Recent comments

  • Creature Feature: The American Marten   6 years 11 weeks ago

    It is protected - it lives in national parks and is protected under National Park Service regs.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Joel,

    Sorry, I don't see the hypocrisy. Alcohol by itself cannot kill an innocent bystander in a crowd.

    But really, I think you'd have to agree that wild statements are being made on both sides of this issue. This was in the New York Times today:

    “You read stories about people attacked by animals or who stumble upon meth labs or women who are raped in a national park,” the N.R.A.’s chief lobbyist, Chris W. Cox, said.

    I cannot recall the last time a park visitor was attacked outright by an unprovoked wild animal. Yes, there are incidents when grizzlies have attacked visitors, but in every case I can recall it was because the humans wandered into the bear's territory, not a random bear-eats-tourist attack. Would you say these humans need to arm themselves so they can ignore well-accepted practices for protecting yourself in the wilds? And if so, would you agree that that would lead to higher numbers of wildlife killings? And would that be acceptable?

    Meth labs in the parks? I don't recall any. I have heard of marijuana farms in Sequoia and Yosemite, but can't recall any stories of visitors "stumbling" upon them.

    Rapes in parks. I can't deny that one. Those are truly disturbing incidents that I wish there was an easy solution for. Is carrying a gun the easy solution? If one is confronted in the backcountry by a rapist, who obviously has a plan, how quickly could a potential victim get a gun out of her backpack (after all, we are talking about "concealed" carry)? Wouldn't it be better to travel in groups? To learn self-defense?

    What about those who believe the majority of rapes are committed by men who know their victims and so are more likely to catch the women off-guard?

    All that said, there are no easy answers to this debate in which hyperbole runs rampant. For every comment that guns are dangerous and there are too many in circulation there is another that more guns equates with more safety in society. I think you'd have to agree that both sides have some merit to their arguments.

  • Development of Valley Forge National Historical Park Inholding Gets Green Light from Planners   6 years 11 weeks ago

    This ARC situation in Valley Forge is a true tragedy.

    It was created by the officials who run the National Park Service and the elected congressional and local government officials who have allowed this to happen, and seem unable to move against a politically popular fundraiser and gadabout and insider.

    This is the sort of outrageous situation that happens when Congress fails to provide the funding – ALREADY AUTHORIZED IN LAW – to acquired all undeveloped land within Valley Forge.

    The purpose of the Center is to exploit the good name of Valley Forge in American history to create a profit center to perpetuate their organization.

    What is really specious is the way ARC is trying to trivialize the national park to build its convention center. By Act of Congress, ALL land within the park is sacred. ARC is trying to challenge the meaning of Valley Forge to America by trying to get the National Park Service to prove that archeological remains exist exactly where they want to build their center. All national parks would be threatened by this standard. Parks are significant AS A WHOLE; and there are good reasons why ALL undeveloped lands within Valley Forge National Historic Park must be protected.

    The National Park Service and the Congress should condemn this ARC inholding now before damage is done, and before the value and cost is driven up further.

    George Washington knew a thing or two when he selected this site. A river ran through it! One of the key things ABOUT Valley Forge is the encampment was straddling the river. Washington knew he was in the best tactical position if, to evade a British attack, he had the option of moving to one side of the river or the other to maneuver. As a base, he could separate his supply depot from his barracks, for maximum efficiency and hygiene. This park cannot be protected unless the visitor can see undeveloped land where ARC wants to place a $250 Million extravaganza. How degrading to the memory of Washington and those few and brave Americans who stood with him during the lowest point of American prospects. For shame.

