Recent comments

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I am reflecting on Kurt's latest reply.

    And so doing, I conclude Kurt is right that I shouldn't belittle one person's cause as less worthy of pursuit than another's just because less is at stake objectively. So I retract that aspect of my prior post.

    Conversely, however, I make no apology for complaining of unfair discrimination and comparing (not equating) it to other forms of unfair discrimination. Here in the Bay Area, where I live, there is a constant dispute between gay people and black people about who can claim to speak of civil rights violations. (Just to explain, some black people around here tend to be offended when gay people assert that their issues are civil rights issues. Gays are furious in return that their deeply felt issues are being belittled.) Ultimately such attempts to create a hierarchy of grievances are unresolvable and it's fruitless to pursue them. (What about people in Mauritania who are still literally enslaved? e.g.).

    It comes down to this: we're probably both obsessed with these issues precisely because they are so important to us and have become deeply woven into our respective beings. I completely identify with Kurt's quotation from "Natural America." It sums up how I feel too! (And might not the Native Americans discussed in the article have looked askance at GoreTex and GPS receivers that both mountain bikers and hikers use today? But wait: that's returning to the hierarchies, here one of comparative naturalness, that I think it best to try to avoid. Maybe hang-gliders are the least invasive wildlands visitors of all because they don't tread upon the earth until the moment they land! I'll set my comments aside.) It's unfortunate that our respective obsessions with the beauty and importance of the natural world lead us to different conclusions about how that world should be experienced. I know many people who are uninterested in the natural world—e.g., they live in Manhattan and prefer nightlife and dining out—and who would be left indifferent by the quotation from "Natural America." That's certainly not the case with anyone blogging on this site, be he or she a would-be concealed weapon carrier, a mountain biker, a traditional hiker, or a birder.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    You say you don't recall Brady getting involved with other "environmental" issues. Well, while you're probably right, what other national park issues has the NRA gotten involved with other than this one (or similar gun issues)?

    As to your initial point, are you saying that even though the Constitution gave Congress the right to enact laws (in the case at hand the National Environmental Policy Act), and Congress directed the agencies to promulgate rules and set up a process for that, and the Supreme Court has upheld those laws and processes, that it doesn't matter when it comes to 2nd Amendment, that nothing trumps the 2nd Amendment?

    If that's the case, why can't you carry your firearm on a plane or into a courthouse or the U.S. Capitol?

    And if I understand your point, doesn't that conflict with last year's Supreme Court ruling in which the court struck down the District of Columbia's gun law but also held that the 2nd Amendment right "is not unlimited."

    And really, was the prior gun reg for national parks out of compliance with the Constitution? It didn't ban licensed gun owners from traveling with their weapons or ask that they hand them over; it simply required that they be broken down and out of easy reach. Was that regulation a denial of a constitutional right, or rather an inconvenience?

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I do agree that laws should be upheld and such law must be constitutional to be enforced. This was a "rule" change that was in compliance with something higher than a law...the Constitution. An individual's constitutional right's cannot be abridged or usurped by a "rule" or "policy" even if the law is constitutional.

    This has everything to do with the 2nd amendment otherwise why did the Brady Foundation get involved. I don't ever recall the Brady Foundation getting involved in any other "environmental" issue within the NPS, or any other "environmental" issue for that matter.

    If it walks like a duck; talks like a duck; then it's a duck. The fact the other plaintiff's left the Brady Foundation in as a plaintiff certainly questions their agenda.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Upset,

    Anyone who supports constitutional rights should also want to see the laws upheld, no? And that's what this case is about, whether the Bush administration followed the National Environmental Policy Act. The ruling had nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I hiked the entire length of the PCT in 2003, and I ran into a number of cyclist on the trail. I ride a bike everyday to work and back here in San Francisco, so I am not ashamed to say that MOUNTAIN BIKES DO NOT BELONG ON THE PCT! For one, it is a trail shared with equestrians, and a mountain bike tearing around a corner could do a lot to create a hazardous situation for horse and rider. Second, I have had mountain bikes tear around the corner towards me and sneak up from behind and scare the bejesus out of me. For one who is out to experience solitude, a mountain bike can do a lot surprisingly disturb one's experience. Third, there are plenty of other trails out there for cyclists to enjoy, why conquer the PCT?

