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#29963 - 02/22/13 05:01 PM Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2203
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Not a political post, just a heads up on events which could affect your plans...

If sequestering happens one week from today,

"Yosemite National Park in CA, will delay the opening of the Tioga and Glacier Point roads by as much as four weeks due to limitations on snow removal resulting from reduced staffing which will impact thousands of visitors. In 2011, Yosemite National Park had a near record 4,098,648 visitors."

There is more.
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#29974 - 02/23/13 07:42 AM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: wagga]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 771
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Although I am tempted to get very political regarding this non-political post...LOL...we ought to remember which entity suggested sequestering in the first place. Quiz time.

If the military and many domestic programs must tighten their belts, then why should the the park service be exempt?

On the environmental side, perhaps a delay in opening Tioga Pass (which happens alot anyway) will allow Tuolumne Meadows to rest a little longer before the hords arrive.

But, not to worry, our politicians will probably keep us all hanging in anticipation to the last possible minute and then come to some kind of agreement...


Edited by Bob West (02/23/13 07:42 AM)

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#29979 - 02/23/13 10:22 AM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: Bob West]
saltydog Online


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1536
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
If the worst that happens at Yosemite is the delay of snow removal and deferral to natural melting, I think that's getting off pretty easy. With current Northern snow pack at about 73% of normal (and dropping) it may be no big deal. Natural opening could easily be within normal limits of historic Road Openings dates. It could even make for some really nice spring skiing in the Glacier Point Road and TM areas.

Here on the Cape, we are looking at the closing of a major Visitor Center and a lot of beach.
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#29983 - 02/24/13 06:59 AM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: Bob West]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 578
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: Bob West
Although I am tempted to get very political regarding this non-political post...LOL...we ought to remember which entity suggested sequestering in the first place. Quiz time.


No need for a quiz. Most of us know that's the party which can propose actual solutions, is able to form sentences beyond two letters, who regard trans-vaginal probes as a part of public policy as an abomination, and who may well hold the Presidency for the next 12 years.

Any questions, Mr West?




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#29988 - 02/24/13 07:47 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: KevinR]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 771
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Well, Kevin, I'm sorry if I stepped on your political toes - you seem very angry. Please accept my apology.

TVP's are pretty normal medical procedures - no risks involved, according to the NIH. The following article from the NIH explains why they are done:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003779.htm




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#29989 - 02/24/13 09:28 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: Bob West]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Well, uh, if it seems like I am changing the subject, you all guessed correctly!

I was at Yosemite today -- specifically, to visit another grove of Big Trees (Tuolumne Grove; pictures later). It occured to me as I was reading about how fragile the root systems are (courtesy of the "Do Not Trample the Roots" signs) that Yosemite would really benefit by having (more) volunteer ranger docents. Whitney has our own volunteer ranger, Bob R, who has helped countless visitors enjoy and appreciate their Whitney experience all the better. I would gladly stand guard over the giant sentinals of the big tree groves (maybe all of the good looking young men would want their pictures taken with me in the spiffy ranger uniform)Perhaps the posting of volunteers throughout the park would free up even more sworn rangers to do other, more specialized jobs. Yes, I know that this is just a drop in the bucket, but the more involved the public is, the more it appreciates these parks.

PS, in Israel, simple jobs in the military such as food service & mail distribution is done by volunteers who belong to their own corps called Sar-el (which roughly translates as "volunteer")
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#29990 - 02/24/13 10:10 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: Bee]
saltydog Online


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1536
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Apparently the expected cuts will not affect the regular season services such as regular ranger patrols. In the several reports I have seen, the only cuts are to early season snow removal. I a couple of regular season visits in other years, I have never seen a ranger at either Mariposa Grove or Tuolomne Grove, but a lot of fences and signs which were remarkably effective: never seen anyone hop a fence there.

Not to say that volunteering is not a good idea, though. It sure is.
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#29992 - 02/25/13 07:29 AM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: saltydog]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
What cuts?

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#29995 - 02/25/13 03:38 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: saltydog]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2203
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Originally Posted By: saltydog
Not to say that volunteering is not a good idea, though. It sure is.


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#29996 - 02/25/13 04:02 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: wagga]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I'm not sure if Yosemite would allow that sort of volunteering or not. I suppose the park may be more open to low risk positions.

In terms of trail crews last year Yosemite for the first time opened up to volunteers. The PCTA led the first crew and left a good impression. Unfortunately the second crew which was not PCTA had an injury and now once again volunteers have been wiped off the board. It's really tragic considering this may have led to a whole new level of cooperation between agencies and ultimately could have spawned a whole new generation of volunteers. I suppose we will have to wait until the park superintendent retires and then maybe we can give it another shot. frown

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#29997 - 02/25/13 04:47 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: wagga]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Just to be clear: the sequestration and associated mandatory budget cuts will almost certainly result in fewer rangers, among other employees. All hiring --both permanent and seasonal -- is currently frozen waiting to see what develops. Hiring plans are stopped because parks don't have any idea what their budget will look like.

