Recent comments

  • National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community   6 years 14 weeks ago

    MRC - you make some good points. I hadn't thought of actually considering National Wildlife Refuge to be a higher level of protection than a Naitonal Park. I had ordered them the way that I did because the National Wildlife Refuge rather famously can allow oil drilling under at least some circumstance - something that seems almost unthinkable in a National Park. I think that's yet another example that various levels of Federal land classification are very poorly defined, and really aught to be clarified.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 14 weeks ago

    Skyrocketing fuel prices, budget tightening, and related factors are going to keep people closer to home. This should make our urban-oriented national parks (the ones within day-tripping distance, that is) much more appealing. It will be interesting to see whether highly accessible parks in metro regions -- Point Reyes National Seashore, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park all being good examples -- can implement higher levels of resource protection when they are under increasing pressure to accommodate the ordinary recreational wants and needs of day-trippers and weekenders. If these pressures persist, one might reasonably expect a tilt toward mass recreation facilities and programs like those of the National Recreation Areas.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Why does the gun issue extract such incredible outpourings of vitriol and personal attacks?

    Do you really have to ask?

    It is political, and macho, and trite...
    Stephen Ducat at The Huffington Post recently said it pretty well...
    "Cowboys, Prairie Fairies, and Mother Earth:
    The Political Psychology of Gendering Nature Female"

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Sorry anonymous, but am I to understand that raising one's voice to question management decisions is political? So if one were to question ESA decisions, or fee decisions, or trail-building decisions, one would be immersing themselves in politics?

    If that's an accurate understanding, then should the Traveler restrict its coverage to little more than park histories, lodging deals, and where to watch pretty sunsets? Should it ban any post or comment that points to either a questionable practice or proposal?

    It's been abundantly clear for going on three years now that the Traveler's mission is to build advocates for the parks. The vehicle for that mission is to follow issues that swirl around the National Park System so park visitors know how the parks are being managed. And yes, on occasion we do venture out and editorialize.

    You describe yourself as a fervent parks supporter. What park issues interest you? Have you commented on any other posts, pro or con? Why the need for anonymity? And, of course, if you believe I'm getting political for questioning the gun proposal, aren't you, too, for questioning my motives and insisting this is a states rights issue?

    Why does the gun issue extract such incredible outpourings of vitriol and personal attacks? Why isn't there similar (though hopefully more civilized in expression) concern regarding other issues in the parks? Or is everything OK across the system?

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 15 weeks ago

    It's funny that folks keep using the term "Allow Weapons"
    What many do not understand is that a Criminal is a criminal. Regardless of what laws are in place.
    If they choose to carry and gun and to commit a crime, they are going to do it whether they are not allowed to or not.
    Placing a law to not allow a lawful person to protect themselves is absolutley ridiculous.
    CCW holders apply to protect themselves and their family from those who choose to disobey the law and direct their disobedience toward them.

    What better is a target that you can guarantee doesn't have a gun.
    One gun can protect many, cause the criminal doesnt know if you are holding it or not. Why leave the mystery out of it and give the advantage to the criminal?

    If you Outlaw Guns, Only Outlaws will have them.

    My .02

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Excuse me, I thought you could read. I said YOU were being political! The NRA has always been political. I hoped you were above that. I was obviously mistaken.

    I have always supported the parks for non-political reasons, I thought you might also. Again, my error!

    Every thing is not political to every one.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Hmmmm, not political. That's why the NRA -- one of the most powerful lobbies in the country -- admittedly scripted the letters that were sent by senators to Interior Secretary Kempthorne, and that's why the NRA worked with Sen. Coburn to introduce his amendment to open the parks to concealed weapons.

    States rights issue? I always thought Yellowstone, Yosemite and the other 389 NPS units were "national" parks. I also thought the Congress, through the above cited codes, gave the National Park Service legal jurisdiction over the parks. I must have missed the transfer.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 15 weeks ago

    You protest too much! I've never been an NRA member or backer, but you need to be truthful: 1, this topic has been discussed at governmental levels for 5 years; 2, to imply this is a political issue in an election year is to make yourself political ( not a good or smart idea): 3, this is really a states rights issue, not an NRA issue once you get down to it.

    I support the National Parks as fervently ( and for a longer time) as you. But your RANT against this issue does not support the Parks. Reasoned discussions are ALWAYS more beneficial to all concerned.

  • Hamilton Grange National Memorial Relocation Update   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Actually, Hamilton called the process of getting the land, designing and building Hamilton Grange: ". . . a sweet project." For some reason the NPS release spins it as ". . . he called his 'sweet project.' " Splitting hairs??

    Either Hamilton didn't actually personalize it as much as the NPS release seems to be trying to imply, or Hamilton had actually done a lot of other significant things in his lifetime.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Bay Area leaders may have advocated for Point Reyes, but they did not create it. Congress did.

