Recent comments

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 29 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 29 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 29 weeks ago


    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 29 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, 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 29 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 29 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)


    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.

    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 29 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.


  • Rangers Association Points Out Flaws In Secretary Kempthorne's Weapons Logic   6 years 29 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.


    Scot McElveen
    President, Association of National Park Rangers

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 29 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.......

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Read the story again. The NPCA got letters from those opposing the NPS, including some calling for the Superintendent’s resignation. The NPCA heard from both sides and made a decision about who to support.

  • Interior Secretary Opens Door for New Gun Regulations in National Parks   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I completely agree with "Barky". I have been in some very remote areas of our federal lands and on occasion I have wished I had brought a rifle, just in case. I do believe this is a state's rights issue, but I am very sympathetic to the park rangers who might stumble upon more gunplay than they have heretofor been subjected to.
    I, too agree that someone with a weapon tucked safely in his or her pack is far less of a problem than 4:00 am ATV or snowmobilers tearing up the wilderness and scaring off the wildlife.

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 29 weeks ago


    Are you spending the night at Phantom Ranch? If so, will you be eating meals there as well? I found that the Phantom Ranch breakfast of hotcakes, eggs, and bacon was quite good, especially the bacon. If you have them prepare a sack lunch for the hike out, it will include the electolyte mix that Kurt recommends above.

    Given your age and your dedicated efforts at pre-hike conditioning, the only difficulty I foresee is the extreme summer heat of the Inner Canyon. By June, the temperatures of the Inner Canyon will be quite hot. Fortunately, you will experience some of this inner canyon heat during your 2-1/2 day raft trip, and so you should be mentally prepared prior to starting your hike out.

    In past years, when I've hiked into and out of the canyon during the summer months, I've opted to take the hike out in the coolness of night. If a moon is out, the trail is still easy to negotiate. Otherwise a flashlight or headlamp will suffice. You might want to inquire with your party about the earliest time that will be feasible to begin your hike out of the Inner Gorge.

    The only downside to an early pre-dawn departure will be light too low for decent digital photographs, at least without the use of a tripod. But, you can solve this problem by walking much of the River Trail between the Silver and Black Bridges during the latter part of the previous afternoon as a kind of a pre-hike "warm-up." In any case, your legs might yearn for some stretching after long days aboard the raft.

    If you do choose to hike out early before the light of dawn, walking slowly will help you enjoy the wonderful changes in canyon colors that occur during the hour prior to sunrise. This spectacle is especially memorable when approaching or just having ascended onto the Tonto Plateau. Once you arrive on top of the Tonto Plateau, and you find yourself up for some additional walking and scenery prior to your final ascent out of Indian Gardens, I highly recommend making the 1.5 mile detour along relatively level terrain to Plateau Point for a different perspective of the Inner Gorge, and one final view of the Colorado River. You won't see the river again until you reach the South Rim.

    In years past, I recall that there were a series of trailside interpretive signs that highlighted the significance of the contact zones and the age of the various geological groupings and formations that comprise the rock strata of the Grand Canyon. During my hike this past December, I saw none of those interpretive signs I had remembered from past hikes. There were none to be seen along either the South Kaibab nor the Bright Angel trails.

