Recent comments

  • First Ladies National Historic Site Struggles to Attract Visitors   6 years 6 weeks ago

    At least check your facts before making such bold and derogatory statements. FORMER Congressman Regula doesn't even have two daughters!! I am his ONE daughter and yes, I work at the National First Ladies Library as the Research Librarian. I have an MLS in library science and worked as a librarian for 20+ years prior to coming to the NFLL three years ago. I was not employed there when the library was created and I was not looking for a job, as I had a very good one, when I was approached by the library as they were in desperate need of a qualified librarian. I took a pay cut to come there to help with their very worthwhile mission of educating about the role of First Ladies in our country's history.
    I manage the library, serve as the webmaster, manage the curriculum creation for teachers, conduct workshops and programs and do a number of other jobs. We have a very small staff so everyone wears several hats.
    I am not privy to funding or general managment issues at the library so can't enter in this discussion. I do know, however, that much of the funding for the library and historic site was originally and is still provided through private fundraising efforts. Like many small historic sites we struggle to attract visitors and to provide educational programs for adults and children.
    The Saxton McKinley Home, which was the only home lived in by William McKinley during his tenure in office and thus could even be considered a Presidential home, was destined for the wrecking ball had it not be saved by a committee of dedicated citizens. All the renovations were paid for through private donations.
    It was actually Hillary Clinton who originally designated some monies for the site as part of the Save America's Treasures program.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 6 weeks ago


    The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees just published its list of its members' top 10 parks. Maybe you have seen it in one of the many stories that have run about the list in newspapers across the states. Here is the Coalition's press release announcing the list.

    The Parks That NPS Employees Visit When They Travel Abroad; Trekking from Aboriginal New Zealand to the Biblical Deserts of Saudi Arabia to the Great Hungarian Plains.

    TUCSON, AZ. – February 11, 2008 – Every wonder where people who work in national parks go when they take a vacation? Today, the 690-member Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) released a list of 10 of the best foreign national parks, spanning the globe from Australia, Africa, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

    The list of personal favorites of NPS retirees is in the same of vein as the “Beyond Yellowstone: 7 Winter Travel Favorites” (, which was released by the Coalition in October 2006.

    CNPSR member, Don Goldman, former park planner in the old Southwest Region of the National Park Service,, said: “Several years ago, in anticipation of family winter vacation time, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees rounded up its members’ recollections of the most memorable U.S. national park areas they had worked in or visited. When the nominations came in, the selection process was like picking from among the loveliest flowers in the field. As we had to acknowledge, it was a highly subjective selection process. But our intention was to encourage Americans to visit their national parks, not just our 10, but whichever ones they could get to. This year, the Coalition’s 700 members have suggestions for your vacation trips abroad. We who have spent our lives working in and with national parks not only visit our own, but make an effort to see other countries’ national parks, too.”

    CNPSR member, Rick Smith, former Superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns said, “Most Americans know that Yellowstone was our first national park, but it was also the world’s first national park. The idea of a national park was new with Yellowstone, but it was soon adopted by many countries, one of the best ideas our country gave the world. Just as we did, those countries have expanded the original concept to a great variety of parks and reserves. Today, marvelous parks are to be found all over the world.”

    Coalition members usually can’t stay away from such places on foreign vacations. Rick Smith explained: “We plan many of our overseas trips around the national parks or protected areas we can visit in other countries.” Some NPS retirees even had the opportunity, when on temporary training or work assignments with foreign countries or as Peace Corps Volunteers, to work in and contribute to those countries’ national parks.

    The following 10 foreign national parks are among the outstanding places CNPSR members recommended. Where it was necessary to break ties, the park chosen in the end was included to provide for maximum geographic diversity:

    1. TONGARIRO N. P., New Zealand. This is one of the North Island’s three World Heritage Sites. It features volcanic peaks (one of which is active) and is still home to many Maoris, who donated the park to New Zealand in 1887, when it became the world’s fourth national park. The Maoris are very outgoing in displaying their culture to visitors.

