Recent comments

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Mr. Wade and McElveen's comments are unnecessarily alarmist and have little basis, if any, in evidence coming out of states where shall-issue right-to-carry has been law for a decade or more.

    First, the majority of the US population lives in shall-issue states, so people and their small children are already in proximity to lawfully armed citizens.

    Second, Federal buildings in parks have always been off-limits and they don't have metal detectors. As before, law-abiding people will not carry in federal buildings, and as before, criminals of a mind to carry inside these buildings will do so anyway.

    Third, carry licensees already have to disarm when they cross certain state borders, enter schools, university campuses, and the like. They understand and abide those boundaries, and they will do the same when national parks straddle states with different carry laws.

    Finally, data coming out of shall-issue right-to-carry states confirm that licensees are an extraordinarily law-abiding demographic. In many states, licensees are 15-20 times less likely to be arrested than the public at large. Simply put, licensees are extraordinarily trustworthy people. There is no rational basis for worry about crimes at the hands of these people.

    All said, the arguments forwarded by Mr. Wade and McElveen are simply unfounded. It is rather absurd to hear them arguing so strongly for something that has little, if any, rational basis.

    Afterthought:
    I suppose that what dumbfounds me the most regarding these arguments is their long and repetitive history.

    Florida passed shall-issue right-to-carry in 1987, and similar arguments were brought out at that time. Since then, only 2 states have NOT passed some form of concealed carry law. During this 20-year process, these same arguments came up in state, after state, after state. Now after 20 years these fears of Mr. Wade and McElveen have yet to be realized! People, we have good, solid data regarding these carry policies. Look at the data, and distrust the alarmist rhetoric.

    Public policy is too important to be swayed by empty arguments. We are smarter than that.

  • Muir Woods National Monument is More than Really Old, Really Big Trees   5 years 36 weeks ago

    A wonderful site, made even more so by its proximity to San Francisco. Many other large cities should be so fortunate.

    Another gift to all of us from President Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Deadly Threats You Never Heard of Lurk in Our National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I agree that none of these perils should discourage visits to parks, but they are a good reminder that prudent measures are a good idea - for visitors and employees.

    This article also brought to mind a humorous personal experience (although it probably didn't seem so at the time):

    Back in the 1980s, I worked in the Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, and the park staff agreed to participate in a study by the state Health Department to try to determine if ticks in the area were carriers for Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I can testify from personal experience that the thickets of southeast Texas qualify as critical habitat for both ticks and chiggers, so the park staff also provided a pretty good test group for effective repellents against those critters.

    For several months, when we went to the "field" we were armed with a set of small glass vials and some official Texas Dept. of Health labels. If we found a tick on our person, we collected it, put it in the vial, secured the lid, and completed a stick-on label with details (was the tick attached to us or merely crawling, date and location, etc.) The bottled ticks were then shipped off to the lab, where they presumably gave their lives for the sake of science.

    One afternoon, the Chief Ranger called me into his office near the end of the day, and a rather unusual conversation ensued. After some preliminary small talk, the short version went something like this:

    Chief: "So, how are you feeling today?"

    Ranger J (who has just returned from a delightful day in the woods and swamps, where the readings for both humidity and heat exceeded "90"): "Okay."

    Chief: "Any unusual medical problems lately?"

    Ranger J: (Increasingly puzzled): Nope.

    Chief: (after a bit more beating around the bush): "Well, I just thought I should let you know three of the last four ticks you sent in came back positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever."

    Ah, the joys of rangering!

    As a follow-up, my personal experience was that powdered sulphur, applied topically as a dusting powder, was the best anti-tick measure. The military-issue insect repellent, which contained something like 95% DEET as the active ingredient, was also fairly effective, but since it melted plastic camera lens caps and water bottles, super DEET fell out of favor as a classic case of the preventive being worse than the threat.

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Jim, thanks for the update on this measure. Sen. Coburn really is turning into an irritant to some. Though if hindsight is of any help, there more than likely is more than a few servings of pork in this omnibus bill. That said, I'd be surprised if the senator has any luck in derailing this train. There are too many states and politicians to benefit.

    While the above story touches on many of the NPS-related items, one that I overlooked (can you blame me, with a 1200-page bill?) is the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail. This trail, among other things, would follow the course of the great Ice Floods that flooded central Washington up to 100 times.

