Recent comments

  • BLM, NPS Modify Oil and Gas Lease Auction near National Parks in Utah   6 years 2 weeks ago

    There's still plenty of consternation about the reported "compromise" between the BLM and NPS.

    A recent letter to the Salt Lake Tribune by a Vernal, Utah resident makes a good point:

    Like previous energy booms, this one will eventually subside and tourism will help take up the economic slack -- unless heedless development has engulfed Dinosaur National Monument in an industrial zone that nobody wants to visit.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    LOL! Somewhere long ago I read a long report on the amount of trail dirt various hiking boots displaced with each step, average stride and X miles hiked = much more maintenance than I thought.
    Anyway, IMHO mountain bikes no way in hell enhance the National Park Experience.
    And the idea of slashing even more trails through our parks for these playthings is ridiculous.
    For me Our National Parks are a place where nature rules and with humility we humbly get to visit, for a while.

    “Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country,
    but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind.”
    Aldo Leopold

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the even-handed responses, especially dapster.

    I couldn't believe I was reading that bikers were being singled out for scaring away the precious wildlife experience. I take it someone's never been on the trail with certain groups that include, but are not limited to, families with younger children, teenagers and the ubiquitous wilderness drunk. And careless hiking destroys more "off trail" environments simply by damaging cryptobiotic soils (that most hikers wouldn't recognize even as they tread through it) than bikers do with their machines.

    That said, not all terrain is suitable for biking anyway, in particular the venues which I frequent. A good majority of hiking trails will remain as such. While I personally don't much care to coexist with that segment of the biking world that is too inconsiderate (or arrogant) to announce their passing intentions, give a slight clue as to how many are in the pack to follow, or attempt to use an inordinate percentage of the available path, I have no qualms with intelligent, respectful trekkers. Just don't ask for funding to expand your particular "sport" from my coffers and I'll reciprocate with the same decency towards your kind. Now if only the powers that be would offer that same guarantee to both sides.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Ask any number of competent soil scientists what the soil rate of erosion would be if mountain biking were to be totally allowed in our national parks, and if the general consensus DOES show and prove that mountain biking is more harmful and damaging to the National Parks environment: Then would the IBMA be screaming afoul by the AHS. Probably so! I think it would be wise to have a complete and comprehensive soil impact analysis on all of our National Parks before allowing any mountain biking. If the soil scientist say:NO GO! Then what, another snowmobile fiasco, where pollution studies have shown that the fuming gas sleds do create a health hazard to the general Yellowstone environment. No!? I suppose sound science would get trumped again by greed and more of the same gross mismanagement by the NPS. I see the same original sin of greed (from potential biking outlet shops) occurring within our National Parks if the IMBA gets entrenched.

  • Reading the Fine Print – Did the NPS Ever Manage This National Monument?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    d-2

    Thanks for the additional background on Misty Fjords and other areas in Alaska!

    I didn't intend to suggest in the original article that only the NPS could manage national monuments, but to point out that there was a bit of confusion about the early days of Misty Fjords. Given the fact that the majority of Misty Fjords is designated wilderness, the area about as well protected as is possible today from major changes on the ground, no matter which agency manages the site.

    Others who want more in-depth information on the political maneuvers surrounding the various Alaskan monuments will find one source in the "Administrative History -The National Park Service and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980"

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    I'm pretty well resigned to the conclusion that IMBA and the Traveler are going to "agree to disagree" about the benefits of better policies for mountain biking in national parks, but I do want to make sure that we keep the facts straight.

    IMBA applauded the USFS for recognizing the need to broadly manage recreation as motorized or non-motorized, and to recognize that bikes belong -- quite obviously -- in the second category. The topic of Wilderness was not addressed in the release that the Traveler cites.

    Wilderness legislation frequently makes use of the term "mechanized." Although there are some obvious problems with that terminology -- namely that many types of mechanical devices are commonly used in Wilderness -- IMBA has no nefarious plan to unseat that language.

    There are several other problems with the analysis of the proposed NPS rule making given above. But, as I said, at the end of the day there are simply going to be those who think that the national parks could benefit by adopting more shared-use trails with options for mountain biking, and those that see things otherwise. It's good to see that many in the Traveler's readership are willing to speak up for the value of responsibly broadening the park service's recreational offerings.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Oh, boy. Here we go again...

