Recent comments

  • Yosemite National Park Waterfalls Approaching Full Throttle   6 years 12 weeks ago

    I had the priviledge of living in Yosemite Valley for two years. The Valley is most exciting when the big waterfalls hit their peak in mid to late Spring. During this wonderful season of the year, one can literally "feel" the vibrations created by the sound of falling water.

    I recall vividly one of my very last hikes as a Yosemite resident. It was in mid April 1971. The NPS park librarian, Larry Nahm, and I decided to scramble to the base of Ribbon Fall, located within a notch carved into the north wall of Yosemite Valley, just west of El Capitain. The fall was approaching full throttle, yet there was still a remnant of an ice cone at its base, protected by the shade provided by the notch in the granite wall and the chill of evening air.

    Hiking along the western buttress of the granite notch, we discoverd a spout of water, gushing as from a spigot straight out from the granite wall mid-way between us and the top of the wall. There was no sign of a crack in the rock where water could get to the spout itself.

    To the best of our knowledge, this water spout had no name. It was probably ephemeral, observed only at this time of year by those willing to scramble their way to the base of Ribbon Fall. For Larry and myself, it was our own personal discovery.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • National Park Quiz 5: Biggest This or That   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Rick,

    Are you thinking perhaps about the Kolob Arch in Zion National Park? It's big, but it is not a natural bridge. To be considered a natural bridge, there must be water flowing underneath. I don't think this is the case with Zion's Kolob Arch.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • National Park Quiz 5: Biggest This or That   6 years 12 weeks ago

    The answer is the one indicated in the quiz. The NPS describes the bridge thusly: "Rainbow Bridge is the world's largest known natural bridge........ From its base to the top of the arch, it is 290 feet -- nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty -- and spans 275 feet across the river; the top of the arch is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide." In my mind, largest means biggest, and I think that's reasonable. Otherwise....... take your complaint to the Park Service. :-)

  • National Park Quiz 5: Biggest This or That   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Bob--

    I'm resting on my laurels here in NM but wonder about question 7. I had always heard that the longest natural bridge in the world was in Zion. Did I get tripped up on the difference between "longest" and "biggest'? Or am I wrong about both?

    Rick Smith

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

    Rick,

    Why do I need to look at more data? This whole back and forth started when you asked for proof that a single CCW permit holder had committed a crime, other than a "bureaucratic infraction," and the records you and Art provided, old or recent, amply provided that proof.

    And when you say, "Permit holders, with the exception of these TWO, don't kill people," well, since you seem to be referring to Texas statistics, wouldn't you say you're a bit low? What about the stats from the other 49 states?

    And why do you keep whittling down the criteria? First you wanted evidence that CCW permit holders committed crimes, then violent crimes, and now you seem to be settling only on murders. If Texas is what you want to focus on, fine, but let's take a closer look at all of the violent crime data involving permit holders for the years you mentioned. After all, those who believe park visitors should be able to arm themselves point to more than just murders in the parks when they try to justify their arguments.

    So, reasonable ground rule?

    Now, in 2005 there was one murder conviction involving a permit holder. And there was one manslaughter conviction. And five terroristic threat convictions. And seven convictions on sexual assaults of a child. And one kidnapping conviction. Fifteen deadly conduct convictions. And one criminal negligent homicide conviction. And 23 convictions on assault that causes injury in family violence. Eight convictions on assault that causes bodily injury.

    2004. No murders, no manslaughters, no terroristic threats. But three convictions on sexual assault of a child. Ten deadly conduct convictions. Nineteen convictions on assault that causes injury in family violence. Fourteen convictions of assault that causes bodily injury. Four convictions on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Two convictions on aggravated assault that leads to serious bodily injury.

    2003? Three convictions on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. One aggravated robbery conviction. Fourteen convictions for assaults that caused bodily injury. Eight convictions for assault that caused bodily injury family violence. Eight deadly conduct convictions. One murder conviction. Four terroristic threat convictions.

    2002. Three convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. One conviction for aggravated robbery. A dozen convictions for aggravated assault that caused bodily injury. Eight that caused bodily injury as a result of family violence. Eight convictions for deadly conduct. One murder conviction. Hmmm. That makes three murder convictions Rick, not two, for the time period you cited. Four if you count the conviction for murder under the influence of sudden passion. Two convictions for terroristic threats.

    How did things fare in Texas in 2006? Well, there were five convictions of CCW permit holders for aggravated assaults that caused serious bodily injury. Nine convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. One conviction for aggravated robbery. One conviction for assault against elderly or disabled individual. Twenty-one convictions for assault that causes bodily injury. Twenty-three convictions for assault that causes bodily injury family violence. One conviction for criminal negligent homicide. Eleven for deadly conduct. One for deadly conduct involving the discharge of a firearm. One murder conviction. One conviction for a terroristic threat interrupting a public place.

