Recent comments

  • Bear Grass in Glacier National Park   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Is it possible that Bear Grass still grows in the park with the same abundance as shown in the 1920's photograph??

    One(ME) has desirable wish that it still does!

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

    I want to let you all know that in addition to this article, I've also posted an introspective essay that looks not so much at the rally but rather the context of my meeting Buffalo Field Campaign again after so many years. I attended a rally in Washington, DC, in April 2002 (and actually again in 2003, but it was raining so hard, and I barely felt as though I was there). From April 2002 on, the world and my life became very different. It was both the most joyous time of my life and the most tumultuous, filled with the most failure.

    Between the place where those meet, I kept thinking about the buffalo and the paradox of the joy and the failure there. Where I tried to keep to the facts in the article above, this is a much richer, more defiant essay that shows where I am coming from and what has brought me to the place where the article above resides.

    Please read: Meeting up with Buffalo Field Campaign in Yellowstone: The paradox of joy and failure

    And, if anyone is interested in discussing activism against the hazing and slaughter of buffalo, this is a great thread to do so. More than complaining about NPS or discussing the ideological divide (for instance, I do not believe for a minute that the slaughter of buffalo has anything at all to do with brucellosis), I'm more interested in the kinds of things that will actually give buffalo room to roam.

    Thanks,

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

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

    Steve,

    That is one problem they could have. There's also issues like a declining middle class, changing family structures, etc...

    I don't know about any specific reports on adapting park management to the changing US population off the top of my head but I'm writing a dissertation that deals with the question of an aging population's effects on visitor experiences.

    E.

  • Memo to Mary: Call Julie Elmore   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Don't put down this study just because you have not read it. It is articulate and right on point.

    The Washington insiders asked her to come to a meeting, on a specific day, and at a specific time, She appeared, and they were gone. Maybe they were afraid their names were in it?

    Her study questions were very well received by current and former park employees, and don't sneeze at an education from Duke University, and a Master's thesis outlining some very important issues for the continuation of our environment.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt, sorry for butchering your name. Just to set the record straight as a CCP holder of the state of UT and having taken a course in Springville, UT at Rangemasters. I can tell you that they expressly make aware the gun laws and choice of private business owners to post their own gun rules. This has been enforced by all LDS church buildings and properties. This also includes the local movie theatre (i.e. Provo Towncenter Mall) for southern Provo, UT (Yes, they brought this specific incident up in our CCP class). You will be fined if you have a concealed weapon on "so-marked" private property. As a CCP holder I am even more careful than I would otherwise be to make sure I leave my gun in my car when entering such establishments.
    While attending the Circus (at the Delta Center) with my family a few years ago I was sent back to my car from the gate becuase they did no allow you to carry even if you had a CCP. I was griping about it with a deputy from the Sheriff's office while walking back to our cars. All he had to say was..."they better hope nothing happens to me or my family if they're goign to take the right to protect them away from me". The point remains that criminals will never obey silly laws. Hell criminals carry in parks now. This is just making sure that the government knows who the good guys are. All CCP holders are fingerprinted and given a background check. What else could you want?

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

    The cables as they are now, look dangerous to me. It looks like an adult could slip under them if they lose the grip. If I were to go up there I would use my VIA FERRATA harness I bought in Italy a few years back when we went climbing in the Dolomites on the via ferratas (exposed climbs with cables to hold on). A via ferrata harness has 2 ropes with carabiners that clip and unclip easily. You are always clipped in with one of the 2 clips, and you undo it only when youhave clipped in the other one in the next cable section. The via ferrata harness also has a "breakeing" system that absorbs an enormous amount of shock in case of a fall.

    It seems to me that the cable route at the Half Dome just invites trouble!

    Use a harness, people, or don't go!

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

    Excerpt From: http://www.yellowstoneparknet.com/articles/bison_2.php

    Montana will kill bison despite disease report
    Tests show that 82 percent of slaughtered buffalo not infected by brucellosis.
    By Rachel Odell, Jackson Hole News 12-23-99

    The Montana Department of Livestock will continue to kill bison that test positive for brucellosis antibodies despite evidence that the agency is killing scores of uninfected animals.
    Montana state veterinarian Arnold Gertonson said Monday that the Department of Livestock will continue to send bison that test positive to slaughter in an effort to eliminate the risk of brucellosis transmission to domestic livestock.

    Last week the National Veterinary Services Laboratory revealed results of tissue sampling of bison that had tested positive in the field and been sent to slaughter. The analysis showed that of 144 bison, 117 were not infected with brucellosis.

    That suggests that about 82 percent of the 1,189 bison killed in the past three years were not infected.