    The NPS should not allow bikes on trails within the national parks. There are so many places that mountain bikers can ride, we do not need to open up the parks to bikes as well. There need to be some places that we can go for slow, contemplative travel on foot, and bikes definitely destroy the experience for hikers. Not only that, bikes cause massive erosion and scare wildlife.
    What no one seems to mention is that when bikes are banned, it does not mean that bikers are banned. They are still welcome to travel on foot with the rest of us.

    Say what? Please note that these places are called "National Parks", and not "Pedestrian Parks". There are already many miles of places set aside for "slow, contemplative travel on foot". Why must other human-powered means of travel be denied? Where is the equality? What if hikers are destroying the experience for bikers? Why not have trails designated for single-purpose and multi-use, to give this balance?

    Hikers also cause erosion and certainly scare wildlife, not matter how stealthy or careful you might think yourself. The same rationale that you use to demonize Mountain Biking, (to the end of banning it entirely within all the NPS units), could just as easily be applied to foot travel. Trail erosion, trashing the area, scaring wildilfe, loud sounds, illegally entering wilderness areas, etc. can all be attributed to human foot-bound travel. There are irresponsible hikers out there too, to be sure. Must we utilize the "Kindergarten" mentality, where the entire class in punished for the transgressions of a few individuals?

    Watch out for what you choose to demonize. For one day, you just may find your favorite pasttime in the crosshairs of groups with the same closed-mindedness that you exhibit, taking your rights to your participate in favorite sport away.

    Even hiking...

  • Reading the Fine Print – Did the NPS Ever Manage This National Monument?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    TO: Jim, and others interested in whether or not National Monuments should only be operated by the NPS, and fans of Misty Fjords:

    From the beginning of the creation by President Carter, it was planned that this area be managed by the US Forest Service. It was never managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, nor, the National Park Service.

    The background is, there WAS a fight inside the Carter Administration on the designation of Misty Fjords, but it happened several years BEFORE the Presidential Proclamation on the Nat Monument (NM). By the time the Misty Fjords NM was proclaimed by Pres Jimmy Carter, there was no serious consideration of national park service management.

    Officially starting in 1971, five federal agencies were looking all over Alaska for the creation of conservation units. The original focus was on undesignated public (federal) land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. One of the agencies was the US Forest Service, who ultimately identified large areas in interior Alaska (by which I mean the huge block of Alaska, but excluding the Aleutian Pen. and Southeast Alaska). The Forest Service recommendations in Interior Alaska were in conflict with proposals made by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and by the National Park Service, each of whom advocated for parks or refuges where the Forest Service proposed extensive National Forests. Forests may permit commodity development via its multiple use legislation, including timbering and mining, but also has very tight wilderness management where designated.

    Soon after the Forest Service floated this proposal, the NPS planning team, under Al Henson in Alaska and Randy Jones in Washington, began pushing for two national parks in Southeast Alaska, within lands ALREADY MANAGED BY THE FOREST SERVICE, in Mysty Fjords and in Admiralty Island. Back to the 1930s, the NPS had conducted recons of these places, but the Forest Service was livid, because the idea of the study in the 1970's was to be focused only on the large tracts of lands managed by the BLM as undesignated public land. Some Alaskan Indian groups in the Southeast also were raising challenges to the Forest Service and in favor of the NPS because of dissatisfaction toward the development plans and lack of 'subsistence priority' in the Tongass National Forest.

    The real clash, and ultimately the basis for how the National Monument decision was made AND how the lands are currently managed, came as the Carter Administration struggled over how much land to conserve, what parcels, and what restrictions or special management should apply to the new conservation designations in Alaska.

    The main opponents to the Department of Interior proposals by Secretary Cecil Andrus (especially the national parks and wildlife refuges) were the Department of Defense -- DOD wanted aids to navigation and ability to conduct maneuvers, the Commerce Department, who complained about locking up economic development opportunities, and the Department of Agriculture -- the department that manages the Forests and supposedly advocates for the National Forest recommendations. Amid all this, the simple decision was to cut the baby in half: there would be no new national forests in Interior Alaska (on lands already managed by the Dept of Interior), and the National Park Service would back off of pushing for a Misty Fjords or Admiralty Island national parks (on lands already managed by Dept of Ag/Forest Service). The concern about the development would be addressed by wilderness proposals to Congress, to protect Misty and Admiralty from development under the USFS' multiple use policies.

