Recent comments

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Some years ago, while fishing at a local lake that is in an "out of the way" rural area adjoining the city I live in, I was accosted by a group of drunken teenagers. These five punks had knives and clubs. If it had just been me, I might not have been so annoyed, or I might have just run away. However, I had my wife, 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son with me. After locking my family in our pickup, I stood there, confronting these hooligans, with just my bare hands. Luckily, a park ranger (armed) drove by and forced them away.

    I had never felt the need for a gun before that day, but as soon as concealed carry was permitted in my state, I took the necessary classes to obtain one. I , to this day, do not routinely carry a gun, even though I am legally able. I only carry one when I am away from the mainstream of my urban life.

    It is my opinion that those who feel threatened by a person carrying a handgun legally are totallly lacking the understanding of many of us who have a concern of the person carrying a weapon illegally, or with antisocial intent. You have nothing to fear from me unless you are threatening me or my loved ones. I will not accidentally shoot anyone, because I do not "play" with my tool for self-defense. I go to great lengths to make sure my weapon is both protected from accidental handling by someone else, and locked and in a safe posture at all times. Everyone of the people, that I know, who has a legal permit to carry shows the same concern for safety. We know only too well how quickly we could be on the wrong side of the law by misusing this privilege.

    Those people who are most vocally against the legal carrying of handguns are so incrediblly insensitive to the realities of our world, it staggers me. I am not a violent or "John Wayne" type, but I do not feel I should be forced to subject myself to someone who has no social conscience. We are supposed to be living in a free country. How free are we when we must fear for our safety when just going fishing?

    If you don't like guns, don't buy one and stay away from people who have them, if you know. Don't automatically assume that you are in danger because a responsible gun owner has one in your vicinity. You are probably safer.

  • At Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Things are Not Always as They Seem   6 years 5 weeks ago

    A lecture and a stern "don't do it again" doesn't cut in my book for punishment for carrying a potent AK-47 into a National Recreation Area. There's nothing cute about this weapon, for it's main purpose is to annihilate and kill as many people possible. This weapon should never be in the hands of the general public to use or own...except for the military, police and most governmental security forces. Again, as I quoted before: NO GUNS IN THE PARKS!

  • At Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Things are Not Always as They Seem   6 years 5 weeks ago

    It reminds of the great scene from "The Naked Gun":

    Mayor: Now Drebin, I don't want any trouble like you had on the South Side like last year, that's my policy.
    Frank: Well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas, stabbing a man in the middle of the park in front of a full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy.
    Mayor: That was a Shakespeare In The Park Production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones, too!

  • Had a Good Laugh Yet Today? Congress Wants You to Believe that the Lower Taunton River is “Wild and Scenic”   6 years 5 weeks ago

    A few points of clarification. 1) I certainly did not mean to imply that supporters of this Wild and Scenic River designation are "lining their pockets." Ron may prefer to speak for himself in this matter, but I think he meant "up for sale" in the broad, generic sense of the term. 2) I agree that curbing water pollution is an important goal, but Wild and Scenic River designation isn't meant for that purpose. Pollution control per se is a separate issue that should be considered in the context of the Clean Water Acts and other existing federal and state water pollution laws and regulations. Whether this legislation is enacted or not, the pollution problems of the river and the bay will have to be addressed. You have to admit, the tremendous media attention attending the river designation is sure to put the area's water pollution problems in sharper focus. 3) Regulating gas lines running through populated areas is a related issue, but not central here. The hazard posed by the proposed LNG terminal is the principal concern, though it's obvious that gas transmission lines are hazardous to some degree.

  • Had a Good Laugh Yet Today? Congress Wants You to Believe that the Lower Taunton River is “Wild and Scenic”   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I like your point about the Narragansett Bay.

    Will this act, "legal" or not, prevent further pollution??

    Will this act help to clean up any polluters??

    If the Congress were more honest, they would 1) go after the polluters; and 2) write a law to prevent gas lines in so tightly congested populated area.

    Yes, if you have answers to my questions, please send news!

  • National Park Service Agrees, Conditionally, to Keep Yellowstone's Sylvan Pass Open For Snowmobiling   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Man, Over 8,000 per smowmobiler. In todays society that is an incredible waste. I am glad I stopped machining a few years ago. I couldn'd see my pleasure ruining the future of others. Stop this maddness.

