Recent comments

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

    We just got back from a Memorial Day vacation in Zion. The highlight of the trip was trying to hike Angel's Landing. We are both experienced hikers, and got up early and made the hike up there.

    People call Scout Lookout all sorts of names like Chicken point, etc ... but I am not sure that is true ... After climbing the first set of chains you get to another little plateau ... from which there is a 100 foot "connector" that gets you to the next big climb ... that 100' stretch is where you are looking down a +1000' cliff ... and if you look down Vertigo kicks in and you really chicken out!

    Anyway, thats what happened to us ... we chickened out at the second little plateau. We sat there and watched hundreds of people go up and down ... including two people with infants strapped to their backs ... which is my big complaint ... its one thing to risk your own life ... its another to risk your child's life over a thrill.

    We thought we would get up there early and beat the crowds ... but so did everyone. If I had a second complaint it would be that there were too many people up there for the type of trail. There was a lot of waiting to get around people with death grips on the chain ... which takes your focus off of what you are doing ... and you need to remain focused up there.

    We'll go back and try it again ... but not during a holiday weekend ... maybe mid week when there are no crowds

    Eki

  • Remember, No Mardis Gras Beads or Dry Ice While Floating at Niobrara National Scenic River   5 years 40 weeks ago

    AI can understand some of the rules but it seems to be micromanaging which I dislike on principle. Some areas get popular and have todeal with rowdy people. Styrofoam is a problem in water, it floats and doesn't degrade fast.
    Mardi Gras beads is just too nanny state. Banning containers is stupid and too controlling. If they have a problem with intoxication then fine those caught and punish the people who are causing the problem instead of saying we need to bring lots of smaller containee and cause more litter. These rule are over reaction to a percieved problem and he needs to find anoither solution.

    Dry Ice is not a problem, so what if it explodes on contact, after that it is absorbed and does no harm.
    This superintendent is creating a lot of needless rules. He is employing the hassle method to reduce the users of the river. He wants to dissuade the wrong folk from using his park.

  • Backcountry Repairs, Cleanup Scheduled For Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I am glad to hear this. I love Mammoth Cave NP and bad storms do devastate trails and bridges.
    I recall that at Great Falls NP in Va that a bridgw was wiped away in 1972 and never rebuilt until 30 years later.

    Rebuilding infracstructure is expensive and I rather NPS focus on these items.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Yes, I do have an agenda here.

    1) This issue has never really been about guns in the park or crime in the park. These are contrived arguments. It has always been about the individual’s rights. Weather I choose to carry a firearm or not is my choice. Barring certain constraints, which we (the collective country) have agreed to I do not have to prove a need to anyone. Nor do have to prove that I am not a criminal. Some people have cars that will do 200mph just because they want it, the same reason here. “Just because I want to.” The US Constitution is more important than the NPS, now and always. I give you this though – Should the first amendment fail, see the second.

    2) I refer you to my response to DVP. The people, or bureaucrats if you prefer, who tend provide misleading intell and data for their own reasons take the tack that if they say it loud enough and often enough it will be true. After that, we have make decisions based on what?

    I note you cite no references and instead offer conjecture and anecdotal items only. There is usually no need to use a sledge hammer to drive a nail, however in as much as you remain unconvinced I will restrain my references to more traditional types. Since you have chosen to overlook the reason I choose 1996, I will restate it. I reviewed every 3 years; looking for patterns over time. I chose 1996 because Mr. Wade retired in 1997, therefore he would have had input into and review of the data for the last annual report he would have contributed to. Just trying to make it easy.

