Recent comments

  • Talk Of $30 Million Fiber Optic Network At Yellowstone National Park Renews Debate   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Please, no! Spend the money on the stuff it needs to be spent on, please!

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   3 weeks 3 days ago

    I'm amazed there aren't deaths here every month. the last part of this hike is just too dangerous, and a cable should be rigged for the ENTIRE last 0.5 miles. I've done canyoneering and rock climbing and I wouldn't even THINK about doing this without roping in. but thousands of people, with no experience (mostly) do it every year. That doesn't prove that it's safe, it just proves that a) people are stupid and b) people are stupid. It's just not worth the risk for the endorphins or for bragging rights. As other people have noted, the deaths here are GROSSLY under-reported. A group from my college is doing it this weekend, 60 folks, ages from 16 to 60, and they're ALL going to feel ENORMOUS peer pressure to do this (group led by a crazy professor). NONE are going to rope in, and I really fear that a dear friend of mine will fall to her death because she's too macho to resist the peer pressure.

  • To Wire, Or Not To Wire, The National Parks, That Is The Question   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Would the NPS have to pay for these sites? I am not sure the cell companies can justify the expense or do we plan on subsidizing them? I do enjoy being out of range, a perk of a national park from my perspective.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Slc72. Very good points. Thank you.

  • To Wire, Or Not To Wire, The National Parks, That Is The Question   3 weeks 3 days ago

    My wife takes hikes in nearby bear country several times a week. She thinks it is a nuisance when I remind her, but I do ask her to carry her phone, just like you put a water bottle or basic first aid supplies in your pack. She is definitely __not__ rocking out to the oldies out there and it disturbs no one for her to have 911 availability.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Some here in Utah believe that Utah's move to try and gain outright ownership of the public lands is a red herring. The fall back being more direct control/mangement of those lands by private/state/municipal entities. Federal agencies have already taken this approach for certain recreational services and, as federal budgets decline, are likely to expand the concept to other resources as well. Recent court decisions have facilitated such an approach by ruling that federal laws controlling federal agency management don't apply to these outside entities.

  • To Wire, Or Not To Wire, The National Parks, That Is The Question   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Lots of factors influence our opinions on this subject, but there's little doubt cell phones have become a very big deal for many people today. A term has even been coined for the fear of being out of contact by cell phone. It's called "nomophobia" (short for "no-mobile-phone phobia"), and some researchers now claim it's gotten so prevalent that "Fear of not having a working cell phone should be added to psychiatry’s diagnostic manual."

    This article about "smartphone addiction" says, "In a national survey conducted in the fall of 2013, 63% of respondents said they check their phone for messages or calls once an hour, while 9% said they checked their phone every five minutes. An additional 63% said they would be upset if they left home without their smartphone. Many would return home to retrieve it, even if they're out on just a quick trip to the store."

    Whether or not we like the idea of expanded cell service, information such as the above suggests it will be a tough battle for the NPS to resist pressure to expand wireless service into more and more areas. Today's Traveler article about a possible project at Yellowstone is likely just the first of many such proposals.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    I agree Alfred, thank you.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    If this were ever to go to the Supreme Court, Utah would simply lose. There is no "interpretation" here on which they could win--and they know it. They are simply playing to their local constituencies, many of which hate the public lands, that is, until Uncle Sam starts passing out free dollars again, when all of this will subside.

    Bill Clinton pulled that trick during his presidency--awarding federal coal lands to the state of Utah (about 185,000 acres) for having established the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. As every child knows, when it cries its parent is forced to listen. Clinton was always happy to listen. Remember that in 2016.

    Go back in American history and read the cries for aid that came from practically every western territory. "We are here in ye howling wilderness fighting off Indians and bears!" Send help! Build us a fort with a company of regulars! We are advancing civilization while you lazy Easterners gobble up all the benefits!"

    The West just can't stop crying to its parents: "We did it all by ourselves!" I love it because it is so predictable. That part of American history has never changed. How do we become millionaires and billionaires? We speculate in vacant land! Who has the most? Uncle Sam. Now, if he would just get out of the way, I could be the next Donald Trump. I could build the next resort complex in Utah, complete with 85 golf courses, as in Palm Springs.

