Recent comments

  • Showdown at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Just calling it like I see it and experienced it for 10 years as an agency permanent employee.

    My constructive suggestion, as I've made many times before, is to take the parks out of the purview of the U.S. federal government and put them into the hands of non-profit private trusts. Take the politics and careerism out of vital land management decision making.

    By the way, would you say the same thing about someone, like me, who sees nothing to be gained from fighting bloody unjust wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or the bailout of worthless criminals on Wall Street? Is it unduly negative to point out the waste and moral bankruptcy of such policies without coming up with something positive to say just to make sure I'm being fair to all involved?

    When something is terribly wrong it's pretty hard to put anything but your intellectual integrity and base gut level instincts to work. What do you think I should have pointed out that is positive in this particular story? That someone with honest integrity and grit was pilloried and harassed due their extremely galling temerity in revealing the truth? That he was hounded by career bureaucrats for defending the resources he had taken so seriously to defend?

    Wake up y'all. This ship is going down! Re-arrange the deck chairs all you want but the truth is staring at us quite plainly: the days of the American Imperium are at an end. If you care about the parks it's time to look for other containers to put them in besides the morally and financially bankrupt hands of the corrupt and self-serving madarins on the Potomac.

    Nuff said?

    Positively truthful enough for ya?

  • Watching Wildlife In and Around Grand Teton National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I have been to both parks 11 times and will do them both in the winter this year. I usually found Yellowstone with more wildlife except on my last trip this was the first not to see one bear in Yellowstone. So who can say.

  • Yellowstone National Park Relocates the 45th Parallel   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Please see the book Wyoming-Montana Border, They Followed the 45th, 1879-1880, for a detailed explanation of the northern Wyoming boundary through the park. The book relates the original survey and documents the border which became the legal boundary of Wyoming-Montana even though the surveyors were off from the 45th Parallel many times.

  • Showdown at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Beamis, I suggest that you do hold your breath. Your constant negative flow never seems to offer any constructive in put on NPT. Nothing personal, just wondering why you can't be a little more up-lifting in your comments. Yes, be the devils advocate with some constructive points behind it.

  • Watching Wildlife In and Around Grand Teton National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    We have been in Yellowstone 3 times and the Tetons three times. Our second trip included camping at Coulter for a week. and we had time to explore the dirt road that parallels the river, what an experience, really great. Also on to Jackson Hole for lunch, quite a ice quiet area, well worth the time and effort for either or both parks. Thanks to the Natioinal Park system for keeping these parks glorious.

  • Was This the Best-Ever Use of a Bra in a National Park?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I love it! GReat story.
    Though I never knew how the concept was born, I admit it's even better than imagined... I say, resurrect the story and outsell all competitors. I have always considered Timex the best watch for time and value...and it was the "...keep on ticking" motto.
    Thanks Timex.
    Somethings are timeless.
    You're one of them.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Here are a few more "stats":
    Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day).
    An American has a one in 50 chance of being bitten by a dog each year.
    The number of fatal dog attacks in the USA has been going up. The yearly average was 17 in the 1980s and 1990s; there were 33 deaths in 2007, which is roughly double the average in the prior two decades.
    Funny. I still don't feel the need to carry a handgun when I go for a walk.
    And here is the bottom line kicker:
    Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms for children.
    Logic clearly dictates that we must arm our children with concealed handguns! They have a right to protect themselves. The heck with the fact that some might accidently shoot themselves or a playmate, or might shoot someone out of anger or might shoot someone's beloved pet because it looked mean and might attack. Heck, we'll just give them a written safety test or an hour or two of instruction. They'll be fine!
    In any case, these statistics kind of put "10 people killed by mountain lions in 12 years" or "13 deaths from alligators in eight years" into perspective.
    There were no maulings in Yellowstone National Park during 2008. The last one was of the photographer who was well known for getting too close to bears, and had been mauled before, in Spring of 2007. There were several maulings of (armed) hunters outside of the park last year. Hunters do everything right for hunting, but wrong for bear country: They sneak around without making any noise, they hide their shape by wearing camo, they blow elk bugles, they do everything to hide their scent and sometimes even use elk urine, then they get blood and guts on themselves field dressing animals. This in the fall when grizzly bears are desperate to put on weight prior to hybernation. All of this, combined with a late first (big) snow (which kept bears "awake" later), led to a higher percentage of hunter-bear interactions than normal.
    Bottom line: In the highly unlikely event that you are attacked by a bear in a National Park most experts; people who know bears, people who study bears, people who work with and around bears, will tell you that you have a far better chance using bear spray than a gun (especially a handgun, for god's sake). Many hunters have been badly injured or killed after they shot the attacking bear.
    Finally, this thread isn't even about whether or not concealed guns should or should not be allowed in parks; and I apologize to Kurt for my part in steering it in that direction. It is about the Bush administration breaking the law by pushing this through without preparing the proper environmental impacts. Simply saying that there is no impact does not mean that there is no impact.
    If pro-gunners want to be mad at someone, it shouldn't be the judge, it shouldn't be anyone in the Obama administration and it sure as heck shouldn't be me! It should be the officials in the Bush administration who, once again, felt that the law did not apply to them. Perhaps they really didn't want this to go through at all, but figured this was a good way to snuggle up to their political buddies (NRA etc.) while realizing that it was unlikely to pass the "smell" test. Kind of like wolves in Wyoming. Officials there (apparently) don't really want to manage wolves. Why pay for it when the feds are willing to do it? So they raise a big ruccus, stamp their feet like spoiled children, and take the feds to court knowing full well they can't win. They look good to their anti-wolf politcal cronies, and still keep the big dog on the ESL.