    As I indicated the number was an average complied from multiple informational sources and intended to be on the low side of the example. I used the-eggman.com just for the complied chart, since nothing like that is available from DOI or NPS, and have found it to be accurate. If you prefer you may look these entries up in the US Dept. Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics “Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics”. It has the same numbers and notes just not as easy to get to. The comments regarding drug arrests, machine guns, other investigators, etc. were quotes taken from “The National Drug Control Strategy, 1997: FY 1997 Budget Year”, http://www.ncjrs.gov/htm/toc2.htm ,specifically under the section of NPS’s accomplishment for the year. These are annual reports so just change out the year to whichever one interests you. Doesn’t it seem a bit odd to say one thing 364 days out of the year and then go before congress on budget day and state something else?

    The actual report, National Park Service FY1996 Interior Accountability Report, http://www.doi.gov/pfm/par/acct1996/nat_nps.pdf , states that Park rangers reported over 74,000 offenses with 20,000 arrests and USPP reported over 11,000 criminal acts with 3,500 arrests. Additionally, a report from the IG office, #97-I-908,Audit Report on the Automated Law Enforcement System, National Park Service concludes “Thus, there is little assurance that the Park Service will be collecting and reporting all law enforcement data from all of the park units.” I think that means understating, but in all fairness in part was due to lack of manpower.

    There are 8 Part 1 crimes in the uniform crime report, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm, 4 crimes against persons and 4 property crimes- murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. These have very specific conditions associated with their reporting. An attempted rape becomes aggravated assault if there is a weapon, otherwise it is just simple assault and may not be reported as a Part 1 crime. That being the case for 5,992 offenses reported by NPS/USPP out of 85,000 reported offenses would be low by an overall factor of at least 14. If we assume the same percentage (10%) of 85,000 to be crimes against persons than 8500/509 is approximately a factor 17. A report from USPP indicates offense handled by them to be in the 1000 range so 17 divided .83 is approximately a factor of 21.

    Now, an anecdotal story- once a pair of sunglasses was stolen from a convertible while parked in the lot at a visitor’s center, a relatively expensive pair I might add. The complaint was not turned over to the FBI or the US Marshall, the DEA or BATFE, or the state police because apparently they have criteria for what they will send an investigator out for and so it was dutifully reported by NPS. There has been much conjecture that the crime rate for any given park is comparable to the surrounding area. This seems to be a reasonable assumption. One could construe from this that the majority of offenses turned over to FBI et al. are likely Part 1 crimes. What’s a majority? Since we are a republic, how about 2/3rds? (make your own number up based on your opinion) 85000 x .66 / 5992 = 93.6, just conjecture. Based on the reporting all I can really say it the Part 1 crime rate for NPS is off by a factor between 14 and the national average. Weather 14 or 21 or 93 or 459 the point is still the same.

    For whatever reason, officials, bureaucrats, or agencies who knowingly would allow the planning and allocation for assets and resources to be expended based on misleading or questionable intelligence should be sat down hard or at the very least shot down in flames. Yes, yes not intended as a pun... however not a cheap shot either, that's intended.

    It is difficult to get info for the past few years since Automated Law Enforcement System, National Park Service this is being replaced by IMARS at DOI. ”Currently, the Department is unable to provide the full range of data and information on incidents when asked, and lacks meaningful information to report…”, http://www.doi.gov/e-government/FY2005%20E%20Gov%20Annual%20Report%20-%20DOI.pdf. The implementation was to be complete by 2006 however meaningful info is still not available. I should warn you that in 2004 it changed slightly to be like this www.doi.gov/pfm/par/par2004/. This table, http://www.doi.gov/pfm/par/par2004/par04_goals_glance4.pdf says that Part 1 crime rate is 14.6 (see page 142) with only 3 of 4 agencies reporting. I wonder which agency is not in here. By the way, LE funding requests from 2003 to 2005 increased by almost 50 per cent for annual expenditures although they only received about a 40 per cent actual increase. Check the annual budget requests and approvals, my math could be off a bit.

