Recent comments

  • National Park Rangers Find Tasers Efficient Tools In Potentially Combative Situations   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Tasers are very dangerous and overused. Ive had friends who were tased without warning in protest situations, and they can do some real damage. At least with a gun, the law enforcement officer thinks twice before doing it.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Most animal attacks (with the exception of those involving sick animals) are the fault of humans. Not necessarily the human that was attacked. Possibly other hikers had seen this young bear, felt sorry for it, and had been feeding it. A recipe for disaster. It is even possible that this family had been feeding it. I'm not saying they were, but we will never know. The point is that somewhere, somehow, a human being (or more than one) was most likely responsible for this attack. The bear pays with its life, before ever getting a real chance to live. People aren't defending "the animals more than "human life & safety"" as someone says above, they are simply seeing the tragedy in all of this. The boy should not have been hurt. The animal should not have been killed. The two principals here are innocent victims; yet someone is at fault: The parents? Other hikers? We will probably never know.
    The rangers reported "strange behavior" from the bear. Good "buzz words" to justify shooting it. Most likely, killing the bear was the quickest and easiest "solution". Hazing or relocating (or preferably a combination of the two) would be costly, time consumming and probably not politically correct when a child was involved. Far easier to announce to the world, "We've killed the "monster" and the woods are once again safe for little children; when, of course, the woods have never (and never will be) 100% safe for anyone. I remember always telling my own children that the moment they step out of the car and walk into the woods, they have made a conscious decision to become a part of the food chain. Be smart, be aware, and you will be fine. Walk out there with the attitude, "I'm a human being! Nothing's gonna happen to me!" and you may be hurt or worse. Make like Bambi, because you are one of the smallest, most vulnerable creatures out there.
    On more than one occasion I have seen people throw food out of their car window at roadside bears in Yellowstone. I don't know if these people are just stupid, uneducated or they simply don't care. In any case, fines should be quadrupled and education programs increased. Perhaps a "wildlife safety test" should be given to all vistors. Fill in the answers and return to a ranger station to receive a pin or perhaps a coupon for 15% off at park gift stores.....something.
    Finally, I will say it once again. Wildlife attacks are very, very rare. At least when we are talking about mega-fauna (insect attacks are, of course, pretty common!) Attacks by bears, mountain lions etc. make the news because they are rare, not because they are common. Thousands of domestic dogs attack children every year. Many children die from such attacks. Yet we do not hear anyone saying that there are "too many dogs" or that "something needs to be done". Nor do these stories usually make the national headlines, because they are common. In Yellowstone, for example, I am told that your chance of being struck by lightning or being killed by a bear are about the same! Millions of people visit our parks and forests every year. A few dozen are injured by wildlife. Let's put this into perspective.

  • National Park Rangers Find Tasers Efficient Tools In Potentially Combative Situations   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Great with tasers killing people all over the country why not in the national parks too! Yogi and boo boo packing electrical heat I FEEL SO SECURE.

  • Clock Ticking On Decision Regarding Stocking North Cascades National Park With Non-Native Fish   5 years 35 weeks ago

    This is one of those unfortunate retuals started years ago with "what is the harm" attitude. My opinion is if the they continue to allow this in North Cascade NP, then some other park/wilderness area will want to do this and the door will be open. Great Basin NP has gone to great lengths to reindroduce the native Bonniville Trout and get rid of the non native species in its streams and high country lakes. To much success I might add. There are always unintended consequences when the natural/native landscape and or animal population is altered and then we spend millions restoring it.

  • National Park Quiz 50: Wilderness   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Thanks to several readers for bringing to my attention some problems --now fixed -- with the original wording of items #5 and #6. The salient facts are these: Yellowstone National Park has no federally designated wilderness, and Denali National Park & Preserve has very few miles of maintained trails.

  • Sour Economy Has Created Lots of Availability At Yellowstone National Park Lodges   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Sadly, many of the National Park hotels, as well as local lodging outside the parks, are really suffering in our current down economy. On a recent visit to a smaller park concession in California we found the staff had been cut to a skeleton crew and were badly demoralized. Services were extremely minimal, when compared to past levels. Management was trying to put on a happy face, but it was clear the operation was close to shutting down. With that said, I think this is a great time to visit the parks, particularly if you can get a discount deal and are willing to lower your service expectations. But I also am suggesting that you make reservations using a credit card, as in most cases this will allow you to recover your deposit in the event the concessionaire is financially forced to shut down prior to your visit. Larger corporations with deeper pockets, such as Xantera or Delaware North, are probably safer than the smaller operations like the one I visited.

