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by walkinman on Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:02 pm
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Hey Folks,

Katmai NPS have proposed a compendium change starting this year, 2020, that Brooks River corridor is essentially closed (50 yards either side of the river's edge) and accessible only with a special permit. That don't technically have a means to tease apart who gets a permit and who does not; so it would mean one has to go through yet an additional orientation processes, receive some form of permit (likely an armband) and only then entrance to the river corridor is allowed.

If during the season (June - Oct) NPS staff report too much "craziness" on the river, the superintendent will close part of the river completely for an unspecified length of time.

This is definitely the busiest bear viewing and backcountry fishing area in the state (Maybe the world), but also one with an almost impeccable record of no real conflict.

Here's an article on the subject in the Anchorage Daily News (the article mistakenly says 50 feet when it should be 50 yards).

The compendium proposals are here and the public comment period is open until Feb 15.

Quote:
The public comment period for changes to the park compendium will begin on January 15, 2020 and remain open through February 15, 2020. Project information can be viewed and written comments submitted using the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system, retrieve "2020 Superintendent's Compendium Changes (93076)" to provide comments electronically, hand-delivered, or mailed to the address listed below. Comments will not be accepted by fax or email. Comments must be received by 9:59 pm Alaska time, February 15, 2020.
 
Mail Comments to: 
Jason Lux, Chief Ranger
Katmai National Park and Preserve
P.O. Box 7
King Salmon, AK 99613 

Hand Deliver Comments to:
Katmai National Park and Preserve Headquarters
Attention: Park Compendium Changes 2020
1000 Silver Street
Building 603
King Salmon, AK 99613

Public Comment Considerations
• Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.

• Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information, be aware that your entire comment - including your personally identifiable information - may be made public at any time. You may ask us to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

• The proposed project is an undertaking as outlined under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (36 CRF § 800). As such, we welcome comments about historic properties or other cultural resources that fall within the project area.



IMO this is a pretty egregious closure of public land. The NPS statement of  

"The NPS is proposing to implement an existing regulation by taking a more active role in managing critical areas within the Brooks Camp Developed Area including the Brooks River Corridor to protect resources and provide for public health and safety."

doesn't at all outline the actual change. What they are doing is closing the river corridor, and requiring anyone who wants to fish, photograph or view bears on the ground/water in or within 50 yards of the river to attend a permit process and then wear some kind of notification (as yet undecided) that lets NPS staff know they've been through the orientation and received their permit. Even more ridiculous is the fact that they cannot say for sure at this time whether that permit is good for a single visit or for the season. So it's something you may have to do every day you want to use the river.

One reason this kind of thing is worrisome is that it becomes the norm for management. Other areas inside the park will likely receive the same approach as visitation increases there. 

I'd urge anyone interested in protecting your access to wildlife photography loactions like Brooks River to contact the park and strongly object to this change.

Thanks

Carl
 

by neverspook on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:05 pm
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walkinman wrote:
Hey Folks,

Katmai NPS have proposed a compendium change starting this year, 2020, that Brooks River corridor is essentially closed (50 yards either side of the river's edge) and accessible only with a special permit. That don't technically have a means to tease apart who gets a permit and who does not; so it would mean one has to go through yet an additional orientation processes, receive some form of permit (likely an armband) and only then entrance to the river corridor is allowed.

If during the season (June - Oct) NPS staff report too much "craziness" on the river, the superintendent will close part of the river completely for an unspecified length of time.

This is definitely the busiest bear viewing and backcountry fishing area in the state (Maybe the world), but also one with an almost impeccable record of no real conflict.

Here's an article on the subject in the Anchorage Daily News (the article mistakenly says 50 feet when it should be 50 yards).

The compendium proposals are here and the public comment period is open until Feb 15.

Quote:
The public comment period for changes to the park compendium will begin on January 15, 2020 and remain open through February 15, 2020. Project information can be viewed and written comments submitted using the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system, retrieve "2020 Superintendent's Compendium Changes (93076)" to provide comments electronically, hand-delivered, or mailed to the address listed below. Comments will not be accepted by fax or email. Comments must be received by 9:59 pm Alaska time, February 15, 2020.
 
Mail Comments to: 
Jason Lux, Chief Ranger
Katmai National Park and Preserve
P.O. Box 7
King Salmon, AK 99613 

Hand Deliver Comments to:
Katmai National Park and Preserve Headquarters
Attention: Park Compendium Changes 2020
1000 Silver Street
Building 603
King Salmon, AK 99613

Public Comment Considerations
• Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.

• Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information, be aware that your entire comment - including your personally identifiable information - may be made public at any time. You may ask us to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

• The proposed project is an undertaking as outlined under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (36 CRF § 800). As such, we welcome comments about historic properties or other cultural resources that fall within the project area.



IMO this is a pretty egregious closure of public land. The NPS statement of  

"The NPS is proposing to implement an existing regulation by taking a more active role in managing critical areas within the Brooks Camp Developed Area including the Brooks River Corridor to protect resources and provide for public health and safety."

doesn't at all outline the actual change. What they are doing is closing the river corridor, and requiring anyone who wants to fish, photograph or view bears on the ground/water in or within 50 yards of the river to attend a permit process and then wear some kind of notification (as yet undecided) that lets NPS staff know they've been through the orientation and received their permit. Even more ridiculous is the fact that they cannot say for sure at this time whether that permit is good for a single visit or for the season. So it's something you may have to do every day you want to use the river.

One reason this kind of thing is worrisome is that it becomes the norm for management. Other areas inside the park will likely receive the same approach as visitation increases there. 

I'd urge anyone interested in protecting your access to wildlife photography loactions like Brooks River to contact the park and strongly object to this change.

Thanks

Carl



Link to Anchorage Daily News article leads to article about VPNs and not bear viewing....
 

by SantaFeJoe on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:28 pm
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neverspook wrote:
walkinman wrote:
Hey Folks,

.......Here's an article on the subject in the Anchorage Daily News (the article mistakenly says 50 feet when it should be 50 yards)......



Link to Anchorage Daily News article leads to article about VPNs and not bear viewing....

This is probably the right one:

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/wildlife/2020/02/06/worries-about-visitor-safety-amid-bears-prompt-katmai-national-park-to-propose-permit-system/

Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by whitedog2 on Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:50 am
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While I understand the concern over limited access the key to this is "as visitation increases." Horseshoe Bend in Page got more and more popular till people literally started falling off the cliff face and dying when they didn't bounce 1,000 feet down. Now after several million dollars of construction and "improvement" it is relatively safe (except to the normal group of idiots) and sterile and almost impossible to access for good photography. Its a "too many people with too much money and time" thing, and its only going to get worse. In the end I have to support the NPS and other gov agencies who are trying to preserve at least a limited amount of nature with minimal impacts.

If you are not familiar with the wolves at Yellowstone, they are now being "hazed" and chased with beanbag and noise shells to try to reduce their habituation to people and vehicles. Review of the deaths of multiple wolves inside and outside the park due to poachers and legal hunters indicated that they weren't scared of people, especially at distances over 100 yards, so the management plan for park wolves has been changed to try to reduce the issue. Again, a people issue.

For over 30 years I visited and photographed at Bosque del Apache and never had any issues as it is one of the most visitor friendly of all the refuges. The last 5-6 years I have changed my travel dates every year trying to find a decent week to visit, but from mid-November till mid-January the best viewing areas for the cranes and geese are now "standing room only" and I have seen the roadway with cars parked end-to-end for over 1/2 mile. Again, its a people problem.

We have reached a point in many places where the visitation load FAR exceeds the capability of the area to support it. Access controls are simply going to have be the "new normal." Just visit the Yosemite valley to see how bad it can get.
 

by SantaFeJoe on Sat Feb 08, 2020 2:04 pm
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walkinman wrote:
Hey Folks,
.................
IMO this is a pretty egregious closure of public land. The NPS statement of  

"The NPS is proposing to implement an existing regulation by taking a more active role in managing critical areas within the Brooks Camp Developed Area including the Brooks River Corridor to protect resources and provide for public health and safety."

doesn't at all outline the actual change. What they are doing is closing the river corridor, and requiring anyone who wants to fish, photograph or view bears on the ground/water in or within 50 yards of the river to attend a permit process and then wear some kind of notification (as yet undecided) that lets NPS staff know they've been through the orientation and received their permit. Even more ridiculous is the fact that they cannot say for sure at this time whether that permit is good for a single visit or for the season. So it's something you may have to do every day you want to use the river.

One reason this kind of thing is worrisome is that it becomes the norm for management. Other areas inside the park will likely receive the same approach as visitation increases there. 

I'd urge anyone interested in protecting your access to wildlife photography loactions like Brooks River to contact the park and strongly object to this change.