    That's a lot of humble pie, Rick. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and guess that in one year there are more murders/manslaughters/negligent homicides, and other violent crimes, involving permit holders across the nation than there are crimes of the same nature in national parks over the same period.

    Now, I know you don't trust statistics from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, but after looking unsuccessfully for crime stats at the state police websites of Kentucky and Virginia, two concealed carry states, I'm beginning to believe those who say many states don't break out crimes by CCW permit holders. If you know where to find those individual state stats, let me know. In the meantime, the Brady Campaign has tracked down at least five homicides committed by permit holders during the first five months of 2008. True, I can't predict what the judicial outcome of these cases will be (aside from the guy who also killed himself), but judging from the initial reports, these are pretty serious infractions with substantial evidence.

    The bottom line?

    I have no qualms about agreeing with you that there are more violent crimes involving guns in the general population than involving CCW permit holders. Any chance you'll agree that more than a sprinkling of permit holders nationwide do indeed commit violent crimes and that arming park visitors is not a panacea to feeling safe in the parks? Also, what are the odds that you'll join me in urging Congress to better fund the National Park Service so there could be more law enforcement rangers where they're needed?

    Oh, one other thing. Can we stop comparing stats yet?;-)

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

    Kurt:

    > Now Art, you can configure the statistics anyway you want, but you still end up with 27 murders/non-negligent manslaughters, two forcible rapes,
    > five robberies, 376 aggravated assaults and 454 "other assaults" committed by CCW holders from 1996-1999.

    There's a big difference between arrest rates and conviction rates. Art's report is older data for one thing. Kurt, I sent you a compilation of reports from the TX Dept of Public Safety from 2002-2005. The overall _conviction_ rate in all offenses of permit holders is less than a third of a percent compared to the overall statewide rate. I counted TWO murders in the time period between 1/2002-12/2005. You need to review that data and count up whatever numbers you want. Permit holders, with the exception of these TWO, don't kill people. It doesn't look to me that they don't commit very many violent crimes, either. I look through the data and see a lot of zeroes in the permit holder columns.

    I guess I have to eat humble pie and admit that yes, permit holders have killed people. That's two guilty people out of hundreds of thousands of permit holders, though. The general consensus here is that, well, parks are pretty safe and we don't need guns there because something MIGHT happen. I stand by my claim that the hysterical fear-mongering is way over the top. And I still stand by my claim that permit holders aren't the problem and - I'll generalize now because I've been proven wrong - don't commit the crimes.

    Read the reports I sent you, Kurt, and feel free to comment on them here. I'm curious what your opinion is in comparing arrests and convictions. Did I miss something?

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

    Art,

    I am not -- I repeat, not -- asserting that "CCW holders are somehow more inclined to commit a crime once in possession of their licenses."

    All I'm pointing out, using statistics you yourself have pointed to, is that CCW holders have committed crimes, both violent and non-violent. Period.

    Here are the facts, as presented by the Texas Concealed Handgun Instructors Association, the group you directed me to:

    There were 27 murders/non-negligent manslaughters, two forcible rapes, five robberies, 376 aggravated assaults, and 454 "other assaults" from 1996-1999.

    Now Art, you can configure the statistics anyway you want, but you still end up with 27 murders/non-negligent manslaughters, two forcible rapes, five robberies, 376 aggravated assaults and 454 "other assaults" committed by CCW holders from 1996-1999.

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

    Kurt,

    No reasonable person can read the report of the Texas Concealed Handgun Instructors Association (http://www.txchia.org/sturdevant.pdf) and come away with any other opinion than that it destroys your contention that possessing a CCW results in additional violent crime. In fact the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction, the availability of CCW reduces crime. This assertion is backed up, at the national level, by the FBI. People intent on committing a violent crime will do so, with or without a gun.

    You state: "Beyond the violent crime, these stats also show that non-violent crime by CCW permit holders in Texas also steadily increased year after year." Wow, I wonder if that might be because the number of CCW holders increases year after year? Again, you have a problem with context. The only way to evaluate the supposed criminality of CCW holders is in relation to the age appropriate general population. Doing this destroys any assertion that CCW holders are somehow more inclined to commit a crime once in possession of their licenses.

    Murders and violent crimes are being committed in the National Parks under the current regime of strict gun control. In every other instance, without exception, liberalizing gun laws has resulted in a reduction of violent crime. This is according to the FBI and appropriate state agencies, whose responsibility it is to gather and assess data without prejudice.

    Stay away from the facts, they don't help your cause.

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

    Here's how I decide which states I will visit: http://carryconcealed.net/legal/utah-ccw-state-laws.php Those that aren't colored green on this map on not in my travel plans, except for Colorado. My brother lives there. He's a retired cop; he carries everywhere he goes.

