Recent comments

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    As I read the article I was trying to come up with a reply. But, after reading John's reply. I must say I agree with him.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 16 weeks ago

    The Brady Bunch said:
    "...crime data show the park system to be one of the safest places in the nation. "

    They are correct, less crime occurs in national parks on average than in the rest of the nation, but it does not mean NO crime exists. In fact, from 2002 to 2006, 1916 violent crimes occurred in national parks, including murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery. During the same period, there were an additional 18,105 so called non-violent crimes committed on park property including burglary, theft of motor vehicles and arson. It is should be safe to assume that had some of these non-violent crimes been interrupted while occurring they would have most certainly turned into violent crimes as the perpetrators tried to complete the crime or at least escape. So, "YES" Mr. Helmke and Mrs. Brady, crime is lower in our national parks on average, but if you were one of the 240 women raped between 2002 and 2006 I sincerely doubt it would help you to know it happened in one of the safest places in the nation. These victims were victims because they were denied the means to protect themselves. Using Brady Campaign logic we should disarm our soldiers in Afghanistan because statically it is a safer war zone than any other to date. It is not that soldier do not die there, but fewer die there than die in Iraq or have died daily in other war zones. According to the DOD, as of May 2009 there has only been 686 U.S. soldiers killed in the entire 8 years occupation of Afghanistan compared to the 4300 in Iraq. Therefore, by applying Brady logic, it must be logical that these soldiers pose a greater threat by being armed than they face from the Taliban and should therefore be disarmed. I mean, just think about it, there were almost 17,000 murders in the U.S. last year alone and only 686 in the entire 8 years in Afghanistan, so if the Brady bunch does not consider us justified in protecting ourselves here in the U.S. then they certainly must not support it in Afghanistan. Really Mr. Helmke, how high must crime become in an area before ones earns the right to defend self and family?

    The Brady Bunch said:
    "its members will be irreparably harmed because they will no longer visit national park areas and refuges out of fear for their personal safety from those who will now be permitted to carry loaded and concealed weapons in such areas. Moreover, those who do visit such areas will have their enjoyment of those areas profoundly diminished by the increased risk to safety created by this rule change."

    The same has been true for thousands of Americans for years, that being those unwilling to disarm and travel into the parks defensive less or those who entered the parks defenseless and spent much of their time worrying about becoming a victim of the current crime occurring there. Unlike the irrational Brady members who falsely believe that they are safe merely because a law exists that prevents someone from carrying a gun, the rest of the nation knows that laws only stop honest people who are not a threat in the first place and give criminals a free crime zone to operate.

    The Brady Bunch said:
    "numerous studies have confirmed that concealed carrying of firearms does not reduce crime and, if anything, leads to increased violent crime."

    To date the Brady Campaign has never produced a single validated study that supports these claims. They rely mostly on reports authored by other anti-gun groups in order to distance themselves from the false reports when they are proven to be fabricated. They love to quote groups with long reputations of fabricating stories and statistics then claim no association when the report is proven bogus. The few studies they have undertaken were so skewed in application that they could in no way be considered an accurate representation of fact. In contrast, both national and state statistics show that violent crime has not risen and has in most cases decreased in areas where concealed or open carry was permitted. It is no coincidence that mass shootings occur in gun free zones.

    The Brady Bunch said:
    "...more than 125,000 comments were received on the proposed rule change, and that many of these comments expressed opposition to a change in the existing rules."

    True, but “many” does not constitute a majority. They fail to mention the 4.7 million Americans represented in the one letter from the NRA in favor of this change. For some reason the NRA is never recognized for what it actually is, a collection of members, that is American citizens who choose to voice their opinion collectively rather than publically and disruptively like the Brady squad and its numerous off shoot organizations. They want people to believe that the NRA is just a single bully on the block. Let the NRA support one of their causes and see how quick the 4.7 million members become noticed.

