Recent comments

  • Gettysburg National Military Park: Of Cycloramas, Museums and Visitor Centers   6 years 3 days ago

    For all the talk of the National Park Service being so under-funded, it seems like there are an awful lot of Vistitor's Centers projects underway. There's a new one at Grand Teton, two new ones at Yellowstone, a new destination center on the Blue Ridge Parkway... it would be interesting to know just how many of them there have been. Now granted, the existing Visitors Center at Gettysburg was definitely becoming over-matched, as anyone who has visited on a summer weekend can attest. Nevertheless, should all these new Visitors Centers be the priority for the Park Service's scarce funding dollars?

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   6 years 3 days ago

    I'm interested in the comment from the National Park Service that "Canyon de Chelly is unique among National Park Service units, as it is comprised entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land." I'm curious as to why Navajo National Manument and Hubbel Trading Post NHS don't also meet the same criteria? Additionally, Hohokam Pima National Monument is also located entirely on the Gila River Indian Reservation.

    To me it seems that it would be a shame for Canyon de Chelly to lose the recognition of National Park Service. I can only hope that a suitable equitable arrangement is worked out between the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation to bother respect the rights and history of the Navajo Nation, as well embracing the significance of Canyon de Chelly that makes it part of the national patrimony for all Americans.

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   6 years 3 days ago

    The Canyon and its archaeological significance is interesting and significant for all Americans: not only Navajos. The NPS can do a better job of managing it for accessibility to all Americans than the tribe can. Although the tribe certainly has important ties to the area, it does not have the mission to make it's tribal land available to the public as much as the NPS has the mandate to make its units available. That said, the involvement of tribal members in giving tours and managing the area is definitely appropriate and valuable to everyone. I took a night-time tour of the area a few years back. The Navajo guide did a very good job of guiding and narrating the tour. However, his level of administration and efficiency was well below the standards that the NPS brings to its duties.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 3 days ago

    Ranger Tyler -

    Thanks for taking the time to address this issue in such a intellectual manner. I totally agree with you. If people don't like what the 2nd amendment says, they should look at changing it or repealing it. To ignore it or violate it is what is leading our great nation into chaos.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 3 days ago

    Lone Hiker: You've gone down the slippery slope of equating an individual right to arms with mob justice.

    "NOT ONE of those original conditions exist in modern society."

    If that's the case, then you should work to amend the Constitution. Ignoring it tends to land us in trouble (think Japanese Internment during WWII, invading Iraq without a formal declaration of war, spying on US citizens without a warrant, etc.).

    "Attempting to apply a 17th century set of values and regulations to a 21st century dysfunctional society is an exercise in futility."

    Actually, they were late-18th century values, but leaving that aside, your point seems to be that the Bill of Rights has no relevance today. I find it hard to believe that we cannot apply the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly, etc. to modern circumstances. I find it hard to believe that Due Process has lost its relevance. I find it hard to believe that we can't apply the idea of being free from self-recrimination to today's society.

    The Founders included the Second Amendment to protect citizens against the tyranny of government.

    Consider: The Nazi party banned weapon possessions by Jews, Roma (Gypsies), and other populations. Why? An unarmed populace could be more easily "managed".

    The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. --Adolph Hitler

    We are in danger of forgetting that the Bill of Rights reflects experience with police excesses. It is not only under Nazi rule that police excesses are inimical to freedom. It is easy to make light of insistence on scrupulous regard for the safeguards of civil liberties when invoked on behalf of the unworthy. It is too easy. History bears testimony that by such disregard are the rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end. --Justice Felix Frankfurter

    Given the current Executive Branch's power grab, given the genocide in Darfur and other places around the world, given the rabid anti-immigration sentiment in our country, given the civil rights violations that continue throughout the world, given police excesses across the country, it seems that the Second Amendment--including the Founders' thoughts and statements about it--is more relevant than ever.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 3 days ago

