Recent comments

  • Happy New Year from the Traveler!   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I echo the sentiments: thanks for all the work around Traveler. You do a great job with the site, it's definitely on my own "most viewed" list. Have a happy New Year. :-)


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    How sad and cynical to feel that the only way one can be "safe" in the world is to carry the ability to harm or kill another person.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I applaud the Brady Campaign for leading the opposition to another unnecessary ruling that was so obviously created to politically placate the gun owners lobby.
    Jim Brady, himself a victim of gun violence, did not give in to fear as a result of the assault he suffered. He did not join the Libertarian-ruled gun-owners lobby (a morally and politically courageous choice) to create for himself a false sense of safety in what had become for him a dangerous world. He and his organization seek and support SENSIBLE gun laws and legislation.

    The logistics of allowing legal carry of a loaded firearm in a National Park Service site (with it's many public access Federal buildings, and individual State carry laws to be considered) will add too much to the already over-worked protection Rangers plateful of responsibilities. And THAT reality will undermine the safety of our parks. It just doesn't make sense to create multiple additional responsibilities for these fine Rangers that are already spread too thin.
    The Bush Administration knew this, or at least Kempthorne and Bomar did, that's why they waited until the final hour to push this ruling through.

    It just amazes me that the members of the gun owners lobby, usually a very independent and politically astute community, cannot see this new ruling for what it is. The only reason Kempthorne, President Bush, et al. created this ruling was to try and build a little political capitol for the Republican Party while it still could. That's what I call a political agenda.
    The NRA may have taken on the issue of legal loaded gun carry in the National Parks back in 2003, but the current administration didn't touch it until the last few weeks of their time in power. Doesn't that tell us something? Or is the gun owner lobby ignoring this slight just because we think we're finally getting our way?
    Face the reality: even President Bush and his political cronies, Libertarians in Republican Clothing each and every one of them, wouldn't support the "I'll take my loaded gun anywhere I damn well please" trend until they could do so in hit-and-run fashion. Because they realized that in a larger socio-political sense, the legal right to take a loaded legal weapon anywhere and everywhere we please just doesn't make logical sense for our parks , our communities, or our nation.

    It also amazes me how so many comments we read concerning this issue (on this blog and elsewhere) have an unspoken undercurrent of racism. And so far I appear to be the only reader of this blog to mention it.
    Let's all be very careful when we compare Big City gun owners to Country gun owners, because this comparison carries with it multiple levels of sociological factors (such as economic stratification, civil equality and justice, and political manipulation/exploitation of communities) that must all be addressed and throughly discussed.
    For instance, how do so many guns get into the hands of "gun-gamers" in the Big City? Where does that supply chain start? What messages are Big City residents getting from the media that tell them guns are the only way to exercise power in their lives? Why do the Big City residents feel so powerless in our society? What economic factors are at play? Why do those economic factors exist?
    It's just too easy to rely on simplistic comparisons of City vs. Country (another way of saying Liberal vs. Conservative) when discussing the issue of lawful gun carry, and the resulting conclusions of such a simplistic comparison are potentially very very racist.

    Ultimately I guess I'm just old-fashioned. Adjusting to change can be good when warranted for the betterment of the whole.... but I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    The National Parks have managed to survive without allowing legal carry of loaded firearms for DECADES. And the millions of visitors that pass through their gates every year continue to enjoy their visits despite the absence of a legal rationalization for having a loaded gun tucked into their belts while they look at the birds and the bees.
    Why change that? Just so the Republican Party can politically placate a relatively small portion of the population that feels their "rights" are being infringed upon?
    There are no violations of societal civil rights involved in this specific issue. This ruling doesn't make sense for society as a whole, and and for the National Park Service in particular. To support a political agenda of so few at the expense of violating the democratic principles upon which our country was built just doesn't make sense.