  • Showdown at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Thank God that there are rangers who put the protection of the resource and the principles of the service ahead of personal comfort and ambition.

    Unfortunately that usually spells the end of their influence and career. As long as the federal government is in charge this will be the way business is run and the "go along, get along" attitude of the tenured bureaucracy will prevail----always to the detriment of the resources in question.

    Why would anyone think that the C & O Canal would be run any differently than the Treasury Dept. or the Postal Service? Is the way that fat cat Synder was treated any different than what the executives of AIG or Goldman Sachs got from their insider bureaucrats and legislators? The continued illusions many of you have about how the NPS is somehow different than all of the other sludgy muck found oozing out of the halls of DC is nothing short of idiocy.

    It's time for real change, but as I've said before, I won't be holding my breath.

  • Watching Wildlife In and Around Grand Teton National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Wildlife watching in Grand Teton in recent years has actually been better than in Yellowstone. I'm sure this cycles back and forth over the years, but right now I would say that the Tetons are the preeminent wildlife destination in the lower forty eight. Also, viewing in the Tetons is far more relaxed. While on the books GT actually has stricter regs than Yellowstone regarding proximity to large mammals, the reality is that the bear encounter you descibe on the Moose-Wilson road could never happen in Yellowstone. The rangers would freak. They would either haze the bears away from the road or, more likely, close the whole road and all the turnouts to "No stopping, standing or walking". I don't know if it is because of a smaller enforcement budget, a different philosophy or simply the checkerboard nature of GTNP (so many private in holdings, state and forest land etc. In some areas it is almost impossible to tell if you are even in the park or not.)
    While you still CAN (and do!) see just about anything in Yellowstone, it is also very possible to drive around all day and see nothing more than a few elk and a couple of bison here and there. Such isn't the case in the Tetons where, if you get up early, you will literally be tripping over the wildlife. One problem, I think, is that Yellowstone is getting drier and drier. There are dozens of places that my wife and I remember watching ducks, geese, egrets and muskrats all summer long that are now bone dry by mid May. Yellowstone is either dense evergreen forest or desert-like sage brush (that used to have lots of refreshing ponds, but not any more). Compare that to the (still) lush aspen and willows of the Snake River bottom in GTNP. Not that the Tetons aren't drying up as well; they are, slowly. Also ecosystem habitat is being lost to development at an alarming rate, leading directly to a huge reduction in moose numbers. I guess the bottom line is: see 'em while you can.

  • Watching Wildlife In and Around Grand Teton National Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Nice write-up Kurt. On my last photo trip to the Grand Tetons (last fall), I discovered a wonderful natural history guide to the park there at the visitor center in Jackson: "A Naturalist's Guide to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks" by Dr. Frank C. Craighead Jr. It's an outstanding guide for following the annual cyclical changes in flora and fauna at Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

    You ard other Traveler readers may remember the Craighead brothers, Frank and John, and all the wonderful work they have done over the years at Yellowstone and other areas. My father had fond memories of outdoor courses he took from them while he studied at Univ. of Montana.

    Rob Mutch
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    Robert Mutch Photography,

  • Was This the Best-Ever Use of a Bra in a National Park?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    It's probably all an advertising lie. Never trust those people to say anything t true.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Interesting artical the what if's are unsupported though. People can have a gun in thier car now as long as it meets the unassecable requiremnets so the illegal uses such as poaching or commiting a crime has been able to happen for many a year,so thats not a reasonable grip....In all places that concealed carry is allowed crime has went down...."The proposed regulation made no allowance for how rangers were to police the various gun laws in those parks". they don't need to be an allowance either you posses a permit thats allowed in that state or you don''s policed just like a driver's licenes......."How many visitors want to be concerned about whether the person next to them during a ranger-guided walk"....people are around you everyday in most the US that carry...The Park would be no different.......The number of people entering the park want be effected at I said they are around people carrying every day already..."Impulsive uses of guns:....the people that carry just have to access the weapon,and load it to use it anyway,it would take a couple of minutes longer is the only difference, so this is another unjustified what if.....if your going to be against something you should have real reasons instead of blow out of porportion what ifs

  • Showdown at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Thank God that there are rangers who put the protection of the resource and the principles of the service ahead of personal comfort and ambition.