    How could the leadership of the National Park Service and the Congress forget about the fight only a few years ago to prevent the Toll Brothers from building on land in the park only a stone’s throw to the East, on the same side of the river? At that time, the National Park Service had to admit that the Toll development would conflict with the Park’s Land Protection Plan, a plan that calls for the protection of ALL undeveloped portions of the land on the north of the river?? By the time Secretary Norton was forced to agree to acquire the Toll Brother’s property, the price had soared to over $9 M. Yet she and the Director of the National Park Service did nothing to acquire the rest of the privately owned, undeveloped land. This Administration seems unable to learn from its disasters. Why aren’t the current Secretary and the current Director capable of learning from what happened at the Toll Brothers site and ACT PROACTIVELY?

    There is nothing comparable in this situation to the development of the visitor center at Gettysburg on private land. In the case of Gettysburg, the development concept was first included in park planning and park Environmental Impact Statement, reviewed by the public and approved by the Regional Director of the National Park Service. The NPS then conducted a search for an appropriate partner to develop and raise funds for the center, and after competition, a partner was selected. NPS then negotiated with the partner to modify the proposal so that how the center was designed, built and managed would be consistent with the congressional purposes of the park. The agreement provided for a means for the ultimate transfer of the center to the NPS. Everything was subject to NPS approval.

    None of these conditions apply to this rogue development proposal by political players who know how to compromise a national park supposedly set aside for all Americans, and compromise political appointees of the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior, and compromise the elected officials who should be vigilant to protect the site of the birthplace of the U.S. Army.

    OUR OFFICIALS MUST STOP THIS TRAGEDY AND DISHONOR TO THE U.S. ARMY AND THE MEMORY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON NOW !

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 11 weeks ago

    It sounds like the Congressman has a problem with alcohol. Maybe we should start with banning that too. We should make the world as benign as possible right? Let's look at his quote again:

    "NPS law enforcement personal will also be put at greater risk. Most of these brave men and women work alone, confronting large crowds where alcohol can be prevalent. Wading into a situation alone to restore and protect park visitors and park resources is daunting under the current rule. The last thing these dedicated public servants need is loaded guns hidden in the crowd."

    Why would he single out guns when he clearly painted alcohol with the same broad and dangerous brush? It sounds to me like the Congressman is pandering to the Anti-gun Lobby. Of course he’s not a hypocrite when he says something the moderator of the site agrees with. Maybe we should just ban the large crowds they're confronting. (That would be easy. Just take away the designation of National Park. The same land will be there but people will stop coming in droves.) We all know what it's like when Old Faithful is running late. It's pandemonium everywhere. I bet the rangers are checking their watches and diving for the nearest foxhole.

    I’m guessing you have a great chance of losing your life while walking through certain parks with not enough nourishment or water. I’d be willing to bet you are more likely to die while rock climbing or riding your mountain bike on slick rock. What about boating? I hereby call for a look at all activities and ban anything dangerous. Down with hiking, campfires, water skiing, fishing, mountain climbing, alcohol.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Why the concern about citizens that have been issued a "Right to Carry Permit? They are US citizens that have been subjected to a background search that has shown them responsible citizens. The hidden gun in the crowd most likely already exists. The criminal is the problem not the licensed gun owner.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Rick Smith snipes stereotypically

    > Needless to say, NPT will lose a few NRA member readers whose single-minded emphasis on carrying weapons into almost any place in our country
    > is not only tiresome, but also dangerous.

    This is the same lame, tiresome, baseless, mythological perpetuation that makes the gun grabbers look as clueless as they really are. I'll say this until you are blue in the face: give me one example of a citizen with a concealed carry permit who has committed a violent crime in your sacred national park system - or any place in our country. You can't do it. If you choose to impugn citizens who refuse to relinquish a natural and Constitutionally protected right that's your business. You'll suffer the consequences of your ignorance. I can provide many instances where citizens with guns have PREVENTED crimes. That's the fact not emotional touchy-feely, self-aggrandizement.