    Now how do you decide? Almost everywhere you go you might be standing next to a CCW holder that is armed. Wal-Mart, the gas station, movie theater, grocery store, etc; what do you do?

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

    I've carried plenty, just NOT in a National Park.

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

    Sorry Kurt, I won't tell. The whole idea of "concealed" is that you don't know that I'm carrying, and you certainly don't know WHERE it is on my body. One sure way for the bad guy to disarm you is to know these two pieces of information. Warm weather is a real problem for me and has been the hardest and most expensive to solve. This link gives you some ideas of the many carry methods: http://magills.com/

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

    Hey Fred, I thought we had both agreed you NEVER carried in the parks? C'mon amigo, which is it?

    On a lighter note, I noticed you also claimed that the only parks you visit are located in the "pro-gun belt" (no pun intended) states currently or I'm guessing, futuristically allowing for CCP holders such as yourself to exorcise your rights, yada yada........Now to me, that sounds suspiciously more like a political statement than a fundamental preference issue, in that I'll bet you would have a difficult time saying, in all honesty, that "I wouldn't care to see [insert park name here] on the basis that I don't have the option to carry my handgun". I understand that you have chosen NOT to visit particular areas of the country based on this stance, but isn't that somewhat like cutting off your nose to spite your face? Couldn't you enjoy [insert park name here] just as much sans weaponry as you could with the extra poundage on your person?

    Yeah, those underlines were getting more than a little annoying. Fortunately, all bad things come to an end!

    That is except for this never-ending debate, in which no resolution will satisfactorily pacify both groups.

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

    Nothing personal, Fred but I don't think I would enjoy backpacking with someone like you. You sound a bit braggadocio about carrying a concealed weapon into the National Parks when it's clearly stated it's against the law. It's nothing to brag about when breaking the law and carrying on like you're ready to pounce on someone if they accidentally crossed your path over some slight misunderstanding. It happens all the time in a moment of rage and passion. But, I judge you're a prudent man with a reasonable even temperament. However, I do find you as a strange cat in the woods.

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

    So Fred, I'm curious. If the regulations were changed to allow "concealed" carry, how would you conceal your weapon during warm weather if it wasn't in your pack? Wouldn't a holster be out in the open and against regs? And what if you're just out and about in the park, not in the backcountry? Where/how do you carry a "concealed" weapon?

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

    How come everything is underlined??

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

    I can't speak for all CCW holders, but I DON'T carry my pistol in my backpack. What if I wanted to take it off while I took a break? Would I just set it on the ground and then wander over to look at that pretty flower? Not me, brother!! My pistol is somewhere on my person every second, or it's in the lockbox. There are several thousand different types of holsters on the market. I use two different types. One allows me to "present" quickly. The other one allows me to "present" VERY quickly.

    As far as being responsible, NO test can determine someone's future actions. Look at drunk drivers. If we could test them in advance of their unsafe act, would we issue them a driver's license?

    And I would gladly pay a fine if I had been able to prevent a crime. As one of our Rangers commented elsewhere in the NPT, if he found out I was carrying, he would take it and hold it until I left the Park. Reasonable, AND I would have the knowledge of having done the RIGHT thing even if it was against DOI regulations.

  • Alexander Hamilton's "Country Home" on the Move in New York City   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Dear Anonymous - The NPS does not manage New York City and has no responsibility for city corruption. Hamilton Grange is a national park.

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

    most states' application process involves some questions about past mental health history

    Don't confuse or try and equate psychological evaluations with "some questions about past mental health". Any idiot can answer "some questions" about their past mental health history properly. An in-depth evaluation is a completely different animal, designed to test your stability and thought processes through a variety of similar, but unrelated qualifiers. It takes virtually a court-ordered trip to a padded cell to be denied an ownership permit, and even then there are numerous cited instances where these same "certifiable" lunatics legally purchased handguns and used them on the general public. An assessment on the other hand, is specifically designed to identify and eliminate those people who are trying to give the "right" awswer to a series of questions by approaching the topic from a variety of angles, testing to determine your thought processes, not your "right" answers. If the processes vary, they know you're full of crap, and just attempting to "ace" the test by concealing your true agenda. The quick and easy application process is not at all, in any way, an apples-to-apples comparison.

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

    Anonymous,

    According to this report (which is eight years old, by the way), violent crimes by CCW permit holders in Texas increased every year from 1996 to 1999. Over that period, according to the study, there were 27 murders/non-negligent manslaughters, two forcible rapes, five robberies, 376 aggravated assaults, and 454 "other assaults."

    Rick previously had asked for proof "of a permit holder committing a gun crime against another citizen," and these statistics, produced for the Texas Concealed Handgun Association, certainly seem to provide that proof.

    Beyond the violent crime, these stats also show that non-violent crime by CCW permit holders in Texas also steadily increased year after year.