Thanks

Carl


What’s new here? Sounds like the regulation is already on the books. Nothing stays the same as population increases and usage does as well. I say, enjoy what you have while you still have it. Around here, many access roads to my favorite areas for photographing wild horses, Great Horned Owl nests, petroglyph sites, etc. have been closed, leaving access only by a long walk. Many people can’t walk that far, so they are cut off from enjoying these things. Change is not often fun, but it is sometimes necessary to protect nature and humans. Your other thread about tripod use there at Brooks had a similar flavor:

https://www.naturescapes.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=268967


Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by E.J. Peiker on Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:26 pm
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I fixed the link in the original message.
 

by walkinman on Mon Feb 10, 2020 11:33 pm
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SantaFeJoe wrote:
What’s new here? Sounds like the regulation is already on the books. Nothing stays the same as population increases and usage does as well. I say, enjoy what you have while you still have it. Around here, many access roads to my favorite areas for photographing wild horses, Great Horned Owl nests, petroglyph sites, etc. have been closed, leaving access only by a long walk. Many people can’t walk that far, so they are cut off from enjoying these things. Change is not often fun, but it is sometimes necessary to protect nature and humans. Your other thread about tripod use there at Brooks had a similar flavor:

https://www.naturescapes.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=268967


Joe




Joe

I'm not opposed to regulation. I'm opposed to poor regulation.

The statement about this from the NPS isn't really true. There is NO current regulation closing the river to visitation. There is a Plan they put out in 1996 saying they would look to doing this in the future if things become to crazy. The plan allows for them to do it, but this isn't the same as having the regulation in place. All that says is they have the legal authority to do so.

Here is the data reported by the park for visitation since the park's inception.
https://irma.nps.gov/STATS/SSRSReports/Park%20Specific%20Reports/Recreation%20Visitors%20By%20Month%20(1979%20-%20Last%20Calendar%20Year)?Park=KATM

It's questionable. It's also very apparent the park has simply made up visitation numbers for the last 10 years. And those numbers don't at all suggest visitation is at a high, or even close to it. If they're going to claim "higher visitation" their own data should reflect that. And it doesn't.

but further .. if visitation at Brooks is actually up .. it's more than obvious that the number one driver behind that, by far, is the NPS' own social media and marketing program. The introduction of the webcams in 2012 has exponentially driven up traffic to Brooks since then. They have their Fat Bear hashtag thing which has gone super viral, and was even promoted on CNN and other national news outlets. It's absolutely asinine for them to be saying numbers are too high when they are the ones pushing those numbers higher and higher. 

The park also just built a $14 million bridge to facilitate higher visitation. They also issued a new Commercial Use permit to allow water taxis to transport people from King Salmon to Brooks. For a place they're saying is beyond it's carrying capacity to be unendingly promoting and fostering higher visitation seems to me to poor management. They're chasing their own tail here.

All of this brings more visitation. They're not doing a single thing to deal with visitation; no more facilities, toilets, staff, anything at all .. the only thing they're doing is closing the river and making it people sit through a second orientation program and then wear an armband. They're also not actually limiting the # of people who go to the river .. all it is is on more loop for people to jump through. They have ZERo authority to cap the numbers, they have zero authority to actually say to anyone "no you can't go" ... regardless of mobility or fitness or experience around bears, etc.

The problem with this type of thing is doesn't solve the problem they want it to solve.

The issue is the superintendent is concerned about what he's seen of people on the river and having near encounters with bears. While a concern, there are a number of issues here:

i) there have ALWAYS been close encounters with bears at Brooks. There's simply no way to walk around there and not have a close enounter unless you get lucky and don't have a bear walk out of the woods on you. Ther is NOTHING new in this situation at all. The new regulation wwon't stop or change that in any way.

ii) people have close encounters with bears on the trail, by the camp site, in the woods .. everywhere. this does nothing to address that. And far more people run into bears up close on the trail than they do on the river. By a factor of hundreds.

iii) the NPS  thinking they can run an orientation for people wading the river is simply ridiculous. The staff at NPS have almost ZERO experience walking the river.

iv) they already HAVE an orientation that everyone who visits Brooks must sit through. If they're seeing people do foolish thigns and be too close to bears on the river, why on earth do they think a 2nd orientation will impact that at all? Clearly it doesn't yield the results they want it to or they'd have no problems.

v) the ONLY "conflicts" they have had in 30 years at Brooks have nothing to do with people on the river, and everything to do with their own regulation and protocols. Young bears aproaching people trying to push them around is a function of how the NPS manage people at Brooks. It (that bear behavior) doesn't seem to happen elsewhere and it happens every single summer at Brooks. Their own regulation and protocols condition bears, especially young bears, to push people around.

vi) If proximity to bears is really the problem then they have no alternative but to simply not allow people to visit the park on foot; but there isn't a single example I can think of a bear-human conflcit that's a function of this.

