Recent comments

  • Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on America's National Parks?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    The question that I would ask each candidate is: Interpret what the philosophy and the concept of the National Parks stands for and what it personally means to you. Also, what does conservation of our natural resources personally mean to you as well as our natural heritage? It appears that Hillary and Obama are more deeply concerned about our Nation's bread and butter issues, dealing with our out of whack economy...and rightly so! After the Bush regime and the ugly war in Irag (that's help trashed our economy) I doubt the candidates will pledge full funding for the parks and its much needed care. Thanks to Bush & Cheney!

  • Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on America's National Parks?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Yes, I agree with Mookie and would take it a step further to ask the candidate where they stand, more generally, on the matter of encouraging/fostering more private funding for the parks (as was proposed in the "matching funds" part of the Centennial Initiative). I would like to know if they understand the risks of turning the responsibility for supporting our parks over to private donors and funders of whatever sort (whether corporate or not, whether closely tied to the candidate or not). If I were devising a question, then, I would ask them, "What role should private funds have in preserving, maintaining, and enhancing our National Parks?" And I would hope the answers would reveal a deep commitment to the government's fundamental responsibility for generously funding our parks for the common good.

    Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Ph.D.
    Historian & Author of Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History
    Chapel Hill, NC

  • Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on America's National Parks?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    One other question I would love to hear answered by the candidates is where they stand on corporate sponsorship for the parks. Most politicians, the higher they rise the more indebted they are to big business and the corporations that line their pockets. It's no coincidence that current President Bush (and his administration) have big ties to Big Oil and Gas firms and they also happened to have approved more oil and gas drilling on public lands than any other president I can remember. I would be worried about a candidate who decides that the park funding needs to come from corporations such as McDonalds, Exxon or AT&T.

  • Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on America's National Parks?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    I wondered throughout the debates where Congressman Ron Paul stood on this. Of course, he's not one of the finalists, but I wondered whether his strict constitutionalist consistency allows for supporting national parks.

  • Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on America's National Parks?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    McCain also has a very shady history actually following through on his promises to restore natural quiet in Grand Canyon National Park. It's still a mess, and it only seems to be getting worse.

  • Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on America's National Parks?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    McCain hiked with his son from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim. Just a family hike. Not a press photo op. Not only pretty good for a 71 year old, but it shows his love of the parks.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 30 weeks ago

    I've read the original paper by Pergams and Zaradic. I'd have to dig it out but I remember thinking they had a causality/correlation conflation. I'd be interested in reading their whole report. I wonder if they attempted taking the demographic changes the US has experienced into account in their models.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    My previous response was not cleared by the moderators for some reason so I will try again.

    If you are asserting that Segway riders have worse weight/health issues than people who ride in cars, motorcycles, RVs, etc., then I'd be interested in any evidence that you have to that effect. If not, what is the relevance of your observation in a discussion about whether one (and only one) of those conveyances should be banned in national parks?

    In other words, why is the poor health of the entire population justification for banning one segment of that population and not the others?

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 30 weeks ago

    The USGS does a great job at Rainier, and the public gets to see what part of this process? Maybe a seismograph needle? The beauty of Dinosaur USED to be that people could see something in action in the field or in the lab. Since the visitor center shut down there have been few fossils to see and only a couple of days of excavation the public could actually see. At a time when services for the public are so stunted at this park, is is absurd to be eliminating the very people who are best suited to give both the public and researchers what they most need- an inspiring educational experience and important fossils. As for the benifits and efficiency of outsourcing this work, since 2002 when the NPS first tried to cut this program, there have been 6 years to prove it can be done. The results of outsourcing have been meager at best, and their work has been almost invisible to the public. At a time when other paleontology parks are thriving and growing, one has to wonder why Dinosaur is crashing and burning.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 30 weeks ago

    As long as we are hiring out, let’s put up all the maintenance jobs for contract bidding. Certainly they should go first. Actually I am sure there are private Americans who will work for less than government employees and still provide good service. After that we can cut costs further by contracting to firms that hire illegals. Then we can call them "jobs Americans won't do". Is it time for government workers to experience wage competition just like the rest of us? If the parks need funds why should government blue collar jobs be protected when neither politcal party cares about the plight of citizens doing the same jobs in the private sector?

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 30 weeks ago

    This is not an unusual arrangement. Many agencies rely on partnerships to get this type of work done. Partners are frequently better equipped to do certain jobs and this is one of them.

  • Cycling at Haleakala National Park Given "High Risk" Rating   6 years 30 weeks ago

    People don't need commecial tours. Just rent a good bike and do it yourself. If you question the safety, don't go. Too many things are commecialized, it takes the individuality of the experience and creates an amusement style ride that is best left out of a National Park.

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Having been to Yellowstone several times - once in the winter. I can from first hand experience say that the pollution from snowmobiles is minute at worst and non-existant at best. Pollution from cars in the summer is much more severe.
    The animals are not even fazed by slow moving snowmobiles.

    The restrictions now are the best compromise between the public use and radical restrictors.

