Recent comments

  • Watching Wildlife In and Around Grand Teton National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Nice write-up Kurt. On my last photo trip to the Grand Tetons (last fall), I discovered a wonderful natural history guide to the park there at the visitor center in Jackson: "A Naturalist's Guide to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks" by Dr. Frank C. Craighead Jr. It's an outstanding guide for following the annual cyclical changes in flora and fauna at Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

    You ard other Traveler readers may remember the Craighead brothers, Frank and John, and all the wonderful work they have done over the years at Yellowstone and other areas. My father had fond memories of outdoor courses he took from them while he studied at Univ. of Montana.

    Rob Mutch
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography,

  • Was This the Best-Ever Use of a Bra in a National Park?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It's probably all an advertising lie. Never trust those people to say anything t true.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Interesting artical the what if's are unsupported though. People can have a gun in thier car now as long as it meets the unassecable requiremnets so the illegal uses such as poaching or commiting a crime has been able to happen for many a year,so thats not a reasonable grip....In all places that concealed carry is allowed crime has went down...."The proposed regulation made no allowance for how rangers were to police the various gun laws in those parks". they don't need to be an allowance either you posses a permit thats allowed in that state or you don''s policed just like a driver's licenes......."How many visitors want to be concerned about whether the person next to them during a ranger-guided walk"....people are around you everyday in most the US that carry...The Park would be no different.......The number of people entering the park want be effected at I said they are around people carrying every day already..."Impulsive uses of guns:....the people that carry just have to access the weapon,and load it to use it anyway,it would take a couple of minutes longer is the only difference, so this is another unjustified what if.....if your going to be against something you should have real reasons instead of blow out of porportion what ifs

  • Showdown at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thank God that there are rangers who put the protection of the resource and the principles of the service ahead of personal comfort and ambition.

  • What Should a Park Do With "Surplus" Wood? Yellowstone National Park Has One Answer   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    From a supply standpoint, you make a good point about the ready availability of beetle killed wood in SW Montana. However, I hope people will be cautious about hauling wood from any insect kill site, anywhere in the country. At least until the wood has been thoroughly dried and cured, and the insects have moved on, there's a risk of spreading the insects into areas that aren't already infested.

    When I worked in the Big Thicket National Preserve in SE Texas years ago, that whole area was in the midst of a periodic outbreak of southern pine beetle, and there was a lot of salvage logging occurring on timber company and other private forests. When aerial photos were taken of the area as part of control efforts, it was not uncommon to see new "hot spots" of beetle activity show up right along the edge of roads where bug killed trees had been hauled out by truck.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I would note that in NPS areas with grizzly bears, the carrying of bear pepper spray is legal. You can find it in most gift shops in Yellowstone or Grand Teton. One of the problems with carrying a handgun is that it's not likely to take down a 400+ lb grizzly bear and it's very, very difficult to hit a full-gallop grizzly. Even so, I remember some rangers at Grand Teton talking about their bear spray and commenting that they felt they were more likely to use it against some person than a bear.

    As for the illegal pot farms - they're usually located well away from major trails, since they don't want to be found. If you're camping in the frontcountry or near major roads, you've got little to be worried about. I heard about one guy who ran across one. Since he wasn't law enforcement, the man guarding the plants told him to just forget that he'd seen anything and just walk away. I don't recall any case where someone accidentally hiking into an illegal pot farm on NPS land being shot at.

    In any case, the NPS has trained law enforcement. They are equipped with 12 gauge shotguns and AR-15s. If you're really worried about armed groups in national parts outfitted with AK-47s, then a handgun isn't likely to be enough.

  • Showdown at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This is typical of how the entire federal government functions.

