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NPS and water reports

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2017, 11:19:41 PM »
In the old days a decade or more ago the Upper Juniper Springs cut-off trail was marked by a sign that said "Juniper Camp" even though you were not supposed to camp there since ~1980 or earlier.   They replaced it with a new sign a few years ago that says "No Camping" but neither sign said anything about the springs and neither sign had a directional arrow pointing the way at least since 1980-something when I first did the OML.   Back in the 1980's-1990's the PJ Ranger Station used to have a chalk board behind the counter (in the office) with info about water sources they would update daily so when visitors asked they could get updated info.   This was before the big remodeling project.   Right now you may get valid up to date info or you may be told that "everything is dry" even when it's not, it seems to depend on what ranger you talk to on the day you visit.    This website is the best source of information because it is updated regularly by boots-on-the-ground hikers not by hearsay or NPS rangers who may or may not be telling you the truth.   It's too bad they cannot be more transparent and honest about the water sources but it's been this way for 15+ years through multiple superintendents.  Maybe someday they will get a superintendent that is a bit more progressive and finally come out of the dark ages and stop lying to people or giving them misinformation about water sources.  Even the 1980's chalk board was a better system than what they have today.   TWWG

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Offline presidio

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2017, 01:44:51 AM »
If you were to go to the Grand Canyon and get a permit for a multi day backpacking hike below the rim, the rangers would tell you which springs were running.  They would tell you where the best water is, and how far up or down a canyon off trail you will have to travel to get to the springs.  They actually post on the NPS web site the spring information.

The people running Big Bend do not post any water sources, they discourage any questions about water sources, and often will lie to your face if you ask specifically if a spring is running. ( I can't say always because the last time out, a rangerette with tattoos and face piercings told us Boot was running slowly.)

The difference is the folks at Grand Canyon are out in the field. The "rangers" at Big Bend do little backcountry rangering and much flying of a desk. The Big Bend version of "ranger" doesn't say much because they don't know much.

Conditions at Big Bend are no more or less dire than at Grand Canyon regarding water. It's local employee (and corporate) attitudes that drive this sort of thing. Places like Grand Canyon appear to be helpful; Big Bend: far less so. Park management could change this instantly, but they apparently have no desire to fix it.

I gave up decades ago asking employees about trail conditions because they never could (or wouldn't) provide any timely information.

Since I almost exclusively hike off trail these days, there is nothing they are capable of telling me about the places no trails go, and it makes them twitchy when they know folks are going places they don't. Striving always not to upset them, I tell them nothing. I'm happy and they are clueless. WIN!!!

However, among the many irritating issues needing correction at Big Bend, one of the most troubling regarding how the park operates is the willful deceit about the existence of water and other features in response to direct questions. Sort of leaves you with the impression "this is not your park, but theirs."
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
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--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline badknees

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2017, 06:14:54 AM »
the willful deceit about the existence of water

Example - --

During the Summer of 2016, one of the wettest periods in years, I was told by a permitting ranger not to count on water in Boot Canyon. I believe it was pouring down when I got my permit!
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline Jimbow

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2017, 06:52:35 AM »
I don't wish to try to defend the NPS but I do enjoy figuring things out and finding things that are overlooked.  I guess it's a different sort of exploring.

Casa. Whatever word we want to use today people get the information they use mostly from reading the opinions of their friends and other people. Sometimes that information is wrong.

I've enjoyed national parks since my first visit to BB twenty years ago. Since then I've been the tourists we make fun of stamping my passport from Acadia to Yellowstone.

Along the way I've met a Law Enforcement Rangers who was a real ass, but he spent his entire day enforcing laws on people who are just trying to have a good time on vacation. I've met an Interpretive Ranger who was probably best left way off trail studying fauna. Kids made her nervous.

I've met seasonal Rangers who just landed in a park and who were cramming for the test visitors would be throwing at them. I've met Rangers who knew "their" park like some here know "our" park.

Another observation about our parks and Rangers. BB seems to have the lowest ranger per square mile of any park I've visited. My speculations range from some formula that calculates Rangers per visitor to there is nothing iconic like Old Faithful to protect there. My assumption comes down to money. My guess is BB ranks near the bottom in dollars invested per square mile.

How does this relate to Rangers? Not enough Rangers to actually check the springs. Not enough Rangers to station one at Cattail Falls to stop the destructive behavior. I'm guessing, based on conversations through the years they are frustrated to.

I've met Rangers whose specialties were from rocks to mammals and a couple who came from law enforcement. I've yet to meet one whose specialty was backpacking. I believe having a ranger who actually has a passion for the activities that visitors actually do is a smart move, but a difficult sell I'm sure.

