Buy Unleashing Colter's Hell, Lost Cause, and Need To Know three of Amazon's top selling national park thrillers today!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter a great time to visit your national parks and read a good book

Las Vegas Review reporter Margo Bartlett Pesek has an article on the many benefits of visiting your national parks in the winter.  Draped in a winter white, parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and even Zion become otherworldly.  Winter crowds are often smaller than over the summer, yet the experience and adventure to be had is on par with peak months.

One of my favorite park winter pastimes is curling up with a good book next to a crackling fire in one of the great lodges. Looking for a good winter park read?  I have the perfect suggestion.

What's your favorite park to visit in the winter?  What's your favorite winter park activity?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ranger Magazine Review of Unleashing Colter's Hell

Reprinted from Ranger magazine, Winter 2012-13, with permission from the Association of National Park Rangers,

Unleashing Colter’s Hell: A National Park Thriller

Sean Smith. Create Space, August 2012. ISBN: 13-978-1479109650, 313 pages. $9.99, paperback, Amazon

Reviewed by Rick Smith
Ever since 9/11, protection rangers from areas such as Olympic, Yellowstone and Big Bend have been sent to guard the icons of the National Park System — Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and others every time there is a perceived eminent threat to the nation’s security.

What if the target was Yellowstone with its 2.25 million acres sitting on top of one of the most active thermal areas in the world? That is the premise of former Yellowstone ranger Sean Smith’s book. Would it be possible to trigger a strong enough earthquake to cause the super volcano to erupt? And who would be mad enough to try it and where would they get the trigger? And where does the owner of Yellowstone’s major concessioner fit in?

These are just some of the questions that face Yellowstone ranger Grayson Cole and his reluctant partner, rookie FBI agent Diane Harris, as they unravel an intriguing set of circumstances that occur in the mother park. I say that Harris is reluctant because she thinks being sent on this assignment is like what another generation of NPS employees used to say about being sent to Tuzigoot if they screwed up. (It wasn’t true, of course, as Tuzigoot is a fascinating site. I think it was the name that generated the saying.) But as the coincidences pile up, Harris begins to see, as does Cole, that this is no peaceful walk in the park, but a deadly serious situation.

I am not going to say much more about the plot as I don’t want to spoil it for the readers of

Ranger who may wish to purchase the book. I enjoyed the book, although the parts that dealt with the Washington political inside scene dragged a bit for me. However, when the scene switched to Yellowstone, the pace of the book picked up. Cole talks and acts like a ranger and Harris is just enough of a city person to counterbalance Cole’s experience in the park. Their encounter with a grizzly while in the backcountry seemed real to me.

I hope Ranger readers will buy this book.  It entertained me for the week it took me to read it.
Rick Smith, a life member and former president of ANPR and the International Ranger Federation, retired from the National Park Service after a 31-year career. His last position was as associate regional director of resources management in the former Southwest Region. He then served as acting superintendent of Yellowstone. He lives in New Mexico and Arizona.

Get a copy of the novel here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unleashing Colter’s Hell: A Terrifying Scientific Thriller

As a former Yellowstone ranger, I’ve seen firsthand the public’s fascination with the park, a captivation that never seems to wane.  Nearly every week, the press is filled with stories out of America’s first national park.  Yellowstone clearly has the ability to touch virtually everyone who visits it.  It as if Walt Disney designed the park himself.  This remote northwest corner of Wyoming has it all.  Spectacular scenery, towering waterfalls, massive canyons, and abundant wildlife give it a special place in America’s heart.
Throw in the park’s quaint historic buildings and visitors are whisked back to a more romantic time.  Add the other worldly aspects of the park, its geysers and hot springs, and one had the nearly perfect Disney created environment with a new vista or discovery around every corner.
But Disney didn’t design Yellowstone. The park isn’t Disneyland. Yellowstone is, in fact, a super volcano and beneath the park’s postcard setting is a killer, capable of unleashing hell.
The park’s super volcano lies at the heart of my new novel, Unleashing Colter’s Hell.  The novel is a gripping thriller about a terrorist attempt to ignite the volcano and quite possibly destroy the United States.  A single park ranger, Grayson Cole and a rookie FBI agent Dianne Harris are all that stand between the world and apocalypse.
According to scientists who study Yellowstone, the volcano erupts roughly every 600,000 years.  Previous Yellowstone ash clouds have buried the eastern 2/3 of the country in dozens of feet of debris.  If Yellowstone were to erupt today entire cities would be buried, crops would be destroyed, and the sun would be blotted out for weeks if not months, possibly throwing the world into a mini Ice Age.  Millions would die. 
According the geologic record, Yellowstone’s last eruption was 600,000 years ago.  The volcano is due for another blast.
Strict adherence to scientific theory was one of the side boards of my novel.  Except for taking artistic liberty with a few aspects of the story, like the formation of a new geyser, I wanted the story to be based on reality as much as possible.  This gives the plot more credibility, and in my opinion, more terrifying implications.
Federal scientists, as well as researchers from state and private universities are watching Yellowstone very closely.  Ground deformation, rising lake levels, or increased geyser activity and volcanic gas release could all be indicators of a pending eruption.  However, since no modern human has ever witnessed a Yellowstone eruption, scientists are left with untested theories on what would truly precede an eruption.  Moreover, once an eruption became inevitable there would likely be little we could do but make a concerted effort to get people out of harm’s way.
Unleashing Colter’s Hell is a work of fiction.  My intent in writing the thriller was to tell a scientifically accurate story that was compelling to readers.  As one Amazon reader review put it “You will enjoy this book but beware it may pique your interest in going to Yellowstone or scare you away forever.” I believe I achieved this goal.