    Thanks for the article.

    Chris Sanderson

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    It seems like this administration's judicial supporters are just like their congressional supporters since they will will trample our constitutional rights without even blinking an eye. As usual, the descenters want to know who drew their weapons, who felt threatened, who fired their guns...give us your names!!!! Sound familiar?

    Why don't they see the issue is the preservasion of constitutional rights?

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Just a couple of comments and observations about this whole thing. First, I am a gun owner, I don't hunt anymore and am not anti-gun or anti- hunting. I have read most of the comments about this over the months and made a few of my own, but what has struck me today is the name calling remarks by some of the Pro carry folks, ya I know, sticks and stones. It just strikes me as funny that this language is coming from only one side, (if there are the same type of comments from the Non-Carriers please set me straight!) Things such as "Paranoid delusions of Hug-a-Thug Anti-Gunners or "Brady Bunch" just to Quote a couple. Another type of phrase that keeps popping up - "Among the most law abiding in our population" or "exeedingly law abiding", as if to say they are more law abiding that some one who chooses not to carry. But the best part of the "Most law abiding citizens" was a comment a few weeks ago where a Pro Carrier stated "No matter what the law is I will carry anyway!". Huh, I guess there is always one in the bunch. My last thought is, and mind you I am not taking either side on this at this time, just curious, Would or have any of the Pro Carriers out there just carried anyway in the Nat. Parks? Since its not visible who would know, kind of thing. Be honest... law abiding citizens, I am really curious to read your (honest) replies to that question or would that blow all the law abiding comments? I think alot of us have done something that was a bit illegal no matter how small, no seatbelt on when just going down the block to the store etc... Sorry, one other question to "concered" , what Nat. Park did the people you know get mugged and tied to a tree? i am also glad they were OK after that, but maybe you could let people know where if it happens as often as you say.?

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    You're comparing the mountain biker's fight for access wherever your tires can roll with that of black civil rights? Please tell me you're not serious.

    As for gnashing your teeth, your complaints about "stupid rules" and "absurd restrictions" seem to indicate otherwise. What do you think about IMBA's rule that "(w)et and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options." Is that stupid or absurd as well?

    Perhaps your complaints over these matters would carry more weight if there were no other place to mountain bike, but that's not the case in the least. As for obsessions, some might say that saw cuts two ways, no, in light of your outspokenness on this issue?

    In the big picture you're absolutely right. Concerns over where mountain bikes are ridden pale considerably to the lack of health care in this nation, our questionable education system, the skyrocketing debt, foreign affairs, and a multitude of other matters.

    But just as you see mountain biking as an important part of your life, I see national parks and the experiences they offer just as importantly.

    I was thumbing through National Geographic's book on "Natural America" the other day, and ran across the following passage. It was set up by a few graphs on how Native Americans -- the Navajo, Hopi, and Lakota -- viewed and respected the earth. It pretty much sums up how I feel.

    Whether we are still able to find that level of harmony with the world is something that may be open to question, given all the encumbrances -- also called conveniences -- with which we have saddled ourselves of late. It may be a perfection that we will never reach, but perhaps the journey is as important as the goal itself. Aldo Leopold, the person who defined the respect we should pay to the natural world and its creatures, believes this perfection to be unattainable. "We shall never achieve harmony with land," he wrote in his journals once, "any more than we shall achieve justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve, but to strive."

    In striving, then, we can still walk in beauty, and if so, the national lands give us our most enduring pathways. "In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years," wrote Harvey Broome, a colleague of Aldo Leopold and one of the founders of the Wilderness Society. "Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting ... May they remain for all time -- islands in time and in space, where living men can detach themselves from their civilization, and walk into eternity."

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Kurt, I'm sorry I irritated you to this extent.

