Recent comments

  • Backcountry Fire in Yellowstone National Park At 250 Acres and Growing   5 years 30 weeks ago

    If it does not get near a building, etc.... LET it burn.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Aspect(s) of the National Park System Do You Want to Read More About?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Garvin, with regard to all those croaking vacationers, I say that it's all a matter of perception. In my view, such sad stories are both an acknowledgment of victims and a warning. Not all the news coming out of the parks will be entertaining; some of it can be downright grim. I have high respect for the willingness of the editors to give us a dose of reality now and then, and I hope they will continue to do so.

  • Want a Horse? Theodore Roosevelt National Park Will Auction About 90 Wild Horses Oct 23   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The mustangs at Theodore Roosevelt NP are one of the major attractions at this park. Also, if I am correct, this park is the only NPS site to feature wild horses. There are several herds and the one I encountered last fall featured two stallions, each with his stable of mares. They are very approachable as long as you are on foot; if you are on horseback, you can't get close to them. I put one picture of a stallion with his two mares on one of my websites. You can see it here:

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 30 weeks ago

    As one who is still in the trenches within the NPS, a mere 34 years since my first day on the job, I can honestly say that I'm completely thrilled to see Jon as our Director. I've known Jon for years and he's a great leader and hopefully shall proove to be a most effective Director. It's been far too long since we've had a Director who truly came up through the ranks - the only down side is that I may have to delay my retirement for a bit longer just so I can support his efforts.

  • Seasons Greetings! It's the Autumnal Equinox -- or Maybe the September Equinox   5 years 30 weeks ago

    If we're going to get rid of the autumn equinox, why not get rid of spring, summer, autumn and winter as well? I mean now it's autumn in the Northern hemisphere but spring in the Southern hemisphere.

    Ken Grubb
    Puyallup, WA

  • The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It's in my Netflix queue. Release date 10/6. I expect to wait a few weeks before it's available "Now".

    Ken Grubb
    Puyallup, WA

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   5 years 30 weeks ago

    For what it's worth, the governor of Utah wants to revise his state's concealed weapon permitting system because too many out-of-staters have been applying for them and Utah officials have no means of monitoring those individuals, let alone testing their proficiency. Indeed, apparently the state of Nevada has decided not to reciprocate with Utah on its CCW permits because Utah doesn't require applicants to demonstrate proficiency on a shooting range.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   5 years 30 weeks ago


    Actually, in some states, a license is not required to openly carry a firearm. There is no provision that one must have a license to carry in the National Parks, but only Vermont and Alaska allow one to carry concealed without a license.

    The provisions of Public Law 111-24 that address firearms in National Parks reads:

    The Secretary of the Interior shall not promulgate or enforce any regulation that prohibits an individual from possessing a firearm including an assembled or functional firearm in any unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System if—
    (1) the individual is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm; and
    (2) the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System is located.

    Here in Washington state, one can openly carry a firearm without a license. There is a provision for someone who is not a U.S. citizen to obtain an Alien Firearm License from the Washington State Department of Licensing. With that, one can get a license to carry a concealed pistol.

    Ken Grubb
    Puyallup, WA

  • Going to Denali National Park? Check Ahead – the First Serious Snow of the Winter Has Fallen   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I live next to Denali Park and am watching snow fall right right now. I doubt the road will be open past headquarters much longer if it currently is. My biking weekend may turn into a snowshoe/ski weekend. The moose are rutting, the ptarmigan are molting, and the cranes are traveling. With the recent autumnal equinox we welcome the winter.

  • Should Congress Direct the National Park Service to Rebuild the Upper Stehekin Valley Road in North Cascades National Park?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thank you for blogging on this very important topic. As you pointed out, the National Park Service has opposed H.B. 2806, in part because of the 1988 Washington Parks Wilderness Act sponsored by former Senator Dan Evans. Senator Evans, however, recently testified in favor of H.B. 2806, saying, “It was my intent when I sponsored the Park Wilderness Bill of 1988 to protect the unique features of these splendid Parks but not to make access more difficult for those seeking the unusual experience of a wilderness park. I believe very strongly that continued protection of our wilderness national parks depends on the active support of visitors, hikers, and climbers who act of champions for our national parks. If we make access substantially more difficult we reduce the number of visitors and ultimately the numbers of citizens and taxpayers who know enough about these parks to want to protect them.

