Recent comments

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    i do not think people should have to pay for search and rescue, unless it is obviously grossly negligent. first of all, i think it would discourage use of the parks, which would reduce their income from permits etc. secondly, it would most likely tend to make people put off calling help when they really do need it, which could actually make the situation worse. nature is unpredictable, and there will always be a part of it that is dangerous, but the parks are right in my opinion to do their best to encourage responsibility and try to keep lawyers off the hiking trail. otherwise we will have hiking trails with disclaimers a mile long.

    i would suggest that if someone really is found to be negligent and requires rescue, they be required to donate time to a local beach/park with cleanup/ trail help as a community service to help parks recoup costs. any nature lover, i think, would consider that a fair trade-off that both helps the park and is a reasonable fine for leaving their brain at home.

    finally, for the taxophobes, are many situations where people are rescued at taxpayer expense that do not involve the wilderness that the people here ignore. for instance, in a car accident, even if it is your fault, you may pay for an ambulance, but not necessarily for the police that come to the scene to keep you from being hurt and who then direct traffic. these people seem to be those who do not want to pay a cent of tax for anyone ...unless it works in their favor. i dont drive a car, but i pay taxes for police and emergency personnel. your risky behavior..ie moving at a speed faster than walking is covered, because most drivers are not trying to be unsafe, just as most people hiking/climbing do not WANT to fall off a cliff/ freeze.

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Can you carry a gun in the Supreme Court building? No! Can you carry a gun in other government buildings? No! Can you carry a gun in airports? No. Can you carry a gun on board airplanes? No. Can you carry a gun on school campuses? No. Can you carry a gun in police stations? No. Can you carry a gun in bars? Not in many states. Not loaded, not unloaded. Not cased, not packed away in most of these places. Can you have a gun in a National Park? YES! It simply has to be unloaded and packed away. Why the obsession with National Parks, one of the safest places you could find yourself? No one is going to take your gun away from you at the gates of a National Park! You will simply be asked to unload it and pack it away. In most of these other places your gun WILL be taken away from you and likely you WILL go to jail.
    I have a Constitutional right to freedom of speech, yet I can be arrested for yelling, "FIRE!" in a crowded theater; for threatening the President of the United States, or for spouting obscenities in public.
    In the recent Supreme Court decision regarding handguns in DC, Judge Scalia said nothing in the ruling should "cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, OR LAWS FORBIDDING THE CARRYING OF FIREARMS IN SENSITIVE PLACES SUCH AS SCHOOLS AND GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS." I would submit that our National Park Service is charged with protecting our most "sensitive" historical and ecological places. That our parks represent to the world peace, conservation, and all of the best that human beings in general, and Americans in particular, can achieve. As such I would suggest that loaded firearms are incongruous with that representation.

    "I do NOT have to justify my NEED to have my firearm." I disagree. In most states you need to acquire a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and by applying for that permit you are "justifying" your "need" to carry a firearm.
    As Judge Scalia wrote, the justices in the majority "are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country" and believe the Constitution "leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, INCLUDING SOME MEASURES REGULATING HANDGUNS."

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Thanks Bob for your reply. I have to admit it was not a appropriate question to ask according to this blog. I always felt Steward Udall did a superior job while he was at the helm. I haven't found to many Directors since then tthat held up to his high ethical standards in running the agency. Just food for thought! Keep trekking on Travelers with the interesting articles.

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Anon, I'm sorry, but I'm just not going to "rank" Directors. Even if I could do that objectively (a tricky task), it wouldn't take me or Traveler in a direction we want to go.

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Kirby, I've always thought that shoreline vantage points on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan only offered great sunsets. Is the east side of North Manitou so far offshore that all you can see on the horizon when you look east is Lake Michigan? If so, I've been fooled by the fact that the Manitous are clearly visible (across the Manitou Passage) from dunetop vantage points along the SLBE mainland shoreline. BTW, is it true what they say about the Manitous? I mean, South Manitou for society and North Manitou for nature?

  • Superintendents' Summit Raises Both Issues and Questions   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I wonder if Secretary Kempthorne's words were as frightening in their original context as they appear here. Pardon my French, but what the hell is he talking about?! Sounds like he's sick of the same old forests, lakes, and mountains in all their natural decadence. Perhaps a "bold thinker" in Olympic NP will go out and clean up all those damned logs lying all over the place.

    I really hope I'm misinterpreting what he was trying to convey.

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    The best sunrises I've seen, seemingly every time I go there, are at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Camping on the east side of North Manitou Island, you're all alone and you can sit on the beach, listening to the breeze tickle the marram grass as the sun appears over Lake Michigan.