    As for this silly perpetual allusion that parks are safe or "relatively" crime-free. Well, yeah, there are only a "few" murders" or there's only just a few thousand assaults, robberies or rapes, so I guess it's really a minuscule "statistic" unless YOU ARE one of the statistics. Your Pollyanna-like naiveté is single-minded, snooty, and devoid of reality. If you're the one in a million who gets struck by lightning it hurts. It's only a one-in-a-million chance but you were lucky enough to provide the ground for the charge. If your wife is enjoyable prey for a goofy rapist I guess you're still justified in retaining intellectual integrity in your moral stand against those nasty, icky guns that all the NRA wackos are obsessed with.

    I'm just curious, Rick, but I didn't notice anything in your post, or those of others, that hinted at concern that one or more of the travelers in the park system you encounter might be a criminal carrying a gun. Or whether outside of the parks someone in your town might be a criminal with a gun. No, you take the moral high ground and bravely take a stand against a Constitutionally guaranteed right rather than place the blame where it belongs - with the criminals who commit the crimes.

  • Development of Valley Forge National Historical Park Inholding Gets Green Light from Planners   6 years 12 weeks ago

    I didn't understand this fight until I went back and visited Valley Forge over the holiday weekend with my family. I hadn't been to Valley Forge since I was a child, and WOW has the area around it grown. I would now describe it as almost a Central Park, being that it is beautiful and peaceful inside the park but the towering skyscrapers/hotels/traffic/noise/congestion/concrete jungle is in veiw in the background and it does detract from experience. The bottom line is that they didn't make the park big enough and because it is so beautiful, civilization wants to be right at the edge of it. I see now why they are fighting, because losing more area to the building/traffic/congestion/concrete jungle would honestly have a tremendous impact. I sincerely hope that when the ARC is designing their plan that they try to keep it as green as possible- not just that it is environmentally friendly, but that they literally leave it as green with nature as humanly possible.

  • Interior Officials Want to Allow Concealed Carry in the National Parks   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Sorry, but your argument just doesn't hold water. The people that carry legally should be able to carry legally in any non-secure location. The people that you are talking about are ALREADY carrying ILLEGALLY in the parks. Are you really so artless as to believe that a person who is already committing a crime (by carrying a concealed firearm without a CHL) would, out of some nebulous sense of honor, voluntarily stop their illegal carry simply because they are entering the sanctity of a National Park???? Of course they won't. That's why they are called criminals! Also, just for your eddification......http://www.hkshooter.net/nps/crime.html. A few NPS reports on crimes already going on in our National Parks. Lastly, I bet you didn't know that according to the Ranger branch of the FOP, a NP Ranger is 12x more likely to be confronted violently than and FBI agent!......3x more than the next most endangered federal officer, a DEA agent! It kind of settles in a little when you realize that those nice friendly Rangers in their Smokey Bear hats have the biggest bullseye painted on them of ANY Federal LEO.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Kurt,
    Here is some background on (Grijalva). This guy was a member of the group La Mecha which also can be seen as racist. He still refuses to disavow the group. This quote is from La Mechas constitution. "General membership shall consist of any student who accepts, believes and works for the goals and objectives of MEChA, including the liberation of AZTLAN, meaning self-determination of our people in this occupied state and the physical liberation of our land." AZTLAN is the entire Southwest of the USA.

    How does he expect to continue to be taken seriously ?

    Joe

    Raul Grijalva: Have FBI probe alleged militia-racist link

    Rep.-elect denounces patrols; they call his bigotry charges 'lies'

    LUKE TURF
    Tucson Citizen
    Dec. 19, 2002

    Vigilante group hurting towns' images, business, residents say

    Congressman-elect Raúl Grijalva says his first official act will be to ask the FBI to investigate alleged links between civilian militias in southern Arizona and white supremacist groups.

    'If you shine the light on the cockroaches, they don't like it," Rep.-elect Raúl Grijalva says at a press conference yesterday in calling for an investigation of citizen patrols, which he says are racist. LUKE TURF/Tucson Citizen

    "If you shine the light on the cockroaches, they don't like it," Grijalva said at a press conference yesterday hosted by Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, a group that advocates for illegal immigrants.

