Recent comments

  • Big Bend National Park: Is It Ready For A Mountain Bike Trail?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Ted et al,

    I just don't know enough about the topography of the proposed trail sites to weigh in on the width issue. I know of a number of state parks that have narrow multi-use trails, including some trails in the GW National Forest in Maryland and Virginia (not a park, of course), and most of the state parks permit bikes on the trails provided there's been no rain in the previous 48 hours (a good rule). On such trails I worry more about horses than anything else. As someone noted earlier, the dangers are quite real.

    As for the fun of MTB being in the adrenaline high, I agree in part -- nothing like a screaming downhill. That said, some of the most fun I have biking comes from a nice rolling ride through the spectacular scenery just as the sun starts to drop or rise. Red Rocks in Vegas and Saguaro near Tuscon come to mind. And as I get older, it's likely that that kind of fun will be more and more in my future (sigh).

    I do think that there's merit to the slippery slope concern. I agree it's a logical fallacy in a vacuum, and I also agree that it is a big leap from a bicycle to a 4-stroke, but stranger things have happened. But the park systems rely in part on serious people who care about the parks (such as those represented here), and I feel safe in assuming that such persons would be vigilant for any such leaps.

    That's really the thrust of the issue for me: anytime you post rules in the parks you rely to a large extent on the goodwill and respect of the public to ensure compliance. My own experience in this regard has been quite good -- for every irresponsible or thoughtless person there is a dozen who are there to stop the damaging behavior or notify the rangers. And, not to be a polyanna, but part of me likes relying on that -- yet another reason why I love the parks.

    What a neat site -- if only the dialogue in DC were this civil and substantive ...

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Whether or not one chooses the word genocide to describe the actions of the European settlers, traders, politicians, Indian Agents, etc. is a moot point. The evidence contained in a multitude of historical records is fairly clear regarding the knowing behavior of certain groups who sought to gain an advantage in the American continent. Smallpox was not a "minor" cause, albeit the intentional trading in disease-laden blankets, robes, etc. may have been responsible for a fraction of the deaths to Native peoples. Just by virtue of interaction between Europeans and Natives, the former of which had developed a demonstrated resistance to the virus after many long decades of exposure, the latent virus was, inadvertently or not, transmitted from white immigrants to the indigenous peoples who previous had no record of infestation, and thereby were as vulnerable to a massive, highly contagious outbreak as the current population in this country would be today. Genocide, if you prefer to confine the definition to an intent to eliminate a specific group of people, was accomplished quite effectively, with some tribes experiencing a death rate as high as 90%, based on the best information available as recorded by the Native people during the 17th-19th centuries. The artwork of the time clearly indicates the deaths of numerous people inflicted with the tell-tale "body rash" attributable to one of three sources; smallpox, measles and plague. Any one of these vectors would have been sufficient to devastate a population with little or no genetic resistance. But again, if you confine the definition to "intent", then need you look beyond the Trail of Tears, the Navaho Death March, Sand Creek, Wounded Knee (although the initiation of hostilities in that instance is debatable, pending the source), and other instances in Minnesota, Arizona, California, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, etc. etc. etc. to distinguish a pronounced pattern of systematic hostility driven solely by the desire to acquire valuable lands for mineral and timber exploitation, agricultural "development" and the ever popular political gains to be derived from an expansion of settlement?

  • Big Bend National Park: Is It Ready For A Mountain Bike Trail?   6 years 29 weeks ago


    You raise a very good point:

    "I'm wondering if trail co-existence is even possible in some areas, or if biking should only be pursued where there is adequate space to build two sets of trails. It's a very interesting point you make, but I still have to say that it deserves serious consideration in those parks [b]where space permits[/]." (emph. added)

    You're right - on moderate topography it is relatively practical to build wide tracks, without extensive "road-building". Big Bend might be such a place. Easy terrain also lets us use multiple routes, 'wherever', almost at will (perhaps allowing for separate walking & biking trails.

    But in rugged country, there is often only one route that can be used, and to make 60 inch track-bed on steep slopes would involve heavy engineering. Indeed, it is common to see evidence along Olympic Nat'l Park trails, that even the original 18 inch tread was excess for the conditions.

    (Mike - I think a possible/partial antidote to 5-foot tracks might be to make bike-trails one-way. Then bikes don't have to have 'clearance-width' when they meet.)