  • Podcasts on Mountain Pine Beetles and Wilderness Can be Found at The Rocky Mountain Nation Podcast   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Thanks for the link Kurt...an interesting listen. After some digging, I found an "about us" page for the Rocky Mountain Nation. I'm glad this group is taking the initiative and setting up these podcasts.

    "The Rocky Mountain Nation Podcast is a podcast by and for Rocky Mountain National Park enthusiasts. We’ll work on covering issues that impact RMNP and its surrounding communities as well as topics to help you plan your visits to the park.

    The Rocky Mountain Nation Podcast is a part of a suite of Rocky Mountain National Park enthusiast websites. Those websites are:

    www.RMNPguide.com - A collection of resources to help you plan your trip to RMNP. You’ll find itinerary suggestions, info on dining and lodging, recreation details, and more.
    www.RMNPforums.com - The forums are a place to plug in with other Rocky Mountain National Park enthusiasts."

    Rocky Mountain Nation about us: http://rmnpodcast.com/?page_id=2

    rob
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography,
    www.robmutch.com

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    They probably didn't put out a release because it happened just outside the park (a 20 mile stretch of U.S. 191 is in Yellowstone, but you don't see bison there anymore - just in the areas between West Yellowstone and just past the turn off to Ennis). There is a letter several groups are working on; our group is going to post it on our site. Ralph Maughan posted something on this at http://wolves.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/bison-us191/. There were more details posted earlier, which aren't there anymore. The accidents involved a Honda, a semi, and an SUV, according to more than one person I've talked with who live in West Yellowstone and in initial reports from Buffalo Field Campaign. Buffalo Field Campaign just sent a letter to various Montana officials on this. BFC people and maybe others in the community will be meeting with Sen. Jon Tester's people at a meeting in West Yellowstone; as I understand it, their intention is to talk with them on whether stimulus transportation money already allocated for Montana and which all needs to be spent very quickly can in part be allocated toward better signage on U.S. 191. No telling if Tester will push for it or not.

    As for the snow, it's still coming down very, very hard despite it being right around or often just above freezing in Bozeman. We're at only 4,900 feet here; in Yellowstone, you'll be usually over 6,000 and up to almost 8,000 feet on the roads that are now open. You can bet the snow is coming hard; this is not a local storm. We expect another day or so of this before it warms up dramatically. Bozeman's temp on Saturday should be sunny and 60 degrees; you can subtract 10 to 15 for the park, which should mean that park roads at the very least will be plowed and maybe even dry by Saturday, but that's not uniform, especially at higher elevations. March was particularly wet. However, if you do go in, it should be beautiful. The NPS recently reported a group of bison near Mammoth Hot Springs, and then bison strewn out from the West Entrance all the way along the rivers to Old Faithful (heard that from the chief ranger last week at the Interagency Bison Management Plan meeting; but that's also typical for this time of year). Other animals like elk will no doubt be more and more numerous as they move back into the park from winter ranges.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Jim, good info for travelers. Thanks for providing the local conditions. As I noted, you never can tell what the weather will be like in the park this time of year.

    Also, those bison-car encounters is somewhat staggering. I wonder why the park didn't put out a release. Something to look into.

    Anonymous, I'd suggest you check with the Jackson Hole Chamber regarding airport shuttles. As for getting up to Grand Prismatic Spring, that'll be a bit tougher due to the distance. That said, you might check with the Teton Science School. They offer Wildlife Expedtions and tours of both Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. They're a great outfit and provide great interpretation.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Yet another bear attack in my favorite vacation spot. This time the young boy was injured and thankfully, not killed. We visit the Smokies at several times a year and usually see bears during our stay, frequently in Cades Cove and Roaring Fork. My husband has been in Boy Scouts for over 30 years and our sons are both Eagle Scouts so we respect animals in the wild and know better than to irritate or encourage wild animals to come in close contact with us. That said, several years ago, my son and husband did leave our car to photograph a young bear. Another tourist got within 10 feet of this bear and started using his flash on the camera, the bear stood up and growled--everyone else had enough sense to leave the area while that man continued to take photos. Thankfully, no one was injured that day, but this is a prime example of a dangerous situation. In our travels, we rarely see rangers in Cades Cove except in the Mill area and have not ever seen a ranger in the oaring Fork area. HI am impressed with the rangers and volunteers in the in Cataloochie where the elk were introduced. These volunteers and rangers keep an eye on what the tourists are doing so that the elk and tourists are safe and protected.
    It seems that since there have now been 2 attacks in the last few years, that perhaps rangers should be patrolling the areas better???
    When reading the article about this latest attack on April 11, 2009, it does not sound like the boy was doing anything wrong and the Father was close enough to frighten the bear and probably save his son's life. I do not think we should immediately criticize the parents without all of the information. I work with dog rescue so I love nimals and hate to see animals needlessly killed, but a bear that attacks a person cannot be trusted! The rangers' reported that the bear 's behavior was, "very strange" and made the decision to shoot the bear. I think the rangers made a wise decision, one that protects the rest of the tourists.

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Oh, another thing ... if you are going on U.S. 191 to West Yellowstone, please, please, please slow down, especially in the area it looks like you can go a million miles an hour just north of town to the turn off to Ennis. 15 buffalo were killed by cars in the past week! Yes, 15! And, in only 3 separate incidents. People miraculously weren't hurt in any of the incidents.

    For whatever reason, this isn't in the press, yet, but it is turning up on some blogs. Bison right now are migrating from the park to Horse Butte, along Hebgen Lake. There are over 100 buffalo there now, and they are going back and forth. The road area has great buffalo habitat; they are very hard to see in the dark, especially with oncoming traffic. The speed limit is 55 mph through there, but a lot of people think it's 70. Signage is terrible.

    But, please slow down ... keep an eye out ... and let others know. If you are in the park, you know to look for buffalo; this time of year, the same is true in this area near the Madison River.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    One heck of a day for these press releases - we had 3 to 6 inches of snow in Bozeman - very wet, but a whole ton of snow in the mountains, well over a foot, I read. Weather should be warm this weekend, though, but probably a lot of snow on those opening park roads this Friday. Having gone on opening weekend last year, I'd strongly suggest snow tires, especially if you are heading to Canyon.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • National Park Rangers Find Tasers Efficient Tools In Potentially Combative Situations   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Great article. The technology to resolve a potentially life threatening situation with less than lethal force is a step in the right direction.

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Thanks for the informative blog. I have booked my flight to Jackson Hole airport but don't know how I can reach the Grand Prismatic Spring area. Can you recommend any hotel/motel which picks up guests from the airport? I don't drive, how can I get to see the Grand Primatic and Mammoth? Thank you very much! - C

  • National Parks: Valuable Assets In Efforts To Conserve Birdlife   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Kurt, we visited YNP in early June 2008 and felt the same way observing the birdlife. One trip just West of Hebgen Lake we observed a Sandhill Crane pair with several young chicks, we really felt overwheelmed at the sight.

    Fred

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Dear Superheater,

    As much as I understand your points, I must argue. Although Pevsner and Rowland may be all talk and don't really know what they're talking about, their points are true. I've been a loyal fan of Steamtown since its dedication in 1995 and I know that, despite the amount of money the government pours into it and the number of volunteers that give up countless hours to it, Steamtown hasn't really changed at all since its creation. I know that money doesn't go that far and that the NPS is doing their best, but with all due respect, the National Park Service could do better.

    First of all, if Steamtown is trying to tell the story of railroading in the US, why are the only two operational locomotives at the site Canadian. Wouldn't you think to story of railroading would be better told with American locomotives, especially some of the more famous ones at Steamtown, like Nickel Plate #759 and Reading #2124?

    Secondly, if Steamtown only exists to tell that story, a 15 minute train ride around the site full of rusting and rotting rolling stock doesn't portray that story very well. Railroads in their day took care of their rolling stock; if it needed repair, it got it; if it needed new paint, it got it. I know something on that scale isn't cheap, but in the long run, it would do a lot for Steamtown. In relation to mainline excursions, I found the one comment in the other article about Steamtown existing to tell the story of railroading, not for excursions, ridiculous. With the types of engines that Steamtown uses, the story would be better told out on the mainline. Part of the story of railroading are those long excursions. Throughout this entire country, if a railroading museum has live steam or diesel, they have a good expanse of track to run it on.

    Thirdly, since Steamtown is given $5.2 million a year by the government, is it really that hard to save some of it and restore another American locomotive? Think about it. Boston & Maine #3713 costs about 1.3 million to restore and she's not very well known Considering the fame of Nickel Plate #765 and the amount of attention Ohio Central is getting for the restoration of Nickel Plate #763, don't you think their would be more support, donations and volunteers, and in the long run be worth it to restore Nickel Plate #759? She alone would bring a whole lot more people to Steamtown. The only thing really wrong with #759 is that she needs new flues and tubes. You could probably get a couple of those off of NKP #757 in Strasburg. The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has no intentions of restoring her; I'm pretty sure they wouldn't mind a few things being removed. That alone would bring so many more people to Steamtown, money would soon not be an issue anymore.