    2. KAKADU N. P., Northern Territory, Australia. This World Heritage Site is jointly managed by the Aborigines and the Australian government. It has magnificent vistas, great waterfalls, stunning displays of Aboriginal rock art, and is habitat to an awesome predator, the estuarine (saltwater) crocodile.

    3. SNOWDONIA N. P., Wales, Great Britain. Snowdonia is a lovely mountain park, with Mount Snowdon, which is comprised of slate, rising to 3560 feet. While this park is not geologically or scenically spectacular compared to many mountain parks, it is spectacular in its own right, due in part to its peaceful nature.

    4. KRUGER N. P., South Africa. This is perhaps the most impressive wildlife viewing area in the world. Millions of acres of habitat and little development give visitors an opportunity to see many large African mammals and magnificent birds. It is one of the few places where wildlife is in charge – they wander free and the visitors are controlled.

    5. TIKAL N. P., Guatemala. This World Heritage Site contains the spectacular ruins of a Maya settlement from around 250–900 AD. The towering ruins of temples, one 70 meters tall, rising from the jungle that surrounds them, are mute testimony to the architectural genius of the Maya. As many as 90,000 people lived in Tikal at its zenith, but strife with neighboring towns and environmental stress caused its abandonment beginning in the 10th century. Of course, the Maya never left; they are there today, and a thrill of a visit is to see it with a Maya guide.

    6. IGUAZU N. P., Argentina. This park protects one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls and the surrounding subtropical forest. The falls are 70 meters high, but even more impressive is their width: the river at the falls is 1500 meters wide. A thrilling experience is the short boat ride and walk along the catwalks to the most striking of the hundreds of falls, Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat. The roar itself is an unforgettable experience.

    7. SAGARMANTHA N. P., Nepal. The park includes Mount Everest, among other prominent mountains. It has distinctive wildlife and small picturesque Sherpa villages with their gumpas (monasteries).

    8. MADAIN SALEY NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK, Saudi Arabia. This region, the Biblical Midian, is mostly undulating desert, interspersed with huge rocky outcrops and lush oases. Here, between 500 B.C. and 100 A.D., the Nabatean people created 125 monumental cut-rock tombs and facades, edifices up to 130 feet tall, that are standing today in a remarkable state of preservation.

    9. PLITVICE LAKES N.P., Croatia. Plitvice Lakes National Park is located in inland Croatia, about halfway between Zagreb and Split. In moderately mountainous terrain, the park features water – small lakes and streams and beautiful waterfalls everywhere. Because of the geology of the area, travertine is evident in most of the water features, giving them distinctive blue-green colors and exceptionally clear water. There are a number of excellent short and moderate hiking trails with quiet, non-polluting electric ferries connecting some of the trails by way of the lakes. Because of the vegetation, fall “color season” is especially spectacular.

    10. HORTOBAGY N.P., Hungary. This park is located on the “puszta,” or great Hungarian plains. It was the country’s first national park. It also is a biosphere reserve and a World Heritage Site. The plains and wetlands reflect two millennia of human occupation and have supported agrarian life for centuries. It has several endangered bird species and is a refuge for the Przewalski horse and migratory waterfowl. Culturally, it preserves and interprets traditional Hungarian folkways, such as the nomadic herding culture of the puszta.


    The nearly 700 members of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees are all former employees of the National Park Service with a combined 20,500 years of stewardship of America’ most precious natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR members reflect the broad spectrum of political affiliations. CNPSR members now strive to apply their credibility and integrity as they speak out for national park solutions that uphold law and apply sound science. The Coalition counts among its members: former national park directors and deputy directors, regional directors, superintendents, rangers and other career professionals who devoted an average of nearly 30 years each to protecting and interpreting America’s national parks on behalf of the public. For more information, visit the CNPSR Web site at

    Rick Smith

  • How Will Stimulus Help the Parks? At Great Sand Dunes National Park It Could Mean Reclamation and Restoration   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Open the dunes up to ORV traffic to help fund any restoration and see the dollors roll in. Plus more people will be able to enjoy it.

