Recent comments

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Dear Anti-gun activist....If you chose to be a potential victim, that is your privilige. I would much rather have the ability & means of protecting my loved ones & myself via my 2nd amendment rights. When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. There are many other countries in the world where this is a fact of life.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Another 180 bison have been captured and will be probably shipped to slaughter. That brings that total to 470 for the winter; 602 total dead. The slaughter total alone is 1/10 of the buffalo; the overall total is 1/8 of all buffalo counted in the fall. Unlike 1996/7, there isn't expected to be the same amount of dead bison from the harsh winter because buffalo are still able to reach the grass.

    ***

    And, Mack, at some point what's legal and what's right are sometimes in conflict. Do you think it's never right to hold someone morally culpable for what was legal? And, even if we don't pass moral judgment, what difference does it make? If people should still do what is right rather than what is legal, then they have an obligation to do what they can to stop the situation. That's why workers go on strike, why they refuse to perform certain duties on the job, why people quit and walk off. When workers do things simply because that's what they were told to do or because there is material pressure for them to do this, then our sympathy should be with them to the extent that they can't get out of the situation. Where they put themselves in the situation and don't get out of it, then it's a problem, and it's worthy of criticism. I think it might be a very good idea for outlets for rangers who want out of bison slaughter to be developed; however, it's not enough to do nothing, shrug one's shoulders, and mourn for being stuck in a tragic situation while continuing to take actions that perpetuate it. That simply is not good enough anymore.

    Secondly, as to truth, the picture displayed does not exonerate other groups simply because the protest was directed at one of them. We cannot be such generalists about truth so that it only encompasses the all and not also the particular. For instance, my name is Jim. It is also true that I'm a male, used to be a track star in high school, and ate some bread this morning. No one would be expected to speak truly of me to say everything about me, only what's relevant to the particular claim. And, I see nothing in the implication of the picture that's untrue. It's also true that other partners in the IBMP are culpable; so what? This was a protest at the West Entrance of Yellowstone during a week when the National Park Service had just killed a whole lot of buffalo. However true it is that there are other agencies involved, it's not relevant to that point and that claim in that time in that context. So, it's not despicable in respect to the truth. That there are other executioners out there is just that much more horrible.

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

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 21 weeks ago

    One other interesting bit of trivia related to the creation of Grand Teton National Park & Jackson Hole National Monument is that because Jackson Hole residents were so upset with the land purchases by Rockefeller, his donation of the purchased land to the federal government, and President Franklin Roosevelt's use of the authority in the American Antiquities Act to create Jackson Hole National Monument, Congress subsequently revoked the President's unilateral ability to create new national monuments out of existing federal lands in the state of Wyoming. That prohibition still stands today and the only way the President can establish a national monument from existing federal lands in Wyoming is with the prior approval of the Wyoming delegation to the U.S. Congress.

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I love Grand Teton and consider it Yellowstone itself, but how is it hat's off to Rockefeller? He scammed people using a front group (that hid his identity so that he could get the land for lower prices and who didn't want a national park in Jackson Hole) to collude with Albright to acquire land in Jackson Hole. Then, when the land finally was ceded to the government, his family held onto the JY Ranch for decades as their own personal ranch. This land was only ceded to the national park this past year after many, many decades as private land.

    Just because Rockefeller's predatory instincts in this case was a boon to Grand Teton National Park doesn't mean that what he did wasn't despicable. In other contexts, the same use of front groups have been used to destroy land. In each case, the process is wrong, and the same process can be used just as well to destroy places like Grand Teton as help them. In the case of Grand Teton, it was a case of a bigger fish swallowing up the little fish who were ultimately doing little else than what Rockefeller did in other places and other times.

    Rockefeller was an oil magnate who probably ultimately did more to destroy the environment than help it - but regardless - the process stinks. I'm happy that the valley isn't being abused the way that it was, but that should not lead us to embrace the causes as good. If we went that far, a murderer in prison might be thankful for his murder because he was able to find peace and new friendships in the prison environment.