Unleashing Colter’s Hell is available in paperback or Kindle.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

UNLEASHING COLTER'S HELL up for Dec/Jan Group Read!

UNLEASHING COLTER'S HELL the "gripping", Yellowstone thriller, is nominated for the Goodreads Dec/Jan Group read!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Bits: Unleashing Colter's Hell

Word about Unleashing Colter's Hell is spreading!  The Sun Singer's Travel Blog highlighted the novel on their book news holiday round up!  Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Call me Ranger. . . National Park Ranger

With the recent release of Skyfall, the new James Bond adventure, I’m reminded of how my love of the secret agent’s adventures and my passion for national parks led to writing a Bond-style thriller, set in Yellowstone National Park. Unleashing Colter’s Hell tells the story of a single park ranger’s race to prevent an attack that could destroy the United States.

Let me back up a few years.

In 1997, I served as a seasonal ranger at Yellowstone’s West Thumb geyser basin. While at the park, I lived in a remote single-wide trailer without many modern conveniences like television. As such, I had countless hours for “bubblegum reading.” Some of my favorite novels were the James Bond spy thrillers. You could say thrillers are in my DNA, as my father named me after Sean Connery, the first actor to play the British spy. But the appeal of these stories runs deeper than my name; it’s their exotic locations, along with a compelling hero battling bad guys for the future of the world that captured my imagination.

Perhaps it was the isolation of the Wyoming wilderness or the lack of distractions, but as I read these books, a question occurred to me: Why wasn’t there an American equivalent to these master spy novels? America doesn’t lack exotic locations. I grew up traveling to nearly every state in the Union and visiting hundreds of the national park sites. I’d boated through the saw grass wetlands of the Everglades, tramped under the otherworldly stone arcs of Arches, and ridden horses through the wilds of Glacier. The United States in general and our national parks in particular have enough interesting locations for thousands of stories.

I wondered, who could serve in the place of James Bond? James Bond was a “jack of all trades.” His job required him to fly planes, rappel off of steep mountain slopes, drive high-performance vehicles, and even know exactly how a martini should be made: shaken, not stirred, naturally. In addition, Bond works for the well-known MI-6, Great Britain’s counterpart to the CIA. Bond was equally comfortable in the field and in the halls of power.

Who in the federal government could hold a candle to the super spy? It couldn’t be someone in the FBI or CIA. Those archetypes have been explored before and even show up in several James Bond novels. No, it occurred to me I was looking for a park ranger. On any given day, park visitors could want to know the name of countless plants and animals, the thinking behind the park service’s wildfire management, or even a recommendation for the best nearby restaurant. A ranger has to know it all. But rangers also have to do it all. Rangers can be found tracking down dangerous fugitives on one day, while the next, they are helping to save endangered species such as grizzly bears or gray wolves. Like Bond, rangers fly planes, rappel off of mountains, and drive high-performance cars all in a day’s work. Some can even make an excellent martini.

Yes, a park ranger could make an excellent American version of the British agent. Now all that was needed was a story. James Bond battles international conspiracies and attempts at world domination. Obviously, national park rangers don’t face these types of dangers … or do they? Yellowstone is home to the world’s largest super volcano. Past eruptions have buried much of the eastern two-thirds of the country in dozens of feet of ash. If the volcano blew today, it could well be curtains for the country and world. What if someone or some organization could trigger a volcanic eruption? Voila! I had my location, hero, and a compelling threat, a great story idea.

In 2009, with the gentle prodding of my writing coach, I began working on the novel. Over the next three years, I wrote more than 70,000 words, produced several drafts and rewrites, and finally published the thriller in August of this year: Unleashing Colter’s Hell. (Shameless plug: You can find it here on Paperback or Kindle.)