  • Had a Good Laugh Yet Today? Congress Wants You to Believe that the Lower Taunton River is “Wild and Scenic”   6 years 5 weeks ago


    No offence, Bob:

    but I don't think there is anything in this story or any of the comments showing that elected officials are lining their pockets, regardless of whether we may or may not feel this legislation ought to be passed. Do I miss your point somehow?

    These elected officials are trying to block a Liquid Natural Gas plant. If they wanted to line their pocket they WOULD be supporting the plant. LNG plants are hugely importanta to gas companies and those who prefer natural gas over other forms of fossil fuels. Local people fear they can blow up, and take local communities out with them.

    My issue above re elected officials was only if the park service's nearby staff, who I am guessing are fans of Rep Frank to boot, were inclined to over-value the locally significant Taunton, and recommend that it be considered qualified for the Wild & Scenic River system.

    Again, I don't think there is any money in that, either. We are dealing either with sloppy thinking, or a misuse of environmental laws to block something else, rather than protect recognized natural resource excellence.

    I personally believe it is dangerous to misuse environmental laws just to block, because it creates cynicism among the vast public opinion in the political middle, who began to distrust environmentalists when they thought their motives to be perverse. That is what happened with the famous "snail darter" case, or how it was presented, and the damage has not stopped. And it conceivably harms the national park service if the public believes the quality of areas in the Park System (with wild rivers) and/or the Wild & Scenic Rivers System is slipping.

  • Had a Good Laugh Yet Today? Congress Wants You to Believe that the Lower Taunton River is “Wild and Scenic”   6 years 5 weeks ago

    It just goes to show you that this country is still up for sale, even by those that we elect to protect us. As long as they can line their own pockets then the "end does justify the means".

  • National Park Quiz 12: The Fair Sex   6 years 6 weeks ago

    "Among the first" (1834, 1836) is a true statement, though obviously not as conceptually tidy as you'd like. :-) There were several strikes (then called "turn-outs"), including at least three in the textile industry, in the late 1820s and early 1830s. (There were some "strikes" (worker mutinies/rebellions) before that time, to be sure, but the wages & hours criterion becomes a bit dicey.) Anyway, the statement in the item stem doesn't lead you in the direction of a wrong answer. I'm glad you enjoyed the quiz.

  • Had a Good Laugh Yet Today? Congress Wants You to Believe that the Lower Taunton River is “Wild and Scenic”   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Anon, I do understand the provisions of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act; after all, it's been around for forty years. It's just that your first point addresses an issue that is not at all as simple as you seem to imply. The lower Taunton would be designated under the "recreational" classification of the act. That's the technical point. Now here is the IMPORTANT point. The supporters of the bill don't want you to dwell on the fact that the recreational classification will apply! In fact, they don't even want to mention it. They want to leave you to believe, if you will kindly do so, that the lower Taunton is conceptually the same as the upper Taunton -- which is to say, scenic, or better yet, wild and scenic. Elected officials who support Wild and Scenic River status for the Taunton consistently use the terms "wild and scenic" in reference to the whole river, from Bridgewater to tidewater. And why is that? Stop and think about it for a minute. Advocates of federal protection for the river want to keep that LNG plant the hell out of there. Put yourself in the place of those supporters. Given the choice between referring to the lower Taunton as a "recreational river" (honest descriptor) or as a "wild and scenic river" (politically expedient descriptor), which would YOU choose? No contest. I challenge you to use any sources you can find and tell me of even a half-dozen times -- no, make that three -- when a Congressional advocate of federal protection for the lower Taunton has, in a public forum, referred to the object of his affection as a "recreational river." That said, I absolutely love your second point.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Right on Jsherman; the GGNRA was established to provide a place for all of us to recreate in the numerous ways that we do: some on foot, some by bike, some on horse, some on surfboard, some with dog, some without, some in a car, some not. There are millions of us living in these here hills, and especially now we need land and sea access close to us because most of us can't afford to go to far afield.

    That brings up the question of who decided on this name change. Take a look at the Boards of the Presidio Trust and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (we should have paid closer attention to their name years ago), the members of these boards are a list of the rich and influential in the Bay Area (and Pelosi's friends). Easy for them to take out 'recreation', they can go to the ranch in Napa, or Montana, or...... I see this as a bit of class warfare.

  • National Park Service Agrees, Conditionally, to Keep Yellowstone's Sylvan Pass Open For Snowmobiling   6 years 6 weeks ago

    If the money from that were spent "helping" the bison and elk herds the way they've been "helping" the bison herds in the past winters - with all the slaughter; then no thank you.

