Recent comments

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Dear Anonymous:

    what is it about a certain strain of opinionators who seem to say THEIR opinion is simply about freedom, and everyone who disagrees should just leave the country?

    Is it the SIMPLICITY of it, and the inability to recognize the complexity of the situation? Or is it the inability to tolerate any opinion but their own, and to seek a country with people exactly like them? Will these people remain wracked in anxiety as long as they can identify the possibility of any other point of view? And when they achieve such beautiful uniformity in the USA, will they be content to stop here, or find causes of anxiety and instability throughout the world??

    Now, tell me again, what is your idea of freedom? You can use the little words, it will be ok.

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Gen'l Longstreet performs brilliantly again. In a very few words, it seems to me he nails the essential situation.

    It seems to me the issue of firearms in HOMES is enormous, Scalia going so far as to describing the owner drawing a bead with a handgun while dialing a phone. The issue of the home is also enormous throughout common law, and in the Supremes establishing other consitutional rights, such as the CT case, where the state law on birth control was seen by the Court as compromising the rights of a person within her/his home.

    Personally, I do find it an enormous leap to go from the stated purpose of the 2nd Amend. being a militia, to Scalia's argument of self defense in one's home, but I think Gen. Longstreet is right to emphasize the way the decision aggregated constitutional and common law. and frankly, it seems to me at the time of the Framing there were still powerful risidual feelings throughout the land of stories of British soldiers being stationed in private homes and of British soldiers carting away weapons and powder whenever they could (or so the inflamed opinion went, with enough real examples to make it stick). But all this rationale is a far cry from guns in parks.

    For the long term, of course, the NRA and its advocates will point to the simplicity of the term 'right to bear arms shall not be abridged' as the essence of the thing, therefore ultimately permitting every sort of access to arms, without any abridgement. It is interesting to note that on the similar argument for a "pure" reading of the First Amendment, the Minority [can I call them 'left-wing'?] Justices would say in their dissent "when the Constitution says 'no law' it means NO LAW." But in view of circumstances perceived by the Majority to make the law ridiculous if such an absolute interpretation were taken, found ways to apply common sense to the constitution in providing exceptions, or often redefinitions.

    And, in the case of the Second Amendment, even such an extreme fulminator as Scalia found ways to avoid making the Court appear as ridiculous as the NRA would want. For Scalia seems to be saying that there are circumstances in which the right to bear arms can be abridged.

  • Park History: Olympic National Park   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Yes, I am afraid that the high cost of fuel will be a factor in how far RVers will travel. In 2007, we camp-hosted at Padre Island National Seashore for 4 months. In 2008, we camp-hosted at the same park for 2 of the same months. There were definitely fewer of the larger RV's. As expected, talking with the RVers, a major concern was fuel cost.

    We took another trip to the ONP in November 2007. But, due to the high cost of fuel, we went in a car and stayed at hotels. In 2005 it cost appox. 1000 dollars rt. in the RV, from San Antonio to Port Angeles. At this time, the same trip would have been appox. 2000 dollars.

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Yes, bear spray works. I live in Wyoming and know this. What you need to understand is that this is not about bears. This is a right of the people and if you are afraid of the honest man who carries a gun [then] you are afraid of freedom and should think about moving to Europe.

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Dear Lone Hiker. I live in Cody wyoming and something that big city folks do not understand because they have been brainwashed for years now is that the honest concealed weapons permit holders are not your enemy! These folks have been through complete background checks and are found to be quality citizens and are the most decent patriotic folks I have ever known. Do you really believe that criminals don't travel into National Parks? Do you really believe that while camping in one of these parks no one in the very same campground is already carrying weapons, and that a percentage of these folks aren't of a criminal mind set? One more thing, you either believe in all of the constitution or you believe in none of it! You cannot pick and choose which rights you wish to believe in. You may not agree with all of them but as a true American you must stand up to protect them. I do not believe that the 1st amendment was written to protect Hollywood scum bags from bad mouthing our country and putting porn on cable T.V. but I have to stand up for the 1st amendment as an American and you and others need to do the same for the 2nd. What you do not seem to realize is that if we loose one of our amendments others will follow and the it will be to late. You and your children are completely safe being around concealed weapons permit holders. In fact, if something were to happen these same folks may save your life and the lives of your family. not the other way around.

