Recent comments

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

    Yes indeed, if I were a criminal, I'd have absolutely no qualms "doing my thing", as I'd be quite certain that whether you're armed or not, since I'd have the element of surprise over you, and be brandishing my artillery first, your weapon becomes inconsequential. Actually, while I'm in the process of relieving you of your valuables and possibly your life, if you're stupid enough to resist and I'm sufficiently pissed off, you're serving to supplement my arsenal with your own weapon, which I can utilize in further criminal activity with total impunity, at least for a while, since it's registered to YOU.

    Over and above that, the pointless, thoughtless arguments about matches, pencils and tools are completely off base. Maybe you can answer this basic question........what specific purpose do firearms serve BESIDES inflicting bodily harm?

    An unarmed person is also a citizen. Nice try.

    Criminals prey on those to which they stand to gain the greatest profit at the specific instance that they require something, the profit being whatever suits their purposes at the time. Sometimes it pertains to money, sometimes sex, sometimes transportation; the possibilities are limited only by the need of those in need, not by whether you are weak, armed, or vulnerable. If that were indeed the case, then car alarms would be totally effective, as would guard dogs, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, and peace officers.

    Maybe we should all relocate to this alleged nirvana with a zero crime rate and no criminal element. Where is it?

    Please explain how the revolution would have been inhibited by gun control. Unless of course you're referring to gun control as the total outlawing of all guns, which is NOT what anyone believes the definition of gun control is, was or ever will be. That statement has no basis in logic.

    Finally, the elimination of guns would indeed bring peace. Not total peace. Other weapons would serve the purpose, but the cowardly killings would cease. Personally, I'd encourage buying stock in Louisville Slugger.

  • National Park History: Big Bend National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Here's the skinny on javelinas from Wikipedia:

    (And as a year-round resident of Terlingua and BBNP area, i have to go with the "hell on earth"'s obviously not the best place to spend summer!)

    Peccaries (also known as javelinas and by the Portuguese and Spanish name javali or Spanish pecarí) are medium-sized mammals of the family Tayassuidae. Peccaries are members of the Artiodactyl suborder Suina as are swine Suidae and hippopotami Hippopotamidae. They are found in the southwestern area of North America and throughout Central and South America. Peccaries usually measure between 90 and 130 cm in length (3 to 4 feet), and a full-grown adult usually weighs between about 20 and 40 kilograms (44 to 88 pounds).

    People often confuse peccaries, which are found in the Americas, with pigs which originated in Afro-Eurasia, especially since some domestic pigs brought by European settlers have escaped over the years and now run wild in many parts of the United States. These feral pigs are popularly known as razorback hogs.

  • Lost Backpackers Are Reported Alive and Well at Denali National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Thank God !!

  • Air and Ground Search Under Way for Missing Backpackers in Denali National Park and Preserve   6 years 12 weeks ago

    The 2 girls have been found and are OK. They got lost but they survived!

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago


    I wouldn't have jumped at the chance to acquire the Tetons - so much that has gone wrong in this world comes from the big fish swallowing up the small fish. The irony here only is that it's the Tetons that were swallowed up, but by the same means Rockefeller used to build his refining empire we are now faced with a global energy crisis that again will only most adversely hurt the poorest people in society. Rockefeller giveth and taketh away. If we want to avoid the mistakes and truly protect the places we love, then we must do things differently and connect the means and ends. You have to consider how you go about things and not excuse the abuses of capitalism for some of the accidental pleasures that arise from it.

    It's interesting you write this today because the JY Ranch - the Rockefeller's private ranch within Grand Teton was finally formally donated to the Park Service today, the largest extension of the Tetons since most of Jackson Hole was added in 1950.

    Anyhow, whether you find me incorrigible and boorish or jealous and petty doesn't really matter. What matters is whether what I've said is right - and if wrong, where the contradiction lies, or lacking that, what I've said in my premises is suspect. I love these places with all my heart - more than you'll ever know or realize - but I am not about to excuse what brought them into being.

    As for God's creation of the Tetons, we can agree on that; that's perhaps why it's sad that the Tetons from the small landowners to the big landowners to the federal government have been caught in a place where loving thy neighbor was not practiced when it came to the bottom line.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

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

    First of all, I think the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees need to stay retired. They and so many other people blow this whole thing out of porportion.

    Its not so you can shoot a bear if you or he crosses paths.
    Its not so troublesome people can tote a gun.
    It is not so idiots can target practice in the parks.

    It is so a trained person With a carry permit may legally carry a fire arm and defend him or herself against an otherwise possible death.

