Recent comments

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    If their case was so strong that concealed handguns were an unnecessary presence in the parks, why didn;t they argue that position?
    Instead they argued the technicallity that proper environmental assessments were not followed.

    How exactly did the previous rules "work well". Kind of like saying my magic hat keeps away elephants. It has worked so far, why should I stop wearing it.
    The fact is that there is much evidence to show that allowing concealed carry is both advantageous for the carrier, and does not cause a detriment to other who are not carrying. States that have allowed concealed carry have not seen an increase in crimes committed by those carrying legally. And if having a sidearm means I have another means at my disposal to protect my family against a threat (yes, admittedly a small statistical threat) of attack from a human or animal, then why not allow it.
    In my opinion a rule change that increases my options for self protection while having no discenable nagative effects is a no-brainer.

    I personally am glad that when I am hiking in the National Forest, or state parks I can carry a tool that gives me the ability to defend my child, my wife, and myself from an aggressive attack. Now, if I venture into a National Park I have to unload it, and pack it in the trunk where it does me no good. Why should there be a difference in rules because I cross a road, or walk through a gate.
    That is what the rule change did in January. It made State law apply on federal National Park land.
    Why is that a bad idea? Is the federal government smarter than the local government? No, just further removed from reality.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    While you may be right about the original intent of the law, the current rule change should not affect poaching.

    The following would all have to be true for the rule change to lead to more poaching:
    1. A poacher would have to be able to pass a criminal background check.
    2. He would have to go through the licensing and training requirements of his state and pay for a permit.
    3. He would have to have a concealable handgun capable of taking game, perhaps a midsized 44 Magnum or 357 Magnum
    4. He could secretely carry that handgun on his person, knowing that he had not violated any laws yet.
    5. He would then travel to a remote area where a gunshot would not be heard, track and shoot an animal.
    6. He risks severe legal penalties, including the permanent loss of his permit, as soo as he draws his weapon and fires.
    7. Then he secretely cleans and hauls out the meat.

    Without the rule change, this is what it takes to poach: (note this could happen with or without the rule change allowing concealed guns)
    1. Anyone with any criminal history takes any gun to a remote area of a National Park.
    2. The gun is unloaded, disassembled, and in a case in the trunk as has been required by park rules for years.
    2. He risks severe legal penalty as soon as he assembles and loads the gun.
    3. He tracks and shoots an animal.
    4. He secretely processes and packs out the meat.

    Since the gun is legal in both scenarios until the crime is about to be perpetrated, what difference does it make that in one case the law was broken a few minutes sooner rather than later? There is really no increased chance for law enforcement to stop the poaching.

    Consider also that those with concealed carry permits are exceedingly law abiding, and probably would not be the people poaching. And handguns commonly carried concealed would be of limited effectiveness in taking down game animals.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    The new rule was a solution to a problem. The problem of CCW holders traveling across NPS lands in cars and having to stop and secure the weapon and then stop again to carry in a holster. Some drivers had to do this many times a day.

    Plus the Heller decision implies that the federal government cannot ban guns and carry in the parks. The Heller decision did indicate that CCW could be banned but not carry. So would open carry be a better solution?

    I do not believe that Brady people would approve of open carry. It is funny but that organization has justified its stance on keeping guns out of criminal hands. However this rule change had nothing to so with this justification, but the Brady group was against this rule change.

    So is the Brady group concerned about the possible environmental impact or just the fact that guns were allowed with CCW?

    The answer is obvious. Brady group is anti gun, not pro environment.

    Beside how is gun secure in a holster an environmental hazard? The ban on discharge is still in effect so this is just another example of anti gun hysteria.

    I expect the District Ct to uphold the injunction and then go to the Circuit Ct where it will be overturned just like the Heller decision.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Why is it that when groups like the NRA file lawsuits, it is viewed as activity that does not pursue their politial agendas? Yet, when other groups file lawsuits, it is nothing but "classic legal obstructionism, wasting the court's time and resources to further a back-door political agenda." I am a member of two of the litigant parties. I don't think these groups have a back door political agenda. They are up front in saying that the previous regulation concerning guns in parks worked well and that the DOI's new rule was a solution looking for a problem without any evidence to support its implementation.