    In effect, the Forest Service adopted wilderness recommendations to protect Misty and Admiralty from the National Park Service.

    And, it is the nature of government to find a way to stabilize the political situation as Carter and Andrus prepared to face Congress with the most sweeping, most controversial conservation action in the history of the United States.

    Leaving the Forest Service in place is consistent with that, and 'Wilderness' designation was the tool for both the Forests and the Refuges to block development, rather than converting those areas into parks.

    When the time came to create the National Monuments -- the study-area protections in place from development since 1971 would come off in 1978, and Senator Gravel blocked the simple extension of those protections -- President Carter and Secretary Andrus saw the National Monuments as the only way to provide solid protection, but also were forcing Alaska back to the legislative table to win back all the special exceptions for Alaska that legislation would bring. They expected and wanted a new bill in the following Congress to erase the Carter Monuments, to be sought by all parties including Sen. Stevens and Rep. Don Young. They expected the Carter Monuments were too inflexible to be livable to Alaskans, and they believed the National Park Service and Wildlife Refuges NEEDED congressional legislation to be finally accepted by Congress and ALL the parties, or else effective mangement would be impossibly difficult for the ranger-on-the-Ground.

    Because of the earlier deal, in 1977, on what agency would be the lead on what areas, what agency had developed the expertise for what area, and because of the outstanding quality of the lands designated by Carter as National Monument, and to provide political continuity and maximum leverage, the decision was made to break with tradition and permit the Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service to manage those national monuments that would have been managed by those Agencies if the Carter/Jackson/Udall bill had passed in 1978.

    POSTSCRIPT: The Carter/Andrus strategy was to get a quick agreement with Sen. Stevens and the Governor, based on the bills that had been emerging up until that point. However, the environmental organizations decided to use the leverage Carter created to either kick up to much stronger bills, including much larger Wilderness in Southeast Alaska, and claimed they would be happy PERMANENTLY with the comparatively inflexible management of the Carter National Monuments. (the only significant exception for Alaska was access for subsistence hunting and fishing on all the national monuments). This tactic led to Rep. Udall being defeated in his own Committee and loosing the Commerce Committee (refuges) as well. MANY Members of Congress were turned off at how cynical the environmentalists had become, to push for more just because Carter's monuments put pressure on Alaskans. (they even tried to take over management of eagles on State-owned land in the Southeast) But Udall ultimately won on the House Floor due in part by a tremendous effort by Andrus and Carter to go political on what had until then been lobbied pretty much on the merits alone.

    By the time it was over, the strongly environmentalist Senator Paul Tsongas, leader of the pro-environmental bill in the Senate, said he could even trust the word of Senator Ted Stevens more than he could the environmentalists. By that time, in the Southeast, all talk of a national park for Misty Fjords was gone, and right until the end the fight was over how much land in the forest would be designated Wilderness.

    When Carter was beaten in the 1980 election, the environmentalists finally folded, and Carter got his bill. Under Reagan, there was fear there would never be a better bill, and the monuments would never be fully supported. So, the idea that the environmentalists would settle for permanent national monuments was a bluff.

    At the time of the Hostage Crisis in Iran, it seemed in both cases that President Carter would be denied getting his victories before the Election, when possibly they would have helped him defeat Ronald Reagan.

  • Park History: Dinosaur National Monument   6 years 2 weeks ago

    The proposal for national park status for Dinosaur National Monument has been on the table for at least twenty years. Perceived conflict with the interests of the oil and gas industry in the nearby Uinta Basin has been the main reason legislation has stalled, even though former Colorado Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell supported park designation in 1989. To my knowledge, no one has suggested a name change-- the proposal has always been for Dinosaur National Park.

    More info: www.proposeddinosaurpark.org

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Before we start the inevitable spewing forth the rhetoric, let's at least try to maintain some semblance of accuracy.........

    Accurate:
    The majority of CCW holders are most likely law-abiding citizens.

    Inaccurate:
    Criminals don't care what the law is.
    Correction: Criminals very often seek loopholes in the law to minimize the penalties for their transgressions. Or work well within the boundaries set forth by our legal system in terms of illegal search or other rights violations, and never sees the interior of a penitentiary due to what some consider legal "errors".