    If you were a thief, crook, criminal, rapist whatever, would you indiscriminately do your thing if you knew that the chance of the person you are about to assault may just be carrying and that you may just get your ass burned? Just knowing that law abiding citizens can, may and most likey be carrying would make you think twice. Criminals primarily prey on those who can not defend themself.

    One city that told their citizense to buy and keep a gun for self defense (unless they didn't think they could use or not feal comfortable with it). The crime dropped to almost nil. The criminals moved out!!

    Parks, even though safer than cities still have their problems too. There have been rapes and attempted rapes, theft, murder. By the time you call for help (and usually there's no cell service) and you tell him to hold up a minute so you can try to call while he waits to hold the knife to your throat--well, if you don't get the picture, your not human or a criminal).

    Track records prove that those who have concealed carry permits are generaly safer and very law obiding citizens.

    Think carfully about the following thought provokers:

    1. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.

    2. A gun in the hand is better than an officer on the phone (that is if you even have service).

    3. Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.

    4. If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.

    5. If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.

    6. The United States Constitution (c)1791. All Rights Reserved.

    7. 64,999,987 legal firearms owners killed no one yesterday.

    8. Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety.

    9. You don't shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.

    10. Assault is a behavior, not a device.

    11. Criminals love gun control; it makes their jobs safer.

    12. If guns cause crime, then matches cause arson.

    13. Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to control them.

    14. You have only the rights you are willing to fight for.

    15. When you remove the people's right to bear arms, you create slaves.

    16. The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control.

    17. If tools kill rather than people, then outlaw cars and all other transpertation, as they also are tools.

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 12 weeks ago

    Mr. Macdonald:

    After reading your article about the Grand Tetons, I find you incorrigible and boorish. I wouldn't take my hat off for you, but Rockefeller, gets kudos. You sound jeolous and petty . The magnificance of the Grand Tetons could only be created by the man I call God. Whether Rockefeller wanted it as a park or not.

    I bet if you had the chance to acquire the Tetons you would have jumped at the chance. I bet you wouldn't call it a scam. Just good business.!!!!!! As for the big fish swallowing up the little fish. It seems a whale swallowed Jonah and he became a very blessed and wealthy man.

    The "boon" was wonderful for the Grand Teton National Park, it is certainly beautiful to the eye , the natural habitat of all the animals. All the visitors and the Rangers, who watch out for them, makes it most desirable .

    You probably have the first dollar you made from her existance. Why not donate to the fund and help keep the park beautiful and maintained. Why not give the rangers a nice tip.

    Brenda Byles

  • Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?   6 years 13 weeks ago


    You're right that almost any recreational use "for enjoyment of the people" will have some impact. I don't think anyone questions that. So the goal should be to aim for the least impacting activity, no?

    After all, it's been accepted, even by the courts, that the Park Service's primary mandate is to conserve (or preserve, depending on whom you talk to) those resources for future generations. With that as a given, if you have two forms of recreation -- in this case snowmobiling and snowcoach tours -- that overlap in their primary purpose, which is to navigate Yellowstone in winter for enjoyment, and one is more environmentally intrusive than the other, shouldn't the Park Service support the less-intrusive form of recreation?

    As for that "unique recreational experience," well, that experience can be attained on adjacent Forest Service lands, no? In fact, an argument could be made that more of a recreational experience can be had on Forest Service lands where snowmobile trails leave the roads. In Yellowstone snowmobiles are required, (though not all do, unfortunately), to stay on the groomed road surfaces, not head off trail. So why is a snowmobile ride through the park so unique? If you want to see the major thermal features, you have to park the snowmobile in the parking area and walk. And the contention that snowmobiling offers a more solitary experience doesn't really ring true, either, as the existing rules call for guided snowmobile tours.

    As for your tossing off of the scientific reports, well, the reports (and the analysts) speak for themselves and were used not only to identify the environmentally preferred alternative but also point to acceptable levels of snowmobile traffic if the park decided it couldn't accept the environmentally preferred alternative or the no action alternative.

  • Development of Valley Forge National Historical Park Inholding Gets Green Light from Planners   6 years 13 weeks ago

    As a brief note on the above, the quotation comes from the Report Language that accompanied the establishment of Valley Forge NHP. As such, it does not have the force law - which is a shame, as otherwise it could potentially make a strong case for a legal injunction against this development.

  • National Park Service Open to Cutting Single-Track Bike Trails in the Parks   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I think it is quite the hyperbole to imply that mountain-biking paths will turn the National Parks into "becoming simply another public multiple-use landscape." The "multiple uses" of Forest Service and BLM lands as the Forest Service and BLM would describe them typically begin with agriculture and extractive industries. Even if you include motorized recreation sports, that's still a significant step beyond allowing non-motorized mountain biking. Although you quoted the a portion of the National Park Servic Organic Act, the first half of the act also says that "The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the... national parks..." and then goes on to say "which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment future generations."