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 4 weeks ago

    J Longstreet might be the right guy to ask a question that has bugged me for a long time. Which should it be: Pickett's Charge, or Longstreet's Assault? The NPS can't seem to make up its mind. :-)

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Sabattis, this is what I said in the original version of the article:

    My criteria say that Santa Fe National Historic Trail shouldn’t even have been made a national park, for crying out loud, much less given a place among the ten best.

    So you see, I did originally give SAFE credit for being a national park in that go-around.

    As to whether it's OK to call SAFE an "entity," well, I just used the term to denote something having a "distinct and separate existence." You might prefer something else, and that's fine by me. Not the hill I want to die on.

  • Park History: Olympic National Park   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback. Olympic is a truly special place that deserves all the praise it gets. I'm curious; have high fuel prices caused you to cut back on your RV travel lately? Do you think there will be lots fewer RVers in the national parks this summer?

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Interesting.... I could swear that you had also pointed out that Santa Fe NHT is not a "Park" in the original post - you just put it further down your list of critiques. Oh well, not a big deal. If we want to quibble, though, I think that I might give the Santa Fe NHT - and the other Long-Distance Trails that are not "Units" of the National Park System - a little more credit than being just an "entity." Once completd, I think that the National Park Service will establish a continuous "route" for each Trail, which is saying something, even if most of the sites along the route will be administered by "partners", rather than the National Park Service itself.

  • Park History: Olympic National Park   6 years 4 weeks ago

    We are retired and do some travel in our RV. The summer of 2005, we did volunteer campground hosting at Sol Duc. Being from south Texas, we were truly amazed and fell in love with Olympic National Park. While there, we visited the Hoh Rain Forest, Lake Quinault, Hurricane Ridge, and other areas including, the coastline with its seastacks. One side trip we made more than once was to Cape Flattery and Neah Bay. We try to return to Olympic National Park, as often as we can. It is truly a beautiful and remarkable place.

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 4 weeks ago

    Sabattis, thanks for the reminder about Santa Fe National Historic Trail. My weaselspeak excuse is that I was lulled by the fact that the trail has a code (SAFE) like a regular national park does. Thank goodness you were not similarly stupefied. If you will look at the article again, you'll note that I went back in and revised it to take care of that little problem with the trail. You'll also note that I gave you credit. As for that quick-and-easy gambit, my guess is that an NG higher up would direct one of the organization's spokesweasels to tell us that the list in the book is not an "official" NG list, and that we should aim our criticism at the book's authors. But, just for the record, I don't intend to play whack-a-mole with National Geographic. Your DENA comment is interesting. Counting national parks (or dealing with their names/designations) is like falling into quicksand; the harder you struggle, the deeper you sink and the more hopeless you feel.

