Recent comments

  • How to Hijack a National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Jim and MRC, I can agree that the momument belongs to the nation - because, by definition, all units of the NPS belong to the nation. The question is - should it? What about other monuments like George Rogers Clark and Perry's Victory? NPS gets these places, like JNEM, because a local government started in and then could not afford to finish it or operate it. Even Mount Rushmore came to the NPS this way. The Arch is a beautiful piece of engineering and fantastic icon - but so is the Empire State Building and Golden Gate Bridge. They are symbols of America. Doesn't mean the citizens of America have to run them.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Recall that whole blocks of historically buildings on the waterfront were destroyed so that arch could be built. Filling in the open space with crap would be the ultimate insult.

  • Imagine the Impacts of Climate Change on the National Park System   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Frank C., I think there's a similar report to yours (loose in facts) that was put out sometime ago by Exxon...and like oil companies. I don't put much credence in oil company research teams, especially when they exploit the motto:Drill baby drill! This very idea that we're playing Russian roulette with our global environment, I can only foresee terrible and dire consequences for are stupidity...especially what has transcended down from this present lame and duck administration. Being a backpacker throughout the Sierra Mountains for the past 30 years, I can honestly say there has been some abrupt and subtle changes in the terrestrial environment surrounding Yosemite National Park. The famed plant ecologist and naturalist ranger from Yosemite, Carl Sharsmith once told me (some 20 years ago, to paraphrase) I no longer hear the chorus of song birds at different intervals of the day...as I did so many, many years ago. And, today I stretch my ears just to hear a simple warbler sing...so sad! I guess this wouldn't rile the oil industry one bit, despite all the effects of global warming on our floral and fauna in our National Parks. What lies ahead for the next generation in this country...I'm not sure. Perhaps and most likely a wilted and dying natural heritage exploited for greed, rape and pillage. This should be one of the most critical topics to be pressing on Kurt's blog...not meaningless drivel over hand guns in the National Parks.

  • Longtime Yosemite Wilderness Ranger Retires   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I volunteered in her department the summer of 2001 when she led Laura Bush through the High Sierra Camps with her friends. I dropped off her Dodge at the Cathedral Lakes Trail head and then hiked in on a Wilderness Technician patrol that did a big loop from there to Merced Lake and then back to Tuolumne Meadows. I met the party during my hike, and forgot to get a picture! Partisanship aside, a first lady is a first lady! Laurel did a great job of training me for my job, and it was really neat to see her guiding Laura.

    --Nora Curiel

  • How to Hijack a National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Never been there, don't plan to go soon, but let me get my .02 into this: The Jefferson Expansion Memorial is meant to be a symbol for the whole nation. And it is about reaching out, into the open space of the West. Well, the west wasn't that open, at least from a Native American point of view, but let's ignore that. So the arch, the river and the surrounding space were designed by Eero Saarinen to been seen as one thing. The arch only works with the river and the open space, that symbolizes the West.

    Sacrificing the open spaces for the perceived benefit of local business seems to ruin the whole idea of the memorial. The arch does not belong to St. Louis, but to the nation.

    Maybe it's a good thing that funding for large projects will be harder to get for a few years to come.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Now let me follow this logic carefully: someone commits a crime in the woods, which magically causes a game warden to appear at the scene of the said crime (maybe Lassie barked for an hour to get the warden up out of his easy chair). Now instead of fleeing the vicinity of the crime the evil gun-toter waits in the woods so he or she can "shoot the dude".

    Hmmmmmmm......that's very plausible except for one thing, the NPS has no "game wardens" but otherwise your scenario rings true in every possible way. Glad you brought it to our attention.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Not everyone would agree, but if a consensus were to be reached on your position, then the area should be transferred entirely to the city or state, rather than diluted on a piece-meal basis as this legislation would do.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    This will cause more Game wardens to get their brains blown out. Someone will commit a crime and a Game Warden willl investigate and the person will just shoot the dude instead of dealing with what the hell could happen if there were indifferent repercussions. These permits were designed for Black bear areas of the country. But I would want to carry a gun in case I came across a Black bear who wanted to eat my arse.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Anonymous: You are clearly not reading the entirety of my posts. As I mentioned, I do NOT own a gun. Secondly, I have not made the argument that people should be able to carry weapons on private property; of course the Bill of Rights is a limit on FEDERAL power only. If a private shopping mall or a private bank or a private land owner wants to prohibit people from carrying weapons on their land, fine! But the Second Amendment restricts the federal government's ability to infringe upon the rights of the people to carry weapons on federal land, such as national parks, national forests, etc. Please re-read my posts carefully before setting up a strawman argument.