    Still the state will not alter its policy which calls for trapping bison that leave Yellowstone National Park, testing them for exposure to brucellosis and sending positive-testing ones to slaughter, Gertonson said. Montana operates under an interim bison management plan that will be in place until the National Park Service endorses a permanent plan. The Park Service is expected to release a final environmental impact statement on bison management this spring.

    Environmentalists and federal officials said the findings suggest the brucellosis field tests used on the bison are unreliable and encouraged the DOL to find alternatives to slaughter. Those tests search for brucellosis antibodies and cannot distinguish between a bison that is infected and one that has developed immunity, said Patrick Collins of the federal Animal Plant and Health Inspection Agency. To avoid killing uninfected bison, the DOL should focus more on flexible management that would keep the wild ungulates away from domestic ones, he said.

    "This raises some real concerns," Collins said. "It seems to suggest that the field test is maybe not the tool we should rely on completely. Not to say there is no risk, but it suggests we could be more flexible."

    Environmentalists were more adamant. The state agency has egregiously erred, at the expense of America's last free-roaming, wild buffalo herd, said Mike Clark, executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. "This is sad news and it confirms ... that Montana's Department of Livestock is killing buffalo unnecessarily," he said. "If you consider that 1,189 Yellowstone buffalo have been killed in the past three winters, this science, coming from the best lab in the country, indicates that as many as 966 of those buffalo died without ever posing a risk to cattle."

    Gertonson defended Montana, saying that although 117 buffalo tissue samples tested negative, the animals could have still been infected. Collins from APHIS said the DOL was skirting the issue. "They are being a little disingenuous," he said. "It is clear that bison need to be managed and we are not suggesting we don't manage. But we can manage effectively without lethal control."
    APHIS has proposed to Montana governor Marc Racicot to aid the state in getting away from killing bison and has offered to pay expenses and to intercede if other states threaten to boycott Montana livestock, Collins said.

    "Unfortunately we cannot get Montana to cooperate in good faith," Collins said.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    I agree that emotion can play a part in any debate around matters of individual freedom, death, etc. That is why it is always best to avoid grappling with these issues in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy. I guess the impulse to wag a finger in someone's face, rightly or wrongly, is just too much for some people.

    In survival school you are taught to make a plan first. If you follow this rule, once you become exhausted, hungry and emotional you will have a plan that was laid out when you were rested, calm and rational. I think this makes sense when it comes to legislation as well.

    Attempting to spin the actions of a mentally ill individual into an argument against sane, law abiding citizens being allowed the right to defend themselves just seems cynical and irrational to me.

    I will not get into whether the media is biased. I think that if you reflected on that question honestly, you would have to admit that it is. Here is a link to a book review at the Virginia Tech website. You might want to read it.

    http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/story.php?relyear=2006&itemno=644

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Art,

    I spent 14 years with The Associated Press. From my experience mainstream media does not have an agenda, hidden or otherwise, to minimize the facts.

    JoeSF,

    I find it odd that you would hand out a "cheap shot" award for reporting the news. And yes, the Interior Department's decision is news, just as the university shooting is. Would you also hand out a "cheap shot" award to the many pro-gun commenters who have seized on the killing not too long ago of a young woman in a national forest in the Southeast to buttress their arguments?

    Frankly, both your comments drive home the very point that I was trying to make with this post:

    This is an emotionally charged debate, one that there doesn't currently appear to be a logical solution to -- there are countless Americans who believe they should be allowed to carry a weapon wherever they go, and just as many who find that appalling.

    To find the national parks -- places of incredible beauty, poignant history, and even the cauldron of our country's birth -- the latest battleground for this issue shouldn't please anyone.

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

    From what I have read the bacterium Brucella abortus came to Yellowstone NP around 1917 and now infects a significant fraction of the Yellowstone bison. For the bison it seems to produce little illness or disability. In fact the symptoms in cattle are pretty mild but does cause some infected cows to abort and therefore slow down their milk production. Of course for the low profit margin in raising beef, this is a concern. The brucellosis free designation of Montana cattle means they can ship them outside the state without the quarantine step (expensive.)
    Yes, it is theoretical that bison can transmit brucellosis in the wild. It has happened in captivity when cattle and bison were kept in close captivity, but a cow would have to be licking the afterbirth material from a bison within 48 hours of birth.
    Then what about Yellowstone's one hundred thousand elk, most of which also carry B. abortus? There have been documented cases from Wyoming and Idaho of elk transmitting B. abortus to cattle. Of course Montana receives lots of the almighty dollar from elk hunters.
    The Interagency Bison Management Plan allows up to one hundred B. abortus free bison to roam outside Yellowstone's western and northern boundaries. Any bison that can not be chased back into Yellowstone and elude capture for testing are shot. I believe this plan is just to pacify the ranchers and fog the greater issue that the Montana has no tolerance for bison outside Yellowstone's boundaries.
    Some of the Yellowstone bison are altitudinal migratory critters. especially during heavy snowfall winters when the larger slaughters get attention. Bison do not pay much attention to boundaries or even to being chased by helicopters, snowmobiles, all terrain vehicles and humans on horseback so most of these are murdered.
    All animals (even humans) are born to roam. Stifling this freedom is counterproductive to the preservation of and will result in Our NP's becoming nothing more than micromanaged “wild” animal parks and zoos. Lets give them room to roam.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Frank and Kurt get the cheap shot award for using this tragedy to support their absurd claims of constitution change. Steven Kazmierczak had a history of mental illness. He wore tattoos of violent images from movies. By the reasoning of people like Frank and Kurt the amendments that allowed the movies and video games that influenced Steven should also be brought into question. So should the amendment that allowed him to live in our midst. What about all of those who think mental illness should be a private matter because their patients are stigmatized?
    This was a terrible tragedy. As far as its relevance to gun control in the parks issues, universities in 9 states are now considering allowing licensed carry on their campuses by professors and students.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    You write, "... when was the last time you heard of someone with a concealed weapon, someone who wasn't a security guard or off-duty police officer, step forward in such a situation?"

