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Old 02-19-2013, 08:40 PM
 
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Pray tell, what type of qualification would you prefer?

I'll hazard to guess that RMNP probably even has a forestry graduate or two on staff. And yet responsible for what anyone, with even a lick of common sense, can see transpiring before them and know is wrong. What is clear on the ground contravenes their very mandate as stewards.

To put it succinctly, anyone else might see as much, should if in the least concerned with the environmental direction of this nation, not to mention our poor national parks—and then raise holy hell.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:52 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
Pray tell, what type of qualification would you prefer?

I'll hazard to guess that RMNP probably even has a forestry graduate or two on staff. And yet responsible for what anyone, with even a lick of common sense, can see transpiring before them and know is wrong. What is clear on the ground contravenes their very mandate as stewards.

To put it succinctly, anyone else might see as much, should if in the least concerned with the environmental direction of this nation, not to mention our poor national parks—and then raise holy hell.
As I said previously, you have a valid point of view. But so do others who are on the other side of the issue. I was trying to determine if you had some professional or educational background that made your point of view something the rest of us should take over people who do have some appropriate background.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:15 PM
 
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Wink Yes, in part

Fair enough. Although rather than depending on the credentials or opinion of any other, perhaps the best step would be for all interested parties to investigate this themselves in person.

As for the other side of the issue, there are always two sides. But one might think in a place where they should leave nature to her own devices they would endeavor to not touch even on tree unless absolutely necessary—instead of cutting them down wholesale. And that is just one aspect of what they have been up to.
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Old 04-27-2013, 01:06 PM
 
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Wink The extirpated Grey Wolf

Note: If this could be a new Colorado thread. To save that, and as applicable to Rocky Mountain National Park, then here.


The Obama administration is on the verge of removing protection for the grey wolf in most of the United States, and all lower 48 states.[1] This in contravention to serious efforts since the mid-1990's to reintroduce the wolf to portions of its former wilderness habitat in the western US.

The existing re-introduction and "protection" has been but half-hearted. Under certain limits, the grey wolf is currently hunted. In 2011, 166 wolves were "harvested" in Montana; 229 the same in Idaho. Additionally, 77 wolves were trapped in Idaho, as they also allow that.[2]

The feeling by bureaucrats, most of which have probably never seen a wild wolf in their life, is that the wolf is now firmly reestablished enough to no longer merit federal protection. Individual states will largely be allowed to manage this as they please.

As of April 2013 there exist roughly 1,674 wolves in wilderness areas of the western US, and in total in the lower 48. That breaks down to about 625 wolves in Montana, with 147 packs, and 37 breeding pairs. Idaho with about 683 wolves, 117 packs, and 35 breeding pairs. Wyoming with 277 wolves, 43 packs, and 21 breeding pairs. Washington State with 43 wolves, in 7 packs, with 4 breeding pairs. Oregon with 46 wolves, in 7 packs, and 6 breeding pairs. [3]

Historically, the grey wolf once populated ALL of the present lower 48 states, with the exception of most of coastal California west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 wolves roamed what would become the greater United States. [4] That is the number that would be naturally present save the ministrations of mankind. Or, to be more accurate—as Native American indian tribes lived across the breadth of this nation, and were also decimated—by hand of the white man.

There are currently no known wild wolves in Utah. Nor likely in Colorado, with the last wild wolves in this state having been killed by the mid-1930's. Although the wolf was eradicated long ago from portions of Canada as well, occasionally they migrate south from there. By 1960 a few had recolonized small areas of far northern Minnesota and Michigan. In Colorado, one wolf may have been sighted on February 16, 2007 about 10 miles south of the Wyoming border, north of Walden, CO (see video this link). [5]

As a natural predator, the wolf is instrumental in maintaing some semblance of balance in the ecosystem. Among its prey are such as deer and elk.

There was as well, I believe, but a few years ago a reported sighting of wolf tracks near Rocky Mountain National Park. If not fully substantiated, there is a high likelihood of its accuracy. But for Colorado, and RMNP in particular, they remain ecologically unbalanced due the absence of large predators like the wolf and grizzly bear, both of which once roamed this regions as their natural range.