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

  • Olympic National Park Entrance Fees to Stay Unchanged Through 2009   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Question #1: Do the national parks belong to the People?
    #2: How much taxpayer money goes to National Park Maintenance?
    Comment: I think entry should be FREE to all National Parks. And; at the very least there should be no fee's to Seniors, Military and retired Military!

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Hats off to Rockefeller and Albright for having the foresight to create this park! A great story and nicely written piece.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 21 weeks ago

    No one is asking for open hunting seasons in the parks just allow guns. I don't agree with carrying concealed weapons but I see no harm in allowing weapons in a persons vehicle for protection

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Boring!.....Yawn......This issue has been killed and rehashed to no conclusion. There are already guns in the parks. They belong to criminals who you are not aware currently carry them. Would you like to be aware of people carrying guns in the parks? If yes then you are for this legislation. Do you feel that citizens (like police officers) can carry guns in national parks if there state government has approved them to carry a weapon? If so, you're for this legislation. If you feel that criminals shouldn't carry guns then you are among 99% of our society. I hope your new legislation keeps criminals from hiding their guns. Good luck.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Glacier uses explosives to clear trails (at least they did in 2005 when I worked there, on the highline trail for sure). It was employed to clear large rocks that would come down from the avalanches that might be blocking a trail or causing a hazard.

  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Growing by 42 Acres   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Maybe 42 acres doesn't seem like much land in the overall scheme of the NPS, but that land was paid for long ago in blood and tears. It is better that this hallowed land is set aside now. Otherwise in 50 years it will have a strip mall built on it.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 22 weeks ago

    One of the ironies in all of this is that when visitation is high the cry goes up that the parks are being loved to death. And when visitation drops it changes to how can we get the numbers up.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Quotas and lotteries are too cumbersome. Presumably all the people crowing the parks have already found a campsite or accommodations somewhere. The number of visitors is already "set" by the number of accommodations available.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Jim, bringing up the Nuremberg trials and the torture at Abu Ghraib is *not* analogous to criticizing Park Service personnel. Why? Because, besides the fact that you're attempting to compare the murder and torture of humans to the killing of bison, the Nazi committed crimes against humanity and the torture at Abu Ghraib was illegal. What YNP personnel is doing is legal and authorized by the IBMP - this is tragic, but true.

    I think your issue should be with the IBMP and not YNP or the personnel thereof.

    I hate this situation as much as anybody; I've worked with BFC; I've been up Duck and Cougar Creeks and the Madison. I've insisted for years that we need a sharp legal mind or minds to get this thing back into court.

    And no, I don't think the picture at the top of this page is despicable because it "depicts the Park Service as an executioner." And you claim "...the despicable image is the truth..." The image is NOT the truth; it doesn't convey the whole truth nor the whole story of this insane situation brought about by a totally political and absolutely unscientific agreement between Montana, Department of Interior, YNP, etc. In other words, it's a one-sided slur of YNP and it's rangers in the field and that's why I think it's despicable and unfair.

    --

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

    wildlifewatchers@bresnan.net
    http://wildlifewatchers.jottit.com/

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 22 weeks ago

    I wonder if the visitor statistics for the competing recreation activities fluctuate in the same patterns as the NPS visitation,but at different times. People's recreation interests follow trends like everything else in our culture. Maybe low visitation years shouldn't be a worry, its a time to recoup for the next upswing.

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Does the recovery plan set a time period after which a population is considered self-sustaining? How does the plan address the possibility of die offs due to severe winters, fires etc. ?

  • Rangers Association Points Out Flaws In Secretary Kempthorne's Weapons Logic   6 years 22 weeks ago

    If we have a problem of too little protection from crime in National Parks, the better solution is to fund more law enforcement rangers. Has Kempthorne even suggested doing this?