Because seasonal positions are, essentially, discretionary spending, that's what's easiest to cut when there's budget cuts. So that means fewer backcountry rangers, fewer trail crew, fewer maintenance employees in the frontcountry emptying trash cans and cleaning the restrooms.

This is really not a drill. It's a very real thing and the result will be further degradation of our parks. I saw a comment by one congressman who said the park service would just have to do "more with less." I get pretty tired of that attitude. For decades, a lot of pretty dedicated people have, in fact, been doing more with less. The NPS is at the point now where it's going to be doing less with less.

I also have the greatest respect for volunteers, but I fear even Bee underestimates what's involved in protecting parks. It's not just shooing people away from Giant Sequoia roots. As I'm sure everyone here knows, there's a huge amount of training and skill involved in all aspects of every job working in a park -- whether as a ranger or cleaning restrooms. Law enforcement, medical response, fire -- both structural and wildland, search and rescue done by volunteers?! And trail crew is an incredibly difficult, injury-prone and skilled job. Like almost all NPS jobs, you just can't replace that with volunteers -- folks who just show up for a few weeks or maybe even a whole season. It just doesn't work.

And there's also a larger issue: we as a society should pay for the work that people do. Somehow there's this attitude, especially in the public sector, that these "glamorous" jobs like being a ranger are so much fun that, as I've often been told, I should be paying for the privilege of doing it. No. I think protecting our parks is an important and vital job to society. I'm happy to do it and grateful we have a country that has national parks. But it's a job and it should be compensated like any other job.

Also, to be semi-political, it's an absurd proposition to be cutting jobs of any kind in the midst of a weak recovery from the recession. Europe is tanking precisely because they're following a draconian policy of austerity despite clear evidence it's not working. When you lay people off, they're not going to spend money, they're not going to earn money to pay taxes and the country goes into a slow death spiral. The debt and deficit are not the current crisis, unemployment is. The solution is for sure not to make it worse.

George

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#29998 - 02/25/13 04:56 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: Bob West]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Quote:
TVP's are pretty normal medical procedures - no risks involved, according to the NIH.


Right, but that's not the issue. The question is should an invasive and unnecessary procedure be required (!) by legislative fiat rather than by a person's physician. In this particular reference, all medical opinion says there's absolutely no necessity for it, that it's purely political and, essentially, punitive.

I hope we don't get into a kerfuffle on this, but it seemed important to make that point as a follow-up.

g.

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None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#29999 - 02/25/13 07:10 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: wagga]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
Quote:
Somehow there's this attitude, especially in the public sector, that these "glamorous" jobs like being a ranger are so much fun that, as I've often been told, I should be paying for the privilege of doing it.


Lol now that one is good. Most people that have those sorts of attitudes have never actually seen the job in action.

The same goes for people who push hard core for trail crews to not use any power tools at all. I don't think they have ever done any trail work.
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#30000 - 02/25/13 07:58 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: RoguePhotonic]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: woodsy guy
Somehow there's this attitude, especially in the public sector, that these "glamorous" jobs like being a ranger are so much fun that, as I've often been told, I should be paying for the privilege of doing it.


Oh, yes -- I quite agree. When that TV show Six Feet Under aired, we had people knocking down the door to trying to get a job at the mortuary,,,,(okay, dark sick humour that some of you will get)

By no means AT ALL do I Beelieve that "replacing" professionals with volunteers is the answer (I know this first hand, because I have worked under that environment), as a lot of time, the professionals end up 'babysitting' the volunteers, thus, nothing is gained.

I am in the camp of Robert Reich, Paul Krugman & the Tennessee Valley Authority as far as economic recovery goes....and whilst I am handing out opines: gov't required image testing for the females is repugnant, but I digress. (I Beelieve that comment #2 is the only relevent comment on this post)
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#30002 - 02/25/13 09:05 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: RoguePhotonic]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1097
Loc: NorCal
I've been thinking lately, why just cut government, how about replacing it completely. We could privatize the park system, start with Yosemite. Use private security guards and armed cowboys instead of those pricey Rangers. Charge hikers by the mile with surcharges for mountain peaks. Install another set of cables and an escalator on Half Dome. Those waterfalls should have generators on them to power LCD billboards behind the water. Gotta have a strip mall or two, maybe a sports arena. Rock concerts at Mirror Lake with laser lights bouncing off Half Dome, how cool is that. The Ahwahnee should be an Indian casino - great name for it. Toyota would pay big bucks for Sequoia commercials with SUVs flying through those groves. We don't need all those big trees either, just keep the biggest ones for bungee jumping. Why wait for snow plows to clear the road to Tuolumne when you can rent a snowmobile. We can do better than just cut government. ;)

Edited to cut out typos


Edited by SierraNevada (02/25/13 09:27 PM)

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#30003 - 02/25/13 09:05 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: George]
Bob R Offline


Registered: 10/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: Ridgecrest, California
George and Bee have got me to thinking. A few years ago when Inyo NF asked me to be a volunteer ranger for the Forest, my first question was why. They said "Well, you are in these mountains a lot, know the territory, talk to people, answer questions, give advice, help them out of immediate or potential trouble--all the things we do. If you wore a uniform and a badge, they'd pay more attention to what you say and it would augment what we do." It would involve me logging in and out with the dispatcher, and they would appreciate it if I would carry a radio--something I resisted at first, but eventually succumbed to.

