Recent comments

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Very tragic news.

    If the numbers are correct, the AP is reporting today (link) that the number of bison killed this winter will soon be at an all time high when bison captured yesterday are killed. That number is 1,090, or approximately 23% of all the buffalo that were alive this fall. What's the really bad news is that the total could easily rise by as many as 700 this winter if that many bison go west or north of the park. And, even after the magic 3,000 number is reached, bison will still face hazing and then testing to exposure to brucellosis.

    In Bozeman, we're having a teach-in on this issue and beginning to organize grassroots efforts in solidarity with Buffalo Field Campaign. That teach-in is March 26 at 7 PM at the Procrastinator Theater. The teach-in features a film documenting the buffalo slaughter in recent years and a discussion with Mike Mease of Buffalo Field Campaign. The goal is not simply educational, however. The goal is to begin organizing a group of people interested in this and other issues in Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley. Part of that is solidarity with Buffalo Field Campaign.

    Full information of the announcement can be found at http://bozemanactivist.wordpress.com.

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

  • Would a Change in Gun Laws Be a Threat to National Park Bears?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    It's not the bear or animal I fear, it's the two legged critters who want to do me harm. 99% of people who legally pack a weapon are very nice, respectable and law abiding. They are not hot heads, ready to start a shootout like some of the liberals claim. The weapon is a last resort to protect your life, and I hope the law is changed to allow concealed carry in National Parks, just crossing a border from a state to a federal property does not make me want to become a criminal, the law does.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I'm with Anon and Kath. Some of the Parks I want to visit have backcountry so far "back" that they're probably not visited by Park Rangers more than once or twice per season. I might be illegal when I carry my gun, but i"m going to carry it.

  • Clinton, McCain, Obama Answer Questions on National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Snowbird06
    After hearing Hillary and seeing her dirty tactics in the democratic primaries, I don't put much trust in her handling the NPS affairs with much credibility.
    It looks like her true personality is starting to show: that being, an unethical women with substandard values! I believe that Obama will and can reflect a more open door policy in implementing a better and stronger image of the National Park Service with proper funding and management. He appears more compassionate and understanding towards protecting the environment, even more so then the other candidates...and he listens!

  • Park History: Channel Islands National Park   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Snowbird06
    Thanks Rick! Plan to take my daughter and her husband. One quick question, what time of year is the best time to visit... for the optimum experience? Your personal choice!

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Good point, Anon. The same could be said for Organ Pipe Cactus. The cross-border human and drug smuggling is very bad there. It's a no-go park for the average traveler.

  • Clinton, McCain, Obama Answer Questions on National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I would like to have them address a very specific question such as; How would your administration handle the issue of snowmobile access in Yellowstone?

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    For once an honest response, I'm not posting my name this time because I am probably over trained and over armed. I am going to be illegal in national parks until they the laws are changed. I travese the roads on the border states and experience smugglers. I avoid them, but you can only do so much. Big Bend Nat'l Park is ignored as a drug import area and yet you can drive across the border in some places. Wonder why I carry loaded weapons? This was edited to remove a superfluous derogatory comment aimed at others.

  • Park History: Channel Islands National Park   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Snowbird--

    You won't regret it. It's a bit of a chore to visit the park as Kurt mentions in his introductory piece. But, the islands are spectacular and the historic resources on Santa Rosa are interesting. If you are a diver, this is a must.

    Rick Smith

  • Park History: Channel Islands National Park   6 years 34 weeks ago

    You don't need a private boat or charter one, as there is a regular service to all of the islands. Even in the winter, there is at least one trip per day from one of the departure sites to one of the islands. In summer many more.

  • Park History: Channel Islands National Park   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Snowbird06
    I'm going Rick! You just sold me.

  • Park History: Channel Islands National Park   6 years 34 weeks ago

    This is one of the great parks of our National Park System. I was fortunate to have worked in the NPS's legislative division when the Act that changed Channel Islands from a national monument to a national park was being negotiated. I was also lucky enough to have been on the region's dive team while stationed in Yosemite. We often did training dives in the kelp forests off the islands. It is a unique, wild, and beautiful place; I treasure the memories of my visits there.

    Rick Smith

  • Carrying Guns in the National Parks -- Is This Being Fast-Tracked?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Packing Hiker -

    I couldn't have said it better myself. Right on!