I am all for solving actual problems. Sadly what's happening here is they're looking at their own actions and the problems those cause, and taking actions against other things to deal with the problems caused. Rather than undo their own stupid policy.

The platform at Brooks is a similar thing, closed by the same superintendent. The limit to visitor numbers on the platform is and has been, rightly or wrongly, 40 people at a time. That hasn't changed in forever. If 40 visitors on the platform could use tripods 5 years ago, how exactly is it any different now? They ddn't increase the number of people since they banned tripods.

I'm curious if either of you (Joe and Whitedog) have spent time at Brooks River?

I will never for the life of me understand this is unexamined deference so many people give to bureaucrats and the bureacratic process. The NPS have largely caused what they're defining as problems at Brooks River. What on earth makes you think their "solutions" are a likely way out of the mess they create?

A larger point is simply the process of public comment. I understand restrictions will alywas be necessary. And change. But the changes they tend to put forward are typically those eaiest to administer (they are after all an adminstrateive agency) and not typically the best at solving operational problems. Whenever Parks propose new restrictions, and particularly when those invovle closing public lands, it's (imo) vital that the public examine that situation and consider where it leads to. Because it almost NEVER goes back the other way; even when it may be perfectly appropriate to do so.
 

by walkinman on Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:09 am
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Thanks EJ.
 

by SantaFeJoe on Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:04 pm
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walkinman wrote:
Joe

I'm not opposed to regulation. I'm opposed to poor regulation.

The statement about this from the NPS isn't really true. There is NO current regulation closing the river to visitation. There is a Plan they put out in 1996 saying they would look to doing this in the future if things become to crazy. The plan allows for them to do it, but this isn't the same as having the regulation in place. All that says is they have the legal authority to do so.

Here is the data reported by the park for visitation since the park's inception.
https://irma.nps.gov/STATS/SSRSReports/Park%20Specific%20Reports/Recreation%20Visitors%20By%20Month%20(1979%20-%20Last%20Calendar%20Year)?Park=KATM

It's questionable. It's also very apparent the park has simply made up visitation numbers for the last 10 years. And those numbers don't at all suggest visitation is at a high, or even close to it. If they're going to claim "higher visitation" their own data should reflect that. And it doesn't.

but further .. if visitation at Brooks is actually up .. it's more than obvious that the number one driver behind that, by far, is the NPS' own social media and marketing program. The introduction of the webcams in 2012 has exponentially driven up traffic to Brooks since then. They have their Fat Bear hashtag thing which has gone super viral, and was even promoted on CNN and other national news outlets. It's absolutely asinine for them to be saying numbers are too high when they are the ones pushing those numbers higher and higher

The park also just built a $14 million bridge to facilitate higher visitation.

Quote:
Those numbers are strange, to say the least. They do reflect a doubling of visitors last year from June through September over the prior year, but are the numbers that are exactly the same because of permit numbers allowed? Your own words(italicized) indicate that numbers may have been ”exponentially driven up”. The claim about the bridge by NPS is that it would make for a more enjoyable visitor experience and allow better access for the bears to feeding areas.
Joe



They also issued a new Commercial Use permit to allow water taxis to transport people from King Salmon to Brooks. For a place they're saying is beyond it's carrying capacity to be unendingly promoting and fostering higher visitation seems to me to poor management. They're chasing their own tail here.

All of this brings more visitation. They're not doing a single thing to deal with visitation; no more facilities, toilets, staff, anything at all .. the only thing they're doing is closing the river and making it people sit through a second orientation program and then wear an armband. They're also not actually limiting the # of people who go to the river .. all it is is on more loop for people to jump through. They have ZERo authority to cap the numbers, they have zero authority to actually say to anyone "no you can't go" ... regardless of mobility or fitness or experience around bears, etc.

The problem with this type of thing is doesn't solve the problem they want it to solve.