  • Oglala Sioux Just Might Reclaim Southern Half of Badlands National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Phil, with all due respect, yours is one of the most ridiculous statements that was ever posted on this site that wasn't attributed to me. The protection of the parks is in the capable hands of the NPS? The protection of the parks, sir, is directly related to whatever economic and graft-related engine drives the cesspool that resides in the houses of Congress. Period. The NPS can do little that they are not told, and NOTHING that is not funded by our ignorant politicians, who's goals are NOT preservation, but perpetration of individualistic agenda centered around which of their constituents requires some form of pay-off or pay-back, which are virtually the same thing. Additionally, how can you in one breath state that the park histories should be preserved as intended while at the same time completely ignoring those who have contributed more to those histories than has any other segment of civilization over the course of the past thousand or so years? The ONLY part of your statement that is mildly, and I'm certain quite inadvertently correct, is that Native Americans, throughout their history, never did actually claim "title" to their ancestral lands, as the concept of actual ownership of land was quite foreign, until the European land grab of the 17th century began eating up chunks of the eastern seaboard faster than rabbits can breed. The stewardship of the land was implied across ALL Native nations, never questioned, and was more of a duty to Mother Earth than a responsibility tied to "ownership". But by all means, if ANY group has the proper pedigree to claim ancient, ancestral ownership, is would most definitively be the various Native tribal cultures, who have ties to the lands that comprise this nation that precede the Anglo invasion by centuries. It can hardly be asserted that some Johnny-come-lately decided to stake a claim to something that was never theirs, as by the way, was so successfully accomplished by the Homesteaders approximately one hundred years ago, and by various other government sponsored land-grabs dating back to the early part of the 18th century. What you and most other ignorant Europeans conveniently forget, or choose to ignore, is that hundreds of years before the actual savages invaded these shores, this continent was indeed settled, with the population thriving in a much more civil manner than was ever exhibited by white men. The native inhabitants organized functional governmental bodies, established travel and trade routes, agriculture, constructed water management canals for irrigation in desert regions, answered to regional authorities, bartered in an inter-coastal and interNATIONAL trade system, practiced organized religion, were a model of population control, had a well-defined legal structure, and collectively spoke almost 500 dialects (which proved to be the biggest sole source of their undoing, militarily speaking), to name but a few accomplishments of the "savages". How DARE you be so pompous as to decide from your high and mighty perch that people have no right to do as they see best with their "property"?

  • Park Advocates Rallying Around Theodore Roosevelt National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I'll chime in as well that Theodore Roosevelt perhaps takes the prize as the "hidden jewel" of the National Park System. All in one place you can experience the bison of Yellowstone, the Badlands of South Dakota, a petrified forest and meandering rivers in a beautiful, empty, landscape...

  • Celebrating Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I'm interested to see (and quite pleased as well) the NPT Blog have this laudatory and interesting post on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. I wonder though - is it possible to imagine any place or any circumstances were a similar "top National Park experience" should be constructed today?

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Great post, Bob. Once upon a time, the National Geographic Society had a missions "to increase and diffuse geographical knowledge." Unfortunately, as almost any editor these days can tell you - making a "list" or a "rankings" is a quick-and-easy way to generate copy. And it looks like National Geographic has decided to go the quick-and-easy-route. Alagnak Wild River????? I am not even sure that Alagnak Wild River is one of the "10 Best National Parks in *Alaska*", let alone in the United States.

    And of course, I can't help but chuckle and note that they really did end up with 10 National Parks on their list. As you point out, they included both Sequoia and Kings Canyon, which are two Parks, but also the Santa Fe National Historic Trail (which is not.)

    So I'll close with one thought to ponder. If National Geographic had included Denali National Park & Preserve on their list of "10 Best Parks" - should National Geographic have been dinged for actually having 11 Parks? After all, the National Park Service inexplicably counts a remote corner of Denali National Park & Preserve as somehow being a separate Unit of the System.....

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Let's see what Justice Scalia actually said in the Supreme Court opinion ( that's relevant to regulation of guns in national parks.

    Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings ...

    Specifically, the Court ruled that absolute prohibition of handguns in the home violates the Second Amendment:

    [T]he enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.

    It did not say that the Federal government can not regulate hand guns outside the home. So all the arguments heard on this blog and elsewhere that the existing 1983 regulation on gun possession in national parks (which is not an outright prohibition) violates the Second Amendment are rhetorical excesses.

    There's nothing in the recent Court decision which gives support to the idea that concealed gun regulations are illegal, or that the federal government can not restrict the carrying of guns in some locations.

    What remains to be seen is whether or not the national parks can legitimately be considered sensitive places or not. But until that is litigated, this is a policy choice, not a constitutional one. Whether you support concealed carry in national parks or not, however, what the logic of having 50 different state rules applying in the national system of parks is beyond me. If this was truly about concealed carry (as opposed to states rights or the gun lobby asserting its power) then this proposed rule would at least make more sense if it authorized concealed carry consistently across the national park system. But that still wouldn't make it a good policy choice.

    J Longstreet
    A National Park Superintendent

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 5 weeks ago

    These parents have moved into first place for the dumb moron award of the year.