    In short, the Brady Bunch continues the same old Chicken Little "the sky is falling" fear mongering claims, which have been proven false time and time again across the nation, to garner support for their misguided cause. Despite the fact that disarmament has in every case resulted in an increase in violent crime (England, Canada, Australia, etc.) they continue to forge on in their attempt to make this country as unsafe and dictator ruled as the rest of the world. Fortunately this is a mute point now that President Obama has (reluctantly) signed national park carry into law.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 16 weeks ago

    In my opion it would be a terrible thing to remove the mules from the park. Not only are they an historical part of the park , but for some people the only means of tranportaion down into the canyon. Therefore removing them would jeopardize a large part of the publics Grand Canyon experiance just to satisfy the grumblings of what appears to be a special interest group.

  • Cables Are In Place On Half Dome in Yosemite National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Here's the story on the gloves. They are in a word: junk. They are discarded by previous hikers and are indeed considered trash by the park service. Some people even think the NPS puts them there. They are oversized, torn, moldy (yes, sitting there for weeks tends to grow funk) and potential carriers of the affliction “mogo on the gagogo.” The point is, bring your own tight fitting – good gripping – gloves. I wear bike gloves all day as I use hiking poles and they prevent blisters. Once on the cables you need max grip. The man above is right. Coming down you will be sliding the cables across your palms just asking for blisters.

    Rick D.

  • Still No Sign of Missing Climber on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I wonder what would cause someone to not go with a buddy system. We learn that in 1st grade. Very Sad!

  • Tips for Staying Safe During Your Visit to the National Parks   5 years 16 weeks ago

    This from a local tv station on the question of "staying safe" in Grand Canyon.

    Grand Canyon fraught with peril for unprepared
    (May 23rd, 2009 @ 9:21am)

    GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. - Frank Poole worked out at a gym and hiked around his Mississippi home carrying a weighted pack for months in preparation for his trip to the Grand Canyon.
    But it wasn't long after Poole started hiking on a popular Grand Canyon trail that he was struggling to breathe. Several hours later, he was in a northern Arizona hospital, where doctors determined the 75-year-old Poole had suffered a heart attack.

    ``I never suspected I was having a heart attack,'' Poole said recently from his home in Oxford, Miss. ``I just thought it was the heat and extra exertion, the altitude and things like that. I was just so naive.''

    As tourist season picks up, emergency workers at the park and hospital officials know they'll start seeing more people with injuries or those who, like Poole, didn't know they had underlying health conditions that surfaced during the strenuous hikes at the canyon.

    The canyon lures millions of people each year with its colorful landscape, immense size, and awe-inspiring geology. But it presents obstacles that can leave even experienced hikers emerging sore and fatigued, including scorching heat during summer months, an altitude of 7,000 feet, and steep, rocky, winding trails.

    ``There's a million ways you can hurt yourself down there,'' said Lon Ayers, who works in the park's backcountry office.

    The last few weeks have illustrated that.

    In late April, an Ohio man fell 60 feet when he was peering over the edge of the canyon and lost his balance. Two days later, two teenagers and a young man who were swimming in the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon were swept away and drowned. Another injury occurred when a mule lost its footing on a trail, fell and rolled over the passenger it was carrying.

    Falls, fatigue, extreme temperatures and horseplay at national parks around the country lead to nearly 3,600 search and rescue operations each year, according to 2007 figures. The park service also responds to 16,000 emergency medical calls a year for anything from abrasions to twisted ankles, heat stroke and cardiac arrest, said Dean Ross, NPS branch chief of emergency services in Washington, D.C.

    Rangers at the Grand Canyon perform more rescues than at any other park, including 300 helicopter rescues a year, said Ross.

    People who come prepared, bringing plenty of snacks and water, and who pace themselves and listen to their bodies fare the best.

    ``Don't be afraid to try it, (but) take it easy,'' said Dave Florence of Green Bay, Wis., who recently completed a 40-mile, five-day hike at the canyon.