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    The comparison, correct me if I'm wrong, between Canadian cities with liberal gun laws and a U.S. city with liberal gun laws is that in the U.S. the homicide rate is higher. If that's right, that's actually more evidence to my point because given the same set of gun restrictions, there are different crime rates. Therefore, the cause of the higher crime rates has to do with something else besides gun regulations (and also the lower crime rates). It argues against the correlation, not for it. That was actually part of Michael Moore's point in Bowling for Columbine. He wasn't arguing that the U.S. was more deadly because there were more guns; he argued that guns were dangerous in the hands of Americans because our society has been built from the beginning on a culture of fear. So, he supported gun regulations until the root cause could be addressed. In principle, though, it seems that the arguments about protection and prevention of violence through gun regulations (or lack thereof) miss the point of the underlying conditions that tend to produce violent crime.

    This neither supports the NRA position or the gun control advocates in respect to this issue; for me, it suggests that some of the biggest reasons for supporting a change in regulations miss the point and are a red herring for an ideological argument that has nothing to do with what happens in the national parks. That is a necessary discussion to be having, but it doesn't need to be dressed up by legislative stunts (before we heard about the 47 Senators writing Kempthorne about this, this particular issue simply didn't ever come up - it really came out of left field, and what a firestorm it has caused).

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

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I have to step in on one comment...."There is no correlation between gun laws and crime statistics". Compare homicide statistics between a U.S. city which has liberal gun laws, and ANY similar-sized Canadian city. Regardless of anyone's pro-or anti-gun stance, there should be recognition that "Guns kill people", and having easy access to 'high-powered guns made for the primary purpose of shooting other humans' IS going to result in more deaths.

    Whether that is a price worth paying to uphold the 'right to bear arms' can be debated. What shouldn't be debated is there's a significant price which the U.S. is paying for this right. A comparison of the country to the north of us which takes a significantly different approach to guns/gun control provides sufficient empirical data to make such conclusions, and should be acknowledged equally regardless of one's stance on this issue.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Thanks again Scot for correcting me. I hope everyone who read my statement also read your response and found out that I was wrong. I have done a lot of research since you posted this correction. I have not been able to find anything to dispute your statement. I was wrong and you were right. Carrying in National Parks is a misdemeanor, not a felony.

    With all that said, I guess now I must decide between not going to a National Park (lousy choice), hiking in the backcountry un-armed (unacceptable choice for me), or carry in violation of NPS policies. So I guess I'll carry and make sure I'm very discreet.

  • Carrying Guns in the National Parks -- Is This Being Fast-Tracked?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    As someone who travels and hikes in remote and wild areas including many national parks, I think it would be irresponsible for me not to carry some method of defense. Any number of threats could exist from wildlife, bandits, thieves, or the above-mentioned crazed methheads. In these areas help for any violent threat is NOT AVAILABLE until after the potential injury has occured which is of course useless. If a bear or mountain lion really wants to attack, there are no good options outside of a firearm for protection.

    As an otherwise law-abiding citizen with a legal CCW, I choose to carry in these areas in spite of present regulations for the protection of myself and the people I'm with. I carry a small .357 magnum that nobody will ever see unless they're threatening me. I'd hope that if I'm ever "caught" carrying illegally the ranger would understand my point of view.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    The Dc gun control issue is about guns in your home. It has nothing to do with guns on the street.

  • Would a Change in Gun Laws Be a Threat to National Park Bears?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I spent a summer as a back country ranger in the Chugach National Forest on the Kenai Peninsula. This included the famous Russian River, where the red salmon run attracts many of Alaska's bear/human encounters. I was required to carry a shotgun (unfortunately). The damn thing was heavy, and I'd much rather have pepper spray at my side. First of all, with pepper spray you're more likely to hit your target. Second, pepper spray is almost completely disabling in the short term, but not lethal in the long term, so a bear can survive to learn its lesson. A gun is largely useless in the short term (seeing as how adrenaline can mask pain, and a gun shot takes a while to kick in), but fatal in the long run. Plus, unless you are absolutely a crack shot even in a panic, anyone shooting at a charging bear is more likely to harm their companions than the bear. I came upon a few adrenalized adn breathless hikers in my experience who had recently been charged by bears (probably bluff charges, too) who fired their whole magazine, didn't hit the bear once, and nearly injured many in their party. The noise of guns didn't seem to phase these bears. They just decided a mauling wasn't worth the energy. So, if it's bears you're worried about, I'd recommend the pepper spray versus a gun any day. And even the pepper spray will probably just gather dust, as Ms. Stemann pointed out.