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    After coming back a few days later to read the other comments and opinions posted, I find it so tiresome that there is an academic argument taking place about semantics, and although it is important to prove points, I think it is beneficial to stretch beyond academia (and I am an academic) in order to find a new way of thinking about an issue. I do appreciate that people are commenting- this is a discussion that is quite overdue. People cannot be expected to agree on the subtleties of language and its uses and abuses, but it seems perhaps that this is a distraction. The fact is, word it how you must, that the US government and the european peoples who settled here early on, made some serious and grave errors in judgment and action that have caused great harm to all concerned, including the settler's descendents! What can the US do in the present that will show respect and an attempt at amends to the Native Americans for this? I believe Ted mentioned ANSCA. I would like to hear what Native American organizations think would be helpful in amending the harm done.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    anyone who thinks American Indians didn't suffer from genocide is ignorant or lying

    Quite the opposite. The ones who have done the most research on the Native American history are the ones who don't subscribe to labeling 500 years of European/American/American Indian interaction simply as "genocide". Again, most historians do not use this term to describe the complex interactions that took place in North America.

    We ought to look at the subject dispassionately and consider the evidence. Barky, I respect your contributions to NPT, but your emotional response demonstrates why we ought to be careful when using morally loaded vocabulary.

    Jim, I'm glad to see we agree that the US government has no business in the Black Hills. This is the crux of the issue.

    Beamis, I couldn't agree with you more. I think giving the Black Hills back to the Sioux would accomplish the ends you described, and I think Washington and Jefferson, two of the humblest presidents we've had, would applaud them.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Sorry for putting it so bluntly, but anyone who thinks American Indians didn't suffer from genocide is ignorant or lying. I can't even imaging that anyone in this day and age can believe such nonsense.

    That one poster has so infuriated me, I find myself incapable of reasonably discussing the topic at hand. I will have to return later to do so.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Hanna Forcing Evacuations, Closures at Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout National Seashores   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I just left Frisco NC at 9:30 AM 9/5/08, with Hannah on my heels. She turned a 9 day vacation into a 7 day event. Conditions were rapidly deteriorating.

    Beach closures for storms, while apparently a new idea, is a good one. Periods over overwash at times of high tide can take the unexperienced by surprise, and can actually strand pedestrians and drivers both until the tide drops.

    I would seriously expect most, if not all of the unhatched turtle nests will be compromised or destroyed by this storm, no matter its intensity/category. Seas ran high on Labor Day Monday and again for 3 days afterward due to the passing of a cold frontal boundary. For a minimum of 3 days worth of high tide cycles, any nest not high on the dune was underwater. Sea/tide level had not yet reached normal status as of 9/4, my last day on the beach. 4-6' of storm surge is expected from Hanna, which may cause total dune overwash in many areas.

    Forecast is for up to major beach erosion, and my weather-eye would agree with that after witnessing the much above-normal high tides during the last week. Good luck to all still in that area, turtles included.


  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I really think that Washington and Jefferson would cringe to know that their faces are carved in stone on a remote South Dakota mountain. As for the other two I wouldn't give one hoot if the sinister and insane megalomaniac Teddy Roosevelt and his dictatorial forbear in Constitutional abuse, "Honest" Abe, were both blasted from the face of this ridge in a solemn purging ceremony broadcast on national TV.

    The whole rotten edifice smells to high heaven of state worship which the founding fathers knew was a dangerous and slippery slope towards that evil plague of the Old World: idolatry. To hell with Mt. Rushmore, it was comic when it was built and is now nothing more than a tragic reminder of being ruled by seemingly larger than life masters in DC. With war looming and financial collapse creeping ever closer upon the national horizon it would be a fitting break with the past to pulverize this monstrosity into dust as a show of good will towards all those peoples that this nation has aggrieved and offended with its blustery arrogance and simple minded nationalism.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Frank, we will have to agree to disagree for now - because I think there is plenty of evidence to suggest that everything that happened does meet the accepted definition(s) of the word. Ward Churchill may otherwise be unpopular, but the case he makes in the long essay in his work A Little Matter of Genocide is very convincing, and you'll find that for all of Churchill's needless hyperbole, he makes a very scholarly case connecting what happened throughout history to the accepted definitions of the term genocide.