There has been some talk of specifically re-introducing the grey wolf to Rocky Mountain National Park. All the more as the park's native elk herd had grown beyond a sustainable number. But managers of RMNP had no heart for this—in what would prove the most ecologically sound adjustment—and this in conjunction with outside opposition (most usually and vociferously being ranchers), the notion was shelved for the time being. Instead, RMNP instated a "cull" of elk in the park by shooting them. This in direct contravention of the founding charter of RMNP which specifically states: "all hunting or the killing, wounding, or capturing at any time of any wild bird or animal, except dangerous animals when it is necessary to prevent them from destroying human lives or inflicting personal injury." [6]

They had some assistance from the 10th Circuit Court in this, which found technical obfuscation to condone that clearly wrong. As well, the Park Service's specious excuse that, "lack of support from coordinating agencies, concerns by neighboring communities, the high potential for human-wolf conflicts, and the likelihood that management of wolves in the park would be expensive and time-consuming, distracting from the goal of the NPS's plan - managing elk."[6] This somehow overlooking their mandate to preserve RMNP, being 95% officially designated wilderness area, "untrammeled" by mankind.

That would be in theory and what the school children are told. In practice anything but. Not only are elk hunted within RMNP, but also the erection of many miles of tall steel fence in the meadows of this "wilderness" park. The idea is noble enough, in giving natural vegetation a chance to regenerate from over grazing, but the implementation is not.

The wolf, as other animals mankind at times finds inconvenient, is a litmus test for the health of our ecosystem and all within it. The bison, or buffalo, once had a range extending from Mexico through Canada into Alaska; a subset of bison, the familiar plains bison, had a range across the better part of this nation and well into southern Canada. They had a historic population estimated at 50,000,000. Trappers and pioneers on America's prairies reported witnessing herds stretching for for as far as the eye could see to the horizon, and taking days to pass by. By the close of the 19th century they had been hunted nearly to extinction, with about 2,000 bison remaining. Today, there are by some counts perhaps 500,000 alive, with about half that number in Canada. Among other areas, small herds can be seen in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. As with this, most are likely in enclosures similar to that of barbwire containing cattle. Even if bison are more wild and rambunctious, and can take out most any fence they like if in the mood. One of the larger more or less free roaming bison herds is maintained on the ranch of Ted Turner in northern New Mexico. They can be seen at times near US 64, between Raton and Cimarron, NM.

Elk have traditionally called the Estes Park valley home. Thus why they are still commonly seen there, or higher in adjacent RMNP. And some testament to the wisdom of mankind that such a live-and-let-live arrangement has been preserved. Or reimplemented, as by the close of the 19th century most large game animals in the lower 48 were in dire straights from over hunting and a general lack of regard.

Yet the same mindset still exists in some and to one degree or another throughout our society. It is reflected in places such as RMNP were by all rights the grey wolf and all other former natural inhabitants should freely exist. That they do not, and oft the general feeling that even wilderness areas should be more manicured suburban affairs and "safe," reflects a profound imbalance . . .

Both in our natural ecosystem—and fundamentally in human perception.


1) 'Protection of grey wolves may be ended by Obama administration,' The Guardian
Protection of grey wolves may be ended by Obama administration | Environment | guardian.co.uk

2) 'Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report,' U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Wyoming Gray Wolf Status Report: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

3) 'News, Information and Recovery Status Reports, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Western Gray Wolf: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

4) 'A History of Wild Wolves in the United States,' Gray Wolf Conservation
GrayWolfConservation.com - Wolf History in U.S.

5) 'Gray Wolf Overview,' Colorado Parks & Wildlife
Gray Wolf | Colorado Parks and Wildlife

6) 'Wolf Plan for Colorado Park Won't Get a Chance,' Courthouse News Service
Courthouse News Service

Last edited by Idunn; 04-27-2013 at 01:21 PM..
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:24 AM
 
Location: high plains
479 posts, read 675,781 times
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So, Idunn might summarize the "State of Rocky Mountain National Park" as threatened, endangered, and woefully mis-managed. I would tend to agree, but I seem to be predisposed to view humans as a threat to nature, based partially on exposure to Jacques Ellul's 1930's-60's sociological critiques of "technological society" and "technique", not to mention "propaganda".

