two billion inhabitants. Today, with over three times that many, there is much to be learned from how millions of people and irreplaceable wild treasures have been accommodated shoulder-to-shoulder in national parks.

Second, Smith knows how the parks at times have struggled to balance the needs of wildlife versus the needs of its human visitors — but he also knows how much the park service has learned.

…the Park Service [has gotten] much better at managing relations between people and nature. The agency finished installation of animal-proof trash receptacles and food storage vaults at all of its campgrounds, and working with private companies, encouraged the development of portable bear-proof food canisters for backpackers to carry when they were away from fixed facilities. At Sequoia National Park the Park Service demolished hundreds of rental cabins and hotel facilities in the sequoia groves and began allowing natural wildfire to do its necessary work, much to the benefit of the redwoods. The rangers reintroduced missing animals like wolves to Yellowstone and California condors to Pinnacles National Monument. A multi-decade public relations effort promoted “no-trace” or “minimum-impact” camping, resulting in a near-total change in behavior among backpackers, canoeists, and whitewater boaters. In some areas today you can walk or float for miles without seeing so much as a chewing gum wrapper on a busy trail or campsite.

And he calls for a transfer of the leave-no-trace ethic we have learned — or are trying to learn — from the wilderness to the world at large.

The parks have been a teaching institution for a way of looking at our impact on nature. And in my opinion it’s time to take the “no-trace” ethic I taught campers when I worked as a park ranger – in which you endeavor to have the least possible impact on the places you roll out your sleeping bag – out of the campgrounds and into the rest of the world, where climate change and other factors that will ultimately determine the survival of the national parks come from. Are you, the visitor, loving parks to death? No! Go enjoy them. If the oldest, most famous ones are crowded this summer, learn to know and love the lesser-known sites. Take only memories and photographs, leave only footprints, and try to carry this way of studying your relationship with nature back into a world that sorely needs it now. Happy birthday, national parks!

President Obama will visit Yosemite this weekend to commemorate the centennial; may his visit be blessed wth vast appreciation for what Ken Burns aptly called “America’s Best Idea.

DAY_TO_NIGHT_YOSEMITE

Stephen Wilkes photo, made of hundreds of images taken over 24 hours. for National Geographic.

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Trump, Sanders Agree: Blame the Media

If there’s one thing that “outsiders” agree on in political life in America today, it’s that it’s the media’s fault.

Here’s Bernie:

“On Tuesday night, on the 7th, you’re going to hear from media saying that Hillary Clinton has received, whatever it is, 80 or 90 delegates, which she certainly will from New Jersey and other states,” Sanders said. “And they’ll say, the primary process is over, Secretary Clinton has won.”

When the crowd finishing booing, Sanders assured them that the media was “not factually correct” if it tried to declare Clinton a winner.

Of course not. Can’t trust “the corporate media” with anything, even the numbers of pledged delegates elected in state primaries and caucuses.

Here’s Donald, speaking about money he pledged to send to veterans groups back in February:

“It was very unfair that the press treated us so badly,”

Trump said this after a Washington Post story last week revealed that the candidate had not come through with the $6 million he had promised to veterans groups — and had not paid the $1 million he himself had promised.

In the words of reporter David Fahrenthold:

“Donald Trump gave $1 million,” he said then.

As recently as last week, Trump’s campaign manager had insisted that the mogul had already given that money away. But that was false: Trump had not.

In recent days, The Washington Post and other media outlets had pressed Trump and his campaign for details about how much the fundraiser had actually raised and whether Trump had given his portion.

The candidate refused to provide details. On Monday, a Post reporter used Twitter — Trump’s preferred social-media platform — to search publicly for any veterans groups that had received Trump’s money.

By Monday afternoon, The Post had found none. But it seems to have caught the candidate’s attention.

Today it was revealed that the missing money was paid last week — in checks dated the day of the Washington Post story.

Phone calls to all 41 of the groups by The Associated Press brought more than two-dozen responses Tuesday. About half reported checks from Trump within the past week, typically dated May 24, the day The Washington Post published a story questioning whether he had distributed all of the money.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, told reporters at a testy news conference in New York that the fundraiser, held at the same time as a Fox News GOP debate he was boycotting, raised $5.6 million. He previously had declined to disclose which charities had received the funds, and his campaign has gone back and forth about how much was raised.

“The money’s all been sent,” Trump said at the news conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday.

He repeatedly criticized the press for making the money an issue, saying reporters “should be ashamed of themselves” for asking where the money had gone.

The irony is that Hillary Clinton, who today in a great New York profile admitted she “hates” the media, has been the one remaining candidate this year who has not blamed the media for reporting news that gosh, she doesn’t want to hear, though she certainly has had to hear plenty.

She even mentioned that it was a reporter who forced Trump to pay up.

“He’s bragged for months about raising $6 million for veterans and donating a million dollars himself,” Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “But it took a reporter to shame him into actually making his contribution and getting the money to veterans. So look, I’m glad he finally did but I don’t know that he should get much credit for that.”

So maybe some credit should go to the Fahrenhold and the Washington Post?

I know, I know — radical concept. Crediting the media. What a nutty idea.

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