    "The more we ignore it, the more it's going to fester," said Grijalva, who will be the first representative from the new Congressional District 7, which stretches from Tucson to Yuma.

    Grijalva also said he wants a "declarative condemnation" of the militias by the U.S. Border Patrol.

    Border Patrol spokesman Ryan Scudder said the militias have the same right to operate and to speak their mind as Derechos Humanos. However, Border Patrol doesn't issue opinions on specific groups.

    Grijalva spoke out against the Sierra Vista-based American Border Patrol, Texas-based Ranch Rescue and the Civil Homeland Defense, organized by Tombstone newspaper publisher Chris Simcox.

    Grijalva said he believes all three organizations are racist.

    A report released yesterday by the Tucson-based Border Action Network alleges that groups such as the American Border Patrol are local fronts for neo-Nazi groups such as the St. Louis-based Council of Conservative Citizens.

    The report says such groups provided funding to local vigilante groups but no specific amounts are given.

    Glenn Spencer of the American Border Patrol said claims that his group is connected to racist organizations are "absolute lies."

    Simcox challenged Grijalva to "prove it," and said the congressman-elect should instead investigate "why the borders are wide open."

    Simcox said Grijalva is trying to deflect attention from the real issue, which is how illegal immigrants are sticking taxpayers with the bill for emergency health care and other social services.

    Ranch Rescue spokesman Jack Foote couldn't be reached for comment.

    Ranch Rescue has sent armed patrols onto private property in southern Arizona, and Simcox said his group plans to start patrolling private and public property along the border next month.

    The American Border Patrol uses electronic equipment to monitor illegal immigrant traffic along the border. Isabel Garcia of Derechos Humanos said that group may be working with the U.S. Border Patrol because two former U.S. patrol agents now work for the American Border Patrol.

    Scudder denied there was a link.

    "We don't have anything to do with them," Scudder said. "They're retired agents. They have no access, they have no official connections with the U.S. Border Patrol."

    Grijalva said his second priority in Washington will be asking for congressional hearings on border problems that would be held near the border.

    Grijalva, a Democrat, toured southern Arizona's border with Mexico earlier this month with three other members of Arizona's congressional delegation: U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, all Republicans.

  • Missing Couple Found in Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    There have been numerous comments written on various boards questioning the couples preparedness and questioning why they did not have a PLB or SPOT or GPS. I live in Henderson, NV and having hiked the Grand Canyon from the South Rim and the North Rim it is very easy to take the wrong turn especially in the remote areas of the GC National Park. This hike/trip is for experienced people, Greenhorns need not apply and in all the literature I have ever read about the Royal Arch Loop it all says the sme thing - Difficult, route finding required, climbing and technical skills needed. I am sure that Alan and Iris were prepared and had the skill set to take on the Royal Arch loop trek. But people make mistakes and in some places those mistakes can be no big deal and in others they will kill.

    Fortuately Alan and Iris were found and are safe and this is a credit to themselves and to the Park Rangers for for doing such a good job in SAR.

    I would be really interested in seeing their de-breif from the trip and understanding were they missed the
    turn(s) and what they did after realizing their mistake. This is something we all can learn from if the Park Service is willing to share their report.

  • Kings Canyon National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    I have been shooting landscapes for quite some time now, and I have to say that this dramatic photo of Kings Canyon caught my eye. I would've liked to have shot this one myself!

    From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life -Arthur Ashe

  • Missing Couple Found in Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    This IS good news. I too am glad they were found. Were they perhaps not as prepared as they should have been? At least they had folks who knew when they were due to return.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 12 weeks ago

    I am an NRA member. I read the NPT daily. I've been concerned and commented about ORV use, SAR costs, wolf de-listing, and many other issues discussed here. I care about the Parks. I just happen to also have very strong feelings about being able to defend myself when there is no other means of protection available to me.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 12 weeks ago

    "Joking aside, Mr. Secretary, there simply is no need to change the current gun regulations for our national parks. The National Park System is not crime-ridden. Far and away, the majority of the hundreds of millions of visitors who entered some unit of the National Park System last year did not place their lives in danger from other park visitors nor from wild animals when they did so. You can look it up. I did. This is what I found:.........During 2006 there also were 320 assaults without weapons, 1,950 weapons offenses, 843 public intoxication cases, and 5,752 liquor law violations. How many of those might have turned deadly were concealed carry allowed in the park system?"