    But hikers don't always heed warnings from rangers and on signs posted around the canyon.

    Allan Widener of Louisville, Ky., recently took the Bright Angel trail just off the canyon's South Rim. After a park staff member strongly recommended that Widener not head down without water, the hiker quipped that, ``I don't drink water, I drink Coke.''

    On the way back from his 11/2 mile hike, leaning against the canyon wall in a shady spot, the 48-year-old said he wished he would have had something to drink.

    Park rangers say they generally encounter three types of people hiking in the canyon. There are the strong-headed ones, usually in their teens and 20s who have an invincibility complex and will go against recommendations. Others are excited and unprepared but willing to change plans if needed.

    Then there are people like Albert Shank, who are prepared and generally stick to plans they've made, but sometimes get in trouble because of circumstance or because they made a bad decision, said Marc Yeston, deputy chief ranger.

    Shank was about 28 miles into what was supposed to be a 42-mile rim-to-rim run in April when his legs started cramping and his body refused to keep down any food or water. He nearly collapsed on a park bench and spent several hours having saline pumped into his body before he was able to walk out of the canyon.

    The Arizona State University faculty associate, who often runs distances longer than marathons, had plenty of water, energy bars and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but not enough electrolytes or salty food.

    ``That was a rookie mistake, and I'm not a rookie,'' he said. ``I learned that no matter how good of shape you're in, the canyon is something you need to respect, and dehydration will take you down.''

    What can be deceiving at the Grand Canyon is that the temperature at the South Rim, where 90 percent of all visitors go, is about 20 degrees cooler than at the bottom. And while most trails lead hikers up a mountain before the downward descent, it's the opposite at the Grand Canyon.

    ``It's a unique set of circumstances,'' Ayers said. ``People from all over the world need to at least hear it from somebody on what to expect. People who have never hiked the Grand Canyon before expect it to be a walk in the park.''

    Ayers said the level to which hikers are prepared amazes him at times.

    Other times, rangers say they aren't sure what people were thinking. They've seen a man in a business suit carrying a briefcase full of water bottles, a man playing a tuba and people hiking without shoes or in flip-flops.

    ``It all stems from a lack of preplanning and knowledge of these trails,'' said Ian Buchanan, a seasonal park worker who advises people on smart hiking. ``A lot of people get the sense that it's Disneyland when it's an environmental park.''

    At the Flagstaff Medical Center - northern Arizona's only Level I trauma center - officials have a name for the spring and summer months when many tourists travel to the canyon. They call it ``Grand Canyon Season.''

    It's a time where about 30 percent of heart patients are brought in from the canyon with conditions such as valve and rhythm problems, and heart disease and blockages.

    Since the hospital started its open heart surgery program in 2004, there has been at least one month where all heart attack patients came from the Grand Canyon, said Gigi Sorenson, the hospital's cardiopulmonary services director.

    ``You just get used to it,'' she said. ``And now when tourist season kicks in, you just start to expect when they call and say they're coming from the canyon.''

    Poole, who had three clogged arteries, was the hospital's first open heart surgery patient after his heart attack at the canyon in 2004. He said his general good health, the exercise he did in preparing for his trip and willingness to seek help spared him from a more serious problem.

    He hasn't had any complications with his heart since the surgery. ``My heart's in good shape now,'' he said.

    Rick Smith

  • Creature Feature: Yellowstone National Park, Home to Wolves, Grizzlies, Elk, Moose, and ... Crystal Salamanders   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Good topic.

  • Hiker Dies at Death Valley National Park   5 years 16 weeks ago
  • Mesa Verde’s Tribal Park Neighbor: So Near, So Far, So Different   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Great story, Bob! Thanks for the tip on a spot worth seeing.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Anonymous says,

    tourists have never been a target of criminals in the past on NPS land

    No argument from me.... although I'd say "extremely rarely" in the interest of accuracy.

    I suspect we've long since wrung any new ideas out of this whole discussion, so I'll move on to other topics on the Traveler.