    Thus, if you are interested in learning some details about the geology of the Grand Canyon, I would recommend that you obtain or purchase a copy of the Bright Angel Trail Guide. Use this trail guide as a reference to review the change in geological features you will encounter as you begin your ascent through time. Keep this light-weight trail guide in your pack as a reference. This trail guide will also help you identify where you were when reviewing your photos after you have completed your journey.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Rangers Association Points Out Flaws In Secretary Kempthorne's Weapons Logic   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I've beaten this to death on other pages (see, didn't even need a gun!!), and won't continue to do so here. Just a couple of quick things. First, as implied by Mr. McElveen, this IS NOT a second amendment issue. It has nothing to do with the second amendment. In fact, this does NOT insure the right of "law abiding citizens" to bear arms.....not even in National Parks. It would simply state that the National Park Service bows to the laws of the state in which the park is found. Therefore, loaded guns would still be illegal in Yosemite (because guns are illegal in ALL parks in the State of California), for example, while they would be allowed in Glacier (unless, of course, you inadvertently hiked across that imaginary line into Alberta). So, before all the cowboys out there start celebrating their victory for "second amendment rights", and grab their piece and head off to a National Park (is that a gun, or are you just happy to be in the great outdoors?!), they better check what the local laws are.
    Second; about that whole "right of law-abiding citizens" thing: How do we know? (This isn't an argument for of against the second amendment, simply a question.) How do we know who IS a law-abiding citizen? What litmus test do we have? What test? I have to prove that I know and understand the laws and safe operation of my car before I can get a license to drive. Yet not with an instrument that is built and designed for one purpose: to kill. In fact, if you never kill anything (anyone) with your gun, you're not really getting your moneys worth out of it, are you? Since it was built for no other purpose. (The difference, BTW, between using a gun in a violent crime and using a knife (designed to cut meat, gut a fish..) or baseball bat (designed to hit a ball) etc., etc.) Most people who use a gun in the commission of a crime were law-abiding citizens one minute, and then not. Look at nearly every mass shooting and listen to folks saying, "I never thought HE would do something like this. He was such a good boy. He was always so nice to ME. He was just under so much stress since his home went into foreclosure." The young man who killed all those people in Illinois WAS a "law-abiding citizen" until he stepped out onto that stage.
    Incidentally, the current law (requiring that guns be unloaded and packed away in National Parks), which most people feel is a reasonable compromise, was signed into law (just as the wolf reintroduction was, BTW) by that wild-eyed, left wing, anti-gun liberal Ronald Reagan! (The ESA by Richard Nixon....I love it!)
    This very likely is all moot anyway. Just as the Bush administration undid nearly everything that the Clinton folks did in their last year, I'm sure that the next administration will probably do the same with the wild death throes (I'm sure we can expect many more in the coming months) of this one.

  • Controlled Flood Proposed for the Colorado River Through Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I have scheduled a fly-fishing trip with many out-of-state friends for March 27-30, 2008 (Lees Ferry). Should I cancel this trip?!?!?

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 29 weeks ago

    So now the NPCA is a dupe of the NPS? The NPCA is independent, sometimes it supports the NPS, sometimes it opposes it. Sounds like you can’t tolerate any other point of view.

  • Rangers Association Points Out Flaws In Secretary Kempthorne's Weapons Logic   6 years 29 weeks ago


    My family and I frequently visit National Parks and we stay in the campgrounds, which are often crowded with other families with children. Every year I read stories of children who find their parent's gun and accidently shoot themselves or one of their friends. (When I was a kid, one of my cousins accidently shot himself in the leg with his dad's shotgun. He didn't die, but one of his legs is now substantially shorter than the other one.) I really won't feel safer knowing that some kid in a tent 15 feet from mine might start playing around with the handgun that he finds in his parents' tent or car. I feel much safer knowing that now any guns in National Parks must be locked and unloaded.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 29 weeks ago

    First of all, eric, you asked:

    In your opinion why did the park service begin killing bison?

    I assume you mean, why did the Park Service begin killing bison under the current management plan? The reason I have to clarify that is that bison were killed by the Park Service for awhile in the 20th century based on the size of the herds until the so called natural regulation policy at the end of the 1960s.

    Since a settlement of a lawsuit involving Montana in the 1990s and the subsequent IBMP, the National Park Service has been a partner in the management plan for bison in the Greater Yellowstone region. The goal of the IBMP is the prevention of the spread of brucellosis from bison to cattle populations. As I understand it, the Montana Department of Livestock is the lead manager of the program.

    This winter, I've personally witnessed the negligent hazing of buffalo by snow plows well inside the park boundaries - between Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower. I could not tell you the reason why the snow plows forced the bison off the roads. According to the National Park Service, bison were first captured and then sent to slaughter because they had either approached or had crossed the park boundary near private grazing allotments. All bison captured (now 290) were shipped to slaughter, including some calves originally intended for quarantine (who were shipped to slaughter because NPS had failed to get a permit for the quarantine facility).