    However, yes, this is completely ridiculous - from the point of view of direct public involvement in the process but most especially in what they're doing in bombarding Yellowstone to keep this pass open to a few privileged people during winter.

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

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    1: Thanks to all passionate thoughts on this issue, and please answer my more technical questions, below
    and,
    2: Dear Anonymous: your point about 'who pays for wildlife management' is ridiculous. What they mean by "management" is hunting. Rep. Don Young, (as a Republican in AK would surely have had a veto over Bush's appointment of Mary Bomar) in Congress famously said "Management IS Hunting." It is circular reasoning to say we need hunting to pay for wildlife being 'managed' when all they are is being hunted. Just ask Ron Summerville if he wants to sink more ADF&G money into non-game species.

    Huge numbers of tourists pour to AK to see unhunted wildlife. Federal taxes pay for Katmai. MacNeill's unhunted wildlife generates huge revenues, just ask AK vistor and tourism bureau.

    Back to # 1, TECHNICAL QUESTIONS:

    -- didn't NPS originally (1976) ask that this area be CLOSED to hunting because of what the NPS then called the "firing line?" where vulnerable migrating bears would get picked off in moment in their lifecycle when they are in concentrated habitat? Are these bears actually as habituated as is being said here?

    -- I understood that when the salmon are running, bear aggression and waryness toward humans (and other bears) decreases because of the rich feeding going on. Is this true? If so, why not ban hunting when the salmon are running?

    -- Someone was talking about hunting with a bow as 'fairer' than with a gun. While it is certainly true the gun does not even approximate fairness at this scene, I would think the danger to humans and bears both from bow hunting would be extreme. It is hard to imagine an arrow preventing a bear from charging and killing people in the vicinity, and likely that many wounded bears would leave the area to die. For those who believe in subsistence-only hunting, as opposed to trophy hunting, it would seem bow hunting would lead to a lot of waste and danger. I saw an angry brown bear once, from gangrened feet (not a hunting wound) that was extremely dangerous to other bears and people, but wonder if a wounded bear in an area that permits park visitation is an inappropriate risk to visitors generally.

    I supposed, on the video, it was the guide with the rifle and the tourist-hunters with the bows. I can appreciate the rage toward these guys when you see what is happening to the bears, because no way those guys would have made it back to their plane if the guy with the gun was not there to finish off the bear. And then the bow hunters did a 'high 5.' Go gigure.

    -- does anyone know if ADF&G considered limiting the hunt to males-only? Or are they justifying this as an overpopulated bear habitat?

    -- Isn't it true that the NPS has the responsibility and the authority in the law establishing the National Preserve to assess the question, raised by commenters above, that the lifecycle of bears is so extended and the habitat so vast that what appears to be an abundance of bears actually does threaten the natural population dynamics NPS is obligated to manage? And don't the federal courts hold federal agencies responsible for the management of non-migratory wildlife on federal land, and they are ultimately responsible and accountable for any management scheme ADF&G would set up? Or did Don Young and Ted Stevens arrange the law, in the same way as they have authorized 'bridges to nowhere' in Alaska, so that the NPS cannot overrule ADF&G inside the Preserve???

    -- Did Mary Bomar raise the issue of appropriate protection of wildlife at her recent superintendent's meeting/Extravaganza in Utah?? I heard she put a video together for the superintendents comparing herself to all the Great Directors of the past. . . . Maybe we would think better of Mary Bomar if she would take on Don Young, Don Summerville, and Ted Stevens.

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    As some on this site will know, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is on record (and pushing in every way we know how) for the establishment of a Centennial Commission to analyze many of the existing institutional processes and the overall governance of the National Park System. Such a commission could make recommendations to the Congress and the Executive Branch for changes that would increase the probabilities that management of the National Park System in the second century of the NPS would be the best possible. I'm not trying here to open up debate on the concept or responsibilities of such a commission, but would suggest that this issue of naming of areas in the System is exactly the kind of issue that it could take up.

    Bill Wade
    Chair, Executive Council
    Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

  • National Park Quiz 12: The Fair Sex   6 years 6 weeks ago


    Thanks for the interesting Quiz, Bob, but what if we don't want to rest on our laurels?? Or shouldn't !

    I am concerned that Lowell may be wrong in claiming their priority on strikes by women.

    My understanding is that in Pawtucket RI and Troy NY women had way larger and earlier roles in leading and participating in strikes than in Lowell. But I am no historian.