  • New Gun Regulations for National Parks, Wildlife Refuges Won't Take Effect for Nine Months   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I suggest that NPS starts talking to NFS on how NFS has handled this all these years. Also the NPS personnel needs to learn that the gun liberties in the state they reside in. No longer do the NPS have a separate jurisdictionon gunlaws. I assume that legal opinion on facilities and structures will be sought but since CCW had gone intoo effect once already they should have most of this preplabnned. Take down the signs and chnage the language on the websites about weapons

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Actually, last year there were 5 incidents of muggings attacking visitors on the National Mall with knives. The park police shut that down fast and there were arrests of the juveniles and it stopped.

    The police jumped on that becasue tourists have never been a target of criminals in the past on NPS land . Usually they attack on the street to steal a wallet or purse. So the high street crime in DC should not have reflected in the stats. Th BW Pkwy has a lot of street ravers. I live near it and hear them many evenings. But this is a traffic issue and speeding issue not a violent crime.

    I expect that drunken drivers and drug possesion arrests are high on GW and BW Pkwys since these are major commuter routes. Most people do not realize they are on NPS land.

    The VA commuters will be affected since some use portion of the GW pkwy and have CCW in thier cars and no longer have to stop on their drive to work to store the gun in the trunk from their hip. Thi s change will allow them not to be hassled or inconvenienced trying to accomodte safe storage when they do not have to on other federal or state roads in VA

  • Historic Pear Trees and a Pig are Part of the Story at this Beautiful Island Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    What an interesting piece! I have bookmarked for future reference and reading. Apple trees on apple seedling is a sure fire way for long term apple production.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 16 weeks ago

    DVP made some good points in terms of Mr. Kane's statistics, and I appreciate both of them taking the time to present this information.

    A couple of points of further clarification on Mr. Kane's data.

    Mr. Kane believes that NPS numbers under-report violent crimes in parks by a "factor of about 21," based on "over 11,000 narcotic related offenses in national parks …involving gangs, organized crime, and drug dealers…”. It wasn't clear where that number of 11,000 such cases came from; it may in fact be from a valid source. If so, it helps to keep in mind that the limited number of categories used for stats such as the FBI uniform crime report sometimes result in "pigeonholing" offenses into broad categories that aren't very descriptive of the individual situations.

    "Narcotic related offenses" are a serious problem, but the vast majority (such as an arrest of an individual for possession of a small amount of drugs) are not "violent crimes," and I'd need to be convinced that such a large number of cases involving "gangs, organized crime and drug dealers" actually occurred parks. Attempting to interpolate those numbers into significant under-reporting of violent crimes such as murder and rape simply isn't valid.

    Mr. Kane is concerned that the number of serious crimes in parks is seriously understated by the NPS because of the number of cases handled by cooperating agencies rather than the NPS. Things may have changed since I retired 8 years ago, but based on my personal experience, if a serious crime occurred in a park, we completed a report - and included the incident in our annual stats - even if another agency ultimately took the lead role in the investigation and/or prosecution.

    There are mechanisms to prevent double-reporting by of those incidents in databases such as the FBI Uniform Crime Report, so I agree it's sometimes difficult to compare NPS stats and other reports. However, even if you include all violent crimes in parks in which the NPS had no role in the investigation, I believe you'd have a hard time coming up with many more of those serious offenses than were reported by the NPS. It would be interesting to see any data to the contrary.

    One strictly anecdotal source in the "NPS Morning Report" which for a number of years has summarized serious incidents in parks - irrespective of which agency handles the case. Is that a comprehensive list of criminal activity in parks? No, but it's a pretty good snapshot of what's happening in parks, especially for major cases such as homicides. I've read those on a regular basis for years, and that source clearly suggests there aren't a lot of murders in parks falling through the reporting cracks.

    Mr. Kane makes a valid point with the statement: "It would not be unreasonably to assume that the majority of these crimes [such as rapes and assaults] were handled and reported by the U.S. Park Police and occurred most likely in the 3 urban parks patrolled by the Park Police."