    Kurt,

    You forgot to mention a host of other criomes some of us consider violent.

    Joe

    According to the Rocky Mountain News in 2006 ....

    "Last year, there were 11 homicides, 35 rape cases, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings, 261 aggravated assaults and 320 other assaults out of a total of 116,588 offenses in national parks."

    Violent crime rare on public land
    Tillie Fong, Rocky Mountain News
    Friday, June 29, 2007
    More Local NewsBush to Air Force Academy grads: 'Job well done'
    Cadets flip for Bush
    Owens says Obama lacks experience
    Story Tools
    Email this Print this Comments Change text size Subscribe to print edition iPod friendly Share this site National parks and forests in Colorado are generally safe, with few violent crimes occurring there, according to local sheriff offices.

    "We have a lot of trespass, illegal campfires, transients, illegal camping, minor vandalism," said Lt. Phil West of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, referring to crimes committed on public lands. "The most significant events we are involved in are rescues of lost skiers, fallen climbers, and so forth. It (violent crime) is not a major issue."

    The slaying of a Colorado Geological Survey intern in a remote part of San Isabel National Forest on Tuesday was considered unusual.

    "These crimes on our public lands and forest lands are very rare," said Janelle Smith, spokeswoman for the regional office of the U.S. Forest Service in Denver. "That is what makes this crime so shocking - you think you are safe. That's why it's a terrible tragedy."

    However, that doesn't mean that violent crime doesn't occur. Eagle County had two cases of homicide on public lands in the past five years, including one still unsolved.

    But getting hard data on how much violent crime occurs on national parks and forests is not easy.

    For one thing, the U.S. Forest Service doesn't track that kind of information.

    "We are not the lead agency when it comes to those types of crime," Smith said. "We track crimes against resources, such as damaging forest service property. Serious crime against people would be referred to local law enforcement."

    The National Park Service does track violent crime but does not break down numbers by state or park. Instead, it compiles statistics on criminal offenses for all the national parks in the country.

    Last year, there were 11 homicides, 35 rape cases, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings, 261 aggravated assaults and 320 other assaults out of a total of 116,588 offenses in national parks.

    Subscribe to the Rocky Mountain News

    Just the other day a CCW holder in Winnemucca stopped this murderer. Good thing he was around!

    From The Reno Gazette Journal

    Winnemucca police statement on bar shootings
    On Sunday May 25, 2008 at approximately 2:30 a.m. the Winnemucca Police Department was dispatched to the Players Bar and Grill located at 1062 South Grass Valley Road on the report of numerous shots fired and multiple gunshot victims. A combined law enforcement team consisting of Officers from the Winnemucca Police Department and Deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office responded to the dispatch call and secured the scene. There were approximately 300 patrons in and around the bar. No shots were fired by law enforcement during the incident.

    The officers on scene discovered three adult males who had died from obvious gunshot wounds. Two additional gunshot victims were also located. One of these victims, a 34 year old male, was transported to Humboldt General Hospital via private vehicle. The other victim, a 22 year old female, was transported via Humboldt County Ambulance. Both of these injured parties were treated and admitted to Humboldt General Hospital in “stable condition”. Both victims have now been released from the hospital.

    The initial investigation indicated that there had been two separate shooters during the incident. One of the alleged shooters, Ernesto Fuentes Villagomez, age 30 of Winnemucca, was among the three men who were dead on arrival. The other was a 48 year old Reno man who was initially taken into custody at the scene as a person of interest.