    NPS–Park Police, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/expectmore/summary/10003727.2006.html, program assessment (latest available) indicate that the Part 1 crime reporting is up for 2007 from the establish baseline 2003-2004. From the program performance measures come the following quotes- ”In fact, increases could be a good thing, if it reflects better reporting.” and ”… the 2006 IG progress report showed USPP as the only DOI bureau making satisfactory progress on all of the Secretary's directives for law enforcement reform. These follow-up reports suggest that, while the program still has work to do, the USPP has become more effective and will soon be able to better demonstrate results.” Oh, it appears USPP may be using the UCR and NIBRS, http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm. According to the annual DOI/NPS 2008 report nothing really happened in 2005, 2006, 2007 except a few crimes on the Indian lands. Go check it out, if you can make sense of it, http://www.doi.gov/pfm/par/par2008/. Side note- based on informational reports for 2006, the last year I make sense of, total number of offenses in the parks was in excess 116,000 offenses. Should we we assume the numbers have gone down for 2007 and 2008?

    NPS does not earmark exclusive law enforcement expenses when they request funding from congress. When congress denies or lowers or increases the allocations it is usually due to lack of meaningful data or the inclusion of supporting data in this area. See the following individual sections relating to NPS, http://www.doi.gov/budget/2005/data/pdf/05_HouseInteriorSum.pdf, http://www.doi.gov/budget/2006/data/pdf/06_HouseInteriorSum.pdf, and http://www.doi.gov/budget/2007/data/pdf/07_HouseInteriorSum.pdf. Once the monies are allocated NPS may spend the monies on anything they choose to after received. Which leads to funds needed for law enforcement spent on operations or in the parks that need it- money being diverted from operations to security and law enforcement as an example. This can lead to all kind of unintended consequences. Like the "Chambers treatment". Look it up yourself- see Teresa Chambers USPP or ask Mr. Wade, he was very outspoken about that. No bureaucrat every willingly gives up the power of discretionary spending over even a dollar unless they have to. One wonders why DOI/NPS wishes to re-invent the wheel of crime statistics, to the tune of many millions of dollars, rather than use the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting and National Incident Based Reporting Systems that are already in place. Unfortunately these systems are not mandatory.

    I disagree with Mr. Burnett’s assertion that there are no new ideas to be had here. The UCR is a system which can accurately track crime statistic down to a local junior college. If NPS/USPP reported all criminal offenses by park than there would be accurate data for NPS as a whole and for LE funding that could be earmarked for each park based on need. This could be accomplished by executive order and in place before the new law takes effect. The current administration, which declined to even comment on the amendment due to that rare splitting of the house vote (only 2/3rds required to become law without a presidential signature and if you have 85 per cent going in...why bother), could support it and be on the pro-gun, anti-gun, pro national park, and pro-states rights issue all at the same time. What politician could resist that! When the stats come in then the pro-gun, anti-gun, pro national park, and pro-states rights people could set back and say “See, I told you so” depending on who’s really correct of course. Changes can be made if required at that time.

    According to NPCA’s report, "Faded Glory: Top 10 Reasons to Reinvest in America’s National Park Heritage", the top 10 reasons America’s national parks need more money: Reason # 1: Parks are vulnerable to crime…

    So, I think everyone concerned should write your President, your Governor, and both your state and national Representatives and Senators to suggest that NPS should report all criminal offenses (even those turned over to another agencies) and be included under the Uniform Crime Report by park. Providing accurate information for the assessment of LE funding needs not only for each individual park but the NPS as a whole based on a standard used by the rest of the country. Life could be simple. Did I say I had an agenda?

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Memorial Day, a most auspicious day for our country, yes? Sticking up for something…both an admirable and caring trait. You should take pride in that and pass it along. It is contagious!

    It is and always will be my opinion that the rank and file members of the NPS are dedicated and skilled individuals possessed of the abilities, intelligence, will, and shear heart to accomplish their mission, with or without many of the shackles imposed upon them by their management.