The issue is the superintendent is concerned about what he's seen of people on the river and having near encounters with bears. While a concern, there are a number of issues here:

i) there have ALWAYS been close encounters with bears at Brooks. There's simply no way to walk around there and not have a close enounter unless you get lucky and don't have a bear walk out of the woods on you. Ther is NOTHING new in this situation at all. The new regulation wwon't stop or change that in any way.

ii) people have close encounters with bears on the trail, by the camp site, in the woods .. everywhere. this does nothing to address that. And far more people run into bears up close on the trail than they do on the river. By a factor of hundreds.

iii) the NPS  thinking they can run an orientation for people wading the river is simply ridiculous. The staff at NPS have almost ZERO experience walking the river.

iv) they already HAVE an orientation that everyone who visits Brooks must sit through. If they're seeing people do foolish thigns and be too close to bears on the river, why on earth do they think a 2nd orientation will impact that at all? Clearly it doesn't yield the results they want it to or they'd have no problems.

v) the ONLY "conflicts" they have had in 30 years at Brooks have nothing to do with people on the river, and everything to do with their own regulation and protocols. Young bears aproaching people trying to push them around is a function of how the NPS manage people at Brooks. It (that bear behavior) doesn't seem to happen elsewhere and it happens every single summer at Brooks. Their own regulation and protocols condition bears, especially young bears, to push people around.

vi) If proximity to bears is really the problem then they have no alternative but to simply not allow people to visit the park on foot; but there isn't a single example I can think of a bear-human conflcit that's a function of this.

I am all for solving actual problems. Sadly what's happening here is they're looking at their own actions and the problems those cause, and taking actions against other things to deal with the problems caused. Rather than undo their own stupid policy.

The platform at Brooks is a similar thing, closed by the same superintendent. The limit to visitor numbers on the platform is and has been, rightly or wrongly, 40 people at a time. That hasn't changed in forever. If 40 visitors on the platform could use tripods 5 years ago, how exactly is it any different now? They ddn't increase the number of people since they banned tripods.

I'm curious if either of you (Joe and Whitedog) have spent time at Brooks River?

Quote:
As I stated in the thread I linked to above, no I have not been there.
Joe



I will never for the life of me understand this is unexamined deference so many people give to bureaucrats and the bureacratic process. The NPS have largely caused what they're defining as problems at Brooks River. What on earth makes you think their "solutions" are a likely way out of the mess they create?

A larger point is simply the process of public comment. I understand restrictions will alywas be necessary. And change. But the changes they tend to put forward are typically those eaiest to administer (they are after all an adminstrateive agency) and not typically the best at solving operational problems. Whenever Parks propose new restrictions, and particularly when those invovle closing public lands, it's (imo) vital that the public examine that situation and consider where it leads to. Because it almost NEVER goes back the other way; even when it may be perfectly appropriate to do so.

Quote:
I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember when Yellowstone’s main attraction was the bears, but that had to be changed due to human ignorance and stupidity. I see no difference at Brooks eventually. Here are some links:

https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/yellowstone-bears-no-longer-get-garbage-treats
and:
https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/do-not-feed-bears
and:
https://yellowstoneinsider.com/2016/07/11/old-yellowstone-history-bear-feeding/
Sooner or later, something will happen that will change everything up there. I remember long ago that an outdoor writer(I believe it was Russel Annabel) needed to get an image for an ad campaign of a fisherman with a brown bear on the same stretch of river. That was a difficult accomplishment at the time and a novelty. Now that scene is played out regularly. I wonder how many times a hook(fly) ends up sticking a bear, either by eating a salmon with a hook in it or stepping on one, etc. Will the irritation or infection cause a reaction? There are so many scenarios that can play out when you mix wildlife and people. There are plenty of other places to fish without encroaching on the bears territory. One well publicized case and there will be an outcry and the bears are the ones that will probably pay the price for human activity. I still say, enjoy what you have before things change. At least you still have the opportunity at this time. Things will change up there just like they do everywhere else. People are the ones who ruin it for everybody, just like at Bosque. Many just can’t seem to follow rules and guidelines and respect signs.
Joe

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by walkinman on Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:33 pm
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Joe,

The situation is NOTHING like Yellowstone and garbage-fed bears.

And no, there is currently no cap or limit on the numbers of people allowed to visit the area.

The numbers have risen drastically since the the webcams went in.

The new bridge, while well-intended, and it does have some benefit, also carries cost; (a) financially, and more importantly b) it will bring with it another increase in visitation. We already have seen that in its first summer (2019). That visitation is expected to rise again this year.

If Brooks River corridor is at or (more likely) above carrying capacity, what kind of sense does it make for the NPS to continue to try to drive more people there with its outreach and social media marketing? And that, probably more than anything, tends to attract a type of person who has zero experience around bears; certainly that's the feedback the NPS have told us.

Unfortunately the NPS seem bent on turning these kinds of places into entertainment, a spectacle that we view through a bus window or from an elevated walkway and platform, and disallow any actual experience of visitation. They do that because administratively, it easier.
 

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