  • Happy New Year from the Traveler!   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Kurt, Bob, Jim, et al-

    Thanks for all your hard work! I'm in awe of the steady stream of well-written articles on this site. Thanks also to those readers who take time to comment. Whether I agree or not, the various posts are usually informative & sometimes challenging. Happy New Year to all!

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    As I have posted before on this topic, guns are not the one's to blame for crimes. It is the illegal type people that will carry and use them that makes crimes with guns a problem. I have been in law enforcement and do not have a problem with people carrying a firearm to protect themselves. I me I do that it will make the Rangers jobs a little more difficult, but it is a law abiding citizens right to carry a firearm for protection. I am currently in Great Smoky Mountains NP and have been hiking all over the park, haven't needed a firearm yet, but would feel alot more safe and secure if I had one with me. A law abiding citizen will not be one of the people you have to worry about carrying, hence the fact they are the one's who actually have permits and usually years of training in the use of firearms. As with alot of the NP's, there are alot of illegal activities within the park lands across the country, including drugs, alcohol...and etc. I know here there are several thousand acres that people use to grow marijuana and area's that people use to make moonshine in homemade stills. So if you think the NP's are free from illegal types of people than you need to think again. As for me, if I run into some of these people, I want to be able to protect myself at least somewhat. I know they will do the same to protect the locations of their illegal activities.

  • Wanted: Expert on Lassen Volcanic National Park   6 years 21 weeks ago

    On pages 4 and 5 of the winter 2008/2009 park newspaper there are a number of snowshoe and cross country ski tour suggestions on beginners, intermediate and advanced level in both parts of the park. Those who never have been to Lassen in winter should know that the center part of the park road is closed, so there are essentially two separate parts of the park. From most parts of California, the southwestern part is easier to reach than the northern part around Manzanita Lake.

    For total beginners I would recommend the guided tour. It should be short and fun and kind of a trial whether snow shoe hiking is something you enjoy. For a first tour on your own, Ridges Lake sounds good but I have been there only in summer. The distance is about 2.5 miles (round trip) which is possible for physically fit beginners, it is not too steep but a challenge and I imagine the bowl around the lake to look spectacular in snow. Ask the rangers for the conditions regarding avalanches and advice on routes, Lassen is alpine country and you should be aware of dangers.

  • Pruning the Parks: The $100 Million National Visitor Center Fiasco   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Kurt, it seems only reasonable to expect a little ambiance at Union Station. After the Park Service finished pouring $100 million down the National Visitor Center rathole, Congress enacted the Union Station Redevelopment Act of 1981 and by 1988 an additional $160 million was spent on a three-year project to "restore Union Station to its former glory." I don't know about you, Kurt, but I'd enjoy my Starbucks a hell of a lot more during a Union Station visit if I didn't know that it cost over a quarter of a billion dollars to make that building a going concern again.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    You should notice that the Chief factotum of the Brady Bunch, Paul Helmke, specifically says "allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks". There is absolutely nothing in the regulation change that says anything about "semiautomatic" but it's a key buzz word around the anti-gun set designed to strike fear in the general populace. All the statistics show that concealed carry permit holders (the only ones allowed to carry under the new rule" have been involved in virtually zero criminal activity. Also, look at the statistics for violent crimes in National Parks and Monuments which has been constantly escalating and you'll see that they aren't nearly the safe haven that the anti-gunners make them out to be.

  • Update: Will a “Chop and Drop” Strategy Rescue the Presidio’s Contemporary Art Museum Project?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Mr Janiskee,

    The Fisher proposal for the Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio (CAMP) includes rehabilitation of a 48,000 sf historic baracks building, one of the iconic "Montgomery Street Barracks." It would accommodate both "back of house" museum functions and public art programs.

    Tia Lombardi
    Director of Public Affairs
    The Presidio Trust

  • Pruning the Parks: The $100 Million National Visitor Center Fiasco   6 years 21 weeks ago

    And they serve up some of the best brews in the city next door at Capitol City Brewery; it's in the old post office.