Thankfully, the Yellowstone attack in my novel is pure fiction. But if it weren’t, I know America’s park rangers would be up to the challenge.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

National Parks Good, Budget Cuts Bad!

National Parks aren't just pretty places, they are sites for affordable family vacations, home to endangered wildlife, sources of clean water and uncut forests, as well as huge economic engines. 

Recently I was on the "Joe Show" on Bellinghman's KGMI to discuss the pending fiscal cliff and the potential impacts budget cuts will have to our economy, public health/safety, and national heritage.

National Parks Good, Budget Cuts Bad.  It's that simple.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Photo Contest: Win an autographed copy of Unleashing Colter's Hell

Have you read Unleashing Colter's Hell, the exciting new thriller set in Yellowstone National Park?  Do you want to win an autographed copy of the novel? 

Send us a picture of you reading/holding the book and get automatically entered to win an autographed copy. 

Enter Today!

Official rules:

1. Email a digital photo of you and/or friends reading the novel to
2. Entrys will be posted on, as well as linked to on and on twitter @parkthrillers
3. In your entry email, please include an address where the book should be sent.
4. Contest officially begins November 10, 2012.  Entry deadline is December 31, 2012.  The winner will be selected January 2, 2013.
5. Individuals limited to one entry per week.
6. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Technology's Spread through Parks: Good or Evil?

When Yellowstone, the world's first national park was established Congress envisioned it would be a place "dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." Nearly fifty years later, when the National Park Service was create Congress commanded the new agency to promote enjoyment of natural and cultural wonders, but only allow those activities that leave the resources unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Activities such as hunting, artifact collecting, and timber harvesting are generally prohibited in the national parks. At Yellowstone the use of private automobiles were even barred for a time. Yet, uses such as camping, hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, and a host of others have predominately been authorized. The thinking guiding these decisions has been to authorize activities that bring visitors a close interaction with the park without causing lasting damage to the park resources and wildlife.

In the nearly 100 years since the Park Service's creation billions of people from around the world have visited the nearly 400 national park units. In 2012, the Park Service has seen more than 271 million visitors, up more than 6 million at the same time last year. Hard to argue the parks are underutilized. Yet despite their popularity and maybe because of it the parks continually face development threats from the outside world.

In my experience as a ranger, most visitors come to parks to escape the hustle, noise, and stress of the modern urban world.  Yet technology such as cell phones, iPads, and GPS push deeper into parks making some of the world's last truly remote places more accessible but also susceptible to the spread of invasive species such as angry birds.

In my new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell the use of technology plays a central role in the story's plot.  Both hero and villain use machines to achieve their objectives.  One uses technology to destroy, the other to protect.

When you travel to the national parks, what technology expectations shape your experience?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thrillers reflect political divides?

A recent Washington Post article notes that political thrillers often reflect the nation's political divides. The Post notes that while most read thrillers for pure entertainment, the genre can also have powerful messages -- American's relationship to government, the rise of private power, the value of constitutional law -- that tend to fall into a right/left divide.

Thrillers that appeal to those on the right tend to have middle eastern villains that are at their core evil, with heroes who are fighting both the bad guys and the constraints of the governmental systems within which they work. In left leaning thrillers the villains tend to be high government officials operating in a world of gray, while heroes are often flawed. Conservative thrillers tend to focus on national security, while liberal leaning novels focus on law and its application.

If the Post's take on the political analysis is accurate, Unleashing Colter's Hell should appeal to a wide range of readers. It's central villain is al Qaeda intent on destroying the United States. While the park ranger hero struggles with balancing the demands of his job with a normal life. My villains are limited by their operating deep within the United States and lacking support, while the heroes are on the defensive (trying to stop an attack), don't have perfect knowledge, and must operate within the law.

As I set out to write the thriller my goal was to have heroes, villains and plot points that were plausible. The book's villains would be driven by perverse, but recognizable motives.  Meanwhile, the book’s heroes can distinguish between good and evil, but are limited in their ability to confront the bad guys by society’s rules.  If the book's initial feedback is to be believed, I feel its a "believable" thriller.

Whether thrillers are written from a left or right perspective, at their heart they are about good people stopping evil.  Thankfully, neither side has cornered the market on the topic.

What aspects of a thriller appeal to you?

Get your copy of Unleashing Colter's Hell today.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Enjoyment vs. Preservation? Can't we have both?

