Recent comments

  • Cycling at Haleakala National Park Given "High Risk" Rating   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • The Yellowstone Precedent   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

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

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

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • Welcome to the National Parks Traveler 2.0   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • Cycling at Haleakala National Park Given "High Risk" Rating   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

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

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Favors Law Enforcement, Maintenance, Interpretation Over Paleontology   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • Modeling Mesa Verde National Park With Lasers   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 36 weeks ago

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

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 36 weeks ago

    I'm 6'5", 200 lbs, and in good health but I ride a Segway because I have bad knees ... and because it is cheap, green, and efficient way to get around. I too like to experience the national parks that my taxes pay for ... if you judgmental people don't mind too much, that is! What nerve.

    You don't know anything about me but you can't make a reasoned and informed argument for your position so you resort to all you have left -- name calling.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Actually they're toys for tikes! For god sakes fat Americans...start walking & hiking more!

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Statistics are like a bikini...they reveal a lot, but what they don't show is usually more interesting.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Almost all of the comments so far are clearly from people who have never been on a Segway and know nothing about them.

    Let's clear up some misconceptions:

    - You do not have to balance a Segway; it balances itself.
    - Segways are smaller, quieter, safer and more environmentally-friendly than many other types of "contraptions" that are allowed in national parks, including cars.
    - Segways are smaller, go slower, stop faster, turn more safely, and more-easily blend into pedestrian traffic than bicycles.
    - Segways make almost no noise. The ratcheting sound of a coasting bicycle is louder.
    - Segways handle hills and loose terrains just fine.
    - Segways can have a handlebar bag to carry purses, packages, cameras, cell phones, and other material that would otherwise cause a safety hazard.
    - Segways are recognized in at least 42 states as "Electric personal assistive mobility devices" (or EPAMDs) and are not classified as motor vehicles.
    - There are lots of people who can stand but have trouble walking, balancing, bending or sitting. Victims of Multiple Sclerosis, Postpolio Syndrom, Altzeimers, and amputees, are among those who use Segways to improve their mobility. If it seems odd to you that such people can or would use Segways, then that should tell you how little you know about Segways! Do a little research at http://www.draft.org, among others, before spouting off.
    - Segways can also be fitted with a seat for those who have a different kind of disability.
    - There are many "for-profit companies" that operate tours and other businesses in national parks using conveyances other than Segways.
    - Segways allow riders to enjoy not just the sights but also the sounds and smells of national parks without being cooped up in a car and contributing to the problems.
    - Segway riders pay taxes too.

    What do you think banning Segways would solve? Do you expect (or demand) that those people will not visit national parks at all?? No, many of them will get in a _CAR_ instead. Duh. That won't solve congestion, pollution, parking, or noise problems, only exacerbate them.

    The same people who call Segway riders fat and lazy seem to have no objections to fast-food eaters riding around a national park in a car or motorcyle, burning fossil fuels, generating noxious emissions, making much more noise, and causing much more congestion. If their complaints about Segways were sincere, then those who claim that you should be getting exercise in a national park would be arguing just as strongly against every other kind of conveyance. But, of course, they don't. People are simply afraid of what they don't know.

    It would make just as much sense to complain that people with RED cars shouldn't be allowed in national parks because the mere sight of them offends you.

    Get over it.

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Frank,

    Your first source, Handgun Control Inc., cites only the absolute number of murders. Since the U.S. has a larger population it stands to reason that it would have more homicides. The last source you cite, the WHO, correctly compares incidents per hundred thousand. It's important to note that in both cases they are apparently talking about all homicides not just those involving a firearm.

    France, England, Sweden and Germany are small homogeneous countries. If compared with certain states or blocks of states with approximately the same demographics, say Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, etc., U.S. homicide statistics are about the same despite our greater gun ownership.

    The Korean War claimed more than 33,000 American lives, so either the 13,200 figure is wrong, the "less than 2 years" time frame is wrong, or the statement is meaningless.

    As for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the National Campaign to Reduce Youth Violence, these sources cite percentage increases without baselines making it impossible to judge their significance. For example: If one person were killed in 2000 and two were killed in 2001 that would be a 100 percent increase, but without knowing the size of the population, the baseline number of incidents, etc. the increase may be statistically meaningless.

    You asked for sources so I will provide a few. Unlike you, I've tried to avoid interest groups like the Handgun Control inc. or the NRA. If you follow the link you will find the entire document.

    The U.S. Dept. of Justice:

    The National Crime Victimization Survey for 2005 (PDF page 81) reports that handguns are used in fewer than 8% of all crimes of violence. This doesn't include homicide, but homicides are fewer than 0.5% of all crimes of violence, so even if one includes homicides the answer would be about 8%.

    According to the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey (2005 data), table 66, handguns are used in 5.4% of U.S. assaults and 26.3% of robberies.

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus05.pdf

    The Times of London:

    "New York has “banned” pistols since 1911, and its fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans. One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed violence (one thirteenth that of Britain)."