    In my experience, when the objectives of a mission are tarnished it is generally due to a combination of poor assessment of available intelligence, a questionable application of assets and resources, miscommunication, lack of foresight in planning for alternatives and contingencies within the mission plan, or simply poor follow up. These issues all rest squarely on the shoulders of command most of the time, not on the individual men and women on the ground and doing the job! The fact that most serious crimes are turned over to local, state, or federal agencies, who have greater resources and manpower expressly designed to deal with criminal activities, demonstrates both good and sound judgement in the proper utilization of assets and resources. Consider they deal on a daily basis with more than 18,000 permanent structures, 8,000 miles of roads, 4,400 housing units, and God knows how many tunnels, bridges, dams, and other operations over vast expanses of this country. According to GAO reports the average for each law enforcement officer in NPS is over 100,000 visitors and 100,00 acres of land to watch over. Given that, it is an even more remarkable job they do with what they have.

    Their action speaks for themselves and most often with great conviction. Even though one might think they already know… it’s a good thing for them to hear a “Well done!” on occasion.

  • Remember, No Mardis Gras Beads or Dry Ice While Floating at Niobrara National Scenic River   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Seems to me that trying to prevent broken bottles, which can lead to serious injury; countless pieces of Styrofoam, which can lead to eyesores and resource problems; and frat-party atmosphere in a unit of the National Park System, all are fairly reasonable.

    This is the 21st century. Surely people can be a little responsible, no? I've never understood why folks toss cigarette butts or beer bottles out of their cars as they drive down the highway. Do they do the same in their houses?

  • Remember, No Mardis Gras Beads or Dry Ice While Floating at Niobrara National Scenic River   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I guess they still entice the "natives" with shiny beads and trinkets in Nebraska-is this really that big of a problem or is someone making an issue out of a one time occurance? The out-law on pony kegs is a bit severe also..but with respect that intoxication can lead to foolishness I can understand..it just seems that more litter of beer cans, bottles and packaging will be seen. As a former Ranger myself, I've seen it all in the parks and if it's a choice between a hundred beer cans or a few plastic cups-I'll take the latter.

  • Remember, No Mardis Gras Beads or Dry Ice While Floating at Niobrara National Scenic River   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Well, I've been kicking around the idea of a canoe trip on the Niobrara early next summer, but I'm thinking I've missed something in my research.

    Is this a big spring break hang out? I heard there were some busy times and stretches of the river, but I haven't encountered anything about "exposure" until now. Not that I have a big problem with that kind of scenery, but it's not exactly what I was looking for in a wild and scenic river. I really want to avoid as many people as possible, clothed or not.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I didn't see too much of a problem with droppings, although I didn't take the Bright Angel Trail.

    I would note that the mules don't accommodate everyone. If your entire weight (includes everything) is more than 200 lbs you won't be allowed to ride a mule down.

    As for the way down, it's still possible to get a reservation at Phantom Ranch if you're willing to hike down and back up. People are staying in the campgrounds near the Colorado River, so it's not as if human beings can't get down under their own power, although I realize most people don't have the fitness level to do so. I saw one ranger early in the morning who made it most of the way up, so a reasonably fit person could train to do it.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I agree keep the mules. Did that when I was child and If I do it again I will use the mules.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Those of us who believe in the Constitution and are determined to regain our rights won this battle. If the control freaks had not pushed it and stopped the regulation change this would have stayed at only allowing CCW holders to carry in National Parks. Now they have to allow open carry also and any firearm, pistol or longarms according to state law. That is a lot of states that allow CC and OC.

    Now I do not expect many will do this, but the vehement control attitude on the anti gunners will certainly have groups who plan OC trips in the National Parks jsut because they can. Just like many have picnics in state parks already. Guess what, the guns do not jump out of holsters and shoot people or animals.

    So if those who will be uncomfortable and there will be those wil have to accept due to the intrangicence of NCPA. People would have been more polite but I expect that in your face attitude will be more common.