  • Pruning the Parks: The $100 Million National Visitor Center Fiasco   6 years 21 weeks ago

    During a recent, temporary, two-year stint my wife spent in Washington, with an apartment a few blocks from Union Station, I got to know this structure well enough to get through it.

    Though not as grand as Grand Central Station in that fair metropolis to the north, I've found Union Station to be quite pleasant as a jumping off point for the Metro, for a jolt of Joe or piece of Danish when you're passing through, or for tacky D.C. memorabilia.

    True, it's probably not as grand or as pertinent as it was a century ago, but it's a place that should be treasured nonetheless.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Park rangers are law enforcement professionals who, as a part of their job, are required to put themselves into possibly confrontational situations. Hopefully, as a park visitor, you are not doing that.
    Please note that the Supreme Court in their decision specifically stated that nothing in that decision should be construed to prevent reasonable restrictions on guns (presumably airports, federal buildings etc.......why not federal land/parks?) Further, nothing in the current (previous?) law prohibited the possession of a firearm in a National Park, only the possession, and ready availability, of a LOADED firearm. Also there is no way of knowing whether the make up of the Court will be the same if and when such a case would come up.
    As I said above, its not like the whole National Park thing is a new concept. We have 72 years of gun free experience that has worked. Some time ago Kurt published violent crime statistics for the National Parks. I suggest you look them up. Pretty impressive. You are far safer in a National Park without a gun than you are just about anywhere else with one (or a dozen)!
    I do agree that "gun gamers" will stay where they have their fun-alleys/streets/cities etc. That just proves my point. We don't all need to be packing to protect ourselves from a nonexistent threat.
    I disagree that "little will change" if guns are allowed. Perhaps on the surface, but underneath rangers jobs will become just a little more complicated: checking permits, knowing state laws, carrying a gps and trying to determine which state they are in (some parks), trying to enforce building restrictions and knowing that ANYONE they confront may well be packing heat. The atmosphere for visitors will change as they feel a little less of that sense that Parks are a special place; as they look at one another, and are looked upon by rangers, with just a little more aprehension. Visitors may well find that rangers are fingering their holsters, or perhaps even drawing their weapons a bit more frequently. The changes may be subtle, but they will be there.

  • What's Driving All The Shaking At Yellowstone National Park?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Lynn Berk quotes Wilder (?):

    "I realize everybody has to die. I just didn't think I was going to be one of them..."

    Yeah - what he said!

    And don't forget, we should all live so obnoxiously long as to one day lament; "If I'd known I was going to live for so incredibly long, I'd have started earlier & worked harder on more of those health-recommendations I knew about all along!" ;-)

  • What's Driving All The Shaking At Yellowstone National Park?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Kurt admires the line:

    "We are all going to die..."

    Hey, wait a minute! Isn't that anthropogenic global warming?!

    Death by run-away CO2 greenhousing ... "To hell with the dilithium crystals, gimme all you got, Scotty! - we're heading over the TIPPING POINT!!!"

    Yeah, I think it was something like that. ;-)

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Frank N. said:

    "We have 72 years worth of evidence proving that they are not needed."

    Washington D.C. had several decades of 'getting away with' essentially the same thing the Parks scammed on. D.C. vs Heller shows pretty clear where this is going. It's doubtful in my mind that the Brady action was ever intended to actually achieve anything (it sounds more like a publicity stunt), but if it does gain traction up through the Courts, then the likely outcome is that in place of a Dept. of Interior ruling allowing concealed carry, there will instead be a new pro-Second Amendment Supreme Court ruling alongside D.C. vs Heller on the shelf.

    I'm going to say something here that ought to be a higher-profile part of the debate, and does play somewhat into Frank N.'s comment: There is a far-bigger gun-problem in the cities, than there is in the countryside ... and somewhat similarly, there is also less of a gun-problem in the Parks (and non-Park wilderness settings), than there is in the countryside.

    These different levels of 'bad-behavior' between city, country, and deep-boondocks, I will submit reflect the actual cultural values, and a related consideration I'll call 'cultural value expectations' that exist between these 3 sub-sections of society.