    Also - I recommend you look at Indiana Dunes NL, an urban park older than Golden Gate or Gateway if you really want to see the face of urban/industrial/residential and park interface in a challenging area.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 15 weeks ago

    One of my favorite National Parks. It has all the amenities that blesses the human soul. You can gaze at the open sea all day and never tire. Once the coastal fog recedes and you can see the great expanse of open sea...your inner soul begins to feel renewed.

  • How We View National Parks Today Matters For Tomorrow   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Point Reyes National Seashore is an amazing place. Unique geology, amazing nature, cultural heritage and superb recreation all comes together. I loved it, and even saw a gray whale and her young from the shore near the light house. But the problems to combine all those different assets and claims are hardly unique. It happens elsewhere and I think it's the most important issue for nature conservation these days.

    There is even a National Park that is on the forefront of this very special balance: Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio has been criticized for not being worthy the status of National Park. But I believe it can become a show case for integrating the natural landscape of the Cuyahoga river, the forests and open lands with the cultural landscape of the canal and the historic locks, the railway, the farms and farmland as well as the man made ponds. And to fulfill the recreational needs of Cleveland and Akron, There is a highly renown outdoor music arena (Blossom Music Center) in the south of the park. A ski area just outside.

    I don't know if all those aspects can and will be integrated sustainably for the long term. But I think it is worth trying: in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and at Point Reyes National Seashore.

  • National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community   6 years 15 weeks ago

    @Sabattis: "I have a general sense of a descending order of protection from National Park Service to Fish & Wildlife Service to US Forest Service to Bureau of Land Management".

    In my book the FWS has the highest standard of protection, before the NPS. USFS and BLM have very different levels within their jurisdiction, but in general I'd put some BLM lands, that have some kind of protection, over those of the USFS. FWS wilderness areas for example have no access to visitors, the FWS National Monument, Hanford Reach NM, has parts set aside for research, with no access for the public. But it is more difficult: On Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (USFS), the main blast area can only be accessed on a handful of established trails, straying beyond them is forbidden to protect the recovery of nature after the 1980 eruption.

    This kind of protection is rare in the National Park System. Another volcano comes to my mind: In Sunset Crater National Volcanic Monument the cinder cone must not be climbed. Recreation is a huge part of the NPS mandate, if ecological research and really undisturbed nature is wanted, it looks like other agencies are better equipped.

  • Ribbon-Cutting Planned for $70,000 "Bio Toilet" at Mount Rainier National Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    This is very nice of them. Are there any plans to add more of these elsewhere if they work as intended?

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I repeat - NO metal detectors. If you don't have ENFORCEMENT, all you have is a rule. Rule-breakers don't obey rules. That's why we call them that.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I just don't get it. We don't allow people to carry concealed weapons in our public schools, churches, museums, libraries, and courthouses. Therefore, why should people feel a special need to carry concealed weapons in our national parks?

    Are our national parks not special, sacred places? Or, are they just another administrative variation of open space?

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 15 weeks ago

    You said, "How do you decide which laws or regulations are worth obeying? If wearing a concealed weapon where they're outlawed doesn't bother you, where do you draw the line?"

    One is a violation of a REGULATION written by a bureaucrat. A regulation denying my RIGHT to KEEP and BEAR ARMS is a violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. If CCW offends anyone, they should endeavor to amend the Constitution, or at least work to have CCW permit laws rescinded.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Thanks for providing all this data Rick. You and I both know that we're not going to change anybody's mind, but it is nice to demonstrate that there is a LOT of information available. They can believe what they want.

    It must have taken a lot of time to gather all these numbers. Thanks for your time. You mentioned Dr. Lott's research. I've read all of his books and found them to be very informative and unbiased. It's just a shame that we can't get some of the "utopia" crowd to read one or two.

  • Proposed Settlement Filed in Cape Hatteras National Seashore ORV Case   6 years 15 weeks ago

    As a lifelong North Carolina resident who has lived from the mountains, to the bustling modern Triad and Triangle regions and now to the Outer Banks ... I would like to point out that North Carolina has 427,823 acres in national wildlife refuges. And this does not count the Great Dismal Swamp refuge which is in NC and VA. Of those 427,823 acres, 95% are in northeastern North Carolina, the home of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. In fact, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is located within the boundaries of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and occupies 5,834 acres (land), 25,700 acres (Proclamation Boundary Waters). It covers 13 lateral miles of the barrier island from shore to sound.

    Northeastern North Carolina is one of the poorest sections of the state, with little industry or service businesses other than tourism. Visitors come here primarily for the great outdoors. This section of North Carolina is committed to resource and wildlife conservation and already gives more than its fair share. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is not the only nesting area available to threatened species.