    As I understand it, and as the Ice Age Floods Institute explains on its web site, this would not exactly be a footpath but rather a travel corridor along which the Park Service would be expected to establish interpretive plaques and kiosks.

    If the omnibus bill passes, the Traveler will take a more expansive look at this proposed trail.

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 36 weeks ago

    An article in today's Las Vegas Review-Journal provides a hint of the upcoming fight over this bill, led by Senator Coburn. He says:

    "The omnibus bill would withdraw millions of acres of public land from energy development, increase government spending by more than $10 billion and add even greater restrictions to federally managed lands."

    The Oklahoma lawmaker has added a new twist to his strategy. He:

    proposed an amendment that would prevent any new spending until the National Park Service gets caught up with a $1.5 billion repair backlog at high profile parks.

    The amendment singles out Lake Mead National Recreation Area, along with the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park, the USS Arizona, Glacier National Park, Civil War battlefields at Gettysburg and Antietam, and the National Mall in Washington.

    The prohibition on "new spending" presumably refers to activities that are included in this bill. Unfortunately, I haven't seen all calls by Coburn to actually provide any funds to help with the NPS backlog, so stalling progress on other provisions until the backlog is corrected is a clever stalling tactic.

    Although I agree this bill has many excellent provisions, it's fraught with the same peril as many omnibus bills, which lump a large number of individual bills into one package, and thus become a convenient vehicle for the oft-debated earmarks, such as yet another "road to nowhere." Since the bill is reported to include about 1200 pages, it is hard for anyone to wade through all the text, posing some risk that a ringer or two that even bill supporters will later regret is lurking in the fine print.

    Will the bill actually come to a vote on Sunday? When the votes are counted, will there be any hanging chads? It'll be interesting...

  • Deadly Threats You Never Heard of Lurk in Our National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Geez, Bob, are you trying to take all the fun away from a park visit?

    As for plague, we shouldn't forget that it killed an NPS wildlife biologist in Grand Canyon National Park in 2007.

    Other threats, though not disease-related, include altitude sickness (aka acute mountain sickness) that can strike if you head above 8,000 feet and are not acclimated; heat stroke or heat exhaustion, which are very common in the Grand Canyon during the summer months; hypothermia, which can occur in many parks if you're not careful, and; various nasty intestinal ailments that are common to Colorado River rafting parties.

    All that said (and I'm sure we missed some threats), I wouldn't let any of these keep me out of the parks.

  • Muir Woods National Monument is More than Really Old, Really Big Trees   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Yes, you are definitely forgiven. We were just there on Tuesday (visiting from Utah) and loved it. Your excellent write-up provides great background for one of America's treasures.

  • Deadly Threats You Never Heard of Lurk in Our National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    What a story. I have enjoyed the warm springs in Saline Valley over the course of three days and broke all of the rules of safety as did others with me. Suppose we were lucky. Hope there are signs posted now. Beautiful area and aside from a few people that like to play their stereo full blast, it was very nice. Think signs would be out of place? I know the loud music was.

  • Muir Woods National Monument is More than Really Old, Really Big Trees   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Does this mean I'm forgiven for getting the centennial year wrong?

  • Muir Woods National Monument is More than Really Old, Really Big Trees   5 years 36 weeks ago

    One of the most beautiful places on earth - makes San Francisco worth the trip.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    As for Kurt, I truly appreciate that he puts forth the time and effort to operate this website and blog. He and I disagree on this issue but I still think that we could spend a day in a National Park together and enjoy each other's company. We all owe him a big "Thank you!"

    Here here! Running a site like this takes a lot of energy, effort, and time. I'm glad to have a forum to discuss this and other relevant issues.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    It's been awhile since I've chimed in on this issue. My viewpoints haven't changed and I don't think anyone else's have either. I think it is immoral to require someone to disarm themselves when they cross a line on a map. How my concealed pistol will "scare" someone is beyond my wildest comprehension. It's like saying that they're offended by the color of my underwear!

