Recent comments

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 1 week ago

    Guns and booze don't mix well in the National Parks. Period!

  • Trigger-happy Man Shoots Another Rustling in the Brush   6 years 1 week ago

    What was the point of posting about this incident?

    The offender did not, according to any report, have a license to carry, nor was he carrying a concealed weapon (a .22 rifle is not concealable nor is it useful for self-defense).

    This is not related to concealed carry in national parks.

    When this rule is approved (which will be in early October, from what I've heard) the one big difference that you'll notice in the National Parks is that nothing will have changed. Here in Texas, the media predicted blood in the streets when the CHL law was enacted in 1995. It never happened here, nor has it happened anywhere else. In fact, what studies (by THE GOVERNMENT) have shown is that CHLs (permit holders) are an exceedingly law-abiding group. If you don't understand that, check the annual report put out by the Texas Department of Public Safety which compares conviction rates for CHLs vs everyone else. You'll find that conviction rates, particularly for violent crime, are near zero for license holders.

    This is not a surprise. When you apply for a license in Texas, the government comes in and examines your history with a fine-toothed comb. To get my license, I had to go through a two-month background investigation which included individual checks by the state, the feds, and each county that I'd lived in for five years. I was fingerprinted, and the prints were run by the state and the FBI. In Texas, not paying your student loans and/or your child support are justification for denial of a license. Alcohol and substance abuse problems are grounds for disqualification. Some states utilize reference checks and cultivate a history that way. Training and testing are mandatory. Taken as a whole, the process is a pretty strong assurance that those being licensed are of good character and are law-abiding. The State of Texas vouches for me -- who vouches for you, Kurt? No one? That's what I thought.

    The people you need to worry about are not the people who went through the hassle, fees, and training required to legally carry concealed. If you're in a state which allows concealed carry, you already interact with armed licensees on a regular basis. You pass us on the road, you walk right past us at the grocery store, and we're traveling through state parks and national forests (concealed carry is already legal in national forests...don't recall hearing of any disasters).

    Most law enforcement officials I've talked to about concealed carry greatly prefer to interact with CHLs. We're a known quantity to them and we've been vetted. They know to expect good behavior from us. A poll in Police Magazine a few years ago showed about 90% support for concealed carry by law enforcement. I realize the National Association of former Park Rangers (or whatever it's called) is opposed to concealed carry in National Parks. The problem I have with their opinion is that the vast majority of their members did not serve in a law-enforcement capacity in the Parks. They cleared brush and gave tours. That makes them completely unqualified to comment on the impact of this rule.

    It's fantastic that many people feel the parks are safe and there's no need to carry weapons. I guess that means they don't have worry about the inconveniences of carrying concealed firearms. Personally, being a resident of a border state with border parks (i.e. Big Bend NP) I feel a little less safe than they do. Odds are I'll never need to use a concealed handgun, but I will welcome the ability to protect myself in a park which quantifies its safety by promoting itself as "as safe as Houston." In Big Bend, as in many parks, if something happens, YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. There's no cell coverage and the isolation is great enough that law enforcement will not be in a position to help you if you need help.

    Supposedly low crime rates are wonderful until you're the one who's victimized.

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Celebrates Its "Stand-Alone" Birthday and Kilauea Provides the Fireworks   6 years 1 week ago

    Not guilty. There was no separate Hawaii Volcanoes National Park until 1961. Only in 1961 did HAVO finally split away from Haleakala and become a stand alone unit of the National Park System. In light of this, the National Park Service specifies September 22, 1961, as the official date of HAVO's establishment . Visit this site to confirm this. We use the official NPS date here at Traveler when we do these anniversary articles, and that's why we didn't use the August 1, 1916, date you prefer. That said, I agree with your basic gripe.