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Fred, "you people amaze me". What a trite statement that lacks substance of thought. Fred, why are you so consumed on this gun issue, as if your the chief spokesman for the NRA. Nobody is taking away your constitutional right to own a gun. It's your constant whining that puts this gun issue into a mode of political firebranding against those who have the slightest distaste for guns and gun violence. We know it's your damn right to own a handgun..etc... I'm tired of you being a professional month piece for the NRA and your constant tirade that were taking away your "constitutional right" to own a gun. Nonsense! Now, get on with your life!!

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 6 weeks ago

    You people amaze me. I do NOT have to justify my NEED to have my firearm. YOU have to justify why YOU think it is OK for you try to strip me of my Constitutional RIGHT !!

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 6 weeks ago

    From 1980-2002, over 62 million people visited Yellowstone National Park (YNP). During the same period, 32 people were injured by bears. The chance of being injured by a bear while in the park is approximately 1 in 1.9 million. Kerry A. Gunther
    Bear Management Office
    Yellowstone National Park

    During every minute of every day, roughly 1,800 thunderstorms are creating lightning somewhere on Earth. Though the chances of being struck by lightning are estimated at 1 in 700,000, these huge electrical sparks are one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the USA each year with an average of 73 people killed; about 300 people usually are injured by lightning......USA Today

    If you are worried about bears enough to feel that any reasonable person would want to carry a gun for protection (from bears) in Yellowstone, then it only makes sense that any reasonable person would take the precaution of staying indoors as a protection against lightening, since your chance of being struck by lightening are two and a half times greater than your chance of being injured by a bear while visiting Yellowstone. Kind of puts it into perspective.

    Your chance of being the victim of a violent crime while visiting a National Park have also been demonstrated to be less than your chance of being struck by lightening. So I guess my question would be: What the heck are you doing outdoors?!

    Betty, I shudder to think what might have happened if Dad or some well meaning bystander had put a couple of slugs into that 2000 lb. behemoth that tossed the twelve year old boy! How many people would have been injured or killed as it thrashed around in fury at that busy trail head before it died!? If it even DID die, rather than running off into the woods (endangering even more park visitors) to be hunted down by Park rangers faced with a dangerous animal that had to be put out of its misery. Even IF a well placed bullet managed somehow to bring it down instantly, what lesson will we have taught other youngsters (or even older visitors) who may have been present? That it's OK to violate rules (read that LAWS) that are put into place for everyone's safety, because someone will pull out a gun and save the day?

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 6 weeks ago

    No one other than rangers needs guns in our National Parks. We don't have enough rangers or enough visitors with common sense NOW !! Can you imagine those idiots who "posed" with a bison and had their 12-year old son tossed having a gun......dead bison because of their stupidity !

    If you respect the wildlife and let them know you are around, you are fairly safe in our wild places. If you don't, you shouldn't be there in the first place. Carry bear spray and make noise, do not panic when a bear simply stands on its hind legs to take a better look. Give them respect and room in roam. Remember, it is THEIR homes you are visiting !!!

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 6 weeks ago

    It's absolutely amazing how Kurt can post an article on one topic and from the git-go have the discussion on the merits of the study mentioned within the context of the article twisted into something so foreign as to not remotely resemble the origianl printed text. I'm just curious how many of the sub-authors are as expert in their usage of bear spray as they are with firearms and with pushing an agenda so laced with propaganda as to be almost incredible, that is, lacking in credibility. Something tells me that few people carry both firearms and spray cans. And by the way, you don't have to be NEARLY as accurate discharging spray to effectively combat a bear as is required with firearms.

  • Study Says Loss of Wolves Damaging Olympic National Park's Forest Ecosystem   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Controlled hunting or "culling" of animals doesn't work. That was proven in Yellowstone, where elk numbers were kept artificially low for years through "culling". Yet the aspen, cottonwoods, beaver, songbirds, willows etc. did not make a comeback until the wolves were returned. Even when elk numbers were lower than they are now. Why? Because it is not just elk numbers, it is elk HABITS. Habits are not changed by human hunting or culling, they are changed by the constant threat of an apex predator. In fact this is a complaint that many hunters have about wolves. The elk no longer hang out in river bottoms munching willows and aspen shoots. They sneak in at night and then scatter. They are constantly on the move. Wild elk again instead of cattle waiting to be "culled". My guess is that, given half a chance, wolves will return on their own; but if not, reintroduction certainly should be considered.