The National Park Service's mission is to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of the park system unimpaired for the enjoyment of present and future generations. In years past the Park Service believed this mission included removing predators such as the wolf and mountain lion in order to boost deer and elk populations. These ungulates were animals the Park Service thought the public came to see. The Park Service also encouraged activities such as the Yosemite Fire Falls and the Yellowstone bear dump shows.

However, over the years the Park Service learned activities such as the bear shows were bad for the bears and the public and rightly put an end to it and other questionable uses. The Park Service realized it mission wasn't to allow all uses, only those that gave the visitors a better understanding of the natural and cultural wonders, as well as left the parks unimpaired.

Today, park management is based on insuring the park's natural functions are viable. This management can still include removing species; however these are ones determined to be non-native such as the Yellowstone lake trout. Yet, also includes reintroducing fire and predators such as the wolf and grizzly bear.

How do you feel about the balance the Park Service has struck between enjoyment and preservation?


Get my new national park thriller, Unleashing Colter's Hell here.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

National Parks and the future. Are we up to the challenge?

The national parks face Draconian budget cuts this winter.  Unless congress can find a solution to our budget problems, places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and Gettysburg face nearly 10 percent cuts! 

Critics of park spending often argue that the federal government is broke and must bring spending in line with revenues.  This position overlooks several facts.  First, the national parks are huge economic engines.   For every dollar spent on national parks, economic research shows that ten dollars is spent in park gateway communities and businesses.  In real terms, national parks pump $30 billion into the national economy.  An outstanding return!

Further, even if the national park service budget was cut to zero it would have little or no impact upon the deficit.  The national park service budget is 1/14 of 1 percent of the entire federal budget.  The country can't balance the budget on the parks.  However, even if the parks were zeroed out, irreplaceable natural wonders and historic sites such as the Statue of Liberty or Mount Rushmore could be lost forever.  A classic example of the cure being worse than the disease.

National parks belong to all Americans, they preserve and protect some of our most sacred ideas, hopes, and places.  We owe it to ourselves and to all future generations of Americans to leave the park system in better shape than when we inherited it.  Previous generations were able to preserve and pass on the national parks through the end of the civil war, the first and second world wars, the great depression, the cold war and on and on.  Previous generations always seemed to find the resolve and resources to protect our parks.

Now the mantle has been passed to us.  Are we up to the challenge?


Get my new national park thriller, Unleashing Colter's Hell here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Public Lands Day: A great way to invest in the future

In my new novel Unleashing Colter's Hell, my central character is Grayson Cole, a national park ranger who works in Yellowstone national park.  On a nearly daily basis park rangers like Grayons are required to lead hikes, recommend places to eat and stay, know the name of every park flower and animal, as well as protect the visiting park from the public and the public from the park.  Park rangers are true "Jack and Jill's" of all trades and are among the most dedicated and well trained federal employees. 

Park rangers however, can't and don't protect the parks all by themselves.  Countless citizen volunteers also help to preserve and protect our national heritage whether through cataloguing civil war artifacts, answering visitor questions, or hosting park campgrounds.  The park service simply couldn't do its job without this help.

September 29th is National Public Lands Day, a national day of service where concerned citizens can give back to their favorite park, forest, or beach.  More than 17,000 people are expected to give their service at more than 2,100 sites in every state in the Union.  Here in Washington State, volunteers with the National Parks Conservation Association will travel to beautiful Mount Rainier to repair trails, clean up campgrounds, and plant native plants.

It's been my experience that people value those things that they have a personal investment in, be it their family, career, hobby, or community.  Volunteering for a National Public Lands Day event, allows one to become "invested" in the preservation and protection of our national parks and other public lands  Your repairing a trail, pulling weeds, or cleaning a campground will help the park rangers and other land mangers better insure that our national heritage is protected for years to come.

Where will you be volunteering on September 29th?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Will the United States end at Yellowstone?

CNN is running a story today on the threat posed by the Yellowstone super volcano. A Yellowstone eruption, even a minor one like that which occurred 640,000 years ago would dwarf any volcanic eruption humans have ever witnessed.  Tens of thousands of people would be killed instantly, while hundreds if not millions more would die in the weeks and months to come.  Depending upon prevailing winds, much of the entire mid-west could be buried under dozens of feet of ash.  The earth's climate would significantly cool, taking years to recover.  Meanwhile crops across the globe would fail, as the sun would be blotted out for months by the massive ash cloud.  According to Physicist Michio Kaku an eruption would destroy the United States as we know it

It's terrifying and sounds like the plot of a novel, which it is.  In my new novel Unleashing Colter's Hell, a terrorist has acquired an atomic bomb with the intent of trigger an eruption of the Yellowstone volcano.  Grayson Cole is a park ranger who along with Dianne Harris a rookie FBI agent are all that stand between the world and Armageddon.