    In December 2007, only months ago, Jeanne Assam shot and killed Matthew Murray after he began shooting people at the New Life Church in Colorado. The media misreported that she was a "security guard" for the church. She was not. She was a former a police officer from Minneapolis who had a gun in her purse.

    In January 2002, two students stopped a gunman at Appalachian School of Law after he had killed 3 people and injured 3 more. The media, at the time, failed to report that he had been stopped by students using their private 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 almost all such cases the media makes a point of not reporting the use of firearms to stop or prevent violence. It doesn't fit their anti-gun narrative. That is why you can't remember the last time you heard about of such an occurrence. This type of agenda driven journalism leaves the public with the impression that firearms = violence.

    Mentally ill people don't require firearms to kill. Richard Speck killed 8 student nurses with a knife. Jeffery Dahmer tortured and murdered 17 men and boys, killing them with a knife before cutting up their bodies. John Wayne Gacy strangled 33 people with a rope.

    At the time, no one on the left cried out for knife or rope "control". I'm sure that after more such incidents you and others will want to outlaw all sharp objects. No doubt making, "running with scissors" a felony.

    It's interesting that you would reopen this thread following the tragedy at North Illinois University. I guess that you, like the leftist New York Times, thought that it could be exploited to silence your critics. Sorry, while surrender may be second nature on the left, it is not in our vocabulary.

  • Cycling at Haleakala National Park Given "High Risk" Rating   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Richard, it's not always about safety concerns. The issues might be physical ability (how many visitors are able to ride up Haleakala in order to ride down?) and even logistics (for the majority who can't ride up, how do they get bikes up to the top, and for that matter, where do they rent bikes with good, well-maintained brakes?). Car rental contracts on the Big Island usually prohibit their cars to be driven over Saddle Road. If commercial downhill rides were banned on Haleakala, I'm guessing that Maui bike rental operations would similarly forbid their bikes on the volcano.

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

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

    The risks people are taking aren't just risks to themselves. I've seen people panic on steep trails before, grabbing at the hands of passing strangers. If you want to conquer your fear of heights, do it somewhere that you won't put others' lives at risk in the process. They should definitely limit it to a certain number of climb permits issued for each day, but how do you certify people? You can check their shoes, supplies, etc, but to really be sure they're capable mentally and physically, maybe a little ropes course way up high? Or maybe they start rating trails in all the national parks, and rather than just having certification at the difficult places, you have certification courses available at a lot of parks... then when you want to climb, you just show your card, which could be black/blue/green (like ski trails) and have a number to indicate skill level. If you don't have a black card, you can't climb black trails, etc.