    This same set of quotations you would like me to expound upon has been posted previously within the confines of this site. Attempting to apply a 17th century set of values and regulations to a 21st century dysfunctional society is an exercise in futility. The thought processes that were involved in the basis for the Bill of Rights were derived from a repressive and expansionistic model of world domination that was the English, French and Spanish "standard way of doing business" in the 14th thru 18th centuries, a model not unique but rather stolen, or copied from the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Mongols, Ethiopians, Moors, and countless other power-hungry societies throughout the course of recorded history, and no doubt in prior times as well. In the initial stages of the United States political (and social) framework being outlined, certain freedoms that the Founding Fathers believed were being withheld from the masses for purposes of subjugation under various European monarchy were deemed required by our country in order to found "a more perfect union", that being one of equality across all barriers, with no one man or sect (i.e., elitist minority, as in king, lord, military junta etc.) holding dominion over the masses, hopefully eliminating or at the very least, severely disabling the prospects of such wannabe "rulers" to mold a society in their own image, thereby again, assisting to ensure the equality of all citizens.

    During this period in our history, there was also a notable lack of internal security against both foreign and domestic threats to our nation's sovereignty. The newly founded nation possessed no formal defense in terms of military or naval capabilities, nor any manner of internal keepers of the peace (e.g., National Guard, police, et.al.), which the "world powers" used as their primary means to foster their particular brand of expansionism throughout the known and expanding world. It was reasoned that if your little corner of the world was not previously laid claim to by one of the existing super-powers, you were fair game to be "claimed" by the first idiot that was able to hoist their nation's flag on your soil. From that instant, and nobody cared what your opinion was, or what your history was, or what your political or religious methods were, or how well developed or advanced a society you possessed, you automatically became subjects of whatever Queen of This or King of That was represented by the banner affixed to your shores. Bow down and pay up, or die. Sound suspiciously like the current US governmental system, doesn't it?

    The political, religious, and other personal freedoms that were endowed upon the initial citizens of this country were bestowed for two reasons. First to instill loyalty and a sense of "oneness" amoungst the new inhabitants, to show that a new beginning has been achieved by those willing to risk the hardships of life on the new frontier. Second was more to ensure that these citizens possessed the ability to function as both care-takers AND defenders of their new homeland. (Hummm, HomeLand Security, what a concept!) Empowering those most able was not just an empty exercise in "bestowing freedom", it was an absolute necessity. A major contributor to the success of the Continental Army were both new tactics (the old hit and run method learned from the Native Americans) and the ability to field a quickly mobilized "army" from the masses of blacksmiths, farmers, trappers, traders and any other with something to contribute to the war effort, from specialized skills in making weapon, owners of boats, horses and wagons, seamstresses, plus, and maybe most notably, enlisting the assistance of the "locals" who best knew the topography of the new land.

    Fast forward to modern times. NOT ONE of those original conditions exist in modern society. For better or worse, our military is quite well funded and equipped to handle both domestic and international disputes concerning our "national security", whatever that hell that means. (Actually, it means whatever those in power need it to mean at any given instant, just to keep us guessing and in the dark, which is where politicians need us to be kept.) We now also have well-developed state and national peace-keepers, and at least at the state level, they are not beholden to the federal officials. Of course, we are also stuck with our FBI and CIA, amoung other lesser-known acronyms that "assist" in keeping the peace, both internally and externally. We are also blessed with both a National and Coast Guard contingent, who are far more trust-worthy internally than certain other law enforcement agencies and political groups, such as the Democratic Party and the GOP. As the complexity of our society has evolved, so also has the requirements of those with whom we entrust to enforce the laws. It wasn't optional, it was and still is an absolute requirement of civilized society. Or are you suggesting we return to the days when the lynch mob and the posse were the lawkeepers in this country?

    As an aside, the above "documentary" is not one man's opinion. I suggest you, and any who would prefer a lynch mob find me, study IN DETAIL both Western Civilization pre and post-1500, and take an in-depth look at US History from it's inception thru the 20th C. I have not put forth any new or radical concepts in this most abbreviated outline of our nation and societal development. But maybe the oldest notions of mankind are true......."if you can't outwit your enemies, you're bound to be subjugated by them". I'll leave it to you to find the author of that quote, since you all seem rather adept at that type of thing.