    "America’s disenchantment with “gun control” is based on experience: whereas in the 1960s and 1970s armed crime rose in the face of more restrictive gun laws (in much of the US, it was illegal to possess a firearm away from the home or workplace), over the past 20 years all violent crime has dropped dramatically, in lockstep with the spread of laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons by law-abiding citizens. Florida set this trend in 1987, and within five years the states that had followed its example showed an 8 per cent reduction in murders, 7 per cent reduction in aggravated assaults, and 5 per cent reduction in rapes. Today 40 states have such laws, and by 2004 the US Bureau of Justice reported that “firearms-related crime has plummeted”.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article2409817.ece

    The Detroit Free Press:

    "Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold."

    "But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics. The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined."

    "More than 155,000 Michiganders -- about one in every 65 -- are now authorized to carry loaded guns as they go about their everyday affairs, according to Michigan State Police records."

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080106/NEWS06/801060602/1008

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Mt. Rainier works with the US Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, WA. They don't need their own NPS volcanologist--USGS does a great job.

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Right off the NRA Web Site: http://www.nraila.org//Issues/Articles/Read.aspx?ID=209

    FABLE VI: Since firearm accidents are a large and growing problem, we need laws mandating how people store their firearms.

    To the contrary, fatal firearm accidents in the United States have been decreasing dramatically from year to year, decade to decade.1 Today they're at an all-time low among the entire population and among children in particular, and account for only 1% of fatal accidents. More common are fatal accidents involving, or due to, motor vehicles, falls, fires, poisoning, drowning, choking on ingested objects and mistakes during medical care.2 Since 1930, the U.S. population has more than doubled, the number of privately owned firearms has quintupled, and the annual number of fatal firearm accidents has declined by 74%.3 Among children, fatal firearm accidents have declined 84% since 1975.4

    Anti-gun activists exaggerate the number of firearm-related deaths among children more than 500%, by counting deaths among persons under the age of 20 as deaths of "children."5 To these activists a 19-year-old gangster who is shot by police during a convenience store robbery is a "child." In some instances, they even have pretended that persons under the age of 25 were "children," and Handgun Control, Inc., on at least one occasion, pretended that anyone under the age of 35 was a "child."6

    Along with misrepresenting accident and other statistics in an effort to frighten people into not keeping guns in their homes, anti-gun activists also advocate "mandatory storage" laws (to require all gun owners to store their firearms unloaded and locked away) and "triggerlock" laws (to require some sort of locking device to be provided with every gun sold.) Both concepts are intended to prohibit or, at least, discourage people from keeping their firearms ready for protection against criminals--the most common reason many people buy firearms today.

    NRA opposes such laws because it would be unreasonable and potentially dangerous to impose one storage requirement upon all gun owners. Individual gun owners have different factors to consider when determining how best to store their guns. They alone are capable of making the decision that is best for themselves. Gun safes and trigger locking devices have been on the market for years, of course, and remain available to anyone who decides that those products fit their individual needs.

    Storage and triggerlock laws could also give people the false impression that it is safe to rely upon mechanical devices, rather than upon proper firearm handling procedures. Mechanical devices can fail and many trigger locking devices pose a danger when installed on loaded firearms.

    Mandatory storage laws also would be virtually impossible to enforce without violating the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches. American gun owners and civil libertarians are keenly aware that in Great Britain, a mandatory storage law was a precursor to that country's prohibition on handgun ownership.

    Most states provide penalties for reckless endangerment, under which an adult found grossly negligent in the storage of a firearm can be prosecuted for a criminal offense. Responsible gun owners already store their firearms safely, in accordance with their personal needs. Irresponsible persons are not likely to undergo a character change because of a law that restates their inherent responsibilities.

    NRA recognizes that education has been the key to the decline in firearm accidents. NRA's network of 39,000 Certified Instructors and Coaches nationwide trains hundreds of thousands of gun owners each year. Separately, NRA's award-winning Eddie Eagle® Gun Safety Education program for children pre-K through 6th grade has reached more than 15 million youngsters nationwide. NRA's Home Firearm Safety Manual advises: "The proper storage of firearms is the responsibility of all gun owners," and that gun owners should "store guns so they are not accessible to untrained or unauthorized persons."

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Three out of four violent crimes committed in the U.S. do not involve firearms. Since 1991, the number of privately owned firearms in the U.S. has increased between 65-70 million, and the nation's murder rate has decreased 43%. (BATFE and FBI)

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Your statistics are from an unreliable source at best. If you want to find out how tough it is to be an African American in the USA don't ask a member of the KKK.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 36 weeks ago

    I never considered Sylvan Pass a trail, although once it surely was. That said, don't forget that the Burlington Northern RR wants to use howitzers to blast the avalanche chutes that lie in Glacier NP above its tracks...Glacier officials have gone on record opposing that possibility, but Interior officials in Washington so far have refused to let that decision be printed in the Federal Register.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 36 weeks ago

    Kurt, I was thinking about the howitzers used for avalanche control on Sylvan Pass when I wrote that. That's interesting about the pack animals, I didn't know that.