    So I think there is a very interesting question here - does the phrase "leave them unimpaired for future generations" imply that this is the primary mission of the NPS as stated above? Or is the phrase "leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations" expressed as a limitation on the purpose of providing for their enjoyment by the people?

  • Development of Valley Forge National Historical Park Inholding Gets Green Light from Planners   6 years 13 weeks ago

    1. It is interesting what you find when you look at park planning documents, or the language Congress uses when directing the National Park Service.

    This is some language I found in for Valley Forge:

    ". . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .the authorizing legislation of 1976, which defined the purpose of the park, the
    Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs noted in House Report No.94-1142, May 14, 1976 that; ' the restoration
    and strengthening of the historic integrity of the Valley Forge site should be the first priority for any Federal
    management of the area. The Committee expects the Secretary to take early and positive steps, once the
    National Park Service assumes operational responsibilities, to manage the park with increased emphasis on the
    restoration and maintenance of the historic scene. Nonconforming recreational uses are to be phased down or
    relocated. Non-historic technological intrusions such as grass mowing are to be eliminated where possible and
    appropriate, and the rerouting or elimination of inappropriate and unsafe roadways is to be undertaken, as it is
    possible. '"

    It seems pretty clear from that it is the responsibility of the National Park Service to "restore and maintain" the historic scene within the park boundary. That would seem to mean the park service director must prevent new development, such as the ARC museum on undeveloped land. Even if the NPS is short of money, they should submit the priorty request to purchase the property if necessary to prevent threats. And NPS knew it was a threat, because it was negotiating for years with St. Gabes to buy the property.

    2. I also found on a website for the Philadelphia radio station WHYY (NPR outlet) a statement from their reporter that ARC stated ARC was encouraged by the park service to build on historic Pawling Farm. THIS SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE. It would be impossible to even approximate the maintenance of the historic scene, as Congress intended, if it were built on. It does not appear that the Director has either denied or confirmed that the park service encouraged ARC to build at this site, but clearly it would be against the intention of Congress, as reflected in the committee report when the NPS took over the park from the State.

    How could NPS have thought they were simply making this problem go away, or sweep it away, by building on private undeveloped land? Unless pressured by an uninformed political appointee, no experienced NPS professional could have. Congress intended NPS to protect all land within the park boundary whether private or not. So ARC's statements quoted to WHYY seem either impossible, or someone at the park service is behaving inappropriately.

    However, now that we are hearing of scientists in NASA or EPA being forced to "restate" their professional opinions under pressure from the Bush Administration, or FAA air traffic controllers who raise safety concerns being crushed, or accountants at the defence department being pushed aside for not paying unjustified bills from cronies of the Vice President Chaney, we cannot just assume that Bush appointees in the park service did not cause this problem, in support of political cronies and against the duties of the National Park Service. The NASA thing was so bad that the supposedly qualified "NASA Official" who was rewriting professional opinions even was lying about his college degree.

    NPS Director, a new Bush appointee with the thin credentials, should confirm or deny that she encouraged ARC to build on that site. Or to find out and assure us that none of the Director's subordinates did.

    Better yet, protect the land at Pawling Farm ! If NPS cannot protect the birthplace of the American Army what can it protect?

  • Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I think there is a difference between a report that indicates that snowmobiles would have more impact on the environment and snow coaches and concluding that science dictates that there must be no snowmobiles in the Park. After all, an EIS on the Grand Circle Road would surely show increased air pollution, noise pollution, and stress on animals as well. Almost any recreational use for "enjoyment of the people" will have some impact on the environment. Pretty much short of managing all of Yellowstone National Park as Federally-designated Wilderness areas, there will be the need to make some balance between recreational use and environmental impacts. To reduce the argument to the salient point - I find it highly unlikely that a single snowmobile in Yellowstone National Park would cause significant harm to the environment. Obviously tens of thousands of snowmobiles would be a major problem. Yet, a snowmobile provides a unique recreational experience for visitors - in some cases it allows for independent travel and a more solitary experience. It also puts the visitor in closer contact with the winter elements of the Park. It would seem sensible then, to allow a sustainable level of snowmobiles that would still leave the Yellowstone environment unimpaired for future generations.

  • What's In Your National Park Reading Room?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    This is great stuff, guys. Thanks so much for sharing. If I may, I'd like to recommend the Yellowstone Association website as a way to obtain these books and more, while also supporting our national treasures at the same time. The recent story concerning the financial plight of the Twain and Wharton homes should encourage us to do more, if possible.

