Recent comments

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Police used to walk away from all kinds of penny ante stuff, maybe by giving a warning or throwing the illegal contraband into a nearby creek and telling the miscreants to beat it. That happened to me in college and the point was well taken and indeed quite powerful without the need to ruin my life and plunder my savings.

    There are all kinds of ways to achieve positive results short of putting someone into the penal system for minor victimless infractions but invariably the modern cop is welded to the use of handcuffs, tasers and immediate incarceration.

    The prison industry is very large and growing in our country and every drug user that is put behind bars means more government payroll jobs. Meanwhile I can buy a case of Johnny Walker Red from the government and the man behind the counter doesn't even blink as I load the dangerous poison into my trunk. They got their cut why should they care?

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 49 weeks ago

    This controversy is much more complicated than it may seem at first glance. The scientific evidence doesn't imply that ORV beach driving should be totally banned at this seashore, only that it should be subject to reasonable rules benefiting protected wildlife species. Right now the interested parties are arguing about what those rules should be. We encourage Traveler readers to review our recently-published articles on this topic, which include discussions of the circumstances surrounding ORV beach driving at Cape Hatteras.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 49 weeks ago


    There is absolutely no reason for ANY vehicles other than emergency rescue vehicles to be driven on the beaches....Many species of animals are adversely impacted by this intrusion. Also what good can come of gasoline and motor oil leaching into the sand and the water? If people want to surf fish,let them carry their gear themselves! It is a sad state of affairs when the comfort of lazy humans trumps innocent animal life.

  • National Park History: “The Spirit of the Civilian Conservation Corps”   5 years 49 weeks ago

    My mother used to talk about how the CCC brought money back to her hometown during the depression. She grew up in Stuart, VA. The CCC was "up on the mountain" building what we now call the Blue Ridge Parkway. On weekends the men would walk down the mountain to spend the weekend in "town" - no meals were provided over the weekends, so the men literally had to walk out to find food. Townspeople would provide meals (and sometimes beds), and the men paid "real money" for the meals. "Real money" had disappeared from the town during the depression, so this was novel. The Smoky Mountains lie at the Southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway - another CCC project.

  • The Denali Road Lottery Offers Regulated Leaf Peeping at Alaska’s Denali National Park   5 years 49 weeks ago

    After a season of protecting the park and wildlife and protecting the safety of the visitor by having experienced bus drivers why open the road to hordes of inexperienced folks? It is not an easy road to drive and the lottery seems to negate what the park has been practicing and preaching all summer long. Why????????

  • Fall Colors: What Can We Expect Across the National Park System?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    The past two weeks have been absolutely beautiful in Denali Park. The colors are as crisp as I have seen in 30 years here. Snow is falling below 4000 feet tonight. When summer ends we will be in winter.

  • Creature Feature: The American Marten   5 years 49 weeks ago

    We were fortunate to see three young martens playing about 15-20 feet from us as were traveled down the Cleetwood trail at Crater Lake on September 8th, 2008 at about 9:30 AM. Unfortunately, I spent more time struggling to get my camera out of my backpack (DOH!) than watching them, but my 2 companions enjoyed a nice view. They were tussling so much that one nearly slid onto the trail in front of us. Then a larger marten, we assume the "mom", noticed us and rounded up the youngsters and away the 4 of them went.
    What a lucky day and a valuable lesson to keep the camera ready at all times.

  • Visitation Decline at Great Smoky Mountains National Park Has Area Businesses, Residents, and Governments Worried   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Yes, Barky, there's a very distinct attendance spike in October. The GRSM attendance data for the most recent five-year period (2003 through 2007) show that average visitation in October is 1.13 million, while September visitation averages 883,000. October visitation actually exceeded both September and August visitation in all five of those years.

  • Visitation Decline at Great Smoky Mountains National Park Has Area Businesses, Residents, and Governments Worried   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Question: is there an increase of GSM visitors during leaf season? That's when I managed to visit the park, and it was absolutely spectacular! I remember hiking up some mountain under the canopy, and hitting the top, and seeing acres and acres of brilliant color. Took my breath away, it did.