    Beamis' claim that most NPS employees have a liberal bias is laughable

    Laughable how spot on it is. But unfortunately, I don't believe there is any real evidence to back up either opinion. Each side only has anecdotes, and my anecdotes differ substantially from Mr. Smith's.) The CNPSR states that "in their personal lives, CNPSR members reflect the broad spectrum of political affiliations." I'd be interesting in how CNPSR knows this to be a fact? Are members required to divulge their political affiliation? Maybe a statistical survey should be done, but with only 675 members, everyone would need to be surveyed for validity. Maybe the CNPSR could pay to have a true statistical survey done on the political affiliation of the twenty-some thousand NPS employees. I'd wager good money that the NPS is composed primarily of Liberal employees, especially in the trenches. (Clearly political employees and upper "elites" are reflective of the current administration's political affiliation.)

    Until someone presents some valid evidence, you can laugh at Beamis' claim all you want, but you can't disprove it.

    And the political composition of the NPS is a key component of this discussion. Bias must be addressed, especially when it comes to surveys like this. No one has yet to produce evidence that this survey is statistically valid, and any biases inherent in the survey are also up for discussion. Of course, the CNPSR, if it wants to defend the validity its survey, should proffer any data it has for the political composition of its membership. Without addressing this issue, I'd have to conclude that such evidence doesn't exist or the evidence shows that the majority of CNPSR members are liberal.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    It's about time. This place is not a national park - it's an amusement park. The NPS spends more than $10 million a year managing this ride and museum - something that the private sector could do with the income generated. I will acknowledge that the court house story of the Dred Scott decision is worth preserving as a state historical site. This was created by the City or St. Louis and only became a national memorial by Executive Order. The ability of this site to manage itself with fee income and use St. Louis police for law enforcement is a perfect example of the kind of park we can do without in the national park system.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Unless there is some compelling evidence that concealed carry is a tangible threat to park resources and public safety this rule change should go through and receive the full support and acquiescence of the NPS as well as its retirees. End of story. It WILL happen and everyone should get on board with it just as the Forest Service and other agencies have in the past. The idea that this simple adjustment of the rules will somehow transform national parks into the OK Corral is ludicrous.

    By the way I've never known very many cops who want the public to be armed. It's a threat to their monopoly on power and probably makes 'em a little nervous, which is probably a good thing given all of the power they now possess in the era of "Homeland Security".

    Long gone are the days of Barney Fife with his lone bullet stored in his shirt pocket. I'm sure Andy and ol' Barn didn't begrudge folks having their guns because that made their jobs easier and spread the coverage of personal protection throughout Mayberry more evenly.

    As for CNPSR, I don't really care for lobbying arms of special interest groups, regardless of their cause. They tend to be agenda driven and therefore irrelevant, in most cases, to objective discussion. No offense was intended towards Rick (as I have no idea what groups he is a member of) but will stick by my stand that what an organization of NPS retirees has to say about concealed carry rules is less than relevant in making a true determination of what the law should be concerning the Constitutional right to bear arms in national parks.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Disingenuous?

    IMBA's track record in dealing with the Park Service and in the importance of single-track opportunities as outlined above is accurate to the best of my knowledge. Even Mr. Eller didn't challenge it, though he did challenge PEER's contention that the proposed rule would shield superintendents from following NEPA. I've made calls to doublecheck that and am still awaiting a firm answer.

    The NPS communications staff in Washington couldn't tell me unequivocally that an environmental assessment would be necessary, though they did say the public would be involved in any trail decisions. That said, there have been parks that have permitted mountain bike trails without doing EA's.