    Rick Smith

  • Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park Could Shut Down For Structural Strengthening   5 years 19 weeks ago

    The Ahwahnee is a wonderful hotel, however the design and construction of concrete structures has seen many improvements since the Ahwahnee was built in the 20's. While I hate to see the Ahwahnee close for as much as 2 years for the structural work, I would also hate to see it badly damaged in an earthquake. I am one of the few who have had the opportunity to "look inside the walls" of the Ahwahnee, and I have to agree that the strucutral upgrades are probably a good idea. They just didn't use enough structural steel in the concrete back in the '20s to allow these structures to hold up well to a major earthquake. One of the biggest issues would be breakage of pipes within the walls, and associated flooding of the building that would result. The Ahwahnee has a lot of valuable art in it that could be badly damaged. While $137 million is a lot of money, at least it would be going toward something that would have a return in value for the future generations who will have to pay back that money. So I guess I would weigh in on the side of favoring the upgrade. (There are a few photos "inside the walls" of the Ahwahnee on my website if you are interested, they show the huge cast iron pipes within the walls.)

    Jess Stryker
    www.Historic-Hotels-Lodges.com

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    PCT aka the Perfect Cycling Trail. Most parts of the PCT in northern Cal and the Pacfic northwest are barely ever used. The damage accusation is complete FUD. If it's too muddy, you should not be hiking the trail either. Duh.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    If it's so safe, why do the park rangers carry firearms?

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Take a step back for a minute and consider why the ban on loaded guns in national parks was enacted decades ago. Poaching was already illegal, but enforcement was nearly impossible. The problem is that when loaded guns are legal anywhere in a park, poaching is almost impossible to stop: the only time the poachers are at risk of arrest is when they are actually shooting and packing out their game. [Maybe I'm not as good of a hunter as y'all, but in my limited experience, the vast majority of my time is spent hiking and searching, not actually shooting.] The ban on loaded firearms in parks was enacted so that poaching could be stopped: poachers could be apprehended any time they were in the parks.

    You can argue the pros and cons of allowing loaded firearms into national parks, but the history of why the ban was imposed is why claiming that there won't be any environmental impacts doesn't pass the laugh test, and the law requires NEPA review.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    In one sentence they say that parks are one of the safest places for Americans. In another sentence they imply that people with concealed handguns will be shooting aggressive people and animals so often that it will negatively impact the environment.
    The truth is that the odds of someone having to use a gun for self defense in a National Park is fairly low. Allowing people to carry them will probably result in very few shootings. The "environmental impact" of so few bullets is so low as to be undetectable.
    The fact is, it is still illegal to shoot trees, or animals, or targets. In fact it is still illegal to discharge the weapon at all unless done so in self defense. The assumption is that people who legally carry a handgun are suddenly going to become criminals and shoot indiscriminately.
    People who have no regard for laws can already take a gun into a National Park and shoot animals. They are breaking at least 3 laws.
    Possession of the gun, discharging it, and poaching. If the person has a concealed carry permit, they would be breaking 2 laws, discharging a firearm, and poaching. The fact is that people with concealed carry licenses are statistically very law abiding, and very few would break any laws.
    So this rule change really will not affect the number of shots fired in National Parks, only the number of laws that a potential criminal will violate when doing so. And that number is only reduced for poachers or vandals who have a carry permit, which is a very low number.

    Judge Kollar-Kotelly calims that her ruling in not related to the merits of using a handgun for protection, but look at who was the main sponsor of this case. The Brady Campaign. This is nothing more than using a technicality to obstruct a rule change that the Brady campaign does not agree with.
    Now our government is going to have to spend millions of dollars determinining the Environmental Impact of a hiker firing two bullets at an aggressive would-be thief. Of course the study will find that the impact is negligible, but by then the new administration will have gone through the process to change the rules again.
    Judge Kollar-Kotelly argues that although the rule does not expllicitly allow discharge of the firearm, it implicitly allows the gun to be fired in self defense. Is she of the opinion that even in the case of defending oneself against a mortal threat, the impact of a missed shot hitting a tree is more important to the overall "health" of the park then then safety and health of the permit holder?

    This is nothing more than classic legal obstructionism, wasting the court's time and resources to further a back-door political agenda.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I think there has to be some sharing of trails, especially non-motorized forms of travel - whether it be on foot, on horse, llama, or bicycle. I agree with the other comment that at least it's not motorized vehicles - that's where you have to draw the line. I believe the CDT allows bicycles on most of it's trail system and there's been no issue there.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Careful.

    The right of the people to keep and operate mountain bikes shall not be infringed.