Finally as a former marketing executive,  if the NPS was my client I would recommend they never post here. It's a no win situation. My analysis is a hostile environment with well researched,  informed,  expert opinions who would be difficult to win over. Time would be better spent with receptive audiences planning their next passport opportunity. I'm not certain the general public wants our public servants being paid to hang out on forums or out hiking looking at springs.

Or the NPS just sends their worse Rangers to BB as punishment. They are the lying,  deceptive,  idiots who by government regulations can't be fired.




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Offline presidio

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2017, 10:51:34 PM »
Finally as a former marketing executive,  if the NPS was my client I would recommend they never post here. It's a no win situation. My analysis is a hostile environment with well researched,  informed,  expert opinions who would be difficult to win over.

Many years ago I proposed creating an ability for the NPS to post information here without the ability for direct debate.

There are many unanswered questions that folks endlessly speculate upon, but the official word never is heard.

We know the NPS monitors the traffic, sometimes overtly in the case of some folks now gone from the area. Undoubtedly, they do it silently all the time. Otherwise, how could they ever form the opinion that "misinformation" is available here?

I find it hilarious that they complain about the quality of the information, but make zero to clarify.

They could have a locked forum to avoid being dragged into conversions they apparently are loathe to engage in. We would still be able to dissect and debate what they post in other threads and, because they monitor, they indirectly would get the feedback they fear from being an open public presence.

If the NPS fears debate and cannot even clarify issues in a one-way communication, that implies far deeper problems than they are willing to address. The risk for the agency is clear: being taken to task for policies and actions they simply cannot defend, and sometimes cannot even explain in a rational manner.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Jimbow

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2017, 04:44:27 AM »
I'm not going to jump into the position of defending the NPS here. Like I said I enjoy exploring and thinking about things like this. I'm just trying to understand their position.



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Offline dprather

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2017, 11:26:52 AM »
Giving any kind of advice is a no-win situation. 

Example: I have made it to the Juniper Canyon/Dodson intersection several times in my wife's Equinox and my buddy's tiny Mazda - but I am loath to advise others to do the same in a smaller vehicle.  What if they crash and burn based on my advice?

In the case of giving information that water is available (which I would prefer), the unintended effect is of giving some of the less able and under-prepared advice to depend on it. 

Giving information about water availability to, say, Reece or House Made of Dawn, is an entirely different act than giving information about water availability to a first-timer. 

I get frustrated, too, that NPS desk rangers do not give me the deference of knowing who I am (as if knowing who I am and what I've accomplished is their job).  They  have to treat everyone the same.  Sadly, that means providing information guardedly as to the lowest common denominator.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline presidio

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2017, 11:56:42 AM »
Example: I have made it to the Juniper Canyon/Dodson intersection several times in my wife's Equinox and my buddy's tiny Mazda - but I am loath to advise others to do the same in a smaller vehicle.  What if they crash and burn based on my advice?

In the case of giving information that water is available (which I would prefer), the unintended effect is of giving some of the less able and under-prepared advice to depend on it. 

Giving information about water availability to, say, Reece or House Made of Dawn, is an entirely different act than giving information about water availability to a first-timer. 

Anyone who accepts advice from anyone else, without applying their own standards and common sense (the later seemingly frequently is in short supply) is a fool.

When someone knows you and has experience with how you evaluate and accomplish things, they are better able to judge if your current musings on a topic are useful/valid. Someone blindly accepting advice from a stranger...well...D arwin pretty well described how that can turn out.

Advice merely is opinion; you cannot force someone to accept or act on it. Yes, some folks are incapable of functioning on their own, but you cannot be responsible for their behavior.


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I get frustrated, too, that NPS desk rangers do not give me the deference of knowing who I am (as if knowing who I am and what I've accomplished is their job).  They  have to treat everyone the same.  Sadly, that means providing information guardedly as to the lowest common denominator.

No, they don't have to treat everyone the same. If they cannot reasonably determine, via conversation, the generally experienced from the generally  inexperienced, they are in the wrong job or they are not doing their job. The do not have to treat everyone as an idiot, despite that being the clientele they most attract.

When someone is asking detailed questions about conditions, they expect competent answers tailored to their level of inquiry, not a brush off with useless "always be prepared for conditions." It's pretty hard to prepare for conditions when the organization that expects you to do that will not share information they have.

Pointed, detailed questions about trail conditions and water sources are in a whole different category than "where is the passport stamp," "where is the gift shop," and "where is the restroom?"
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline dprather

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2017, 12:36:47 PM »
It's the dumbing-down of America, like the safety warnings engraved into the barrels of new firearms: "Caution: pointing the open end of the long thingy at your face and pulling the trigger thingy can result in serious injury or other owies."
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline andrwtzel

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2017, 12:38:44 PM »
The irony in this thread asking why the NPS is silent, is that this is exactly why the NPS is silent. They have nothing to gain, only lose. The audience will either be 1st timers, or (sometimes combative) seasoned pro’s with their own takes.