    As for the comments being mostly OPPOSED to this new rule change, I invite you to go to the comments page and read some for yourself. There are many thousands of them. Pick a hundred at random; it might take you a half hour. But it will show you the fact that most responders were in FAVOR of this new rule change!

    http://www.regulations.gov/search/search_results.jsp?No=80&sid=119C6B4B6492&Ne=2+8+11+8053+8054+8098+8074+8066+8084+8055&Ntt=e8-09606&Ntk=All&Ntx=mode+matchall&N=0&css=0

    As for Kurt, I truly appreciate that he puts forth the time and effort to operate this website and blog. He and I disagree on this issue but I still think that we could spend a day in a National Park together and enjoy each other's company. We all owe him a big "Thank you!"

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Ted, I should know better, but....

    * "Disproportionally"?

    Disproportionate to what? To Hispanics, to Asians, to African-Americans, to AARPers, to twenty-somethings, to white males, to white females, to black bears?

    You mention the "general population," but I'd wager the "general population" of the Washington peninsula is considerably different than the "general population" of Torrey, Utah, the gateway to Capitol Reef NP or Hurricane, Utah, on the border of Zion NP, or even Bar Harbor, Maine, next to Acadia NP.

    If you're being specific to the general population of the peninsula, I'm not sure if your point is that out-of-area gays find the park overly nice and enjoyable or that there's been a disconcerting drop in non-gay visitation.

    * "important parts of Olympic National Park"?

    And what would be the unimportant parts?

    The bottom line is, "So what?"

    Back in July of '07 I wrote about an African-American BLM ranger, Wayne Hare, who had written an essay lamenting the general lack of people of color in the backcountry areas of our public lands. Part of his point was that, "The most recent U.S. Census indicates that sometime around the year 2050, people of color in this country will outnumber the current white majority. If the emerging future majority doesn't find intrinsic value in our birthright of publicly owned lands, how much tougher will it be to fund and protect these special areas?"

    To say the least, that post generated quite a bit of heat out...from folks who agreed with Mr. Hare, from folks who disagreed, from folks who complained about all the talk about diversity, maintaining that it had become overly PC and was failing to accomplish the underlying goal in favor of merely playing a numbers game.

    I guess my point is that I would be more concerned about your observation if it was that you didn't encounter ANYONE in the backcountry. Who cares if those you did are gay, or black, or yellow, or purple? Would you have made the same "disproportionate" claim if the majority of folks you encountered were white males aged 35-55? Just to tie back into the original post, would you have commented if you found a "disproportionate" number of backcounty travelers were armed or unarmed?

    Last time I checked the parks were there to be enjoyed by all-comers regardless of race, creed, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Shouldn't they all be encouraged, welcomed, and feel comfortable without being labeled as "disproportionate"?

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    There was no sarcasm in my observations about the high level of gay usage in the Olympic Peninsula backcountry.

    Warren brought 'civil rights' into the thread explicitly in the context of 'gay rights'. You responded to him, expressing reservations about the thread-drift, and indicated that you were "curious" whether his drift can be tied to the 'Parks-theme'.

    I believe there is an opportunity for such a tie-in as you requested, in that gays appear to be disproportionally represented, in comparison with the general population, in important parts of Olympic National Park.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    When I went to Yellowstone, I had a .44 Mag. revolver in my back back when I hiked and camped in the wilderness areas. At that time a young woman 3 weeks earlier had been attacked by a grizzly bear, I felt I had the right to protect myself! I have a CCW for Minnesota, the left wing said it would be like the wild west, there would be gun battles on Main St., we haven't seen any of that. Serious crime has gone done, even the Police Chief of St. Paul says it has posed any threats to any of his officers.

  • Earthquakes Continuing to Rattle Yellowstone National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    K Gies,

    For every "supereruption" there are a thousand "big eruptions", and for every one of those there is a thousand "little eruptions". Neither science nor the government can really tell reliably which of those 'events' a sustained pattern of 'warning activity' will lead to - if anything at all. Most warning-activity comes to nothing.

    Most eruptions are little ... but Mount St. Helens was a 'little eruption', and it was fairly impressive. However, the main effects of St. Helens were confined to Washington State (had the wind been different, the ash would have dumped heavily on the urban Portland, Oregon area ... but still, the human cost would have been light).

