Recent comments

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    It's Always Good TO HAVE THE FACTS WHEN WRITING AN ARTICLE!!!! First lets clarify the issue that has many people complaining about. The hiker was hiking with her husband!!! They had earlier seen the rangers so initiall he yelled for help. Eventually - he went looking for the rangers and was able to locate them to come help his wife. According to the victim and her husband - the rangers and the CHP were terrific and they are very grateful for the successful rescue!!!! She has had two surgeries and expected to have another this week... so when she is able she may have time to clarify for everyone!!! Again thanks to the rescue team YOU ARE THE BEST!!!!

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Just a couple bits of clarification about the rescue. First, the injured woman was not hiking alone. How do I know.... I am her husband & we were hiking together. The hike to Darwin Falls takes about 45 minutes one-way, I've done it many times. There is no maintained trail & no sign-in box at the trailhead. Definately lucky for us the two NPS rangers were starting the trek at the same time. Less then ten years ago this area was just BLM land, then annexed into Death Valley when it gained National Park status (it used to be a Monument). We are experienced hikers that had an accident. My wife slipped off a slick rock area & fell about 20 verticle feet. Once again, lucky for us she had no serious injuries above her knees so a bad situation could have been much worse. She was not able to move & I backtracked through the canyon until I spotted the Rangers below me & called for help. The two Ranger did work above the call of duty & we are forever greatful. I should also mention the other true heroes were the CHP helicopter crew. Basically working with just GPS coordinates because radio communication was non-existant, the pilot was able to hover above us with absolutely no margin for error. Rotor blades were extremely close to the canyons narrow walls. What the pilot successfully accomplished would probably not even be attempted by most. This was our first ever (& hopefully last) request for public aid. As far as the comments about the cost of tax dollars being spent for rescues such as ours, all I can say is if you were in my shoes at the time, I'm sure you would be glad that someone heard your cry for help.
    P.S. -- My wife has had two operations so far with a third coming up. She will not be able to put any weight on either leg for 3 to 6 months but hopefully will make a full recovery, thanks to the supreme efforts of the NPS & CHP.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    I have pictures of my daughter and I under this arch, from july '07, before the falling of it. I'm so glad we were able to see Wall arch before this happened. It was a really cool arch. Arches N.P. is an awesome place to go. Words just just can't discribe the awesome views and just the feeling of hiking to these arches to get up close and personal with them. I can't wait to go again.

  • Worth Considering: A Trip To Canyon de Chelly National Monument   6 years 2 weeks ago

    "With the exception of one short hiking trail..."

    Yeah, but what a trail. It's an exhilarating hike to the bottom of the Canyon to see the White House dwelling. I was sorry that I didn't have enough time to go into the canyon with a guide. Next time.

  • Clock Ticking On Decision Regarding Stocking North Cascades National Park With Non-Native Fish   6 years 2 weeks ago

    There need not be any hue and cry over this--continued stocking would not set precedent for parks not currently stocking--this practice in this place goes back more than 75 years. When the NCNP was created, agreements were made between sportsman's groups, such as the Trail Blazers and Hi-Lakers, to allow stocking to continue, in exchange, the sportsman's groups would not oppose the creation of the Park. It is true that there are some lakes that are over-reproducing, and NO ONE WANTS THEM STOCKED. The 42 lakes in question have low stocking densities (that's per acre per year) and the lakes' biotas are healthy. Current high lake management practices are scientifically sound, and there really is no harm in having a few (42 out of a total 561 lakes in the North Cascades Complex) lakes stocked lightly for recreation purposes. Please do not rush to judgement on this issue until understanding the historical and current facts and practices.

    Allison Woods
    member, Trail Blazers

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Reason Not To Own A Gun

    ".......But fear isn't a good reason to own a gun.

    Own one because you love to hunt, shoot targets or bust up clay pigeons.

