Recent comments

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I spend every day in the Smokies hiking and see bear numerous times a day during the "hot" bear season.

    I finally broke down and bought a can of bear spray based upon the length of time I solo hike deep in backcountry.

    I just learned that it is ILLEGAL to have bear spray in the GSMNP as well as most other national parks.

    The full details are here: http://yoursmokies.blogspot.com/2009/04/is-bear-pepper-spray-legal-or-illegal.html

    Don't break weapons laws on federal land!

    Christopher Hibbard
    SmokiesHiker for YourSmokies
    http://www.YourSmokies.com

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    In 1999, Yosemite park rangers, pilots, firefighters, and volunteers conducted 164 search and rescue missions, recovered twelve bodies, and saved forty-seven lives. The total cost (in personnel and aircraft hours) of providing this service to over nearly 4 million American taxpayers who had a chance of being injured while visiting Yosemite that year was $526,719. This seems quite reasonable when you consider that Congress recently gave the NPS $2.5 million to convert a railroad station into a fancy visitor center in Thurmond, West Virginia---a town with a population of eight.

    I have come to the conclusion that the financial costs of Search and Rescue services provided by the NPS is the least of the American taxpayer's worries. In the scheme of things, it is a drop in the bucket, and a worthy drop at that.

    Decreasing the human cost, injuries and lives lost of both victims and rescuers, prior to and during rescue operations should be our primary concern.

    1. NPS rescue operations should be adequately funded and staffed.

    2. Chief rangers should ensure that proactive, aggressive, and clever efforts to prevent injuries and loss of life through public education are taken and funded.

    3. Only in cases involving criminal recklessness should the government seek to make victims pay for the cost of their rescue

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Kurt, as mentioned in an earlier thread on the same topic: As long as the NPS has the manpower to calculate SAR costs of measly 4.7 Million Dollar down to 12 cents, the money is better spend on the safety of visitors than on the beancounters in their offices. Frankly, 4.7 Million is such a tiny fraction of the total NPS budget that I can't think of a better way to spend it. How much would it cost to calculate the amount for an individual SAR operation, write a bill, collect the money and account for it or enforcing it, going to court, spending time and money on lawyers and so on?

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Respectfully, that's your opinion and not mine. I don't poach. I don't even hunt. I don't have any interest in shooting
    animals. I have more experience in bear country than the rangers do, in the park I work in. I know better than to
    shoot a bear with my handgun but if my head was in the mouth of a sow I don't think a "hey bear, hey bear" would do.
    I'm legal to conceal carry. I'm a responsible gun owner. My right to defend myself shouldn't be restricted because
    of a few poachers a few thousand miles away. Your logic would also say then that cars should be banned from the
    parks because someone might hit a deer. Alaska isn't the lower 48. Alaskans don't need to poach. The guys in Game
    Management do a good job and everyone has a full freezer.

    "Why do you want a gun then?" I was threatened by a tourist because of something someone else did. It was zero
    fault of my own. I'm very passive. I have a right to protect myself. I'm not worried about bears. I know how to
    stay safe in bear country. I'm still breathing. It was only one wacko in 20 years, but so what? That's all it takes.

    It was the park service that buried a D9 Cat and a couple hundred barrels of fuel in our national park, not the gun owners.
    Some stewards! And it wasn't the gun owners that ran natives off their land and claimed it. They'd been there for 4000
    years, before the bears were. (considering the end of the last ice age and natural geological changes which changed
    the land from a game migration route to a salmon filled river.) That was natural, bear management by the natives.
    The bears didn't come until the parkies stole their land some 50 plus years ago. It's a wall-less unnatural zoo now.
    I have a hard time respecting the "stewards".
    (I'm not positive about the exact type of heavy equipment buried but it was buried.)

    Alaska state law requires a firearm to be carried in an airplane as part of the survival equipment. Airplanes are allowed
    in the national parks. Considering the vastness of Alaska and its national parks this law would have very little effect on
    poaching. Again, freezers are full in Alaska, legally.

