Recent comments

  • Why Did The Park Service Agree To Secret Meetings Over Yellowstone Snowmobiling?   6 years 31 weeks ago

    And, frankly, the town of Cody is not involved in the meetings, simply representatives claiming to speak on behalf of the town. In the case of Cody, a grassroots group called "Shut Out" of Yellowstone was propped up by the city to fight this (thus becoming less grassroots over time), but this is a private meeting between power brokers. The public, including the public in Cody, are not really involved.

    On another note, we made our first drive - since moving to Bozeman - into West Yellowstone, the self-proclaimed "snowmobiling capital of the world." It was a beautiful drive along the Gallatin River. However, along the drive, you see snowmobiles of all types, many on the groomed trails in the national forests. As you get closer to West, you see huge groups of them everywhere. Over the town, there was a kind of blue haze. Outside of the haze line, you could see clearer skies in almost every direction. I've heard of this haze, but I had never witnessed it, and I can't be sure if the haze wasn't just a cloud that happened to be right on top of the town (or was the haze I've read about). The air in town stinks - almost as bad as the town I just came from (though that town happens to have millions of people in and out of it every day - not just a couple thousand).

    On the bright side, I was able to have a nice lunch with my partner and my baby and got an out-of-print, hard-to-find book about Yellowstone's second superintendent, Philetus Norris. We also saw a pack of bison outside the park in Montana; (unfortunately, these same bison (or nearby bison in the same area) have been suffering again under some vicious hazing. This week, Buffalo Field Campaign reported a hazing operation that actually was harassing pronghorn that were also caught up in it - that's especially sickening since the area only has about 250 of them).

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

  • Why Did The Park Service Agree To Secret Meetings Over Yellowstone Snowmobiling?   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt, I was just gonna say what the article said in the last sentence, so rather than repeat it.... Well said!

  • Another Snake Story from Everglades National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Snakes? Why'd it have to be snakes?

    Southern Florida is an ecological mess. There are so many people releasing non-native "things" into the 'glades, canals, swimming pools, and coastal waters. There are thousands of stories like this just waiting to be reported and while entertaining on one level, it's also a very sad statement on humans' unique ability to truly foul things up.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 31 weeks ago

    One could also make that the argument that if there were NO cables, the risk/thrill takers would still attempt the climb. Furthermore, the NPS is providing a safer alternative during the warm season.

    Frankly, I'm aghast to see pictures of that many climbers on the cables. I had no idea there were three deaths there this last year. My husband and I hiked to the top in two days, June 1995, was never that crowded, maybe ten folks there around 10 in the morning. We had on chest harnesses, safety rope with two carabiners, hiking boots, well rested, took all safety precautions. No way would we do this hike in a one day trip, nor would we even attempt to climb with hundreds of folks on the cables. I have a very bad feeling if the crowds are not controlled on the cables to some extent then a horrific accident involving many is brewing to happen. All it will take is one person to fall and start a domino effect. If this type of crowding has been an issue for the last few years, I'm somewhat perplexed that more deaths have not occurred.

    I live in NC and was recently researching the Park as I wish to take my children to the Park this Summer. We certainly will not be climbing Half Dome, I would never subject my children to that strenuous, dangerous hike, too young and no experience. I am stunned to read other hikers accounts of inexperienced individuals making the climb, tennis shoes and sandals, young children, what the hell are parents and these thrill seekers thinking? Ah, the mentality of some who don't percieve the risks that are explained, "If the NPS has the cables up, then they must be safe!" I feel the crowds need to be controlled, the Park is clearly enduring the effects of crowding. If an accident involving many deaths evolves, then watch out for the litigating vultures.

    How can the NPS regulate hikers on the cables? Permits? Not a bad idea. You'd have to station a ranger at the base, educate the masses with more signage, just what the wilderness needs. What a mess. I would hate to see the cables come down, it's exhilirating for those of us who appreciate the wilderness and the risks involved in experiencing it.

    I wonder how different the Park will look since I last saw it.