    Running a strong second, however, is the comment by Jim MacDonald above. Jim, the bison did have a hard winter, that tends to happen in Yellowstone now and then. Bison calf recruitment has been superb this year, the herd is feasting and reveling in the forage this cool, wet spring, and numbers have not been depressed near to the levels your organization claims.

    I'm a full time park ranger, back country in the season, and I'd suggest you get your facts straight. I've read through your blog and your other sites; frankly we don't need another carpet bagger moving to the West and telling everyone how the cow ate the cabbage. Working in the park for five summers grants you some insights others don't have, but it's obvious that there's a great deal about the park you're quite wrong on.

    As tempting as it is to anthromoporphize human emotions onto the bison, this child wasn't bumped because the bison are frustrated and they were traumatized this past winter. He was thrown because he was violated the animals sense of protective space and persisted there.

    Your credibility has gone to zero with the park staff, and there will be more factual counterpoints to your misdirected commentary in the future. Please exercise your freedom of speech, we'll simply do the same so that people who love Yellowstone and all it offers won't be thrown off track.

  • Former NPS Director George Hartzog Passes   6 years 5 weeks ago

    RE: Bill Brown and George Hartzog:

    Kurt, thank you for your thoughts about Director Hartzog. I thought you would want to see the email exchange with Bill Brown, now of Gustavus AK, which I will paste, below.

    -- FYI: Several of us first heard about the death of George Hartzog from Bill Brown, a former acolyte of George's. Bill, author most recently of "Gaunt Beauty, Tenacious Life; a History of the Central Brooks Range," but most famously of "Islands Of Hope," was close enough to Hartzog that both supported each other and could confront each other. Although, I suppose Mr. Hartzog could confront anybody; fewer confronted him. You can see from the first message, Bill got the word from Bob Utley, historian of the Southwest, and former associate to the Director in the National Park Service:

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: bill
    Date: June 27, 2008 5:26:52 PM AKDT
    Subject: George B. Hartzog has just died

    Bob Utley just phoned me with this expected yet devastating news: George died within the hour of this message in the hospital.

    Only 3 days ago I called George and talked with Helen and Him, and he was energetically working on a draft position paper that would define the mission of the George B. Hartzog Institute at Clemson University. This Institute would center its efforts on the adaptations of the human species to the inexorable demands of Energy, Global Warming, and the Restoration of a Livable Environment for humanity and our fellow citizens on this unique, living Blue Earth. In turn, he centered the means of accomplishing this great aim on the National Parks and equivalent preserves in this country, and, by our example, around the world. These protected reservoirs of biodiversity and remaining functioning ecosystems are the seedbeds and the nurseries that will allow us, if we can understand and accept George's science-based wisdom, to repair and restore our lonely Earth, if we can learn to abide by its limits. E.O. Wilson calls these saved places Nature's Last Stands.

    This was the gist of our last conversation, one of many founded on the transformative role of National Parks and similar preserves in perpetuating our experiment in intelligent life on this friendly, sheltering EarthU in this vast universe.

    With love and affection to George and Helen

    Bill Brown

    On Jun 28, 2008, at 9:20 AM, JIM PEPPER wrote:

    Thank you, Bill, for your message and your feelings and thoughts.

    Just trying to think about the scope of George's work -- set aside for now the greater ambitions -- demonstrates the capacity of national parks and, for that matter, of government.

    I began by thinking of your "Islands of Hope" and the environmental education programs George started, that also were the way I met you. And then, the urban park programs, summer in the parks, "Web of Life" and "Man in the Biosphere," cultural parks, national seashores, aggressive legislative policy and wilderness office, pursuing Alaskan Parks and monuments, annual goals statement via Stewart Udall, national recreation areas. 2nd World Conference. In essence, parks as vital to the American People. George did tend to devour people whole, but also ate Assistant Secretaries for breakfast, as someone once said, and the building shook when he walked through the corridors.

    He inspired people. Those people inspired people in turn. The credits keep rolling through my brain. This roll of human energy demonstrates our capacity when we release our will and confidence, and believe in the things that are the best of this country.