Scientists with the United States Geologic Survey, the National Park Service, and state and private universities are keeping a close eye on Yellowstone.  Volcanologist believe a Yellowstone eruption would give warning through increased earthquakes and gas venting, as well as massive land displacement.  Thankfully, no abnormal activity is taking place today and no pending eruption is predicted.   But one must remain forever vigilant.

What do you think?  Are you worried about a Yellowstone eruption?

Unleashing Colter's Hell is now available in paperback and kindle.  Get your copy today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

National Park Thriller "Unleashing Colter's Hell" Now Available On Amazon

DATE 8/29/12

Contact: Tommy Hough

National Park Thriller "Unleashing Colter's Hell" Now Available On Amazon
Former Park Ranger Sean Smith Releases First Novel

Seattle, Washington – The first novel from former Yellowstone National Park ranger and parks advocate Sean Smith is being made available today on Called Unleashing Colter's Hell, the book is receiving strong reviews from not only fans of parks and outdoor literature, but also mainstream fiction and thriller readers accustomed to the pacing of Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy.

A taught, gripping page-turner, Unleashing Colter's Hell is also a thought-provoking and timely thriller, tinged with an unnerving ring of truth. "I loved it!" said former Capitol Hill staffer Tom Hill. "This is the epitome of summertime beach reading, made all the more compelling by the plot’s real-life disaster scenarios creatively pulled into one streamlined super-threat."

Under the tranquil setting of Yellowstone National Park lies a killer: the world's largest super volcano. The Yellowstone Caldera erupts roughly every 600,000 years, and according to scientists and seismic experts, the next blast is long overdue. A present-day eruption would destroy much of the central and eastern United States, and quite possibly western civilization.

In Unleashing Colter's Hell, a religious fanatic armed with a nuclear device is sent to the Yellowstone wilderness to trigger an eruption and spell the end of the U.S. Veteran park ranger Grayson Cole, along with Dianne Harris, a rookie member of the FBI's domestic terrorism task force, are the only two who stand between the world as we know it and certain Armageddon.

"Unleashing Colter's Hell will give campers and politicians plenty of reasons for sleepless nights this summer," said Tommy Hough, host of the Treehuggers International radio program. "Sean Smith uses superb storytelling, park and outdoor experience, and keen political insight to tell a plot-twisting, action packed adventure."

With a story spanning the world from North Korea, South America, to Yellowstone, Unleashing Colter's Hell draws upon science, history, technology, and current events to deliver a story with terrifying, tangible realism. "Unleashing Colter's Hell is a gripping rollercoaster of a story, ideal for someone looking for a great read while traveling to National Parks," said Debbie Bird, former National Park Service Superintendent. "Sean has accurately captured the work of Park Service rangers at Yellowstone, the world's first national park, which is even more reason to read this book."

Available now on and other on-line outlets, paperback versions of Unleashing Colter’s Hell are $9.99, and Kindle copies are $4.99.

Check back at Sean Smith's website for information on Sean's book tour appearances and readings, and to order a limited edition signed copy of Unleashing Colter’s Hell from author Sean Smith.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Does America have an Achilles Heel?

In Unleashing Colter's Hell, my new political thriller, the plot centers around a terrorist attack at Yellowstone that could lead to the death of the president and quite possibly the destruction of the United States.  It couldn't happen here many say.

Well, the Internet is abuzz today with news of a foiled terrorist plot to kill the president and overthrow the government.  The alleged scheme included several members of the U.S. military who planned to seize an army ammo dump, blow up a dam and poison the food supply.

In Unleashing Colter's Hell, the story hinges on a single man who with limited resources has the ability to inflict a massive blow that might ultimately lead to the destruction of the United States.  A bee sting to take down a bear in other words.

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying that no foreign force would ever conquer America.   If we are to fall the threat, the 16th president stated would come from within. 

Yet is America truly that vulnerable?   Could committed individuals take down the country and destroy what has taken more than two centuries to build?  What do you think?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Park Science Protects our Future?

Unleashing Colter's Hell is available now on Amazon.
Unleashing Colter's Hell: Buy it now!

The National Park Service recently released its roadmap for preserving and protecting our natural and cultural heritage well into the middle of this century. The roadmap calls for the Park Service to plan for "continuous change to preserve ecological integrity and cultural and historical authenticity; provide visitors with transformative experiences and form the core of a national conservation land- and seascape." This plan is an update to the 1963 Leopold report that set the basis for the Park Service's science based management of its wildlife populations.

