Recent comments

  • Should Canyon de Chelly Be Given to the Navajo Nation?   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Tricky. Canyon de Chelly has two distinctive contexts. One is the prehistoric culture of the Anasazi. The ruins in the canyon, the petroglyphs at the walls are precolumbian and the Navajo are not directly related to these previous occupants of the canyon.

    But Canyon de Chelly was later (in historic times) settled by the Navajo, and the canyon was twice their last stronghold. In 1804 against Spaniards and in 1864 when the army under Kit Carson rounded the whole nation up and tried to drive them to their designated reservation in the New Mexico. They fought. Kit Carson employed a tactic of scorched earth and used famine as weapon against the last warriors, who hid in the caves and other hideouts of the canyon. They finally gave up and next came the "Long Walk" to the reservation. Many didn't make it and died on the way. About four years later the Navajo got their new reservation where most still live, and that encompasses Canyon de Chelly.

    The National Monument was dedicated primarily for the ruins. Handing it over to the Navajo would emphasize their history in the canyon.

    Today visitors who are not of Native American ancestry may only visit the rim on their own and get down to one ruin on a designated trail. All other parts of the valley floor are accessible by tours only, led by native members of the staff. The canyon is spectacular. Wikipedia has this image of "Spider Rock", a solitaire sandstone spire about 800 feet tall: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Spider_Rock.jpg

  • Tune-in For Yosemite National Park   6 years 18 weeks ago

    Thanks Kurt. I ususally don't watch the Travel Channel, but I'll set my DVR to record this show.

  • Park Lands For Sale: Can the National Park Service Afford Them?   6 years 18 weeks ago

    The integrity of the nature in these parks, and the preservation of lands of national historical value, should be a priority. These are factors, along with other laws that are still in place, that distinguish us from ecological wastelands such as mainland China and eastern Europe (as misused during the Soviet era).

    If as is being stated, those private landowners were previously compensated, perhaps an impartial board should consider whether those deals were reasonable under federal law, and what the rights of these private "owners" are, if any.

    The fact that the National Parks Service is not receiving the funding ($190 million yearly?!) from oil drilling fees, is a crime, and the federal officials behind this should be arrested and prosecuted for malfeasance. If it goes as far as the president, he should be impeached for violation of the federal trust. This is the true patriotism. Wolves in sheeps clothing who are trying to privatize and monetize every square inch of our heritage, are not patriots and on the contrary if there are laws or contracts being broken should be relieved of their offices and if appropriate should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 18 weeks ago

    May I come in with a fresh viewpoint? Question: are visitors to the parks being assaulted when they visit (more than, say, once a year)? If so, if gun violence in national parks is rampant, we have a bigger problem than is solved by allowing everyone to carry guns will solve; we have a societal problem and an enforcement problem. If there is NOT a significant volume of gun crime in parks, then why not preserve and respect the current laws prohibiting gun carrying in the parks.

    The reference to storm troopers sounds like crazy talk. But I understand that not everyone takes that attitude. It does seem that a national park should be a disarmed zone; park rangers should be able to carry guns if they wish. Has anyone, anyone at all, accused them of committing gun crimes? The park is not the same as general state property, and should be considered differently from generic land. The park is disarmed to protect the wildlife.

    I know some people disagree - but I will end by repeating this question: is there currently a genuine need to defend oneself in national parks, or is this fight over the PRINCIPLE of the matter? If the former, I would say we need a careful look at the whole situation (and maybe more park rangers!) and possibly, possibly allow legal gun carrying. If the latter, then I say, disarm our parks - and pursue the visual, the olfactory, the aural enjoyment of nature.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Joe,

    I know you're just baiting me, but since you asked....

    Your first question cuts both ways. If you're law-abiding, why such an obsessive problem with abiding by or trying to overthrow the existing law? And really, more than a few "law-abiding" CCW holders already have said they broke the law by carrying in the parks, so what's your definition of "law-abiding"? And answer this: If the current regulations are left intact and you are found to be carrying illegally in a national park, will you forfeit your firearm? Will you agree that you are a criminal?

    As for your last comment, how do you know I don't like guns? I've gone hunting in the past, have an air rifle to keep the varmints out of the garden, even had the pleasure of firing off a few rounds from a Casull .454, and long admired the Browning collection in Ogden, Utah, and the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

    While you chew on that question, here are some findings on RTC laws from the National Academy of Science, which produced a report, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review, in 2004 (it's the most recent study on this issue):


    Deterrence and Defense

    Although a large body of research has focused on the effects of firearms on injury, crime, and suicide, far less attention has been devoted to understanding the defensive and deterrent effects of firearms. Firearms are used by the public to defend against crime. Ultimately, it is an empirical question whether defensive gun use and concealed weapons laws generate net social benefits or net social costs.