    Are the incident rates for the general population higher? Yes, but is that surprising in light of the greater pool of gun wielders? And interestingly, for the years cited some might say the murder rates aren't drastically different -- 5.2 per 100,000 for the general population and 4.0 per 100,000 for permit holders.

  • Artists' Paint Pots Area in Yellowstone National Park Temporarily Closed Due to Thin Surface Crust   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Being well prepared makes good sense to me, Bob. I do have a question about the snake bite kit, though. Here in South Carolina, where people are outdoorsy and snake bites are not just a theoretical hazard (we have four venomous species), medical authorities have told people very emphatically that they shouldn't fool around with snake bite kits. "Your snake bite kit is your car keys," is basically what we are told. I do realize that people can get dangerously bitten in remote areas where medical attention may be hours away. Are you saying that the snake bite kit is appropriate for that sort of situation?

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

    Kurt:
    You need to actually read the report this information came from. The actual report is much different than the misinformation you are spreading. Read the study at: http://www.txchia.org/sturdevant.pdf

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

    Adding guns to the National Parks is complete contrary to the concept of the parks being a sanctuary. Guns kill, people with guns murder. Allowing guns in parks will only increase the likelyhood of some idiot killing the very animals protected by the sanctuary of the Natioanl Parks. It is time that the NRA woke up and realized that yes we do have gun rights, but not everywhere and not in all situations. Gun limits are not gun restrictions, just laws and guidelines to protect others from illegal gun use. NO! NO! NO to guns in the National Park. Do I need to be worried about a stray shot killing me as I hike Yellowstone, Crater Lake or Great Smokey?

  • Artists' Paint Pots Area in Yellowstone National Park Temporarily Closed Due to Thin Surface Crust   6 years 12 weeks ago

    It's awesome to see the Park Rangers on top of the situation so quickly. Preparedness is #1. I've been group group leader several times down into the Grand Canyon NP and tell my folks to be over prepared for the worst. Carry a first aid kit and snake bite kit which includes both a sling for injured bones and a burn kit for accidents just as this. Hopefully more Fed $$$ will become available to assist in the proper sustaining of these precious resources for both the environment as well as the public who wish to view them. Can't wait to get to Yellowstone, will be there for a week in June.

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

    Anonymous pondered"

    > Don't you think Rick it might be wise to implement some kind of psychological testing before one can be issued a concealed (handgun) weapon?

    Except for Vermont, most states' application process involves some questions about past mental health history. Usually the disqualifier is whether the person was committed _unwillingly_ to mental health treatment. This is not the case when asking people who apply for drivers licenses and whether they have a drinking problem. More people are killed by drunk drivers than by mentally ill concealed carry permit holders.

    and later Rick Smith declares:

    > Many disagree with your assertion that carrying a weapon is guaranteed by the Constitution and therefore is an "American value."

    You can disagree that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to "keep and BEAR ARMS" but you're wrong. Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania constitution, which existed prior, made it perfectly clear, "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned." The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to do the same. And - you'll love this - it does, in principle, provide for possession of firearms like the M-16, M-4, SAW, or MP5 - any weapons typically carried by an individual into battle. To date, we have the Firearms Act of 1934 that regulates automatic firearms so you must pass a background check and pay a $200 fee to the Treasury Department for each automatic firearm you are registering. Since laws were changed in 1986 the availability of automatic firearms for public purchase has created ridiculous supply/demand price inflation. Typically, you'll pay approximately more than $12,000 or more for an M-16.

    I don't expect Rick Smith to be down at the Knob Creek machine gun shoot but I thought I'd throw that in to explain that as an American citizen you may own the same firearms the military uses because, the individual citizen is the militia - not the National Guard - as defined by the Constitution and fantasized by the gun banners.

    This little bit of trivia may not be an "American value" in your mind but it is fact. District of Columbia v. Heller will settle this decisively very soon and end the delusional and myopic claims of gun banners.

  • National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community   6 years 12 weeks ago

    I am in my 40s and have been a bike rider since I was VERY little and a mountain biker since the mid 80s. I would have to agree with Marylander that most of us are very respectful of hikers, in truth most of us still hike on ocassion. There are places within National parks that I have dreams of returning to, yet haven't been able to because of time constraints. If I was able to ride my bike I would be able to triple my mileage for a given day and enjoy some of the places I enjoyed in my youth.
    The forum response is ludicrious, of course industry does support IMBA, but it is a user group. Who would work for a Mountain bike company without riding a mountain bike?? Have you looked at the supporters of the Sierra Club lately? I bet there is a backpack company listed. I will not deny that bikers do add wear and tear to trails, but I have been part of trail building workshops and when done properly trail design eliminates this problem.
    IMBA is truely a stewardship organization with an under-tapped work force to create, maintain and improve trails within the national parks system.