    So, before we let ourselves rest on the laurels of conventional wisdom, or Received Word, do you, or does anyone know the real truth about women in the labor movement, not just the Lowell hype??

  • Had a Good Laugh Yet Today? Congress Wants You to Believe that the Lower Taunton River is “Wild and Scenic”   6 years 6 weeks ago


    Bob -- two points on the Taunton:

    1. As was covered in a previous thread of yours, in the law, you are either a 'Wild' or a 'Scenic' but not a 'Wild & Scenic' river. It is called the "Wild & Scenic Rivers System," a system that also includes 'Recreational' as a category. What is the proposed category for the Taunton??

    2. It would be fun sometimes -- considering the poliitical atmosphere that is created in the NPS Boston office just a few miles away on an issue like this one with a congressman with the seniority and disposition of Barney Frank -- if you could get the NPS staffers who actually floated the river a lot, and met with local advocates and the congressman, to be interviewed in your column.

    somebody from NPS Boston like Steve Golden or Bob McIntosh, whoever is the mid-level coordinators or program leaders of the project, the step above the person who writes the report. Many of these studies are generated by the close relationship between these NPS staff in Massachusetts, and the interaction and coaching goes on for years before a proposal gets to Congress. The thinking of a Golden or a McIntosh on how they approach these resources, how they see them as comparable to other rivers in the W & S System, would be very useful for those of us who really would like to know what the emerging philosphy is inside the NPS. Are program criteria applied the same way today, for example, as they were earlier, in their opinion? I am sure there are questions you could ask, and only get an answer like "read the study" from these guys, so some of the broader background and day to day experience would seem valid. And all paid for by you, the taxpayer, so one would think they would love to share their thinking and experience !

    The last I heard, the Taunton in MA is the largest source of pollution to Narragansett Bay, the most precious environmental resource in Rhode Island. How 'wild' is that !

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    Can you please give us an update on this shameful action ? My hopes are that the NPS has come to its senses and will not allow this again at a site where the NPS itself has brought people to the bears world and the bears have graciously accepted them !

  • National Park Service Agrees, Conditionally, to Keep Yellowstone's Sylvan Pass Open For Snowmobiling   6 years 6 weeks ago

    This is ridiculous. The money they will use for this initiative could be better spent helping the bison and elk herd.

  • Is the Bear "Hunt" in Katmai National Preserve Sporting or Ethical?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I just don't know when we, as a society will ever fully develop as an intelligent species. This display of inhumane killing is exactly what is wrong with hunting. People think it is their right to do this and will defend it bigtime.
    If we can't protect a beautiful bear in preserve like Katmai then we might as well ban bear hunting altogether.
    Bunch of fat idiots shooting a bear with a bow and gun at close range is sick. [Edited].

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Sometimes a resource is not always seen, like how some hot springs have An important pre-historic Native american quarry worth protecting. Moreover, a park does not have to be big it just has to be important and of national importance or awareness. But people associate the phrase National Park with a lot of things, which is why there are so many names. The Names are for what the park protects, not what it is.

  • Had a Good Laugh Yet Today? Congress Wants You to Believe that the Lower Taunton River is “Wild and Scenic”   6 years 6 weeks ago

    If you read the study, the most important thing about the river is how untouched it really is. The study also mainly focuses on the upper part which as undeveloped has some very important Archeological sites. In the end, the study should have only recommended the upper part not the lower.

  • Cedar Breaks National Monument   6 years 6 weeks ago

    During the heat of summer, camping at Cedar Breaks National Monument at over 10,000 feet offers welcome relief from the extreme temperatures experienced at lower elevations. In fact, nighttime temperatures can go below freezing, even during July. The night sky at this elevation is outstanding.

    Looking at the above photo, and assuming it was taken recently, then I assume that the photo is looking towards the southeastern horizon. The brightest star is the planet Jupiter, and the constellation is Sagittarius. The time of the photograph is about 10 PM.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Why Stop At Golden Gate National Recreation Area? What Other NRAs, Monuments, Etc., Should Be Renamed?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    To clarify for ALL readers, the Pelosi bill is not merely a name change, but strikes every occurrence of the word "recreation" out of the enabling legislation of the GGNRA.

    That Pelosi staffers call this a "name change," merely cosmetic to "raise the status" of the park, with no impact on the administration of the park, is simply laughable.