  • How Long Before Gravity Takes Over?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I'm surprised how my one sentence of fact can lead to swearing and a censorial imperative. My statement of fact is not intended to disparage NPT, as it is simply a statement of fact about Arches National Park.

  • Glory, Shame, and Remembrance at Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Sand Creek was not unique--it simply got more publicity than some of the other
    massacres of Native people; the only other one getting as much publicity was
    Wounded Knee in 1890. The massacre of Shoshonis by General Connor's California
    volunteers at Bear River in 1863, and the massacre of Blackfeet by the 5th cavalry under
    Colonel Baker on the Marias river in Montana in 1870 were just as bloody. All resulted in
    over 200 Native people--I refuse to call them Indians as they have nothing to do with
    India--being killed. As for the Cheyennes, four years almost to the day after Sand Creek
    they were attacked again by Custer and the 7th cavalry on the Washita River in
    Oklahoma; about 40 people were killed and 53 taken prisoner. Custer was looking for
    another band of Cheyennes--the so-called Dog Soldiers--but blundered into Black
    Kettle's camp by mistake. Black Kettle was among those killed. Custer lost 21 killed--
    4 in the attack on the village; 17 in a counterattack by the Dog Soldiers, who were
    camped only a few miles away--and a number of wounded.

  • How Will Stimulus Help the Parks? At Great Sand Dunes National Park It Could Mean Reclamation and Restoration   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Print, borrow & spend. That certainly sounds like a proven and sure path to prosperity.

    Those moronic idiots in DC are just about to go on their last big spending spree before the whole rotten edifice they sit upon topples unto the scrapheap of history where it mostly surely belongs.

    I'm really beginning to enjoy the spectacle of it more and more.

    Does it really mater if they spend it on Goldman Sachs, Chrysler & GM, Fannie & Freddie or in soaking the streets of Fallujah and Kirkuk in oceans of innocent blood? Maybe it'll be a new jet plane for the Emperor or just maybe it'll be spent to restore the trout of Sand Creek. What possible difference could it make how they blow their ill-gotten play money?

    On thing is for sure: This puppy is going down and going down hard!

    So sit back and savor this one folks. The death of an empire is a compelling thing to witness. I'm going to be here to watch every minute of it.

    Here's to the trout of Sand Creek!

  • How Will Stimulus Help the Parks? At Great Sand Dunes National Park It Could Mean Reclamation and Restoration   6 years 6 weeks ago

    "...the reclamation of the abandoned sand and gravel pits at Great Sand Dunes will help in the effort to restore native trout to Sand Creek..."

    America is shedding a half a million jobs per month with millions more at risk. The nation turns to our government for help, and our drunk on pork Congress bails out the trout at Sand Creek. Leadership, or foolish greed?

  • How Long Before Gravity Takes Over?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Jesus, Frank, give it a rest. Do you just enjoy cutting NPT down at every turn?

  • How Long Before Gravity Takes Over?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    In fact, there's a parking lot right across from it.

    And the last time I was there, there was a dump right across from the parking lot.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Thanks for enlightening us VCDL member. And I agree this was not technically a started "last-minute". However, the haste with which the rule was pushed through means it was sloppy and may have done more to harm the process than spur it along.

    Also, Yes, there are lots of stats and evidence that guns (in the hands of law abiding citizens) do impact crime rates and save lives. However, where are the stats showing that crime rates in parks are high enough to warrant such a rule change? I have yet to see those. Also, in your list of sources I don't see anything about the unintended consequences of guns. In parks, the potential unintended consequences to wildlife and visitors are unknown. Because of that, this rule needs to be put on hold until we can study the risks that guns have to parks.

