Recent comments

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Conflicts between bikes and hikers can be resolved, but I think it's going to take some form of zoning or other regulation. Here in the Wasatch Range, some popular trails are on an odd-even day system, which seems to work well and allows everyone a chance to experience the woods in the manner they desire. This obviously doesn't work for through-trails such as the PCT, though.

    I do wish that more folks in the MTB fraternity would recognize that some of us hikers treasure the stillness and slow pace of travel that comes with our activity, and we don't enjoy jumping off a narrow mountain trail every time a cyclist comes rushing along. (Believe me, it's not the cyclists who make way for hikers, at least not around here.) The level of alertness that is required on "shared use" trails compromises the very feeling I am out there to experience.

    Hiking trails and singletrack are two very different animals and they don't mix well. That said, there is still much we can do to segregate uses and keep everyone happy. We've had to do it with motors and I'm sure there are reasonable accommodations we can make with cyclists. Just don't pretend that there's no issue here.

    Thanks again, Kurt, for providing this forum.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I’m afraid that there are too many ignorant people out there in the parks that are unaware that a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm, is not only protecting themselves and their families but everyone around them! This Judge that listened to the ignorant misinformed people who don’t have any respect for the “Law-abiding” person who will not be there in case of emergencies. Many of these people like myself have worked in law enforcement for many years before retiring. Now we go through the process of getting a permit to continue our “To Serve & to Protect” training while trying to enjoy the many parks ourselves! I really feel sorry for those who cannot tell the difference between a Law-abiding citizen and a “CRIMINAL”, who doesn’t play by any one’s rule! I personally have seen many of these people that wouldn’t think twice about killing you or yours without a second’s thought! I only hope you don’t get to meet one of these “Criminals” that will teach you the difference. The hard way.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 44 weeks ago

    NRA members in good standing carry firearms to give ourselves a means of protection against those who do not believe in our constitutional, God given rights to life liberty and justice for all. We fight for this right because we are aware there are unfortunately people that live in this nation that believe they have the right to abuse us, rob us, steal from us and use the NRA and any other agency that we have created to protect us from them to take from us even our lives in anyway, anywhere they please. The NRA by standing up for us by fighting for an individuals, any individuals right to bear arms, allows us to remain a free country. Animals in our national Parks however are not allowed to carry firearms to defend themselves, so they must rely on their instincts to attack and defend those creatures that evade there homes and territory. After living and working in the Park system for 6 years I can assure you that there are already some individuals that enter the National Parks armed illegally now. Now they will venture into areas where they surely would not go without the security of firearms to defend them selves from the vicious, aggressive attacking animals that they run into on the trails. If anyone out there thinks this is not the case then you must disbelieve any of the stories told in any of the sporting and hunting magazines. Anytime a person hiking, camping and visiting our National Parks confronts any of these "wild" animals viciously attacking either themselves of anyone else that has ventured too close to these poor animals, the animals always lose. I myself did not believe this until I spent time trying to educate park visitors, not to try to touch the animals and give them the space and respect they deserve. I have personally witnessed a park visitor running towards a grizzly bear with a young child in her arms so the child could see the bear. I am sure that if this grizzly bear had felt aggression from this act that it would have defended itself. If a concealed carrying park patron witnessed this act of aggression I am sure the outcome would have been radically different for the bear. If we as a Nation can not control crime in our cities why do we think we can control crime in the National Parks by carrying concealed weapons. The real problem is the crime we can not or will not control so we feel safer arming ourselves.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Once again, we hear from a law-abiding concealed weapons permit holder.

    Rick Smith

  • Early Tourism in Yellowstone National Park Caught on Camera   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Yellowstone is amazing. If you hike back country, you can still get up close and personal with the geothermal features. Yellowstone National Park is one of the MUST SEE places. Go before you die. It is incredible.