A strong understanding of natural processes, including continuous research, combined with dedicated staff and programs designed to explain the science behind park service decisions is at the heart of the agency's successful approach to managing our natural and cultural wonders.

Understanding and protecting the park's natural forces produces real societal benefits such as DNA sequencing and cancer cures.

The premise of my new novel Unleashing Colter's Hell, is of a terrorist trying to trigger an eruption of the Yellowstone caldera (one of the world's largest super volcanoes) with an atomic bomb.  A Yellowstone eruption threatens the future of the United States and quite possibly the world's civilization.

Before I began writing the book, one of my story sideboards was plausible plot elements. There would be no magic or supernatural phenomenon needed to move the story. In my opinion a plausible threat, such as the eruption of the Yellowstone volcano is more terrifying than mythical monsters or ghosts.

Over the next three years, I researched how the novel's villain might acquire an atomic bomb, smuggle it to the Yellowstone, and where to place the device to inflict maximum damage. Meanwhile, my hero who is assisted by Yellowstone's head of natural resource manage and an FBI agent, uses his understanding of sciences such as volcanology and his park service experience to chase down the terrorist.

The Park Service's recommitment to good science can give the public confidence that sound management of the national heritage will continue for generations to come. In Unleashing Colter's Hell, the Park Service Rangers uses this scientific approach to thwart Armageddon.

Unleashing Colter's Hell is now out on Amazon. Look for it here!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Colter's Hell has been uploaded

I uploaded Unleashing Colter's Hell to Create Space today.  The book file is being reviewed and should have the final authorization by Monday.  After three years of work, the book is nearly complete.  It should be available to sale shortly.

Friday, July 13, 2012

King County Recognizes the Benefits of national parks

On July 9th the King County Council (WA) unanimously passed a proclamation declaring it Washington National Park Day throughout the county.  The proclamation was agreed to in order to bring attention to the potential budget cuts facing the national parks.

King County and metropolitan Seattle enjoy the unique benefit of being within a 90 minute drive of three iconic national parks (Mount Rainier, the North Cascades, and the Olympics).  Cuts to the national park service's budget could have detrimental impacts upon the greater Seattle economy, as well as the health and well being of King County residents.

I had the honor of testifying before the council about these cuts and am assisting Council Member Patterson in securing the passage of a national resolution when she attends next weeks National Association of Counties meeting in Pittsburgh.

All concerned citizens should contact their elected officials and ask them to eliminate these cuts!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Super Volcanoes Could Spell our End?

New research out of Vanderbilt University suggests that super volcanoes, rather than asteroids are responsible for more mass extinctions.  What's worse, these researchers believe that the time between the magma chamber's filling and an eruption is mere centuries.  In other words, the world's civilization may have little time to prepare for a massive eruption.

Thankfully, super volcanoes appear to have long period between eruptions.  For example, scientists believe the eruption cycle for Yellowstone is 600,000 years.  Unfortunately, Yellowstone's last eruption was about that long ago.

The central focus of my new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell, is about a terrorist attack on Yellowstone.  An attempt to ignite one of the world's largest super volcanoes and destroy the United States in the process.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Park Designation Cheapens Places?

A recent op-ed in the Oregonian claims that raising Mount St. Helens to a national park would cheapen the memories of those killed during the 1980 eruption.  According to the op-ed Mount St. Helens is a place of "tremendous sorrow and astounding rebirth."  Making the volcano a national park would cheapen the area by possibly "loving it death."
By this logic any tomb or place of mass death would be barred from ever becoming part of the national park system.  Unfortunately, this would mean national parks such as Grant's tomb, the flight 93 memorial, or the USS Arizona would never have been established.  The national park service for nearly 100 years has preserved and appropriately memorialized sites such as these, all while welcoming millions of visitors.

The National Park Service would bring the same level of professionalism to Mount St. Helens.

What are your thoughts on whether designating Mount St. Helens a national park would cheapen the place.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Nuclear Park?

Congress is considering making the Hanford B reactor, as well as sites in Los Alamos, NM and Oak Ridge, TN as part of a Manhattan Project National Park.  Recently, concerned citizens, elected officials, government officials, and business owners met in Richland to discuss the park including how the Park Service might interpret this controversial subject. 

America's ushering in of the atomic age and the dropping of the Fat Man and Little Boy bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a story that produces strong emotions.  Many are opposed to the sites being added to the park system and rather than being commemorated believe the sites should be destroyed and forgotten.  But one of the United States' strongest qualities is our willingness to confront controversial subjects.  Some of our darkest chapters in history are told and preserved in the national park system.  For example, the Park Service protects sites where Japanese Americans were interned during World War II, or the site of American Indian massacres or civil rights riots. 