    I'm sure some federal judge can be found to rule thusly.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Concerned and Anonymous No. 2, as the story pointed out, this ruling had absolutely nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment. It centered 100 percent on the duty of the Interior Department to consider the environmental ramifications of its actions.

    Anonymous No. 3, the past two NPS directors were not known to stand up to their Interior Department bosses. That's certainly understandable, albeit disappointing. It will be interesting to see who becomes the next director and how vigorous they are in defending the parks.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Dave, as Kurt has said, the posts you'll see on Traveler fairly soon will address the NPS unit designation and redesignation issues in a more comprehensive and proactive way. Rest assured that we have some specific suggestions for improving and standardizing NPS unit designation. We assume that Traveler readers have also got some thoughts on this matter they'd like to share.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    For the past 2 years we had to hear from the past NPS Director how great Kempthorne was. This is part of the evidence that he was no real friend to parks. What role did the past Director play in this? She certainly did not stop the rule. Couldn't she have insisted that it was not NEPA compiant?

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I personally do not see the problem of sharing the trail, particularly if there are feeder mountain biking trails coming into the PCT. There is very little incentive to stop at the end of a feeder trail, whether you are hiking or biking, but especially biking. Maybe trail officials should re-engineer the trail sections inbetween mountain bike feeder trails to solve the problem.

    Think on the bright side:
    1. National Parks are so far not affected thus far
    2. At least its not motorcross, ATV's, or snowmobiles sharing the trail

    I think hikers and bikers should just get along

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Ya know... the bill of rights, specifically the second amendment is really fairly simple to read. I'm nor sure what about "shall not be infringed" is difficult to understand. I guess like "Thou shall not lie" and the nine other suggestions it's just an out dated concept in today's enlightened world.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    This is absurd. You have the RIGHT to keep and BEAR arms. There is loads of data that show that allowing concealed carry has actually reduced violent crime... even as the budgets of law enforcement has declined, law officers decrease, job losses rise, cost of living rises, and poverty rises (all factors that typically cause crime to increase). There is loads of data showing that states and cities (and countries) that restrict lawful gun ownership actually see and INCREASE in violent crime! Why? For every 1 'gun related violent crime' (did the cop do the shooting?) there are dozens of cases where a firearm was used to save someone. I am sick of listening to the paranoid delusions of the Hug-a-Thug Anti-Gunners. If someone wants to commit a criminal or violent act, they will, no matter what laws there are. If all guns magically vanished, then they would use a kitchen knife, baseball bat, or load a Uhaul up with fertilizer etc etc. The difference, noone would be able to stop them because they would be powerless against them. I know a couple that were mugged and left tied to a tree in freezing weather without a jacket while camping in a national park. Fortunately that was all that happened to them, and we later found out that muggings were quite common in that area. While they aren't the gun owning type, they should have been able to exercise that RIGHT in order to protect themselves. I AM an environmentalist. You want to keep lead out of our parks? Do something about China. 30% of the lead in our surface water comes from smoke stacks at Chinese manufacturing plants. Whether lead bullets are stored in the trunk or stored at your side, really is not going to impact the environment in any which way at all. Absurd. If it is for 'the environment', why not go after the real threats our environment is facing? There are SCORES of them! Unless it has nothing to do with the environment at all.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Interesting post, Frank, but your dreams of having a national park named in your honor are just that -- dreams. If you tried to use that name for your park, the Interior department would file charges on you for the fraudulent offering of federal services. Incidentally, there's been a lot of publicity lately about a national park trademark brouhaha at Hot Springs. You can read about it here.

  • House Fails to Pass Massive Lands Bill That Would Have Aided National Park System   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Congressional leaders have moved quickly on this, using some parliamentary maneuvers in the Senate and an agreement to avoid a filibuster to get the Senate to pass a revised version of the bill and send it back to the House. The procedures used by the Senate on this one mean that it will not be open to amendment in the House, and so passage should now be relatively straightforward:
    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/senate-passes-lands-bill-one-more-time/

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Bob Janiskee
    On March 18th, 2009

    I get your point(s), Beamis. However, with all all due respect, I will continue to believe that branding matters, and that having a designation system that makes sense is better than having one that does not.

    Does the National Park Service and the federal government maintain a monopoly on the use of the term "national park"?

    Here's a "what if?":

    Say I buy a few thousand acres of land. Maybe many thousands of acres. Or perhaps more likely (because that wouldn't happen without a heavily taxed windfall) a group of concerned individuals creates a non-governmental organization to acquire the property. What's to stop them from designating their property a national park?