    The last thing I want to say is the strongest argument against guns in parks has nothing to do with crime. It has to do with environmental impacts (in my opinion). And to understand the potential irreversible impacts on the environment studies need to be completed to help both sides of this argument reach a more educated and science based conclusion. And people keep asking for examples but other than the bear example I have seen few. BUT keep in mind that is not proof that the impacts would be few! It is instead evidence of how little we know.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Funnily enough i wrote about my ten favourites, out of the ones I've visitedm just recently:

    Would have to agree that Tikal should be in there, in fact I think it should definitely be a contender for number one.

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

    @ anon: Your pic shows Mesa Arch in Canyonlands NP and there it is legal to walk over it. It might not be smart, but it is legal. Only Arches NP it is forbidden to climb or walk over any named rock formation including the arches.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Many posting here have claimed that this rule change was the result of a last-minute push by an outgoing Republican administration, and was done at the behest of the NRA. This action was supported by the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and other organizations, but it was initiated, and guided, by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL,) a Commonwealth of Virginia gun-rights organization that has the slogan, "Defending Your Right to Defend Yourself." VCDL began this effort in 2003, and the effort took so long because the NPS dragged its feet throughout the process, and defended their existing rule not with facts, but with opinion and speculation.

    Just a few days before the public-comment period was to end in June 2008, anti-gun Congressmen persuaded the Department of the Interior to extend the period prescribed for public comment. (One might conclude that the comments to that time did not support their view.) As I recall, the legislators requested an additional 90 days, and were granted 45.

    IF one considers five years of petitions and campaigns a "last-minute" decision, then that person's sense of time and mine are considerably different.

    Still, NPCA, an organization to which I contributed for several decades (but which I no longer support,) and the leadership allegedly representing the retired NPS employees, are still struggling to obstruct the rule change. This opposition in spite of being able to provide no evidence to support their view, and in the face of recent academic studies from independent researchers that find no evidence that gun-control laws have any effect on reducing crime or suicide. I suggest that those really interested read those studies for themselves. (Google "gun control research.") My personal favorite is the multi-year, international study reported in a paper entitled. "Would banning firearms reduce murder and suicide? A review of international and some domestic evidence" published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy - March 22, 2007. It is available for purchase on Amazon, or to read on line at various sites. If you would like me to save you some time, the answer is, "No."

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

    Mr. Burnett, I checked your link:
    The drunken idiot used a RIFLE (not a very conceal worthy weapon). To set the record straight, this person did not have a conceal carry permit. Yes, he should be one of the people NOT allowed to carry a gun in a park! My question is, why should Mr. Idiot-without-a-conceal-carry-permit be the standard by which law-abiding conceal carry citizens should be judged?
    Also, lets not forget that each individual is responsible for his/her own safety. If you don't want to defend yourself against some psycho-murderer that's your choice. why take that right away from the rest of us that care to take responsibility for ourselves?

    I hear your point that poaching is the major issue (personally, I believe it's personal safety and not poaching). Perhaps a middle ground can be found though. The high court ruled that sensible regulations can be made. My thought is that since most hunting bullets are fairly large: 44Mag and up and the gun would have to have a significantly long barrel 6" or greater. The answer may be to allow CCW as long as they are not over certain size limits.
    This way personal protection is available while keeping poaching at least at it's current level.

    Human life is too precious to leave in the hands of psychos and criminals. Encourage people to defend themselves and others!

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Re:2. OK Amstutz... I was not talking about jay-walking... I would include all crimes in my assessment of normal humans stopping crimes. It doesn't always take a gun. A gun may make it easier but it may not make it all situations safer.

    Re:3. Parks are already protected by LE's

    Re:4. Negative impacts on parks. The most important, and EIS related impacts, could occur to wildlife that encounter or approach people with guns. For instance, in Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, and Grand Teton NP griz and black bears will often purposefully approach or suddenly find themselves in close proximity to humans. Today people must rely on bears spray and other non-lethal means to get themselves out of those situations. In fact, even in places where guns are allowed ( FS lands) bear spray in advised over the use of a gun in bear encounters. With bears having a low reproductive rate an isolated bear population (especially Griz) can be quickly impacted through the loss of just a few breeding females.