    I doubt the story of greenriver kate but if someone is flashing a gun and shooting then I expect tht rangers to arrest the idiot. At least if he threatened me I will be able to defend myself.

    The only way that a bad man with a gun is stopped is by a good man with a gun. That may be police or a armed citizen.

  • Remember, No Mardis Gras Beads or Dry Ice While Floating at Niobrara National Scenic River   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Chief Ranger: Glass and Styrofoam have no place on public lands? Public lands like the NPS lands, Forest Service, BLM, Reclamation, etc.? Grand Staircase Escalante backcountry? The National Mall? The Grand Canyon Lodge? This is neither feasible, nor even reasonable.

    It's one thing to ban problem items in a problem area (though I have a big problem with creating more rules and regulations for things that are already covered by the law i.e., No Littering!). However, punishing the entire American public for a few bad apples in a small, high traffic area is completely unreasonable. Each unit is unique - different ecologies, uses, users, and problems... enacting global regulations to solve the problems of a single, small locality is irresponsible, lazy, and overbearing.

    Additionally, a federal agency making an effort to be "green" is about that agency's practices. It is unreasonable and unethical for a federal agency to try to impose its philosophy, ethics, and beliefs on individual members of the public. You work for us, not vice versa.

    Remember: These lands belong to the American public. You are a servant of the public. We employ you as a steward of our lands, serving both the lands and the public in balance.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Back to rebut Rick T. There is no requirement of need in order to exercise a right. It is my right to have and carry an firearm by the 2A. The need is irrelelevant. I do not have to justify my need to any equipment I bring when I visit any location including a National Park. That is what it means to be free citizen of America.

    The votes in both the House and Senate were overwhelming in favor. Next year I will plan a horse riding trip and be able to carry if I choose. I will not be a victim to any predator, human or animal. No one has the right to demand that of me. Yet those who puposedly want to disarm me be are choosing that I have no right to live if attacked.
    So, No I do not have to state a need, Rick T. You have to abide by my civil rights next February 2010.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Yes, the outdoors is dangerous and people should be responsible for their actions. However, how many people have to die before Zion acts in some fashion? This is a sanctioned trail which is only fit for a small percentage of the mainly tourists who visit the park. Classify AL as backcountry, keep the trail open, but save some lives.

  • Tips for Staying Safe During Your Visit to the National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Chief Ranger makes some excellent points.

    I agree that the NPS as a whole and many individual parks need to look for new ways to be more effective - and proactive - in terms of safety.

  • The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    no way...

    GWH should be Jack Black. Get him in the gym and let the hair grow and he'd be PERF.

  • Tips for Staying Safe During Your Visit to the National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Keeping visitors and EMPLOYEES safe in the National Park Service is an interesting topic. Far too often the serious injuries and or death that occur were completely preventable. System wide 101 Days of Summer campaign would be my first suggestion. The Northeast Region did an outstanding job with this a couple of years ago for their employees. The same could be adapted for visitors. Visitors need to know that the 101 days of summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day they are at their greatest risk of getting injured because they are inattentive, are in a hurry to enjoy the long awaited vacation and they've planned poorly in some instances. Our employees assume a much higher level of risk due to the incidents created during this time frame. If we could slow our visitors down, just a bit and provide them the opportunity to think before they engage in the behavior that is reckless we could avoid a tremendous amount of accidents. I applaud the units and regions that are working on this already. If we as an Agency did a nationwide campaign and blitzed the system prior to summer we would see a drop in our incident rates. We need to quit sugar coating the information and treat the public like adults so they have the opportunity to make the appropriate decisions.

  • Remember, No Mardis Gras Beads or Dry Ice While Floating at Niobrara National Scenic River   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I applaud the Superintendent for forward leaning practices that consider the impacts to the public as much as impacts to the resource. I think the more units of the service that identify items such as glass and Styrofoam that really have no place on public lands the better. If we are a green agency than lets be a green agency and ban such items from all units of the NPS rather than 1 unit at a time. I'd be curious to find out how many other units have similar bans?