    K, nobody - nobody - knows how to tell if the Big One is coming.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Ted,

    I'm starting to worry about your efforts at sarcasm....or, if you're being serious, does this impression overly concern you?

    And please, let's read for comprehension and not insert thoughts into my comments. Whereas I referred to discussion of *general* civil rights issues, without specifying one or another aspect, you felt fit to label my interest as being specific to gay rights. Why is that? What about how minorities are faced with stereotypes or discrimination? What about women not being paid equal to their male colleagues?

    But I suppose that would be thread drift....unless you tied 'em to NPS hiring somehow.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Warren & Kurt viz Parks, Gay Rights, and Drift

    Kurt cracked the door:

    "Perhaps someone can spin [(gay) civil rights] in a fashion that does tie it to the parks, and I'd be curious to see that one."

    I believe that gays are over-represented on the 'intermediate to advanced' backcountry trails.

    Once you have hiked in farther than can be hiked back the same day, it starts to become noticeable that some of the folks being encountered are evidently gays. Normally, one does not notice this, though of course it is always true.

    On the trails and 'designated' campsites a couple days 'back in' from the madding crowds, it becomes emphatically evident that an unusually high portion of one's fellows are gay. I am going to guess that the 'enrichment' may typically run 25% to 50%. On an extra-good day, in an extra-good setting, a casual glance indicates that most of the others finding tent-sites, unpacking, fetching water, getting a few pictures - are gay.

    I think there is a serious - and important - over-representation of gays in the Olympic National Park backcountry.

  • Earthquakes Continuing to Rattle Yellowstone National Park   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I would like to know if there is a plan in place to notify those affected if Yellowstone go's. Which is going to be everyone from Missouri/Kansas north and east. Or is everyone going to kept in the dark and our government and FEMA just hoping for the best? I think the people of this country have the right to know what their government plans on doing if there is any warning of a large quake ( 6.0 or greater) or a large eruption. This kind of event can and will affect many lives.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Hobblefoot,

    Yes, the original publishers of these 'talking points' would (hopefully) have more in mind than solely to inflame the pro-gun faction. Sure - that's how it's supposed to be done. With the more skilled practitioners, such statements as these intentionally deliver a different message, and have a different effect on the widest possible range of different groups. That's one of the key skills of politics - to be aware of the different parts of the audience and be able to deliver differing messages to each with the same words.

    You mention the opposition-sentiment being represented 2-1 in the official comments submitted. Comments such as these are not, and are not intended as a proxy for democracy. No. These comment-opportunities are primarily to provide a 'pulpit' so those with no voice or 'champion' can bring to the attention of law-makers points of view, circumstances, factors etc which the big-wigs may not have before them, to help ensure that avoidable mistakes aren't made (experience shows this does happen). "Comment periods" are in no way shape or form a "ballot" or "vote". Thinking so is a mistake.

    In this case - as in lots of others - what we see in the breakdown of the comment-sentiment is a reflection of: 1.) the bias of those who most-successfully organize a 'write-in campaign' to promote their preferred outcome, and: 2.) yes; that those whom the new law favor feel little insecurity about the outcome.

    An exception to my previous point about these comments not being a kind of vote, would be if a meaningful portion of the entire voting population takes the opportunity to weight in on the matter. If instead of 140,000 comments from a nation of 300,000,000 there had been 14,000,000 ... yeah, we're going to have another look at this.

    But if much of the country did submit comments, then you would see that actually just shy of 2 out of 3 support gun-rights - around 65%. This is a sentiment that has been polled often, and the results are consistent.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Right on, Kurt. I am completely aware of my drift away from the source of the topic, and I thank you keeping the discussion on track. (Though I am very curious to see response to my last post, I totally understand if it doesn't make onto the site.)

    I spent many years in customer service and retail management. I always found it interesting that in that arena, most customers only spoke up when filing a complaint, it was rare for customers to go out of their way to express their happiness.
    Rarely did a customer express happiness in the range of products one of my stores sold; comments were usually limited to judgment of my character based on what I didn't have in the store...
    Not exactly the same situation as how guns-in-parks topic/comment string draws out particular individuals, but it's the closest example I have from my own experience. :)

    I get it, and apologize for intentionally drifting away.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    vince K.,

    I have seen folks use the quote (uncited):

    "An armed society is a polite society."
    There is good merit in it.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Warren,

    You're encouraging some serious thread drift here, which concerns me in that it's directed AWAY from national park-related topics.