    Inaccurate:
    Something about who will follow the law?
    Correction: Many CCW holders who are regular contributors to this site freely admit personal violations of the current laws restricting loaded weapons within the boundaries of various NPS units. So, either nobody gives a damn about the current laws (or at least fewer people than you think), or there are far fewer CCW holders than you believe who are fine, upstanding, law-abiding citizens, or that segment of the CCW holder has transgressed into the criminal element domain. Choose any scenario of the three and the end result is that there are far less people following protocol than you tout in your "facts".

    Parks are safe??????
    Overall, yes. Like it or not, yes, far safer than other urban, suburban or rural areas with the same relative populace, and I mean in terms of the populace in the densest areas around the visitor centers, where most of the tourists gather. The crime rate on any given day in those regions is much less than in most equivalent metro areas. But on the other hand, if you're looking for ANY area of the country that, by your self-serving definition is "safe", forget it, it doesn't exist. Absolutely any area can be subjected to crime, but that simple "fact" doesn’t justify everyone and their brother walking around loaded for bear.

    The last statement is just plain ridiculous. This coming from a staunch anti-NRA gun owner who spent more time in special services than I care to remember and who was trained by our government to be quite familiar with how to use various forms of weapons against his fellow man. The "fact" is your firearm can't save your sorry behind in every circumstance, so maybe it would be more practical to be trained in alternative methods of defending yourself, your family and your possessions. The "fact" is that if you were, you would most definitely find yourself feeling "safe" in virtually any environment. Provided the paranoia can be effectively eradicated.

  • National Park Service Chastized For Poor Cultural Resource Oversight   6 years 2 weeks ago

    To Anonymous Nov 27,

    I like your point. I was recently backpacking in the San Rafael Wilderness (USFS) and was pleased and surprised to see they have allowed picnic tables to remain in some backcountry campsites.

    I while back when I read that the Sierra Club was suing Olympic NP for repairing backcountry shelters, I nearly had an aneurysm. Forcing the NPS to remove backcountry lean-tos from a rain soaked trail? Lord have mercy. Can't this nonprofit find causes with less Grinch-like motives to spend their supporters time and money on?

    (For example, why doesn't the Sierra Club donate money to helping the NPS preserve Cultural Artifacts instead of paying lawyers to steal Christmas trees from Cindy Lou Who?)

    Like Beamis, I see this poor management of Cultural Resources as another symptom of a malignant and perhaps fatal disease.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    The more guns the better. I see no reason why people should not be armed everywhere they go, whether it be mid-town Manhattan or along the placid shores of Yellowstone Lake. This is a non-issue. Statistics show that places with the strictest gun laws are usually the least safe i.e. Washington, DC and NYC, while concealed carry jurisdictions generally have much lower rates of crime. The criminals never know who might be packing heat and thus are a bit less likely to perpetrate a crime. Guns-----the more the merrier.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Thanks Marylander and Scott for such reasonable and well worded responses to this story.

    I was dismayed at the American Hiking Society's reactionary stance on this issue, and frankly, as much as I love trails, I may not continue my membership due to the AHS's unwarranted and dogmatic position regarding mountain biking in national parks.

    This bizarre fear of bicycles in parks reminds me of the horrified response some people have to gay marriage. Reee-lax! So, cats and dogs might start living together. We'll survive it. And so will the slickrock in Arches.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Actually, the murders you likely are trying to associate with Yosemite occurred outside the park. And you and many others continue to broadly -- and wrongly -- assume that folks who don't want to see concealed weapons in the parks are anti-gun and anti-2nd Amendment. Quite a few gun owners are opposed to the proposed rule change.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Fact- CCW holders are in most part law abiding people.
    Fact- Criminals are do not care what the law is.
    Fact- If the Law states, No Firearms in National Parks who will follow the Law.
    Fact- Murders on the Appalachian Trail and In the Yosemite Park in the years past and more crimes elsewhere (parks are safe??????)
    Fact- Anti Gunners don't like or accept facts!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • This Park Nourishes Its Forest Service Roots   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Great write-up Jim. And, thanks for pointing out the agency relationship between F.S. and NPS. I hadn't even heard of this park and should have.

    rob mutch

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Frank C:
    ... "it is their [the people's] right and duty to be at all times armed" ...

    Why do you gun rights folks always refuse to look at the historical context in which the original statements of the Bill of Rights were made?? The "tyrants" at that time were the British, a completely separate government seeking to abolish our nation.

