Recent comments

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 20 weeks ago

    I am an NRA member. I read the NPT daily. I've been concerned and commented about ORV use, SAR costs, wolf de-listing, and many other issues discussed here. I care about the Parks. I just happen to also have very strong feelings about being able to defend myself when there is no other means of protection available to me.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 20 weeks ago

    "Joking aside, Mr. Secretary, there simply is no need to change the current gun regulations for our national parks. The National Park System is not crime-ridden. Far and away, the majority of the hundreds of millions of visitors who entered some unit of the National Park System last year did not place their lives in danger from other park visitors nor from wild animals when they did so. You can look it up. I did. This is what I found:.........During 2006 there also were 320 assaults without weapons, 1,950 weapons offenses, 843 public intoxication cases, and 5,752 liquor law violations. How many of those might have turned deadly were concealed carry allowed in the park system?"


    You forgot to mention a host of other criomes some of us consider violent.


    According to the Rocky Mountain News in 2006 ....

    "Last year, there were 11 homicides, 35 rape cases, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings, 261 aggravated assaults and 320 other assaults out of a total of 116,588 offenses in national parks."

    Violent crime rare on public land
    Tillie Fong, Rocky Mountain News
    Friday, June 29, 2007
    More Local NewsBush to Air Force Academy grads: 'Job well done'
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    Email this Print this Comments Change text size Subscribe to print edition iPod friendly Share this site National parks and forests in Colorado are generally safe, with few violent crimes occurring there, according to local sheriff offices.

    "We have a lot of trespass, illegal campfires, transients, illegal camping, minor vandalism," said Lt. Phil West of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, referring to crimes committed on public lands. "The most significant events we are involved in are rescues of lost skiers, fallen climbers, and so forth. It (violent crime) is not a major issue."

    The slaying of a Colorado Geological Survey intern in a remote part of San Isabel National Forest on Tuesday was considered unusual.

    "These crimes on our public lands and forest lands are very rare," said Janelle Smith, spokeswoman for the regional office of the U.S. Forest Service in Denver. "That is what makes this crime so shocking - you think you are safe. That's why it's a terrible tragedy."

    However, that doesn't mean that violent crime doesn't occur. Eagle County had two cases of homicide on public lands in the past five years, including one still unsolved.

    But getting hard data on how much violent crime occurs on national parks and forests is not easy.

    For one thing, the U.S. Forest Service doesn't track that kind of information.

    "We are not the lead agency when it comes to those types of crime," Smith said. "We track crimes against resources, such as damaging forest service property. Serious crime against people would be referred to local law enforcement."

    The National Park Service does track violent crime but does not break down numbers by state or park. Instead, it compiles statistics on criminal offenses for all the national parks in the country.

    Last year, there were 11 homicides, 35 rape cases, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings, 261 aggravated assaults and 320 other assaults out of a total of 116,588 offenses in national parks.

    Subscribe to the Rocky Mountain News

    Just the other day a CCW holder in Winnemucca stopped this murderer. Good thing he was around!

    From The Reno Gazette Journal

    Winnemucca police statement on bar shootings
    On Sunday May 25, 2008 at approximately 2:30 a.m. the Winnemucca Police Department was dispatched to the Players Bar and Grill located at 1062 South Grass Valley Road on the report of numerous shots fired and multiple gunshot victims. A combined law enforcement team consisting of Officers from the Winnemucca Police Department and Deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office responded to the dispatch call and secured the scene. There were approximately 300 patrons in and around the bar. No shots were fired by law enforcement during the incident.

    The officers on scene discovered three adult males who had died from obvious gunshot wounds. Two additional gunshot victims were also located. One of these victims, a 34 year old male, was transported to Humboldt General Hospital via private vehicle. The other victim, a 22 year old female, was transported via Humboldt County Ambulance. Both of these injured parties were treated and admitted to Humboldt General Hospital in “stable condition”. Both victims have now been released from the hospital.

    The initial investigation indicated that there had been two separate shooters during the incident. One of the alleged shooters, Ernesto Fuentes Villagomez, age 30 of Winnemucca, was among the three men who were dead on arrival. The other was a 48 year old Reno man who was initially taken into custody at the scene as a person of interest.