    ----- Original Message -----
    Sent: Saturday, June 28, 2008 3:06 PM
    Subject: Re: George B. Hartzog has just died

    Of course, all you listed, plus more. What a privilege to work with [him] . .. I see Dwight Pitcaithley tackling the relevance question again in a recent speech. . . .. GBH was all about relevance. We don't have to ask what's relevance? It's getting out front and putting the NPS/S in the lead on all the issues you said and that George was working on when he keeled over. The social utility of the NPSystem is beyond quantification. And GBH broke into that realm at just the right time, and the idea still lives at an even more critical time. Best to you. . ., Bill

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 5 weeks ago

    People who are totally irresponsible should be punished. A hefty fine is in order ! Even if you don't have any common sense, there are warnings everywhere. People cannot be protected from their stupidity but they sure as heck can pay for it !!! Wildlife are wild and should not have to pay the ultimate price for stupid humans.

  • National Park History: Big Bend National Park   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Great Write Up...

    Visit for a wealth of information on Big Bend and the entire West Texas Trans Pecos Big Bend Region...

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 5 weeks ago

    How come Rocky Mountain National Park never gets the credit it deserves? I'm a guide at Grand Canyon but I'd take RMNP any day over GCNP. I realize I'm in the minority here, but still...

  • Former NPS Director George Hartzog Passes   6 years 5 weeks ago

    Thanks for this write-up Kurt. In addition to the PDF document of G. Hartzog's oral history interview you link to above, we have his oral history in HTML/web page format, as well.

    rob mutch
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute

  • Yellowstone National Park Bison Unhappy With Photo Shoot Tosses Pennsylvania Boy   6 years 5 weeks ago

    The parents are complete idiots and should be arrested and prosecuted for child endangerment. They should also be sent to reading remediation so they can understand all the posted signs warning against getting too close to the WILD animals.

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 5 weeks ago


    1) you are right about the "Alagnak Wild River," but I regret to say that the National Park Service is partly responsible for perpetuating this problem.

    Some rivers are designated Wild in one place, and Scenic or Recreational, in another. This confuses the poor dears, too. But the main thing is the people who run this program don't really know much about national parks. These guys are into recreation, not park management.

    The NPS program is called the "National Wild & Scenic Rivers Program" and for administrative purposes those people like to name ALL the rivers -- which are actually designed "Wild" or "Scenic" or "Recreational" rivers by the law -- in the same catch-all "wild & scenic" name. NPS is also making the same mistake with some of the parks and preserves in Alaska. For example, they call it "Wrangel-St. Elias National Park & Preserve" when IN FACT congress designed the "National Preserve" separately from the "National Park." Each is a separate unit. They are more enchanted with the manager who administers the combined areas. Right now, there is an effort underway to name the collection of separate national park system areas in San Francisco "Golden Gate National ParkS" to enhance the prestige of the superintendent.

    2. I've been on the Alagnak, and it's a nice river. But if you want to go to Alaska and see one national wild river, try the "Noatak National Wild River."

    I think I'd put the Noatak on the top of my list among Alaskan rivers, but I don't know anyone who has canoed or kayaked them all. Maybe Pat Pourchot. It is hard to fathom why anyone would put the Alagnak at the top, not to speak ill of a great resource.

  • “10 Best National Parks”? National Geographic, You Have Got to be Kidding!   6 years 5 weeks ago

    I haven't seen the article myself, but if what you say is true, and they made a Top Ten list without any published criteria, then shame on them.

    People look for different things in the parks. Some look for convenience with majesty, others look for remoteness & untouched nature. I'm a day hiker and casual nature enthusiast, my criteria for a Top Ten list would differ greatly from a wilderness camper/fly fisher. I have a fondness for history, and Harper's Ferry is one of my own favorite NPS sites. Someone who isn't in to such things, it would assuredly be on the bottom of the list.

    It might be interesting for us to post our own Top Tens, with criteria. I'm sure you'd get a dozen different lists.


    My travels through the National Park System: