Recent comments

  • Spammers Are Targeting National Parks Traveler   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt, once again I thank you for running this blog. I hate to hear that the NPT has been spammed. Regular followers will always know that any "trash talk" did NOT come from this enjoyable and informative website. Hopefully we can keep any future attacks to a bare minimum.

  • Coal-Fired Plants Obscuring National Park Vistas   5 years 36 weeks ago

    We get some of the blue haze in the distance when we look several ridges over up here in East Kentucky. Visibility is not our problem, what you see sometimes is disturbing to view. Mountain Top Removal is destroying our beautiful portion of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. I hope the new administration addresses the problems with the particulate matter produced by coal fired power generation that is spoiling nature in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is my sincere hope that acid rain does not effect the deciduous forest of that beautiful place.

    It is your good fortune that coal was not found early in the last century in these mountains, I am sure because of the protection you fall under this terrible environmental scourge could not be done down there. I do not understand how the nation allows the mountain top removal process for our mountains. We don’t have National Park Status but belong as much to the nation as the Great Smoky Mountains do.

    Please protect the natural beauty and the wildness or this place for as long as you can, it will soon be the only place the people of East Ky., or W.Va., will be able to view an unbroken mountain vista.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Well Lee, we will see if your belief is correct or mine. Time will tell. I do not beleive that more deaths of wildlife will occur from CCW holders than happened before without considering many were carrying without the legal sanction.

    The panic behavior that visitors exhibit when coming face to face often already has tragic results when the animal follow the chase instinct. But surprisingly actual history has not indicated that to have happened very often, people do read the NPS advice and do follow directions. However on actual hostile attacks between wildlife and humans, the use of firearms have saved humans. I think that is the correct result.

    So to see some accounts of cougar attack this cite has listings http://users.frii.com/mytymyk/lions/attacks3.htm
    This is not limited to NPS settings.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    imtnbke,
    I hear and completely agree with your point of view, that when the current law perpetuates some social injustice or in some way inures a group of people then it is our responsibility as a people of this country to rise up and speak out until said law is changed. That being said, comparing mountain bikers to Rosa Parks is a bit of a stretch. As a mountain biker, I do not feel like a second class citizen or that I have had any of my inalienable rights infringed upon. Not being able to mountain bike in a National Park is not going to keep me from living my life one day to the next. Those that do, need to grow the heck up.
    As for relegating mountain bikers to dusty ranch roads and pavement, that is completely missing the point. We already have access to vast amounts of BLM land, National Forests, State Parks, and many smaller areas overseen by local municipalities, just to give a few examples. And as apparently the validity of my mountain biking status has been called into question, I volunteer that while not a 'hardcore' biker I have enjoyed ten years spread across three states in the Midwest frequenting the latter three types of areas, as well as in one Western state.
    And lastly, I'm not ignoring how excluded people feel when confronted by unjust laws. As stated above, I will completely side with a group found to be adversely affected by an UNJUST law. I just don't see how having people use their own two feet (my apologies to those who are handicapped) to help minimize their impact on trails, to help the already overwhelmed NPS maintain said trails for the enjoyment of the greater good is affording special treatment or unjust. It's not special treatment, it's about as simple as it gets.

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The truth is that a growing number of people can't seem to escape their couch.

    Zebulon

    That statement is frightening but true. And I believe that those who care about parks need to fight that trend. If people loose interest in parks, it could eventually translate into into additional funding problems, continued drops in visitation... and perhaps drastic changes in what a park is.

    Lee: you're stuck on that nonsensical definition of mechanized

    OK, OK... I admit that my definition of mechanized is idealistic (but so is the concept of Wilderness). Further, I am also confused at times by the difference between the use of technology and mechanization. And I have gotten into some very heated arguments about things like hang-gliding. No wheels, no power, and designed by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1500's hang gliders predate some of the earliest description of protecting wilderness... and I have no intention of ever hang gliding anywhere.

    Just be honest and come out and say that you don't want to share your public parks with others

    However, I completely disagree with your assessment that I don't want others to visit "my parks". I do want people to visits. The more people the better (to a point). However, I want them to come knowing that these places are special and have different rules than the rest of society. I wish that people could acknowledge that different rules for different places it ok (and good).