  • The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?   6 years 3 days ago

    I teach 8th grade social studies in Tuba City, and would love to see TMWG made into a film. We're dealing with some gang stuff, so that is the first connector. Second, and more important, we have a plume of radioactive contamination from the old uranium processing plant slowly moving into the sacred springs at Moenkopi, and who knows how much radioactive dust is settling in our lungs every time a SE wind arises? The Bush EPA has been silent (surprise!), but the House Government Oversight Committee is beginning to move. My kids could relate well, and now is the time for some green action.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 3 days ago

    David I must respectfully ask, from your own comments ("If there is NOT a significant volume of gun crime in parks, then why not preserve and respect the current laws prohibiting gun carrying in the parks"); Are you objective enough to ask the same question about why this law was placed on the books in the first place, (the parks did not always designate themselves as a "gun-free zone")? If its really only about poaching then why would we have FEDERAL lands oppose a constitutional amendment? Certainly you understand the difference between a hunting rifle and a concealable weapon? Certainly someone who speaks on gun ownership and the role of the federal government understands ballistics enough to know the range of a .375 H&H Mag and a .380 Auto. Even more confusing would be a .50 Cal Desert Eagle and a .50 Cal Barret. The designation you're looking for is "concealable". While all weapons can be lethal, states have laws on what powder and size a cartridge must be for each game type so as to not inflict a non-lethal wound on an animal.

    If there is no need to change a law because of lack of evidence then there is no reason it should be on the books other than to restrict individual rights.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 4 days ago

    As a native Cape Codder I have been visiting the Outer Banx for 5 years now. I leave one beachside community in the summer and happily drive 18 hrs to get to yours. Beach access has become so limited here that I am more than happy to pack up my family of 6 and head to your beautiful beaches. We shut down large portions of our waterfront when a single Piping Plover nest is found. Our towns charge us to use our own beaches and the rich continue to use their power to close off sections of beach that have been for years open to everyone. The reason I head to the Outer Banx is that it reminds me of what the Cape used to be like when I was a kid, and before it was hijacked by limosine liberals and over zealous environmentalists. In my years of coming to your community I have only observed courteous and respectful ORVers. Once you start limiting access you will be done as a destination resort. We are all in favor of protecting the environment and it's wildlife, but by bending to the vocal minority and their all or nothing philosophies you will only lose your rights, your traditions and your incomes.

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   6 years 4 days ago

    Kurt, I'd hate to see Canyon de Chelly National Monument decommissioned (or delisted, or disestablished, or whatever you call it). Can't we continue to carry this cultural treasure on the national park rolls even if it's turned over to the Navajo Nation for administration? I have one other question: Has there ever been a national park with a name more likely to be mispronounced?

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   6 years 4 days ago

    Tricky. Canyon de Chelly has two distinctive contexts. One is the prehistoric culture of the Anasazi. The ruins in the canyon, the petroglyphs at the walls are precolumbian and the Navajo are not directly related to these previous occupants of the canyon.

    But Canyon de Chelly was later (in historic times) settled by the Navajo, and the canyon was twice their last stronghold. In 1804 against Spaniards and in 1864 when the army under Kit Carson rounded the whole nation up and tried to drive them to their designated reservation in the New Mexico. They fought. Kit Carson employed a tactic of scorched earth and used famine as weapon against the last warriors, who hid in the caves and other hideouts of the canyon. They finally gave up and next came the "Long Walk" to the reservation. Many didn't make it and died on the way. About four years later the Navajo got their new reservation where most still live, and that encompasses Canyon de Chelly.

    The National Monument was dedicated primarily for the ruins. Handing it over to the Navajo would emphasize their history in the canyon.

    Today visitors who are not of Native American ancestry may only visit the rim on their own and get down to one ruin on a designated trail. All other parts of the valley floor are accessible by tours only, led by native members of the staff. The canyon is spectacular. Wikipedia has this image of "Spider Rock", a solitaire sandstone spire about 800 feet tall: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Spider_Rock.jpg

  • Tune-in For Yosemite National Park   6 years 5 days ago

    Thanks Kurt. I ususally don't watch the Travel Channel, but I'll set my DVR to record this show.