    The subsequent investigation lead detectives to believe that Villagomez entered the bar and at some point began firing multiple rounds. At least two of these rounds struck and killed the other two decedents, Jose Torres age, 20 and his brother Margarito Torres, age 19 both of Winnemucca. At some point during this shooting spree Villagomez allegedly stopped and according to witnesses reloaded his high capacity handgun and began shooting again.

    It was at this point that the second shooter, the Reno resident, produced a concealed handgun and proceeded to fire upon Villagomez who succumbed to his wounds. The Reno resident was in possession of a valid Concealed Carry Permit issued through the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

    After further investigation as well as ongoing discussions with Humboldt County District Attorney Russell Smith, the decision was made that the shooting of Villagomez by the Reno man was a justifiable homicide as outlined in Nevada Revised Statute 200.120 and 200.160. Because of this the Reno man was released from police custody.

    Although the shooting occurred during the Runnamucca event weekend there is no evidence linking the incident to any rival motorcycle gangs or clubs. Additionally, each of the decedents and victims were all Winnemucca residents. The investigation is currently pursuing a lead that indicates that this event may have been the result of a long standing feud between several families. There have been no further acts of violence reported in relation to this incident.

    The Winnemucca Police Department utilized the services of the Washoe County Crime Lab to assist with the processing of the crime scene. Additional support in the investigation was provided by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Public Safety – Investigation and Highway Patrol Divisions, and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

    Meanwhile in the Uk where people like the "Brady Bunch" prevail.....

    From the Daily Mail....
    The dangerously deluded children's tsar and the truth about knife crime
    Last updated at 11:49 PM on 25th May 2008

    Comments (22) Add to My Stories
    Yet another knife attack, another dreadful killing and another devastated family whose lives have been shattered.

    One minute there was a fracas at a bar in South London; the next, 18-year-old Robert Knox lay dying from a knife wound, having intervened to defend his younger brother in a row over a mobile phone.

    The teenage actor was but the latest victim of Britain's spiralling toll of knife attacks and other violent crime, in which children and young people are figuring both as victims and as attackers. Only the previous day, a boy of 17 was critically injured in a shooting in North London.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1021834/MELANIE-PHILLIPS-The-dangerously-deluded-childrens-tsar-truth-knife-crime.html

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Kurt--

    Thanks for your comment on the "guns in the parks" issue. Needless to say, NPT will lose a few NRA member readers whose single-minded emphasis on carrying weapons into almost any place in our country is not only tiresome, but also dangerous. Many of your commenters only appear when there is a mention of gun in NPT, showing their real commitment to the National Park System. There will be enough NPT readers who want to explore the full range of park issues to assure continued readership.

    Rick Smith

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Mr./Ms Anonymous opined:

    > One reason why you perhaps haven't seen so many anti-gun-in-parks comments recently is that this is an emotionally charged issue,

    That's exactly the point Anonymous person. I try to deal with facts. Your side deals with emotions, feelings and niceties. Criminals rob, rape and kill. They don't give a whit about emotions, how nice you are or or how well you sing Kumbaya. They want your stuff and your daughter or wife. Maybe you. too.

    Since the anti-gun crowd here basically says nothing substantive except to insult those wreckless, foolhardy, "macho" gun people they have no defense in this matter. They've all crawled back into their safe cocoons. With police protection, no doubt.

    > I'm probably not the only one who isn't commenting publicly

    You just did and you've simply reiterated, or alluded to, the same old farcical tripe that does nothing except mislead and perpetuate stereotypes

    > I don't want to be sucked into an argument/I-am-always-right-I-will-not-compromise 'discussion' with Mr. Rick and Mr. Fred.

    No compromise necessary - except folks like you need to start accepting the truth that concealed carry permit holders do not commit the crimes and are not a threat to anyone except criminals. If you have honest-to-goodness- facts that a person with a concealed carry permit has done something wrong please post that information here. I'm just as interested as you. Otherwise I'll continue to confront the disingenuous fear-mongers.