    It seems that in our personal lives we have are comfortable with that statement. We often set rules about what can be done in our own yards (not just for impact reasons, but also for reasons related to the appropriateness of certain behaviors).

    When the term public lands is used to describe parks I feel like people make the claim "it is part mine and I should be able to do what I like to do on it." That naturally leads to "tragedy of the commons" situations. If every special interest group is given the right to carryout their activities in parks and wilderness we loose some of the things that make them special.

    And I sure someone will fire back at me a saying "you may believe that now, but just wait until the park service makes something you like to do illegal!" Maybe you're right. But right now I am happy that the parks are fighting to maintain an identity of their own instead of mutating into whatever the current special interest group wants.

    Finally, to your bottom line. Specifically when you comment that it is an established user group's selfishness that is restricting others from being able to enjoy National Parks. It is easy to oversimplify the problems in parks and their causes.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    As an old friend of mine used to say: "Wolves don't vote, piping plovers don't lobby, and ginseng doesn't contribute to political candidates...unfortunately!!

    Bill Wade
    Chair, Executive Council
    Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Ah, Tooth Doctor . . . know ye not our country's social history? For your sniping at Zebulon has a long and unfortunate pedigree in the context of excluding social groups.

    Many were the people who told Rosa Parks to accept her place at the back of the bus. A few of them even were black.

    "NAACP activist and Baton Rouge bus boycott attorney Johnnie Jones explains that during the late 1940's and early 1950's, many African Americans in Baton Rouge did not see an end to segregation. 'All the old folks at the time told me, "why are you wasting your time on this? Nothing’s going to change, you’re just burning time and causing trouble." ' "
    (Source: http://www.lpb.org/programs/brbusboycott/background.html.)

    And many are the people who tell mountain bikers like Zebulon to stop whining and accept their place on dusty wide ranch roads and pavement. A few of them even are mountain bikers (or at least claim to be).

    The way you think ignores the way excluded people react to unfairness and you're not going to get anywhere by preaching unjust laws and rules to them. As a recent Harvard Environmental Law Review article that discussed mountain biking and Wilderness access observed, "Studies of persons who have been excluded from a benefit suggest that those excluded harbor deep resentment for the seeming special treatment afforded the included class. As a result, the excluded class tends to resist the creation of more systems that might further exclude them." (Source: Laitos & Gamble, "The Problem With Wilderness" (2008) 32 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 504, 531, fn. 156.) The same applies to the national parks, of course.

  • Singer Dolly Parton Named Ambassador for Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Anniversary   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Yes! She is fantastic and can talk with anybody in any situation. Extremely intelligent but has some fun with the county blonde routine! She has many jewels in her crown of achievments. I especially love the way she provides employment for the people in her area and apologize for mis-spelling Sevierville. We all up here in E.Ky make the pilgrimage down to Gatlinburg and of course DollyWood. When I was able I loved to hike in the surrounding Smoky Mountains. I am on the sunset side of the mountain now, but still love the area.

    I can't believe that beautiful young lady on the Porter Wagner Show would grow into such fame and recognition. Her music and voice will drift through these mountains and valleys through the ages. Her humble beginnings, linage and connections to the Mountians make her the perfect ambassador for the Great Smoky Mountains. You know how mountain people can be a little clanish and mindful of other mountain folk. We take a singular pride in her and you know a voice coach nor a Hollywood producer can't can that mountain soul when she talks or especially sings.

    You would have to have lived it to understand her "Coat of Many Colors", her legacy of promoting the homeland of her people will be the enduring monument of the Great Smokey Mountains, that's about as permanent or long lasting as you can get.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    "What about "controlled" burns? Doesn't this activity kill lots of animals in the name of "ecosystem management" ? What about the seemingly arbitrary decision to let a forest fire "burn itself out" ? Depending on the time of year these ghastly infernos can burn through a lot of wildlife."- Beamis

    Controlled burns don't often kill wildlife. See:

    Fire at the wildland interface: the influence of experience and mass media on public knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions

    There are many more examples of literature documenting the mortality of wildlife associated with wildland fires and controlled burns.

    Cars on the other hand do impact (no pun intended) wildlife numbers.