    But, why bison were shipped to slaughter from the capture facility inside the park is not at all clear. The bison were not tested for exposure to brucellosis (which itself is not a positive test for having brucellosis) - under management plans, testing is not required for the herd if it is over 3,000. It's not clear why bison were not re-released inside the park.

    And, yet, even then, it's not clear why the National Park Service is a partner in the IBMP since it goes squarely against the mission of the National Park Service.

    Why exactly in your opinion, did they decide this was to be their new mandate?

    Application of the IBMP is arbitrary and hard to understand. Some winters, few bison are killed. Other winters, many are. Why this happens is not something I can opine about? I can opine, though, on the notion of the mandate. I suspect that when any regulatory body comes to an agreement, they believe it is their mandate because they are after all part of the executive branch of the United States government. Whether this actually constitutes a rational mandate - whether it ever did - is something I would strongly dispute. Bureaucracies often govern on the expediency of the moment rather than based on any consistency with principles of justice - or much less demanding than that - consistency with their own mission.

    What reason did they give for changing their management practice concerning shipping bison to harvest.

    This winter they said nothing except that bison were either approaching or had moved across the park boundary near private allotments. Each winter, it's different.

    I can't help but wonder why it's up to the park service to stop their practices but you say it's ok for the USDA to not change theirs just because their principles have been set in stone for decades, and therefore are resistant to pressure from outside sources pushing for change. I'm a bit confused. You let the USDA and Livestock Dept. off the hook when they are the ones I think putting pressure on the park to keep beef brucelosis free. I admit you lost me in your poetic, epic responses, but after all the words the basic questions remain. Who started it?

    No one should be let off the hook. The partners of the IBMP are the United States Forest Service (Gallatin National Forest) - USDA -, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - USDA -, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Department of Livestock, and the National Park Service (Yellowstone National Park) - DOI -. All of these agencies have been the target of protest. The question of protesting the National Park Service and singling it out in a specific protest is no doubt one arising from the greatest bewilderment since its membership in the partnership is the most obviously contradictory. In actuality, most of the direct protest - and what you'll see in coming months because of the Horse Butte facility - is action aimed against Montana, especially the Department of Livestock. During the hunting season, there would have been more directed at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, who manages the bison "hunts" (the vast majority of bison get gunned down very close to the Yellowstone boundary). And, you see a lot of complaints directed at Gov. Schweitzer (and before him, Governor Martz and Governor Racicot).

    Yet, if the National Park Service is going to be a partner in this, they are making it that much easier. If wildlife advocates are supposed to have one friend, it's supposed to be the Park Service. However, it has not happened that way. And, it's really not a surprise. Personally, I never would have bothered. All of these bureaucracies, whatever their competing interests, are still bound to the state or federal government. Their levers are only controlled by the most powerful forces in the country; and unless you have the money and connections to put your hands on one of those levers, nothing happens. It really is up to grassroots activists to hold all of these groups accountable and to pressure them to change policy.

    As to taking on the beef industry, which was the actual gist of what you were suggesting, I think that's a fine idea. It doesn't make the NPS any less culpable, but it's an interesting strategic move. But, at that point, we aren't arguing whether the beef industry or the NPS is to blame; we are arguing about the best means to make change.

    In my case, I found the action effective not because tourists had their eyes opened but because those who participated were able to connect, network, and begin planning anew. In fact, that's exactly what happened to me. I went down there not really knowing anyone; now some of us who met only on account of this action are planning and organizing.