    Y'know, I'm not a bitter, mean, macho or angry person. I'm just persistent and focused and I can prove my point. You can't.

    Neither am I interested in converting a single anti-gun person. I don't care how you manage responsibility for you life or your loved ones. That's on your conscience. Just don't try to prevent me from doing so by perpetuating myths, fairy tales and stereotypes in the hope of curtailing my natural and Constitutional right to self-defense. Then I get testy.

    Otherwise I did have a delightful, long weekend on a canoe/camping trip in the Allegheny National Forest near Brookville, PA. With guns, of course ;^) And I didn't shoot any of the bald eagles that are nested near our camp!

  • Missing Couple Found in Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    I have read several guide books about the Royal Arch route and while it sounds beautiful... I have always been too chicken to do it. The guides have always made me feel as though it was out of my technical realm and in that area I am not going to take chances... the limited water part is just plain scarey. I am very glad that this search yeilded a happy ending!

  • Star Party Scheduled for June 21-28 at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    It's great that the Grand Canyon Star Party has become a special event during the time of the Summer Solstice. National Parks are special places where dark skies and curious minds collide. Be sure to take advantage of this organized effort to promote public star gazing in the parks. There's no charge, and the world-class ensemble of volunteer amateur astronomers gathered for this special event are quite knowlegdeable about their subject and equipment.

    At the North Rim, some of the telescopes set up near the Grand Canyon Lodge are home-made Dobsonians belonging to the Sidewalk Astronomers, a well-known volunteer group dedicated to taking their telescopes wherever people gather and are willing to stay out after dark. For the best experience, however, be sure to inquire where one should go to view the stars without any presence of artificial lights. Use a red filter for your flashlight to find your way without destroying the night adaptation of your eyes (and those near you).

    If you have a view of the eastern horizon, look for three bright stars as dusk gives way to night. This would be about 10:15 PM. These three stars make up the "Summer Triangle." They are: Deneb in Cygnus, Vega, in Lyra, and Altair, in Aquila.

    Altair shines just above the eastern horizon, while Vega, the brightest of the three stars, forms the peak of the Summer Triangle; it is about 40 degrees above the horizon. Deneb makes up the northeast corner of the triangle, and appears to be the dimmer of the three stars (it's actually the brightest, only much farther away, so it seems somewhat dimmer to our eyes).

    Binoculars are excellent optical aids for hunting stars, especially when mounted on a tripod. Here are some binocular star-hunting tips: As it gets dark (after 11 PM on June 21st), try spotting the open cluser of stars known as the "Coathanger." Look for the Coathanger along a straight line imagined between Altair and Vega. It's located above Altair about one third of the way towards Vega in the dark dust lane of the Milky Way called the Great Rift.

    By 11:30 PM, the Milky Way will present a spectacular view to the unaided eye, rising over the southeastern horizon (looking across the canyon to the South Rim). The Milky Way runs from the southern horizon through the middle of the Summer Triangle, between Altair and Vega, through Deneb and beyond. Under the dark skies of the Grand Canyon, the Milky Way will be brightly visible, as long as one is shielded from artifical lights, and the skies are clear of clouds.

    Where the Milky Way intercepts the southern horizon, locate the celestial constellation Scorpio (The Scorpion), with its brightest star, the red giant, Antares shining about 20 degrees above the southern horizon. Locate Scorpio's curved tail and stinger. Search with binoculars (preferrably mounted) along the curved base of Scorpio's tail. There, a wonderful small cluster of stars can be observed, known informally as the "Jewell Box." At this time of night, this multi-colored star cluster should twinkle beautifully, as it is low on the horizon.