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    With today's expected change of the rules to allow more shooting of wolves and the plans of wolf management that have been approved for the states (especially those of Wyoming and Idaho), it will be interesting to see whether the expansion of a wolf here and there into Colorado (as well as into other states; for instance Oregon) happens before the wolf populations face decimation.

    What a mess we tend to make of things; I'm amazed we are all so confident of what the proper management answers are. We all seem so eager to manage and the necessity of it. Manage we do and then some, but each generation seems to think it can manage away the errors of the past. They only manage to exacerbate things. In an ethical woods, we mostly tend to fluctuate between cycles of chopping everything down and planting everything back, as though we are chemists who can reduce our world to a couple variables. But, it's for naught, and those of us who are observing will continue to be shocked and saddened by all who are left suffering by our choices. As we celebrate the wolf, I fret as I see the next chapters ready to unfold.

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

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Bravo Terry,,,I feel exactly as you do.

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    "The text of the Second Amendment is, 'A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'"
    Where does it say, ".........on federal land"? Where does it say, ".....However, such rights may be infringed on private land or in federal buildings, or by state and local governments"? (Federal buildings, last I checked, were on federal land BTW.)
    Are you SURE that my arguments ignore the intentions of the founding fathers. Many scholars believe that the INTENT was that members of an organized militia could bear arms...not necessarily the general public. I tend to agree that the intent was the general public, but this has never been settled. One could even argue, I imagine, that within the National Park the Park Service rangers ARE the "militia".
    I only used Disneyland as an example of a place, just like our National Parks, that has millions of visitors every year, and where we take our children to recreate.
    This law, as it stands, is pretty much an honor system "don't ask, don't tell" law anyway. If you have a gun under your jacket (because you simply can't go anywhere without your security blanket), no one is going to pat you down. No one is going to search your car (without just cause). I'm not an idiot. I know that lots of people are, no doubt, already carrying loaded weapons in parks...just as they do everywhere. NO ONE IS TAKING ANYONE'S GUNS AWAY FROM THEM!! However, the law as it stands, makes them think very hard about firing it or brandishing it. That whole "federal offense" thing. (Yes I know that most gun owners are responsible....those individuals who are responsible for making gun related deaths the second most common cause (behind automobile accidents) of unnatural death in the United States are not.)
    Our National Parks are sacred places. The last thing that we want is for them to start looking like many of our National Forests and BLM lands: signs shot full of holes, squirrels and birds with their heads blown off, rusty tin cans full of holes along trails. My opinion is that this law should remain unchanged. You are entitled to your's
    Thank you, Kurt, for letting me ramble on with these long comments. I promise I'm done now!

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Frank N. makes some good points here. I'm glad he's never felt endangered while hiking the backwoods. I hope I never do either. I hope I never need to start a survival fire, but I carry a magnesium fire-starter anyway. Does this mean that we need to outlaw fire-starters because they could be used for arson? C'mon. give me a break!

    The Disneyland comment doesn't carry much weight with me either. Disneyland has metal detectors and security guards. The backwoods where I hike has neither.

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I'm not a member of the NRA, nor do I own a handgun, nor do I support the current administration. I am, however, a Constitutionalist and believe the job of every American is to defend the Constitution, not just part of it.

    Frank N.: malls, gun shows, and city parks are NOT federal land and are cases of private parties or local government regulating guns and are thus permissible under the Constitution. Remember, the Constitution is a limit to federal power and doesn't apply to Disneyland or the other flippant and ill-conceived examples listed.

    Thes arguments continue to ignore the Second Amendment's guarantee of the People to bear (or carry) arms on federal land. Your arguments continue to ignore the Founders' intentions. If you believe that the federal government should be able to prohibit law abiding people from owning and carrying guns, then you should work to have the Constitution amended.

    Ignoring the Constitution is what the current administration is doing by trying to bypass Congress to negotiate a treaty with Iraq. Ignoring the Constitution is how Japanese-Americans ended up in prison camps on American soil. Ignoring the Constitution leads to a loss of rights.