  • Park Lands For Sale: Can the National Park Service Afford Them?   6 years 5 days ago

    The integrity of the nature in these parks, and the preservation of lands of national historical value, should be a priority. These are factors, along with other laws that are still in place, that distinguish us from ecological wastelands such as mainland China and eastern Europe (as misused during the Soviet era).

    If as is being stated, those private landowners were previously compensated, perhaps an impartial board should consider whether those deals were reasonable under federal law, and what the rights of these private "owners" are, if any.

    The fact that the National Parks Service is not receiving the funding ($190 million yearly?!) from oil drilling fees, is a crime, and the federal officials behind this should be arrested and prosecuted for malfeasance. If it goes as far as the president, he should be impeached for violation of the federal trust. This is the true patriotism. Wolves in sheeps clothing who are trying to privatize and monetize every square inch of our heritage, are not patriots and on the contrary if there are laws or contracts being broken should be relieved of their offices and if appropriate should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 5 days ago

    May I come in with a fresh viewpoint? Question: are visitors to the parks being assaulted when they visit (more than, say, once a year)? If so, if gun violence in national parks is rampant, we have a bigger problem than is solved by allowing everyone to carry guns will solve; we have a societal problem and an enforcement problem. If there is NOT a significant volume of gun crime in parks, then why not preserve and respect the current laws prohibiting gun carrying in the parks.

    The reference to storm troopers sounds like crazy talk. But I understand that not everyone takes that attitude. It does seem that a national park should be a disarmed zone; park rangers should be able to carry guns if they wish. Has anyone, anyone at all, accused them of committing gun crimes? The park is not the same as general state property, and should be considered differently from generic land. The park is disarmed to protect the wildlife.

    I know some people disagree - but I will end by repeating this question: is there currently a genuine need to defend oneself in national parks, or is this fight over the PRINCIPLE of the matter? If the former, I would say we need a careful look at the whole situation (and maybe more park rangers!) and possibly, possibly allow legal gun carrying. If the latter, then I say, disarm our parks - and pursue the visual, the olfactory, the aural enjoyment of nature.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 6 days ago

    Joe,

    I know you're just baiting me, but since you asked....

    Your first question cuts both ways. If you're law-abiding, why such an obsessive problem with abiding by or trying to overthrow the existing law? And really, more than a few "law-abiding" CCW holders already have said they broke the law by carrying in the parks, so what's your definition of "law-abiding"? And answer this: If the current regulations are left intact and you are found to be carrying illegally in a national park, will you forfeit your firearm? Will you agree that you are a criminal?

    As for your last comment, how do you know I don't like guns? I've gone hunting in the past, have an air rifle to keep the varmints out of the garden, even had the pleasure of firing off a few rounds from a Casull .454, and long admired the Browning collection in Ogden, Utah, and the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

    While you chew on that question, here are some findings on RTC laws from the National Academy of Science, which produced a report, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, in 2004 (it's the most recent study on this issue):


    Deterrence and Defense

    Although a large body of research has focused on the effects of firearms on injury, crime, and suicide, far less attention has been devoted to understanding the defensive and deterrent effects of firearms. Firearms are used by the public to defend against crime. Ultimately, it is an empirical question whether defensive gun use and concealed weapons laws generate net social benefits or net social costs.

    Defensive Gun Use

    Over the past decade, a number of researchers have conducted studies to measure the prevalence of defensive gun use in the population. However, disagreement over the definition of defensive gun use and uncertainty over the accuracy of survey responses to sensitive questions and the methods of data collection have resulted in estimated prevalence rates that differ by a factor of 20 or more. These differences in the estimated prevalence rates indicate either that each survey is measuring something different or that some or most of them are in error. Accurate measurement on the extent of defensive gun use is the first step for beginning serious dialog on the efficacy of defensive gun use at preventing injury and crime.