    H.R. 2806, if passed, would allow rebuilding of the road on the old wagon trail – the site of the original road before the Civilian Conservation Corps relocated it in the flood plain. The legislation also specifically states that there be no net loss of wilderness area. Anyone interested in this issue can read more about it at my Web site - - or in this Seattle P-I column -

    Senator Linda Evans Parlette

  • It's Official – Senate Confirms Jonathan Jarvis as Director of the National Park Service   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Sixty years ago I could and did experience the wonders of our National Parks on foot, enjoying the solitude and beauty. Today, my wife & I no longer are able to backpack or hike distances, but we still enjoy the beautiful scenic wonders of the Parks, traveling, by necessity in our small RV. We have duties and obligations that require communication with others by email and find that, it appears, by policy, the Park Service refuses WiFi services within the Parks, except for their employees and contractors. Making this service available does not, in my opinion, detract from the natural wonders & enjoyment of the Parks. We do know that the attempt by the Park Service to maintain the Parks in "natural condition" is a failure - life evolves. I do not believe that Parks can be managed, only given guidance, humbling acknowledging mankind's ignorance in it's desire to be good stewards of the land. It would be better for the Parks Service to ask, in partnership with the public, to aid it in it's work rather than dictate rules that too often are at odds with logic or necessity.

    We wish Mr. Jarvis personal enjoyment & satisfaction in his work and good luck in avoiding the trials of reporting to politicians.

    Jim & Sylvia Ewins, Seattle

  • A Conversation With Ken Burns on The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Very interesting interview, Kurt!

  • A Conversation With Ken Burns on The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The podcast is a great feature: thanks!

    You might edit "Katy" to "Cady" in Elizabeth Katy Stanton

  • Reader Participation Day: What Aspect(s) of the National Park System Do You Want to Read More About?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I like the mix of hard news and entertainment information, and I agree with the postings about the need for more advance information about upcoming special events; if I had more notice, I might be able to witness some of these special park events. Also I like to read articles that just tell me what to do and what to expect when I visit a park; sometimes they offer tips I am not aware of.

    About hard news, however, I have to admit that I get tired of all the "vacationer croaks in national park" articles (usually because someone fell off something high). These lead to a long thread of blamethrowing and, frankly, they're a little tedious. I guess you can keep offering them; I've just stopped reading them.

  • Ginseng Poachers Nabbed at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I remember the Travel Channel had a show called Cash & Treasures with one episode on the digging of wild American ginseng.

    However - they did this in a Forest Service area somewhere in West Virginia and the show specifically mentioned that they got harvesting permits before they set out.

  • A Conversation With Ken Burns on The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 30 weeks ago


    Actually, we'll have the podcast loaded Sunday!

  • A Conversation With Ken Burns on The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Did you audio record it? Would be cool to listen to as sort of a National Parks Traveler podcast.


  • The National Parks: America's Best Idea   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I love this piece. It makes one think about some very important things.

    Los Angeles Times
    Big Picture blog
    Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:18 AM PDT

    Is Ken Burns a secret propagandist for socialism?
    Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture

    I wasn't planning on DVR-ing Ken Burns' new six-part PBS series "The
    National Parks: America's Best Idea," which debuts Sunday night because: 1)
    I don't have 18 hours of room left on my TiVo; 2) judging from the title, I
    kinda already know where Burns comes down on the idea of national parks;
    and 3) I didn't give for KCET's last pledge drive and watching all that
    beautiful scenery will just make me feel more guilty.

    But Time magazine's James Poniewozik, a columnist full of iconoclastic
    ideas about TV and pop culture, has come up with a brilliant take
    on "National Parks" that has suddenly aroused my interest in the series. In
    his mind, the "National Parks" project isn't just another Burns snoozefest
    that, as Poniewozik slyly puts it, finds the filmmaker "passionately
    arguing positions almost everyone agrees with." The series is actually an
    ingenious refutation of the popular conservative belief that big government
    is evil, outmoded and unnecessarily involved in ruling our lives.

    Noting that the original impetus for establishing national parks came
    from naturalists like John Muir who were horrified to see how Niagara Falls
    was nearly destroyed by the greed and hucksterism of free market-
    loving charlatans, Poniewozik writes: "With America frothing over the role
    of government -- Should it save banks? Should it expand health coverage? --
    'The National Parks' makes a simple case for an idea that is wildly
    controversial in the year of the tea party: That we need government to do
    things the private sector can't or won't."