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 22 weeks ago

    The National Parks are already the only places I feel safe hiking during hunting seasons. Now that won't be safe either.

  • Clinton, McCain, Obama Answer Questions on National Parks   6 years 22 weeks ago

    I like Obama's committment to listen to scientific advisers and to addressing the funding shortfall of the NPS. I hope he follows through.

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Ken,

    Thanks for identifying yourself. Although we've never met in person, it's indeed a very small world. When I was in college, I also ran track (middle distance, San Jose State). Sharing roots as former seasonal employees of the National Park Service, we probably know some of the same persons. If you were working in Yellowstone during the 1988 fires, then you most certainly would have known people like Bob Barbee and Dan Sholly. They were in Yosemite, now nearly 39 years ago, when I was there as a year-round seasonal park ranger-naturalist. You may have also known Ray Wauer and Stu Coleman, both of whom I met during the early 1980's when they were in charge of resources management in the Great Smokies.

    Yellowstone is another great park. When I toured through Yellowstone in 1997 as a private citizen, I visited the Museum of the National Park Ranger, which is located at the Norris Geyser Basin. There, I saw a familiar face working as a park volunteer. It was my former Assistant Chief Naturalist from when I was working as a park ranger-naturalist in Zion National Park during the summer of 1969. He had retired from the NPS and was spending some of his retirement giving time back to the NPS as a volunteer-in-the-park.

    I believe that the NPS could benefit greatly by encouraging its former employees, both seasonal and permanent professionals, to return to their former parks to perform volunteer service on an interim basis. A cadre of roving volunteer interpreters would be particularly useful during the "off-season" along the heavily visited promenade of the South Rim, and along well-traveled trails, like the Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails of the Grand Canyon. The presence of friendly and well-informed park volunteers on these trails would help offset the present information void created by the almost total absence of trail-side geological exhibits and roving rangers.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 22 weeks ago

    A re-post for the convenience of the readers:

    Monument or Park, the key word here is "Dinosaur".

    Of course, the monument has lovely rivers, wildlife, botany and cultural resources. Park management has recently been using these other resources as justification for reducing the paleo program (see www.ubstandard.com, article on 2/19/08). Clearly ALL resources need protection and interpretation. However, it isnt called Dinosaur National Monument for nothing! Paleo has been identified as its core mission as well as being part of the founding legislation.

    What I want to know is:
    -- Is the priority balancing a budget or keeping the park active and dynamic?
    -- What sort of specific requests (and advocating for the need of a full paleo program) have been done by park management? That is, did anyone TRY to keep the program alive or merely favor balancing numbers?
    -- How are these decisions being made without a FY2008 budget in place while there is talk of a $200 million increase?
    -- Why have internal suggestions of alternative interpretive programs (since the quarry building closure) such as screenwashing demonstrations and re-opening of "outsourced" quarries not occurred? Did someone want to claim that "paleontology has lost its appeal"?
    -- Does park management fully understand the pitfalls of relying on outsourcing to continue the program?
    -- Do they know the value of the work currently being done by all staff?

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Additional important factual information:

    *NPS-77 explicitly states that fossils found in parks are to be prepared by or under the supervision of professionals.

    *The park Paleontologist and Geologist/prep/field positions (the whole paleo program) were targeted in 2002. In 2008 the park paleontologist is not on the hit list and supports upper management’s decision to eliminate a position that used to be under his direct supervision and control.

    *This situation is no different than 2002- upper level park and paleo management has had 6 years to accomplish these same goals- why has no progress been made when those in charge are collecting the biggest salaries in the park? Why has this been a failure? Why have they prevented the park Geologist from helping to accomplish these goals?

    *Park mgmt has had since 2002 to implement outsourcing of paleo work (excavation, prep, curation). What has it accomplished?

