Recent comments

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    IF this rule change does take place, you can be SURE that the Obama administration will work TIRELESSLY to strike it down. We now (on Jan 20) have in place the most gun-hating government in more than 33 years.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   5 years 39 weeks ago

    SO WHAT? What's the big deal if National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, all State Park Rangers, Fish and Game Wardens and everyone else who does some form of law enforcementout out in woods, fields or desert wears level II or III vests and carries OC-10, batons, revolvers, semi-auto pistols, shotguns, M-4's or even full automatic weapons in the trunk. They have a NATURAL right to protect themselves against the increasing number of poachers, dope growers, meth cooks, illegal aliens, smugglers, miscellaneous criminals and all the other @#$%bags who are aware that Rangers and other conservation personnel (not to mention visitors) are often unarmed and a long ways from help.

    After all (Mr. and Ms. overly sensitive America), simply seeing someone wearing body armor or a gun shouldn't be a cause for neurotic fear - it's not the gun, it's the person carrying it that decides if the gun will be used for good or evil purposes. All the personnel above are at least minimally trained to unholster a weapon only when necessary, and also only to fire when stopping an aggressor from performing "grave bodily injury or death." This kind of training is as basic to law enforcement academies as learning your ABC's is in elementary school.

    Hunters are another group of people who receive firearms safety training, along with people who get CCW's, although they do receive less training (and you can't get enough training!)

    But if seeing a law enforcement officer in full uniform wearing body armor carrying a gun out in the woods makes you feel uncomfortable, educate yourself about guns and firearms training to get over it - knowledge is power.

    If that doesn't work, go see a shrink (or turn off liberal / sensationalist media - they are the modern sensitizing source of gun and all other fear of violence phobias).

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I guarantee you that cars have a larger environmental impact in parks than concealed weapons, yet why do I never hear of a ban on cars due to environmental impacts?

  • Bush Administration: Slash and Burn on The Way Out of Office?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Pappt:Try to read between the lines in what Kurt has written here. It's easy for you to attack me without commenting on some of the truthful facts that Kurt presents here...with his blog. Believe it or not, I do volunteer for many environmental causes and have done much volunteer work for the U.S. Forestry Service...yes, planting trees. And, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a professional tree hugger as well. Sounds to me Pappyt your some pseudo mouth piece for more drilling in our National Parks. Kurt, has produced prime examples what has happen from extensive oil drilling close to our National Parks: The ugly visual stacking of oil rigs so many miles apart, the water contamination in the ground water table, and of course, the horrible scaring of the landscape. Not a pretty picture to view from the National Parks it? In regards to my lifestyle, I practice the art of permaculture (a form of conservation gardening) and drive a relatively old truck that carry's my horticulture work, and at least try to "live green", that I'm sure infuriates the living hell out of the right wing nuts. Yes, I even make my own coffee! What's your excuse for polluting?

  • Bush Administration: Slash and Burn on The Way Out of Office?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Annonymous needs to chill and understand that technology now permits an oil rig next or miles from a park...with minimal impact. Annonymous uses electricity, drives a car, watches TV, goes to the grocery store, etc. but it is someone else's fault for the environment's problems. Since he doesn't want to take responsibility himself/herself he blames Bush. I'll bet Annonymous is driking coffee at Starbucks, connected to internet via WiFi, reading the NY Times, and getting ready to protest the 2nd Amendment.

    Chill Annonymous. volunteer for a summer on a National Park Fire crew, be a volunteer in a park, try to understand the real problems the parks face and stop spreading your uninformed elitist BS.

  • Bush Administration: Slash and Burn on The Way Out of Office?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Kurt, thanks for giving reference through your comment "check this site" which provides us with the prestigious Pro Pubica (journalism in the public interests). A good source for up-to-date information regarding many of are pertinent and grave issues facing this country today.

  • Updated: Dueling Judges Push Yellowstone National Park Snowmobile Limit Back to 720 Per Day   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I am a frequent visitor to Yellowstone and would endorse nothing that truly threatened that ecosystem. However, this NON issue displays how far the fanatical left will go to pursue agendas that have no basis in scientific fact and challenge the outer limits of common sense. Yellowstone is 3500 square miles, roughly seven times the land area of the City of Los Angeles, California (470 square miles). The area of Yellowstone is almost exactly the same as the area of our two smallest states (Rhode Island and Delaware) combined. It is over 50 times the size of Washington, D.C. from where the learned Judge Sullivan issues his legal rulings.

    Can you imagine what would happen if someone would propose a federal regulation that limited the number of motor vehicles in any of those places to 500 per day? Can you imagine the public reaction to a judge who ruled that limiting the number of motor vehicles to 500 in any of those places still created an unacceptable risk to the environment? I would suggest that if such a ruling were forthcoming, its author would be declared insane and measures commensurate with that declaration would be forthcoming.