  • What Should a Park Do With "Surplus" Wood? Yellowstone National Park Has One Answer   5 years 30 weeks ago

    With the incredible amount of beetle killed tree available throughout SW Montana, I am not sure why someone would want to drive the extra distance into Yellowstone Park to get firewood.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Tomp, god we could use you now in Yosemite National Park...more then ever. I agree in periodic closing of certain national parks in order to reestablish areas that have been human grazed to pieces from excessive usages. Something like rotational grazing, in which they do on the open range land to reestablish grasslands for better palatability for livestock. Much focus should on rejuvenation of mother nature and a better sense of vegetation dynamics to enhance the parks to a better mode of natural beauty. The national parks should be respected for it's natural and pristine beauty and not to be treated as some kind of backyard junk pile. There's a certain element of respect and etiquette that I see is lacking in our national parks. We need to reeducate the public in those values once again, in which I see that has been terribly lacking for the last past eight years. I truly believe that honest conscientious and holistic help is on it's way with are present administration...and despite what the professional cynics think.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Tomp. Thanks for sharing your opinion, but basically you seem to having a basic bias against bikes on narrow trails. I happen to disagree.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 30 weeks ago


    How about some context for that number? How many acres of federal land are _open_ to bicycles? There are both thousands of times more acres closed to bicycles than any hiker could ever visit, and thousands of times more acres open to bicycles than any cyclist could ever visit. [Which leaves those of us who both hike & bike as appropriate too many acres and too little time.] I don't have the data and thus might lose, but I'd bet a beer that almost all NPS units allow bikes on roads, and that a majority of NPS units (not just "parks") allow bikes on some types of trails closed to automobiles.

    The argument is not about how many acres should be open to what, its about appropriate access to specific places, and about the process for making those decisions. The previous bicycles in parks article was about whether for NPS lands, the default should be no bikes unless NEPA and national-level review allows them in specific cases, or should it be anything with hiking or horses defaults to allow bikes unless NEPA & national planning explicitly justify closing them, or should the decision be made by the local superintendent, subject to local community/business/user pressure, and almost certain to move on to a different NPS unit in a couple of years (unless he or she alienates the local stakeholders)? Ask the same question about management of BLM or FS or FWS land, and you'll probably get different answers, as those lands are managed for different purposes.

    I come down hard on the side of conservation/preservation in National Parks (broadly interpreting "unimpaired for future generations" to include indirect effects on flora & fauna, loss of archeological resources, erosion in sensitive areas, etc.), so I'm even ok with some areas being closed to all human access (seasonally like parts of Yellowstone for bears, for years like some areas trying to be restored, or permanent for some critical habitat). Some parks have to be open only to guided/escorted groups of hikers to protect archeological resources, so I won't see another sunrise at Waputki. I think that much of the backcountry of large parks like Yellowstone & Yosemite and Sequoia should be open only to foot traffic. [I'd be happier if more of the areas open to hiking didn't allow horses, although requirements to bring feed rather than let horses graze wet meadows help reduce the impact.] I think that mountain biking on established trails is appropriate in some parks (e.g., much of the Needles district of Canyonlands), and that an honest process will find more parks where mountain bikes on trails can be accommodated without harm, but that "open until harm is demonstrated" is backward and would produce much harm that will take decades to restore. (I'd favor something like alternate week schedules on shared trails to benefit both hikers & bikers, the way many medium-sided lakes have alternate days for sailboats v. powerboats.). And again, motorized access on both paved & unpaved roads is appropriate in some areas (even jeeps in parts of Canyonlands, but not driving up sensitive washes). I'm the same way about climbing: some areas can be open, some areas can be open with restrictions on no new hardware, and some areas should be closed to climbing.

    Back to the wilderness bill. Having been in the back country of ROMO and Sequoia and a bit in Zion, I think wilderness is the appropriate designation for those specific areas, with no bikes (and I'd like to see no horses). As a scientist, I realize that ROMO & YELL need substantial areas with little or no human visitation as core or refuge areas for wildlife so there will be wildlife to see in the front country, so if the difficulty in getting there isn't enough, the core areas may need to be closed to hikers (including me) as well.

    ps: If I were in charge of Yosemite, I'd ban _all_ private vehicles from the valley, allowing only the LPG buses and bikes on the roads, and developing a system of unpaved bike paths/trails for mountain bikes throughout most of the valley. It wouldn't be technical or booming & zooming thrill riding, but touring bikes & mountain bikes are appropriate technology for Yosemite Valley, Zion Canyon, (and Toulumne valley if Hetch Hetchy every goes away).

  • What Should a Park Do With "Surplus" Wood? Yellowstone National Park Has One Answer   5 years 30 weeks ago

    If you ever camped in British Columbias' fine campsites, you will know that they have cut up wood, free for campers to use. What a nice idea. Too bad I have never seen it here in the states.