    One case in point is Mammoth Cave, which in 1999 opened 13.7 miles of trail to mountain bikes after being approached by a local group of cyclists. Here's some history, provided by the park, on that endeavor:

    From 1999-2004, virtually all of the maintenance on Sal Hollow trail was performed by volunteers from the Bowling Green League of Bicyclists, who donated hundreds of hours of labor to maintain and improve the trail. Their work included some significant reroutes of this trail. During most of this period, the hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclists shared the trails without any conflicts reported.

    However, in 2004 the bicyclists began to report that portions of the work they had completed were being impacted during wet periods by horseback riders who also used the trail. Park management responded to this issue by temporarily closing Sal Hollow Trail to horseback riding in 2004. Sal Hollow remains closed to horseback riding in 2006; all of Buffalo Trail and Turnhole Bend Trail which is open to bicycles also remains open to horses and hikers.

    The Sal Hollow Trail closure resulted in considerable visitor feedback, including positive comments from hikers and bikers, and negative comments from the equestrian community. Mainly as a result of this issue, the local horseback-riding community organized into a new interest group in 2004, the Mammoth Cave Equestrian Trail Riders Association.

    The primary objectives of this association were to keep all horse-trails open, and promote safe, eco-friendly riding in the park. A similar negative response from the equestrian community was generated in 2005, when the park announced the possibility of opening some administrative roads to bikes under a new nationwide agreement between the National Park Service and the International Mountain Bike Association.

    During a public comment period for this proposal, the horseback-riding community submitted approximately 700 comments in opposition to opening any roads which would be shared by horses and bikes, primarily citing safety concerns posed by sharing trails. The biking community submitted less than a dozen responses in favor of the proposal during this period. The park’s action on this matter was to open four administrative roads to bicycles on the south side of the river, which are not used by horses (about 5 miles total), but none on the north side.

    Currently, the park has a total of approximately 80 miles of trails open to various user groups. All trails are open to hiking, approximately 50 miles are open to horses, and approximately 20 miles are open to bikes. In 2005, park management called on each of the three primary backcountry user groups (the Mammoth Cave Equestrian Trail Riders Association, the Bowling Green League of Bicyclists and the Mammoth Cave Chapter of the Sierra Club), to form a single coalition, the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Summit Council, in order to facilitate communication and exchange information directly with each other and the NPS regarding backcountry issues at the park. This group has since met semi-annually, and has found common ground on a number of issues, including enhancing resource protection and supporting the maintenance and sustainability of all trails in the park.

    The Traveler's point of view has been steadfast: There already are quite a few mountain bike options in the national park system -- roughly 40 parks, I believe, offer some opportunities. Plus, there are thousands more trails -- dirt roads, double tracks, single tracks -- on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands.

    As I've pointed out many times before, NPS has a much different management mandate than do those other two agencies. With all the existing opportunities, I just don't see the need to "cut" or "build" -- frankly, even in footpath vernacular the word most used in my experience is "cut" -- single-track biking trails in the national parks.

    Are there dirt roads that could be opened to mountain bikers? Very possibly. The Traveler currently sees no problem with that option.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Just to set the record straight, like Jim, I was a protection ranger and carried a weapon for at least half my career. I don't think our points of view are irrelevant.

    Beamis' claim that most NPS employees have a liberal bias is laughable. During my 31 years in the NPS, I met far more conservatives than I did liberals.

    Rick Smith

  • Conservation Groups Sue to Cut Air Pollution Over Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    In my view, the answer to this problem is a no brainer: nuclear power.

    It's 100% clean. It's renewable. It's safe to operate, and the transportation and storage of nuclear waste have been scientifically proven to be safe. Most of the power generated in France comes from nuclear power.

    People in the Southern Appalachians need power - there's no getting around that fact. We can continue doing it the old way using coal-fired plants, or we can solve the problem by switching to nuclear energy.

    Jeff
    www.HikingintheSmokys.com

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Re: "it's not that people are trying to change the Second Amendment; it's that people are ignoring it. What about the right to keep and bear arms "shall not be infringed" is unclear? "

    Ho, ho, ho. Try taking your gun into a military base, on an airplane, on a tour of the White House (a national park by the way), or into Disneyland. There are a lot of places you cannot bring guns - public and private places - so enough of the idea that you are Constitutionally permitted to bring a gun anywhere you want.