    The subsequent investigation lead detectives to believe that Villagomez entered the bar and at some point began firing multiple rounds. At least two of these rounds struck and killed the other two decedents, Jose Torres age, 20 and his brother Margarito Torres, age 19 both of Winnemucca. At some point during this shooting spree Villagomez allegedly stopped and according to witnesses reloaded his high capacity handgun and began shooting again.

    It was at this point that the second shooter, the Reno resident, produced a concealed handgun and proceeded to fire upon Villagomez who succumbed to his wounds. The Reno resident was in possession of a valid Concealed Carry Permit issued through the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

    After further investigation as well as ongoing discussions with Humboldt County District Attorney Russell Smith, the decision was made that the shooting of Villagomez by the Reno man was a justifiable homicide as outlined in Nevada Revised Statute 200.120 and 200.160. Because of this the Reno man was released from police custody.

    Although the shooting occurred during the Runnamucca event weekend there is no evidence linking the incident to any rival motorcycle gangs or clubs. Additionally, each of the decedents and victims were all Winnemucca residents. The investigation is currently pursuing a lead that indicates that this event may have been the result of a long standing feud between several families. There have been no further acts of violence reported in relation to this incident.

    The Winnemucca Police Department utilized the services of the Washoe County Crime Lab to assist with the processing of the crime scene. Additional support in the investigation was provided by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Public Safety – Investigation and Highway Patrol Divisions, and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

    Meanwhile in the Uk where people like the "Brady Bunch" prevail.....

    From the Daily Mail....
    The dangerously deluded children's tsar and the truth about knife crime
    Last updated at 11:49 PM on 25th May 2008

    Comments (22) Add to My Stories
    Yet another knife attack, another dreadful killing and another devastated family whose lives have been shattered.

    One minute there was a fracas at a bar in South London; the next, 18-year-old Robert Knox lay dying from a knife wound, having intervened to defend his younger brother in a row over a mobile phone.

    The teenage actor was but the latest victim of Britain's spiralling toll of knife attacks and other violent crime, in which children and young people are figuring both as victims and as attackers. Only the previous day, a boy of 17 was critically injured in a shooting in North London.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 20 weeks ago


    Thanks for your comment on the "guns in the parks" issue. Needless to say, NPT will lose a few NRA member readers whose single-minded emphasis on carrying weapons into almost any place in our country is not only tiresome, but also dangerous. Many of your commenters only appear when there is a mention of gun in NPT, showing their real commitment to the National Park System. There will be enough NPT readers who want to explore the full range of park issues to assure continued readership.

    Rick Smith

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   6 years 20 weeks ago

    Mr./Ms Anonymous opined:

    > One reason why you perhaps haven't seen so many anti-gun-in-parks comments recently is that this is an emotionally charged issue,

    That's exactly the point Anonymous person. I try to deal with facts. Your side deals with emotions, feelings and niceties. Criminals rob, rape and kill. They don't give a whit about emotions, how nice you are or or how well you sing Kumbaya. They want your stuff and your daughter or wife. Maybe you. too.

    Since the anti-gun crowd here basically says nothing substantive except to insult those wreckless, foolhardy, "macho" gun people they have no defense in this matter. They've all crawled back into their safe cocoons. With police protection, no doubt.

    > I'm probably not the only one who isn't commenting publicly

    You just did and you've simply reiterated, or alluded to, the same old farcical tripe that does nothing except mislead and perpetuate stereotypes

    > I don't want to be sucked into an argument/I-am-always-right-I-will-not-compromise 'discussion' with Mr. Rick and Mr. Fred.

    No compromise necessary - except folks like you need to start accepting the truth that concealed carry permit holders do not commit the crimes and are not a threat to anyone except criminals. If you have honest-to-goodness- facts that a person with a concealed carry permit has done something wrong please post that information here. I'm just as interested as you. Otherwise I'll continue to confront the disingenuous fear-mongers.

