Recent comments

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 7 weeks ago

    If it is not easy for rangers to get out of their situation, then they do deserve our sympathy (which I have already said and which you seem to conveniently ignore), and everyone involved - rangers and non-rangers - need to work to make it possible for rangers stuck in this situation to be able to speak out or get out of their situation. If that's a need, what can be done to give rangers an outlet for being able to speak up and get out of their situation? I'm serious about this. One way to stop people in power from abusing people is to create means to undercut their ability to control others to do their bidding. I went to a talk by Bob Jackson - a ranger who nearly lost his job for whistleblowing - I know it's almost impossible to speak out. So, what can be done? Is it enough simply to change the heads of these organizations? Or, is it intrinsic to the beauracracy?

    Rather than single out particular people, we should all own up to our part of the blame. In some ways, we probably all contribute to the problem and could be doing more. Is the Park Service culpable or not? Who has the power to make the Park Service change their policy?

    Because, right now, buffalo are still being killed. People are going to jail trying to stop them. And, you're offended by a stinking picture of a puppet at a rally? The puppet was provocative and spoke to a truth about Park Service involvement in the slaughter; that it was uncomfortable and disturbing was in fact part of the point, and an appropriate point to make. People should be made to feel uncomfortable by the contradiction in policy and that the Park Service has put their name and their actions to this policy. And, it should draw people out in questioning the policy and Park Service involvement and all the other cogs in the machine (especially the role of the livestock industry). And, it should draw people out in talking about strategy in dealing with it. But, to defend the Park Service as a victim and outraged that they've been called out is to defend the indefensible. That there are good people stuck in this system, trapped, and horrified by what they are being forced and pressured into doing is true enough, but instead of that calling into question the image, it should call into question what we can be doing to alleviate the situation. The picture holds; it's a ghastly truth, and many people are often trapped by it, and just as importantly, buffalo family units are being destroyed here. What can we do to change this? Calling bureaucracies out seems to be the tamest thing one can do to take action, and yet, apparently, it's proven to be more provocative than I imagined. Where I come from, such puppets are derided not for being despicable but for being toothless - they don't actually change anything. But, if this puppet has actually arisen such an emotional response and the discussion that has ensued, then it has more than achieved it's purpose, and for it, we should be thankful (rather than apologetic).

    As for hypocritical, while I don't see it here in this instance, we are all hypocrites one way or the other. We are all culpable and all responsible. Instead of trying to figure out how we are not responsible, we should be trying to figure out how we can all do better. And, we should be thankful for anyone who correctly points out where we fall short, even if it hurts.

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

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I don't believe that ends justify means.

    I believe that Rockefeller had no business scamming people out of land to reach his ends, using his overwhelming power and capital to foist a new reality on people. I have the same problem with the National Park Service playing God by playing with the fate of Yellowstone's buffalo, whether in partnership or on their own. And, I have no problem with grassroots activists, who are trying to rectify this situation, from pointing it out. There is nothing despicable about the means and ends; they are appropriate and illustrative. What Rockefeller did was abusive and paternalistic, even if we happen to benefit from some of the results.

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

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Scott - Thanks for the information. I do hope that you are right and I am wrong. I can't speak for every CCW holder, but in my case if I go to a National Park NO ONE will know I have a weapon except my wife, and anybody who tries to hurt her. Otherwise it will remain totally out of sight at all times.

  • Park History: Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    There might be some confusion about just when Grand Canyon National Park became a national park, but it seems perfectly clear why the National Park Service considers 1919 to be the magic year. It was in 1919 that managerial responsibility for the park ("ownership," if you prefer) was transferred from the U.S. Forest Service to the fledgling National Park Service and the property acquired the formal title National Park (capital N, capital P). Everything that happened before that was prelude as far as the Park Service is concerned.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Mr. Fred Miller,

    I'd like to make one correction to what you wrote. Possession of a loaded firearm in an NPS area is a misdemeanor, not a felony. While jail time up to one year is possible for a misdemeanor, I know of no instance in my 25 years in NPS law enforcement where anyone served jail time for a first offense of simple posession of a weapon in an NPS area. A small to moderate fine is a more likely outcome for a first offense. For a second or third offense you are most likely to receive a higher fine and forfeit your firearm to the court.