    What is amazing are the number of comments on this topic every time it comes up. What is it with people and guns? Why do gun owners have such a visceral reaction to guns? You would think the most important thing in their lives is to own a gun. If you define your life by your ownership of a gun, I think there are some problems. I carried one for 20 years as a law enforcment officer and don't own one personally or miss it a bit.

  • "Talking" Buoys Deployed Along Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Too bad my sailboat is already out of the water in preparation for winter... I can't wait to find one of those talking buoys!

  • Conservation Groups Sue to Cut Air Pollution Over Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I, too, have photos documenting the demise of air quality over the Smokies. It really brings the point of just how bad it really is to an undeniable state. How sad....

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    It's interesting to finally see a comment from a retired LEO Ranger. I hope my side views your comments accordingly. I will point out that regardless of when you served, if you served in the Parks, you would not have dealt directly with concealed carry licensees since carry has not been allowed in parks since the modern advent of licensing. Nonetheless, you're certainly qualified to discuss crime.

    With that said, there are a few things I would add to your comments. As you mentioned, an arrest is not necessarily indicative of actual guilt. While I find ANY arrests of CHLs for the offenses you mentioned disturbing, I also realize that arrests are often not followed by convictions because no offense actually occurred or insufficient evidence existed to support a conviction. I recognize your concerns that convictions are simply not being reported, but I don't think that's a realistic explanation. Reporting problems would affect both CHLs and non-CHLs to the same degree, so I would expect the comparison to hold.

    As for the suggestion that the data might be "sanitized," I find it unlikely given the source and the statistics that are still included. You mention the exclusion of "disorderly conduct" -- DOC is such a catch-all in Texas that conviction statistics for it would be relatively useless. Playing your music too loud and making obscene hand gestures are both considered "disorderly conduct" in Texas. DOC involving a firearm is classified as "deadly conduct," which IS reported on the most recent statistics.

    A more realistic measure might be to check the number of license revocations related to criminal actions. Revocation numbers are quite low, despite the large number of transgressions that can lead to revocation (in addition to crimes committed, failure to pay child support and student loans are grounds for revocation, as is failing to display your license too many times).

    My point wasn't that CHL holders are a crime-free group (there's no such thing, unfortunately -- Law Enforcement officers often get arrested/convicted as well), it's that the image promoted here is unrealistic, based on emotional reactions to the the word "gun." As a former Law Enforcement Ranger, do you think it's realistic to assume that license holders will contribute to poaching problems, or will randomly shoot wildlife or other visitors? Why would someone who's tempted to commit these crimes bother to get a license in the first place? If they're not worried about the legality of poaching or murder, they're certainly not worried about the legalities of carrying weapons in the parks.

    I'm not going to argue that concealed carry lowers the overall crime rate (that would take six hours), but as former LE who probably has a greater awareness of crime in society, you should certainly know that every time concealed carry laws are enacted or extended, there are wild predictions of blood in the streets, wild west shootouts, shootouts over parking spaces, etc. As someone who has a greater awareness of crime in society, you should certainly know that this wanton violence never comes to pass with the extension of concealed carry rights.

    Anyone from Texas with a CHL has been checked out at the county level, the state level, and the federal level. The State has looked for mental health issues, and has gone so far as to check to make sure the applicant pays their student loans and their child support obligations. And per the State of Texas, those who are licensed seem to be much more law-abiding. Hence my use of the term "vouch." Misbehavior or bad judgment by a CHL is a black eye for the State and reflects poorly on all CHLs.

    I will agree that some states need to up their training requirements for licensees. The same can be said for most law enforcement agencies -- many agencies require only an (easy) annual qualification and have no expectation that officers practice during the rest of the year. While I found Texas' shooting qualification easy, it was adequate for what it was -- a test of your ability to shoot reasonably well at short distances.

    In 2006, there were over 61,500 convictions reported to the DPS. Only 140 of those were committed by license holders. That's not a significant number, any way you look at it.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I would suggest talking to Law Enforcement Rangers. Better yet, talk to a National Forest Service Law Enforcement official. National Forests already have concealed carry, and have had no problems with licensees.