America grows stronger when it confronts controversial subjects and invites all sides to share their views.  The Manhattan Project National Historical Park will be another in a long line of thought provoking parks

What are your thoughts?

Check out my new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell.   Look for it on Amazon soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Border Smorder?

The United States Congress is considering legislation that would exempt the US Border Patrol from complying with environmental laws while conducting law enforcement operations within 100 miles of the Canadian and Mexican border. Proponents of the law state it is needed because environmental law such as the wilderness act prevent the Border Patrol from conducting operations along the borders. Opponents of the law, including the Border Patrol have stated its unnecessary as agreements with agencies such as the National Park Service on operations have been worked out.
Others argue, the law is unnecessary and may be little more than an attempt to gut American authority to manage federal lands for purposes other than extractive uses. A curious exemption would prevent the Border Patrol from exercising its new powers on lands used for mining, timber harvest, and grazing. If Congress' motivation for the legislation is their concern that current law and land use stands in the way of the Border Patrol's getting the "bad guys" why the exemption for lands used for extractive uses? Moreover, Constitutional protections such as the fifth amendment also stand in the way of the Border Patrol. House republicans might better serve their supposed cause by offering an amendment to repeal select bill of rights protections.
Your thoughts?
Look for my new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell to be out on Amazon soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wilderness: An idea that needs no defense, only defenders.

The United States is coming up on the golden anniversary of one of its best ideas. In 2014, the Wilderness Act will turn 50 years old. Today some take the idea of setting aside lands so that natural forces could take the course for granted. But in 1964 setting aside land to remain untrammeled where humans were merely visitors was a radical idea.

The wilderness system has grown from roughly 9 million acres in 1964, to nearly 110 million acres today. While that number seems impressive its only about 5 percent of the entire United States landmass. Further, the system includes large acres of snow and ice wilderness and is lacking in low elevation forests and grasslands.

Some bemoan the idea of wilderness, arguing that the land is "locked up" for no benefit. This is not the case. Protecting ecosystems and their natural processes provide numerous benefits including environmental, economic, social health, and scientific discoveries.

The national park service recently released a beautiful video on the wilderness act and the ideal it protects. Check it out here.

The wilderness act was a far sighted promise to future generation that some areas would be protected. Some areas would be left untrammeled so that future citizens could enjoy the benefits of clean air and water, solitude, natural soundscapes, healthily lifestyles, robust wildlife populations, sound economies, and scientific discoveries.

What are your thoughts on wilderness? Was it a good idea to set aside some lands for permanent protection?

Look for my new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell to be out soon.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A tough but rewarding slog

As many of you know, the creative process behind my writing my new novel "Unleashing Colter's Hell" has been a tough slog. But as I near the end of the process and get ready to publish, I'm able to look back and also see how rewarding the entire journey has been as well.

In thinking back about the writing of the book an obvious linear path is apparent. I got an idea, started to outline the plot, fleshed out the characters, wrote a first draft, gave to test readers, rewrote the story, resent to readers, found an editor, talked to agents, sought advice of other writers, designed a book cover, developed a marketing plan, and on and on and on. However, this linear pattern is only now visible as I look back on the process. Two years ago, as I stood at the beginning of my journey, I had no idea how I was to get from idea to finished book. But I've learned that's okay. As David so wonderfully writes in his Truly Powerful people blog, the writing process was a one step at a time process. Setting out on the journey, taking the first step was more important than knowing where I'd end up or even how I'd get there.

One of the best things I did however, was to hire David Robinson, a life coach to help me through the creative process. We met regularly to go over my successes and challenges, identify next steps, and check off completed tasks. His write up of the process can be found here. I'd recommend David to anyone considering a book or other creative endeavor!

Thanks David for your help! Your guidance and encouragement kept me going!

Look for the book shortly!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Things get bad, Time to sell our national parks?

Seems like a silly question, but there are actually some in Congress who are calling for the selling of our parks. This despite the fact that parks are huge economic engines and actually generate wealth for the country. But even if the parks didn't generate economic benefits, now is not the time to sell the farm.
Congressional leaders like Cliff Stearns see national parks like a Cadillac. A frivolous luxury that should be sold in times of trouble. But national parks aren't like a vehicle valued for its utility and easily replaced. National parks are more like a family photo album, valued for what they represent: family, community, freedom. Once sold those values are lost forever.
Besides the national parks have weathered far worse: the end of the Civil War, two world wars, a great depression, the attacks of September 11th. Rather than selling the national parks during these times of crisis, Americans turned to them. They needed the parks to heal, relax, and remind them of what's important.
Today's tough economy will pass. It always does. So, no it's not the time to sell our national heritage. It's time to turn to our parks and protect them for future generations of Americans who will need them as well.
Look for my new novel Unleashing Colter's Hell to be out soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