    These folks are serious about making recreation take a backseat to preservation/restoration. Somehow, I missed the rationale that explains why Bay Area residents are in less need of recreation than they were in 1972.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 6 weeks ago

    That reminds me of what a very close old friend exclaimed when he was told he would then be shot back at,
    "Finally, things are gettin' interesting!"

  • Former NPS Director George Hartzog Passes   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I had the great privilege of driving George Hartzog to his dialysis and doctors appointments during the last seven months of his life. This proved to be one of the great experiences of my life. Though many years my senior, Mr. Hartzog insisted on me calling him George. This took some time getting used to, but he made it clear in no uncertain terms that “Mr.” was unacceptable. I learned early on that when George Hartzog had made up his mind of something, he generally held to it.

    I never knew George in his younger years, but I often mused to myself about what he must have been like. I saw pictures of him and his lovely wife Helen and their family from years ago and I read about his life at the helm of the National Park Service, but it was the stories he told, such wonderful stories, which brought me to the conclusion that he must have been a man’s man.

    One such story involved his early days in the park service when he found a bear caught in a trap and rushed back to the park office to get help. He returned with an experienced ranger who proceeded to tell him to go down hill and keep the bear occupied while the ranger crept up from above to cut the bear out of the trap. The bear of course by now was quite out of his mind with rage over his situation. I can just imagine young George facing down that bear, knowing he was about to be let loose with a down-hill slope leading straight to him! Fortunately for all, the bear simply ambled off into the brush after being set so painfully free.

    There were many other bear stories, fish stories, and mountain climbing stories. But some of the most impressive were his exploits on Capitol Hill and the White House. I was in awe of the masterful way in which he was able to get his way in both of those arenas, and the way in which he would not budge when a principle was at stake. At one point he was ordered by a white house official to do something that he simply had no authorization from Congress to do. He refused. He said, “Sir, I will be happy to do anything that you ask me to do as long as the list of penalties of doing so does not end with the words ‘shall be incarcerated.’”

    I must say though, that what impressed me the most was the man that I got to know in those last seven months in the car and at his appointments. There was never a person that he passed without an acknowledgement and a respectful greeting. It did not matter who was he was addressing, he was always attentive and careful to let them know he valued their presence. And this came at a time in his life in which he was almost constantly in extreme pain. Don’t get me wrong, George could not be dissuaded when he had made up his mind and would not tolerate bureaucratic rules stopping him. I recall once being called to the hospital to take George home. I was happy to help, but when I arrived George was ready to go whether or not the hospital was ready for him to leave. I wheeled him up to the nurse’s station, but they had other ideas. Needless to say, after respectfully declining to comply with their requests, we were off.

    When George was 17 years old he was the youngest licensed Methodist minister in South Carolina. One day in the car I asked him if he ever regretted not going into the ministry full time. He said that perhaps there were times when he wondered about that, but that he had concluded that his work in the park service was fulfilling God’s calling in his life to help take care of His creation. He had a great conviction that God ruled in the affairs of men, and he conveyed many stories of how that had impacted his life right up to being the Director of the National Park Service. We had many wonderful conversations discussing matters of faith. And though of decidedly different political persuasions, of which he was in no way shy to state his opinion, we found a great common ground in the life and person of Jesus Christ. More than once he told me that though he loved his family and friends, he sometimes wondered if it might be better to go on to be with the Lord in light of the intensity of the pain he had to live with day to day. His was a sure conviction of the reality that heaven was at hand, and though sad to say good-bye, he was ready.

    And so he left us on Friday June 27th 2008. I had taken him to dialysis that day. He was not himself when I came to pick him up. But often the dialysis tended to disorient him. This day however was different. Though his vital signs were OK, he was not responding when we spoke. It took three of us to get him out to and into the car. When we got back to the house his daughter Nancy was providentially there and went with him to the hospital, from which he did not return.

    Several days later, I returned to the dialysis center to thank those who had so faithfully and lovingly cared for him over the months. I talked to the nurse, Irene, and one of the attendants that had been particularly fond of George. As I told them of what happened after we left dialysis that day and thanked them for their kindness to him, they were visibly moved. Irene proclaimed that he was now was in heaven. The other attendant through tears told me he was like a father to her.

    What a wonderful tribute. After a life of working with the powerful and proving to be no small participant in that world, he was one who took the time and the care to reach out to all those whom God in His providence had placed in his path regardless of their station or position in life. This is a life well lived and well loved.