    The primary focus of the Traveler is to take a look at what's going on in the national parks and explore those issues. To trot off in a direction away from the parks and into a no-holds-barred debate/discussion of civil rights, well, I don't see that as at all germane to the national parks. Perhaps someone can spin it in a fashion that does tie it to the parks, and I'd be curious to see that one.

    That said, I do find it incredibly curious that most -- most -- of those who visit the Traveler to comment on the gun issue only visit to discuss or debate the gun issue. It's as if they don't care a bit about national parks, only where they can carry their weapon. It's as if they surf the Internet looking for sites where they can weigh-in with their pro-gun agenda. You never hear them speak up on park funding issues, on some of the intriguing reasons we visit parks, on legislative issues (aside from gun-related issues) affecting the parks.

    That said Warren, I look forward to seeing YOUR comments on some of these other issues;-)

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt,
    You do an awesome job with this site, I for one appreciate the breadth of coverage, and the amount of content, and the sometimes alternative viewpoint you present for debate.
    So far I've only found myself posting comments related to the legal carry in National Parks issue. (What can I say, I enjoy a good debate.)
    Keep up the good work!

    #########################################################################

    Since the pro- carry folks are focusing their comments on a civil-rights based platform built on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so will I. At the risk of Ted calling me a politician again (!) I will ask the pro- carry folks for evidence of their support on all civil rights issues, or at least one particular issue that matters to me.

    A couple of commentators here at NPT have compared no- carry laws to Jim Crow laws, i.e. gun owners had been treated in a separate but equal way in our National Parks. I will ask here (as I have in another comment string concerned with the guns in parks issue) if the gun owning civil rights advocates will join my fight for legal same-sex marriage. How does legalization of same-sex marriage relate to legal carry in our National Parks, you might wonder.

    I am a gay man in a relationship of 18+ years, hurray for me. Yet the Federal government, and most states (including my own) refuse to legally recognize the stability and worth of my long-term relationship because of religious prejudice (based on idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible) towards what I do in the privacy of my bedroom. (And let me tell ya fellas, after 18 years there ain't much going in there, I'm sure you can appreciate that little tidbit! It's as if I'm married, just like you.)
    Wouldn't you agree that legal bans on same-sex marriage are as much a violation of my civil rights as prohibitions on concealed carry of firearms are on yours? After all, just about every civil marriage law on the books (on both the state and federal levels) is based on a religious definition or belief. Isn't that a violation of the Constitutional Principle of the Separation of Church and State? Love the sinner but hate the sin? Separate but equal. Legal recognition of "civil unions"? That's just separate but equal again.
    (As for the argument that legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to legalized human/animal marriage, or intra-family marriage, or legalized bigamy... well, that's just the same as saying that a legal gun owner will always use it an illegal manner, or will buy their guns illegally, or refuse to take the requisite training courses for proper, safe usage.)

    Do you see where I'm going with this?

    As far as I'm concerned, all those organizations out there devoting their time and effort to making legal carry a Second Amendment issue need to get on board the Constitution train and fight for lawful interpretation of the 10th Amendment, the 14th Amendment... heck, why not support the entire Constitution as it applies to all Americans. History shows us that the most effective movements are those built on broad-based coalitions.

    This is not bait, nor a politician's argument, just the sincere plea for fair, consistent application of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The same sex marriage folks just flat out need your devotion to Constitutional Principles.

    I look forward to the good folks at the NRA, the Second Amendment Foundation, the Second Amendment Committee ( www.libertygunrights.net ), www.guncite.com , www.secondment.net, , etc., joining me in a coalition based on Constitutional consistency when it comes to civil rights in America. You don't want me to pick and choose which portions of the Constitution I'm obligated to support, so don't you either. Okay?

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    As I have stated before. I carry a gun on my RV for protection. I consider this my home space and I will continue to carry the gun onboard legal or not. I see no reason to carry concealed . If someone thinks they need protection while out on a trail, carry bear spray. In my opinion it will do as good on a man or beast as a handgun. These are my thoughts only not intended to cause a major debate.