    Y'know, I'm not a bitter, mean, macho or angry person. I'm just persistent and focused and I can prove my point. You can't.

    Neither am I interested in converting a single anti-gun person. I don't care how you manage responsibility for you life or your loved ones. That's on your conscience. Just don't try to prevent me from doing so by perpetuating myths, fairy tales and stereotypes in the hope of curtailing my natural and Constitutional right to self-defense. Then I get testy.

    Otherwise I did have a delightful, long weekend on a canoe/camping trip in the Allegheny National Forest near Brookville, PA. With guns, of course ;^) And I didn't shoot any of the bald eagles that are nested near our camp!

  • Missing Couple Found in Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 20 weeks ago

    I have read several guide books about the Royal Arch route and while it sounds beautiful... I have always been too chicken to do it. The guides have always made me feel as though it was out of my technical realm and in that area I am not going to take chances... the limited water part is just plain scarey. I am very glad that this search yeilded a happy ending!

  • Star Party Scheduled for June 21-28 at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 20 weeks ago

    It's great that the Grand Canyon Star Party has become a special event during the time of the Summer Solstice. National Parks are special places where dark skies and curious minds collide. Be sure to take advantage of this organized effort to promote public star gazing in the parks. There's no charge, and the world-class ensemble of volunteer amateur astronomers gathered for this special event are quite knowlegdeable about their subject and equipment.

    At the North Rim, some of the telescopes set up near the Grand Canyon Lodge are home-made Dobsonians belonging to the Sidewalk Astronomers, a well-known volunteer group dedicated to taking their telescopes wherever people gather and are willing to stay out after dark. For the best experience, however, be sure to inquire where one should go to view the stars without any presence of artificial lights. Use a red filter for your flashlight to find your way without destroying the night adaptation of your eyes (and those near you).

    If you have a view of the eastern horizon, look for three bright stars as dusk gives way to night. This would be about 10:15 PM. These three stars make up the "Summer Triangle." They are: Deneb in Cygnus, Vega, in Lyra, and Altair, in Aquila.

    Altair shines just above the eastern horizon, while Vega, the brightest of the three stars, forms the peak of the Summer Triangle; it is about 40 degrees above the horizon. Deneb makes up the northeast corner of the triangle, and appears to be the dimmer of the three stars (it's actually the brightest, only much farther away, so it seems somewhat dimmer to our eyes).

    Binoculars are excellent optical aids for hunting stars, especially when mounted on a tripod. Here are some binocular star-hunting tips: As it gets dark (after 11 PM on June 21st), try spotting the open cluser of stars known as the "Coathanger." Look for the Coathanger along a straight line imagined between Altair and Vega. It's located above Altair about one third of the way towards Vega in the dark dust lane of the Milky Way called the Great Rift.

    By 11:30 PM, the Milky Way will present a spectacular view to the unaided eye, rising over the southeastern horizon (looking across the canyon to the South Rim). The Milky Way runs from the southern horizon through the middle of the Summer Triangle, between Altair and Vega, through Deneb and beyond. Under the dark skies of the Grand Canyon, the Milky Way will be brightly visible, as long as one is shielded from artifical lights, and the skies are clear of clouds.

    Where the Milky Way intercepts the southern horizon, locate the celestial constellation Scorpio (The Scorpion), with its brightest star, the red giant, Antares shining about 20 degrees above the southern horizon. Locate Scorpio's curved tail and stinger. Search with binoculars (preferrably mounted) along the curved base of Scorpio's tail. There, a wonderful small cluster of stars can be observed, known informally as the "Jewell Box." At this time of night, this multi-colored star cluster should twinkle beautifully, as it is low on the horizon.

    Immediately to the east of Scorpio's stinger, look for Ptolmey's cluster (M-7) and the Butterfly cluster (M-6), both can be observed in the same binocular field of view. Then progressing eastward, following the wide path of the Milky Way, stop just above the dome and spout of the "teapot" of Sagittarius, and search with binoculars for the bright Lagoon nebula (M-8) and it's companion, the Trifid nebula (M-20). Both will be in the same binocular field of view. They appear in binoculars as separate bright hazy objects surrounding a cluster of stars.