    It's America. It's in our blood. I don't fault anyone for trying, but really, at some point we'll have to stop, no matter what the Constitution "says." And it just doesn't say--however the states try to spin it--that the Union is less than they.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Interesting posts. I am reminded of some of the experience I had being involved in litigation issues with both governmental and private sector entities. The first rule was" 90% of us demanding justice, should be on our hands and knees begging for mercy". "What we think the law is and what it is" is complicated at best. I am not an attorney so cannot speak on this issue with much creditability. But what certain political opportunists are asking for in Utah and other sage rebellion states appears to be out in foul territory . To many good people, Republican and Democratic, etc. worked to hard to establish the public land for the reasons Gary, Alfred and others have pointed out, lets not turn the clock back.

  • Birding In The National Parks: The Birds No One Seems To See   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Interesting article, Kirby. I guess this is one of the factors encourages birders at all levels of expetise to keep their eyes (and ears) open, whether we're at home or in a new location :-)

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    That was my point Jim. While personally I think the Utah case for the TPLA is weak (it over reaches especially in remedy), it isn't the slam dunk portrayed in the subject article.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Section 9 states that if the Feds ever sell any of their land in Utah, that the Feds shall give Utah 5% of the proceeds.

    It doesn't say "if" it says "shall" . That is the cruxed of their argument.

    BTW - I see that as section 3 in Article X. I don't see that in any Section 9.

    [Further edit] - I was reading from the Constitution rather than the Enabling Act. Sections are different but the language is the same "shall" not "if".

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Based on the above comments, it looks like there's enough room for "interpretation" of the language in the Utah Enabling Act to keep lots of lawyers employed - and blog posters busy - for a long time :-)

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Alfred,

    Ordered Robbins book this AM. Will be a little while till it gets here and I have a chance to read. In the meantime, can you share his argument as to why Article X Secton 3 doesn't create that obligation?

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Oh I get it Alfred, I agreed (actually pointed it out first) that there was no US Constitutional requirement for the government to part with the lands though the jurisdiction changes upon being convertion to a state.

    However, the basis of HR 148 is not that the lands belong to Utah because of a US Constitutional requirement but because it was contractually agreed upon in the Utah enabling act. The Feds have the right to do what they want with their land ownership but if they contractually agree to sell it, that is what they have to do regardless of Article IV or the Supremecy Clause.

    This is why I like this site and people like you Alfred. It does bring up important issues and force people to listen to others' arguments and do deeper investigation. Under (because of) Article IV, I didn't see much substantiation of a claim to title of the land by the State of Utah. Looking deeper into the language of the Utah enabling act (sorry Virginia's higher education didn't teach the Utah Constitution) I see a stronger (but not rock solid) case.

    Did the US Government actually contractually agree to sell the land? That certainly is up for debate. Was there a required time frame? Is the remedy of the contract breech seizure? All open questions. However, the case is not the slam dunk implied by the subject article and can't be substantiated at all by the reasons given - i.e the Property Clause and the Supremecy Clause

  • To Wire, Or Not To Wire, The National Parks, That Is The Question   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Gary, it wasn't the loblolly, though the ones there are impressive; this was a deciduous tree, with ovoid serrated leaves, a grayish trunk.

    I'm not saying that towers and access have to extend deep into the wilderness - in fact, I would be completely against that. However, I see no reason for there not to be access in the front country areas, within a mile or two of the roads and visitor centers, where 95% of visitors go. The visitor centers provide some information but it is generally soundbites. I wish for more detailed information. I would talk to an interpretive ranger to get that information but, in parks such as GSMNP, they are woefully understaffed.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 3 days ago

    Section 3 of the Utah enabling act (with which the state agreed) stated that Utah forever disclaim all right and title to unappropriated land. How this can be construed as the Feds being contractually obligated to transfer the land to Utah, I will never know.

    Section 6 details which lands the Feds will give Utah when they become a state.

    Section 7 enumerates 100 further sections the Feds will give Utah for public buildings and such when it becomes a state.

    Section 8 grants further lands from the Feds to the state for building universities or for sale to support the universities.

    Section 9 states that if the Feds ever sell any of their land in Utah, that the Feds shall give Utah 5% of the proceeds.

    Section 12 grants further amounts of Federal land to the state of Utah and then states: "The said State of Utah shall not be entitled to any further or other grants of land for any purpose than as expressly provided in this act; and the lands granted by this section shall be held, appropriated, and disposed of exclusively for the purposes herein mentioned, in such manner as the Legislature of the State may provide. "

    So, the Utah Enabling Act states that Utah forever gives up claims to Federal lands except the land the Feds gave or granted to the state. And, the Utah enabling act, with which Utah agreed, states that Utah is not entitled to any additional land not listed in this act.

    So, now Utah is demanding the Feds transfer/extinguish title to a lot of land. Land that was never Utah's. Because they want it. There really is no constitutional question here.