  • National Park Designation is an Unholy Mess   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I find myself falling squarely on , err..., both sides of this issue. A few years back my wife and I decided to try to visit all the States in the USA, and we generally look for a National Park to visit when we go to a new state. (Next up: Congaree National Park, SC in mid-April 2009, I'm already excited about it! Only disappointment is that I haven't been able to find a historic hotel in the area to review. But I digress.) While there I take a lot of pictures and write about what I see, then put it on my website for friends, family and anyone else who can stand to look at it. At any rate, we are disappointed when we find that a State does not have a NP for us to visit as we consider a NP the highlight of our short trips. Is every State deserving of a NP? I would argue that every State, no matter how plain, has it's own ecosystem and "Original Appearance" which are worth preserving, if only just a small area of it. This allows a history lesson as future generations visit these areas and realize "this is what it looked like before logging, farming, or home building changed it." Seeing this historic approach has helped me to better understand why each State so badly wants, and perhaps deserves, a NP of their own. On the other side of the coin, I lived for many years within an hour drive of King's Canyon, Sequoia, and Yosemite NPs and have admittedly become a bit spoiled by the experience. Julie and I would often take a "long lunch" and drive up to Grant Grove Village in King's Canyon for a picnic lunch or maybe even lunch at the park coffee shop. We were frequent enough that the staff there knew us by name. But as a result of over-familiarization with that spectacular scenery, I find myself at times disappointed when visiting a new park and realizing there really isn't anything too exciting or different to see. That "back home" it would not likely be considered worthy of more than a regional preserve. So I don't know that there is an easy, or even a workable solution to the problem. The situation is that the Western USA is truly blessed with more awe-inspiring scenery, and so it really is difficult to try to set a uniform standard for the entire country.

    Jess Stryker

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago

    This ruling will do nothing to stop visitors from arming themselves when they venture into wild and possibly dangerous places. I know many folks who currently do it, with nary a bad incident to speak of, and they will continue to secure their personal safety with the best means at their disposal.

    I've run across some pretty sketchy characters in some of the remoter parts of Death Valley, Joshua Tree and in Organ Pipe Cactus N.M. and boy oh boy was I glad that I was armed. If one of these nut jobs started to get violent with me and my family I was ready. The rangers can't be everywhere and as long as there are wide open spaces with potential hazards both natural and man-made many of us will continue to take the park service at its word when it says that our safety is our own responsibility.

  • Early Tourism in Yellowstone National Park Caught on Camera   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Wow, what a trip that takes you back in time with slow travel...and at leisurely pace. A pace of life that we all need in this hectic world where fast living is the mode and should not be the norm. Thanks for sharing Kurt.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago

    It is disingenuous to think this court case had nothing to do with gun rights or 2nd amendment issues. The Brady folk or the NRA would not be involved if not guns in parks were the true issue.

    However the law of the case and the true issue can and are different. The required study was not done prior to the change ruling and the court decided based on that. They could have avoided by arguing none had standing, but she skipped over that and declared that DOI had failed in its duty to do the environmental impact.

    I don’t believe that any deleterious environmental impact would be found. But no such finding was done which is the point.

    On that point the court was on solid legal ground.

    The courts should not decide policy. So do the study and submit that. This will tie up the implementation of the rule change for years. Silly legalistic struggles but that is the way of things now. To strangle policies with excessive regulations.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I carry a comb in my back pocket just out of habit, never us it, as I have little hair left. When you stand next to me in line at the 7-11 you don't know I have a comb and if you stand next to me at the railing overlooking some scenic view in a national park you don't know I have a comb. The point being, what you don't see can't upset you weather in a store or in a park. Same person, same comb, what diffence does a location make??

    The number of people licensed to carry is small, and the number who enter parks is probably smaller, is it worth all this fuss over??