    For such measurement, the committee recommends that a research program be established to (1) clearly define and understand what is being measured, (2) understand inaccurate response in the national gun use surveys, and (3) apply known methods or develop new methods to reduce reporting errors to the extent possible. A substantial research literature on reporting errors in other contexts, as well as well-established survey sampling methods, can and should be brought to bear to evaluate these response problems.

    Right-to-Carry Laws

    A total of 34 states have laws that allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns. Right-to-carry laws are not without controversy: some people believe that they deter crimes against individuals; others argue that they have no such effect or that they may even increase the level of firearms violence. This public debate has stimulated the production of a large body of statistical evidence on whether right-to-carry laws reduce or increase crimes against individuals.

    However, although all of the studies use the same basic conceptual model and data, the empirical findings are contradictory and in the committee's view very fragile. Some studies find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, others find that the effects are negligible, and still others find that such laws increase violent crime. The committee concludes that it is not possible to reach any scientifically supported conclusion because of (a) the sensitivity of the empirical results to seemingly minor changes in model specification, (b) a lack of robustness of the results to the inclusion of more recent years of data (during which there were many more law changes than in the earlier period), and (c) the statistical imprecision of the results. The evidence to date does not adequately indicate either the sign or the magnitude of a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates. Furthermore, this uncertainty is not likely to be resolved with the existing data and methods. If further headway is to be made, in the committee's judgment, new analytical approaches and data are needed.

    You can find the entire report here.

    I'm glad you like some of the other national park posts you find on the Traveler. Believe me when I say I'll be glad when this issue is put to bed, whichever way it goes.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 6 days ago

    Since you fancy yourself a scholar of political verbage. Maybe you can interpret the following for us, and tell us how the founding fathers really were trying to say that we didn't have the right to carry guns individually: (Good Luck)

    *First, Thomas Jefferson: No Freeman shall ever be disbarred from the use of arms.
    *Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self-defense, John Adams.
    *The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed with Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, where the Government are afraid to trust their people with arms, James Madison.
    *Arms discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world as well as property. Horrid mischief would ensue if the law-abiding were deprived the use of private arms, Thomas Payne.
    *Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined, nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants. They serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides from an unarmed man, may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man, Thomas Jefferson.
    *A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves. They include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms and be taught alike how to use them, Richard Henry Lee.
    *The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms, Samuel Adams.
    *I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them, George Mason.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 6 days ago

    Kurt,

    I do not understand your obsession with denying licensed law abiding men and women the right to protect themselves in a National Park with a firearm. Courts in cities like Washington DC which has an extensive gun ban have already ruled that the police are under no obligation to provide protection to private citizens in "Warren v. District of Columbia”. Since large areas of park are patrolled by a few rangers why shouldn’t citizens be allowed to carry a firearm if they have a permit? Discharging a firearm is against the law in a park as it is anywhere else. If two women choose to enjoy the back country themselves and they have a CCW what’s wrong with it being legal for them to bring along their protection? Or anybody else for that matter?
    I do enjoy some of your other stories on the national parks. We all know you don't like guns.

    Joe

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 6 days ago

    "Rangers deal with enough illegal guns..."

    Really? How many?

    "...so please give then a break..."

    Citizens with CCW permits are trained and can give law enforcement rangers the "break" they need by protecting themselves. Criminals know it's illegal for law-abiding citizens to carry arms in parks, which makes visitors attactive targets, especially since rangers, in critically short supply, are the only legal bearers of arms in parks.

    "...and don't make them worry about more guns in the parks."

    I knew one law enforcement ranger who didn't "worry" at all about his own gun, a Glock 9mm that he left unsecured out in the open on the living room floor of his shared housing.

    Joel is absolutely right that every argument supporting the need for armed law enforcement rangers is an argument that supports the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms in national parks.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 6 days ago

    Where are these official reports of rangers being shot at? I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but please do share this information with us rather than create control through fear. By simple fact that our parks are so unsafe with criminals who would shoot at a ranger, you've only created the need for good people to be armed as well. Every argument you make that a ranger should need a gun and have body armor is an argument for citizens to have the right to self protection. Until we have some future predicting ability there will be no way for a ranger to know where every crime is going to happen. No law enforcement body can stop all crime no matter how diligent they are. This arrogance by government agencies (particularly law enforcement) is the exact kind of “god-complex” that should never be allowed to touch a firearm, let alone protect another’s life.

    I guess once again it must be stated that we all know there is no such thing as a CCW permit for federal lands. We are asking the federal government to recognize the sovereignty of a state in which the park is designated. This would be a rule change. No one is suggesting that breaking the law is the right thing to do. We're suggesting that there should never be a reason for the federal government to "infringe" on the 2nd amendment in an outdoor peaceful setting where (according to you) rangers are being shot at every year.

  • Park Lands For Sale: Can the National Park Service Afford Them?   6 years 6 days ago

    Ah, but some people (not me) consider earmarking funds for park lands to be just as bad as "bridges to nowhere." Adding more funds to the Land and Water Conservation Fund would be a big step in the right direction. And the headline is correct. Many of these lands are for sale to whomever can pay the most.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 6 days ago

    I have lived on Hatteras Island my entire life, and I have grown up learning the importance of preserving and protecting our fragile environment. While driving on the beach. Park Rangers and self-policing, as VCHawk said, account for the responsible behavior of drivers on the beach. I have never seen anyone doing donuts or driving recklessly on the sand. To do that would be suicide, at the very least to your vehicle. I am more worried for my safety when crossing highway 12 in the summer than I am the beach.

    The argument has been made that pedestrian traffic will still be permitted. However, only a small percentage of the beach is accessible to pedestrians. Cape Point, in Buxton, is almost entirely inaccessible, unless you want to walk a mile or more in the sand, in addition to the distance to the beach itself. Ryan, I agree that exercise is good, but not everyone can make that walk to get to the most desirable recreation areas. The elderly and disabled enjoy fishing at the point and other areas that cannot be feasibly reached by foot. Are we to deny them this?

    Banning beach driving would also have an economic impact on the area. Nearly all of the 5,000 residents of Hatteras Island depend on tourism on some level. ANY loss in income could be disastrous for already struggling families. My mother works for a vacation rental company, and several clients who have booked with her for years have not rebooked, stating that they will not vacation there if they cannot drive on the beach.

    The national seashore was NOT set up as a wildlife refuge. There is a wildlife refuge just north of Rodanthe. No ORVs there. And the beach is still eroding there, by the way. From what I've seen, it's eroding at a greater rate than the beaches that allow ORV use.

    Another reason that pedestrian-only access to the beach would not work: People driving ORVs use designated beach access areas. Driving over the dunes is simply madness. Do you believe that all pedestrians only use designated walk-overs? From having lived there my entire life, seeing vehicles parked alongside the highway at the S-curves just north of Rodanthe, I have seen the problems of pedestrian-only access to certain areas of the beach. People walk over the dunes with no regard for the fragile plant life that holds them together. That is why the dunes just north of Rodanthe wash out so often and cause problems for drivers trying to get on or off the island.

    I agree that something should be done to either limit beach traffic or to make sure that ORV users know the rules. One way to do the latter is by requiring a special permit to drive on the beach. People living on the Outer Banks could get this permit as an endorsement on their license, similar to a motorcycle endorsement, etc. Take a separate exam at the DMV on the rules and regulations about beach driving, and issue a sticker or rear-view-mirror hanger with this license so that park rangers know those permitted and those not. Vacationers could go to the Dare County Park Service Office in Manteo and get a temporary permit by taking a similar exam. This would require a lot of coordination and cooperation between all levels of government, but it could work. Making sure people know the rules is one way to improve beach traffic. If limiting the number of vehicles concerns you, issue a limited number of permits per week or per day for tourists, limit the permits to one per family/vacation group, and have some way to make an exception for the elderly and the disabled. These permits would have some cost associated with them, and the money brought in could help offset the cost of implementing such a plan.