    However, the difference between allowing cars (or even restricting transportation to mass transit) into the parks and allowing armed visitors into the park, is that without transportation most visitors would not be able to enjoy the park as the organic act allows.

    Not allowing loaded weapons into parks doesn't inhibit the park from achieving the requirements set forth by the organic act. While allowing loaded weapons into the park may actually go against the regulations of the organic act. However, nobody will know for sure until a study is done.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I vote we give gun topics a rest on NPT. We aren't ever going to agree, and it is getting a bit tedious to read the same old points over and over.

    Rick Smith

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I've seen my share of trails destroyed by hiker bad behavior. Kurt, your basic argument is that preserving national parks for future generations and allowing mountain biking is somehow mutually exclusive but offer no good explanation for it, other than bringing the fact that some bikers don't know how to behave. BFD. It all comes down to a category of users not wanting to share with the newcomers.

    Rational people could come with inventive solutions, odd/even trail usage, creating separate trail for the first couple miles from the trailhead when interactions are the most frequent. There are plenty of easy solutions to the perceived conflicts, but I have yet to see a non MTBer coming up with anything other than "let's keep them out of our playground". Sad.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Toothdoctor: you must be a one of a kind. ;) Frankly, I'll summarize your arguments: it's the law, deal with it... I'm sure you can do better. Just because the law discriminates against a category of users does not make the law right. I have yet to see anybody come up with a logical argument as to why bikes should be banned. It's always some kind of contrived argument with a bunch of shortcuts that basically amounts to nonsense.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    The majority of people who visit national parks cannot read a bear. That is why Grand Teton and other parks do things like the Wildlife Brigade.

    In response to RAH, people don't follow normal prudent rules around wildlife in parks. If they did parks would not need to fund positions like the wildlife brigade. I have seen a young curious griz approach people with no intention of attacking... however visitors don't know that and many react the wrong way by, screaming, turning to run, or otherwise panicking.

    I believe, in those emotionally charged moments, a visitor with a gun may harm/or kill a protected species (or perhaps worse, kill or injure a person).

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt your humorous post has more comments than most so I think it was sucess. Of course those who are opposed and those for CCW in parks have passionate feelings about the issue, that is why posts on these subjects gather so many comments.

    I think most of us enjoyed the humor. It was a nice light touch.

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Here in Colorado, we have many real-world scenarios for observing the relative impacts of hiking and biking. Many trails that are popular with both groups have sections that are close to bikes because of Wilderness designations -- the Colorado trail is the best-known example. Get out in the woods and take a look -- you will see that the popular sections of the trail, where there are trailheads with with easy car access, are wide and eroded whether the trail is closed to bikes or not. The remote sections that are open to bikes (many of which are quite popular with mountain bikers) are generally in excellent shape. The real world scenarios clearly show that it's the total volume of traffic that determines the impacts on the trail, and the presence or absence of bicycles is usually not the determining factor for the condition of the trail.

    As for the social interactions, here is a personal story that I think might still be instructive. My wife, a sometimes-mountain biker, was out for a mellow ride the other day. I work for IMBA, so she tries extra hard to be a shining example of courtesy on our local trails and often asks me for advice on how to avoid problems with other users. She returned from her recent ride nearly in tears. She had slowly approached two hikers from behind, and called out in her most polite tone for permission to pass. She received a verbal lashing from the foot travelers, who first jumped off the trail as if they were about to be assaulted. One of them called out in an angry and sarcastic tone -- as she rode slowly by -- "Sorry we got in your way!" She was at a loss on how she could have avoided the situation, short of aborting her ride or choosing a different trail. Had the hikers been buzzed by a irresponsible rider? Maybe (though doubtful because the encounter was quite close to the parking lot) but nonetheless it goes to show that it can be easy to group people and hard to treat individuals like individuals.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    A nice touch of levity on this topic, Kurt - it was worth a try:-)

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Thanks for trying Kurt :) This worn-out argument could use a little smile now and then.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    I do not claim original credit for my "Right to Arm Bears" That is a title to a book published by Baen books.
    It was just appropiate to the picture.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Sigh, so much for trying to bring a little levity to this worn-out topic.

    Perhaps it is time to take on the roads and all those killer cars, trucks and buses. At least then we'd know for sure what was driving the decline in national park visitation!

