Recent comments

  • Muir Woods National Monument is More than Really Old, Really Big Trees   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

  • Deadly Threats You Never Heard of Lurk in Our National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

  • Muir Woods National Monument is More than Really Old, Really Big Trees   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

  • Muir Woods National Monument is More than Really Old, Really Big Trees   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

    * "Disproportionally"?

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

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

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

    * "important parts of Olympic National Park"?

    And what would be the unimportant parts?

    The bottom line is, "So what?"

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

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

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Kurt,

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

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

  • Earthquakes Continuing to Rattle Yellowstone National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

    K Gies,

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

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Ted,

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

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Warren & Kurt viz Parks, Gay Rights, and Drift

    Kurt cracked the door:

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

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

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

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

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

  • Earthquakes Continuing to Rattle Yellowstone National Park   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Hobblefoot,

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

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

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

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

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

    I get it, and apologize for intentionally drifting away.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

    vince K.,

    I have seen folks use the quote (uncited):

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Warren,

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

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

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

    Do you see where I'm going with this?

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

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

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

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

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

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Ted: Thanks. I hope you enjoyed your day on the trail. :)

    Eric: As beautifully explained in the DC vs Heller opinion, the 2nd Amendment doesn't create a right, it only affirms & protects a preexisting natural right from infringement. As such there really is no reason to explain why one might want to exercise that right. It would be like asking someone to explain why they would want to have free speech on the Internet when they can already have free speech in the newspaper letters to the editor section. We all have a right to free speech, so why would we need to explain? Each person should be allowed to choose for themselves whether they want to exercise that right on the Internet or to abstain from such exercise.

    Just as a small side tangent - someone earlier posed the thought that because there are restrictions on free speech such as a prohibition on shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, it is therefore reasonable to have restrictions on firearms. There actually are restrictions on the use of firearms - I am prohibited from pulling it out of my holster & aiming it at someone, or even showing it to someone in an effort to intimidate, much less shooting it at someone, unless very specific criteria are met to fit the legal requirements of a justified shooting, such as self defense for example. There are also specific restrictions on where I'm not prohibited from firing my weapon other than in self defense - for example in town I'm not allowed to fire my gun, nor within specific distances to buildings or city boundaries, etc. The right to keep & bear arms however, is not to be infringed.

    OK, back to the question you asked. Although no reason need be given as justification for exercising a right, I will indulge your question from my own point of view. Although I always wear my seat belt while driving it doesn't mean I'm scared that I'm going to crash my car every time I get behind the wheel. Although I have smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors in my home I don't have trouble sleeping at night wondering if my house is going to catch fire. I pay for home, auto, life, and health insurance not because I'm scared that I'll need them. I do these things to be prepared, not because I'm paranoid. If anything, being prepared allows me to relax, which is quite the opposite of being scared.

    To anyone who wonders why I would carry my gun in a National Park I ask the question why not? Is there some fortune teller who can tell me exactly on what day & in what location I would need my gun? If such a thing were possible I would simply avoid going to that location on that particular day, and never have a need to carry a tool I could use for self defense.

    Bear attack survivor John Shorter was glad he had his gun. Bear attack survivor Joshua McKim was glad he had his gun (as was his sister). Rabid Mountain Lion attack survivor Paul Schalow was glad his uncle had his gun. In fact, having a gun in a moment of great need has mattered to many people.

    I'm not trying to say that these attacks are highly likely. However I am trying to say that if you suddenly were to find yourself in need of a self defense tool against predators of either the 2 or 4 legged type, your need will be vast, and it will be immediate. There will be no time in the hour of need to go shopping. Like the parable of the 10 virgins - you either are prepared with what you need, or you are not. How the story ends depends on ones level of preparedness if and when the hour of need arises. You could say that I prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

    I carry a gun around town because it is easier than carrying a cop. I carry a gun in the National Forest (and as of today in National Parks as well) because it is easier than carrying a Forest Ranger. In town when seconds count the Police are only minutes away. While out in the wide open space of God's Beautiful Country a Forest Ranger is likely many miles away, long out of ear shot. Even if you happen to be lucky enough to get a signal on your cell phone 911 would likely have difficulty determining where you are & how to get help out to you. Out in God's Country when seconds count you'd be lucky to have help in hours, much less minutes.

    So finally, if for no other reason, I carry a gun because I've accepted the fact that I alone am responsible for the safety of myself & my family, not the Police, and not the Forest Rangers. They are available as a crime deterrent, and even to gather evidence or seek out the criminals after the event of a crime, but there is absolutely no way they can be in all places at all times to ensure everyone's safety. We'd all need our own Secret Service agents to have that level of protection which of course would be absurd.