  • What Should a Park Do With "Surplus" Wood? Yellowstone National Park Has One Answer   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Anonymous -

    From a supply standpoint, you make a good point about the ready availability of beetle killed wood in SW Montana. However, I hope people will be cautious about hauling wood from any insect kill site, anywhere in the country. At least until the wood has been thoroughly dried and cured, and the insects have moved on, there's a risk of spreading the insects into areas that aren't already infested.

    When I worked in the Big Thicket National Preserve in SE Texas years ago, that whole area was in the midst of a periodic outbreak of southern pine beetle, and there was a lot of salvage logging occurring on timber company and other private forests. When aerial photos were taken of the area as part of control efforts, it was not uncommon to see new "hot spots" of beetle activity show up right along the edge of roads where bug killed trees had been hauled out by truck.

  • Federal Judge Issues Scathing Opinion in Blocking "Concealed Carry" In National Parks, Wildlife Refuges   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I would note that in NPS areas with grizzly bears, the carrying of bear pepper spray is legal. You can find it in most gift shops in Yellowstone or Grand Teton. One of the problems with carrying a handgun is that it's not likely to take down a 400+ lb grizzly bear and it's very, very difficult to hit a full-gallop grizzly. Even so, I remember some rangers at Grand Teton talking about their bear spray and commenting that they felt they were more likely to use it against some person than a bear.

    As for the illegal pot farms - they're usually located well away from major trails, since they don't want to be found. If you're camping in the frontcountry or near major roads, you've got little to be worried about. I heard about one guy who ran across one. Since he wasn't law enforcement, the man guarding the plants told him to just forget that he'd seen anything and just walk away. I don't recall any case where someone accidentally hiking into an illegal pot farm on NPS land being shot at.

    In any case, the NPS has trained law enforcement. They are equipped with 12 gauge shotguns and AR-15s. If you're really worried about armed groups in national parts outfitted with AK-47s, then a handgun isn't likely to be enough.

  • Showdown at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park   6 years 8 weeks ago

    This is typical of how the entire federal government functions.

  • What Should a Park Do With "Surplus" Wood? Yellowstone National Park Has One Answer   6 years 8 weeks ago

    With the incredible amount of beetle killed tree available throughout SW Montana, I am not sure why someone would want to drive the extra distance into Yellowstone Park to get firewood.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Tomp, god we could use you now in Yosemite National Park...more then ever. I agree in periodic closing of certain national parks in order to reestablish areas that have been human grazed to pieces from excessive usages. Something like rotational grazing, in which they do on the open range land to reestablish grasslands for better palatability for livestock. Much focus should on rejuvenation of mother nature and a better sense of vegetation dynamics to enhance the parks to a better mode of natural beauty. The national parks should be respected for it's natural and pristine beauty and not to be treated as some kind of backyard junk pile. There's a certain element of respect and etiquette that I see is lacking in our national parks. We need to reeducate the public in those values once again, in which I see that has been terribly lacking for the last past eight years. I truly believe that honest conscientious and holistic help is on it's way with are present administration...and despite what the professional cynics think.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Tomp. Thanks for sharing your opinion, but basically you seem to having a basic bias against bikes on narrow trails. I happen to disagree.

  • Congress Passes Sweeping Public Lands Package, National Parks Will Benefit   6 years 8 weeks ago


    How about some context for that number? How many acres of federal land are _open_ to bicycles? There are both thousands of times more acres closed to bicycles than any hiker could ever visit, and thousands of times more acres open to bicycles than any cyclist could ever visit. [Which leaves those of us who both hike & bike as appropriate too many acres and too little time.] I don't have the data and thus might lose, but I'd bet a beer that almost all NPS units allow bikes on roads, and that a majority of NPS units (not just "parks") allow bikes on some types of trails closed to automobiles.

    The argument is not about how many acres should be open to what, its about appropriate access to specific places, and about the process for making those decisions. The previous bicycles in parks article was about whether for NPS lands, the default should be no bikes unless NEPA and national-level review allows them in specific cases, or should it be anything with hiking or horses defaults to allow bikes unless NEPA & national planning explicitly justify closing them, or should the decision be made by the local superintendent, subject to local community/business/user pressure, and almost certain to move on to a different NPS unit in a couple of years (unless he or she alienates the local stakeholders)? Ask the same question about management of BLM or FS or FWS land, and you'll probably get different answers, as those lands are managed for different purposes.