That last term might objectively describe either the environmental/ecological viewpoints or the official government viewpoints, as seen on the RMNP website, particularly the "Places" page:
Places - Rocky Mountain National Park

It is apparent that if one starts with a conclusion, one can find and present facts that will support that conclusion. Whereas, to find a truth, we should start with a question or a hypothesis, then investigate all available, pertinent evidence to reach a provisional conclusion (pending other evidence). In this case, if the question is "what is the state of Rocky Mountain National Park?", then it is feasible that both Idunn's viewpoint AND the government viewpoint is correct because they are both biased and incomplete answers. Does that make sense to anyone but me?
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Old 05-01-2013, 03:05 PM
 
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Wink What state RMNP?

Quote:
Originally Posted by highplainsrus View Post
In this case, if the question is "what is the state of Rocky Mountain National Park?", then it is feasible that both Idunn's viewpoint AND the government viewpoint is correct because they are both biased and incomplete answers. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

Makes perfect sense to me. Moreover the question, what should be the state of Rocky Mountain National Park, would be in part an entirely subjective one, with each individual having their own opinion of it.

For myself, I would allow most of the existing improvements—such as Trail Ridge Road, restroom facilities, etc.—but otherwise leave this park in its natural state as wilderness. Others might prefer something more suburban, and certainly no wildlife present large enough to ever pose any semblance of a threat.

But where I diverge from the present managers of RMNP and the National Park Service is in insisting that they stand by their own standards. Even if I personally prefer that RMNP remain as pure wilderness—most certainly including its full compliment of grizzly bears and wolves as previously once there—it is the NPS and Congress who officially designated RMNP 95% "wilderness." And by their own definition, that means "untrammeled" by mankind, and for all intents and purposes left alone. Or, most definitely not building high metal fences in a place which never had them, nor ever should.

One might also remember that ALL of this great nation—save the few small areas settled and altered to a slight degree by Native Americans—was once wilderness. What we are discussing are the few small remnants of that left on this continent. Our national parks represent especially beautiful and/or notable places within this remnant wilderness (and some few urban parks). As our national parks being favored and popular, and more public than other wilderness areas, one might expect certain improvements by way of roads and so forth towards their greater enjoyment by all. But particularly in the case of parks such as RMNP, enjoyed precisely because of their wilderness nature.

And it might be remembered that there is nothing beyond this. Some few other wilderness areas not parks, yes, and even these to some extent intruded upon. But nothing beyond this. This wilderness is the last extent of that which was, all that remains. If even this managed into something safely suburban, then the last vestiges of wild gone.

Others have spoken more eloquently of the call of the wild to mankind's soul, of our innate need for it at some level. For even those thoroughly urban—and even feeling Central Park in NYC too wild for their tastes—the need to know somewhere, even if never personally ventured to, that such places exist. And for a great many of us, places at times traveled to. There found as they once were, and hopefully will always be in their splendid natural state.

Best of May Day to all.
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Old 05-01-2013, 05:21 PM
 
Location: high plains
479 posts, read 675,781 times
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I often wonder what could have been, had the indigenous natives sustained political control over the Euro-American invasion of North America. How might this continent have fared with an expanding population of natives instead of immigrants? I don't know if they would have resisted the urge to exploit the wilderness in the modern world, but I have no doubt that the current civilization would be different in many respects. That would make a great novel!

I am finding few good internet links to objective assessments of RMNP conditions. Most sites are just standard tourism promotions. The Wikipedia entry on Ecology of the Rocky Mountains has a decent, if brief, overview. Surprisingly, the National Park Service site has some relevant information if we drill down into it. Of course, the NPS wants to emphasize the difficulties of managing things.

Ecology of the Rocky Mountains - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Forest Health: Parkwide Efforts - Rocky Mountain National Park

oops..my bad...just went back to your original thread post to the National Parks Conservation Association site. better do my homework.