  • Managing Resources Underwater At Buck Island Reef National Monument   5 years 30 weeks ago

    If you're interested, the NPS I&M South Florida Caribbean Network website ( has several video swim-throughs on their website (, including during & after a coral bleaching event, as well as quite a bit of inventory information.

  • Ignorance and Complacency—Common Denominators in Many Park Accidents   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I take full responsibility for my life, my ignorance and my complacency.

    “No servant brought them meals… No traffic cop whistled them off the hidden rock in the next rapids. No friendly roof kept them dry when they misguessed weather or not to pitch the tent. No guide showed them which camping spots offered a night long breeze and which a nightlong misery of mosquitoes; which firewood made clear coals and which would only smoke. The elemental simplicities of wilderness travel were thrills…because they represented complete freedom to make mistakes. The wilderness gave…those rewards and penalties for wise and foolish acts…against which civilization had built a thousand buffers.” ~Aldo Leopold~

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Yo Bemis- I don't know where you live, but where I live it really is not that bad. Criminals don't rule the roost, I don't have to lock my door and feel perfectly safe walking at night or the trails during the day. Just as safe as I feel hiking and camping in the Parks I frequent. I know... I know some day I will wish you were here with your concealed weapon to save me. Well, I am just going to do what I do as I have been for 45 years, be a true law abiding citizen, visit our National Parks and hope every one does the same. Laws change, it is someting we all live with. I will live with what ever happens with this and keep a smile on my face, can you say the same? It was that way in 1787 and it is the same way now, we just roll with the punches. That is why we live in this wonderful country, if you know of a better place, well... feel free...

  • House Consideration of Massive Public Lands Bill Could Involve Gun Amendment   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I would like to thank Rick Smith for his comment which gave more info bot this land bill. My personal preference would have liked the gun rights language.But that can be handled as a separate issue. We do not need to weigh down bills with pet agendas.

    I would like more info on how the sequester of these lands impact any energy issues. Since preservation and mining often clash.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Pike, would you please help me find documentation for this claim?

    November 2005, Carnegie was attacked and killed by wolves while hiking in remote
    Northern Saskatchewan [Canada]. Carnegie is the first human known to have been
    killed by healthy, wild wolves in North America.

    My problem is with the "known to" part of that statement. The last I heard, an exhaustive examination of the scene did not provide solid evidence that the victim was killed by wolves. Wolf tracks in the vicinity and some (reasonable) assumptions did support the conclusion that the victim might have been killed by wolves. Is there an autopsy report that nails this thing down? Did an eyewitness come forward? I'm genuinely curious.

  • Spring Blooms Not Too Far Away in Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, And Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    You've bum-rapped the system, Sharon, because it's really not fair to say that a "senior pass" is hard to get. In fact, it's one of the simplest things you'll ever do, national parks-wise. The major constraint here is that the America The Beautiful Senior Pass (abbreviated name) has to be purchased in person. The NPS site that provides basic information about passes says only that you should buy one "at the park" (see below). What they mean is that you can buy it at any NPS unit that charges an admission fee. In fact, you don't even need to go to an NPS unit. You can buy the ATB Senior Pass at any federal recreation site that charges a fee.

    This is a lifetime pass for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. The pass provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity. The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free). The pass can only be obtained in person at the park. The Senior Pass provides a 50 percent discount on some Expanded Amenity Fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services. In some cases where Expanded Amenity Fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 percent price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires.

    Bottom line: Just get your senior pass the next time you visit a national park or other federal recreation site that charges an admission fee.

    And remember that U.S. citizens with permanent disabilities are eligible to get a lifetime ATB Access Pass at no cost.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Frank N, there's currently 200 million acres of federal land closed to bicycles (from what I read). How much more do we need to close?

    Based on the comments of a few politicians, I'm hopeful that access will change over time. It'll probably be too late for me, but it'll happen in time for my kids.

  • Spring Blooms Not Too Far Away in Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, And Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Why is it so hard to locate a place to buy senior passes or other national park passes? I have been trying on the phone and the internet to locate to purchase a pass close to me. I seem to keep being told to call here, go there, and just like run around. No one seems to know where. Can you help?

  • What Should a Park Do With "Surplus" Wood? Yellowstone National Park Has One Answer   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    Sorry if I gave the impression the policy is "new." It was brought to my attention with the suggestion that the information isn't known to everyone, and therefore might be of interest to some readers.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 30 weeks ago


    As you point out, this "debate" offers quite the smorgasbord of statistics, plenty to go around.