    Defensive Gun Use

    Over the past decade, a number of researchers have conducted studies to measure the prevalence of defensive gun use in the population. However, disagreement over the definition of defensive gun use and uncertainty over the accuracy of survey responses to sensitive questions and the methods of data collection have resulted in estimated prevalence rates that differ by a factor of 20 or more. These differences in the estimated prevalence rates indicate either that each survey is measuring something different or that some or most of them are in error. Accurate measurement on the extent of defensive gun use is the first step for beginning serious dialog on the efficacy of defensive gun use at preventing injury and crime.

    For such measurement, the committee recommends that a research program be established to (1) clearly define and understand what is being measured, (2) understand inaccurate response in the national gun use surveys, and (3) apply known methods or develop new methods to reduce reporting errors to the extent possible. A substantial research literature on reporting errors in other contexts, as well as well-established survey sampling methods, can and should be brought to bear to evaluate these response problems.

    Right-to-Carry Laws

    A total of 34 states have laws that allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns. Right-to-carry laws are not without controversy: some people believe that they deter crimes against individuals; others argue that they have no such effect or that they may even increase the level of firearms violence. This public debate has stimulated the production of a large body of statistical evidence on whether right-to-carry laws reduce or increase crimes against individuals.

    However, although all of the studies use the same basic conceptual model and data, the empirical findings are contradictory and in the committee's view very fragile. Some studies find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, others find that the effects are negligible, and still others find that such laws increase violent crime. The committee concludes that it is not possible to reach any scientifically supported conclusion because of (a) the sensitivity of the empirical results to seemingly minor changes in model specification, (b) a lack of robustness of the results to the inclusion of more recent years of data (during which there were many more law changes than in the earlier period), and (c) the statistical imprecision of the results. The evidence to date does not adequately indicate either the sign or the magnitude of a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates. Furthermore, this uncertainty is not likely to be resolved with the existing data and methods. If further headway is to be made, in the committee's judgment, new analytical approaches and data are needed.

    You can find the entire report here.

    I'm glad you like some of the other national park posts you find on the Traveler. Believe me when I say I'll be glad when this issue is put to bed, whichever way it goes.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Since you fancy yourself a scholar of political verbage. Maybe you can interpret the following for us, and tell us how the founding fathers really were trying to say that we didn't have the right to carry guns individually: (Good Luck)

    *First, Thomas Jefferson: No Freeman shall ever be disbarred from the use of arms.
    *Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion in private self-defense, John Adams.
    *The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed with Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, where the Government are afraid to trust their people with arms, James Madison.
    *Arms discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world as well as property. Horrid mischief would ensue if the law-abiding were deprived the use of private arms, Thomas Payne.
    *Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined, nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants. They serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides from an unarmed man, may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man, Thomas Jefferson.
    *A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves. They include all men capable of bearing arms. To preserve liberty is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms and be taught alike how to use them, Richard Henry Lee.
    *The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms, Samuel Adams.
    *I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them, George Mason.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    I do not understand your obsession with denying licensed law abiding men and women the right to protect themselves in a National Park with a firearm. Courts in cities like Washington DC which has an extensive gun ban have already ruled that the police are under no obligation to provide protection to private citizens in "Warren v. District of Columbia”. Since large areas of park are patrolled by a few rangers why shouldn’t citizens be allowed to carry a firearm if they have a permit? Discharging a firearm is against the law in a park as it is anywhere else. If two women choose to enjoy the back country themselves and they have a CCW what’s wrong with it being legal for them to bring along their protection? Or anybody else for that matter?
    I do enjoy some of your other stories on the national parks. We all know you don't like guns.

    Joe

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    "Rangers deal with enough illegal guns..."

    Really? How many?

    "...so please give then a break..."

    Citizens with CCW permits are trained and can give law enforcement rangers the "break" they need by protecting themselves. Criminals know it's illegal for law-abiding citizens to carry arms in parks, which makes visitors attactive targets, especially since rangers, in critically short supply, are the only legal bearers of arms in parks.

    "...and don't make them worry about more guns in the parks."

    I knew one law enforcement ranger who didn't "worry" at all about his own gun, a Glock 9mm that he left unsecured out in the open on the living room floor of his shared housing.