    For people to display or embrace gun 'crap' that is popular in the cities, will tend to earn them deep approbation in most rural districts. Instead of gaining cultural standing by farting around with guns, as people do in urban settings, gun show-offs take a heavy hit in their social ranking by 'pulling that kind of crap' among rural peers.

    And, it's true; Frank N. is right: hogwash gun-behavior is even scarcer, way off up in the mountains & days back into the brush. (I'll avoid the muddy cases of trailhead parking lots and blow-out party campgrounds etc ... which I think actually reinforce the basic point I'm making.)

    There is a big role in these 3 cases for not only what people do in the respective settings, but what they came here and are expected to do. For people who are looking to show off with a gun, the Parks are inadequate because there simply is neither the 'audience', nor - even more important - the fellow game-players with whom to interact.

    Or look at it another way: D.C. had the most draconian gun-ban in the nation ... and they had wall-to-wall gun-gaming. Most rural regions have the most wide-open gun-rules, and use, yet they have a decent safety record, and very little of the show-off nonsense and outright blood-sports that runs up the statistics in cities.

    And ya know what? Gun-gamers will stay where they have their fun - on the streets & sidewalks (bars n' alleys, crack-houses n' gangs, etc) - and very little will change in the Parks.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Frank N,

    If guns aren't needed in parks, then why do law enforcement rangers carry guns?

  • What's Driving All The Shaking At Yellowstone National Park?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Well, Kurt, that part at least is true. We ARE all going to die. I THINK it was Thornton Wilder (I could be wrong) who has (roughly translated) on his tombstone: "I realize everybody has to die. I just didn't think I was going to be one of them..." And I wonder how long it will be before that television special runs again. Maybe tonight? You KNOW they're going to capitalize on this big one. But on the more serious side...I don't want Jellystone to blow up.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Hopefully this lawsuit means a return to sanity. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, in that guns have not been allowed at least since 1936 and parks have consistently had extremely low violent crime rates. Regarding protecting oneself and family from attacking animals, you have a far greater chance of being struck by lightening or being injured in a car accident while visiting the park. A conceled weapon is unlikely to be of much use in a sudden and unexpected bear mauling in any case. The second amendment arguement doesn't fly either, unless one wishes to argue that guns should be allowed in Federal buildings (BTW, be sure to leave that conceled weapon in the car or RV when you go into the Visitor Center), airports and schools. Only the most radical gun proponents would want that, I think.
    Good for the Brady Campaign. Hopefully they only need an injuction until January 20. Although the new Interior guy, Salazar, feels that guns should be allowed in Parks (I've read), hopefully he would find himself overruled on this one. We have 72 years worth of evidence proving that they are not needed.

  • What's Driving All The Shaking At Yellowstone National Park?   6 years 21 weeks ago


    Thanks for pointing to your newspaper. There definitely are some bizarre posts out there in cyberspace. I particularly liked the one titled, "We are all going to die..."

    I wonder if there's going to be a run on DVDs of Supervolcano?

  • What's Driving All The Shaking At Yellowstone National Park?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    There are a lot of apocalyptic blog posts appearing at this news, and my newspaper (link below my name) has had an incredible spike in unique visitors since this story broke. I haven't had this many since the peak of tourist and fire season.

    Pretty amazing -- a lot of the blog posts are extremely amusing to me, and so I've posted a lot of them.

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

  • Senators Pushing To Allow Concealed Weapons in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Your statistic "crimes of passion by pissed off drunks and other bodily injuries directly attributable to the card carrying (and other) gun owners of our land. " is simply not true. Those types of crimes are commited by people not legally carrying a weapon. Please get your facts straight before you start spouting that off. There are very very few incidents of people licensed to carry being involved in shootings at all, and even less where any criminal behavior is involved.