    As far as your question about concealed vs open carry - right now National Parks still prohibit open carry - the rule changes only allow concealed carry. I would be very much in favor of allowing open carry as well as concealed carry, but I'm happy to at least finally have concealed carry as an option rather than no option at all. The 2nd Amendment doesn't specify that we can only bear arms in the open, nor that we can only bear them concealed. If they had intended it to be specific they would have made it so - for example, the right to keep and bear concealed arms shall not be infringed, or the other way around.

    As far as the choice of open carry vs concealed - the primary issue with open carry would be the loss of tactical advantage against a criminal who first scopes a scene (who would then obviously either decide to look for easier targets or decide to shoot the armed folks before they attack the unarmed folks). The other lesser issue with open carry is that some people have an irrational fear of firearms - the very sight of firearms makes them break out into a cold sweat & dial 911. Concealed carry lets people with that type of phobia go about their lives without having to know that there are armed folks in their midst on a daily basis, which lack of knowledge helps them stay at ease while they sip their hot cup of Java.

    I hope that I have been some level of assistance to you Eric, if nothing else to perhaps give you a little food for thought. Deciding whether or not to carry a gun is a very personal decision, one that each of us needs to make on our own for our own personal reasons. Have a great weekend :)

  • Muir Woods National Monument is More than Really Old, Really Big Trees   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Uh, Bob, did you forget to buy a new calendar? That Centennial was one year ago.

    [Ed: My bad; it's been fixed. Now, here's some weaselspeak -- a limp excuse, to be sure.

    When you go to the Muir Woods website, which has not been properly updated, you'll see at one point this statement;

    To learn about upcoming centennial events please visit our schedule of events. [italics mine]

    The "schedule of events" in that sentence is a hotlink that takes you to a January 2009 calendar.

    It remains that I ignored the basic math , not to mention other statements at the MUWO website that referred to the centennial in the past tense. There's no excuse for that.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Ted, you are probably correct in your assumption that many of these comments were made to bait the Pro-Gun folks, but I suggest that it is not the only reason for the comments. I genuinely believe that these folks (park employee groups) have actual concerns about being exposed to higher numbers of firearms on a daily basis, and that maybe they just aren't very good at nonconfrontational speaking. Should their concerns be overtly ignored when it would appear there is a 2-to-1 margin of the public in the comment period agreeing with them? Isn't that rather undemocratic? I suggest that gun-rule changes put into place despite the lack of a majority support really makes it irrelevant as far as a constitutional issue. The Pro -Gun (In the Parks) Folks will get their way due to the activist-policies of an administration that doesn't seem to give a SH*# about the will of the people who have the most vested in these parks. When a public outcry for keeping guns out of national parks (about 98,000 people) is absolutely ignored, I think it's safe to say that Pro-Gun folks aren't really being baited, but are instead being out & out reviled as thugs. But you are correct, as long as the gun lobby is winning, Ya'll should probably just keep quiet.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 46 weeks ago
  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Warren Z wrote: "My life wasn't threatened, though I did suffer bodily harm.
    But you know what? I never once thought "I wish I'd had a gun..." The gang that surrounded and attacked me did so swiftly, even efficiently. The lead pipe they used to break my arm and lacerate my scalp almost knocked me unconscious..."

    Wow. Hit in the head with a lead pipe? Your definition of "life threatening" must be decidedly different than mine. And speaking for myself, I don't believe I have a moral or legal obligation to suffer head injuries and a broken arm to ensure the comfort and economic success of criminals.

    I certainly don't think you need to exercise your First Amendment right by spouting such inane drivel. Obviously , we need to close that loophole in the free speech laws. See how that works...?

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   5 years 46 weeks ago

    Concealed Carry holders are some of the most law abiding most checked "civilians"in the country. It is amazing that the anti-gun folks really seem to believe that since it was illegal to carry a gun that people did not carry a gun. Now the law abiding citizens can carry as well. You can carry concealed in 48 states. Millions of people across the country legally carry concealed everyday. A despite the constant fear mongering of the anti-gun crowd every place that allows reasonable access to concealed carry has seen a REDUCTION in crime. The myth that these people carrying guns are going to snap and shoot someone over a parking place has not happened. The myth that the police will not know the difference between a concealed carry holder and a criminal has not happened. It is has not turned into the "Wild West" with blood running in the streets like the anti-gun crowd promised. It is also a fact that the places in this country that are the most gun restrictive, are also the most violent. All of these facts can be confirmed and I would ask all of the anti-gun crowd basing their opinions on emotion and ignorance to learn more about what they are blindly opposing.