    Joel is absolutely right that every argument supporting the need for armed law enforcement rangers is an argument that supports the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms in national parks.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Where are these official reports of rangers being shot at? I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but please do share this information with us rather than create control through fear. By simple fact that our parks are so unsafe with criminals who would shoot at a ranger, you've only created the need for good people to be armed as well. Every argument you make that a ranger should need a gun and have body armor is an argument for citizens to have the right to self protection. Until we have some future predicting ability there will be no way for a ranger to know where every crime is going to happen. No law enforcement body can stop all crime no matter how diligent they are. This arrogance by government agencies (particularly law enforcement) is the exact kind of “god-complex” that should never be allowed to touch a firearm, let alone protect another’s life.

    I guess once again it must be stated that we all know there is no such thing as a CCW permit for federal lands. We are asking the federal government to recognize the sovereignty of a state in which the park is designated. This would be a rule change. No one is suggesting that breaking the law is the right thing to do. We're suggesting that there should never be a reason for the federal government to "infringe" on the 2nd amendment in an outdoor peaceful setting where (according to you) rangers are being shot at every year.

  • Park Lands For Sale: Can the National Park Service Afford Them?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Ah, but some people (not me) consider earmarking funds for park lands to be just as bad as "bridges to nowhere." Adding more funds to the Land and Water Conservation Fund would be a big step in the right direction. And the headline is correct. Many of these lands are for sale to whomever can pay the most.

  • Groups Sue Cape Hatteras National Seashore Over ORV Traffic   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I have lived on Hatteras Island my entire life, and I have grown up learning the importance of preserving and protecting our fragile environment. While driving on the beach. Park Rangers and self-policing, as VCHawk said, account for the responsible behavior of drivers on the beach. I have never seen anyone doing donuts or driving recklessly on the sand. To do that would be suicide, at the very least to your vehicle. I am more worried for my safety when crossing highway 12 in the summer than I am the beach.

    The argument has been made that pedestrian traffic will still be permitted. However, only a small percentage of the beach is accessible to pedestrians. Cape Point, in Buxton, is almost entirely inaccessible, unless you want to walk a mile or more in the sand, in addition to the distance to the beach itself. Ryan, I agree that exercise is good, but not everyone can make that walk to get to the most desirable recreation areas. The elderly and disabled enjoy fishing at the point and other areas that cannot be feasibly reached by foot. Are we to deny them this?

    Banning beach driving would also have an economic impact on the area. Nearly all of the 5,000 residents of Hatteras Island depend on tourism on some level. ANY loss in income could be disastrous for already struggling families. My mother works for a vacation rental company, and several clients who have booked with her for years have not rebooked, stating that they will not vacation there if they cannot drive on the beach.

    The national seashore was NOT set up as a wildlife refuge. There is a wildlife refuge just north of Rodanthe. No ORVs there. And the beach is still eroding there, by the way. From what I've seen, it's eroding at a greater rate than the beaches that allow ORV use.

    Another reason that pedestrian-only access to the beach would not work: People driving ORVs use designated beach access areas. Driving over the dunes is simply madness. Do you believe that all pedestrians only use designated walk-overs? From having lived there my entire life, seeing vehicles parked alongside the highway at the S-curves just north of Rodanthe, I have seen the problems of pedestrian-only access to certain areas of the beach. People walk over the dunes with no regard for the fragile plant life that holds them together. That is why the dunes just north of Rodanthe wash out so often and cause problems for drivers trying to get on or off the island.

    I agree that something should be done to either limit beach traffic or to make sure that ORV users know the rules. One way to do the latter is by requiring a special permit to drive on the beach. People living on the Outer Banks could get this permit as an endorsement on their license, similar to a motorcycle endorsement, etc. Take a separate exam at the DMV on the rules and regulations about beach driving, and issue a sticker or rear-view-mirror hanger with this license so that park rangers know those permitted and those not. Vacationers could go to the Dare County Park Service Office in Manteo and get a temporary permit by taking a similar exam. This would require a lot of coordination and cooperation between all levels of government, but it could work. Making sure people know the rules is one way to improve beach traffic. If limiting the number of vehicles concerns you, issue a limited number of permits per week or per day for tourists, limit the permits to one per family/vacation group, and have some way to make an exception for the elderly and the disabled. These permits would have some cost associated with them, and the money brought in could help offset the cost of implementing such a plan.

    To sum up:
    Beach driving is not quite the ecological disaster people are imaginging.
    A ban on beach driving would cause some popular recreation areas to be inaccessible, often to the elderly and disabled who have vacationed here for generations.
    This ban would have economic consequences.
    There is already a wildlife refuge in place.
    Pedestrian traffic on the dunes would cause more damage than there is already, and this traffic would be increased by banning ORV use.
    Something needs to be done: Permits.