    Why not be honest and just say, there should not be any people in Yellowstone ever! That is what you really want - well except for the radical restrictors.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 30 weeks ago

    The last time I was to yellowstone the extensive geologic exhibit was replaced with a wild life exhibit. All well and fine for eco systems , but yellowstone park is probably the most significant geologic area in North America if not the world. Maybe some one can say if the geologic exhibit has been restored? So this has been going on at lot longer than you think. As our government employees demand more and more in terms of salaries and benefits what is left over for science and our services declines. We are now working for them.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 30 weeks ago

    I bet if it had oil under it, or small foreign country surrounding it the Feds would be interested. The War on Science has many battlefields - this is one them. Perhaps the new regime will actually spend a little money on America.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 30 weeks ago

    C'mon Kurt, too d*#m much money is spent on scientists now, puttin' jewelry (collars, tags) on animals to study 'em to death! Sheesh!
    The people want ranger talks and walks, concessions (good food), and clean restrooms!

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 30 weeks ago

    I think this is a very good move on the part of the Superintendent. This work CAN be done more than adequately in partnerships with universities.
    What is most important is, what does the VISITOR (American taxpayer) want?...as has been proven poll after poll, CLEAN RESTROOMS (maintenance) and RANGER TALKS (interpretation). And the visitor should be made to feel safe (law enforcement).
    Nuff said.

  • Welcome to the National Parks Traveler 2.0   6 years 30 weeks ago

    This is the BEST site I've found if you are seeking not only the best Nat. Park info, how-to's, what not to miss etc., but it also gives the concerned reader/traveler an easy way to keep informed about what is happening - both positive and of great concern - in the parks! Keep up the AWESOME WORK!

  • Cycling at Haleakala National Park Given "High Risk" Rating   6 years 30 weeks ago

    One fatality out of how many clients who have done this commercial ride over how many years = one of the highest risks?!?!?!?! Compared with what? Surely not with, say, the climbers who die annually on Mt. Rainier, Mt. McKinley and other wild places in the National Park system.

    Claire @ http://travel-babel.blogspot.com

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    OK folks, I think we've covered all angles of this debate. Time to move on.

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Amazing. The impulse to commit violence is not tied, in any way, to owning a gun. Period.

    "One statistic NO ONE can debate is that if guns had never been invented, there would have been be a lot fewer dead people down through the years."

    This is a statement of stunning ignorance. Read any history of the Peloponnesian or Punic Wars. In "War Before Civilization", Lawrence Keely reveals just how adept primitive (lacking technology) men were at murdering each other.

    "In a study of 65 high-profile multiple-victim shootings in the United States over a period of 40 years, 62% of handgun shootings and 71% of long gun shootings were committed with legally acquired firearms."

    So what? Murders are committed all the time, in countries that ban firearms, by people wielding "legally acquired knives". Here is an excerpt from a USA Today story on knife violence in the U.K.:

    Stabbings are the most common form of murder in Britain, where firearms — except certain shotguns and sporting rifles — are outlawed. Most police officers in Britain do not carry firearms.

    Of the 839 homicides in England and Wales in the 12 months ending Nov. 28 — the most recent period for which Home Office figures are available — 29% involved sharp instruments including knives, blades and swords. Firearms account for just 9% of murders in Britain.

    In London alone, there were 12,589 knife-related crimes last year. Police say the most likely people to carry knives are males ages 15 to 18.

    A poll released this month by the Police Federation found that 30% of officers had been threatened by a knife-wielding suspect while on duty.

    What your study of high profile multiple-victim shootings fails to mention, and what the media fails to report, is that many of these incidents are stopped by private citizens using their firearms. In 1997, an insane high school student in Pearl, Miss. opened fire on his classmates after slashing his mothers throat with a butcher knife. He was stopped by the schools assistant principal, armed with the gun he kept in his truck, and held at bay until police arrived. In 2002, a deranged Nigerian exchange student at Appalachian State Law School killed 4 people. His killing spree was stopped, long before the police arrived, by two students brandishing their own firearms.

    That brings up another problem with gun related homicide statistics. They do not account for whether the deceased was a victim or a perpetrator. They simply count deaths.

    Another problem is that these reports and statistics make no mention of how many violent crimes, including murder, were prevented by the use of a firearm. Studies of crime following the passing of "concealed carry" laws consistently point to reductions in crime, so many of these statistics would be much worse without guns.

    "All that we are talking about is KEEPING a law that already exists, and has for many years."

    That's how many people felt about abortion before enterprising leftists found a penumbra around the invisible "right to privacy" in the Constitution, which had been overlooked by scholars and judges for generations, guaranteeing citizens the right to murder the unborn. At least the rights we seek are actually spelled out in the Constitution.

    "Actually, I might not be so opposed to this change if they made the penalty for FIRING a gun (except in self defense AGAINST A HUMAN BEING) in a National Park, a mandatory felony with a very stiff (once again, mandatory) penalty."