  • NPCA, PEER Voice Concerns Over Proposed Mountain Bike Rule Change In National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    IMTN, re: "No one I know of has offered, with similar convincing detail, a kindred personal account about being displaced or forced to hike radically damaged trails because of bicycles. Moreover, the available science runs counter to Anonymous's assertion that mountain biking damages trails more than hiking."

    I'm not sure what kind of "kindred personal account" you'd like or "available science" you read that shows biking is no more damaging than hiking, but I've been on some trails in the Stanley Basin of Idaho that very easily could be described as "thrashed" by bikers. Trails where rocks rise 6-8 inches and more above the trail bed because tires have eroded away the soil, trails that pass through riparian areas that have been shredded by bikers not wanting to follow their friends' tires so they swing a little wider each time, trails where the elbows of switchbacks have grown wider and wider and more and more concave from biking pressures.

    As for the courtesy of some mountain bikers, I was riding a single track with my wife and a friend when two bikers came upon us so quickly and quietly that they were on our rear tires before we knew it and somehow managed to pass us.

    Sadly, your belief that the majority of mountain bikers "ride politely and with sensitivity to others" runs counter to my personal experience and certainly would seem to run counter to IMBA's perception as to what mountain bikers want. Here's a snippet from a post I wrote three years ago (so perhaps IMBA's position has changed):

    The other day Jenn Dice, IMBA's government relations director, told a member of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees that the organization's members want to see single-track trails in the parks because a majority of the membership finds dirt roads "boring and mind-numbing, and not the kind of fun they are looking for."

    In fact, IMBA's official stance when it comes to developing mountain bike tourism is that "single track is essential." A little box attesting to that tidbit can be found on IMBA's website. Elsewhere in the website is this gem: "Mountain bikers crave single-track and designing interconnecting single-track trails will bring them in droves."

    Also, for what it's worth, a mountain biker had his bike confiscated in a Midwestern national park unit last year for "poaching" an extreme ride in that park. And there was an instance at the Grand Canyon a year or so ago when two or three mountain bikers on a cross-country trip actually managed to ride rim to rim -- even though it's against the park regs. They were caught when they chronicled the ride on their website.

    Do these instances/comments reflect the majority of mountain bikers? Maybe, maybe not. As we all know, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. But in the case of a speed sport like mountain biking, when compared to walking, it wouldn't take too many bad apples to create significant problems in a national park setting. I've never heard of one hiker running over another hiker, yet I've come very close while walking on a shared-use trail to being run over by a mountain biker a time or two. In fairness, I've also encountered some very considerate mountain bikers, and like to view myself as one.

    And, to be sure, there are bad apples in the hiking community as well, those who trash backcountry campsites and fragment trails by going cross-country because they can't be bothered with negotiating the entire switchback.

    Perceptions are tough to overcome. Just look at the bulk of the comments directed at equestrians. (For what it's worth, while horses are much larger and heavier than mountain bikes and do indeed exact a considerable toll on trails, I've never encountered a horse traveling as fast as a mountain bike on a trail and never had to dodge one to keep from being run over.)

    I can't help but return to what I've pointed out many times before, and what others have also focused on: national park landscapes are managed with a much different intent than Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management landscapes. Those areas have an institutional multiple-use bent, whereas Park Service lands foremost are to be conserved for future generations to enjoy. Why that is so difficult for some to digest I don't know.

    I think it would be an interesting experiment to follow the course of two landscapes -- one Forest Service or BLM, the other Park Service -- that share a common boundary, the first with mountain bike trails, the second with only hiking trails, and study the associated impacts over the course of ten or 20 years.