    Allowing 5,000 snowmobiles a day is not going to harm one pine needle on one tree. No animal going to be more endangered by a snow mobile that they are in the summer months when 90-year-old men drive 80 foot motorhomes around corners on Dunraven Road. (For those left-wingers without a sense of humor, this is what is known as sarcasm).

    If these groups backing these insane regulations are truly environmentalists, why don't they really do something about it and figure out how to eradicate the blister rust and European beetles that are devastating the whitebark pine in the Park and surrounding areas? The answer is fairly obvious: It's a lot easier to hold up a protest sign, smoke a lot of dope, file frivilous lawsuits and get well-intentioned but blissfully ignorant people to donate unconscionable amounts to ridiculous causes so that those who are incapable of holding down real jobs can continue to live off the good intentions of the terminally ignorant rather than to solve complicated real problems in the real world. (How's that for a run-on sentence).

    P.S. I have never ridden a snow mobile in my life but I can also see through these transparent tactics. These people do not understand the difference between National Parks, which were designed so that humans (even those not from the "enlightened" left) can enjoy and interact with nature and Wilderness areas (where human impact is designed to be next to zero). Their "agenda" is to first eliminate snowmobiles, then eliminate motor homes, then eliminate personal auto travel so that if we want to see Yellowstone we have to ride tour buses filled with AARP members while listening to the propaganda of the tour bus driver who was indoctrinated by the same people who endorse lawsuits of this nature.

    Should that day ever come, I intend to organize the "Million Motor Home March". We'll surround Washington D.C., start up make-shift buffets (where we all can eat) and play our Lawrence Welk records over loud speakers (a certifiable form of torture) until they come to their senses and repent.

    Seriously, folks, let's keep the snow-mobilers on the plowed roads. Employ enough law enforcement to keep the rednecks from harassing the bison (both mentally challenged creations of the Almighty, no doubt) and devote those millions in all of the 501(c)(3) corps to causes which really will protect and preserve the beauty and unique qualities of Yellowstone for generations to come.

  • Bush Administration: Slash and Burn on The Way Out of Office?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Yap, with heavy fire in the belly until the little man leaves office. Not medicine Roger...just get rid of the cancerous tumor that has been ruining this country for the past eight years. I'm sure a lot of us will feel whole better as well. The sooner the better! Where's your passion or compassion for the environment...around a oil rig next to the National Parks!?

  • Bush Administration: Slash and Burn on The Way Out of Office?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Oh for crissakes...Looks like Anonymous above has a VERY BAD case of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome). He needs to take some meds for that....

  • Bush Administration: Slash and Burn on The Way Out of Office?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Folks, just 57 odd day's left until this crazy lunatic leaves office. You can sure bet he will make Obama's administration cringe and crawl to clean up his environmental mess: From the polluted waters of America, to the mined and stripped field's of the Appalachian Mountains, and to the beautiful Canyonlands of Utah. Yap, more of Bush's in your face with rape, greed and pillage before he leaves his throne of sadistical power. Such a small man with a huge and cruel appetite for environmental destruction. All of his life, the good folks have been picking and cleaning up after his mess. This time, it will take years to undo his macabre anti-environmental regulations, and to fix and mend are tattered chewed up landscape. Meanwhile, while he retires to Crawford Texas in glee...Bush is laughing in his beer about all this.

  • From Job Creation to Everglades Czar, Green Groups Have Lengthy National Parks Wishlist   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, it looks like Obama's budget will provide less than Bush's for the NPS. There may even be some layoffs for permanent positions throughout the DOI.

  • Curious About What To Consider When Shopping for a New Camera?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I've spent the last three years making photos for my project and I've had a chance to talk photography with a lot of park visitors. Here's what I recommend when people ask me which camera to buy:

    1) the ergonomics should fit your hands. Don't buy one without holding it if you can help it. The distance between buttons, the placement of the shutter, etc. can seem intuitive or annoying.

    2) shutter lag: the time between when you push the shutter and the camera makes the exposure. The DSLRs have fixed this problem, and some of the newer p&s cameras are getting better. It's the number 1 frustration people have with their vacation pictures.

    3) manual flash: your family photo in front of any park landmark will be vastly better if you can turn on your flash. In full daylight, the flash fills the shadows of the people standing close to the camera, but has no effect on the landmark, be it Old Faithful or the Grand Canyon. Too strong? Take a step back. The light falloff from the on-camera flashes can be controlled by making very small adjustments in distance to the subject. Read just this one section in the manual and know how to force the camera to flash when you want it.