    *Since 2003 when the park stopped Scott from doing in-house excavations, less than a week has been spent in the field by anyone at DNM actually doing excavation- this includes BYU who is constantly touted as the parks only outsource savior.

    *Park mgmt has prevented the park Geologist from bringing in other institutions to help.

    *Park management has loaned one unprepared block to BYU, and they collected a couple of their own modest blocks (most previously partially excavated by DNM staff). These were prepared by student help without the supervision of a professional preparator.

    *The park Geologist/Fossil Preparator/Lab Manager/Field Coordinator has 30 years of experience as a professional preparator and is trained in the latest conservation and preparation techniques. Where would you want to send your most important fossils to be prepared- an amateur led by amateurs, or a professional?

    *The park Geologist works at the park full time (at least 5 days a wk.).

    *The paleontology program Curator/Collections Manager works at the park full time (at least 5 days a wk.).

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Mr. Chure and the management of Dinosaur NM continue to misrepresent the current paleontology program to the public. Here are some points that should be made clear. Paleontology is identified as a core issue of the Monument. The program has included volunteers as significant partners since 1985. Assistance from researchers, museums, and universities has always been a part of the operation. There has never been any attempt or need to establish positions with specialized expertise.

    Some insight into how the program currently functions can be gained through the following list of accomplishments, of the two positions being eliminated, since 2002. (Repeated from and earlier posting for the readers convenience)

    GEOLOGIST

    Found external funding sources for 7 Geologist in the Parks (GIP) interns.
    Hired 4 seasonal employes through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) program.
    Recruited numerous volunteers that have contributed 10,733 hours of work.
    Brought on one international preparation intern, for 5 months, with funding from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

    Brought in outside professionals to do work at Dinosaur National Monument.  These were two individuals from the Utah Geologic Survey and one from the Iowa Geological Survey.  (Attempts to bring in two other researchers were blocked by management)
    Arranged for State Radiological experts to evaluate radiation and radon issues with specimen storage.

    Received a $7,000 grant from the Colorado Plateau - Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit for dating the Cedar Mountain Formation using pollen.  
Obtained hundreds of dollars worth of equipment from outside organizations and private individuals.

    Obtained thousands of dollars worth of in-kind work from the Utah Geological Survey and Iowa Geological Survey.

    Actively participated in the design of the proposed Curatorial Facility.

    CURATOR
    Secured over $900,000 in Park Service funds for the all collections of Dinosaur NM. not just Paleo.  Some of the funds are for future needs of the proposed Curatorial Facility.
    Actively participated in the design of the proposed Curatorial Facility.

    Utilized contract help to work on the curation backlog.

    Some background on how these positions relate. The paleo field staff consisted of two positions until around 2000. The field staff was then cut when one of the positions was converted to curator. The curator is responsible for all of the museum collections, historical, cultural, geological, and paleo. The remaining geologist position's job elements are inventory and monitor the paleontological resources, manage the field and lab program and manage the geology program.

    The above accomplishments show two highly effective employees with demonstrated abilities who have provided what management states is their desired future condition. Does elimination of these two positions equate with the stated commitment to a strong, active paleontology program?

  • Rangers Association Points Out Flaws In Secretary Kempthorne's Weapons Logic   6 years 22 weeks ago

    There seems to be a lot of great opinions in this discussion (so I'll add mine)

    From reading the thread it seems that some folks are implying that the purpose of the law would be to remove legal inconsistencies between state and federal weapons laws. But as identified by the original author it has been legally upheld that National Parks are managed as national interests. So, wouldn't this law blur the line of state vs federal legal jurisdiction?

    As for commenter Bill Roberts could you please explain more about why you believe this "Federal land rules should apply no matter what state just because they are being controlled by the Federal Government. Why should a state have control over a state agency? They don't. Except in this case and it's not right." It is a shame that people feel like they need to be armed to explore National Parks. I'm sure that that viewpoint is in the minority, however, maybe the fact that it exists at all should be a sign that we need to better manage our parks. That should mean instead of giving the responsibility of protection to normal citizens (who may not be properly trained to protect themselves) we need to have more Rangers in places where problems like Bill Roberts described occur. But then there comes the f-word, yeah thats right, FUNDING. Absolute safety is expensive (not to mention impossible). Park boarders are open by design. So protecting them becomes very complex and requires a lot of labor.

