PRIVATE FIRMS WANT WI-FI IN NATIONAL PARKS – SO THEY CAN CHARGE FOR IT
Show of hands — who wants wi-fi in the backcountry? Aha! Only those with a profit motive are waving their mitts in the air. This year, 10 national parks will expand their broadcasting of wi-fi, and one of the main reasons is that park concessionaires, the private companies that profit serving food and renting rooms in parks, are complaining that visitors expect/want/need easier internet access. The National Park Hospitality Association said lack of wi-fi is an “irritant that adversely shapes memories of a park visit.” (The hell with the views, the clean air, the critters.) The National Park Service likes the idea, arguing that it would enable communication and reduce paper handouts. “We’d be able to print a lot fewer park newspapers, park brochures, flyers, that would save us money. That would be a green thing to do,” said NPS spokesman Jeff Olson. The NPHA suggests free wi-fi for the park’s website around visitor’s centers and the like, but fees for access to any other sites. Here’s a better idea: If you have to have wi-fi in a national park, it should be free, period. Via National Parks Traveler.
CYCLOCROSS WORLDS DISCOVERED BY WALL STREET JOURNAL
Adventure and alternative sports are no longer just the domain of us geeks — they’re so mainstream that even people writing for mainstream media are participating, or at least dialed enough to cover them intelligently. Case in point is Jason Gay’s piece for the Wall Street Journal on this weekend’s world cross championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Gay not only nails the cross vibe, he understand enough to explain why the arrival of the Belgians is a Big Deal. “The Belgians are like the Beatles of cyclocross; at last year’s worlds, they swept the top seven spots in the race, and U.S. fans are going to be totally nerding out that they’re here…Belgium — the motherland of the sport — gets 60,000 people for cyclocross races. You can gamble on cyclocross in Belgium. It’s on live TV. Beyoncé plays cyclocross halftime shows in Belgium.” It’s a good read. Via WSJ.
BIG WAVE SURFING DISCOVERED BY NPR
If the wave Garrett McNamara rode in Portugal this week is 100 feet, we’ll eat something nastier than our hats, and all this suggestive reporting by the media and bloggers that it MIGHT be 100 feet is further evidence of supremacy of cheap tricks, hyperbole, and the lack of critical thinking in our world today. With that short rant out of the way, though, National Public Radio took at look at G-Mac’s ride and, more interestingly, how the Nazare monster formed. Like other big wave spots, the sea bed rises sharply just off shore, allowing deep water swells to maintain their wave energy until just before they explode on the coast — and in Nazare’s case, there’s a 16,000-foot-deep canyon that funnels energy straight toward the break. Via NPR.
BLM BUYING LAND TO KEEP CLUTTER OUT OF GRAND STAIRCASE
The stretch of canyon country east of Escalante, Utah, is empty and desolate, and the Bureau of Land Management wants to keep it that way. With help from the Grand Canyon Trust and money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the BLM is purchasing 21 acres of inholdings that lie inside the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The trust began snapping up the small parcels a few years ago when it heard rumblings that owners wanted to develop tourist-friendly businesses there; Escalante is filled with outfitters, restaurants, and lodging, but the surrounding canyons are dead empty. This being Utah, some people don’t like it — the official policy of Garfield County, of which just three percent is private, is to oppose more government ownership, even if it means someone puts up a Hotdog on a Stick franchise in sight of Calf Creek. Via Salt Lake Tribune.