    The very bright object immediatly east of the Sagittarius teapot, above the southeastern horizon, and below the Milky Way, is Jupiter, the giant gaseous planet. In binoculars, look for Jupiter's four Gallilean moons (their positions will change each hour). Jupiter will be visible in the night sky every month during the summer.

    On June 21st, the gibbous moon will rise shortly after midnight. Look at the moon's craters. For observing objects in the Milky Way, the moon is a source of natural light pollution. The eastern horizon will brighten considerably, even while the moon is below the horizon. It fortunately rises about 40 minutes later each successive evening, and it will be only a thin crescent when it rises on June 29th at 3:17 AM, during the last night of the Grand Canyon Star Party.

    There's much more to see when out exploring the "other half of the park" at night, but these few binocular tips should provide an effective introduction for night sky observing during the week of June 21 through 28th.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 20 weeks ago
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 21 weeks ago

    These beaches, along with last year's winner, Ocracoke, are always listed amongst the top ten. Even with ORV access. Imagine that!

    However, the majority of the beaches within the CHNSRA are now closed, even to pedestrians due to the lawsuit filed by the Audobon Society, DOW, and the SELC agsinst the NPS. The lawsuit was intended to restrict/ban ORV usage in the area, but has now extended to even foot traffic in the "bird useage areas". You cannot even boat to these areas and walk the shore. A $5,000.00 fine and six months in jail are the penalty for doing do.

    NPS Rangers are even culling other native predatory species, through either trapping/relocating or outright killing through gunfire, in the name of protecting migratory shorebird/turtle nesting sites. (Particularly Piping Plovers). The "relocated" species include, but are not limited to:

    -Red Foxes
    -Grey Foxes
    -Feral Cats
    -et al

    Can we abide these transgressions against other indigenous species, who do not have the luck to be on the "Threatened" list? Do we dare interfere with natural selection? Some species removal numbers are in the hundreds within a several-month period. Without normal natural predation, other species such as snakes, rabbits, rats and mice will multiply inumerably. How will this affect the environment?

    Who are we, but mere kindred to these creatures? We all share the right to life. How dare we "Play God" by attempting to recitfy what we believe to be man's folly in conservation of species. The laws of nature will always prevail, lest we forget.

    Please pay close attention to what is going on in the CHNSRA. It is truly madness. Vist the area for yourself, and make your own decision.

    Richmond, VA/Frisco, NC

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Iris and Alan's Search Updates

    "This blog was created so friends and family can post updates on the search for Iris Faraklas and Alan Humphrey."

  • National Park Quiz 4: Beaches   6 years 21 weeks ago

    If you don't want to spoil the fun, please use different file names for the picture, accompanying the quizzes. The picture's name gives away the answer to one of the questions. Same last time with the bridges. And the file name is shown in Firefox browser whenever your mouse is over the image. Thanks for this very nice quiz, I just looked up the amazing high slope for question 11, as I had no idea, and guessed completely wrong. The website of the park has a few images of the location.

  • National Park Quiz 4: Beaches   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I've fixed the problem by deleting the "super bonus" question #12. Thank you very kindly for spotting that error. BTW, perhaps you can tell me why Lowell's river swimming beach was closed for a time. My notes indicate that it was "reopened" in 1996.

  • National Park Quiz 4: Beaches   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Not to be a dud, but the river swimming is not in or administerd by Lowell NHP. It is property of Massachusetts DCR and staffed by the City of Lowell Parks and Recreation.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 21 weeks ago

    OK, OK. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and 25% overhead, but that's my final offer.

  • National Park Quiz 4: Beaches   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Good, tough quiz. I got 8 out of 12. I would have thought with the Ft. Pickens road being down at Gulf Islands NS that they would have permitted ORV access there - but I guess not. Also, although the correct answer to #9 is quite clear, Cumberland Island National Seashore is, I believe, actually at some risk for a tsunami - although large earthquakes are uncommon in that portion of the Atlantic. For example, if Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands were ever to go, as a few people have speculated....