    Also, if it was a law that was just meant to improve the legal clarity why is the legislation called "A bill to protect innocent Americans from violent crime in national parks"?

    Which brings up my next question. Where are some stats on violent crime in national parks? I did some brief searches and didn't turn up much that focused on national parks. Makes me wonder if it is more of a regional/ site specific problem rather than a nation wide issue. If that is true wouldn't make more sense to work on site specific solutions? That would be cheaper and more effective (in my opinion).

    Fletcher James commented that he believes that a large portion of the population (of park visitors) would feel better knowing that "law abiding" citizens were roaming the park armed and ready to protect them. I disagree. Further, what is the percentage of the population of visitors with CCW licenses? Or even the percent of the population that would want to carry a weapon in a national park? I would argue that it is relatively small compared to the total number of park visitors. Additionally, what is the probability that these individual would be the in right place at the right time to protect others or need to protect themselves from violent crime? Probably very small. SO to make this law really impact any violent crime problems the NPS would have to encourage all visitors to bring a gun to their national park to protect themselves (and if they don't have one they can be purchased in the visitor center or backcountry office for a small price?)

    Yes Fletcher, the wild can be a dangerous place. But most of the dangerous things that happen to people in National Parks are not crime related and could not be protected against with a gun or any other weapon (i.e., slips, falls, getting lost, exposure, and perhaps someday accidental shootings, etc.) Most people that I know who work in or recreate in the backcountry enter these places accepting that there are inherent risks. Arguing that since National Parks are "in the wild" citizens should expect to protect themselves is useless. Sorry, but the wild is never going to be safe (and at the point something becomes safe it also loses its standing as wild ).

    Finally, I admit that the source of much of this disagreement between my views and other may be our reference points. For me, when I think of a national park, Glacier NP or Yellowstone NP come to mind. Bill Roberts seems to have described a National Park that is very different from what I am used to. Which takes me back to the regional or site specific concept. And leads me to my last point. Most Americans and visitors from around the world have a very idealistic view of our national parks. Not only is that a good thing, but it is the view that managers and legislators should aim to uphold. This idealism is echoed in the Organic act and many of the mandates and legislation that guides park managers. "A bill to protect innocent Americans from violent crime in national parks" is not an ideal solution it should not be setting the expectations of millions of visitors to the Parks.

    -Lee

  • Rangers Association Points Out Flaws In Secretary Kempthorne's Weapons Logic   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Mr. Fletcher James,

    I feel I must personally respond to your post because you have been disrespectful to me personally, and some of your sweeping assumptions are not accurate which is what frequently happens when one makes assumptions.

    Respectfully, we obviously disagree on this issue. Respectfully, you do not know anything about me or my motives. For the record, I have spent my entire, adult, working life with a firearm strapped on my hip in areas administered by the National Park Service (NPS). For many of those years I worked on the “front lines” in these areas contacting visitors to help them in some cases and to enforce laws in other instances. I have also personally visited 256 of the 391 units of the National Park System on my own time, so I feel do have some credibility as a park visitor.

    Also for the record, I own 2 personal firearms. I have never felt threatened enough while visiting NPS areas to carry my weapons while off duty.

    As the President of the Association of National Park Rangers (ANPR) I represent 1,100 people, the majority of whom have spent their working lives on the “front lines” of the NPS. Their position is to oppose the described regulation change, and my job as their President is to make their views known in the public debate.