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • National Park Quiz 19: Trails   5 years 49 weeks ago

    50% are too infirm for trails? Wow! Must be our great American diet ...

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • A Historian's Take on the National Park Service   5 years 49 weeks ago

    What a great article, he touches on a lot of great NPS topics. Hats off to Dr. Pitchaithley.

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Frank--

    I tend to agree with you that our "war on drugs" is not winnable and, therefore, the country needs to devise a different strategy. But, until that new strategy is in place, law enforcement people like the rangers involved here can't just walk away from an incident. The topic, however, is so toxic that no politician will ever be the first to propose a new approach. It will have to come from us, the voters.

    Rick Smith

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I, too, read about this in the Morning Report. The report lists "a number of bags of marijuana and Vicodin pills", but doesn't specify how much. My reaction upon reading the story was, "What a waste of federal time and money." The war on drugs is the older cousin of the war on terror. Wars against ideologies or addictions can't be won. Looks like there might be another "five men and a women" in our already overcrowded jails with as many as 50% of the incarcerated there for drug-related charges. What a waste of money!

  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area Hosts 150,000 Weekenders and a Hells Angels Poker Run   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Lots of people have had very positive interactions with Hells Angels, Marylander. And many others have been bullied, assaulted, and even physically harmed. These are Hells Angels, not Hells Pussycats. (If you know who the Hells Angels "One-Percenters" are, you know that they are some of the baddest dudes on this planet.)

    Yes, Hells Angels are usually well-behaved in public. But law enforcement officials aren't sure what to expect when Hells Angels are around, so they prepare for the worst. I thank them for that, and if Hells Angels feelings get hurt, so be it. When you join the Hells Angels you are making a statement. I just wish that the Hells Angels members whose behavior inclines to the plus side of the ledger would be more choosy about the company they keep.

    In the Lake Mead instance reported here, there was intelligence (the precise details of which aren't available to you and me) indicating that the Hells Angels wanted to make repeated forays into the park and vicinity in the future. The park welcomed them (by issuing an event permit), but the very strong and conspicuous law enforcement presence told them they had better understand that the welcome is conditioned by an expectation of non-disruptive behavior -- period, end of discussion.

  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area Hosts 150,000 Weekenders and a Hells Angels Poker Run   5 years 49 weeks ago

    I feel a whole lot safer being near the Hell's Angels than I ever would being in close proximity to the jack-booted visor helmeted thugs that I saw on television who were providing "security" for the two Welfare/Warfare conventions this past August.

    Or as Dylan most famously put it: [i]"To live outside the law you must be honest."

  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area Hosts 150,000 Weekenders and a Hells Angels Poker Run   5 years 49 weeks ago

    A lot of people are scared of the Hells Angels, but I have to say that the 2 times my family and I have stumbled into one of their rallys they have been very well behaved. Better behaved then the regular tourists around them. In 2006 we arrived in Cody, Wyoming for the July 4th weekend, only to discover to our surprise that there was a Hells Angels rally. We were camping with Hells Angels members literally on all sides. My husband was none to happy, given their reputation and proximity to our children, but we had absolutely no problems. At the rodeo, a must see if your ever in Cody for the 4th of July, the bikers even tried bull riding which was hysterical. I do realize that the Hells Angels have earned their reputation due to bad behavior in the past, but the two recent times we've experienced a rally, they have been more peaceful and well mannered then the regular tourist crowd and absolutely nothing to panic about.

  • National Parks Will Waive Entrance Fees on September 27, National Public Lands Day   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Good points. But if you are going to get down to brass tacks about admission fees (the details of which I wanted to avoid discussing in this brief article), you will need to point out that there are various categories of visitors who don't need to worry about paying entrance fees, such as America the Beautiful Pass Holders, Golden Age Passport holders, Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) Volunteer Pass holders (awarded to volunteers who contribute 500 hours of service on a cumulative basis), and certain others.