    4) if you are starting out in the DSLR game, buy better lenses first. A good body is only as good as the lenses, and if you upgrade the body later with cheap lenses, the body won't perform, like putting bald tires on a sports car. I made one of my signature pictures with an entry level body: the new models are all better than what I had at the time. The cheaper lenses, on the other hand, can be no better than a coke bottle. Don't buy a kit, if you can help it.

    @ArizonaTraveler - you can buy a small circular polarizer and hold it up to the lens of a point and shoot camera. It does not need to be attached. In a pinch, sometimes even polarized sunglasses will work. The Canon G10 has a filter mount.

    @Brett 300 dpi is optimal, but I've seen fine images printed at 150 dpi from places like Costco. You are absolutely right about having room to crop.

  • Bush Administration: Slash and Burn on The Way Out of Office?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    This article shows that the greatest threat to preservation is not private industry; it's the federal government.

  • From Job Creation to Everglades Czar, Green Groups Have Lengthy National Parks Wishlist   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Good point, Craig.
    And veterans would certainly be more productive, mature and wear sharper uniforms than most of the young, unmotivated, undisciplined college kids I have seen working in our parks!! I am really tired of seeing the unkept, sloppy appearance (some uniforms look like they were pulled out of the hamper) of many rangers in visitor centers and on interpretive walks.

  • Curious About What To Consider When Shopping for a New Camera?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Thanks Brett, this is a great primer.

    When I bought my last point-and-shoot digital camera, I learned the hard way about the 'white balance' feature, particularly when photographing the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and just about any type of red rock scenery.

    Even with the white balance optimized, I find myself wishing I had a camera that would accept a polarizing filter. I'm told it makes colors more vibrant, reduces the haziness in some more expansive landscape shots and deepens the color of the sky. Sadly, most of the point-and-shoot variety of cameras don't accept filters, but I'd love to see a list of those that do.


  • National Park Service Chastized For Poor Cultural Resource Oversight   5 years 39 weeks ago

    In many parks, cultural resources such as backcountry shelters and the old lodges are under attack from "wilderness nazis" who think they don't belong (but hypocritically, privies are OK since they don't want TP blooms everywhere).

  • Bull Elk Poached in Glacier National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Why give it to the food bank? This kid is 16! Did he know where the boundary was? Wouldn't a warning suffice? I bet if the kid was a "native" they would have let him go...because he would be hunting as part of his "culture" dontcha know.

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Cadillac Mountain sunrise was spectacular when I was there the week-end of Oct 25th 2008. The skies could not have been more passionate. I guess I was lucky.

  • BLM, NPS Modify Oil and Gas Lease Auction near National Parks in Utah   5 years 39 weeks ago

    You can assume that if Lynn Scarlett was involved, the issue was not "resolved" in the parks' favor. She is notoriously pro-industry. And Jim is right about the BLM professionals as opposed to their political leadership. Most of them are as disillusioned as are their counterparts in the NPS and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Rick Smith

  • National Park Quiz 30: Gathering   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Sorry, there's nothing in my parks course about gathering edibles in the parks. I might suggest that you get yourself a copy of Ewell Gibbons Stalking the Wild Asparagus -- if it's still in print, that is. BTW, Rick, I've seen the draft of that Survival quiz you've put together for Traveler readers, and its a dandy. Stay tuned, folks. It's the very next quiz in this series, and it's scheduled for release next Wednesday, December 3.

  • National Park Quiz 30: Gathering   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Good quiz, Bob, although I ended up with only a passable score. I may have to enroll in your distance education class after all. Do you have a section on harvesting in the parks?


    Rick Smith

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Me and my wife just got back from Zion a few days ago and did Angels Landing for the 2nd time (we go every year). And it never ceases to amaze me how many people do Angels Landing in just plain casual tennis shoes, one small bottle of water, no food. I think most accidents that happen of people falling off, sorry to say, is their own fault. There is a lot of people that just don't have any common sense. We have hiked to the saddle back point and then got some rain and we go no further than that because the rock gets too slippery. Yet I've seen people hike it in the rain when the signs tell you not to. I think some people who go there have no experience, lack of common sense and goof off too close to the edge and then get hurt or worse. My number one advice to people who are going to do this hike is to WEAR PROPER SHOES!

  • BLM, NPS Modify Oil and Gas Lease Auction near National Parks in Utah   5 years 40 weeks ago

    A November 17th report by the Idaho Statesman and some other media sources say Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne sent Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett to Utah to work out an agreement between NPS and BLM and officials, and she said the problem "was resolved."

    We'll likely never know what was discussed in that meeting, but "resolved" doesn't mean the NPS was happy with the outcome, so I'd be slow to criticize the NPS for dropping the ball in this case. When the top dogs make a decision, there's only so much agency personnel can do in these situations.

    Any changes from the initial BLM plan would be welcome, and time will tell what the eventual outcome will be.

    One last thought. Although I feel this has been handled badly by top BLM management, it's important to keep in mind that there are a lot of fine employees at BLM. They've been steamrollered by the current leadership too, and aren't happy with the current situation either.

  • From Job Creation to Everglades Czar, Green Groups Have Lengthy National Parks Wishlist   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I think your idea of a National Park Service Corps will run afoul of the same issues that has stopped the growth of AmeriCorps and similar "WPA-like" programs since the 1970s. Demographically in America today, it isn't the "young" who are having trouble finding work, it is the mature job force which are now both unemployed (as companies down size) and unmarketable (as "hard" manufacturing skill sets transition to technology driven ones). Over the last twenty or so years, the myth of "unemployable young" has been shattered by two realities - the young are more adaptable to changing work environments and younger labor costs less. As such, the face of the unemployment lines has become more mature.

    Now here's the twist I would offer. And one that I think would make much more sense in the times we live in. Make the proposed NPS Corps a DoD to DoI transition vessel. Make it primarily a program for service members leaving the military to transition to civilian service oriented professions. This would be a win-win scenario. Currently veterans as a demographic group suffer over twice (some say 2.5 times) the unemployment rate than the rest of America. Sadly those who served the country the most are often the last considered for jobs. Now I would respectfully decline to open a discussion of why that is, which would alter the scope of this discussion. But look at that element of the unemployed workforce from a logical standpoint. These are typically late 20 to early 30 year olds. They are familiar with work structures and standard processes. They typically thrive on object oriented tasks and projects.

    Majority have completed high school educations, and a substantial amount some college. The number one "goal" for those separating from the service is "more education" so something which augments their GI Bill benefits would be appreciated. And while mentioning the later, one of the hardest parts for a newly separated service member to tackle is attaining and holding down a paying, part time job, while pursuing higher education with the GI Bill benefits. A NPS Corps Veterans program would be a natural fit there. Might even reduce the overall cost of the program (provided the GI Bill gets the revamping it deserves).

    And one more plug, veterans tend to be a long term, loyal workforce, generally speaking. By introducing these veterans to the NPS early in their transition, it is likely these talented and service oriented individuals would stay within either the NPS or at least some of the other DoI agencies.

    In short if the NPS Corps is given a line on this DoD to DoI transition for individuals, the program would have ready "trained" workforce, with less cost and overhead, targeting a segment of our workforce which has been disproportionately affected by the economic down turn (and unfairly discriminated against in many cases).

  • A Florida Keys National Park? Good Conservation or Florida Bail-out?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I am the James Mattson you refer to above, and I disagree with the notion that the state and local governments are trying to turn the Florida Keys into a National Park. Having lived in the Keys for the past 25 years, and practiced land use law the entire time, it is my opinion that we are experiencing the common problem of "homevoters" trying to prevent new arrivals in the community. It has nothing to do with deer, rats, mice, and bunnies. It is all about stopping growth, and has been that way since the 1992 adoption of a rate-of-development ordinance, adopted on a specious theory that the Keys could not evacuate in a timely manner when threatened with hurricane-force winds. The County Commission actually forced the Florida DOT to DROP a plan -- already funded -- that would have cured the imaginary "deficiency" by 2000. This they accomplished by incorporating a provision in the 1996 Comprehensive Plan that prohibited the widening of US-1, the only access/exit highway through the Keys. We are anxiously awaiting the completion of these road improvements, although last week the idiots on our County Commission adopted a resolution demanding that DOT halt its current program to build a third outbound traffic lane on Key Largo -- as recommended by DOT consultants in 2001 -- as one of the major components in reaching the imaginary 1992 clearance time objective.

    Only after the tyrannical, no-growth, majority realized that highways could be improved, did this "interest" in endangered species develop. Now, it's "save the animals" in public, but "save my property value" in reality. Monroe County is the only Florida County that has seen a drop in population over the past two decades. The reason is simple, rate-of-development restrictions that could not have been implemented in the more populous (or less property-rich) counties. Monroe County has the lowest property tax rate of all the counties in Florida, because it has the highest property tax assessments. We are "richer" (property-wise) than even Palm Beach or Collier Counties.

    The Keys are not the next Everglades National Park. The Keys are more like Cape Cod, the Colorado ski villages, and Santa Barbara, California, than Yosemite National Park. Our problem is simply one of an entrenched and vocal majority, that regularly elects a basket of compliant County Commissioners, all of whom would prefer that the bridges be blown up and nobody else be allowed to relocate to the Florida Keys. So far, these people have been successful in keeping the population down. But now they are facing very substantial increases in their property taxes to pay for the remaining vacant land. So, why not, they float the absurd notion of turning every other lot in the Florida Keys (not their homes, of course) into a National Park. Give me a break!