    During my career I contacted thousands of park visitors, and while a percentage of these contacts were for law enforcement purposes, I never felt it necessary to cite or arrest any person for violation of the current firearms regulations unless there were more serious associated criminal violations involved such as poaching or threatening other persons with a firearm. I believe many national park rangers would have comparable results. I always felt that a warning and having the person(s) unloaded and store their weapon was appropriate for a first offense. But, if I found the same person(s) again at some later time with a loaded weapon then a citation or arrest was more likely.

    Mr. Jim Macdonald,

    There is active enforcement of the current firearms regulations in parks, but that almost always involves firearms in plain sight observed by a ranger or by another visitor and then reported to a ranger. Loaded firearms are also sometimes located in visitors' motor vehicles when they have been stopped for some other infraction and a search incident to that infraction ensues.

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Jim, no offense, but to me, you're coming off as quite the hypocrite.

    Comparing Rockefeller and his supposed "scamming" which eventually gave us Grand Teton National Park with your defense of hanging a black puppet of Yellowstone National Park in effigy, are you saying the ends justify the means or not?

    And I have no problem with the Rockefellers, after GIFTING this country with thousands of acres, withholding a few for their personal use.

    --

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Jim wrote: "When workers do things simply because that's what they were told to do or because there is material pressure for them to do this, then our sympathy should be with them to the extent that they can't get out of the situation."

    Therein lies the hypocrisy of your position: YNP rangers in the field have had to bust their butts to become permanent rangers and, more than likely, were employed as seasonals before becoming permanent - in other words, it ain't easy becoming a ranger with Yellowstone National Park and those men and women are NOT exactly able to react as you suggest they do in your model, which I view as unrealistically idealistic.

    Where's your sympathy for those rangers in the field? You have none.

    If you think politics aren't at play within the bureaucracy of YNP, you're sadly mistaken.

    Yellowstone National Park and all it's employees deserve more respect than having some black puppet, as you describe it, hanging in effigy near the west entrance.

    You and Buffalo Field Campaign owe Yellowstone National Park a sincere apology, in my opinion.

    --

    Don't get me wrong; I fully support public protest and civil disobedience. If you want to be effective and FAIR, get the names of all the signers of the IBMP, single them out, target them and not everybody that works for YNP. Secretary of Interior's lost his appointment? Doesn't matter; NAME HIM. Get the idea?

    --

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Jim - I'm told that there is no way that an active enforcement of any concealed weapon ban could take place. How would that be done? There would have to be "wands" and metal detectors EVERYWHERE you go in a National Park! But the sad reality is that IF you get caught with a concealed weapon under current regulations, you will be guilty of committing a FELONY, punishable by imprisonment in a Federal penitentiary. Seems a little severe to me. So your choices are: take a chance on being unarmed when you encounter a bad guy, or a chance of getting caught with a loaded weapon. Pretty lousy choice, huh? That's why I feel that this archaic continuation of a "gun-free zone" has got to stop.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Just a question because I'm curious (and perhaps because I suspect this issue is a red herring), does anyone know what the Park Service does to enforce the current gun regulations? Is there actually active enforcement?

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

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 7 weeks ago

    As a National Park Ranger with over 30 year's experience, I can tell you conclusively that allowing the possession of readily-available firearms by all park visitors is a bad idea. While some people who have training in the use of firearms might be qualified to have them at hand, the reality is that most people don't. Any idiot without a criminal record (and some who do--at some gun shows) can purchase a gun. Another reality is that some park visitors are idiots when they get out of their urban environments. Rangers are called to the scene of many drunken fights every year, especially in campgrounds in the recreation areas. More of these would now end in gunplay instead of fisticuffs. When the first fool starts banging away at a campground bear with his new .22, we can only hope the bear wins, and the fool doesn't hit a kid in the next campsite.

    Joel, above, is typical of people who wn't listen to reason. All the logic in the world is not key enough to unlock a closed mind. It's just unfortunate that we presently have a Secretary of the Interior from Idaho and 47 gutless Senators who are afraid to cross the NRA.