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Steve, I've visited GGNRA many times over the past 27 years. During the course of numerous conversations with rangers, visitors, and Bay Area residents (including the occasional nude walker I've encountered while doing the B2B) I've come to know a thing or two about The City, GGNRA, and GGNRA visitors. One of the things I've learned is that the typical local is just like you -- well educated, tuned in, and passionate. Thank you for your comments, which are helpful. I'm going to delete the offending paragraph because I agree with you that "dog friendly" is a misleading characterization. If you found anything else in my story that met with your disapproval, I trust that you won't hesitate to let me know.

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    "Voice control" is specifically defined in the GGNRA's 1996 Compendium Amendment. Essentially, the immediate response of a pet to a command. Have a read; it's a public document.

    When the author states that the GGNRA has been friendly towards the off-leash rights established in 1979, that could not be more untrue. Time and time again, dog owners have had to fight simply to retain that right. Of course, the right to recreation on sovereign State tidelands is embedded in Article X of the California Constitution, the so-called "Public Trust Doctrine". The State owns the tidelands at Crissy Field and the City of San Francisco owns the tidelands at Ocean Beach and many other areas. The deeds conveying these areas to the GGNRA make clear that the GGNRA only takes "to the high water mark." Moroever, the deeds clearly state that any deviation in the recreation-first mandate of the GGNRA shall result in reversion of these former City lands to the City. Accordingly, the City is duty bound to institute proceedings for reversion given Pelosi's bill.
    What is really going on here is that Pelosi will do whatever it takes to make the Presidio Trust (her baby) profitable by 2013, lest it be dissolved and returned to the DOI. Despite the fact that there is only one area in the jurisdiction of the PT that is off-leash (West Pacific Avenue), the people who run the PT (developers) are so upset about the situation that they have gotten Pelosi to take action so that they can, for example, build a modern museum of art in a recreation-first Park. This is, as usual, simply about money. Ironically, before the PT existed and Pelosi was actually beholden to the City, she was strongly behind the 1979 Pet Policy. Now her focus is financial, not recreational.

  • National Park Quiz 11: Blue and Gray   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Hey Bob--

    GREAT quiz! I really enjoyed taking it.

    Just one thing--the designation for Harpers Ferry is not Military Park, it's Historical Park. Lots of other history happened there in addition to the Civil War which the Park Service wants to recognize.

    Thanks!

    [Ed. Thanks for the kind words. Nice catch of that typo in item #2. As you can see, we do know the difference and had the correct designation in item #8.]

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 6 weeks ago

    "For some bears, like those protecting a nearby carcass, the (bear) spray may not do much good. But it's unlikely to hurt anything either.
    "In no case did use of the spray appear to be responsible for increasing the extent of injury," ....researchers found.
    ....But one thing is clear: Guns kill a lot of bears. And they don't always work either. Grizzlies with bullets in them have gone on to maim a lot of hunters before they died.............
    ......He emptied his .357 Magnum pistol at point blank range but told investigators he didn't know if he hit the bear or not. He fired the first shot as she (the grizzly) chewed on his backpack.......and started firing again as she sank her teeth in his thigh and began shaking him violently, which makes marksmanship difficult, even at close range. The bear backed up a few feet, then ran away. Investigators found no trace of her, her cubs, or a carcass.
    "It's clear that a gun is not the best close-range defense," (said the victim of the bear attack later). "For close range, the fastest, most effective, humane way to stop a charging bear is bear pepper spray."
    Dave Moody, a bear manager for the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept.... (is) sold on pepper spray. "No doubt about it in my mind," he says. "It's more effective than a gun.""...........From "Mark of the Grizzly" by Scott McMillion copyright 1998.

    This is my biggest fear about loaded weapons in National Parks. I worry about the animals. I really don't care about a couple of guys shooting each other over a camp sight. Think it's unlikely. But this..... How many curious bears, surprised on the trail, who stand up to get a better look, or bluff charge, or jump up from a day bed, who normally would have simply run off, are now going to be shot by some inexperienced city slicker packing heat, creating an extremely dangerous situation for both bear and hiker? Or other hikers, possibly families with young children, that a wounded, running, bear might run into further up the trail?
    I wouldn't be so opposed to the whole concealed weapons in National Parks thing if the law was clear: You could use your gun to defend yourself against HUMAN attackers, but NOT against animals under any circumstances. To do so would be a federal offense prosecutable to the full extent of the law. I say this for several reasons. 1) Guns tend to give individuals (especially those inexperienced in a wilderness situation...which is an awful lot of people in National Parks) a FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY, causing them to do things that they would not otherwise do. 2) No matter all the talk about "good, law abiding citizens" there are always going to be a few who are going to shoot an animal for reasons of their own and claim "self defense". 3) Bear spray has been proven more effective against actual animal attacks, regardless the species; and no permanent harm is done if it was used in a "bluff charge" situation. 4) Most bear charges are bluff charges. 5) The danger from bears is overestimated by the average park visitor (once again, especially by those who have little or no wilderness experience), as long as park rules are being followed: 100 yards etc. Indeed, three times more people are injured by bison in Yellowstone (for example) than by bears; yet the average park visitor does not perceive bison to be a threat. There is only an average of one bear related injury in Yellowstone every year, despite hundreds of close encounters between visitors and bears; and the last bear related human death was over twenty years ago. And 6) Animal attacks, and especially animal attacks that result in serious injury or death are EXTREMELY rare in National Parks. When they do occur it is nearly always because a visitor was in violation of park rules OR the rules of common sense (Tim Treadwell, Jim Cole, Bill Tesinsky (Google him)).