    Your arguments show a serious lack of maturity as well. "Keep that stupid machine away..." wow you sound intelligent. Please if you are going to be involved in this kind of a discussion be an adult about it. Not a deliquent.

    I would encourage you to show me any specific instance where a legal concealed weapon carrier illegally used his weapon to shoot someone or something in public. Good luck, you will need it.

    Thanks for your input, it was not useful or tasteful, nor did it argue your point very well. Please review some tips on debating before speaking again.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    I'm torn. I hate to see the serenity of our national parks disturbed by violence but the fact is people who should not bring weapons into those parks or anywhere else will continue to do so. As the victim of an extremely violent home burglary while my husband was having heart surgery, I don't really feel safe anywhere anymore. I want the right to protect myself.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    Frank C.,

    Nice catch & point, Frank. If what we do in the Park had to be "safe", lotta folks just have to pack it up 'n go somplace else, huh?!

    How big an inventory of harebrained 'recreations' can we compile? ... in a single breath, just to make it interesting.

    It was just time for Brady to generate a spot of publicity - that's all. Part of their budget-deployment. This "lawsuit" is mostly puffery & daytime Hollywood TV.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   6 years 21 weeks ago

    The basic (legally fatal) weakness of arguments by gun-opponents that we do not "need" weapons in Parks, that Parks are "safe", etc, is that the Constitution does not qualify the Second Amendment with the requirement that a threat be present before the right to be armed kicks in.

    The Second Amendment makes no distinction between going into a safe or dangerous part of the City, makes no distinction between terrain infested by man-eating bears & tigers, and terrain that is totally subdued and suitable for babes on picnic-blankets. But that is what the no-guns-in-Parks fallacy asserts: "Parks are safe! You do not need a gun, ergo, you cannot have a gun!".

    The Second Amendment stands on identical functional & structural footing as the First Amendment: You have the right to free speech, free press, and religion - period. Any exceptions to the rule are exactly that, and each abridgement of the right (yelling "Fire!" in the theater) has to bear the burden of establishment.

    We have a few points of limitation on Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Redress of Grievances, but that is the word to focus on: "Points", not limitation. Exceptions to the basic rule are primarily about finding & defining a "point", not primarily about finding & aggrandizing a "limitation".

    We do not tolerate broad, sweeping, institutional modifications of the First Amendment. Anyone who seeks to establish limitations in broad strokes, to use the proviso of limitations to erode or chip away at the Right, is booed off the American stage, and quite rightly so.

    The application of the Second Amendment works the same way. We aren't going to have High Schools seething with hormones & packin' heat - too crazy. We aren't going to have irate citizens stomping into the local Federal Building or Courtroom to express themselves with the family deer-rifle. Etc. There are limitations ... but there has to be a damn good & solid reason for limiting the right to be armed. That Parks are safe, ain't even close to such a reason.

    The plain & forthright truth of the situation is, the bulk of opposition to guns in Parks is simply for the most part opposition to guns, period. (I know, there are some hunters who also oppose guns in Parks - read the qualifiers!) As such, they are alarmed to see any setback of their general Liberal opposition to firearms & the armed citizen. Most of the rhetoric against guns in Parks is plain ol' grasping at straws in service to an engrained bias ... against guns.

    I know, and plenty of us realize, that for many years in the United States it has been the common (and liberal-media-promoted) perception that the notion of an armed citizenry is really just too old-fashioned, too inappropriate in modern society, and that the steady erosion & dissipation of the Right was a matter of 'good-riddance'.

    It is plain, people, that the tide has changed ... or that the Judiciary had watched this seedy little soap-opera long enough. We in this Nation have the Right to be armed, on equal footing with the Right to free speech, etc. That's the reality & truth of it ... Parks n' all.

  • Update: Will a “Chop and Drop” Strategy Rescue the Presidio’s Contemporary Art Museum Project?   6 years 21 weeks ago

    The Presidio Trust is given far more latitude than your typical national park management entity -- perhaps not least because it is under Congressional orders to be financially self supporting by 2013.