Yellowstone Grizzlies

Last year I had a chance to see a grizzly bear in Yellowstone. What amazing (and of course quite deadly) animals they are. There are now approximately 700 of them in the park, and that is causing the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider de-listing them as endangered.

Maintaining the health and natural beauty of America's National Parks is one of those few issues I think we should consider amending the Constitution to give the Federal Government power to do. In general I would like to see the 10th Amendment strictly enforced, but America's National Parks are genuine treasures. That includes the wildlife, especially the megafauna. On a 50 mile hike last year in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the other side of the country, I had a chance to see all the major species up close and in person: elk, black bear, wild boar, and deer. In Yellowstone, I saw many black bear, the grizzly, and bison. In the Tetons, I saw many more bison, pronghorn, more elk -- a small but significant sense of what this magnificent continent was like when we first encountered it.

So, small government guy that I am, here's one exception where I would consider "new" Federal power -- I mean licensing the power they've already seized for themselves, of course. Our National Parks is one area where the Federal government does a good job that is good for all of us.


DLSly said...

Still can't believe you came within a couple hundred miles of the Dark Side and Not. One. Word.

E Hines said...

Maintaining the health and natural beauty of America's National Parks is one of those few issues I think we should consider amending the Constitution to give the Federal Government power to do.

One of the reasons we have a split-power republic is that the central government, in the end, can't be trusted. (Neither can the State governments, but their respective miscreancies tend to get in each other's way, and that slows the devolution.)

In this context, see the National Park designations done, not to protect the health and natural beauty, but to interfere with Government-disapproved private enterprise--like oil or gas production.

I stand in opposition to this proposed expansion of Government.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I think that's a bigger problem with other forms of national land ownership. BLM does that a lot.

Sly, I was up for my sister's wedding. I was lucky to get as much time out of Jackson Hole as I did.

E Hines said...

No doubt. That doesn't make this one acceptable.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

It's funny how far removed from the mainstream this conversation is. The National Parks are like the most popular thing the Federal government does. Probably the ten Americans who think that the Constitution should have to be amended in order for them to keep doing it all read this page.

And at least one of us is against it. :)

raven said...


Like every other agency, The NPS is subject to Pournelles Iron Law of Bureaucracy. And the politicizing inherent in it.

E Hines said...

Belatedly: Congratulations to your sister. [g]

Eric Hines

ColoComment said...

If you lived in one of the Western states, you might think differently about the vast acreage held by the federal government, via multiple agencies and categories ranging from national parks, monuments, BLM land, wilderness areas, DOD, forest service, and more.
Google "federal lands" and check out the info at the Wikipedia page, and the Atlantic article. Look at the maps that depict the ratios of federally-owned land in each state.
I don't mind national parks, but do note that Obama has designated more acres of national monument than any other president (national monuments don't need Congressional approval.)

"In his seven years in office, Obama has established 22 national monuments and expanded others to set aside more than 265 million acres of land and water."

How much is enough? When can it stop?

Grim said...

Yes, we talked about that not long ago. I fully agree that the Federal government should not own the vast tracts of land that it does own.

On the other hand, if we were to dissolve the Federal government tomorrow, I would still want there to be some way of protecting these parks I'm talking about -- and their megafauna. My sense is that the Parks service has done a pretty good job, but that BLM and some other services have been less good.

Still, if you've got a better idea that attains the same end I'm open to it. I only mean to say that, of all the things the Feds have decided they can do without actual Constitutional authority, the National Parks Service is the one that seems to have worked well.

Tom said...

I dunno. There could be a twofer here: An amendment that explicitly allows national parks and the NPS, but forbids all other federal landholding except for national security purposes. It could also cap the percentage of a state's land that could be held by the federal government.

MikeD said...

I think the Federal government should have a say in "Parks" if and only if that Park would extend past state borders (like Yellowstone). Otherwise, that lands solely in the purview of the States. Now, I think the States should have no right to restrict the citizens of other States from entering/using the Park, but that's part of the Commerce Clause (as originally intended) so we've already got that covered. As for Federally owned lands. I can see the need insofar as military bases are concerned, and perhaps Federal buildings in the various States. But the government should not, and ought not own more than 5% of any given State's land. More than that is vastly unreasonable.