    I don't feel better because I never felt bad. I'm not sitting here gnashing my teeth over what appears on your website. I do sometimes, however, roll my eyes at the absurdity of what's expressed on it by a number of people. I would return to the theme of my last message: in a country that lets people operate millions of bloated, fuel-wasting SUVs and pickup trucks to take mom and junior a half-mile down a flat road to the supermarket for a Big Gulp, why are people so obsessed with the idea of a bicycle on a trail? You could do everything the most demanding mountain bikers want—open all Wilderness, National Park, and National Scenic Trail trails to mountain biking—and the world would not change an iota. You might have slightly fewer obese kids and a few management headaches in a few areas, but overall the effects, positive and negative, would be negligible.

    Yes, I would prefer that you list each group that has objections and complaints to the notion of a bicycle on a trail in their bailiwick each time you refer to them. To do otherwise is to leave your readers wondering whom you're talking about. If all of the traditional antibicycle groups are tub-thumping in a particular case, just put "the usual suspects" or "the traditional antibike forces" and your meaning will get across.

    As long as I am putting myself out here for criticism, I can't agree with your implicit criticism that I'm anonymous and you're not. It won't advance the discussion for me to use my own name as a handle. Seriously, I am too worried about identity theft, offers from former Angolan finance ministers to hide millions of dollars, and other scams. I hope you have remained immune to those problems.

    True conservationists are interested in any number of issues. But I wouldn't criticize blacks for having been preoccupied with black civil rights during the Jim Crow era even if African-Americans like James Baldwin were interested in a number of issues. Mountain biking is an important part of our lives and we bridle at the absurd restrictions imposed on the activity we treasure and the overblown complaints that help keep those restrictions in place.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Persons with concealed carry permits have demonstrated to the issuing state's satisfaction that they are responsible law abiding citizens and can be trusted to safely and responsibly carry concealed firearms because they are not a threat to themselves or others. After reading the judge's ruling it appears that the Brady Bunch's case is primarily based on an underlying assumption that concealed carry permit holders, as a group, are not capable of being responsible (lawful) with their firearms.

    In addition, the Brady Bunch is insisting that, as a group, concealed carry permit holders will use their firearms on federal land in a manner which would essentially violate the issuing state's laws and regulations (ie. careless, criminal, and unwarranted discharges).

    The failure of the park system to recognize state carry permits makes no more sense than banning the use of automobiles for fear that drivers with valid driver's licenses as a group are incapable of operating their vehicles in a lawful and responsible manner.

    One of the most absurd arguments in the document was the question: why reverse such a long standing rule? I have two words for Brady: second amendment (actually I have many more but those two should suffice).

    I would think that a concealed carry permit holder (responsible, law abiding, non-felon, state approved etc.) would not want to use their firearm, unless their life was in jeopardy, since discharging their firearm for any other reason could (and likely would) result in:

    1) a trip to jail;
    2) a felony record;
    3) loss of the carry permit; and
    4) loss of ALL OF THEIR FIREARMS (felons can't own them)

    Brady Bunch also says most concealable weapons are ineffective against animals. As someone that has been attacked and nearly killed by a wild animal - I would prefer to have a firearm the next time.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Feel better?

    Or would you prefer that in every post on this topic I point out that the American Hiking Society, the Wilderness Society, the National Parks and Conservation Association, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and the Pacific Crest Trail Association all have concerns? Oh, and equestrian groups in the area of Mammoth Cave National Park have concerns, as well.

    It's tough running this ship. You get criticized for taking a stand, and now, apparently, for not taking a stand. At least I don't do either one anonymously.

    As for "true conservationists," are those the ones who voice their thoughts on many of the issues confronting national parks and public lands, or just the mountain bike issues?

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks, MRC. I understand everything clearly now........... I think.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Kurt says "some have concerns . . . ." Talk about the ultimate voiceless passive construction, rather like "mistakes were made," or the Latin American torturer's remark "se me fué de las manos" ("the person left me from the hands") instead of saying "I killed him."