  • National Park Quiz 6: Watchable Wildlife   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Wow - I had a perfect score of 12 out of 12 this week - a first for me... I loved question #6, BTW - very clever.

    One side note on question #9 - there are actually at least three free-roaming bison herds in the National Park System, at Yellowstone, Wind Cave, and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks (both the North and South Units.)

  • Forever on the Mountain   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I'm not so much worried about myself, but I am about the younger generations, even my own kids. I suppose the generations before me worried about the same things but I just can't imagine it getting any better.

  • National Park Service Open to Cutting Single-Track Bike Trails in the Parks   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Segways are a BAD idea. Horrible idea! Come to visit the National Mall in Washington D.C. for even part of a day and you will clearly see why. Mountain bikers, if they run smack into you, will also fall down and get hurt which is probably why they take care to NOT run into you. Segways, on the other hand, can plow right into you without even slowing down and no consequence to them! I lost count of how many times I have been nailed by a segway in D.C. I have seen them hit the elderly with walkers, knock over a baby stroller with a baby in it, and those Segway tour groups are a lawsuite waiting to happen. You have to have a bit of skill to use a mountain bike, not everyone can do it, especially on a trail. Segways, on the other hand, can be used by even the most reckless idiots on the planet. Segways can go remarkably fast [Ed. top speed about 12 mph], which makes impact with a pedestrian oh so much more painful. I could go on and on about why Segways in the Parks is a bad, bad idea. Instead, for anyone who thinks Segways are a good idea for the Park system, I challenge you to sit (at a safe distance) on the National Mall on a Wednesday afternoon and watch the Segways. I am on board for trails for the mountian bikers, but I would rally against the Segways and I am glad that they mentioned that just because they make a trail for the mountain bikers does not mean they would for the Segways.

  • Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?   6 years 13 weeks ago


    Over the nearly three years that I've been following the Yellowstone snowmobile saga on the Traveler I've cited and pointed to many reports that have addressed the pollution load of snowmobiles via snowcoaches and which have said the best way to reduce impacts to the park would be to phase out snowmobiles.

    You can find one such story here.

    Here is some of the pertinent information from that post:

    * "Since the current numbers (of snowmobiles) are below the allowed number of snowmobiles in the current Winter Use Plan, CO concentrations will go up if traffic increases. To maintain the currently allowed number of snowmobiles without degrading air quality further, further reductions in emissions will be needed." -- 2004-05 air quality report.

    * "The park should continue with plans for cleaner snow vehicles and limits on the number of snowmobiles." -- 2004-05 air quality report.

    * "A rough relationship between the number of daily snowmobiles at the West Entrance and the maximum CO concentrations accounts for 87 percent of the variability. This suggests that an increase in the average daily snowmobile traffic up to the allowed limit under the Winter Use Plan would result in greater carbon monoxide concentrations." -- 2004-05 air quality report.

    * "The winter CO mean concentration in February now is nearly equal to the mean CO in July, the busiest visitation month." -- 2004-05 air quality report.

    And if you look at page 20 of this report, you'll see where even the park's scientists themselves point out that politics often trumps science. Here's the pertinent snippet:

    However, science cannot resolve issues where policy is advocated due to values judgments and perceptions about what is appropriate in national parks (Sarewitz 2004). As Creel et al. (2002) discussed, various constituencies have strong values and beliefs about the primary purpose of the park (i.e., recreation vs. conservation) and acceptable levels of impact (i.e., behavioral vs. physiological vs. population).

    Also, I've pointed out in the past how park officials had to alter the parameters of what constitutes an impact in noise levels to justify their preferred alternative.

    Finally, I believe the park's "environmentally preferred" alternative (which you can find in Chapter 2 at this site) calls for phasing out snowmobiles in favor of snowcoaches. Indeed, the park's "no action" alternative calls for snowcoach only recreational travel, a decision based on the previous EISes.

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 13 weeks ago

    Why has no one brought up the fact that bear "spray" is useless USELESS on a windey day!! And if the animal is coming down (with the wind) your spray will only go into your face or the face of your loved ones!! And the "sound" she keeps talking about will be UNHEARD by the bear! TRY THIS...take your hair spray out side on a windey day or a big fire retardant can...and spray it into the WIND!! IN YOUR FACE IT ALL you smell like yummy yummy PEPPER to the bear..when the burn wears off you are left with a food type yummy odor on you after you have been mauled!! So why would i carry something that the wind can render it USELESS or can attract a bear in the forst place and can be OLD and out of DATE!! You wanna carry bear spray...knock yourself out...but the gun carrying person will be the one to save your life!! And troubled bears that are rereleased back into the wilderness are often shot at with rubber if you shoot a bear or only wound will remember the pain and fear of the LOUD noises. It has no fear of the SPRAY can...and even less on a WINDY DAY!!