    But, strategically, the beef industry itself is an inviting target. If one takes away the incentive of the industry to control the levers of policy, then you take away one part of the problem. There are many ways to go after the industry. Do you go after those who are propping up the support of the industry? Do you go directly after the industry? Do you use a multi-pronged approach? These are all very interesting questions. I think all approaches can work toward the same ends, and criticizing the Park Service - one of the unwitting partners of the beef industry - is part of the process. For people local to Yellowstone National Park and Gallatin National Forest, it's probably easier to go after the governmental pillars of support and yet show solidarity with the many groups going directly after the industry. Can't that all be part of the same struggle?


    Finally, Mack,

    I know people aren't supposed to bring things up like this, but what is your opinion of the Nuremberg trials? There, the main defense for doing nothing in the face of gross injustice was that they were merely trying to survive and that their superiors were really to blame for all the crimes they carried out. The same has been said by soldiers who participated in the torture at Abu Ghraib. In each case, courts found even those who carried out crimes called for by their superiors to hold part of the blame. Do you think this was right? Is this analogous to criticizing Park Service personnel?

    If Park Service personnel are not able to act against their superiors - surely, few signed up for bison hazing and killing duty and are no doubt revolted to be caught up in and associated with it - they should definitely have our sympathy. They are as much victims as everyone else and getting out is easier said than done. But, if there were a way out, if there were something they could be doing, should they be doing it? If there isn't a way out, one way that activists can help is by providing that way out - much as activists in the anti-war movement help soldiers who wish to be conscientious objectors or who otherwise want to escape the evils of war.

    And, as for the photograph of the puppet, I take it you think it's despicable because it depicts the Park Service as an executioner. Unfortunately, when it comes to Yellowstone's buffalo, the despicable image is the truth - whoever is culpable - because whoever in the Park Service is to blame - wherever that buck stops - then it's they who personify the Park Service and it is they who are accurately if still despicably pictured in the photograph.


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

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Or the NPCA is only going on the limited information they have been provided with from the parks point of view.

  • Rangers Association Points Out Flaws In Secretary Kempthorne's Weapons Logic   6 years 29 weeks ago

    perhaps a real poll could take place w/in the various national in campgrounds, tents only areas and back country. I believe most folks who have spent many a vacation in the parks would say they feel safe as law is now. Really, just how many of the few tragic events that have made the news in recents years could have been avoided. Were the "victims" ever of the make up that they would have been carrying a fire arm. It really doesnt quite feel right to spectulate about .How many deadly force/intentional events have occuried in National Parks where there were even others around wondering " why didnt/dont I have a gun?". The reality is that w/ a reminder (if not an encouragement based on broadcasting ones basic right) to bring your guns there will simply be the increased probability of accidental tragic events. These are the events that will make headline news and increase /create a snow balling fear full ness brought into the National Park experience . There needs to be some discernment about 2nd ammendment rights as there has been.

  • 4-Year-old Dies in Fall off South Rim of Grand Canyon   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Steve's opening comments certainly inspire anyone with a clue about what life is like parenting children to respond. This little 4-year old yanked away from her parent in an act of willfulness, and it had the most tragic of consequences. Every one of us - especially anyone who is a parent - can look at this and grieve, knowing that it could have been any one of us. The poor parents are traumatized... who wouldn't be.

    It could have just as easily happened when the child got out of a car, yanked away from her parent and ran in front of a moving vehicle. As much as we'd like to be, parents just aren't omnipotent or capable of being omnipresent. With HINDsight, I would say I wouldn't take a child that age, or one that had a propensity to be willful. Hmmm, with the latter requirement, I wouldn't take my 16 year olds either! SO, hindsight isn't very useful in this. We try to give our children life-enriching experiences. Sometimes even the most SAFE activities we could think of have tragic consequences.

    Wishing peace for this family.

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 29 weeks ago


    Sounds like you've got a great trip lined up! While I've hiked down into and back out of the canyon, with a stop at Phantom, I have yet to run the river.

    Not sure how large your CamelBak is, but obviously you want the largest you can get your hands on. The hike up out of the canyon is a lot tougher than the one down into it. It might not be a bad idea to carry some packages of electrolytes that you can mix in your CamelBak I like the small packets of "Emergen-C," which are handy to carry. Also, a large-brimmed hat and a small assortment of Band-aids you can use to ward off any blisters from your new boots would be wise.