    Unlike many other national parks, Cape Hatteras had established communities within the boundaries before the National Seashore was ever established in 1953. In the original language “said area shall be, and is, established, dedicated, and set apart as a national seashore recreational area for the benefit and enjoyment of the people and shall be known as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area”.

    In addition, this area is prone to natural disasters and near constant shaping and reshaping by the environment. Currently a wildfire caused by lightning is raging in the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge which occupies 12,000 acres in Hyde, Tyrell and Washington counties (adjacent to the Outer Banks). 10,000 acres have already burned and smoke is drifting over the Outer Banks as we speak. Given current weather conditions, experts say the peat fire will burn for days if not weeks. What wildlife has perished due to natural disaster in this wildlife refuge and how will it affect wildlife in Pea Island and on Cape Hatteras National Seashore?

    In September 2003, Hurricane Isabel slammed northeastern North Carolina and particularly the Outer Banks. The force was so great that it carved a new inlet in the seashore, severing the road and stranding southern seashore residents for more than two months. The communities on the Outer Banks were devastated. How did this affect the wildlife of the area?

    It has been argued that we must do everything to preserve and encourage endangered or threatened species, in this case the piping plover which has a habitat range from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes and Canada. We cannot harness wildfires and hurricanes. We cannot stop foxes and seagulls from plucking tasty eggs from the beach … although the Park Service has certainly tried. The following “predators” were removed from the seashore last year: red fox (18), gray fox (6), raccoon (135), opposum (85), feral cat (57), nutria (77), muskrat (1), otter (2), mink (1). No count for seagulls.

    The consent decree protects a few species (which it may be argued are not even in danger) while restricting the rights of another species … humans. The Park Service was succeeding in managing these habitats while also meeting the needs of its visitors before the lawsuit. Now the management of this issue has been removed from their hands and without public input by one activist judge.

    Apparently I and the millions of visitors to national parks each year are not a stakeholder and have no voice, nor do we in fact any longer have real access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area. That right is only provided to birds, now protected by daily changing buffer zones ranging as long as 11 football fields. As humans and taxpayers, we only have the right to foot the legal bills for the plaintif non-profit special interest groups and the Park Service as the defendant.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Enough with the careless use of statistical data. PLEASE!

    Anyone, with little or no effort, can find and quote data gathered by various organizations on virtually any topic imaginable. These data are invariably "editorialized" to provide the organization with whatever "statistical evidence" they require to elicit some emotional outburst on any issue, both pro and con. Any attempt to normalize these data slants the actual findings toward whatever opinion those gathering the data represent. Data which serve not to support their views are deemed outliers, and not included in the findings, so as to not make the hypothesis lack credibility, and try to "prove" their point.

    That aside, its one matter to throw out "facts and figures" in an effort to project an image of knowledge. It's quite another to effort an explanation of your data sets, and EARN that image. But that would entail an ability to do the math, understand the hypothesis and the scientific method, then with complete objectivity, offer an explanation of these data. What I'm seeing here is a total lack of objectivity on both sides of the fence, and the equivalent of a bucket of mudslinging by most parties, without offering one iota of supporting evidence aside from these useless statistical rationalizations.

    For example, I could cite evidence that shows you are almost 10,000X more likely to be accosted while driving your car than you would be in a NPS unit. But rightfully so, we as a society deem road rage a crime, an emotional outburst easily curbed by thinking before reacting. But some smartass will use such a study to claim justification for driving armed, so that they can protect themselves while getting from Point A-B. In my view, retaliation against someone who has "assaulted" you with their automobile hardly justifies or legitimizes gunfire.

    So I beg to offer this point for your general consideration. At what point is your method of "self defense" acceptable? What line has to be crossed before you determine that discharging your sidearm is the "proper" response? You might be licensed to carry, but consider are peace officers, yet they are educated in a variety of mechanisms of gaining control of a situation, and their handgun is considered a LAST resort, not a primary line of defense. I have asked in earlier posts for people to consider alternative mechanisms of defense, and I have been told I must have been visiting the mushroom patch again. To me, it sounds as though your HGH is wearing off when that's the best response you can garner. But that's just one man's opinion. I guess that asking some people to take a moment to think before they act is asking too much.