    Yes there are guns in parks. The loaded ones are in the hands of 2 groups: Law enforcement and law breakers. Gun owners who travel to or through a park must remove ammunition from the weapon. This rule stands not just for guns but also for crossbows and bow and arrows.

    As for the stats you present...they are interesting but they really don't tell the whole story... but they definitely support you stance pretty well!

    But this one is confusing "34% have been driven away, wounded, or captured by armed citizens; 40% have decided against committing crimes for fear their would-be victims were armed."
    is it a percentage of the 2.1 million quoted earlier? or 34% of crimes committed against CCW permit holders? To me each explanation is not very impressive. Providing percentages without population or sample parameters makes understanding them very difficult.

    Finally, the last percentages do seem to show that violent crimes are higher in restricted states... however it is not possible to directly link that change to the presence of CCW permit holders.

  • Updated: Murder-Suicide Leaves Two Dead at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 6 weeks ago

    When Maverick was in his 70's he decided he wanted to hike the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim 80 times before his 80th birthday. He exceeded his goal, wore out who knows how many pairs of shoes, and always had a smile and a story for my tour groups as we lunched on the porch of the Bright Angel Lodge. Thanks, Maverick. We'll see you down by the creek...

  • Major Bike Race Will Affect Yosemite Traffic on February 18, 2009   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I only wish I could be there to see the tour pass by. This is an exciting event. If you are in the neighborhood don't miss it.

  • Is San Juan National Historic Site Haunted?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    Here is my contribution for the readers who don't speak Spanish: a translation of the "interesting story" referred in this post. In fact it is an old Puerto Rican Legend that was reproduced by the website linked in this post. Hope you like it:

    Puerto Rican Popular legends:
    Legend of the “La Garita del Diablo” (The Sentry box of the Devil)

    The inhabitants of the island of Puerto Rico were very prone to pirates’ attacks. Because of that all their lives they had to be on guard watching.

    The capital city was surrounded (and still it is) by castles and walls. Around the walls they had, between trails and trails, sentry boxes or “torrecitas” (small towers) where the soldiers did their guard shifts day and night. By the nights you heard the rounds of shouts that the sentries shouted to not fall asleep.
    -Alert sentry! - shouted one.
    And nearest responded:
    - Alert he is!

    Among all the sentry boxes, there was one, the most distant and solitary one. It was on a deep cliff at the end of the bay.

    In the silence of night, the noise of the sea produced a rumor as if the bad spirits were ‘cuchicheando’ (murmuring).

    There was a soldier who they called “Flor de Azahar.” Azahar was a white flower and because soldier Sánchez had a very white skin like Azahar, they called to him thus.

    That night was Sánchez turn to watch that sentry box.

    As usual, the password shouts of the soldiers can be heard from trail to trail every so often. But, it was soldier Sánchez turn, and nobody answered. You only can listen the wind whistling and the sea with its rumor.

    Fear seizes these men who spent the night shaking, only by thinking what had happened to their fellow soldier.

    When the sun came out, they all ran towards the sentry box to see what had happened to the sentry soldier that had been speechless during all night. They found: the rifle, the cartridge belt and the uniform of the soldier. Sánchez had disappeared without a trace.

    The soldiers, who were superstitious, began to say that a demon had surprised him and had taken him flying to the air.

    From that day, the sentry box of the missing Sánchez, it is known as “La Garita del Diablo”.

    That was what the soldiers believed and the rest of the Island.

    But the truth ..... that I will tell it to you, want to know it? Then here it goes:

    Sánchez (Flor de Azahar) was an Andalusian soldier and very handsome, who belonged to the Cavalry regiment and play a very beautiful guitar.

    Diana, a very beautiful mestiza (mixed race), lived deeply enamored of Sánchez and Sánchez of her. They were satisfied of looking at each other and speaking with their eyes. To Sánchez his mission prohibited him to approach her, and to her, it was prohibited by her adopted mother, who was stricter than a sergeant.