    Own one because you love the shape and style of an AR-15 rifle or a Colt single action revolver or the curve of the wood on a Smith & Wesson .45.

    Own one because you like to shoot it, carry it, fix it, clean it and just plain touch it. Own one because your daddy did and his daddy did and there's a history in it.

    But don't own one because you fear your neighbor will come steal your lawnmower....."

    The above is an excerpt from an editorial in a Cleveland paper. It gives an interesting perspective on the carrying of personal firearms.

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    We hope visitors will do their part to minimize their risks...but, in order for them to do that, the rangers must do a vigilant, aggressive, and dynamic job at providing the public the information and advice they need to prevent accidents. Ideally, rangers are the experts on how to travel safely within the park.

    I think Anonymous makes a valid point from his perspective. For example, the NPS should adequately fund rescue operations and public safety education programs before they take on global warming.


  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park Looking For Volunteers To Help With Elk Education   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Great opportunity for people living in Western North Carolina or Eastern Tennessee. You get more out of volunteering that you put into it. Have a great time and hope the program is successful.

  • Snow Storm Still Battering Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    These late spring storms can be a bit of a hassle for travelers--and some of the locals are a bit weary of shoveling by now -- but the moisture will be a big help for the upcoming summer.

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Re: Anonymous' comment about NPS spending.

    There's probably unlimited opportunity for debate about spending priorities for NPS dollars, and everyone interested in parks will have their own take on that subject.

    Re: the comment that "this woman was hugely lucky." As the story and several comments indicate, the outcome of this incident hinged on the fact that two "rangers on patrol" happened to discover the woman in time to initiate excellent emergency medical care and a timely rescue. We'll never know what may have happened if those rangers hadn't been in the area.

    In terms of how SAR and other emergency services costs are related to "patrols, searches and rescues," one of the functions that suffers from NPS budget limitations is the kind of "routine patrol" that made a positive difference in this case, and dollars spent on incidents such as the one at Buffalo River are often diverted from funding for badly needed seasonal staff and even permanent positions.

    It's unrealistic to expect ranger patrols to cover even a fraction of most parks on a regular basis, but there's sure room for improvement in staffing for that function to allow better coverage than currently exists in many parks.

    A chief ranger and district ranger get their slice of a park's annual budget, and it doesn't take too many significant incidents (or a lot of smaller ones) to eat up enough dollars to require leaving a field ranger position unfilled. That doesn't mean it's realistic to bill most victims for the the cost of emergency services, but I felt it was important to clarify earlier comments that suggested all costs for SAR incidents are already built into a park's budget.

    There will always be debate about priority-setting and budget allocation by NPS management, and there's also plenty of support for other valid activities as well - including resource management and interpretation.

    So .... given the fact that there will never be as many rangers on the ground as many of us would like, I'll also second the comments about visitors doing what they can to minimize their risks. That includes careful evaluation of the wisdom of solo trips into the backcountry, and the importance of making sure a responsible individual who is not part of your trip knows your plans in enough detail to sound the alarm if you don't return on schedule.

    In this incident at Death Valley, the woman was not hiking solo.

  • Worth Considering: A Trip To Canyon de Chelly National Monument   6 years 2 weeks ago

    This is an absolutely beautiful place. It is on the Navajo reservation which is an interesting place in itself if you've never been on the rez. Also be sure to go by Hubbell Trading Post. I remember reading about that place when I was a kid and it looked exactly the same as those old pictures. Prices are very reasonable at the Post and they offer authentic goods. Arizona is a wonderful place - every square inch of it.

  • Interior Department Agrees To Conduct EIS on Gun Rules for National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    EIS's are not a waste of money (in my opinion). They are used to help ensure we think about what we do before we do it. It also gives the public more time to weigh in on issues. And further, it catalogues the decision making process so that if things get challenged in court in the future (with any decision) it can be shown that park Admin did or didn't consider it.