    Anyway, nothing personal. We disagree and I'm OK with that. You're probably not in Alaska, unless you're a ranger.
    Amen? (just kidding)

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Volpe and DAP -

    My perspective for 3 decades of work in parks is that you're partly correct. I fully agree that emergency operations are an appropriate and valuable park function.

    Yes, salaries, equipment and other operational costs for parks are paid for the most part by tax dollars. However, some SAR operations, such as the one John P mentioned at the Buffalo River, occur in the middle of the night, when virtually all of the people involved have to be called back to work. In almost any large rescue operation, even the daytime, there aren't enough employees on duty at any given time to handle the incident - resulting in more overtime. Those overtime costs represent an extra cost to the park (and the taxpayers) as a result of the incident. In some cases, parks incur additional SAR expenses, such as contracted helicopter time.

    So.... are those costs "prepaid" by taxpayers? From one perspective, yes, but the costs described above are often paid by diverting money from other, urgently needed, park operations. Most parks with any significant SAR workload budget for a certain amount of overtime and similar costs--but at the expense of other activities.

  • Plague Kills Many Prairie Dogs and Black-Footed Ferrets in Grasslands Near Badlands National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    i dont understand what the plagueis what did it affect on these black footed ferrets i am a 7th grade student and want understand about this
    i am writing a essay on a endangered animal of my choosing i just of happen to choose the black footed ferret but this is the one thing i dont seem
    to understand please e mail me at

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    DAP and Volpe, I'm not so sure I'd agree with your point that all rescues are pre-paid. For instance, during 2007, the National Park Service reported 3,593 SAR incidents. The cost of those missions? $4,735,424.12. In theory, that money would not have been spent were it not for the SARs.

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    volpe, I could not agree more. All rescues are pre-payed by are taxes, it's one of the few things I am glad to pay taxes for. GREAT POINT!!

  • National Geographic's New Geotourism MapGuide of Yellowstone and Grand Teton – It's Free   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Wow! This is truly an amazing resource. Very well done and I am sure it will be very useful on our next trip to the Yellowstone/Teton area.

    Great find - thanks!

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    John, you wrote "cost of the rescue", maybe you can clarify something for me. If the taxpayers paid for a piece of equipment and employees are paid no matter what they do each day what is the expense for a rescue? Is it extra fuel being used? The equipment and employees are already paid for. If it's volunteers there is no compensation.

    Another point that I'm not clear on is that departments and agencies are set up at great expense to protect, serve and rescue the taxpaying public, isn't that what they tell us the taxes are for? Isn't that what they're supposed to do?

    Please correct me if I'm missing something. Anyone.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    @cut and dry: The parks are not "ours". They belong to the wildlife. We are just the stewards. Everything people do there must be seen from the wildlife's point of view. And as the prevention of poaching mandates to keep out guns and the absence of guns is useful to prevent mis-perceptions of self defense against "dangerous" animals by guys who don't have experience in dealing with wild animals, the ban on firearms is the right thing to do.

  • The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    the only real hayduke is russell crowe

  • Book Review: Let's Go See:All 50! -- Visiting the 50 States Journal   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I have visited all 50 states. I completed that feat when I visited Alaska in 1995. It's been a while since I've been back to, e.g., Rhode Island, Delaware, or Arkansas, however. If I can get to Prince Edward Island someday I'll have visited all 10 Canadian provinces. That doesn't include the Yukon, Nunavut, or the Northwest Territories, however. Something to do in retirement.

  • Would a Change in Gun Laws Be a Threat to National Park Bears?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I'm getting into this debate a bit late due to my recent arrival to the forum. Jim Stratton raises valid concerns regarding the carrying of personal firearms in national parks in general and in Katmai in particular. For those who have not been to Brooks River in Katmai, the interaction of visitors and bears is one of the most unusual situations to be found in any national conservation unit. There is a dynamic and delicate balance between people and bears that is possible, in large part, due to mutual respect and a low threat level. This is not to say there have not been problems, but I know of only one incident in which a park employee sustained a minor wound. It is not unusual to meet a bear face to face within a few yards on a park trail. These are among the world's largest bears. The golden rule in the park is that the bears have the right-of-way, and people must move aside to allow the bears room to pass. A day at Brooks River will give you a lifetime of bear stories. Visitors are not permitted to carry firearms for a very good reason. First, it would change the dynamics of the existing truce between bears and people and possibly result in much greater restrictions on visitation. A wounded giant grizzly bear in a concentration of visitors is the stuff of nightmares.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 19 weeks ago