    The case of Fort Leavenworth v Lowe is a red herring. Kansas ceded land to the Federal Government. When it ceded the land, it retained the right of taxation. This has no relation to the Utah issue, as Utah never owned the land in question; it has always been held by the federal government.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 4 days ago

    No, the federal government did not "contractually agree" to sell off the public lands in the western states. Read Roy M. Robbins. What the federal government agreed to do was provide those lands under the Homestead Laws, until, in 1935, homesteading was finally brought to a close. However, one can still file a mining claim in Utah--or any other western state. The law of 1872 still holds in those cases, even on the national forests, which Gifford Pinchot once vehemently opposed.

    The point is: The West did not make itself. It was rather made by the East, again, beginning with the common sacrifice of the Revolution. Who paid Napoleon for Louisiana? The East. Who bled for Texas? The East. Who conquered Mexico and "freed" the Rocky Mountains? The East. Who established California and paid for Alaska? The East. Now Utah wants to say it is "owed" something? You bet. A stiff kick in the you-know-what. Unfortunately, because this president and Congress are just as ignorant of American history, they indulge in enabling rather than leadership.

    All of the prerequisites for making new states were guaranteed by the Ordinance of 1787, which itself predated the Constitution and amazingly survived. Then again, why not? It and the Ordinance of 1785 were brilliant pieces of legislation, providing for the orderly disposal of the public domain, although yes, western settlers did ask for needed reforms.

    Those Congress granted, but not the right for any state to dictate the terms of nationhood. The Civil War then sealed the question. Once in the Union, you have no right to quit. Does Utah want to quit? Be my guest. Turn in your American flag tomorrow morning and fly one of those billboards you love so much. You sure make them obnoxious enough so every motorist is forced to look. But don't tell this American that you are more American than I. I know my history; I know where you came from. And without the sacrifice of all Americans, the state of Utah would not exist.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 4 days ago

    ECBUCK, you are a jewell! Refreshing to hear your reasoned posts in a world bent on decline. Rock ON!

  • To Wire, Or Not To Wire, The National Parks, That Is The Question   3 weeks 4 days ago

    Having taken many families and individuals into one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and seen the very positive transformations that kids (and adults) experience connecting to real as opposed to virtual, this is a very bad idea, seriously! Very addictive this technology and goes against everything these Parks have meant to generations before. NPS is selling their soul if they let this happen in the National Parks any farther than it already has. We all need more real engagement and not this BS virtual, I believe.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 4 days ago

    The Constitution was deliberately left with areas of vagueness to allowe for changes they knew were coming

    Can you point to any writing of the founding fathers that says that? If "changes" were necessary they made it quite clear how they were to be done via Article V.

    The genius of the document was not trying to regulate every aspect of peoples lives but instead to recognize core principles of natural rights and liberties and create a Federal government with very limited power, reserving the bulk of the power to the people via the states. Those principles are as valid today as they were in 1779.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 4 days ago

    When the Constitution was written, the West was Ohio and Kentucky. I'm sure our Founding Fathers were not anticipating the Louisiana Purchase or transcontinental railroads. The Constitution was deliberately left with areas of vagueness to allowe for changes they knew were coming even though they couldn't have imagined what those changes might be.

    That was part of the genius of those who wrote that document.

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 4 days ago

    The country is not even close to being what it was in 1776.

    And we are much worse off for it. If we still followed the founding principles we would be far better off.

    BTW Gary you might want to pay attention to Kurt's addendum:

    "It should be noted that Utah's bid is aimed at U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands, not those under the management of the National Park Service."

  • Legal View: Utah Has No Basis To Order Federal Government To Turn Public Lands Over To The State   3 weeks 4 days ago

    In other words, if a murderer in Utah hides out on the public lands, the state has every right to pursue him without asking permission from the federal government. On that the Supreme Court would agree. However, as to forcing the federal government to part with the public lands, Dahkota has its right. Beginning with the Ordinance of 1785, Congress reserved that power to itself. New and equal states were to be formed from the western territories (the Ordinance of 1787), but again, under land laws enumerated by Congress. But why argue here? Read this magnficent book by the dean of public land historians, Roy M. Robbins, OUR LANDED HERITAGE: THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, 1776-1936 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1942); reprint edition, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1962).

    As I keep saying, we don't teach these things in higher education anymore. So don't blame EC if he doesn't get it. Even the President of the United States doesn't get it. The public lands don't belong to General Electric, either, but the president (and General Electric) sure act as if they do. See:

    http://www.drecp.org/