    Just be aware of this, vigilantes. In the State in which I reside, if a home invasion is in progress, and the use of deadly force is used against an unarmed intruder, you will be charged (and many have been convicted) of Manslaughter in the 1st degree, which carries a term of 10+ years. If you use deadly force inside your residence and no imminent threat exists to you or your family, the charge is Murder in the 2nd degree. If you manage to scare off the intruder, or they decide to retreat and leave your residence, and you fire upon them WHILE THEY ARE STILL ON YOUR PROPERTY, the charge is Murder in the 1st degree. Once they cross your property line, the term "premeditated" is added to the charges, since you had the opportunity to break off the pursuit and chose to let your testosterone get the best of you. The point is you can defend your property while you are there, but defending yourself or someone else at the grocery store, baseball game, truck stop, hotel / bar, etc. is generally viewed with more contempt by the legal system insomuch as you are viewed as just that, a vigilante, not a peace-keeper. You may be a licensed gun carrier, but you're certainly not licensed to kill, by any means. As much as the American public would like nothing more, except maybe to kill all the lawyers, than to rid the nation of gang-bangers, rapists, serial killers, etc. more guns on the city streets won’t solve the problem, and I’ll tell you why. The Criminal Element, as the pro-gun crowd chooses to label them, have no fear of you and your CCP guns. You carry one, they carry a bigger one. They are going to continue their business as usual, making you a target of their rage, not hiding in the shadows every time you approach. Escalation into a society of assault rifles and military arms is your suggestion on improving the quality of life in America?

    We did the same thing as kids years ago. The quickest way to disperse a crowd, or make the police retreat was to fire off 2-3 rounds from a 30.06 into the air. It was funny watching the police, knowing they were out-gunned, scamper back behind their cruisers and back off as quickly as they could while calling out for backup. It gave us just enough time to clear out before the police massed. So, while you’re out there on your patrol with your concealed .32 or .38 and somebody pulls an Uzi or the new 500 series on you, or you witness someone with advanced firepower pulling a job, you’re telling me you have the advantage in that confrontation? You’re either ignorant or just plain foolish to take on those odds. But if you decide to, best of luck to you. You’ll be needing it.

  • Congressman Accuses Sec. Kempthorne of Pandering to NRA on Gun Issue   6 years 15 weeks ago

    Shhh, don't tell the Brady Campaign, but there's big trouble in gun-control paradise.

    The Times of London reports:

    "Knife-carrying youths face automatic prosecution as street violence spirals"

    Editor's note: This comment was edited

  • Park History: Lowell National Historical Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    There are four basic requirements for getting this particular gig. First, and most importantly, you must be willing to work for nothing. Secondly, you must love the national parks and have a sincere desire to defend them. Thirdly, you need to have some special ability, experience, or perspective to draw on. And you must also be willing to work with Kurt, who will insist that you dot your i's, cross your t's, re-check your facts, and quit writing like a *#!?@! professor. Did I mention that you must be willing to work for nothing? I've not yet visited Lowell, but I hope to erase that blight on my record in the near future. Thanks for the update on the now-defunct Folklife Center. I've edited the reference out of the article. As for the videocasts, well, we're working on that.

  • Park History: Lowell National Historical Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    The New England Folklife Center no longer exists (you missed that one). It was a nice program, but unfortunately its administration passed from the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission to Middlesex Community College, which decided to discontinue it.

  • Park History: Lowell National Historical Park   6 years 15 weeks ago

    I'll be looking forward to reading the histories of the Smokies and Biscayne. Great work your doing, how does one get such a gig??? I hope you have the opportunity to visit these sites. Your description of LNHP is extremely accurate, I take it you've been here. Maybe the national park traveler can add a video component. More parks are starting to create podcasts, but a visitors perspective would be estremely helpful for all.


  • National Park Service Director Bomar Scheduled to Meet With Mountain Bike Community   6 years 15 weeks ago

    "Superlative opportunities for recreation for public use and enjoyment..."

    Where do you draw the line for what's appropriate in a national park, for which the National Park Service has considerably different management mandates and responsibilities than does the U.S. Forest Service for national forests or the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for its empire?

    Some find ORVs and dirt bikes to be superlative modes of recreation and enjoyment. Should we build trails for those, too, in the parks? What about Jet skis and power boats? Each carries a threat to the resources, and, of course, the Park Service is mandated to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life 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 of future generations." (emphasis added).

    Indeed, many courts have ruled that the Park Service's main directive is to conserve the resources, not provide "superlative opportunities" for each and every mode of recreation.

    Hiking trails long have existed in the parks, and while there might have been a few added in recent years, I can't recall any substantial trail additions. And I think it can be argued that a mountain bike trail and use of it lends more impacts, both actual and aesthetic, than a hiking trail.

    As I've noted before, that's not to say there aren't already existing opportunities for mountain bikers in the parks and opportunities yet to be examined in terms of existing dirt roads that wind through many parks. But does the Park Service need to examine cutting new single-track trails in places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains, Acadia, Voyageurs and on and on?

    Perhaps if there weren't countless opportunities for mountain biking throughout the national forest system and the BLM landscape, not to mention state parks, it would be easier to justify greatly expanded mountain bike opportunities in the parks.

    As for Segways on the Mall, they're running primarily on concrete sidewalks and pathways, no? Do they carry the actual impacts of cutting new trails through a forest or across a meadow and then the resulting use?