  • Super Volcano, The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt: thanks for the heads-up on the new book. I wrote about the Super Volcano extensively for the Casper Star Tribune and struggled with how to convey the technical information from the scientists, to the lay reader. I'll have to see how Breining handles it.
    Most of the scientists I've talked to felt the Discovery/BBC show got the essential science right, if a bit sensational. Still, how can you talk about a super volcano eruption without it being sensational -- making Mt. Saint Helen's eruption look like popping a pimple.
    I used to newspaper in the Colorado mountain town of Creede, which is set among spectacular cliffs -- all that remains of a super volcano eruption some 65 million years ago.
    Living in proximity to Yellowstone reminds me of that hoary joke about civil defense exercises in the '50's -- the duck and cover routine which ends with "and kiss your *** goodbye."

  • Groups Fighting Road Building In Death Valley   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Members of the "kick the bucket club" would like to see some of the beauity and wilderness you seek to protect from all but those able to hike 10-20 miles with full pack.
    Ive driven these roads many years and resent that suddenely its time for change. Solitiude and peace are what is saught by visitors to these areas,that means access!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You seem to want to put it in a "box". For what?

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Folks, it's the philosophy of fear that's deeply entrenched and portrayed by the NRA and the Bush & Cheney administration. Scare tactics with crime helps to sell guns! The NRA and gun nuts will exploit this to the fullest extent. The next visit to the National Parks they may ask you:"Where's your papers"? Carry a gun? God forbid!

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Very exciting. In addition to the "problem" of wolves naturally recolonizing an ecosystem of which they were- and should be- a vital component as a top carnivore, there will be great opportunity. After spending several months in Yellowstone several winters ago studying/ exploring the human-wolf relationship, both ecologically and economically, I see this as wonderful news- and so too should those people in the area looking for an ecotourism opportunity and environmental education opportunity. It will be interesting to see if the NPS has got what it takes to do it's job and provide protection for the RMNP ecosystem as a whole, the community of wolves moving back to another portion of their homeland and providing the educational/ wilderness experience for those of us who prefer to venture into the wildlands....

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    ......."this isn't about risk; it's about the Constitution."
    War Cry of the NRA

    Should we then allow people to carry guns, as Mr. Kiernan points out, in the White House, Independence Hall, the Statue of Liberty, the National Mall? How about the Capitol Building? Isn't this a violation of my Constitutional Rights?
    What about all the various ordinances in cities across this land which restrict who and who may not carry a weapon? I know that many large cities do not allow guns in their city parks. I doubt that you would get away with (visibly) carrying a gun in most shopping malls. In fact, most GUN SHOWS prohibit carrying loaded guns! Isn't THAT a violation of my rights? If you insist on carrying a loaded weapon, don't visit the White House, a gun show or Yellowstone. How hard is that?
    I backpacked in Big Bend National Park, which is right on the border. No drug crazed, insane, wild drug runners! Just one young couple from California all week!
    Of course crime happens everywhere, even in parks. (Ever think that there are FEWER in parks because loaded guns aren't allowed?) Many victims of crime are carrying weapons at the time. (As Kurt points out (I believe) in another article, the beheaded female in Yosemite was actually kidnapped outside the park where guns could be carried.)
    Of course you COULD come across drug runners or a drug farm; but the chances are very slight. And if you did, I guarantee you that you would be dead long before you ever knew what you had stumbled on.
    If you think that guns stop crime, I would ask, "So, how's that working out in America's inner cities?"
    Be real. If I were going to rob, rape, kill someone in the back country, I would never give them a chance to pull their "protection" piece. I would shoot him from cover (especially if I knew there was a good chance that he was carrying), whack him on the back of the head with a rock or tree limb after he passed on the trail, get him in his sleeping bag at night, blast him with bear spray, or have MY gun already aiming straight at him when I approached. I'm not a crook and I can figure this out!
    No one is talking about taking anyone's gun away from him. Just like at the gun show, guns ARE OBVIOUSLY ALLOWED. They simply have to be unloaded and, in a park, packed away. There is NOTHING that you can legally shoot in a National Park. Millions of people visit National Parks (and gun shows) every year safely, without pack'n loaded heat. Taking a loaded weapon into a National Park is kind of like taking one into Disneyland (another place where your rights would be violated I'm afraid). Does crime happen in Disneyland.....yeah, sometimes. Does that mean that we want everybody packing loaded weapons in the happiest place on earth, around our kids and millions of visitors?...........NO!
    I am so glad that I don't live in such fear. Remarkable considering where I came from in life. I don't know that I could leave the house if I did.

