Recent comments

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Just a question because I'm curious (and perhaps because I suspect this issue is a red herring), does anyone know what the Park Service does to enforce the current gun regulations? Is there actually active enforcement?

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

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 weeks ago

    As a National Park Ranger with over 30 year's experience, I can tell you conclusively that allowing the possession of readily-available firearms by all park visitors is a bad idea. While some people who have training in the use of firearms might be qualified to have them at hand, the reality is that most people don't. Any idiot without a criminal record (and some who do--at some gun shows) can purchase a gun. Another reality is that some park visitors are idiots when they get out of their urban environments. Rangers are called to the scene of many drunken fights every year, especially in campgrounds in the recreation areas. More of these would now end in gunplay instead of fisticuffs. When the first fool starts banging away at a campground bear with his new .22, we can only hope the bear wins, and the fool doesn't hit a kid in the next campsite.

    Joel, above, is typical of people who wn't listen to reason. All the logic in the world is not key enough to unlock a closed mind. It's just unfortunate that we presently have a Secretary of the Interior from Idaho and 47 gutless Senators who are afraid to cross the NRA.

  • Olympic National Park Entrance Fees to Stay Unchanged Through 2009   6 years 31 weeks ago

    If you are a citizen of the US, one should not pay a penny for parks. Do like other countries do...charge the tourist and forgieners an arm and a let and let the citizens in almost free. I was just in East fee $50.00 per day for the parks..the locals fee 50 cents. I was in Russia and I paid $20.00 for the ballet..the locals paid 20 cents. I was in Oregon once and the Oregonian paid less that the out of state visitors for the camp grounds. I hope this has changed. It really irratated me...ripping off your fellow states.
    Doesn't our Government know that there is a recession going on? Let people at least enjoy our parks. We pay taxes and this should go towards supporting our parks.
    I wish someone would take the time to look into the above

  • Olympic National Park Entrance Fees to Stay Unchanged Through 2009   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Hey Lee, I hear you. The Park Service's proposed 08 budget is over $2 billion.

    If you search through the "Plight of the Parks" subcategory you'll find lots of posts concerning entrance fees and the battles over them.

    As for seniors, the parks basically are free -- a $10 lifetime pass for those 62 and older. Americans with disabilities qualify for a free lifetime pass. No breaks for military that I know of.

  • NPS Retirees Oppose Carrying Guns in National Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 31 weeks ago

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


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

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

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

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

  • Olympic National Park Entrance Fees to Stay Unchanged Through 2009   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Park History: Grand Teton National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Growing by 42 Acres   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

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

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

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


    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Bush Administration Plan to Remove Wolf Protections Draws Criticism   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Rangers Association Points Out Flaws In Secretary Kempthorne's Weapons Logic   6 years 31 weeks ago

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

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 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 31 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 31 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 31 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 31 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.).