The U.S. House recently passed a bill to ease salvage logging restrictions for trees burned in last year’s Rim Fire in California. It also has a few extras regarding grazing and the easing of activity restrictions in certain national parks. The bill is very unlikely to get through the Senate, but is worthy of note as a sort of position statement on certain issues . ..
The House approved a wide-ranging public lands bill Thursday that would speed logging of trees burned in last year’s massive Rim Fire in California.
The measure also allows vehicular access to North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras National Seashore, extends livestock grazing permits on federal land in the West and lifts longstanding restrictions on canoes, rafts and other “hand-propelled” watercraft in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
The House approved the bill, 220-194, on a largely party-line vote. It now goes to the Senate, where it is considered unlikely to pass. The White House opposes the bill but has not issued a veto threat.
U.S. national parks are seeing increasing problems with vandalism . . .
When Steve Bolyard checked out a report of black paint on some of the park’s majestic saguaros — cactuses whose towering bodies and upraised arms are as emblematic of the American West as red-rock buttes and skittering tumbleweeds — he did not expect to see ganglike calligraphy covering more of them than he could easily count.
Timothy Egan posted an interesting “Opinionator” piece to the New York Times today titled “Nature Without the Nanny State.” It discusses the rising incidence of city-bred visitors ignoring common sense precautions when visiting national parks, sometimes with fatal consequences.
Here’s the meat of the piece . . .
More than ever, an urban nation plagued by obesity, sloth and a surfeit of digital entertainment should encourage people to experience the wild — but does that mean nature has to be tame and lawyer-vetted?
My experience, purely anecdotal, is that the more rangers try to bring the nanny state to public lands, the more careless, and dependent, people become. There will always be steep cliffs, deep water, and ornery and unpredictable animals in that messy part of the national habitat not crossed by climate-controlled malls and processed-food emporiums. If people expect a grizzly bear to be benign, or think a glacier is just another variant of a theme park slide, it’s not the fault of the government when something goes fatally wrong.
Here’s a little, low-profile news item that should probably be getting more coverage. A new Ken Burns documentary series, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” will start playing on PBS late next month. A sneak preview of the series will be shown in Whitefish August 29th and in Missoula on the 30th. Dayton Duncan, a writer and Burns’ long-time collaborator, will host the sneak previews. Burns directed the series; Duncan wrote and co-produced.
According to an AP article making the rounds, the documentary is “about America’s national parks and the people who devoted their lives to preserving them for the public.”
Both of these guys are heavy-hitters. Burns is a well-regarded maker of documentaries, with two Oscar nominations and a handful of Emmys. Duncan is a first-rate writer (his “Out West…” is my favorite) whose interest in American history and the regular folks who move it along nicely complements Burns’ views.