  • National Parks Will Waive Entrance Fees on September 27, National Public Lands Day   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Two-thirds of the parks don't charge any entrance fees. By my count, only 16 of the top 50 most visited parks charge entrance fees and some of those (like Lake Mead and Acadia) are only seasonal or for parts of the parks. Thus, the overwhelming majority of visitors to the national parks never pay an entrance fee.

  • Federal Judge Refuses to Let County Cut Highways in Roadless Section of Death Valley National Park   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Rs 2477 is a restriction on an 1851 law setting apart all roads and trails as public and 60 feet wide that
    the title to the those set asides were removed from federal control leaving the underlying title in we the
    people of the united states these roads and trails were to be recorded and protect by the counties

  • Visitation Decline at Great Smoky Mountains National Park Has Area Businesses, Residents, and Governments Worried   5 years 49 weeks ago

    My observation is in direct opposition to Mr. Cureton. My family moved to Gatlinburg in 1942. I grew up there, leaving in 1960 after college. The visibility in the 50's and 60's was good in October but not so good in other months. Now, having moved back in 1996, the days of outstanding visibility in mid-summer, Spring and December/January are much more prevalent. than during my youth. There were almost never clear days in June/ July in those days. My home overlooks Mt. LeConte so I have a nice vantage point.

    Leo Benson III

  • How To Buy National Park-Related Gifts Without Leaving Home   5 years 49 weeks ago

    The long awaited Mt. Rushmore pewter ornament is now available at www.innerpeacedesigns.net. It is under the ornaments tab. I've been looking on their website for a month or two and today it's there. I ordered one. The detail is beautiful on it. I may purchase more for Christmas gifts. They seem to be working on other National Parks also at this time. I'll keep checking to see when they are ready for purchase.

  • Fall Colors: What Can We Expect Across the National Park System?   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Don't forget about Zion. The high country / Kolob Terrace area has some of the most spectacular fall color in the West in late September, and the canyon itself can have some great color in November.

  • Visitation Decline at Great Smoky Mountains National Park Has Area Businesses, Residents, and Governments Worried   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Bob - if there's a silver lining in this story it's that experts are predicting (as Kurt mentioned in his Fall Colors post) above-average leaf color this fall for the Southern Appalachians. Last year, the fall color season in the Smoky Mountains region was muted due to the extreme drought and the above average temperatures during the summer and fall. I would suspect that leaf peepers will want to make-up for their losses from last year.

    Furthermore, motorists are starting to see some relief at the gas pump. The trends for gas prices are pointing downward for the foreseeable future (assuming no major disruptions in oil production).

    I think the Smokies should see a nice bump in visitation during the fall season, although the annual numbers will still be below last year's numbers.

    Jeff
    www.HikingintheSmokys.com

  • Visitation Decline at Great Smoky Mountains National Park Has Area Businesses, Residents, and Governments Worried   5 years 49 weeks ago

    Good point, SMH. I went back and tweaked the article.

  • Visitation Decline at Great Smoky Mountains National Park Has Area Businesses, Residents, and Governments Worried   5 years 49 weeks ago

    While I may agree that gas prices have created a downturn, I believe that climate change is another great contributor. The Smokies are just not what they used to be.

    I grew up in Knoxville, a stones throw from the GSMNP. Even though I now live in Texas, I still visit the Smokies nearly every year because my mother still lives in the area. Over the years I have noticed a serious degradation in the air, resulting in a corresponding decline in the views.

    There is a big difference between the misty clouds and fog which gave the Smokies their name, and the kind of poor visibility that occurs today. It changes the nature of what you have to try and enjoy. Instead of hiking along the Appalachian Trail and enjoying the distant vistas now muddled with dirty air, I'm more likely to enjoy the creeks and forests at mid-elevations. It's still good at times, but the number of good days are a lot less than they used to be.

    If the government is worried about the tourist decline, maybe they should be a little more worried about the air.