National Parks: the new Golden Goose

During these tough economic times, communities across the country are looking for ways to create a diversified and sustainable economy. Not surprisingly, many communities are waking up to the economic benefits that flow from the national park system. Recently, Michigan State University released a report which shows that national park visitors pump more than $31 billion into America's economy and support more than a quarter million jobs. The reason parks are such a huge economic benefit is directly related to the fact that the natural and cultural wonders contained in our parks are protected and preserved for both present and future enjoyment. But like the story of the Golden Goose, we must be careful not to kill the very thing that provides the gold. Adequate safeguards and regulations must remain in place to insure that the natural wonders and spectacular wildlife that draw the visitors are protected for the longterm.

My new political thriller Unleashing Colter's Hell, details some of the challenges park rangers face everyday in their job to protect the parks, while providing safe public enjoyment. Look for it on Amazon soon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rangers: Park Defenders

Being a park ranger, for the most part, is a fairly stress free job. Interacting with park visitors, living in beautiful settings, having a low cost of living are all benefits of working for the park service. The ability to get away from it all is also a big draw for most park employees.

However, that ability to get away from it all also draws criminals. While national parks are extremely safe, they are not immune from crime. Places like Oregon Pipe National Monument on the Arizona/Mexico border is renown for crime, drug running and human trafficking in particular.

Special park rangers, those trained in law enforcement, are charged with protecting the visiting public from crime, but also protecting the park's natural and cultural resources from damage. Crimes against the public in national parks are rare, although they do happen. However, resource crimes stolen artifacts, poaching, or vandalism are too common.

Protecting the public, as well as protecting our irreplaceable cultural and natural wonders is a fairly unique mission among federal law enforcement. And highly trained, highly skilled, and professional men and women of the National Park Service do an outstanding job.

My new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell tells the story of Grayson Cole, a Yellowstone ranger, and his efforts to prevent a madman from unleashing hell on earth. Look for it to be out soon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

National Parks Protect More than Natural Wonders

Recently Congress passed the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization act. Within this new legislation is language authorizing the National Park Service at Crater Lake to protect the park's natural soundscapes from intrusive tourist helicopter overflights. I'm thankful that I was able to play a role in this bill's passage. This new protection will insure visitors are able to enjoy the park's natural soundscapes and wildlife without constant helicopter buzz.

Over its 100 year history, the National Park Service has come to understand that its mission is to protect more than natural or cultural wonders. It must also protect visitor experiences and more importantly public safety.

National Parks are some of America's most special places. The Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, and the Washington Monument protect the cradles and symbols of our democracy. Hundreds of millions of people from around the world visit these sites each year, many in a pilgrimage to be part of America's history. Unfortunately, the high profile of these places and their large crowds also attracts the attention of bad guys.

My new novel Unleashing Colter's Hell is about a terrorist attack on Yellowstone National Park. The book's villain chooses the park for its potential to unleash a devastating blow on America, a stab at the country's very soul. Park Ranger Grayson Cole and FBI agent Dianne Harris are all that stand between the world and Armageddon. The book is slated for release this spring. Look for it soon.

What values and resources do you expect the Park Service to protect?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Parks benefit all

The national park system is comprised of well known sites like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Yet, it also includes lesser known jewels like Point Reyes, Devil's Tower, and Fort Vancouver. All total the park system contains nearly 400 sites, sites that contain and protect some of America's most sacred ideas, hopes, places. The founders of the park system envisioned that as America developed, its history unfolded, and scientific understanding deepened, the park system would expand to capture these new chapters in our ongoing story.

Currently, efforts in Washington State are underway to elevate Mount St. Helens to a national park. Adding the volcano to the park system would bestow added prestige to the volcano, attract new visitors, improve the regional economy, provide more stable funding, improve recreation, and better protect irreplaceable natural and cultural wonders. Recently, 100 economists, including three Nobel laureates signed a letter to President Obama detailing the economic benefits of protected lands such as that in the park system.

Unleashing Colter's Hell, my soon to be released novel, is set in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is the world's first national park. Since that time more than 100 countries have followed America's lead and established approximately 1,000 national parks. Some have called the "national park" America's best idea.

Across the country today, community leaders, business owners, recreation enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and countless others are re-discovering their nearby national treasures and exploring the benefits of adding their sites to the national park system. Several new park bills have been introduced this congress, many could be pass this Fall.

A park system that continues to evolve and expand, can better tell the American story, better reflect the changing face of America.

What benefits do you see from an expanded park system?