    He is correct that those areas often account for a disproportionate number of such cases each year; the NPS is responsible for some pretty unlikely pieces of real estate in downtown Washington, D.C. and while offenses which happen there are in fact crimes that occur in a park, including those in the stats gives a very skewed picture of risks posed by visitors to the vast majority of other NPS sites. What happens on a downtown D.C. street in the middle of the night doesn't have much correlation to the risks faced by a camper in a Rocky Mountain National Park - or any other "traditional" park.

    In a very real sense, NPS crime stats may in fact over-report serious crimes, in terms of how much risk is faced by a traditional park visitor. Here are some examples of "violent crimes" which have been reported in parks in past years:

    - a shooting on a Greyhound bus on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway was the result of a lovers quarrel between 2 passengers on the bus. The incident happened on NPS property in the urban area, so it was counted as a homicide in a park.

    - U.S. Park Police found a partial human skull, with an apparent gunshot wound, on the shoreline of the Annacostia River in the D. C. area. Did that crime actually occur in a park, or was the body simply dumped there? Did the skull wash ashore from elsewhere? I don't know, but it was reported as homicide on NPS property.

    - Some (many?) of the rapes reported in parks are incidents which began in a town outside the park boundary and ended in the park. While the actual crime occurred in a park, such sad situations aren't a true reflection of the risks facing park visitors.

    There are numerous similar examples.

    Are there vast numbers of violent crimes occurring in parks that are not reported, or which are absorbed into the data for other agencies? I'm not convinced.

  • 8-Mile-Long Multi-use Path Opens in Grand Teton National Park On Saturday   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Sounds like a paved pathway. I doubt that it will be a popular bike trail at only 8 miles. More like better for wheechairs so disabled will have a chance to see more of the natural beauty of the place. Off course they also may be predator food.
    If large numbers use the pathway that is unlikely and the wildlife coridoor will change to nocturnal or another place.

    I wonder at the trade off of expense versus value and why a 8 mile trail takes two years but that is moot now that it is completed.

  • Historic Pear Trees and a Pig are Part of the Story at this Beautiful Island Park   5 years 16 weeks ago

    A very interesting read. I have bookmarked this for future reference and reading.

  • Missed Portage Leads to Death At Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area   5 years 16 weeks ago

    If people are going to engage in high adventure then they have assumed the risk. It is regrettable that a person died. But basic safety precaution when on any water is a PFD. A cell is no good without service or when it gets wet.
    People have to learn to be responsible for their own safety and that means research when traveling an unknown area. Even check out the conditions when it is a known area.
    I have done WW rafting Class IV an V and fallen off is dangerous water and the guide was very quick to get me recovered since it was an underwater ledge spot. That was with all the safety precautions. I was in little danger due to good guides.

    I like adventure but it always has risk. I do not like the idea that NPS is responsible for warning when people choose to go off the beaten trail.

    If this area has more deaths then maybe more warnings are in order. But since it may have been a cardiac condition that is not warranted yet.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Math and physics are not alienated from nature they attempt to explain the world. Fibinocci numbers and crystalline structures. I immediately knew it was natural and not artificial but not being a native of the area did not know the answer.

    It is fascinating however.

  • Yellowstone National Park Rangers Kill Habituated Wolf   5 years 16 weeks ago

    I am not surprised . People will feed animals, that is how the domesticated dog started. A wolf got habituated and a deal was made. The wolf gets fed and the man gets a hunting and defensive companion. The man became the pack to be protected.

    The feeding may not have been intentional,but just a smart wolf that figured people have food and easier to steal food from campsites or picknickers. Since the vistors did not kill the wolf he became more confident and since no serious injury resulting by the negative condtioning he figured it was safe. It was not safe. Humans will kill wolves.