  • Olympic National Park Entrance Fees to Stay Unchanged Through 2009   6 years 7 weeks ago

    If you are a citizen of the US, one should not pay a penny for parks. Do like other countries do...charge the tourist and forgieners an arm and a let and let the citizens in almost free. I was just in East Africa...my fee $50.00 per day for the parks..the locals fee 50 cents. I was in Russia and I paid $20.00 for the ballet..the locals paid 20 cents. I was in Oregon once and the Oregonian paid less that the out of state visitors for the camp grounds. I hope this has changed. It really irratated me...ripping off your fellow states.
    Doesn't our Government know that there is a recession going on? Let people at least enjoy our parks. We pay taxes and this should go towards supporting our parks.
    I wish someone would take the time to look into the above

  • Olympic National Park Entrance Fees to Stay Unchanged Through 2009   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Hey Lee, I hear you. The Park Service's proposed 08 budget is over $2 billion.

    If you search through the "Plight of the Parks" subcategory you'll find lots of posts concerning entrance fees and the battles over them.

    As for seniors, the parks basically are free -- a $10 lifetime pass for those 62 and older. Americans with disabilities qualify for a free lifetime pass. No breaks for military that I know of.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Dear Anti-gun activist....If you chose to be a potential victim, that is your privilige. I would much rather have the ability & means of protecting my loved ones & myself via my 2nd amendment rights. When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. There are many other countries in the world where this is a fact of life.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Another 180 bison have been captured and will be probably shipped to slaughter. That brings that total to 470 for the winter; 602 total dead. The slaughter total alone is 1/10 of the buffalo; the overall total is 1/8 of all buffalo counted in the fall. Unlike 1996/7, there isn't expected to be the same amount of dead bison from the harsh winter because buffalo are still able to reach the grass.

    ***

    And, Mack, at some point what's legal and what's right are sometimes in conflict. Do you think it's never right to hold someone morally culpable for what was legal? And, even if we don't pass moral judgment, what difference does it make? If people should still do what is right rather than what is legal, then they have an obligation to do what they can to stop the situation. That's why workers go on strike, why they refuse to perform certain duties on the job, why people quit and walk off. When workers do things simply because that's what they were told to do or because there is material pressure for them to do this, then our sympathy should be with them to the extent that they can't get out of the situation. Where they put themselves in the situation and don't get out of it, then it's a problem, and it's worthy of criticism. I think it might be a very good idea for outlets for rangers who want out of bison slaughter to be developed; however, it's not enough to do nothing, shrug one's shoulders, and mourn for being stuck in a tragic situation while continuing to take actions that perpetuate it. That simply is not good enough anymore.

    Secondly, as to truth, the picture displayed does not exonerate other groups simply because the protest was directed at one of them. We cannot be such generalists about truth so that it only encompasses the all and not also the particular. For instance, my name is Jim. It is also true that I'm a male, used to be a track star in high school, and ate some bread this morning. No one would be expected to speak truly of me to say everything about me, only what's relevant to the particular claim. And, I see nothing in the implication of the picture that's untrue. It's also true that other partners in the IBMP are culpable; so what? This was a protest at the West Entrance of Yellowstone during a week when the National Park Service had just killed a whole lot of buffalo. However true it is that there are other agencies involved, it's not relevant to that point and that claim in that time in that context. So, it's not despicable in respect to the truth. That there are other executioners out there is just that much more horrible.

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

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    One other interesting bit of trivia related to the creation of Grand Teton National Park & Jackson Hole National Monument is that because Jackson Hole residents were so upset with the land purchases by Rockefeller, his donation of the purchased land to the federal government, and President Franklin Roosevelt's use of the authority in the American Antiquities Act to create Jackson Hole National Monument, Congress subsequently revoked the President's unilateral ability to create new national monuments out of existing federal lands in the state of Wyoming. That prohibition still stands today and the only way the President can establish a national monument from existing federal lands in Wyoming is with the prior approval of the Wyoming delegation to the U.S. Congress.