They said I would continue to climb where and when I wanted, never to be on patrol or an assignment...just be a presence in areas of my own choosing. When asked about any benefit to me, they said only that I wouldn't have to get a permit for my climbs. I replied "Well, I guess so."

So I do nothing different from what I have done for over 60 years, except now I sometimes wear a uniform with a badge (supplied by INF) and carry a radio (not supplied by INF). I'm still just some guy out in the mountains for a few days, still enjoying the Sierra as I have always done. But the current financial situation, infused with Bee's and George's inputs, has got me to thinking. Maybe I should do a little more than what I have done in the past. Venture more often over the crest, go on extended trips in the back country that I wouldn't otherwise have done, be more on the alert for people who seem out of their element instead of looking for good climbs so much.

I guess it's payback time.


Edited by Bob R (02/26/13 05:43 PM)

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#30004 - 02/25/13 10:03 PM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: Bob R]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
I would like to add this thought, too: When the rangers are stretched so thin that responsibilities resemble those befitting a sheriff, (rather than the interactive services that were once offered) Folks begin to view the rangers with the same wary eye as they do a "cop". (sort of the paranoia I feel when the state trooper is following me on the highway....uh-oh...which infraction did he witness??) I believe that the volunteer serves as a great smiling faced PR guy, a buffer so to speak, between the enforcer and.....Smokey Bear (wrong agency!)
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#30005 - 02/26/13 07:37 AM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: George]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 771
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
For starters, I am not the person who brought up the issue of mandatory TVPs; maybe KevinR can explain why he felt it needed to be mentioned.

In the discussion regarding the budget cuts (that I see as draconian when applied to the protection of our wilderness areas)there is a wide variety of opinion; some pro, some con. Perhaps there is a clash of cultures that has spilled over into all our discussions? I don't know. We all tend to see issues through the lenses of our presuppositions, which may or may not reflect objective truth.

This article might explain the problem better that I can:

http://eppc.org/publications/pubID.4966/pub_detail.asp




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#30006 - 02/26/13 08:16 AM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: Bob West]
RenoFrank Online


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 411
Loc: Reno, NV
That's a great article. Often it's left against right, blue vs red, etc. Each side thinks the other 65 million voters are "ignorant morons."

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#30007 - 02/26/13 11:52 AM Re: Yosemite, Congress & Sequestering [Re: RenoFrank]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
All terrific comments. I especially like the attaboy to Reich and Krugman (and TVA? Who knew??). Both economists contribute the clearest writing on economics for us non-statistically inclined woodsy creatures.

I also like Bob's reference to presuppositions and politics article. But I hesitantly creep over into politics here. The article (and RenoFranks comment) can be interpreted along the lines of "why can't we all just get along?" And I think if the sentiments of Wehner's piece was strictly followed -- recognizing the humanity of the opposition -- then we could have actual and honest debate about public policy.

Variations on Wehner's theme are everywhere and, I think, misinterpreted. Too often it's represented as a false equivalence -- when two sides disagree there must be a center. The current narrative in much of the press assumes that both sides are equally responsible for any intransigence.

I veer into the politics of this because the overall issue is an important discussion worth having everywhere, even amongst this woodsy gathering: what is the role of government; what should we pay for it; and who should pay what? We are here because of a shared affinity for (publicly funded) National Forests and Parks. The "I hate guvment and I hate taxes" crowd is an ancient and venerable US tradition, yet more than a little hypocritical. Part of that crowd does wake up, usually when their social security checks or medicare is threatened; or a bridge collapses; or the murder rate goes up because police have been laid off; or a park is closed; & etc. However, a minority is currently holding the country hostage and has clearly stated there is no compromise. Any solution can only involve cutting government spending.

So essentially what we have is an influential group saying, yep, let the leper suffer, he's not our problem. But the radio that Bob & I carry costs money; there's an entire support staff behind both of us that costs even more money. The correct proposition is not "If the military and many domestic programs must tighten their belts, then why should the the park service be exempt?" but instead: can that very choice be avoided? Can we, through cuts (later, as most economists advocate) and increasing revenue, continue the services we've come to expect of government?

We can and will quibble about what to cut; and quibble about where to find the money, but both solutions are necessary. In that sense, both sides are not equally to blame and the hoped-for compromise requires just that, a real compromise and not absolutism.

g.




Edited by George (02/26/13 11:56 AM)
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