Hypothetical - the NPS makes a post that the Dodson Spring has water. Months later, a “rookie” to BIBE reads this post and doesn’t draw the connection between the date of the post, and the nature of the Dodson Spring. Only to end up on the Dodson at a dry spring, dehydrated, and in a the early stages of what will become a SAR. That visitor then sues the NPS. Was it is the NPS’s burden to update their post? Was it the visitors fault for not doing their due diligence? Or did they? After all, the NPS said the spring was full – and they never said it wasn’t a later date. Did the NPS set a precedent and expectation that they are, and will be monitoring springs correct?

Further,  I believe that the NPS-BIBE does not have the resources to monitor these springs effectively.  The manpower and $$$ to send a ranger out to the middle of the Dodson everyday (because that’s what would be required, based on this thread) is not feasible. So therefore you end up checking the springs on Monday, seeing water, and then telling visitors for the rest of the week there is water. All the while knowing the springs are unreliable, and Monday’s information can very well be out dated.

How can you avoid these scenarios? Stay off the message boards and only give responses such as “the springs are unreliable, plan on carrying all your water”.


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Offline presidio

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2017, 01:06:06 PM »
The irony in this thread asking why the NPS is silent, is that this is exactly why the NPS is silent. They have nothing to gain, only lose. The audience will either be 1st timers, or (sometimes combative) seasoned pro’s with their own takes.

Hypothetical - the NPS makes a post that the Dodson Spring has water. Months later, a “rookie” to BIBE reads this post and doesn’t draw the connection between the date of the post, and the nature of the Dodson Spring. Only to end up on the Dodson at a dry spring, dehydrated, and in a the early stages of what will become a SAR. That visitor then sues the NPS. Was it is the NPS’s burden to update their post? Was it the visitors fault for not doing their due diligence? Or did they? After all, the NPS said the spring was full – and they never said it wasn’t a later date. Did the NPS set a precedent and expectation that they are, and will be monitoring springs correct?

Further,  I believe that the NPS-BIBE does not have the resources to monitor these springs effectively.  The manpower and $$$ to send a ranger out to the middle of the Dodson everyday (because that’s what would be required, based on this thread) is not feasible. So therefore you end up checking the springs on Monday, seeing water, and then telling visitors for the rest of the week there is water. All the while knowing the springs are unreliable, and Monday’s information can very well be out dated.

How can you avoid these scenarios? Stay off the message boards and only give responses such as “the springs are unreliable, plan on carrying all your water”.

Your point is well taken.

The NPS is its own worst enemy because of their entrenched system of holding everyone's hands.

Regardless, you cannot fix stupid.

Another irony is that every time I would seek a multiday backcountry permit I always was requested to report conditions. Why? Precisely because the NPS doesn't go out to those places very often. Therefore, what do they do with that information? Apparently nothing other than perhaps providing a vicarious thrill to someone stuck at a desk. If that information is not going to be shared, there is no point in collecting it.

Since everything the NPS does comes with a huge caveat, they COULD relate user reports. Then follow that with their standard caution of "be prepared for changed conditions." The last thing they should add is "you are responsible for your own safety."

Of course, that last admonition might be ineffective since the NPS has established by practice and consistently losing lawsuits that tourists really aren't responsible for their own behavior, despite an excessive level of "management", far too many rules and signs prohibiting the obvious.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline andrwtzel

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2017, 02:46:57 PM »
Presidio - for the record, I certainly don't disagree with anything you've said. The NPS has a long standing history of their own blunders and contradictions of policy.

I'd be willing to bet that rangers themselves have split opinions on this topic, but ultimately have to do what the boss-man (NPS) says. However, it may be that  sometimes their own opinions bubble to the surface based on interactions at the permit station.

Either way, it makes me more grateful to have a resource such as this.

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2017, 05:24:54 PM »
The litigation attorneys run everything in the end because society has allowed it.

But, you know what? I think I've decided I don't really care what the NPS staff at BIBE has to say about anything.  After all, do you really think they'll suddenly start posting reliable responses on here instead of the same ole canned crap?  I think not.

In fact, the more I think about it, the less I care.  If I need reliable info, I know where and how to get it.  I'll listen to their "dig a hole" speech for the 3087th time and do what I need to do.  No NPS involvement necessary. No fuss no muss.

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Offline dprather

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2017, 09:17:34 PM »
I've worried about newbies and that "dig a hole" speech. 

Imagine how many TONS of unused and unusable trowels have been hauled round and round the OML. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline Keepa

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Re: NPS and water reports
« Reply #29 on: February 16, 2017, 10:50:09 PM »
I've worried about newbies and that "dig a hole" speech. 

Imagine how many TONS of unused and unusable trowels have been hauled round and round the OML.

I have never honored the "dig a hole" rule, it's silly. Do animals dig holes?

 


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