    In other words, the entire origin of the national park system, whose most
    passionate backer was a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, is based on a firm
    belief in -- Glenn Beck, cover your ears, please -- government intervention
    to regulate an out-of-control free-enterprise system. In fact, one of the
    more dramatic moments in Burns' documentary involves the battle to create a
    park in the Great Smoky Mountains, while logging companies bankrolled
    anti-park ads and were "frantically cutting the old-growth forests to
    extract everything they could before the land was closed to them."

    In some ways, Burns' new series sounds like almost as radical a critique
    of free market excess as Michael Moore's new "Capitalism: A Love Story." Of
    course, it's unlikely to cause as much of an uproar as "Capitalism" because
    Moore is a natural magnet for controversy while Burns' films, with their
    lilting music and cozy slo-mo zooms, can make the most incendiary
    historical events appear almost as soothing as a glass of warm milk.

    However, Poniewozik has uncovered the razor blade inside Burns' cinematic
    pillow. To hear him tell it, Burns' portrait of the creation of
    our national parks should give conservatives pause in their rush to pillory
    government at every turn. As Poniewozik writes: "The national parks -- and
    'The National Parks' -- are based on ideas that are classically, if not
    radically, communitarian: That the free market doesn't always act in the
    public interest. That it's good that every American shares ownership of and
    responsibility for the most exclusive properties in the country. And that
    it's right for people -- through government -- to protect them from
    business interests and even the people themselves." For this, I'd say bravo
    for Ken Burns, whose portrait of American ideals couldn't have come at a
    better time than right now.

    Rick Smith

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Living in the area, I used to be visit Cades Cove early on Sunday mornings. The last 5 times I had done this, I left mad and frustrated. People are regularly letting their dogs run loose and chase the deer, turkeys, etc. I never see a ranger !

    I am not mad at the rangers, I am made that America has saved some of the last great native/natural places in our lands but does not support them with the funding required to maintain and protect them !

    IF you have to take your dogs into a National Park, PLEASE observe the LEASH LAW !!!

  • Natchez Trace Parkway – Colorful Choice for a Southern Fall Trip   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Last fall, November 3rd and 4th, I drove on the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville to the Tennessee River in Alabama and back. The fall foliage colors were awesome. Everywhere along this 124 mile stretch was absolutely breathtaking. You can view pictures from this trip at

  • Dog Owner Cited After Pit Bull Attacks a Deer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I have 2 Great Danes. I always keep them on leashes while hiking. Dogs can be unpredictable under the best of circumstances. Merlin (my 1 year old Blue Merle) is allowed off his leash ONLY while in my front yard or a camping spot after he knows the boundaries. He has been trained to stay within a perimeter (Good Citizen). Bella (my 9 mo. old Chocolate Merle) is NEVER allowed off a leash. Not even in my own front lawn. She will never be. She is incapable of being taught perimeter boundaries.

    Having said that, I will acknowledge that the problem is not with the dogs themselves, but with the owner. As a responsible owner, we must know our dogs limitations and constantly supervise them whether or not they are on a leash. Dogs will be dogs. It is imperative to keep our dogs under control at all times.