Here's a somewhat academic style report from the USGS.
http://web.archive.org/web/200609271...rame/wm146.htm

Last edited by highplainsrus; 05-01-2013 at 05:37 PM..
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:58 PM
 
Location: high plains
479 posts, read 675,781 times
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I'm having difficulty downloading very detailed maps, but it appears to me that the RMNP road system is NOT part of the official wilderness acreage. The roads seem to fall within that 5% "non-wilderness designation". If that is the case, then cutting back trees on the road frontage would presumably be allowed as part of park management practices. Granted, cutting live trees seems inexcusable. I can't tell if the campsites are also part of the "non-wilderness". I can see how they might have designed the boundaries that way, though, so park managers can legally do things to them that they cannot do within the wilderness boundaries. The wilderness designation should mean no maintenance of roads, campsites, privies, groomed trails, or anything - manmade or natural. Let the beetles eat, the bears roam, the hikers take their chances (rescue only), and the fires burn in the wilderness. The NPS should only be monitoring it. Otherwise, the NPS should be sued to kingdom come. Of course, it gets a little more complicated when Estes Park and private land is threatened by the wilderness.

http://www.nps.gov/romo/naturescience/wilderness.htm

The issue of unresponsive and uncaring park staff is repugnant - they work for us. Get their names and report them. There are plenty better suited candidates standing in unemployment lines.

Transparency of policies, plans, and actions should be uppermost in Baker's mind - else he goes.

The current $13mil operating budget seems paltry for such a place. Even the presumed shortfall of 18%, if made up, would still be a tiny budget for properly caretaking 265000 acres of complex mountain habitat (assuming it were all spent wisely).

I can sort of see why the official Park web site and most other sites promote the beauty and magnificence and tourism. They have to encourage visitors, both for income and for education.
Once the tourists arrive, then they can learn about the Park's problems.

Those issues only begin to get us to the higher ground issues. Have we done an acceptable job restoring the Rockies ecosystems from earlier ravages and mistakes? If not, will budget increases and personnel changes be enough to do it? Will it take another 50 years of research and data just to tell us what is and is not working? Should we allow 3 million+ visitors a year? Won't that number double with the population? Are we simply over-reaching our capabilities to even try to "manage" the Rockies? Is it the right thing to do?
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:24 PM
 
Location: high plains
479 posts, read 675,781 times
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I can't find the actual text of the wolf order, but the timing and dem/repub argumentation suggests that it may be part of a house/senate vote trade related to immigration reform - repubs get wolf delisting, dems get immigration. plausible?
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:37 PM
 
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Wink Trail Ridge Road: open (sort of)

Just an update on road conditions in RMNP, for those so interested.

News has it that Trail Ridge Road opened for the season today. Apparently this was a not entirely easy matter, there having been some large late snows this spring. RMNP advises that visitors should expect night closures of this road for now, due melting snow turning to ice at night; there are a number of places along this road where heavy spring runoff will spill across the roadway.

In somewhat unrelated news, apparently the good citizens of Cody and Jackson, WY had to pony up $100,000 and $70,000 respectively to insure the timely plowing and reopening of the east and south entrances into Yellowstone NP, as well Grand Teton NP. Due sequester cutbacks (thank Washington, D.C.) the National Park Service was planning on saving some money by reopening these roads two weeks later than normal. This would have hurt the local tourist economy of northwest Wyoming. Fuller details here:
Wyoming towns meet fundraising goal for plowing Yellowstone roads on time

Due these same sequester shenanigans, RMNP is implanting various cutbacks as well. Among these is the likely closure of the Glacier Basin Campground for the entire summer, as well as the Moraine Park visitor's center. With 150 campsites, the Glacier Basin Campground offers about a quarter of all RMNP formal campsites—or would. RMNP will tell one that this closure is due the continuing Bear Lake Road "improvement," although word has it that this proves easy excuse for what the sequester would otherwise have done. Although seemingly plenty of funds to continue an unwarranted road expansion project.

In the last month all has become much more green. Visitors can expect verdant meadows, wildflowers, rivers in full spring runoff, and snowcapped peaks.
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