    This is inevitable as numbers of wolves increase and so do vistors.
    Herd predation was also inevitable and has been happening outside parks. It is easier to kill a sheep or calf than a wild animal. Sheep and cattle are also conditioned to allow dogs nearby and the wolf is a canine.

    People are very sucessful at creating food sources. It is not surprising that fellow predators want those food sources. That is why predator control was a big deal and the cougars, bears and wolves were killed almost to extinction.

    The only way is to have these in areas where people do not exist and more people are born and live every year.
    The contest for land is severw and that has happened in Afica and a good portion of wildlife is looses its territory. When it becomes aa contest between man eating or an animal eating the animal will lose.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 16 weeks ago

    The tactic to skew reporting is a time honored method by many. The British have used in their crime reporting which is different how it is reported in the US. For instance a person is attacked 5 times and it is reported as 1 occurence. The skews the report which is why the anecdoctal reporting is so different from the official reports. If we depend on official reports it is a good idea to dig in to see how the methodology of reporting is done. That is true for all sides.

    I also wish to express my thanks to Kane and his research.

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Hi Sue,

    I've worked in both places as a park ranger-naturalist. It was immediately obvious to me that the mystery photo is that of Devil's Postpile (located within a very small National Monumnet of the same name located near the southeastern border of Yosemite National Park). The rock is volcanic in origin. It's columnar basalt (caused when basaltic lava flows cool slowly). Columnar basalt is found throughout the volcanic regions of the USA and elsewhere, but it's the glacial polish and glacial striation that gives this mystery photo away.

    The rock formation near the East Entrance of Zion National Park is the Checkerboard Mesa. That pattern is formed from weathering in the crossbedded Navajo Sandstone, a geologically famous rock formation of Southern Utah formed from fossilized sand dunes.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • National Park Mystery Photo 3: It's All In the Patterns   5 years 16 weeks ago

    It is most likley Devil Post Pile but I have seen similar shapes in nature one being the eastern entrance to Zion. same shape differant rock?

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Mr. Kane

    I too appreciate and am impressed with your knowledge and research. I do feel the need to stick up for the NPS though. Aside from units covered by the Park Police, you are correct that other units are patrolled by Park Rangers. Due to those units often being in remote areas with varying law enforcement response times and resources, many of them have mutual aid agreements with neighboring cities, local counties and even their home states. These local agencies have a much better infrastructure and logistical support in terms of handling the investigation of crimes committed in parks. This often times helps relieve law enforcement rangers because they also EMT/Paramedic, Search and Rescue, Wildland Fire, resource management and any number of other park responsibilities to handle. If a crime is significant enough, it is turned over the FBI for investigation.

    It is not the NPS's intent to minimize and skew crime statistics. Due to the nature of the parks and the responsibilities placed on Rangers and the park staff, many of the incidents are handed off to other agencies to investigate and clear. Sorry to get off topic, but I felt the jobs that Rangers perform and the great service that the NPS provides needed to be clarified.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Mr. Kane
    Thanks for the research. I have wondered about many of the same points that you have brought out. It is not that they outright lie it is just that they only give out a fraction of the real data to support specoified agends. All I ask of NPS and all politicians is "don't lie to me". It would be real interesting to have the actual data. My daughter worked two summers in a national park and I will definately tell you there are drug offenses and related crimes of the body and property. Anyone who does not believe it lives in a fairyland.
    All of the comments are good for discussion. It is always interesting to note which sections of the Constitution people agree with and which ones they do not to promote and instill their ideological agendas on the rest of us. At least the First Amendment is alive and well. I wonder how many of the commentators want to do away with the First Amendment and the rest of the Constitution and the 27 Amendments.

  • Missed Portage Leads to Death At Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area   5 years 16 weeks ago

    Certainly a tragic event, but somewhat disturbing are several comments related to the lack of cellphone service. I believe we need to rely less on phones to bail us out of trouble and more on pre-trip research and common sense. As much as possible, we should avoid installation of cell towers in the parks on ridges, etc.