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Or, you could just rely on the magic of Google: ;-)

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Well, Sabattis, I think it might take some more research on our part to get the exact answer. Unless we know for sure that the no-repeat rule has been in play since the first list was generated, we can't be sure that there weren't at least a few repeat winners of the #1 ranking. It's possible that Dr. Beach got sick and tired of giving the #1 spot to the same beach year after year and installed the no-repeat rule somewhere along the way in order to give other beaches a fighting chance. I think we should assemble a team of crack scientists to investigate this situation. The process will, of course, require on-site inspection of all the eligible beaches. Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars (plus 36% overhead) should just about do it. I will be happy to serve as co-principle investigator.

  • Search on For Overdue Hikers In Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 21 weeks ago

    This sounds like one of those very rare times when they should have been carrying a SPOT. Let's all hope that they are well and will be found soon.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Well, I believe it should actually only be 27. 17 winners from previous years can all claim a permanent "top beach" ranking, along with the 10 beaches on this year's list.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 21 weeks ago

    No offense taken, Sabattis. (And anyway, I've been married 44 years and am quite used to punishment.) How did you derive that total of 28 beaches that can claim to be top-tenners?

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 21 weeks ago


    If you've been reading the Traveler long enough to have it on your homepage, you should have recognized a long time ago where I stood on concealed weapons in the parks, not too mention recreational snowmobiles in Yellowstone, and PWCs in some areas. At the same time, I guess it shows that not all of the articles on the site are "worthless drivel."

    I've long believed in constructive dialog on issues, for only through that can one come to see another's point of view. You might not agree with that point of view, but at least you know where that person is coming from and perhaps begin to understand how they got there. If you've been reading all the comments on the gun issue you've no doubt noticed that Fred and I stand on different sides of the issue, but we both support the national parks and we respect each other's views without feeling a need to cast aspersions.

    I've never expected each and every Traveler reader to agree with the positions we take. That's not the point, and certainly wouldn't be worthwhile. But I certainly hope that those positions spur dialog on the site for the above-mentioned reasons.

    One way or another the gun issue will pass, Neil, and be replaced by countless other issues facing the national parks. The Traveler will continue to report on and examine those issues. If you care enough about the parks, hopefully you'll want to read about those issues if only to provide another perspective.

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Beaches Among Country's Best   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Hi Bob - I do hope that you don't take it personally. I'm obviously only here because I enjoy the blog, but my personality does often trend towards being the resident gadfly. Thanks for explaining the "retirement rule" on this List - so I guess that means that there are only 28 beaches that can claim to be on the "Top 10 Beaches in America" list... Not so bad, I guess...

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Paula, Are you saying that you are already taking your concealed weapon w/you while you are currently going into the back country hiking , camping and hiking? So be it . From what I understand you never had a so called right to have your concealed weapon w/ you but that didnt stop you ... what is it about this proposed legislation that would alter your already established behavior/choices?

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Thanks for being honest Kurt...I called you out on the carpet and you showed your true colors. Now I (and from the comments over half the others) can remove your liberal slant from my homepage and be done with your worthless drivel.

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Would that be the backcountry of George Roagers Clark NHP? the backcountry of the Saint Loius Arch? The backcountry of the Statue of Liberty? The backcountry of Martin Luther King, Jr.? Get real. Not all parks are wild natural areas. Do we really want guns in Lincoln's Home or at Kennedy Birthplace?

  • Traveler's View: Concealed Weapons Have No Place In Our National Park System   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Speaking about carrying guns in the back country. I had a dear friend who was a naturalist ranger for Sequoia National Park, once confronted me with a real Scary Larry scenario in the back regions of the park. After a day's heavy hiking and ready to bed down for the night, he suddenly hears this drunken boisterous talk about shooting the place up. He investigates just over the ridge and spies on a group of gun-toting gang of youths. He sees guns going off in all directions with drunken talk of blasting things left and right. The ranger finds the situation too dangerous to intervene. He slowly escapes without being detected and heads back to base camp and reports. Moral of the story is: if you want more guns in the park, I'm sure you're going to find more episodes like...and more threatening. For safer parks: leave your guns at home!