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   6 years 13 weeks ago

    I can tell [that this woman] only hikes in small parks in CA only. What an idiot! You only have 6 can you get that damn clip off your "PEPPER ME FOR TASTE" can before the bear gets to you in 6 seconds. The shot of a bullet has always scared off every animal i have ever encountered. And when i bear hunt the first shot will drop him almost every time within minutes of him trying to RUN AWAY!! Pepper spray....the mear smell of the pepper in the spray can make a bear come around!! And if the bear spray is old it will be innafective on the bear! AND lets say you make your spraying sweeping motion with your "hair SPRAY pepper" and its really windy or rainy and it goes the wrong way..or if you were a hunter you would know a bear or any animal will turn and go with the wind to double back that means as the bear is charging you...and the bear is going 25 mph with a 15 mph wind your SPRAY will be in your FACE!! And let the MAULING BEGIN!! yeah i want to trust my life to something a mear strong wind will make it be gone or in my own face, i cant trust something like that!! Carry a gun! This lady has no idea of what to do. [Ed. This comment was edited to remove a concluding personal remark of an extremely offensive nature.]

  • Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    In terms of the broader proposal, I think that it would be best to avoid the "or" in your opening question. National Parks need to be run in some form of partnership with the gateway communities.

    At the end of the day, the biggest enforcement budget in the world won't be able to do as much to protect the Parks as gateway communities that are invested in the long-term health and well-being of the Parks. Moreover, I think that there are many Park Superintendents out there who can tell you that a gateway community at odds with the National Park Service can make life one giant headache for Park Rangers and managers.

    Secondly, the perception that Parks are damaging to the well-being of gateway communities is one of the primary factors that are working against the expansion of Parks and the establishment of new Parks. It doesn't help that many of the "hottest issues" in the Park System today are inherently cross-boundary issues like air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, and viewscape preservation. There are many important resources out there that would do well to be preserved in the National Park System, but there is often staunch local resistance to Park establishment or expansion.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that Gatlinburg, TN is quite the abomination and I'm as baffled as anyone by the Sylvan Pass decision. Nevertheless, despite these mistakes, I think that it would be a bigger mistake to paint the National Park Service is being inherently at odds with gateway communities - wherever they may be...

  • National Park History: Big Bend National Park   6 years 13 weeks ago

    You're awful generous to Big Bend in the summer time. I once met a Park Ranger who worked here previously, and he described Big Bend in the summertime to me as simply "hell on earth." I haven't tested that statement - but I believe him!

  • Commentary: Who Runs the National Park System?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    In several posts, you've implied that "science" has argued in favor of phasing out all recreational snowmobile use in the Park. However, the post you link to identifies the "preferred alternative" as being 540 snowmobiles a day - which doesn't seem like a phaseout to me....

  • Yellowstone's Latest Snowmobile Decision for Cody: Politically Motivated or Simply Neighborly?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    In two separate posts now you've implied that Vice President Dick Cheney may have been involved in this decision - albeit without any solid reporting to back it up. It seems to me, though, that this Sylvan Pass decision seems bad enough on its own, without having to resort to innuendo on this issue.....

  • What's In Your National Park Reading Room?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    What? Where's Muir? How about "My first summer in the Sierra", or my favorite " Travels in Alaska". If Muir is a little dry for you, try "The Wild Muir". Released by The Yosemite Association, these are short stories about John Muir as others experienced him.

    Another I enjoyed recently was " Boundary Waters" by Paul Gruchow. Nice insights as to why wilderness is so important to our psyche, and also some thoughts on Thoreau.

    My favorite as of late has been Terry Tempest Williams, A desert rat at heart, she is a master at turning a phrase and has much to say. Try "Red, passion and patience in the desert." And perhaps most topical in the post 9-11 era of conservation, "The Open Space of Democracy", a little gem of a book everyone should read.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 13 weeks ago

    It's a motorized vehicle. NO. How is this different that a motorized scooter or bike? There's a reason bike paths don't allow motorized vehicles. It's to keep the speed down to make it safe for others. If you're handicapped, maybe, like in the case of a motorized wheelchair. Otherwise, get off your ass and walk or peddle. This is nuts. I liked the comment from whoever it was that said that they should have baskets to carry their candy bars and Big Macs. Bike trails is for health exercise, not electric motorized vehicles. Get a car and stay on the road if you want a powered vehicle. Yosemite has no place for motorized vehicles on bike paths.