    I also saw fishing disputes escalate to the point of weapons being drawn. Had they not been readily accessible, a fist fight or fillet knife battle might have been the worst case scenario. At least then no bystanders would have been accidentally hurt. With handguns strapped to their hips, however, a fire fight was a mere hair trigger away.

  • How Many Tourists are Too Many in the Yosemite Valley?   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Hi Rick,

    In response to your comments, the “record Flood of 1997”, of which you speak, was actually deemed by the U.S. Forest Service as a one hundred year flood in the Sierra, north and south. Yosemite National Park however, has stated that it was a fifty year flood, but this does not corroborate with studies made by other professionals. There have been large floods, but this one was larger than any we have heard of or seen before. This said, it should also be recognized that camping in flood zones is a common use and recognized as acceptable use in a Wild and Scenic River, as long as it is included in the ORVs ("Outstanding Remarkable Values") when establishing the current historical uses of the river.

    The flood damaged man-made infrastructures, which included part of Yosemite Lodge and the campgrounds, as you say. The flood water actually covered many if not all of the campgrounds in the valley, but the park only took out, or refused to repair, the portions that complied with their wishes. If you recall, the year prior to the flood, the then park superintendant, Dave Mihalic, stated that they would like to remove all campsites on the north side of the Merced River, and interestingly, after the flood of ’97, this is exactly what they accomplished. The then park superintendent Dave Mihalic stated that nature had done what the public would never have allowed them to do by damaging these campgrounds, and he refused to talk about reopening them.

    The park service solicited congressional funds to repair the damaged campgrounds, along with other things damaged. They used a lot of congress’s money to replace the El Portal road with a new one at that time, wideningand straightening it, while also installing a new city like sewer line down the hill throughout most its length, most of which was not even flood damaged. They admitted at the time that they did this to pave the way for easier access by large tour buses and discounted the public's outrage.

    The park said that they intended to rebuild the campgrounds, as you say, but only while standing eye to eye with a congressional board, when they asked for flood recovery funding, which by the way they got. Once the money was in hand, their position changed immediately.

    The "Friends of Yosemite Valley" and "Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government" began a law suite associated with the issue that they felt the park had not adequately addressed the subject of a User Carrying Capacity for the park, among other things. The Federal Court agreed with that point, and some aspects of the park’s hastily completed Yosemite Valley Plan had to be put on hold until after the court’s mandates were addressed. Many in the public believe that no Yosemite Valley Plan from back then can be respected until they first demonstrate that they are following the guidlines of a Wild and Scenic Merced River Plan which adequately addresses user capacity mpacts, and how to control those impacts. To date, there is no Merced River Plan that addresses these issues, according the the court.

    This is why the park should not be allowed to move forward until the first court order is addressed, unless the higher court does not approve the lower court's rulling. If the higher court agrees with the lower court, the Yosemite Valley Plan should be deemed outdated, once the new Merced River Plan is completed. The appellate court has not yet responded to the park’s appeal of the lower court’s ruling. But, there is a court order in place right now that mandates that the park comply with that court’s ruling, and until a higher court says otherwise, the park should be moving in that direction. If the appellate court does not overturn the lower court, the first court will want to know why the park has wasted time by not complying with their mandate.

    These injunctions halted the park service from making some other changes to the campgrounds, where they claim they want to put in some RV campsites, some drive-in and walk-in campsites, but they were and still are not willing to address the previously flooded campgrounds. Lets look at their numbers:

    Pre-1980 General Management Plan: 800 drive in sites

    1980 General Management Plan: 684 drive-in sites

    Merced River Plan: 432 "interim" drive-in sites (402 auto-based + 30 RV sites)

    Yosemite Valley Plan: 330 drive-in sites (282 auto-based + 48 RV sites)

    Does this look like the park is really serious about camping in Yosemite Valley?