  • National Park Service Ban on Lead Ammo, Fishing Gear Draws Ire of Shooting Sports Foundation   5 years 44 weeks ago

    WOW, Frank C,
    If you feel that strongly about Autos in a NP how about you give up yours? Bet you could save some money on insurance and fuel huh?
    I bet the home where you live used to be home to many species of animals. Are they all extinct now because you want your home where it is? How about you tear down your Home, grow plants and trees and allow the wildlife to repopulate your development?
    Or how about leave decade’s old traditions of family enjoyment alone and stay out of the way. OBX (NC Outer Banks) beach since the beginning of their population WERE the roads. The original owners of the OBX beach property gave the land to the U.S Government to form the parks as an agreement to the government probably before you were born. That agreement between the land owners and the government was that the beaches would forever be accessible by residents and visitors of the OBX.
    BTW the NP on OBX is officially called a Cape Hatteras National Seashore RECREATION AREA. Named justly so to prevent folks like you coming out years later from prohibiting family traditions of fishing for a living. So far those with your ideals have successfully just about wiped out all the fish houses in North Carolina not to mention contributed to an amazingly fast economic decline in these areas. I’m sure I as well as many others could find several issues we might have with your occupation and force you to find another means of supporting your family without regard to your geographical location. It’s not easy or practical to commute from the OBX to the mainland for work.
    Its folks with these ideas that force the U.S to import much of its Seafood and destroy local economies. Where does the fresh seafood you eat come from? Shrimp from Taiwan while U.S tax payers suffer from the inability to make their own honest living?
    And what about family traditions that stretch back 100 years of a family surf fishing vacations on undeveloped beaches?
    How did these “endangered” Piping Plovers ever exist on the OBX with the presence of ORV’s? Did it ever occur to Pro-Beach Closure persons and Anti-Access in NPs that the mere presence of humans would deter predators from these “Endangered” birds?
    Or perhaps this is just another prime example of the “Wussification” of America? Save the weak of the species that can’t make the whole migration North in Spring and encourage them to become weaker by promoting the breeding of lesser willed and able of the population so they can forever be subject to conditions never meant for them such as entire nesting grounds being washed away without warning by something as simple as an abnormally high tide.
    Instead of preventing Japan from meeting Hitler half way across Europe, we should have simply extended an olive branch and begged for dialogue? I don’t think you would find many people who would agree that would have worked out well. The same as what the U.S is begging Iran for?
    Keep up the movement of the “Wussification” of America. You will be remembered as one who helped destroy a strong nation by eliminating family traditions, family businesses, industries and entire economies that have depended on these activities for survival since the beginning of their discovery by Europeans.
    You should be ashamed to promote or agree with the idea that Lead sinkers for fishing in the Ocean are such a danger to the existence of life on earth. Where does lead come from? How much exactly of a dose does it take to kill something or someone?
    I’m pretty sure that more humans in the U.S die each year from complications of a common cold than those animals that die from lead poisoning.
    But I’ll tell you what. I’ll agree to not drive my ORV on the OBX or any other state park if you agree to reimburse me for the thousands of dollars spent modifying it so as to leave the smallest foot print on the environment as I could. (In all truth I wanted a Town Car instead of a SUV). I want you to rally support to purchase my property I have so I could enjoy these beauties of nature. The tens of thousands in personal property tax I have paid to retain these possessions, dwellings, fishing gear, Educational materials about the environment, my family and hundreds of thousands of persons enjoy each day. Then subsidize my income to replace the food I caught, trapped and hunted so I no longer have a need or will to hunt, fish or harvest my own food.
    How many refrigerators have you disposed of in your lifetime? Air conditioners? Are you 100% sure that your car, house and vehicle AC systems do not leak a single amount of CFCs into the atmosphere? I think we should take them away from you until we can prove that they do NOT in fact leak at all. Then you should be subject to annual checks you are responsible for paying for to maintain and ensure they do not ever leak?
    Sounds incredibly ridiculous doesn’t it? Well now you know how we outdoor enthusiasts feel. What good is experiencing the outdoors if it is reduced to a simulator so as not to touch, feel and breathe the environment?