    The reason that an EIS should be done, in this case, is because guns have the power to kill or injure wildlife. I completely agree that very few people in their right mind would set out on their NPS vacation to shoot a bear, but wildlife will be shot. And while CCW holders are well educated about how to handle a gun, they may be completely out of their comfort zone in a wild NPS setting. They may misread a bluff charge from a bear or other animal and instead of using bear spray (which is proven much more effective at stopping a bear), either end up escalating the charge to an attack or end up injuring a bear (perhaps fatally).

    As a critic will point out, there are a lot of "if" and "may" statements piled in that last paragraph. But only a few sow grizzly bears would have to be killed or injured over a period of years to cause a big setback in the population of bears in a place like Grand Teton NP. That would be a significant environmental impacts.

    Finally, just because someone is normally a law abiding citizen doesn't mean that they will always be. Just look at people who are tested, licensed, and registered in databases to drive automobiles. But this EIS is not about if laws will be broken (it is a certainty that laws will be broken), it is about the potential for this new activity to impact sensitive ecosystems.

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    There are more pressing needs than larger visitor centers, though there are more than enough visitor centers with dated exhibits that certainly could use freshening up.

    But there also is trail maintenance that needs to be done, both archaeological, cultural, and paleontological resource work that's been put off, vast amounts of archival work that awaits, invasive species to be eradicated, facility maintenance and upkeep, stabilization of historic structures, campground restoration work, biological assessments, improved outhouses, the list goes on and on.

  • Might The Obama Administration be More Invested in Everglades Restoration Than Its Predecessor?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    I hope so because it would be sad if the Everglades were lost.

  • Rescue of Injured Woman from Isolated Canyon at Death Valley National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    ".....but the costs described above are often paid by diverting money from other, urgently needed, park operations."

    Such as what? Bigger, more expensive visitor centers? New office buildings for the staff? More F250 trucks? Ever more "resource managers" that do nothing but file reports?

    I agree with the NPS mission, and many of the personnel are excellent, but the Park Service is GREAT at wasting money for front-country foo foo, regional office overhead, and aesthetic asphalt turn-outs. They'll spend millions on frontcountry development, then whine about how they have no money for operations.

    Patrols, searches, and rescues are one of the few necessary functions that the NPS does. So spare us the tax whining and 'we're so busy' tales of woe.

    And yes, this woman was hugely lucky.

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Mike, glad to hear things are working out so well for your trip. I'm definitely envious. And this weekend's improving weather should make things even more enjoyable. Let us know if you get any great photos you'd like to share with Traveler's readers.

  • Springtime: Roads Opening In Yellowstone National Park, Bears Coming Out in Grand Teton National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Thanks alot for your hard work and due diligence in keeping us travelers informed. I just wanted to let you know that we made it from Seattle to Yellowstone late yesterday afternoon. My wife and I were greeted with every animal imaginanable. We entered through the north entrance and as we approached Gardiner we saw herds of mule deer being chased by a herd of horses in their pasture, quickly followed by several herds of elk and mountain goats. At the campground below Mamouth at the switchback, the wolf spotters were watching a female wolf being followed by a coyote. As we entered Mamouth we were greeted like always by the herd of resident elk and bison. Thinking that our chances of spotting wolves for the day might be lost we continued our approach toward Gibbon Meadows where to our amazement was several cars pulled over. Could they be looking at the herd of Bison, maybe, but looking beyond the herd of bison nestled down in the new growth of grass, was a small pack of wolves, SCORED!!! After watching them for awhile we proceded to the West entrance. My wife and I were saying that the next animal we need to see is a grizzley. Then BAM!! at about 3 miles from the west entrance there were a slew of cars pulled over and what were they watching we asked?? A grizzley. Accross the river just east of Riverside RD up on top of the hill was a BIG GRIZZLEY bear just laying there watching all of the spectators watching him.
    So far this has been an exciting trip with just the animals that we have seen so far in just a couple of hours. However alot of the geyser areas are closed due to carcases in the area which increase the bear danger.