    If I have the right to conceal carry why should it be different in a park? Because I might shoot an animal?
    No... it's all about the parkies. Parkies think it's their park when it actually belongs the people... and they
    are our employees. Oh, I could go on and on but that about sums it all up. Friendly rangers have become
    cops looking to violate happy tourists. And they do. Egos! Ladders to climb. Names to make. Retire with
    the highest GS pay they can get.

    It's our park! And I have a right to conceal carry. I'd hope that if I was unstable enough to be a hazard
    in a park I wouldn't be permitted to conceal carry in the first place. It's all about parkies.

    Can I get an "Amen"?

    (I've worked in an Alaska national park, famous for bears, for 20 years. Yeah, you're probably guessing right.)

  • Would a Change in Gun Laws Be a Threat to National Park Bears?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Boy are you wrong!

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    She's darned lucky she still has her right lower leg. Ranger Powell almost certainly saved it by manipulating the ankle to open up the kinked artery. That is also a sign of some pretty advanced first aid training. Thanks for posting this warm fuzzy story with a happy ending. Moral of the story: If hiking alone in Death Valley (or anywhere for that matter), make sure you have told someone where you're going and when to expect you back or risk becoming buzzard bait.

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Both this person and the person with the ill-advised leap at the Buffalo National River sound like candidates for the Darwin Awards. Despite the fact that this occured in a place called Darwin Canyon, I will give this person the benefit of the doubt without additional information. The person at the Buffalo National River, however, should be charged for the cost of the rescue effort, rather than have our taxpayers pay for his stupidity.

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    What a lucky individual. The article fails to mention if she filed a notice with the Rangers alerting them that she would be hiking alone or where she might be hiking. She may have left word with friends but again the article does not mention this. Please call the ranger station and let them know where you are hiking alone and when you will be back. The new SPOT is nice, but like so many places it most likely would not have worked nor would a PLB in that canyon.
    Fortunately she was found by the Rangers and with some excellant flying skills by CHP she did not have to be packed out.

  • About The National Parks Traveler   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Hi, I just stumbled onto your site by accident. Great site!!! Since I've been a road tripper for the past several years, I've logged miles on my truck visiting many different National Parks, Monuments, etc. From the little I've seen so far, great going guys. I've bookmarked you so I'll be sure to be back. Good information, I love it. thanks.....

  • Sour Economy Has Created Lots of Availability At Yellowstone National Park Lodges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I recently spoke to some folks who run a B&B in Alaska, and they said that while it's usually good to book their spot a year in advance, they still have openings for this summer.

    As Kurt points out in the original story, for "those who managed to avoid the worst of the economic doldrums, this might be a great year to realize that dream" trip.

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 19 weeks ago

    FYI, the letter I mentioned to the Montana DOT and Highway Patrol on the dead bison has been sent out, and I just posted it to my group's Web site.

    It's at http://www.buffaloallies.org/node/169 . It was signed by Animal Welfare Institute, Buffalo Allies of Bozeman, Buffalo Field Campaign, Defenders of Wildlife, Gravelbar, Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo, The Human Society of the United States, Natural Resources Defense Council, Western Watersheds Project, and sent out on April 15.

    Buffalo Field Campaign sent out a separate letter a day previous; however, that letter is not available via the internet.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Book Review: Let's Go See:All 50! -- Visiting the 50 States Journal   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Hey Zack, I had no idea you even posted that until now. Thanks, and go do your homework! ;-)

  • Mount Rainier National Park: Reaching Out to Camping Newbies   5 years 19 weeks ago

    we are very interested...depending on the dates, we would love to come!!! -JB

  • Taxpayers Get a Nice Present on April 15th   5 years 19 weeks ago

    God is great, even he enjoys the beauty of nature.