    With regard to the Second Amendment, ANPR’s point is to frame this debate in what we believe are the correct terms. The Second Amendment does not speak to any conditions in which the right to bear arms can be infringed, in your words “a secure environment.” In our opinion, if you accept any of the exceptions then that means you recognize the right of government to make exceptions to the Second Amendment. Following from that, this debate then becomes whether the limited NPS regulation is worthy from a societal standpoint versus its limited intrusion on the Second Amendment. And respectfully, that is where we disagree.

    The federal power to protect wildlife on federal lands is also Constitutionally based (the Property Clause), and that finding has been upheld at the U. S. Supreme Court level (see Kleppe v. New Mexico, 1976). The current NPS regulation was promulgated primarily and specifically to protect wildlife in NPS areas. In the professional opinion of ANPR, the described regulation change will have negative impacts on park wildlife. We do agree that the majority of gun owners coming into parks would never use their guns to illegally kill or injure wildlife. We also recognize that a small number of gun owners will illegally use their guns to kill or injure wildlife no matter what the regulations or laws concerning guns in parks are. However, a regulation change allowing the carrying and/or display of loaded firearms will make it more difficult to apprehend these individuals because possession and display of a weapon would no longer be probable cause to initiate a search for evidence of wildlife or wildlife parts.

    We also believe that there are a significant number of gun owners that fall in the middle of the two groups mentioned above. They might be tempted into an illegal act if the right opportunity in parks presents itself. Often such illegal acts of opportunity require two elements―desirable wildlife to be present, and a readily-accessible, loaded firearm. When either of these two elements is removed from the equation it dramatically reduces the chances that park wildlife will be harmed.

    ANPR advises the reading of the June 30, 1983 Federal Register in which the revision to the current NPS firearms regulation was adopted after a public comment period. The stated reason found in this document for adopting this regulation was “to ensure public safety and provide maximum protection of natural resources by limiting the opportunity for unauthorized use of weapons.” Opportunity is the key word in this justification. There are many laws in our society that have been put in place to limit opportunity such as: Not everyone that speeds will cause an accident and hurt someone, but speeding laws help reduce the opportunity that accidents will happen; not every gun owner that climbs on to a commercial airplane is a terrorist, but preventing firearms on commercial planes reduces the opportunity that a terrorist will successfully use an airplane as a weapon.

    In our view, a regulation change as described will make poaching in parks even more prevalent than it already is, thus reducing the opportunity for children, families, and Americans from all walks of life to easily view wildlife that so many parks provide. Moreover, wildlife will not remain easily viewable when it is being shot at. If easily-viewable wildlife becomes scarce in parks like Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Katmai, Mount Rainier, and others it will have economic impacts on the gateway communities and local residents whose livelihoods depend in part or in whole on the visitors that come to see park wildlife.

    You may disagree with all points of view above, and that is certainly your right, but I don’t see how calling someone on the opposite side of an issue an idiot and their comments ridiculous or dumb advances our society.

    Respectfully,

    Scot McElveen
    President, Association of National Park Rangers

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 22 weeks ago

    Sounds like the writing of JTR (yea the one who is obviously a park employee @ DNM & very close to the situation), sticking to only the upper management side of the story, completely fact-less postings and very willing to bash any other point of view or credible information that contradicts the party line. Hang tight people the facts and the truth are coming out and very soon there will be a very different picture painted! The spin from Mary Risser and other management at DNM is loaded with holes, fact-less information, smoke-screens, bold face lies and deciet. There is in fact two sides to this story and the side you will soon be hearig of is the truth. Strong public opposition and pressure will force the Secretary of The Interior as well as the Director of the National Parks Service to take a much closer look at this situation at DNM. We can only hope that they will keep the program in tact with it's current and crucial employee's and that the focus will shift back to paleontology at this paleontology based park. You the public are getting the wool pulled over your eyes while being short-changed (as a visitor or researcher) by the current management at DNM. Your voice is important and needs to be heard! Stay tuned folks for the other side of the story.......