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

    I believe the "fools" are already carrying loaded weapons in the National Parks. Laws such as this one don't keep lawbreakers from breaking laws (see the "war on drugs" for an example). This law will affect the law biding citizens who don't carry because it's illegal; these are the same folks who don't rob a liquor store because it's wrong and illegal. Those you are concerned about (justifiably) don't care about the law.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Well, I see that, just as is the case of most mass shootings, all of the weapons used at NIU were legally obtained. Guns are just tools, gun advocates tell us. They sure are, I say. Tools of death. Guns don't kill people, they say, people kill people. Wonder how many folks would have died if that fellow had stepped out onto that stage with a couple of baseball bats? Wonder how much better things would have been if all the students and faculty in that hall had been armed, and bullets had been flying every which way?
    Gun advocates tell us that, if bad guys know that everyone is (or may be) armed, they will think twice about using a gun in a crime. What they don't realize is that people who use guns in this manner don't care if they die. Indeed, they often kill themselves, as this fellow did.
    Tell the parents, grandparents, siblings and friends of those who lost their lives all about the second amendment.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I am not sure what prompted this desire to permit folks to bring in concealed guns. The parks have allowed firearms ,broken down,. There are plenty of folks who will be reminded to bring their guns if this law passes. The seasonal staff at most parks has been cut back . I find it pretty expectable that one stressed out camper after another will aim a gun at someone over some campground issue or take it with them when they head over to the dark bathrooms in middle of the night. The seasonal law enforcement rangers , yes have their training/commission yet I can imagine that as firearm incidents rise that a kind of change will need to occur about staff qualifications, years of experience. I would suspect that in time the flavor so to speak of what kind of person wants to work in the park might change. I spent 9-10 yr. in National Parks.. working as a seasonal commissioned Law enforcement ranger for many of those years. I doubt I would have done the commmissioned L.E> route if campers were flashing their weapons.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Dave, as I read Utah law, while the mall could post a sign saying it was a "gun-free zone," that by itself does not prevent those with concealed carry permits from entering:

    "... the only statutory restrictions on a permit holder are secured areas such as airports and federal buildings."

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Kurt, you fail to mention the Trolley Square Mall is a gun-free zone. No law-abiding citizen would have been carrying a gun in the mall. The off-duty officer was from Ogden, not Salt Lake City, and unless specifically allowed by local law, was violating the gun-free zone.

    Here in Wisconsin we had a young deputy shoot 6 young adults last fall before killing himself. That does not prove that all police officers are gun-toting lunatics.

    I would like the ability to carry a weapon out in the back country. I would pray my wife and I never need it, as we do with our first aid kit, PLB, etc. I have legally carried an encased and unloaded pistol in my backpack on non-national park land. It didn't jump out and shoot anyone. When I go out on our own land I usually carry a weapon just in case I encounter a rabid or otherwise aggresive animal. Maybe someday police officers and park rangers can "beam in" to protect people at a moment's notice. Maybe someday we can have an Orwellian society where we can know ahead of time what a person is planning and stop them before they do it. Until then we will each be responsible for our own safety.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Joel,

    For starters, it's "Kurt."

    Biased view? I think I've mellowed over the years;-) I quite correctly pointed out that this is an emotionally charged issue, one that folks can't agree on, and lamented the fact that the national parks have been dragged into the fray.

  • University Shooting Doesn't Bring A Halt to Interior Department's Review of Weapons Ban in Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    At least you don't have a biased view right Kirk? LOL, why is it that the difficulty of carrying a concealed weapon or the stigma associated and created by media types isn’t to blame for their only being an "off-duty cop" who was carrying a weapon. That same off duty cop, under current gun laws, is under the same restrictions in National Parks anyone else who has a state mandated carrying privilege is. (i.e. If he was in a National Park and the same event happened….it would have been worse.) I know you would love to label everyone with a gun but the reality is that “off-duty cop” is a human being just like anyone else who trains or gets the proper education warranted by the state. Just because you can call him an off-duty cop doesn’t make him a super human. In Utah there is still less than a 3% chance of you having an individual who has a concealed carry permit. Only 1 in 10 of that 3% actively carries. You're still arguing the point about gun control amongst a population of negligible proportion.

  • Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on America's National Parks?   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Can we bring back Teddy Roosevelt ?

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

    Frank N, your quote "ALL THAT MATTERS IS ME" is slightly bent on the egotistical me-me generation, if not hell bent on pure selfishness. Maybe you can re-clarify your statement for me. What matters to me now, is the holistic sharing and caring about the parks and the general environment by us all...young and old! The failure to educate more young people and it's valuable virtues of the wilderness experience, is to me a national disgrace. I pity those who mock the rugged individualist who conquers fear, laziness and blazes the wilderness trails, and let's it become a learning experience to share. Yank these soft kids out of the stone cold malls and throw them into the wilderness, and start putting some rugged tissue (rid the baby fat) on there bodies for change, and have them develop some backbone.

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

    Steve, I'd be interested in reading the whole report, too, if you can find it (or a link).

    "To defrauded town toilers, parks in magazine articles are like pictures of bread to the hungry. I can write only hints to incite good wanderers to come to the feast.... A day in the mountains is worth a mountain of books." -- John Muir

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

    Erik wrote:

    wonder if they attempted taking the demographic changes the US has experienced into account in their models.

    By demographic changes, do you mean the decline of caucasians as majority, or something else?

    Somewhere I have a link to the work of an entire team of sociologists the NPS had working on how to adapt park management to the changing U.S. demographic makeup. I know they've invested a lot of study into this question.
    __________
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    10-minute weekly documentaries to help you appreciate our wild public lands.
    A 501c3 non-profit project of Earth Island Institute.