ColoComment said...

Don't get me wrong. I love the national park system. Each is a treasure to be carefully guarded from encroachment and preserved. For my soon-to-be-retirement, I plan on taking my Navion RV and visiting as many of them as I can (along with Civil War battlefields, which I have dreamed of doing for decades.)
I don't think that the authority and power of Congress under the Constitution to establish federal lands by law has been challenged? So, I'm thinking that no amendment is necessary.
See here:
and here:

I just think there ought to be some limiting factor(s), and I don't think that federal agencies should be able to willy-nilly do land grabs.

(...and you don't want to get me started on the EPA's grab for authority over backyard livestock ponds, etc.) ;-)

douglas said...

Why would you think that it needs to be at the national level? Why would not the states take appropriate measures to preserve their natural treasures and the tourism dollars that brings to their state economies?

The national parks, and increasingly, the national monument designation are being used to put lands off limits to activities they don't like. Obama just declared the best wilderness in my backyard (well, within ten minutes drive from here) a National Monument- the San Gabriel Mountains. I don't see why there was any reason it needed to be done, other than that it imposes further restrictions on the land. There are already no places to shoot up there. When I was a youth, there were designated shooting ranges, now you can't do it at all in that area. They already took to requiring a special annual parking pass just to be able to drive in and park your car up there.

Trust me, I love the National Parks too, but not because they're 'National' Parks. As far as I'm concerned, we could and probably should do away with most nationally designated preserves and natural areas, and leave it to the states. For sure we should do away with BLM.

Ymar Sakar said...

Florida already has some church organizations dealing with land management and also livestock management, with the city government. No feds needed.

Also NPS was ordered to put the rod down on Americans, especially veterans visiting the parks, and they Obeyed those Orders. They're just another Executive execution squad, just as the IRS executed the orders to get rid of the Tea Party.

Minutus said...

States are more susceptible to developers' dollars, as we see here in Florida. The current governor is in their pocket. A national system provides some measure of protection beyond that. Yes, the current regime has gone too far with the monuments, but the parks are worth preserving.

douglas said...

Even if that's so, why isn't it for the residents of that state to decide what the appropriate amount of intervention and development is in a given area? Who says they know better three thousand miles away (in my case)?

Your argument is that it's better to err on the side of 'preservation'. Today, that means zero development, and in fact, reduced accessibility, because the environmentally issue driven people think that humans are simply a virus on the planet, and so preservation to them means keeping people out completely (except for a few employees of the government and 'researchers' who lately seem to be more political agenda drivers than true scientists, and are happy to keep everyone else out while they get paid to have access).

Also, you end with "...but the parks are worth preserving.". I don't believe anyone here suggested otherwise, so that's not really the issue.

To extend this, I dislike the concept of man as being 'outside' of nature- of being something 'else'. We refer to man-made in opposition to 'natural'. Would we say the same of a termite mound, birds nest, beaver dam, or wombat burrow? How is what we do different, really? Because we refine and transform the materials we use in our constructs? How about a bee hive? The bees 'manufacture' the material with which it is built, similarly as do we. We also seem to think that the amount of development that existed when we became aware of it is o.k., but more is not. Funny that. If we had moratoriums on development earlier, there would be no Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite, or the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone (or many of the other lodges there), or the El Tovar Lodge at Grand Canyon. Would that be better? How many people came to love and develop a desire to preserve those places because of those lodges? You probably couldn't build any of them today. The most recent lodges in Grand Canyon were built in the late 60's. Are they some sort of permanent scar on the landscape?

If the problem is corruption in the government, then we should deal with that, not make broadly sweeping mandates against all development, and certainly not simply federalize things. Obama's use of the National Parks and Monuments for political ends in the budget battle should be proof that that's no solution to politicians considering what's useful to them and not the parks mission.