    To digress: The federal government pretty much has a monopoly on open lands, what with the federal government's theft of Indian lands to turn over to the Dept of Interior and the Dept of Ag. But let's assume for this "what if?" that enough private land (or perhaps a privately owned sequoia or redwood grove) could be purchased and set aside for preservation.

    And what if I do get the windfall and purchase a privately owned sequoia grove and decide to call it, oh, I don't know, Frankonia Grove National Park? Will the federal government take me to court to ban me from infringing upon its "brand"?

    Certain NGOs (read: Nature Conservancy) have been highly successful at branding. Why should the federal government be the one to do the "branding"? (National parks are starting to sound more like cattle--a commodity--than land to be preserved in this discussion.)

    My point?

    A century of government monopoly and control of our natural treasures has endangered what it was supposed to protect. It's time for a change (and real change this time). Conservation trusts are not an experiment; they have a long track record of proven success. The federal government has a long track record of theft and mucking up natural ecosystems, and that same government is now on the verge of bankruptcy.

    I wrote it before, and I write it again, even more certain in its inevitability: "I look forward to the day I go home and see the sign: WELCOME TO CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK - A CONSERVATION TRUST".

  • Senators' Letter to Open National Parks to Concealed Weapons   5 years 19 weeks ago

    I spent 8 months driving around North America on a motorcycle exploring the multitude of diverse people and places this continent has to offer. I slept on the side of the road, whether that was in city, suburb, rural, or extreme backroads (aka four-wheeler trails). From Wisconsin to Florida to Southern California to Alaska to New Foundland to the East Coast. If there is one lesson I have learned it's that it only takes one use of a normally never used thing during an emergency of life and death to justify carrying it in the first place. It's a life changing experience, until you have it you cannot realize how powerful it is. I didn't carry a gun, but I did carry peppar spray (masquerading as a small fire extinguisher). A gun (or any weapon) is merely a tool, to be used for good or bad. The "bad" will always have a gun, why take away that right for the "good"? This age old question cannot be answered for a reason. I would love to believe we are in a society where there are no "bad" people but that is not yet reality. And as far as defense against wild animals goes, why would we willingly remove a tool that dramatically helped us become a resilient species? Unless of course you think humans in general are just a virus. Try reading the book " Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond. He won a Pulitzer prize with that book for a reason also. Good day.

  • Comment Now: General Gun Regulations for Areas Administered By the National Park Service   5 years 19 weeks ago

    People who have concealed weapons permits have already gone through background checks, and classes, which means the individuals who carry arent the ones who will be poaching, or anything else. I like to hike in areas where there are many illegal aliens, and smugglers( with AK47's I'm sure they will obey this idiotic ruling)., and you are infringing on my right of self protection. I also hike/camp in areas with bears and mountain lions, again you are infringing on my RIGHT of self protection. It is also MY tax dollars that help maintain these parks, and your salary. You need to worry about the criminals that are armed in parks....NOT law abiding ccw holders...

    Editor's note: This comment was edited to remove a gratuitous attack. Additionally, the Traveler is not part of the National Park Service and draws no funding from the NPS or, for that matter, any taxpayer.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 19 weeks ago

    This is not surprising to me, but what might be surprising to you is that I'm an avid mountain biker. I'm in my 40's and ride with dozens of other riders, they're all nice guys, however they just don't care about the environment. All of them belong to a local MTB association whose mission statement says that it is dedicated to promoting the recreational use of mountain bikes on trails, in a safe and environmentally sound manner. This is far from the truth. There are illegal trails everywhere, in fact most of the trails were illegal when they were cut and there are areas of the parks bikers have ruined because they like to ride all over everything that might be fun.

    Most mountain bikers are out there to have fun, take risks/practice, and exercise. Not a bad thing unless it is at the expense of preservation for all to enjoy.

    I can only hope that people do not allow mountain biking in National Parks.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Following Kempthorne's logic, I'm wondering why the previous administration proposed allowing concealed weapons only in parks. Why not allow them in airports as well? After all, such a rule wouldn't authorize the USE of such weapons in an airport, just their presence.

  • Panoramic Photography, Or "How Do I Get All of the Teton Range in the Picture?"   5 years 19 weeks ago

    Mark- you can just copy and paste my text into a word processor to print it.