  • Senators' Letter to Open National Parks to Concealed Weapons   6 years 31 weeks ago

    That sounds paranoid.

  • Pot Farmers Tilling Ground in Yosemite   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Drugs are a serious problem and seeing these marijuana plantations makes me think about how serious the problem really is. Drug smugglers are really powerful, they keep pushing drugs down to the market and the result is mostly disastrous. How can we stop this?
    Drug rehab facility

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    "People who insist that they need to carry a loaded gun everywhere astonish me."

    I don't think anyone has said that here. What is being argued is that citizens have a Constitutional right to carry a loaded gun on federal land and that the federal goverment shall not infringe on the people's right to have and carry weapons. If you don't like that, amend the Constitution, but don't ignore it. Ignoring the Constitution is how we've ended up invading another country; ignoring the Constitution is how the government has been able to indiscriminately gather private data about citizens' library records, phone records, and email records.

    As for the unlikely event of something terrible happening, that argument ignores that the Second Amendment and Founders wanted to protect individual rights to carry weapons regardless if there were greater threats than crime to their safety.

    Finally, bad things do happen in national parks. About ten years ago, a female ranger (who was not law enforcement) was beheaded at Yosemite. Many parks have problems with crime: . Over the last decade, there have been thousands of violent crimes in national parks including murder, assault, and rape: .

    Yes the risk is low, but this isn't about risk; it's about the Constitution.

    Drug runners and criminals in border parks are a serious threat to safety. If I were to hike Saguaro's backcountry, I'd want a weapon to protect myself and my family. And that's my Constitutional right as a law-abiding citizen.

  • NPCA Asks Secretary Kempthorne Not To Change Gun Regs in National Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    People who insist that they need to carry a loaded gun everywhere astonish me. How have I lived to be 62 years old and NEVER carried one? I have hiked and backpacked all over this great country. I have walked (at night) down the streets of LA, New York, Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans and others.
    When I was a child my family lived in a very bad part of a (relatively) large city. I remember lying in bed at night and hearing drug deals (and worse) going on outside of my bedroom window. All of the homes in our neighborhood had bars on the windows and the owners (or renters) owned guns........except ours. My dad said that he refused to be a "prisoner" in his own home, and he said that pulling a gun only serves to escalate a situation and more people end up getting shot with their own gun than protect themselves with it. My dad was no wimp. He hit the beach at Normandy and was a decorated war hero. Nearly every house on our block was broken into in the ten (or so) years that we lived there, except one......ours. Several people were assaulted, we never were. Maybe the Good Lord protects the foolish. Maybe when you're "expecting" trouble it is more likely to find you. I have never felt the need to pack a gun.
    Violent crime is hardly rampant in our National Parks. Most folks are there with their families enjoying vacation just as you are. Guns are already allowed in parks. They simply have to be unloaded and packed away. Therefore they are still there; they are just not readily available to some hothead who just had someone "steal" his campsite. They have to be unpacked and loaded......time to cool down. Time to think about the meaning of the words, "federal offense". YES I KNOW: NOT EVERYONE WHO OWNS A GUN IS A HOTHEAD! MOST ARE NOT. All it takes is one.
    Our Park Rangers do an admirable job of balancing the protection of the resource with the needs of the public.
    Let's not complicate their lives. Right now if someone is in the possession of a loaded weapon they are already breaking the law and can be arrested. The ranger doesn't have to wait until there is a dead animal (or person).
    If you REALLY feel threatened walking the "mean streets" of the National Park back country, carry bear spray. I can assure you that no one is going to assault your wife with a face full of pepper!! Plus it can be fired from the hip. BTW, number of armed robberies and assaults in National Park back country last year: zero.