    Flor de Azahar (Sánchez) communicated with Diana through his guitar. At nights he played it and sang. In the song he communicated to her his messages.

    One night he sent her a message, the one only she could understand, which said:

    “Tomorrow at nigh fall, go and look for your love, because far from your arms, his heart dies.” The following night, Diana woke up very quiet and stealthily, and left the house to look for her love. When they met in the sentry box, they fused in kisses and love words and decided to flee far away and to live together for ever.

    Diana had brought him civilian clothes. He left in the sentry box his rifle, the cartridge belt and his uniform and, without making any noise, they fled towards the mountain range and forests of (the town of) Luquillo.

    There, hidden from the rest of the Island, they build their home and lived for the rest on their days.

    They say that still, in the sentry box, at nights you can hear the strum of a guitar and a laugh dissolved in the wind. Meaning that Diana and Flor de Azahar are laughing at those who invented the legend of “la Garita del Diablo.”

    The End.

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    The series is going to premier on the big Screen at Mountainfilm in Telluride - all 12 hours - May 22 - 25, 2009 with Ken Burns in attendance. It should be a pretty amazing weekend with topics ranging from the National Parks to a symposium on food as well as about 60 other films exploring global cultures, adventure sports and the environment.

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

    Just because there is a rule that says you can't do something it doesn't stop the people trying to. If you think you can't walk over an arch take a look at this.

    Tried to report it but they were long gone.

  • National Park Service Revenues Down $1.3 Million On Transition to America The Beautiful Pass   6 years 6 weeks ago

    The post above is spot on - the appropriate comparison is not ATB Pass revenues vs. National Parks Pass revenues, its total revenues vs. total revenues. I think many people could make the argument that the National Parks Pass was under-priced at the level of visits to just two premiere National Parks in one year. Sales of the ATB Pass may be down from National Parks Pass levels, but that may be a good thing if it means more people are paying the normal Parks entrance fees. At the end of the day, the article on the NPT Home Page today has a much better take on it - for the price of just *one person* to enter one major theme Park like Disney or Universal Studios for just *one day* you can get your entire family into every Federal Public Land in the United States for one year. Really, the most amazing thing is just how cheap the ATB Pass really is.....

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 6 weeks ago

    1. It's spelled Amst U tz. 2. I'm talking about violent crimes not jay-walking or littering. 3. Places you cannot carry are already protected by officers with guns. ie. Court house, Police station, etc. 4. What negative impact on the park could guns have. I'm not being funny I am seriously wondering. Nobody has given one here yet. (unless I missed it.) And there are already guns in the NPs correct? If there are credible reasons I wouldn't have a problem with the law staying 5. Since you want stats here you go...just a couple to ponder....

    Americans use firearms for self-defense more than 2.1 million times annually.

    99.9% of self-defense firearms uses do not result in fatal shootings of criminals, an important factor ignored in certain "studies" that are used to claim that guns are more often misused than used for self-protection.

    Of incarcerated felons surveyed by the Department of Justice, 34% have been driven away, wounded, or captured by armed citizens; 40% have decided against committing crimes for fear their would-be victims were armed.

    The total Violent Crime Rate is 26% higher in the restrictive states (798.3 per 100,000 pop.) than in the less restrictive states (631.6 per 100,000).

    These figures are compiled from the FBI's annual report on crime (Uniform Crime Reports), and from other law enforcement agencies.

  • National Park Service Revenues Down $1.3 Million On Transition to America The Beautiful Pass   6 years 6 weeks ago

    It costs more and looks crappier. Of course people would avoid it like the plague.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   6 years 6 weeks ago

    I'm right there with ya, buddy. I'm tired of leftist liberals trying to destroy the constitution..."from my cold dead hands," filthy hippies! Bring it!!

  • Is San Juan National Historic Site Haunted?   6 years 6 weeks ago

    These forts are really something everyone should visit. We spent days wandering through learning about the history of the sites.