    To sum up:
    Beach driving is not quite the ecological disaster people are imaginging.
    A ban on beach driving would cause some popular recreation areas to be inaccessible, often to the elderly and disabled who have vacationed here for generations.
    This ban would have economic consequences.
    There is already a wildlife refuge in place.
    Pedestrian traffic on the dunes would cause more damage than there is already, and this traffic would be increased by banning ORV use.
    Something needs to be done: Permits.

    See you at the beach.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 6 days ago

    Just because you don't hear about Rangers getting shot at everyday doesn't mean it isn't happening. In fact, every year Rangers get shot at, but more importantly it isn't just about getting shot at. Rangers are still the most assaulted of all Federal law enforcement officials. In case you haven't noticed, bad guys take vacation too. Rangers have always carried guns. in fact, the first people to enforce the law in National Parks were Army cavalry troops. Rangers are cops, plain and simple; cops wear body armor.

    As far as the guns in National Parks it doesn't matter if you have a CCW permit for any state. When you are in the park you are on Federal Land and there is no CCW for Federal Land. If you choose to carry while you are in a National Park then you choose to break the law. If you choose to break the law then you should accept the punishment you receive if/when you get caught. There are a lot of places you can't carry, even with a permit, and National Parks just happen to be one of them. I am a gun owner and believe in the right to carry legally. Rangers deal with enough illegal guns, so please give then a break and don't make them worry about more guns in the parks. They have a hard enough job as it is.

  • How Are Entrance Fees Affecting Visitation?   6 years 1 week ago

    I have never been to the Great Smoky Mountains but I suspect that they get alot of their visitation from citizens of states that have no mountains.When you think about it, there are many states within close proximity of the Smokies who have to travel to either GA, NC or TN if they want a mountain vacation.Virginia, however is surrounded by other states that already have mountains of their own.As beautiful as Shenandoah is,why would someone from WV or PA come to Virginia and see mountains when they have them in their own backyard? Most of the visitors to Shenandoah I suspect are from Virginia and DC alone could make up the difference between annual visitation differences between the two parks.Cities further away like Baltimore or Philadelphia already have mountains that are much closer so I doubt citizens of these two cities would make many treks down to Virginia. As far as fees go, it's probably more of an issue for people who actually live in and around Shenandoah than it is for DC residents.People who live in NW Virginia are not as affluent on the whole as those in DC and after all why pay to go through SNP when you can see it from your front porch.The DC jet set crowd's idea of a nice getaway is something other than the mountains most of the time.They think "water" and not "mountains" excpet in ski season and then they fly to the west coast for that.I have seen pictures of the Smokies and they are beautiful but I can't think of any place more beautiful than Shenandoah.It is truly God's country.

  • Elevated Sulphur Dioxide Levels Prompt Closure of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    My wife and I live on Oahu. She was able to smell the sulfur in the air yesterday. Depends on the wind direction, but it's not good.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 1 week ago

    Your constant quibbling over the verbiage in the 2nd Amendment is taking nit-picking to new extremes. First, nobody want to admit that the statement regarding forming a well-regulated militia being necessary to the defense of our nation even exists. Second, the text of the amendment states that you can indeed own firearms to support said militia and its operations in defense of the nation. Nowhere does the amendment guarantee your "rights" to carry said firearms anywhere you damn well please. The amendment requires little change. The real change is relegated to those who try and interpret law, religion, history and countless other nuances of man for their own benefit. Try considering the "good of the whole" instead of your personal freedoms. As stated too many times to mention within this site, your freedom of speech is limited so as to not cause undue harm to others, and to encourage thought processes to proceed verbal outbursts that might be dangerous in a given set of circumstances. The rights of those who CHOOSE to smoke are being pared away in state after state. You also may CHOOSE to own weapons, but you do NOT have the "right" to do with them as you please. To do such would be purposefully ignoring your responsibility as a gun-owner. If you feel such a need, or desire to constantly have your little friend strapped to your thigh, why not join today's militia, the National Guard? They would welcome you with open "arms"!

    By the way, I am proudly neither a Liberal Loser NOR a Conservative Crybaby. You should distance yourselves from said political affiliations and try to see the world, the ENTIRE world, without the Labels of Limited Intelligence.