    Immediately to the east of Scorpio's stinger, look for Ptolmey's cluster (M-7) and the Butterfly cluster (M-6), both can be observed in the same binocular field of view. Then progressing eastward, following the wide path of the Milky Way, stop just above the dome and spout of the "teapot" of Sagittarius, and search with binoculars for the bright Lagoon nebula (M-8) and it's companion, the Trifid nebula (M-20). Both will be in the same binocular field of view. They appear in binoculars as separate bright hazy objects surrounding a cluster of stars.

    The very bright object immediatly east of the Sagittarius teapot, above the southeastern horizon, and below the Milky Way, is Jupiter, the giant gaseous planet. In binoculars, look for Jupiter's four Gallilean moons (their positions will change each hour). Jupiter will be visible in the night sky every month during the summer.

    On June 21st, the gibbous moon will rise shortly after midnight. Look at the moon's craters. For observing objects in the Milky Way, the moon is a source of natural light pollution. The eastern horizon will brighten considerably, even while the moon is below the horizon. It fortunately rises about 40 minutes later each successive evening, and it will be only a thin crescent when it rises on June 29th at 3:17 AM, during the last night of the Grand Canyon Star Party.

    There's much more to see when out exploring the "other half of the park" at night, but these few binocular tips should provide an effective introduction for night sky observing during the week of June 21 through 28th.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 12 weeks ago

    These beaches, along with last year's winner, Ocracoke, are always listed amongst the top ten. Even with ORV access. Imagine that!

    However, the majority of the beaches within the CHNSRA are now closed, even to pedestrians due to the lawsuit filed by the Audobon Society, DOW, and the SELC agsinst the NPS. The lawsuit was intended to restrict/ban ORV usage in the area, but has now extended to even foot traffic in the "bird useage areas". You cannot even boat to these areas and walk the shore. A $5,000.00 fine and six months in jail are the penalty for doing do.

    NPS Rangers are even culling other native predatory species, through either trapping/relocating or outright killing through gunfire, in the name of protecting migratory shorebird/turtle nesting sites. (Particularly Piping Plovers). The "relocated" species include, but are not limited to:

    -Red Foxes
    -Grey Foxes
    -Opossum
    -Raccoons
    -Nutria
    -Feral Cats
    -et al

    Can we abide these transgressions against other indigenous species, who do not have the luck to be on the "Threatened" list? Do we dare interfere with natural selection? Some species removal numbers are in the hundreds within a several-month period. Without normal natural predation, other species such as snakes, rabbits, rats and mice will multiply inumerably. How will this affect the environment?

    Who are we, but mere kindred to these creatures? We all share the right to life. How dare we "Play God" by attempting to recitfy what we believe to be man's folly in conservation of species. The laws of nature will always prevail, lest we forget.

    Please pay close attention to what is going on in the CHNSRA. It is truly madness. Vist the area for yourself, and make your own decision.

    dap
    Richmond, VA/Frisco, NC

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Iris and Alan's Search Updates

    "This blog was created so friends and family can post updates on the search for Iris Faraklas and Alan Humphrey."

  • National Park Quiz 4: Beaches   6 years 12 weeks ago

    If you don't want to spoil the fun, please use different file names for the picture, accompanying the quizzes. The picture's name gives away the answer to one of the questions. Same last time with the bridges. And the file name is shown in Firefox browser whenever your mouse is over the image. Thanks for this very nice quiz, I just looked up the amazing high slope for question 11, as I had no idea, and guessed completely wrong. The website of the park has a few images of the location.

  • National Park Quiz 4: Beaches   6 years 12 weeks ago

    I've fixed the problem by deleting the "super bonus" question #12. Thank you very kindly for spotting that error. BTW, perhaps you can tell me why Lowell's river swimming beach was closed for a time. My notes indicate that it was "reopened" in 1996.

  • National Park Quiz 4: Beaches   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Not to be a dud, but the river swimming is not in or administerd by Lowell NHP. It is property of Massachusetts DCR and staffed by the City of Lowell Parks and Recreation.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 12 weeks ago

    OK, OK. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and 25% overhead, but that's my final offer.