    Quick question: The April 2008 attack in Yellowstone. Do you have any more specifics, such as date, where in the park it happened? The park public affairs office never put out a release on that one, which I certainly would consider newsworthy. I'm not questioning you, I'm just curious about the incident.

  • Carrying Guns in the National Parks -- Is This Being Fast-Tracked?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Any capable and proficient adult who walks around in a remote area of a national park while unarmed has no business being there.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Good point.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Most if not all of Frank's examples can be found on the website of the self proclaimed "most aggressive group in the gun control movement" - The Violence Policy Center. Instead of me visiting the NRA website and regurgitating what I just read, you should just visit

    I'll credit Google for helping me find the following excerpts and quotes which are from newspaper articles, NPS press releases, and research papers:

    NPS 2007 Annual Report – 8 murders, 43 forcible rapes, 57 robberies, and 274 instances of aggravated assault

    "The most visitors used to worry about is running into a grizzly bear. Now there is the specter of violence by a masked [illegal] alien toting an AK-47," said David Barna, chief spokesman for the National Park Service (NPS).

    Press Release National Park Service, August 2008 - Director Mary A. Bomar:
    “These people slip in and out of their camps for supplies, tend and vigorously defend the marijuana crop that can be worth millions of dollars if it gets to market,” Bomar said. “And anyone who stumbles on their operations is in real danger.”

    “National parks budgets are stretched far enough without having to deal with illegal marijuana growing operations.” (Mary Bomar)

    "It's a $2 billion or a $4 billion problem, and we're throwing $1 million at it," said Supervisor Allen Ishida of Tulare County, whose deputies seized 157,000 pot plants on public and private lands and made 28 arrests this year.

    Illegal marijuana growing sites have previously been found – and destroyed – at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Santa Monica National Recreation Area, and Point Reyes National Seashore.

    The largest single bust in the nation this year netted 482,000 plants in the remote Sierra of Tulare County, the forest service said.

    Violent crimes have occurred at Mount Rainier. There was a double rape and armed robbery on Rampart Ridge in 1978. In 1981 there was an armed robbery at the National Park Inn. The 1996 death of Sheila Ann Kearns, a housekeeper at the inn, was ruled a homicide.

    April 2008 – A 55 year old man was attacked at Yellowstone. During the battle, the grizzly ripped off a big chunk of his scalp, scraped a wide groove of meat from beneath his right arm, and battered and scratched his torso. A small backpack probably helped him avoid further injury. Then the bear attacked again, he reached for the pistol he [illegally] wore in a holster on his belt and subsequently shot and killed the bear.

    US Alligator attacks 1948 to 2004 – 376 injuries

    Fatal alligator attacks (US) since 2000 - 13 deaths

    KENAI -- A man was mauled by a brown bear on the Kenai Peninsula in what state officials are calling the first mauling of 2008. was charged by a sow with two cubs when he left his home early Tuesday. The man turned and fled, but the bear quickly caught him, biting his buttocks, the back of his head and his chest.

    73 Mountain Lion Attacks between 1991 and 2003 in US - 10 victims were killed.

    August 2008 - A woman on a guided hike in the Brooks Range was mauled by a bear at her group’s campsite in the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve on Thursday morning.

    The Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve , 1996, a Washington, D.C. man was fatally mauled during a float trip down the Noatak River. He and another man were hiking through dense brush about a mile from the river when they surprised a sow grizzly with a cub at close range. The sow attacked and killed one of the men, the first fatal mauling in the park’s 28-year history.

    March 2006, A 92-year-old man who was attacked by a bull moose while walking to church in a small mountain town was upgraded to serious condition on Monday.

    A female moose with two calves attacked a 60-year-old woman while she was walking her dog. The woman was taken to hospital with minor injuries while her dog, a cocker spaniel, was so badly injured that it had to be euthanized.

    November 2005, Carnegie was attacked and killed by wolves while hiking in remote Northern Saskatchewan [Canada]. Carnegie is the first human known to have been killed by healthy, wild wolves in North America.

    SFC Frick from the magazine "Field and Stream" regarding self-defense with a gun "It's better to be sad than room temperature"