    If anyone knows of such a present-day study, please forward it.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Great topic and I'm glad it's come up again. First of all anti-gun people refuse to accept the fact that not just anyone can carry a handgun into a National Park and when they do, it cannot be into a concession area or park office. Secondly, only licensed and trained concealed carry persons would be allowed to carry and only in states where there is a reciprocity agreement with their home state where they are licensed. So someone from Texas cannot carry a handgun in Yosemite because California doesn't recognize a Texas CCW license. Simple. Illinois and Wisconsis don't issue CCWs so they don't recognize anyone. Personally, I feel this is a mistake because U.S. tax dollars are going to support all fedaral parks and a bona fide CCW permit holder should be allowed to carry, but the argument came up that in the event of a violation, the CCW holder would be prosecuted under the laws of the state the park is in.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Is it just me or is anyone else getting tired of all these special interests raising a ruckus crying out, "What about me!?!” Whether it be natural resource extraction (oil & gas, coal, etc.), snowmobiling, or in this case mountain biking, in and around our National Parks, it appears that no one will be happy until they all have their short-sighted wants & needs met. When did this country become such a bunch of whiners?
    Before I go any farther, let me just go on record that I am a staunch Republican and a member of the Sierra Club. I am a hiker, a road cyclist, and a mountain biker. And I am a firm believer that OUR National Parks are not some playground that needs to open themselves up further to the type of destruction that mountain biking can cause----I've seen it on other lands, and I've admittedly helped contribute to it.
    The key distinction is that I did this where it was permitted or at least not restricted by law. I, unlike some other commenters in this post, appear to have no problem adhering to the status quo and biking in any of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of acres where it is currently allowed. "But I can't mountain bike where I WANT to." I have just two words---Boo Hoo!
    Zebulon, I'll give you credit for articulate arguments, but let me address some of the problems I had with them here:
    - "Betty, our parks belong to all of us and not to a favorite minority of users. Whether there are other places to bike is completely irrelevant to whether local parks should decide whether to let bicyclists on existing trails." Well, you got it half right. The parks do belong to all of us, not just those of us that mountain bike (the minority of users). Whether there are other places to bike is not irrelevant, it is precisely the point because that is what the LAW tells us it is okay. Don't like it?---BOO HOO!
    - "Joan, all great points. Let me address them if I may. "I can still use the trails; I just need to walk them". How would you feel if we turned the argument around and banned hiking? You could still use the trails; you would just to ride a bike like the others."" If that is what the LAW states then that is what you do. If the hikers didn't like it, then --- you guessed it! Bad argument.
    - As for not want to road bike in a National Park because it "1) it hurts my back too much and 2) I don't get the same kick out of it. :)" You don't get the same kick out of it---wait I feel a single tear welling up. Wait. No. Sorry, my mistake.
    - And lastly, the biased study that you referred to (http://www.imba.com/resources/science/marion_wimpey_2007.html), is only biased because you don't like what it said. As a mountain biker, I saw nothing wrong with the science.
    OUR country's National Parks were set aside in perpetuity for the enjoyment of ALL of its people, and the best way to accomplish this and still enjoy them once the pavement ends is by going forward on foot. Don't like it, go somewhere else and bike. But by all means, stop your whining.

  • Singer Dolly Parton Named Ambassador for Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Anniversary   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Larry, did you see Dolly on "Larry King Live" a few days ago? She was great.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    Camper shot by bear who found drug dealer's hand gun left on ground in the National Park... oh this is good, what a storiy for the media.

    Does anyone here actually think that drug dealers bother with taking classes for a concealed carry license? They break laws! This will have no affect on them one way or the other... And they didn't go to thier local gunshop and purchase it legally either.

    God forbid, I wonder how attitudes would change if a child was being attacked by a bear for getting just a little too close by accident and a law abiding licensed gun owner camping next to you saved that child's life? This is a more realistic scenario. This is not the big city that you live in, this is Wild life and we are invading thier territory. We need to protect it, understand it and respect it. But there is nothing wrong with being prepared to deal with it when things go wrong.

    Too bad the anti-gunner's don't have any idea just how many guns travel through the National Parks system on a daily basis right now without incident.

  • What Would Wildlife Say About Concealed Carry in National Parks?   5 years 36 weeks ago

    What about "controlled" burns? Doesn't this activity kill lots of animals in the name of "ecosystem management" ? What about the seemingly arbitrary decision to let a forest fire "burn itself out" ? Depending on the time of year these ghastly infernos can burn through a lot of wildlife.

    Again, as Frank has already pointed out, and I was a ranger too, the biggest single killer of wildlife in parks are ROADS. I can't tell you how many critters I've had to scrape off the road or shoot after being wounded by a car.

    This issue is a non-starter with me and as I've said before: guns, the more the merrier whether it be in the city or the wilds of God's great open spaces.