    I might also suggest getting input from border LE Rangers -- especially those in Organ Pipe and Big Bend, where cell phones don't work and criminal encounters are not unlikely.

    Unfortunately, NPS designates most or all of its employees as "Rangers," which creates confusion and lends credibility to non-LE personnel who have no qualifications or expertise in dealing with firearms issues. When "Joe Sixpack" hears that X% of "park rangers" oppose concealed carry, he believes that these are law enforcement agents rather than the folks staffing the visitor centers and giving wilderness hikes. Non-LE staff do not deal with weapons, have no law enforcement expertise or authority, and it's unlikely many of them understand the licensing process or the real impact that the pending change will have on day-to-day operations.

    I would expect the average park visitor to have as much insight on concealed weapons issues as the typical non-LE "Ranger." That is to say, none.

    As someone who carries under the authority of a license, I'm considerably more qualified to comment on concealed carry than most of the "employees" polled or the anti-CC blogger(s) on this site.

    If you want to debate concealed carry (anywhere), at least learn something about it. Go through the licensing process, even if you have no desire to carry. The baseless bashing of the concept of concealed carry is pointless and gets us absolutely nowhere.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I think Rangertoo makes some really good points. As it stands, National Parks are pretty much known as "NO Go" zones for bicycles, and not just mountain bikes. You can be ticketed for riding your beach cruiser on a dirt service road that is open to NPS motorized vehicles. That frankly defies logic. The "trails" in the Marin Headlands that are open to bikes are all full width fire roads, historic routes that were established by the military prior to acquisition by the NPS.

    I find Kurt's piece and it's overall slant a little disengenuous

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Kirby, it's not that people are trying to change the Second Amendment; it's that people are ignoring it.

    What about the right to keep and bear arms "shall not be infringed" is unclear?

    Again, if the wording seems vague, we must go back and understand the debate and mindset of the time. In 1785 Jefferson advised, "Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks."

    I don't own a gun, but I believe the Bill of Rights important enough to defend all ten amendments, not just one or two. If "middle ground" means violating the Second Amendment, then there can be no middle ground.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I'm an avid hiker, fly fisherman and mountain biker. IMBA has taken an approach that is very considerate of other trail users. I support including mountain biking using the IMBA approach in appropriate locations within the national parks. This includes access on some good single track trails.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Who's trying to change the Constitution or the Second Amendment?

    Are we talking about the amendment that states:

    "The right of the people to keep and bear arms, including carrying them anywhere they please with total disregard for others' opinions, shall not be infringed..." ?

    I'm a proud gun-owner, but the knee-jerk rage and frenetic invocations of the sacredness of the vague wording of the Second Amendment these discussions cause is eroding that pride.

    For the record, I'm equally appalled by the radical rantings of the gun-control lobby. Is there no middle ground?

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago


    We have reached the point in America where expertise is referred to as "bias."

    We once were a country that believed in Execellence and Achievement. Now we are able to attack a distinguished public servant in one breath (post) and deny in the very next what is plain for all to read. We now have a comic book interpretation of the Constitution, and ignore the unchallenged administrative traditions of an Agency of the people that has served us well. No one can claim that the park gun regulations have brought America's freedom to its knees. These regs have never been overturned. They work. The experienced professionals have testified these regulations are needed to efficiently manage the parks, the more so that declining budgets and unfunded mandates make a rangers job harder and harder.

    We ignore expertise at our peril, but when we degrade the value of public servants who have given all their professional lives to carrying out the laws created by the people we have elected, it is just stupid.


  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Anon, no offense but your statement that the constitution is not "rigid" is a "load of crap".

    If a constitution as interpreted can truly be changed at the decree of a judge, then "[t]he Constitution… is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please," said Thomas Jefferson. Hence, the purpose of the constitution would be defeated, and there would be no reason to have one.

    More from Jefferson:

    "Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction." --Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Nicholas, 1803.

    And most importantly:

    "On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." --Thomas Jefferson
    to William Johnson, 1823

    So the Constitution, at least to Jefferson, was not meant to be "interpreted for the time". Rather, it is to be AMENDED for the time.