    If you feel your own government is acting as a tyrant you are inherently devoted to overthrow of the government you claim to be a loyal citizen of.
    Sounds crazy, right? But that's where the logic of your argument leads.

    Keep your damn guns at home where they belong.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Give the IMBA an open mile into the National Parks they will bring down an mountain with erosion...in time.

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Why should the guy videotaping be fined? I'm the one who videotaped this while vacationing in the Smokys. This is a documantation of what happenned. Animals are unpredictable. Its not like I helped the bear break into the car or the bear was acting up for the camera. There were many people standing close by, and startling the bear may have been the worse thing to do. I'm just glad nobody was hurt. I was nervous about being so close to the bear but their were a buffer of bystanders between me and the bear. I know I could out run the bystanders. The rangers ended up moving the bear far away from people. Hope you enjoyed the video.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    This may not be good for hikers with exclusionary tendencies - - but it IS good for the NPS and the promotion of healthy alternatives to motorized recreation. Expanded appreciation for what the NPS can offer to legitimate trail users, such as hikers, bikers, and equestrians, can only improve the overall NPS mission.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    The NPS should not allow bikes on trails within the national parks. There are so many places that mountain bikers can ride, we do not need to open up the parks to bikes as well. There need to be some places that we can go for slow, contemplative travel on foot, and bikes definitely destroy the experience for hikers. Not only that, bikes cause massive erosion and scare wildlife.

    What no one seems to mention is that when bikes are banned, it does not mean that bikers are banned. They are still welcome to travel on foot with the rest of us.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Jay, if you don't trust an interest group, and I'm not a member of the NRA, you should look to the founders who made statements like, "it is their [the people's] right and duty to be at all times armed". I don't leave the defense of the Bill of Rights and Constitution to interest groups, nor should park rangers who take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Defending the Constitution should be the interest of every American, not just groups of Americans. And defending the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights against tyranny is impossible without the second.

    The issue is not the use of guns in backcountry, allowing indiscriminate carrying of weapons in parks, or poaching, because the proposed legislation would not legalize these actions. The issue revolves around allowing law-abiding citizens who have gone through an expensive and extensive process (which includes criminal background check as well as gun safety training) of applying for a receiving a concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed weapon on federal public lands under the Department of the Interior's purview.

    You mention that you don't feel comfortable around people with guns in the backcountry (how would you even know if they're concealed?), but a little discomfort is a small price to pay for preserving the integrity of the Bill of Rights.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    I am still going to stand on the platform that thinks that it is time for the National Parks to offer mountain bike trails. I have been hiking on numerous BLM trails, National Forest trails, state park trails that are shared use with moutian bikers and have personally seen that it works -and I am never the one of the bike! It's time, ladies and gentleman.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Questions for so-called advocates of the Second Amendment:

    Why would a anyone ever need a gun when visiting a National Park?

    Self defense against wild animals? Shooting a protected animal would certainly violate established wildlife protection laws.
    Self defense against humans? ANYONE could claim self defense for a shooting without any witnesses...
    Roughly two/thirds of NPS sites are cultural or historical in nature; should concealed weapons be allowed in these many Federal buildings?

    Personally I could care less whether or not a US citizen chooses to own legal firearms and keep them on their own property. But I just don't understand why a gun owner would ever need one on vacation in a National Park.
    I wish that gun owners would stop whining about their "violated" personal rights and spend that energy on the broader spectrum of real human rights violations that plague our society.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   6 years 3 weeks ago

    You can debate guns or no guns till the cows come home. The bottom line is our constitutional rights will be and are going to be restricted and sadly licensed after 911 changed all the rules.

    It seems the enemy has suceeded in changing America They didn't do it alone however! They did it with the help of history ignorant well meaning Americans who become activist just to have a cause to fight for.

    All you good Republicans and maybe even a few Democrats who support the Second Amendment need to make more noise in Washington. I voice my beliefs!

    Not being able to carry a licensed firearm in the wide open spaces of a National Park is the last resort. We do need to be aware however that this could be a security issue in a parks congested public spaces.

    Codification of the right to keep and bear arms into the Bill of Rights was influenced by a fear that the federal government would disarm the people in order to impose rule

    How many of you reading this knows a well meaning, voting, citizen who thru igorance of US history supports a cause that reduces our constitutional rights?

    We need more history taught in public schools.