  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Bob, just off the cuff, since your a former college geography professor and national park historian, how would you rate the best Director for the Dept. of Interior and the best National Park Director...and under which President. Using your own judgment in what they have accomplished and the legacy they left behind. You can suggest the worst as well. Just curious how you would select this. Keep up the interesting articles on Travelers.

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I agree Bob. It's not like she was getting an emergency funding bill passed to save a threatened archeology site or a grove of rare trees. Speaker Pelosi is using the Golden Gate NRA as a political football to gain votes and supposedly bring added prestige and cachet to her home district by distorting the function of the entire park system.

    How long will it be before Senators Reid and Clinton will want to accomplish the same thing for the NRA's in their home states, and why shouldn't they? If it's beneficial to "elevate" Golden Gate why not do it for all of the NRA's? Maybe a blanket bill to convert all current recreation areas into full fledged national parks should be proposed. It would save time and result in higher property values for the owners of adjacent private land. A win-win situation for every politician involved,

    Is this really how the national park system should be run?

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Beamis: Whether in war or peace, good times or bad, Congress should always find the time and wherewithal to attend to the essential needs of the National Park System. Think what kind of National Park System we'd have if Congress dealt with national park issues only after solving all of the country's "important" problems. Can you think of a time in American history when a citizen couldn't say "why is Congress diddling with this [minor item] when when this [major problem] is still unsolved?" That said, I agree that Speaker Pelosi should use her political clout to address truly serious needs of the national parks, not local issues of dubious merit.

  • Study Says Loss of Wolves Damaging Olympic National Park's Forest Ecosystem   6 years 6 weeks ago

    As I understand it, Olympic Nat'l. Park is pretty remote. That being the case, maybe some of the ranchers near Yellowstone could be mollified by transporting some wolves to your neck of the woods. Lots of places, livestock owners don't like the wolves, I know the actual numbers prove them wrong, and so do you, but it's still a tough sell.

    Carry on, then.

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Beamis-
    It's election year. 'Nuf said?

    Barky-
    Exactly why [Nancy Pelosi] is commonly referred to as Ms. Dangerfield.......she gets and deserves NO respect.

    Of course, one can't work on anything of substance that one can't think of, now can they? Prime example of why our political system as currently constructed and staffed is a total disgrace.

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Bob, are you able to elaborate on why the status of this NRA was in need of "elevation"? What criteria was employed in this fairly momentous decision?

    It seems to me that this is nothing more than a cynical attempt to politicize the term "national park" by using it to convert individual units into bright and shiny baubles of regional pride. Like landing a professional sports team or building a new airport.

    With an insolvent banking system, a defeated and depleted military and a bankrupt treasury it would seem to me that Speaker Pelosi would have more pressing matters to attend to than using her political clout to help diminish what a true national park was meant to imply.

    Mather and Albright must be spinning in their graves.

    Between the politicians and the bureaucrats the administration of our parks continue their steady descent into a mire of mediocrity and increasing irrelevance in the life of the nation. It is a sad spectacle to behold.

  • Proposed Redesignation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area to Golden Gate National Parks Worries Dog Walkers   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Mike, I'm afraid that I'm not much help. Sandy and I are cat people. Cats don't listen, and leashes aren't relevant to their way of thinking about the world and their position in it. Perhaps there's a dog whisperer out there who could help sort out this voice command thing?

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Montanan, thanks for your imput, I have to admit that I never thought about the affects of wind, and would sure hate to get the spray on me!!! I have heard that bear spray does work, but under what conditions, I don't know. I myself would like to carry both. I am a gun owner, and I do know that your chances of hitting a charging bear with either the spray or handgun isn't in your favor.