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 40 weeks ago

    So anti gun people are at it again? Listen you fools, you assume that "responsible" people will be the ones that carry guns. WRONG! NO ONE needs a gun in a National Park or State Park. I am a big supporter of the Constitution but until ya all come up with a way to keep guns out of the hands of the meek, scared, people, there is no way I want guns in parks. Use your common sense and stop with the chest beating NRA crap. The NRA is totally irresponsible on gun use and fight any and all legislation on gun safety. Some people use them to act big and I have been around these kinds and to boot they were drunk and shooting up everything while my small children were there. My husband almost took this idiot apart as he carries guns every place and not just one. Common sense. We don't need guns in our parks as now animals will definitely be murdered by chickens playing big man or woman.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I am also one of those people who is on call 24/7/365. Not life-threatening on-call, but professionally required to be contactable. It doesn't happen that often in off hours, but when it does, it's my responsibility to be available. So while I would not try to get coverage for either on a true wilderness experience, I would have to choose recreational activities based on these being available or reasonably accessible. A hotel with AC, hot water, and modern equipment doesn't get any less historical because there are telecommunication waves floating about that some of us may consume from time to time.

    In fact, wifi service is much easier to hide away than all of those other services.

    Yes, there will be obliviots who spend their entire experience chatting with their friends about how bored they are, but so are the idiots who experience their entire visit behind a video camera lens. Perhaps all cameras should be banned, too?

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I understand limiting the number of cell phone towers to preserve the natural look of the park but it seems like there is a safety issue with restricting people's access to communications. Perhaps the best way to go, if your hiking through the park is to rent a satellite phone. [There are many online sources.] They're not as expensive as they use to be and you could just keep it handy for emergency purposes.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Sam -

    the point of concern was the fact that they falsely represented the actual crime rates by presenting their stats as accurate representations of total crimes committed rather than a small percentage of such crimes.

    You're welcome to decide which stats are more credible. I have no way of evaluating the validity of Mr. Kane's claims, including a key source called the eggman.com, or its statement about the unspecified number of cases that were handed off by the NPS to other agencies. Does that site or Mr. Kane have "an agenda" to prove a point?

    How many serious criminal cases in parks were handed off to other agencies and therefore "not counted" in NPS stats? Mr. Kane implies the number is large, but doesn't cite any data to support that. I'd also have to wonder why he's hanging his hat on 1996 data. I can only say that in my own experience during 30 years in 8 parks, the number of cases in parks that were worked by other agencies was very small. I can't accurately extrapolate that experience to all parks in the system, but I suspect that neither can Mr. Kane.

    I'm a bit amused by the claims that the NPS intentionally misleads people by understating the number of crimes which occur in parks - especially back in 1996, when the gun issue was hardly an issue at all. The federal budget process is largely driven by the bean-counter mentality, which means it would be to the NPS' advantage to "claim" as many crimes as possible, in order to justify additional dollars and personnel, rather than understating them. For better or worse, that's the reality of how agencies justify budgets.

    Raw statistics on crimes occurring in parks, whether you choose to use those provided by the NPS or by Mr. Kane, become much more useful when they have some context. What do those numbers really mean in terms of risks from criminal activity actually faced by park visitors?

    My comments are simply an attempt, based on my personal experience, to provide some of that perspective. I'm yet to see any credible evidence that suggests I'm wrong in stating that the risk of a law-abiding visitor becoming the victim of a violent crime in a national park is extremely small indeed – and even smaller than suggested by merely looking at the total number of crimes reported servicewide.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I agree that they should keep the mules. I hiked Kaibab and Bright Angel some twenty years ago. If I wanted to visit the bottom of the Canyon again the only way would be by mules. Please keep them.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Why do you need to bring a loaded gun to enjoy our National Parks?

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Why do you need a loaded gun in a National Park?