  • Comment Period Reopens on Whether National Park Visitors Can Arm Themselves   5 years 44 weeks ago

    When the fact of the matter is that any object, including a human fist, can be used as a weapon with deadly force, a gun is just another option. The intent of both wild and domesticated animals, humans included, is what harms. Guns are not to be feared, the inhumane nature of some people is, how do you regulate that? Leave our guns and freedome alone.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    There's not enuf rangers to enforce the stupid do as I do...keep on bikin'!
    I've been bikin in national parks on trails for 3 years and have never been caught!

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 44 weeks ago

    The judge's ruling won't hold water. The 2nd Amendment is absolute...if the USSC hears this case, we will never have to worry about this issue again.

    Editor's note: This comment was edited to remove a gratuitous comment.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago

    The NRA got involved in this issue because they saw through the smoke and treated it as another attempt to usurp an individual's right to bear arms. Isn't that why Brady got restrict/eliminate one's rights under the constitution, they certainly don't care about Condors or the effect of lead sinkers on fish.

    The Constitution certainly gave the right to Congress to establish laws and the appropriate agencies can promulgate regulations, rules, etc. Such laws, regulations, etc must however, be constitutionally sound and yes, I am saying the 2nd Amendment does trump any law/regulation, etc. that is contrary to the right to bear arms. The fact you cannot take firearms into certain places or that certain persons cannot legally bear arms is because the Supreme Court has ruled such a law as constitutional or that particular law has not been challenged, period! No government body can create a law, etc. that is contrary to the Constitution.

    And yes, I do feel the prior gun regulation was unconstitutional as there is no law barring concealed weapons in NP's. I am not a 2nd amendment zealot nor an avid NRA or Brady supporter but I do believe the latter two serve a purpose in that they don't let each other get out too far. I believe in the three branches of government and I don't want any of them to usurp my constitutional rights and the last time I looked, the NPS is not one of the three.

    While you feel there are places where concealed weapons should be barred, only a law that has passed the constitution test can grant your wish. I am unaware of any law that passed the constitutional test specifically barring individuals from bearing arms in NP's, therefore, it should not be barred. You all may disagree but such disagreement lacks legal validity or status.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago


    Give it up. You cannot argue with 2nd amendment believers. It's their way or the highway. I liked Anon's perspective. If one favors any kind of gun control, you are immediately labeled as a member of the Brady bunch or some kind of wild-eyed liberal by them. What I am most tired of is the statement, "what part of 'shall not be infringed' do you not understand?" There are places where concealed weapons are not appropriate. I happen to believe that one of those places is in areas of the National Park System. All that means is that I don't agree with those who think that guns are appropriate any place. It doesn't mean that I want to hug-a-thug. It also doesn't mean that I think everyone with a concealed weapons permit is a law-abiding citizen. We have ample evidence on this blog that concealed weapons permit holder carry, no matter what the law or rule.. So much for the statement that they are law-abiding citizens.

    Let's let this play out in the courts and see what happens. That's the way issues get settled in this country. I worked in parks for 31 years. I never saw parks the way Tom sees them: "Welcome to your National Parks! A place where you may be assured that you have no right to protect yourself and where criminals have the assurance that they may attack you unimpeded." Nor do I think that the injunction is, as Dan sees it, "This is nothing more than classic legal obstructionism, wasting the court's time and resources to further a back-door political agenda." This is an issue about which intelligent people disagree.

    Rick Smith

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I appreciate Chris Sanderson's comment, but by its logic no mountain biker could ride any trail where horses were present. Which would pretty much close off all trails to mountain biking. As for the point that there are other trails out there to enjoy, it's true, but I look at it just the opposite: what makes the PCT so sacrosanct that no cyclist should be allowed to ride it? Nothing really.

    I congratulate Chris on hiking the whole thing. That is a great accomplishment. The two people I hiked the Oregon stretch with many years ago also completed the entire distance, meaning we had to hike 18 miles a day, sometimes in rain, with full heavy backpacks. Blisters formed on top of blisters and I still have areas of darkened skin from the rubbing and jostling of the pack staps.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I am reflecting on Kurt's latest reply.