    I come down hard on the side of conservation/preservation in National Parks (broadly interpreting "unimpaired for future generations" to include indirect effects on flora & fauna, loss of archeological resources, erosion in sensitive areas, etc.), so I'm even ok with some areas being closed to all human access (seasonally like parts of Yellowstone for bears, for years like some areas trying to be restored, or permanent for some critical habitat). Some parks have to be open only to guided/escorted groups of hikers to protect archeological resources, so I won't see another sunrise at Waputki. I think that much of the backcountry of large parks like Yellowstone & Yosemite and Sequoia should be open only to foot traffic. [I'd be happier if more of the areas open to hiking didn't allow horses, although requirements to bring feed rather than let horses graze wet meadows help reduce the impact.] I think that mountain biking on established trails is appropriate in some parks (e.g., much of the Needles district of Canyonlands), and that an honest process will find more parks where mountain bikes on trails can be accommodated without harm, but that "open until harm is demonstrated" is backward and would produce much harm that will take decades to restore. (I'd favor something like alternate week schedules on shared trails to benefit both hikers & bikers, the way many medium-sided lakes have alternate days for sailboats v. powerboats.). And again, motorized access on both paved & unpaved roads is appropriate in some areas (even jeeps in parts of Canyonlands, but not driving up sensitive washes). I'm the same way about climbing: some areas can be open, some areas can be open with restrictions on no new hardware, and some areas should be closed to climbing.

    Back to the wilderness bill. Having been in the back country of ROMO and Sequoia and a bit in Zion, I think wilderness is the appropriate designation for those specific areas, with no bikes (and I'd like to see no horses). As a scientist, I realize that ROMO & YELL need substantial areas with little or no human visitation as core or refuge areas for wildlife so there will be wildlife to see in the front country, so if the difficulty in getting there isn't enough, the core areas may need to be closed to hikers (including me) as well.

    ps: If I were in charge of Yosemite, I'd ban _all_ private vehicles from the valley, allowing only the LPG buses and bikes on the roads, and developing a system of unpaved bike paths/trails for mountain bikes throughout most of the valley. It wouldn't be technical or booming & zooming thrill riding, but touring bikes & mountain bikes are appropriate technology for Yosemite Valley, Zion Canyon, (and Toulumne valley if Hetch Hetchy every goes away).

  • What Should a Park Do With "Surplus" Wood? Yellowstone National Park Has One Answer   6 years 8 weeks ago

    If you ever camped in British Columbias' fine campsites, you will know that they have cut up wood, free for campers to use. What a nice idea. Too bad I have never seen it here in the states.

  • Managing Resources Underwater At Buck Island Reef National Monument   6 years 8 weeks ago

    If you're interested, the NPS I&M South Florida Caribbean Network website ( has several video swim-throughs on their website (, including during & after a coral bleaching event, as well as quite a bit of inventory information.

  • Ignorance and Complacency—Common Denominators in Many Park Accidents   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I take full responsibility for my life, my ignorance and my complacency.

    “No servant brought them meals… No traffic cop whistled them off the hidden rock in the next rapids. No friendly roof kept them dry when they misguessed weather or not to pitch the tent. No guide showed them which camping spots offered a night long breeze and which a nightlong misery of mosquitoes; which firewood made clear coals and which would only smoke. The elemental simplicities of wilderness travel were thrills…because they represented complete freedom to make mistakes. The wilderness gave…those rewards and penalties for wise and foolish acts…against which civilization had built a thousand buffers.” ~Aldo Leopold~

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Yo Bemis- I don't know where you live, but where I live it really is not that bad. Criminals don't rule the roost, I don't have to lock my door and feel perfectly safe walking at night or the trails during the day. Just as safe as I feel hiking and camping in the Parks I frequent. I know... I know some day I will wish you were here with your concealed weapon to save me. Well, I am just going to do what I do as I have been for 45 years, be a true law abiding citizen, visit our National Parks and hope every one does the same. Laws change, it is someting we all live with. I will live with what ever happens with this and keep a smile on my face, can you say the same? It was that way in 1787 and it is the same way now, we just roll with the punches. That is why we live in this wonderful country, if you know of a better place, well... feel free...

  • House Consideration of Massive Public Lands Bill Could Involve Gun Amendment   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I would like to thank Rick Smith for his comment which gave more info bot this land bill. My personal preference would have liked the gun rights language.But that can be handled as a separate issue. We do not need to weigh down bills with pet agendas.

    I would like more info on how the sequester of these lands impact any energy issues. Since preservation and mining often clash.