    Thanks Again!!

  • Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Brighty currently resides downstairs in the lobby of the Grand Lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. His nose is still quite shiny.

  • Worth Considering: A Trip To Canyon de Chelly National Monument   6 years 2 weeks ago

    You forgot to mention Cottonwood Campground. Although the sites have no hookups it provides water and a dump station and many beautifully shaded spots. And - it's free. Also, the entire canyon rim is accessible by car and the views are amazing. The tribe keeps the overlooks clean and regulates the vendors so that you are getting authentic Navajo crafts from sellers who sit and wait for business but do not solicit you. We bought native american flutes from a man who played them over the rim of the canyon - amazing!

  • Might The Obama Administration be More Invested in Everglades Restoration Than Its Predecessor?   6 years 2 weeks ago

    By all means, lets spend 200 million, or better yet 10 billion to improve the new home of the burmese python!
    I was appalled by the Apr. 20th article in the New Yorker magazine, "Swamp Things" about the problems with invasive species in the Everglades, and with controlling their entry into this country. For much less money, we could have stricter legislation and a few more inspectors at the port of Miami. Then maybe it would make sense to spend whatever it takes to improve the water conditions.

  • Interior Department Agrees To Conduct EIS on Gun Rules for National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Come on. Do you think the NPS current rule keeps criminals from taking their guns into Parks? Certainly not. This new rule would allow people who have a legal, approved license to carry a gun in a Park where the local laws otherwise allow it. The license holders are known to the police, they have gone through training, and have registered on a database with law enforcement. These law-abiding responsible people are the LAST people who would violate gun laws. This is NOT about hunting. This is NOT about randomly shooting in the woods which is illegal. This is NOT about carrying a weapon into a Federal building which is still prohibited. This is about self protection.

  • Creature Feature: Feral Burros are "Equina Non Grata" in the National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for this excellent piece, Bob! What keeps the burros protected under PL 92-195 from recolonizing areas where they've been successfully eliminated or reduced in number? It seems like there might be suitable habitat and water sources adjacent to the Grand Canyon, such as Kanab Creek, that would necessitate a never-ending removal program.

  • Black Bear Attacks Child at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Bear spray is ILLEGAL ?? That's insanity. I can understand people's points that don't want to allow concealed firearms in Parks, but I can NOT understand banning bear spray. Please, let's verify this Kurt :)

  • Interior Department Agrees To Conduct EIS on Gun Rules for National Parks   6 years 2 weeks ago

    While I am not taking a position on the actual gun question, I think this article proves the problems with the federal government. The ability to use a EIS on a gun issue?!?!?! Create enough bureaucracy and then you can guarantee that nothing gets done. Perhaps you have seen the story on the number of permits and approvals that Noah would have needed to build an ark and save the animals. I am assuming, that the gun rules are a carry rule, and not the ability to wander the parks shooting at trees. If it is simply a carry/possession rule, then who in their crazy mind would think that their would be an environmental impact on having a gun on your hip. It creates no emissions, it requires no park resources to possess. This is just an attempt at those who oppose it to use an over grown government program, designed to do good, to push their agenda. The next step is to use and EIS to overturn Rowe v Wade. A really good one would be to use a EIS on all of the trees that died and the landfill space used on the paperwork created by campaign finance reform.

    Bottom line, if their is a desire to reverse the rules on guns in the parks, fine, use a avenue that makes sense, not just another stall tactic, or maybe they need to finance an archeological survey of any park that would allow guns, this would stall the rule and cost millions of dollars. If you read this and think, "this guy doesn't understand the purpose of an EIS or how it applies to this issue" then we are all in deeper trouble than I thought.

  • Snow Storm Still Battering Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 2 weeks ago

    Springtime in the Rockies.

    I was born and raised in the mountains of Colorado, and spring snows were always a misery.