    And so doing, I conclude Kurt is right that I shouldn't belittle one person's cause as less worthy of pursuit than another's just because less is at stake objectively. So I retract that aspect of my prior post.

    Conversely, however, I make no apology for complaining of unfair discrimination and comparing (not equating) it to other forms of unfair discrimination. Here in the Bay Area, where I live, there is a constant dispute between gay people and black people about who can claim to speak of civil rights violations. (Just to explain, some black people around here tend to be offended when gay people assert that their issues are civil rights issues. Gays are furious in return that their deeply felt issues are being belittled.) Ultimately such attempts to create a hierarchy of grievances are unresolvable and it's fruitless to pursue them. (What about people in Mauritania who are still literally enslaved? e.g.).

    It comes down to this: we're probably both obsessed with these issues precisely because they are so important to us and have become deeply woven into our respective beings. I completely identify with Kurt's quotation from "Natural America." It sums up how I feel too! (And might not the Native Americans discussed in the article have looked askance at GoreTex and GPS receivers that both mountain bikers and hikers use today? But wait: that's returning to the hierarchies, here one of comparative naturalness, that I think it best to try to avoid. Maybe hang-gliders are the least invasive wildlands visitors of all because they don't tread upon the earth until the moment they land! I'll set my comments aside.) It's unfortunate that our respective obsessions with the beauty and importance of the natural world lead us to different conclusions about how that world should be experienced. I know many people who are uninterested in the natural world—e.g., they live in Manhattan and prefer nightlife and dining out—and who would be left indifferent by the quotation from "Natural America." That's certainly not the case with anyone blogging on this site, be he or she a would-be concealed weapon carrier, a mountain biker, a traditional hiker, or a birder.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago

    You say you don't recall Brady getting involved with other "environmental" issues. Well, while you're probably right, what other national park issues has the NRA gotten involved with other than this one (or similar gun issues)?

    As to your initial point, are you saying that even though the Constitution gave Congress the right to enact laws (in the case at hand the National Environmental Policy Act), and Congress directed the agencies to promulgate rules and set up a process for that, and the Supreme Court has upheld those laws and processes, that it doesn't matter when it comes to 2nd Amendment, that nothing trumps the 2nd Amendment?

    If that's the case, why can't you carry your firearm on a plane or into a courthouse or the U.S. Capitol?

    And if I understand your point, doesn't that conflict with last year's Supreme Court ruling in which the court struck down the District of Columbia's gun law but also held that the 2nd Amendment right "is not unlimited."

    And really, was the prior gun reg for national parks out of compliance with the Constitution? It didn't ban licensed gun owners from traveling with their weapons or ask that they hand them over; it simply required that they be broken down and out of easy reach. Was that regulation a denial of a constitutional right, or rather an inconvenience?

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I do agree that laws should be upheld and such law must be constitutional to be enforced. This was a "rule" change that was in compliance with something higher than a law...the Constitution. An individual's constitutional right's cannot be abridged or usurped by a "rule" or "policy" even if the law is constitutional.

    This has everything to do with the 2nd amendment otherwise why did the Brady Foundation get involved. I don't ever recall the Brady Foundation getting involved in any other "environmental" issue within the NPS, or any other "environmental" issue for that matter.

    If it walks like a duck; talks like a duck; then it's a duck. The fact the other plaintiff's left the Brady Foundation in as a plaintiff certainly questions their agenda.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago


    Anyone who supports constitutional rights should also want to see the laws upheld, no? And that's what this case is about, whether the Bush administration followed the National Environmental Policy Act. The ruling had nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I hiked the entire length of the PCT in 2003, and I ran into a number of cyclist on the trail. I ride a bike everyday to work and back here in San Francisco, so I am not ashamed to say that MOUNTAIN BIKES DO NOT BELONG ON THE PCT! For one, it is a trail shared with equestrians, and a mountain bike tearing around a corner could do a lot to create a hazardous situation for horse and rider. Second, I have had mountain bikes tear around the corner towards me and sneak up from behind and scare the bejesus out of me. For one who is out to experience solitude, a mountain bike can do a lot surprisingly disturb one's experience. Third, there are plenty of other trails out there for cyclists to enjoy, why conquer the PCT?

    Thanks for the article.

    Chris Sanderson

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago

    It seems like this administration's judicial supporters are just like their congressional supporters since they will will trample our constitutional rights without even blinking an eye. As usual, the descenters want to know who drew their weapons, who felt threatened, who fired their guns...give us your names!!!! Sound familiar?

    Why don't they see the issue is the preservasion of constitutional rights?

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Just a couple of comments and observations about this whole thing. First, I am a gun owner, I don't hunt anymore and am not anti-gun or anti- hunting. I have read most of the comments about this over the months and made a few of my own, but what has struck me today is the name calling remarks by some of the Pro carry folks, ya I know, sticks and stones. It just strikes me as funny that this language is coming from only one side, (if there are the same type of comments from the Non-Carriers please set me straight!) Things such as "Paranoid delusions of Hug-a-Thug Anti-Gunners or "Brady Bunch" just to Quote a couple. Another type of phrase that keeps popping up - "Among the most law abiding in our population" or "exeedingly law abiding", as if to say they are more law abiding that some one who chooses not to carry. But the best part of the "Most law abiding citizens" was a comment a few weeks ago where a Pro Carrier stated "No matter what the law is I will carry anyway!". Huh, I guess there is always one in the bunch. My last thought is, and mind you I am not taking either side on this at this time, just curious, Would or have any of the Pro Carriers out there just carried anyway in the Nat. Parks? Since its not visible who would know, kind of thing. Be honest... law abiding citizens, I am really curious to read your (honest) replies to that question or would that blow all the law abiding comments? I think alot of us have done something that was a bit illegal no matter how small, no seatbelt on when just going down the block to the store etc... Sorry, one other question to "concered" , what Nat. Park did the people you know get mugged and tied to a tree? i am also glad they were OK after that, but maybe you could let people know where if it happens as often as you say.?

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    You're comparing the mountain biker's fight for access wherever your tires can roll with that of black civil rights? Please tell me you're not serious.

    As for gnashing your teeth, your complaints about "stupid rules" and "absurd restrictions" seem to indicate otherwise. What do you think about IMBA's rule that "(w)et and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options." Is that stupid or absurd as well?

    Perhaps your complaints over these matters would carry more weight if there were no other place to mountain bike, but that's not the case in the least. As for obsessions, some might say that saw cuts two ways, no, in light of your outspokenness on this issue?

    In the big picture you're absolutely right. Concerns over where mountain bikes are ridden pale considerably to the lack of health care in this nation, our questionable education system, the skyrocketing debt, foreign affairs, and a multitude of other matters.

    But just as you see mountain biking as an important part of your life, I see national parks and the experiences they offer just as importantly.

    I was thumbing through National Geographic's book on "Natural America" the other day, and ran across the following passage. It was set up by a few graphs on how Native Americans -- the Navajo, Hopi, and Lakota -- viewed and respected the earth. It pretty much sums up how I feel.

    Whether we are still able to find that level of harmony with the world is something that may be open to question, given all the encumbrances -- also called conveniences -- with which we have saddled ourselves of late. It may be a perfection that we will never reach, but perhaps the journey is as important as the goal itself. Aldo Leopold, the person who defined the respect we should pay to the natural world and its creatures, believes this perfection to be unattainable. "We shall never achieve harmony with land," he wrote in his journals once, "any more than we shall achieve justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve, but to strive."

    In striving, then, we can still walk in beauty, and if so, the national lands give us our most enduring pathways. "In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years," wrote Harvey Broome, a colleague of Aldo Leopold and one of the founders of the Wilderness Society. "Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting ... May they remain for all time -- islands in time and in space, where living men can detach themselves from their civilization, and walk into eternity."