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I love Grand Teton and consider it Yellowstone itself, but how is it hat's off to Rockefeller? He scammed people using a front group (that hid his identity so that he could get the land for lower prices and who didn't want a national park in Jackson Hole) to collude with Albright to acquire land in Jackson Hole. Then, when the land finally was ceded to the government, his family held onto the JY Ranch for decades as their own personal ranch. This land was only ceded to the national park this past year after many, many decades as private land.

    Just because Rockefeller's predatory instincts in this case was a boon to Grand Teton National Park doesn't mean that what he did wasn't despicable. In other contexts, the same use of front groups have been used to destroy land. In each case, the process is wrong, and the same process can be used just as well to destroy places like Grand Teton as help them. In the case of Grand Teton, it was a case of a bigger fish swallowing up the little fish who were ultimately doing little else than what Rockefeller did in other places and other times.

    Rockefeller was an oil magnate who probably ultimately did more to destroy the environment than help it - but regardless - the process stinks. I'm happy that the valley isn't being abused the way that it was, but that should not lead us to embrace the causes as good. If we went that far, a murderer in prison might be thankful for his murder because he was able to find peace and new friendships in the prison environment.

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

  • Olympic National Park Entrance Fees to Stay Unchanged Through 2009   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Question #1: Do the national parks belong to the People?
    #2: How much taxpayer money goes to National Park Maintenance?
    Comment: I think entry should be FREE to all National Parks. And; at the very least there should be no fee's to Seniors, Military and retired Military!

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Hats off to Rockefeller and Albright for having the foresight to create this park! A great story and nicely written piece.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 7 weeks ago

    No one is asking for open hunting seasons in the parks just allow guns. I don't agree with carrying concealed weapons but I see no harm in allowing weapons in a persons vehicle for protection

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Boring!.....Yawn......This issue has been killed and rehashed to no conclusion. There are already guns in the parks. They belong to criminals who you are not aware currently carry them. Would you like to be aware of people carrying guns in the parks? If yes then you are for this legislation. Do you feel that citizens (like police officers) can carry guns in national parks if there state government has approved them to carry a weapon? If so, you're for this legislation. If you feel that criminals shouldn't carry guns then you are among 99% of our society. I hope your new legislation keeps criminals from hiding their guns. Good luck.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Glacier uses explosives to clear trails (at least they did in 2005 when I worked there, on the highline trail for sure). It was employed to clear large rocks that would come down from the avalanches that might be blocking a trail or causing a hazard.

  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Growing by 42 Acres   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Maybe 42 acres doesn't seem like much land in the overall scheme of the NPS, but that land was paid for long ago in blood and tears. It is better that this hallowed land is set aside now. Otherwise in 50 years it will have a strip mall built on it.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 7 weeks ago

    One of the ironies in all of this is that when visitation is high the cry goes up that the parks are being loved to death. And when visitation drops it changes to how can we get the numbers up.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Quotas and lotteries are too cumbersome. Presumably all the people crowing the parks have already found a campsite or accommodations somewhere. The number of visitors is already "set" by the number of accommodations available.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Jim, bringing up the Nuremberg trials and the torture at Abu Ghraib is *not* analogous to criticizing Park Service personnel. Why? Because, besides the fact that you're attempting to compare the murder and torture of humans to the killing of bison, the Nazi committed crimes against humanity and the torture at Abu Ghraib was illegal. What YNP personnel is doing is legal and authorized by the IBMP - this is tragic, but true.

    I think your issue should be with the IBMP and not YNP or the personnel thereof.

    I hate this situation as much as anybody; I've worked with BFC; I've been up Duck and Cougar Creeks and the Madison. I've insisted for years that we need a sharp legal mind or minds to get this thing back into court.

    And no, I don't think the picture at the top of this page is despicable because it "depicts the Park Service as an executioner." And you claim "...the despicable image is the truth..." The image is NOT the truth; it doesn't convey the whole truth nor the whole story of this insane situation brought about by a totally political and absolutely unscientific agreement between Montana, Department of Interior, YNP, etc. In other words, it's a one-sided slur of YNP and it's rangers in the field and that's why I think it's despicable and unfair.

    --

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/