    See you at the beach.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Just because you don't hear about Rangers getting shot at everyday doesn't mean it isn't happening. In fact, every year Rangers get shot at, but more importantly it isn't just about getting shot at. Rangers are still the most assaulted of all Federal law enforcement officials. In case you haven't noticed, bad guys take vacation too. Rangers have always carried guns. in fact, the first people to enforce the law in National Parks were Army cavalry troops. Rangers are cops, plain and simple; cops wear body armor.

    As far as the guns in National Parks it doesn't matter if you have a CCW permit for any state. When you are in the park you are on Federal Land and there is no CCW for Federal Land. If you choose to carry while you are in a National Park then you choose to break the law. If you choose to break the law then you should accept the punishment you receive if/when you get caught. There are a lot of places you can't carry, even with a permit, and National Parks just happen to be one of them. I am a gun owner and believe in the right to carry legally. Rangers deal with enough illegal guns, so please give then a break and don't make them worry about more guns in the parks. They have a hard enough job as it is.

  • How Are Entrance Fees Affecting Visitation?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I have never been to the Great Smoky Mountains but I suspect that they get alot of their visitation from citizens of states that have no mountains.When you think about it, there are many states within close proximity of the Smokies who have to travel to either GA, NC or TN if they want a mountain vacation.Virginia, however is surrounded by other states that already have mountains of their own.As beautiful as Shenandoah is,why would someone from WV or PA come to Virginia and see mountains when they have them in their own backyard? Most of the visitors to Shenandoah I suspect are from Virginia and DC alone could make up the difference between annual visitation differences between the two parks.Cities further away like Baltimore or Philadelphia already have mountains that are much closer so I doubt citizens of these two cities would make many treks down to Virginia. As far as fees go, it's probably more of an issue for people who actually live in and around Shenandoah than it is for DC residents.People who live in NW Virginia are not as affluent on the whole as those in DC and after all why pay to go through SNP when you can see it from your front porch.The DC jet set crowd's idea of a nice getaway is something other than the mountains most of the time.They think "water" and not "mountains" excpet in ski season and then they fly to the west coast for that.I have seen pictures of the Smokies and they are beautiful but I can't think of any place more beautiful than Shenandoah.It is truly God's country.

  • Elevated Sulphur Dioxide Levels Prompt Closure of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park   6 years 19 weeks ago

    My wife and I live on Oahu. She was able to smell the sulfur in the air yesterday. Depends on the wind direction, but it's not good.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Your constant quibbling over the verbiage in the 2nd Amendment is taking nit-picking to new extremes. First, nobody want to admit that the statement regarding forming a well-regulated militia being necessary to the defense of our nation even exists. Second, the text of the amendment states that you can indeed own firearms to support said militia and its operations in defense of the nation. Nowhere does the amendment guarantee your "rights" to carry said firearms anywhere you damn well please. The amendment requires little change. The real change is relegated to those who try and interpret law, religion, history and countless other nuances of man for their own benefit. Try considering the "good of the whole" instead of your personal freedoms. As stated too many times to mention within this site, your freedom of speech is limited so as to not cause undue harm to others, and to encourage thought processes to proceed verbal outbursts that might be dangerous in a given set of circumstances. The rights of those who CHOOSE to smoke are being pared away in state after state. You also may CHOOSE to own weapons, but you do NOT have the "right" to do with them as you please. To do such would be purposefully ignoring your responsibility as a gun-owner. If you feel such a need, or desire to constantly have your little friend strapped to your thigh, why not join today's militia, the National Guard? They would welcome you with open "arms"!

    By the way, I am proudly neither a Liberal Loser NOR a Conservative Crybaby. You should distance yourselves from said political affiliations and try to see the world, the ENTIRE world, without the Labels of Limited Intelligence.

  • Big Cypress National Preserve: Is More ORV Access In Bear Island Unit Wise?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    radom walker, you are right i love four wheeling too its fun i can't see how someone wouldn't like it. and/or want to get rid of it, anyway nice comment!!!! : ]

  • The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Somewhere at Slick Rock old Abbey will review this film with much enthusiasm...and may his spirit live on. I met this man many years ago and just seeing him you could feel the power of his crusty behavior...cantankerous and witty! They better do this film right or justice will be swift!!

  • The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I loved that book!! I hope they stay true to the book because then it will be an excellent movie.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    The parks are the same sanctuaries as they have always been. Only the public perception of fear has changed. There are no gunfights in the park, no armed gangs lurking for backcountry hikers. I don't have access to any archive of the "morning reports", but how often are rangers shot at? Like never?