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The thing is that with pepper spray, you get a fog pattern and it can be fired from the hip or the chest. Aim is not that critical. I am a former corrections officer and spent many hours on the range. I can only imagine having a couple of seconds to draw a weapon (assuming I don't get it stuck in my jacket or shirt tail), aim at a fast moving bear (perhaps moving erratically and with little or no advance notice), and hit the vital spots (with ammo sufficient to penetrate a bear's tough exterior) and while probably stumbling backwards from the surprise. I can say that under the circumstances, I'd be hard-pressed to stop the bear or mountain lion, or coyote, etc. Saying that, I have a CCW permit that is reciprocal on both sides of my favorite national park in my end of the country--the Smokies--TN/NC, plus my own state as well as most others. I do admit that up to this point I've never carried a weapon in park areas, other than a knife and hiking pole. But, having kids makes me reconsider that "one time" that might unexpectedly happen. Last year, a boy was attacked twice by a bear with menningitis on the TN side of the Smokies. His dad wrestled the bear off of him and it chased him down the trail and attacked him again. Then it attacked two rangers who responded to investigate. You never know... Another issue is the issue of caliber. Big calibers = heavy guns. I would prefer to not carry a heavy gun. Interestingly, a few years back, I saw an old guy in Wal Mart with a Ruger hogleg strapped to his side. It was somewhat disconcerting, even though it was legal. I think I would have preferred it concealed...out of sight, out of mind. He was also one of those wierd looking old guys...spooky enough by itself. If I'm just hiking the local Mammoth Cave NP, I might not carry anything...or some pepper spray in case any dogs on the north side trails decide they don't like me. A former NPS ranger buddy once knocked a dog out with a hiking pole as it attacked him on a trail. If I'm in a more remote area, I just might decide to carry a weapon if I feel the need to. I do think I'll start carrying pepper spray...just in case. But, I do feel that people should be competent and have a sufficient caliber; not overwhelming. I wouldn't want to make a bear mad with a .22 pistol. I joked with a ranger a couple of years ago at the Smokies as we were watching a mother bear and her 3 cubs (long time residents of Cades Cove) casually walk past us, if her taser would have any effect on the bear. She said it would definitely serve to piss her off royally. Given my druthers, I don't want to hurt any animal. LIke some of the other posts, the issue of humans might be of more concern. There are lots of nuts out there. I dealt with many of them. Opportunistic predators may not be as prevalent as camera snatchers, but if I'm camping in the backcountry and somebody comes up, who knows if they are nuts? Campers have been killed by nutjobs and escaped felons. Would I shoot one? Well...threaten me or my kids and let's find out. As far as an "innocent" animal that is just being what it is...I would try to avoid it. But, better me than them if it comes down to it. So now we have a dichotomy of the percentage of risk vs. the advantage of pepper spray vs. firearms. But, if you have a CCW, why not be allowed to carry if you want to...

  • Fatal Fall from Angels Landing in Zion National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Having grown up in Glendora and hiked up Angel's Landing numerous times, I was especially moved by this tragic event. Although I never met the family while we lived in Glendora, I extend my condolences to them for their loss. I can only imaging the shock and horror they must have felt to have so suddenly lost their wife and mother.

    My wife was quite apprehensive the next time I hiked Angel's Landing and asked me to be extra cautious. While hiking, I did note that I'd probably been somewhat cavalier on prior trips, and paid closer attention to areas that were especially exposed. I even held on to the chain a few times, which I usually ignore.

    I also question the park statistic of 5 deaths on this trail, having heard of at least 2 in the past 5 years since moving to the area. But can we put things in perspective? Even if the park service has only recorded half the deaths, say 10 accidental deaths over a period of 75 years on an very exposed trail used by thousands of people every month has got to be one of the most amazing safety records in the history of the National Park system. In comparison, I'll bet any BLM ATV playground with similar usage racks up the same number of fatalities in a single season, often involving stupidity (alcohol, unsupervised children, lack of proper safety equipment) I don't hear demands that the BLM shut down all the off road vehicle areas or continuously police these areas to enforce safety regulations.

    We blithely continue to drive our vehicles despite the tens of thousands of highway related deaths every year, mostly because we've put it in proper perspective and accept the relatively small risk as worth the benefits of driving. Should we close all the beaches forever because of the miniscule risk of shark attacks? Should we close all golf courses because of the increased chance of getting struck by lightening?

    A fatal fall usually occurs due to a series of unlikely events, such as lack of attention followed by slipping and completely losing one's balance while in an unrecoverable position. Even the folks that run the trail for exercise are at a heightened level of awareness when surrounded by 1,500 sheer cliffs. I know a death under these circumstances connects with us at a gut level, and I'm not opposed to the reasonable precautions that are already being made to warn people what they're getting into. I think even without the signs the risks are clear enough. I tried taking my wife along once, and she could tell it was too much for her acrophobia before we got to the first switchback. Anyone who proceeds in the face of inclement weather or disregards even basic safety precautions is just oblivious. The risk of falling is right before your eyes! So please, no more requests to close this spectacular trail.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Aspect(s) of the National Park System Do You Want to Read More About?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Are there any forums y'all currently use that I could join up with?

    Yosemite National Park
    Glacier National Park
    Rocky Mountain National Park

    "...adventure without regard to prudence, profit, self-improvement,
    learning or any other serious thing" -Aldo Leopold-

  • Next Time You're In D.C., Check Out Teddy's Island   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It is a cool place - and I am thankful to have so far missed any close encounters with the big snakes. I hope everyone who does get to go enjoys it!