    Fourthly, why does Steamtown always submit to other railroads in the area. You're a Federal Park; I think the Federal Government has some influence. Take, for example, the mainline from Scranton north to Binghamton and the wye at Norfolk Southern's Portland yard. You would think the the NPS would really be pushing to use the wye. I know my steam engines and I know running tender-first up a grade like the Pocono Summit grade does more harm than good for a steam engine. It wouldn't even cost that much for the government to step in and say to Canadian Pacific or Norfolk Southern, "You're going to let Steamtown do these things." Especially with Canadian Pacific. After all, Steamtown did give Canada its National Locomotive, Empress 2816.

    In conclusion, I would just like to reiterate that I do understand where you are coming from. Money doesn't grow on trees, and especially for an operation the size of Steamtown, every penny has to be pinched. I just feel that in the long run, things would be a lot better for Steamtown if some things were changed

    Thank You

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Gee, 2nd amendment, I can be legally armed but choose not to. Does that make me unpatriotic or soft on crime? I notice that anon above says that the second amendment is somehow connected to God so I must be unreligious, also. And, to top it all, I am defenseless. Think I will go eat a worm.

    Rick Smith

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Another bumbling butt-headed mistake by a ANTI-Self defense group. The Brady Campaign against gun violence is a joke. They might as well change their name to The Brady Campaign for Criminal Protection. Anyone who's going to do anything 'Bad' with a gun isn't going 2 give a crap about the laws. I would not visit areas where wild animals live with out a trusty sidearm to defend myself, not to mention there are so few law enforcement officers in our nations parks that calling 911 would only give then a heads up as to where to find your body if you were being attacked. Some people need to stop living in lala land and realize that the person who is most responsible for their-own safety is themselves and that every citizen who can be legally armed should be at all times in order to take back this country from criminals who prey on the defenseless (those who don't carry a gun). This suit is a waste of money and time.

    Editor's note: This comment was edited to conform with the Traveler's code of conduct.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 35 weeks ago

    "The best tool of self-defense for women and the elderly is the gun."

    Columbia, SC • June 9, 2008. A 4-year-old girl shot herself in the chest after grabbing her
    grandmother’s handgun while riding in a shopping cart in a Sam’s Club store.

    The best tool of self defense for women and the elderly is common sense; and possibly a course in self defense or a can of pepper spray.

  • Spring Openings on Tap for Shenandoah National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Well, Dave, with some of the bizarre weather we've seen lately -- here in Park City we had 70-degree weather about three weeks ago, now it's raining and there's snow forecast for tonight into Thursday -- I'd hate to venture much, but judging from the photos of past wildflower weekends, I'd say the park will indeed be green, though probably not as green as in mid-June or July.

  • Spring Openings on Tap for Shenandoah National Park   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    Any idea when Shenandoah might be in bloom? I'm wondering if the leaves will be on the trees and things green by the first of May? I know the wildflower bloom festival is the next weekend but was just curious if you thought the park might be green by then?

    Thanks,
    Dave

  • NPCA: Climate Change Greatest Threat Facing the National Park System   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Wow, Frank C. gives me a link to a paper written in 1998, someone else tries to rephrase my question, but changes it entirely. Hey Frank C. Here is a link for you:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/bookshelf/brochures/greenhouse/Chapter1.htm

    Original Anonymous: I did not ask if CO2 changed the climate, I asked what the naysayers thought happened when we raised the CO2 levels.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 35 weeks ago

    NPS gets the shaft on park concessionaire contracts...it's like a giant buffet for the giant companies.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Companies conduct for-profit business in our National Parks every day.

    Sadly this abuse of Our National Parks is true.
    Personally I will not be satisfied until all such profits are added to Our National Parks coffers for the benefit and enjoyment of all citizens.

  • Sky Diving at Denali National Park? A Florida-Based Company Thinks It's a Great Idea   5 years 35 weeks ago

    Companies conduct for-profit business in our National Parks every day. At Denali, climbing companies make money escorting people up the mountain and air taxi services make money selling flightseeing tours over the park. Perhaps the elitists are those who think our National Parks belong to them and them alone. In reality, national parks are for the use and enjoyment of all citizens....including those who can afford a $25,000 skydive.