    Your concern for wildlife is admirable, it's your apparent contempt for human life I find troublesome. I believe that everyone has the right to protect themselves from a potentially deadly attack regardless of whether it's from a HUMAN BEING or an animal. I have no problem with people having to justify the use of their firearm after such an event.

    It appears that the only thing "getting the shaft" in this debate is common sense.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 30 weeks ago

    I have been to Dinosaur National Monument twice. Thie second time I took my granddaughter who is interested in anthropology and geology. It is a shame that the Superintendent is putting himself before the interests of the public. Maybe he needs to find another job.

  • Modeling Mesa Verde National Park With Lasers   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Thank you Kurt for such a great article! One small correction though, you provided a slightly incorrect link. The link to the map of Fire Temple is:

    http://archive.cyark.org/Mesa-Verde-Fire-Temple-map.php

    If you were looking for a map to the entire Mesa Verde park, the link is:

    http://archive.cyark.org/Mesa-Verde-map.php

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Gun deaths per 100,000 population (for the year indicated):
    Homicide Suicide Other (inc Accident)

    USA (2001) 3.98 5.92 0.36
    Italy (1997) 0.81 1.1 0.07
    Switzerland (1998) 0.50 5.8 0.10
    Canada (2002) 0.4 2.0 0.04
    Finland (2003) 0.35 4.45 0.10
    Australia (2001) 0.24 1.34 0.10
    France (2001) 0.21 3.4 0.49
    England/Wales (2002) 0.15 0.2 0.03
    Scotland (2002) 0.06 0.2 0.02
    Japan (2002) 0.02 0.04 0

    Data taken from Cukier and Sidel (2006) The Global Gun Epidemic. Praeger Security International. Westport.

    In a study of 65 high-profile multiple-victim shootings in the United States over a period of 40 years, 62% of handgun shootings and 71% of long gun shootings were committed with legally acquired firearms.* Similar studies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand confirm that most mass shootings are committed by perpetrators (98% of them male) who were lawfully entitled to possess the firearms used.

    * Where'd They Get Their Guns? An Analysis of the Firearms Used in High-Profile Shootings. Violence Policy Center. Washington DC, 2002

    One statistic that NO ONE can debate is that if guns had never been invented, there would have been be a lot fewer dead people down through the years.
    Twice in my life I have been the victim of a "violent crime". Once I stopped a teenager from obtaining alcohol when I informed a store clerk that I had seen a customer get money from the teen in the parking lot. When I left the store, the angry teen drove his vehicle straight at me and I had to jump out of the way. Police classified this as a "violent crime". The second was when I was working in a store and had someone shove me against a wall because I had to refuse his check. This too was classified as a "violent crime". As you can see, there is a big difference between a "violent crime" classification and a "gun" crime. As an emotional, hormone filled, tough guy young man (at the time), I look back and am thankful that I didn't have a gun.
    We can banter statistics back and forth all day (every day), but we're missing the point. This isn't a discussion about the benefits (or lack there of) of guns. No one is contemplating confiscating anyone's gun. No one is denying anyone the "right to bear arms". No one is doing an unauthorized search and seizure (at least not with regards to guns). All that we are talking about is KEEPING a law that already exists, and has for many years. A law that simply requires that guns be unloaded and stored while driving through an area with extremely low crime rates, and nothing to shoot at (legally). . A law that very few, if any, were complaining about before these Senators suggested changing it. A law that is strongly supported by current and retired National Park employees
    (who should know). I have several friends who hunt (I live in Montana). Not one says that this law has ever inconvenienced them in the least. Actually, I might not be so opposed to this change if they made the penalty for FIRING a gun (except in self defense AGAINST A HUMAN BEING) in a National Park, a mandatory felony with a very stiff (once again, mandatory) penalty. Say, ten years in prison and a hundred thousand dollar fine, for example. Under no circumstances would it be legal to shoot at, or kill, an animal. Or to fire the gun for any other reason whatsoever. Though I still think that this would put our rangers at unnecessary additional risk, I realize that compromise is sometimes required. A law abiding citizen shouldn't have any problem with these penalties.
    I'm not anti-gun. I think that gun ownership is a personal choice. Heck, I played Indians and Cowboys as a child (yes, even back then I was a leftist commie, and insisted on playing the Indian because I knew that they were the ones getting the shaft); I just outgrew it.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 30 weeks ago

    Easy Bob! No offense, just trying to make a point. Bob, just take a hard look at your local supermarkets, the shopping malls and parks...most Americans are horribly over weight...and out of shape! Why? I just assume for two basic reasons: diet and lack of a good exercise regimen. We have many allied medical professionals out there that warn us of a pending epidemic in the future of young folks that will be most prone to heart disease, diabetes and crippling orthopedic problems from being severely over weight. We need a full comprehensive physical fittest program on the national level to get this point across and put into place. Maybe we can start at the National Parks level and start breathing in some clean air and take in some good rugged hikes.
    In your case, I have compassion for your physical demise and I wish you well. It's that I'm really worried and deeply concerned about the lazy younger generation. Shouldn't we all?