    Something to munch on -- granola bars, jerky, hard candy, trail mix -- also wouldn't be a bad idea.

    Have a great trip!

  • Interior Secretary Opens Door for New Gun Regulations in National Parks   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I just have a few questions:
    1. Is it just a security issue that makes you want to carry a weapon into a National Park?
    2. If it is just a security issue then what do you now? Do you visit the parks or take the family somewhere else? If you visit the parks do you carry anyway?
    3. I've only been to a few National Parks out west, which I've never had issues with, so which parks seems to be the dangerous ones?

    Just to let people know... I'm not a gun owner. Don't really care if people own guns, it's not my place to say if they should. Three of my brothers own and actively hunt/target shoot. I have no issues with it. I worked with weapons in the Navy and will use weapons when I'm visiting with family members who own them.

    I'm more interested in why this is such a big deal for people. Most people will agree it's a risk going anywhere today, or so it seems. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have no issues hiking alone in the many open spaces here, only encounters here were with a couple mountain lions, to which I came out ok. I think we can all agree California has it's fair share of the criminal element and I've failed to encounter such things on the trail.

    As for the controversy I guess I'd be against people packing 'heat' if that was the only problem we have in the parks. However as Paul stated above we have other concerns in the parks. Lack of funds, motorized sports eroding/polluting, conservation of wildlife and an ecosystem. Perhaps we should deal with them first!!!!! Oh yeah let's not forget the people who are abusing the land to grow illicit substances.

    In the end I guess I just don't care. This is just one more item that is a non-issue. Something to keep people busy arguing while the status quo goes on in the federal government.

    I just hope people are as passionate about the parks when funding cuts are announced!

    My humble opinions.

  • Dinosaur National Monument: Paleo's Not The Only Responsibility   6 years 29 weeks ago

    This paints quite a different picture of the situation than the other articles did. It sounds like a reasonable approach under the circumstances. Instead of trying to do more with less they're really doing a lot more with a little more money. There is no stronger advocate for the National Parks and all their resources than the NPCA. The NPCA would not be supporting this plan if they didn't think it would benefit Dinosaur National Monument.

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Was glad to see some "been around the block once or twice" ages posted here as I am a 58 year old woman :)

    This June I will head out on a very personal journey - 2 1/2 days rafting into the canyon, an overnight at Phantom and then hiking out on the Bright Angel Trail. Obviously this trip is special by any measure but more so because in Sept. of 2006 I had bilateral hip replacement. I am feeling better and stronger than I have in years and have my Doc's blessings. My 2007 physical goal was race walking a 10K that I used to run back in the day - Got thru that with no problem and energy to spare. I have been researching a lot of training material and reading as many of these types of posts as possible to prepare as I know my upfront prep. will be the difference between an amazing journey or an agonizing one!

    I am breaking in wonderful hiking boots and am starting to practice with the trekking poles. As all my "stuff" from the rafting portion will be hauled out via duffel service I will be using a Camel Bak hydration daypack with just enough room for the day's necessities. Of course, one of my items will be a camera with LOTS of memory to record my journey!

    Does anyone have any additional tips and/or suggestions for me as I move closer and closer to June.

    Thanks in advance for any and all information :)

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Jim MacDonald wrote: "At what point do we hold people culpable who do what they do even though they hate it? Isn't it a horribly cynical world where we will have to depend on lawyers to make things right? And, then, will it? What's really changed? I think all it does is change the playing field, but it's still the same game."

    It seems to me, Jim, that we do not hold culpable the Yellowstone personnel in the field; rather we hold culpable their superiors that signed onto the IBMP.

    Again, the subject of the photograph at the top of this page is despicable.

    I don't think it's a "horribly cynical world where we will have to depend on lawyers to make things right." Our court system is not perfect, but it's among the best in the world. You can be cynical or you can be realistic or you can be realistically cynical.


    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own