    The park had agreed to adhere to the prior park manager’s 1980 GMP (General Management Plan) when they embarked on a new plan to revise previous park plans, in the Draft Yosemite Valley Plan, as it relates to the valley’s campgrounds. This is because many years of study and thousands of hours of public input had gone into those plans, where they relate to these former campgrounds. The public would have been outraged if all their years of effort was tossed aside. And, in the end it was, and yes, the pubic is outraged.

    The park refused to discuss the repair of the campsites in these former campgrounds, even though these areas should have been listed in the "Outstanding Remarkable Values" (ORV) section of the Merced River Plan as having an historic camping use, which would have allowed camping in what the park now calls a flood zone, though other areas that were flooded along the river were spared, such as Housekeeping.

    North Pines Campground is also listed in the Yosemite Valley Plan record of decision to be removed, though current park managers claim that for the time being they have decided not to move forward with that part of the plan. They do not say, however, that they will rescind the YVP record of decision in this regard, leaving the door open for future park managers to remove North Pines should they care to, from that record of decision authority. The Yosemite Valley Plan needs to be resinded and public planning needs to be started anew.

    The road work that you referred to and the new sewer line from Yosemite Valley to El Portal were performed prior to the litigation commencement. The portion of the sewer and road repairs that were held up by the court, of which you are speaking, pending the park service’s acquiescence to the legal mandate that the Merced River Plan establish a more specific User Carrying Capacity, were allowed to proceed after the park pleaded with the court that these improvements needed to take place due to pending hazards. That road work from hwy 120 and 140 intersection east, is moving forward.

    Some of those supporting the NPS are groups like The Yosemite Fund, the primary solicitation arm for park funding of special projects, who would not have a reason to exist if it were not for the projects that they fund in Yosemite. The Lower Falls project is their biggest project to date, where they brought in their own architect, Mr. Larry Halprin, while the park service stepped aside. Mr. Halprin designed a colossal project there, which was clearly over built, literally doubling the pavement of the area. I’d love to be more specific, but in the interest of time I will avoid that topic unless you would like to talk about it. You also mention The Access Fund and The American Alpine Club, both organizations which have been promised by the park that they would see a Climbers Museum in the valley, which pledges their allegiance to the park’s side of the court case. The local Southern Sierra Miwok (unrecognized tribe) also sides with the park. But, of course the park has promised a new Cultural Center for them for their allegiance. With respect to these organizations and another large group of partners that side with the litigants, one can only speculate as to the many special interest reasons any group has that dictates their allegiance to one side or the other.

    You are correct that the 9th District court has not yet rendered an opinion in the appeal of November 2007, as we see the park dragging their feet when it comes to addressing the previous court’s mandate to address the User Carrying Capacity better than in their V.E.R.P. position. The recent Symposium on the matter held by the park last month placed people who would support the park’s position on the V.E.R.P. method of crowd control at center stage, i.e., Mr. Robert E. Manning, who wrote the book. Parks and Carrying Capacity: Commons Without Tragedy The park is hoping to sell the appellate court on their position that they are doing all they can do to address the issue, but have yet to discuss any other method than the V.E.R.P, which the court has deemed inadequate. They would like the public and the court to believe that the V.E.R.P. system is the only way to address the subject, because as Mr. Michael Tollefson has stated, he doesn’t want to turn anyone away. His predecessor, Dave Mihalic used the term that they “want to accommodate all who want to come”. How is this park management ever going to ever get their arms around subject if all they can do is think along the terms of accommodating all who want to come?

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Pandora's box of problems eh? Give me a break. Believe it or not most people who carry guns are not wild crazies out to kill random people and animals. I can see the headlines now, "Random drunken wild west style shoot outs at camp grounds". Dumb, dumb, dumb. Now I can't speak for every state, but here in Wisconsin, the land of beer, during deer season there are quite a few people who drink and hunt. I am not saying drinking and firearms together are a good thing, but it happens. So if any one can tell me of an example of a hunting party suddenly getting ticked at each other and shooting up all their friends please enlighten me.

    Where I live (Central Wisconsin, Clark County) we have a fair amount of county forest. Everyone here wants an answer to the million dollar question, what happens when guns are allowed at any time in a publicly owned forest. Well since guns are allowed in the Clark County Forest I think I can answer that.