  • Association of National Park Rangers Opposes Change in Park Gun Regulations   6 years 31 weeks ago

    As a long-time professional in the "media biz" I can say that press accounts of backcountry violence are about exceptional, unusual, extraordinary events. In other words, they're weird, that's why they're news. Literally, the likelihood of these kinds of mishaps happening to any one of us is in the one-in-many-millions chance.

    Yes, violence does happen. But I'm just not too worried about loosing with those odds. You're far more likely to meet your fate at the hands of hypothermia, a fall, or a traffic accident on the way to a trailhead--thousands of times more likely--than from anything any sort of weapon would help you with.

    I'll accept that some number of situations exist where a deadly weapon would be the only viable solution. But then again, thinking about someone who's so afraid of the dangers that they feel they have to carry a powerful weapon, what are the odds that they'll be tempted to use that weapon in situations where, given some thoughtful consideration, a less drastic alternative would have been adequate?
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
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  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    We are the ones who destroyed them in the first place and brought the problem on ourselves, we need to protect them and reintroduce them but the law needs to be enforced as well we have seen the problems that are happening all around us because of the lack of care we have given this planet. Since the wolves seem to be going on their own there we should allow them to continue to allow them to reclaim territory and while Rocky Mountain National Park is smaller when the area can handle no more some can be relocated to another National Park where there used to be wolves as well.

  • Paw Print Another Sign That Wolves Might Be Returning to Rocky Mountain National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    We reintroduced the wolves so it is our responsibility to manage them in balance with other points of view.

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Hi Carol,

    It's great to see you contributing to the commentary on National Parks Traveler. To answer your question, yes I met several women on the trail who were in our age bracket. No one in the women's dorm at Phantom Ranch complained of snoring either.


    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Great Basin National Park's Air Could Be Compromised By Proposed Power Plant   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I see lots of NIMBY here. That stands for "Not In My Back Yard."

    Having said the above, I too am concerned about air pollution near our National Parks. Too often traveling out West have I rounded a curve and there faced a huge coal-fired power plant. Coal-fired plants don't have to be dirty. I've seen a number of them where the stack gas is as clear as that of a gas-fired plant. The utility just has to want to do it. There has to be an economic incentive -- either mandated by the regulators or by the public at large -- to ensure that the coal-fired effluent will be relatively clean.

    Now about the suggestion concerning solar power -- gimme a break. Solar - even on a good day - produces very small amounts of DC power (like your AA batteries). Let me see you use DC to run a factory, a hospital, a hotel, or your home. Get real. Solar has some applications; that's true, but providing large quantities of AC power is not one of them.

    Well then, what about wind power? All those wind farms you see in Kansas are there due to tax credits and fast write off depreciation. If wind power had to stand on its own economically it would be a flop.

    Folks, I hate to be the one to tell you, but today the best and lowest cost way to produce electric power is either a steam boiler/turbine/generator or a gas turbine/generator (jet engine), or a combination of a steam turbine and gas turbine. Note that the steam boiler can be heated with gas, oil, coal, wood waste, garbage, or nuclear.

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 32 weeks ago

    Owen - Andre and I are very impressed with your accomplishment. I am not sure which was harder - the trek up and down or the stay at Phantom Ranch. It doesn't sound like many women do this circuit. Did you encounter any my age?
    Best wishes,

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 32 weeks ago

    The argument that people might die on Half Dome so it shouldn't be so accessible is as illogical as saying that people might die in a car crash while driving Tioga Road so it shouldn't be open. Of course someone could die on Half Dome. Or on the highways. Or at Glacier Point. There is reasonable risk for great reward in Yosemite. The careless fool who climbs over the guard-rail, splashes in the water, and washes to his death over the falls shouldn't be a reason that the rest of us to miss the spectacles that this park offers, including the Half Dome ascent. Check the stats; most of the Half Dome deaths have occurred when the cables are down for the season and the Park Service recommends NOT making the climbg.