    Also, I always mentally translate "concerns" in these contexts into "baseless complaints." "Concerns," like "appropriate" and "inappropriate," is a euphemistic buzzword that kills clarity of language, rendering it into a form of linguistic cotton candy.

    Kurt, don't you realize how absurd these quibbles are? The tempest in a teapot you're talking about originated in a schoolmarmish scold handed down some months ago by the sometimes cantankerous and always doggedly opinionated Tom Stienstra, an outdoors writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, after he saw some mountain bike tire tracks on the PCT. The PCTA followed up by dredging up its sonorous indictment that you're now quoting. I wonder if future generations of true conservationists (as opposed to contemporary puritanical pseudoconservationist social control freaks) will marvel at the fact that, with ice sheets melting and smog blowing over here from Asia, people were clucking about a bicycle on a trail.

    I don't have time to get into it now, but the regulation you and the PCTA quote is antiquated, outdated, and probably contrary to law. Even if the rule is legally tenable, it's a stupid rule. I've backpacked half of the Oregon stretch of the PCT. Because of a requirement that it have a 15% maximum grade and a certain width, it's no technical singletrack. For the most part it's relatively wide and relatively flat even in such Wilderness areas as Mt. Jefferson. There's no reason bicycles shouldn't be allowed on it. Except, of course, that "some" have "concerns."

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Zebulon - not sure what parts of the "Pacific northwest" you're talking about, but it's clearly not Washington state.

    And your comment on mud and hiking obviously shows that you don't hike in the Pacific Northwest. Otherwise you'd realize what a silly comment that was...

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    On this thread and elsewhere on the Traveler there have been claims about drug smugglers and AK-47-toting thugs and how dangerous some areas of national parks are. At the same time, there have been more than a few CCW permit holders who have claimed that they've carried in the parks.

    Just out of curiosity's sake, have any CCW permit holders had to resort to pulling their weapon in a national park? If so, would you share the circumstances? Have any CCW permit holders who left their piece behind when they entered a national park been accosted? Again, would you share the circumstances?

    In either case, did you file a report with a law-enforcement ranger?

    Obviously, there's no scientific validity to this survey, but I sense there would be great interest in the responses.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The trademark database at USPTO lists 30 live entries including "national park". Pretty much all of them cover only a special visual logo, not a claim for the words as such. And their scope is very limited, mostly to publications, and many were registered by concessionaires which looks like they had permission by the NPS.

    The NPS does not hols any current trademark - but had the Arrowhead emblem registered twice, both now expired. That is because trademarks need not be registered to be valid, just using a name for your goods or services over some time gives you an implied protection from any competitor who might wish to use the same name or one that might be confused with your name. And there can be no doubt that the National Park Service uses the name National Park for quite some while now to describe its goods and services.

    The enforcement of an unregistered trademark is called Passing off and this description at Wikipedia is pretty good: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Passing_off&oldid=271955473

    An unregistered trademark is protected against infringement if the misrepresentation is damaging the goodwill of the legitimate user. Diversion of trade and dilution of goodwill is considered damage. So if a private 59th "National Park" attracts visitors that would otherwise visit a NPS National Park that would constitute diversion.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Concealed Handgun Licensees SHOULD be permitted to carry within airports and on aircraft. CHL holders are proven to be among the most law abiding people in our population. These are NOT the people you need to be concerned about!

    Welcome to your National Parks! A place where you may be assured that you have no right to protect yourself and where criminals have the assurance that they may attack you unimpeded.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Frank, I must admit that I'm out of my depth on this one. Perhaps a Traveler reader more familiar with these trademark and copyright issues might want to chime in?

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 22 weeks ago

    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.

    So "national bank" or "national title" or "National Car Rental" any other title/brand with "national" in it is not a fraudulent offering of federal services?

    It's funny that so many people decry private monopolies (which really can't exist without government help) while embracing governmental monopolies.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 weeks ago

    This has nothing to do with 2nd Amendment rights and everything to do with the NRA's voter mobilization strategy for 2008 & 2010.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 22 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 22 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 22 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 22 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 22 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