    Absolutely nothing. Thats right, nothing! I haven't heard of any wild shoot outs, people getting mysteriously murdered while hiking, and rampant poaching. I mean sure there are always retards who shoot wild animals just for fun, but then there are plenty of people who run down deer and other wild animals in their cars too. Maybe we should ban cars in national parks as well.

    So why do people carry guns out in the county forest? I myself carry rifles into the county forest from time to time to practice shooting. I am by far not the only person that does that, I have met more than a few people who do the same. There are other people who carry guns for personal protection, but I think that is a little overkill since I have yet to hear of any one getting mauled by a black bear or attacked by a cougar. However, being out in a National Park where there are documented cases of people getting killed by grizzlies and cougars I can see where having something to protect ones self would give one a little piece of mind. However I think that ones chances of getting killed by a nut job toting a gun in the national forest are pretty slim. I myself would be more afraid of having a tree fall on me and being killed than of a physco wandering the woods.

    Now what happens when I meet someone in the woods carrying a hand gun or rifle. Well it usually goes something like this:

    Me:"Hey how is it going?"

    The Gunslinger:"Fine, nice day today eh?"

    Me:"Yeah not bad."

    Then we part our separate ways. There is no tension, no face off. Just two people having a civilized conversation. I think too many people get freaked out when they see a gun. From my personal experience people who freak out about such things typically come from the big city. I guess it never enters their minds that not everyone that owns a gun is either a Virginia Tech shooter or a retarded big city gangbanger. I personally feel way more tension when walking around the streets of Milwaukee by groups of suspicious characters than when I meet hunting parties in the woods.

    If I ever met a bear in the woods, first thing I would do is see if the bear is angry or merely curious. But if there was a bear charging at me I would not have any qualms about shooting it. I wouldn't carry anything less than a .44 revolver. In my opinion anything less would just piss off the bear and at that point you would be better off with bear mace.

    So after having seen real life experience with guns in a public forest, I can confidently say that allowing guns in parks is a moot point.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    kath,

    My point was that there is no correlation between gun laws and crime statistics. That works both ways, whether they are strict or non-existent. I'm not arguing for gun restrictions in national parks. I'm arguing that the issue is a non-issue and that the two aren't connected.

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

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    Frank -

    You're right, sending you a bunch of pro-gun stats is the same as you sending me a bunch of anti-gun stats. The website I listed was for the huge number of news stories you can read about the almost-daily occurrences of defensive gun use, not a bunch of stats. I read the hooey from the Brady site almost weekly. It would only be fair that you glance at some info from the "pro" side once in a while. You might be surprised.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    I so hope that the law makers are really listening to those who have spent lived and worked in the many National parks . They have a wealth of experience behind their view points/observations/. I wonder within the stats reported how many incidents were between/involving indivuals who actually live and work within or near the National park area. Some destination /large parks have services within and in the community employing a large base of people . I simply think that the more guns people are encouraged to bring( and a kind of encouragement may occur simply as the product of this proposed law change...there seems to be a kind of fear promoting around why a change is needed) that there will be a higher probablity of tragic accidents...a shot out and about hits another person, children finding a gun in a tent, wildlife wounded by someone showing off. There are law abiding people who do careless things and/ or act with poor judgement. My take is that the increase of events will be primarly between one law abiding person and another law abiding person(s) . I worked many years in 3 large "destination" type parks, in the campgrounds and in the field .Some of those years involved commisioned Law enforcement positions.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 34 weeks ago

    As I understand it, there are certain National Parks in Alaska where carrying weapons is permitted. It would be interesting to learn whether there has been any abuse of the weapons-carrying privileges in those parks. Have people been murdered there? Have bears been unnecessarily killed there? Have any crimes been prevented by guns there? Or are they just too remote and have so few visitors that any stats from those parks don't correlate to the parks in the other 49 states.

    For the same reason, I don't think one can use the stats from DC as reasons for carrying/not carrying a gun in a more typical national park.

    The sad fact is that women traveling alone or in small groups or without men are vulnerable to sex crimes or worse. There are no phones, no doors to lock in a tent, no one around to hear cries for help. There is no way I would ever hike alone or with just one or two other women in remote areas in our national parks.

    Haven't most of the victims of murder on the Appalachian Trail been women?

    It would also be interesting to learn the gender stats on crime in the national parks.