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Celebrates Its "Stand-Alone" Birthday and Kilauea Provides the Fireworks   6 years 1 week ago

    How did you come up with 47th anniversary? The park was established in 1916 (yes, same year as the NPS) and is planning for its centennial in 2016. There was a name change (from Hawaii National Park) and split from Haleakala a while ago, perhaps 47 years, but don't take away half the park's history!

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    We just returned from a Utah vacation, which included a trip to Wall Arch. We originally saw it in 2006 and never gave any thought to it collapsing in our lifetimes. Surprising that other seemingly more fragile arches are still standing, and this one fell. A reminder that you can’t always tell the substance of things or people by looking on the outside.

    http://home.earthlink.net/~larsonworlds/id40.html

  • Sunset Over Flat Mountain Arm, Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Great sunsets must be easy to come by at Yellowstone Lake. I took this shot on Yellowstone Lake also in early September on the way back from Glacier, though this photo doesn't quite have the paddle-equity yours does: http://www.flickr.com/photos/coloradobobby/2838423015/in/set-72157607174777205/

  • "Hidden Fire" Continues To Burn In Sequoia National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Nic,

    Not all Yellowstone fires are extinguished. The LeHardy fire that started earlier this summer north of Fishing Bridge was pretty much coaxed into the backcountry and allowed to burn there, although it was fought to prevent it from sliding south to Fishing Bridge.

  • "Hidden Fire" Continues To Burn In Sequoia National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    We will never learn. Natural fires need to take a course. As forest are overgrown, the price is being paid. Control instead of suppress. In Yellowstone fires are still extinguished instead of being allowed to burn.

  • Help Ken Burns Chronicle the Parks   6 years 1 week ago

    In Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado, many old Hispano families claim their land grants were stolen and are now managed by the National Parks System. Will your documentary cover this? Latinos say you have a blind-spot to their history in this country. This seems like a good opportunity to make up for it.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    The issue of race in the national parks is not a new subject on Traveler. As a point of reference, please see this link and the ensuing discussion that Wayne Hare touched off. Look closely at the links to the research done by Dr. Nina Roberts on this issue (listen to this audio piece at http://www.wildebeat.net/index.cgi/2007/01/25#E073 and read this pdf report at http://nature.nps.gov/helpyourparks/diversity/pdf/RMNP_FinalTechnicalRpt_Dec04.pdf.)

    This is a very important issue that needs more attention; however, if we are going to do so, it would be helpful if we look back at what has already been said here about it.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    I'll go out on a limb and propose that non-white people (as opposed to the "white" people Kurt speaks of) don't have a cultural interest in conservation or nature like many segments of the white community do. Maybe this is an artifact of the way minorities have gravitated to urban areas - not because they love the city, but because the city loved them. Regardless the reasons, it seems to me if you look at the naturalists with conservation societies, the students in environmental programs at universities, the employees that go on the company canoe trip where I work, and yes, the rangers in the National Parks, you see white people. Does this mean non-whites are excluded? More likely it means they have little interest in these things. So we should force them to like it, right? We should spend a lot of money making sure we have some non-white rangers in high profile positions so little non-white kids can become more "white" and learn to love nature?

    Saying we need more non-white rangers so we'll get more non-white park-lovers sounds like a desire for homogenization of cultures and of races. Let's quit trying to make everyone like the things white people like.

    Propping up manufactured role models is not - and never has been - the answer to anything. Picture two rangers: Ranger A is a white woman who grew up hiking in the woods and has a life-long love affair with nature and conservation. Ranger B is a African American woman who became a ranger because it was a good, secure government job and a diversity program existed to make it easier for her to get the job, and her career counselors highly recommended it. Now, a group of young minority children from the city go on a tour to the park. Do you want Ranger A or Ranger B to talk to them? I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts the kids come out more enthusiastic from Ranger A's tour. And if they don't, then they don't because the subject doesn't appeal to them, not because the ranger was pasty white. Cultural differences, tastes, and traditions will continue to make the world go round.

    -Kirby.....Lansing, MI

  • A Section of the Appalachian Trail Designed for Wheelchair Access Opens in Vermont   6 years 1 week ago

    As a disabled person who wants to keep hiking as I did when I was younger, I am thankful that Merryland's attitude is not shared by the masses. Wheelers (hikers using mobility devices) should be able to experience a few of the exceptional trail opportunities out there.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    I rarely comment on any posts, but I feel I must this time. Kurt made a statement. A mere observation. An observation of fact. Nothing more, nothing less. And now he is called out for his statement. Why? Is it because he said, "The King isn't wearing any clothes."? A fact is a fact. Instead of condemning his statement, why not find out what the federal goverment/NPS has to say about it. Where are the minority rangers? Aside from a few women, I can't ever recall seeing one. The federal government loves to tell every agency, state, county and local, what ratio of minorities they must have or face the consequences. This appears to be a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." What's next, is the anti-alcohol crowd going to get upset over the review of the beer?

    I'm done...

  • Sunset Over Flat Mountain Arm, Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    WOW!!! What a great photo. Its like De Ja Vu all over again.....

  • Yellowstone, Grand Teton Officials Searching For Snowmobile, Snowcoach Solution   6 years 1 week ago

    I own a snowmobile but I do not live in that area. With all the national forest land to ride in why do people want to ride in there; if its to see the sights I have a an idea. Use a fleet of snowcoaches like a bus route and take your snowshoes or x-country skis get off at one of stops on the route and see the sights and the animals instead of distrubing them. I go into the national forest where I live by and get out and walk in my snowshoes so I can enjoy nature without scaring the H**l out of it. Bottom line is there's plenty of land out there to go on with snowmobiles have senseable rules I have proposed the sightseers can still see the park that way, if they are just there to snowmobile it's wrong.

  • Sunset Over Flat Mountain Arm, Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Thanks for sharing a lovely shot. This was one of those moments that made all that paddling on the lake worthwhile :-)

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Kurt,

    I'm glad to read your article on Yellowstone; I enjoy learning more about parks, and your writing usually informs as well as entertains. However, I think you might be turning readers off by making comments like "distressingly white". From Wikipedia: "Rather than a straightforward description of skin color, the term white functions as a color terminology for race." So using "distressingly white" was interjecting race into the discussion of Yellowstone. This was not a reference to "cultural diversity" (unless that is a new code word for "race") as it is impossible to identify someone's culture just by looking at her skin color.

    As for who will pay for the parks in the future, let us now embark on an experiment to make parks more self-supporting as the NPS founders intended.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    My attention was caught by your comment about the two guys who drove up in the Norris parking lot and "asked whether there was anything interesting to see."

    Long-time Yosemite naturalist Carl Sharsmith is quoted as giving the following response when he was asked what he would do if he only had a day to see Yosemite. "Madam," he replied, "I'd sit by the Merced River and cry."

    I can only hope there are more Carl Sharsmith's in the world today than are apparent to the casual observer.

    Thanks for taking the time - and effort - to get out into the backcountry in Yellowstone.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Frank,

    You, not I, inserted "race" into the equation. I merely made an observation to diversity, with the unstated but understood (at least to me) implication of "cultural" diversity.

    I don't think there's any argument that Yellowstone is a beautiful setting. But who will protect that setting years down the road when Caucasians are a minority and few head to the parks? If Yellowstone and the other national parks are to be protected, shouldn't it be by a unified effort with input from all Americans, regardless of their color, creed, or culture, and not from one declining segment of that population?

    You seem to consider soap in bathrooms a higher priority than a broader cultural network in the parks, whether that be reflected in the NPS staffing, concessionaire hiring, or visitation. While cleanliness shouldn't be overlooked (and no, there was no soap in the NPS outhouses), nor should role models, and those I think should come from all cultures.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Yes, interesting word choice, "distressingly white". Way to put the "race" in "race consciousness". I'm truly surprised that people go around looking to make sure there that everything, every location has a "proper" balance of races.

    Kurt, you comment a lot about the concessions (it almost seems like an advertisement for Xanterra) and their facilities, but what did you notice about NPS facilities, particularly bathrooms? Did they have soap? Were they clean? I think many Americans feel it is the primary responsibility for the NPS to maintain parks, not maintain some sort of nonsensical employee ratio system of "whites" to non-whites to avoid "distressing" race-conscious individuals.

    By the way, race is a bogus, non-scientific concept, but this post proves that some will not refuse to allow such a bogus concept to permeate their thinking, not even when in a beautiful setting like Yellowstone.

  • Floods Washing Across Big Bend National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Great article, Jim. Welcome to Traveler.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Uh oh ... here we go again.

    Kurt, I appreciated the entire post. I know that perhaps you love Yellowstone more because you dare to understand and appreciate and contemplate Yellowstone as richly as possible. Yellowstone the land cannot be improved, but we can always learn to improve our relationship with the place and love it more. Noticing the ways we as a society are falling short is part of that experience. You cannot separate the two. And, yes the magic of Yellowstone is always more profound then all that isn't going right on our end of the stick. Often, when we look at the contrast, that in spite of the ways that we might be better in Yellowstone, the place never lets us forget how beautiful it is. That only drives us to love the place all that much more.

    Thank you,

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    I agree whole heartily with Ginger on the “Distressingly White" comment. Why is it that some people cannot do anything these days without bringing race into it. Yellowstone is a beautiful, magical place and should not be a forum for race discussions. We go there as often as possible; our last trip was in August of 2007. I am an avid reader of the National Parks Traveler and held them in high regard until now. Please limit your articles to the majesty of Yellowstone. This might be the time but it certainly is not the place for that type of discussion.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    Ginger,

    My comments about diversity were not intended to put down active rangers, but to highlight a problem that the leadership of the National Park Service itself recognizes: There simply is not enough diversity in the agency.

    More diversity is needed not just to more accurately reflect America's population, but also to encourage more minorities to both discover the national parks and see the career possibilities within the National Park Service. Without such diversity, when "white America" becomes a minority itself in the not-too-distant future there's a very real concern that there won't be enough interest in the parks to support and advocate for them.

    As for the Roughrider cabins, you're absolutely right that there's a certain romance to them. That said, I've brushed enough cobwebs out of the corners and dirt off the floors to know that most park visitors don't want that type of experience. I do see the value in these cabins, but believe a little more attention to maintaining them would make them an even better value while still holding on to the romance you cite.

    As for the gift shops, I also didn't mention that, while the bulk of Yellowstone lies within Wyoming, there's an astonishing lack of items from Wyoming artisans.

  • Musings From Yellowstone National Park   6 years 1 week ago

    "Distressingly White", excuse me but what is your problem. We have been going to Yellowstone every year for the last fifteen years and if you spent your time noticing how "distressingly white" the backcountry video and rangers were then I feel sorry for you. I truly hope you don't ever need help from any of those "Caucasian" rangers that you saw everywhere since it would be truly "distressing".

    As for the roughrider cabins at Roosevelt, well from someone who has stayed in them, with our six kids I might add, we loved everything about them, from the cracks in the walls that let the cold night air in all the way to the wood burning stove that some brave person would have to get up and start in the morning. Instead you seem to be more attracted to the more modern amenities. But some of us enjoy the more rustic aspects of the park. Why is it that someone always seems to be determined to fix something that doesn't need fixing.

    But one thing that you didn't comment on is the way that the gift shops have changed since Xanterra took over. Would you like to try and find a gift, except for the Huckleberry Jam, that isn't "Made in China", well if you do please let me know. It is absolutely disgraceful that in our national parks we can't have more gift items from local AMERICAN artists that are "Made in America".

    And lastly, to many of us who enjoy the park every year, we don't concentrate on the negative but instead notice that it is the most amazing and beautiful place God ever created.