    Go out, have fun, don't worry about dangers that won't affect you even in several life times. Worry about accidents on the road to the parks, but not about gunfights in the backcountry.

  • Lake Powell Expected to Rise 50 Feet This Summer   6 years 19 weeks ago

    "The science" has already spoken. Now it's up to the media, the politicians and of course the public to understand the interdependencies: Global warming means more energy in the climate system (as heat is energy, any rising of the medium temperature puts more energy in the system). More energy in a system dos not necessarily mean that all temperatures will rise. Only the average will, but some of the additional energy will show in more extremes (as that is another aspect or more energy in a system).

    So expect more precipitation in shorter times, meaning flash floods. And more droughts. Both are aspects of more energy in the climate system.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Deep breaths now....ahhh. I stated many many times on this site, and for some reason, people feel the need to sensationalize without thinking about what they're saying. This proposed rule change WILL NOT allow any ol' Joe to bring a gun into the park. It will only permit those citizens and/or "citizens on patrol" to carry their weapons they already carry with permission of the state, into the park.

    There is no legislation in the world that will make someone obey the law. I'm sorry but the sad fact is we all have our own ability to choose. Criminals will not be allowed to carry guns into the park if this rule change is reversed back in accordance with the second amendment.

    Tough concept to grasp but please try to understand. If you are a "law breaker" and you want to take a gun in the park...you will (why? because you have no regard for the rule of law). If you obey the law and have permission of your current state to carry a firearm then you don't have to keep it in a lock box outside the park or hidden in your car for someone to steal should you decide to grab a sandwich. If you have a concealed carry permit and the state where you are visiting the NP doesn't have reciprocity with your state....you can't legally take it into the park (no rule now or even if this change goes through will change that). Please read the legislation proposal before freaking out because all gun accidents are reported and relatively few gun heroics are reported.

  • Elevated Sulphur Dioxide Levels Prompt Closure of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park   6 years 19 weeks ago

    We were on the Big Island in October of last year. You could definitely notice the "vog", as it's called, over the Kona side of the island.

  • Former National Park Service Directors Urge Interior Secretary To Keep Guns Out of Parks   6 years 19 weeks ago

    I suggest that Ranger Tyler, if he doesn't like the ANPR take on guns, present himself as a candidate for a leadership position in the organization. He is making the same argument that others make when they say if you don't want guns in parks, amend the second amendment. Give me a break.

    Rick Smith

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Yes it is a bad sign of the times Kurt. Once upon a time our national parks where sanctuaries set aside by people with vision and forethought. Their intent I'm sure had something to do with preserving the wild and beautiful places in our country so that others would be able to enjoy those same wild and beautiful places many generations later. Imagine the first park rangers and what their "job description" entailed not to mention the simplicity of their uniform. Now think about the direction our parks are headed, and the job description of our rangers today and how much responsibility and pressure is put on them through wildlife and public control and safety, dealing with illegal drugs and poaching (granted poaching has always been there), traffic issues, payroll and budget issues and shortfalls, etc,etc,etc. We should all strap some of that body armour on and hike around this summer in the 90+ heat and I think we'd be more than slightly sympathetic to the job our rangers are faced with these days. Our rangers are under paid, under appreciated, and under stress. It's not just a wild and beautiful national park out there anymore. The folks at WASO were predictably right on time with their announcement, as they have found a perfect opportunity to promote their products. Sad but possible, with this kind of change in law, if it passes, there are bound to be incidents and instances where joe citizen feels the need to be protected or to protect. (Not everyone is as responsible as those CCW carriers- just look at the kids who bring daddy's gun to school) If joe doesn't really know what he's doing, (but let's hope they're all card carrying CCW joe citizens), then guess who has to come in and clean up or diffuse the mess...our amour plated ranger. Now set that scenario against the backdrop of an erupting Old Faithful, or somewhere in Sequoia, or maybe even on the Garden Wall. THAT would be a sad sign of the times indeed.

  • Park Lands For Sale: Can the National Park Service Afford Them?   6 years 19 weeks ago

    Your headline is misleading. It's not "Park" lands that are for sale. It's private lands that the NPS would like to buy.

    That said, surely with the number of earmarks for 'bridges to nowhere' and "Woodstock Museums" and teapot museums, somewhere there should be money for additions to the National Parks. There may be more creative solutions than a simple purchase. The federal government could give owners exemptions from taxes (income or estate) in lieu of cash. Or perhaps land swaps with other federally owned land.