    I don't give much credit to historians, who think by virtue of being historians, that they are therefore justified in making moral judgments about what actually happened for better or for worse. The same historians excuse slave owning founding fathers and say we need to make moral judgments based on the times and cut people some slack. We don't need to be historians to see the history and apply it to the definition; we certainly don't need to be historians to see what happened and to see that it was wrong on every level - whatever word we happen to give it. I would like to say on point 3 that it's pernicious to treat the Holocaust as the protype genocide of which nothing else could compare. There are some who would argue that the Holocaust is the only genocide that there was and has ever been, which would make the word "genocide" a completely useless word. Of course, there are horrors of the Holocaust that are unique in history and have never been repeated, but that's not what genocide means.

    As for the rest of what you said, genocide aside, I agree wholeheartedly that the United States has no business with the Black Hills, but as those who really know me know, I don't believe the United States has any business being anywhere. I guess that I haven't been thrown in prison for saying that - perhaps because I still pay my taxes - suggests that there is some measure of hope. But, if you read accounts of what happened in the Twin Cities and in Denver during the two conventions, you'll wonder how far we are removed from all dissent being squashed in this country. We all in some sense have no business being where we are; I guess the question is what we can do now. Even when it comes to the Lakota, it's complicated because there is a divide between the traditionalists and the tribal government. So, instead of working within the stark borders that people set up, we need to figure out instead how to build community from the ground up. Perhaps, that simple and seemingly harmless kind of radicalism that I advocate is one reason my harsher words about this country (and the holy NPS included) are allowed to be safely ignored. Without community, we have no power.

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

  • Big Bend National Park: Is It Ready For A Mountain Bike Trail?   6 years 29 weeks ago


    Too big of a leap? See Yellowstone and snowmobiles, Pictured Rocks and Cape Lookout and PWCs, Big Cypress and off-road vehicles. I'm sure there are other examples, but that's a pretty good start.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Jim, on this issue, I'll agree to disagree. But yours is the minority viewpoint among historians:

    While no mainstream historian denies that death and suffering were unjustly inflicted by a number of Europeans upon a great many American natives, most historians argue that genocide, which is a crime of intent, was not the intent of European colonization while in America. Historian Stafford Poole wrote: "There are other terms to describe what happened in the Western Hemisphere, but genocide is not one of them. It is a good propaganda term in an age where slogans and shouting have replaced reflection and learning, but to use it in this context is to cheapen both the word itself and the appalling experiences of the Jews and Armenians, to mention but two of the major victims of this century."

    Therefore, most mainstream scholars tend not to use the term "genocide" to describe the overall depopulation of American natives. However, a number of historians, rather than seeing the whole history of European colonization as one long act of genocide, do cite specific wars and campaigns which were arguably genocidal in intent and effect. Usually included among these are the Pequot War (1637) and campaigns waged against tribes in California starting in the 1850s.

    More on the genocide debate on Wikipedia. (Keep in mind that David Stannard was the loudest voice behind the genocide charge, and Stannard's Ph.D. is in American Studies, not history. Stannard is not considered to be a mainstream historian.)

    I recommend reading renown Native American historian James Axtell, who wrote Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America. On pages 261 to 263, Axtell details three major problems with using "genocide" to describe the interactions between American Indian tribes and Europeans:

    1. "...'genocide' is too loosely employed whenever an historical European kills or even contributes to the death of an Indian, in total disregard of the accepted definition of the word."

    2. ". . . it is historically inaccurate as a description of the vast majority of encounters between Europeans and Indians."

    3. "The final problem with 'genocide" as a description of, or even analogy to, the post-Columbian loss of Indian life is that the moral onus it tires to place on the European colonists, equating them with the Nazi S.S, is largely misdirected an inappropriate."

    I hope you get a chance to read this scholarly book; it will undoubtedly answer your call for evidence for the above three claims.

    In the meantime, what did you think of the other aspects of my comments (not including the "genocide" debate)?

  • Brucellosis Solution: Kill All Elk and Bison in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Good timing on this - there's an extremely thorough analysis of the brucellosis issue by Patrick Klemz in the Missoula Independent. Having not been a fan of Patrick's last effort on this earlier this year, I think this piece is a far more balanced view on the controversy and all the ins and outs of it from a wide variety of perspectives.

    See Bigger game: The state’s livestock industry wants to eradicate brucellosis from Yellowstone, but more than the bison stand in the way. How far will Montana ultimately go for healthy cows?, published on September 4, 2008. My friend Glenn is used extensively as a resource on the wildlife advocate side of things.

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

  • Big Bend National Park: Is It Ready For A Mountain Bike Trail?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    First, to Kurt's comments:

    You are using the "slippery slope" argument in your post. That's fine, but it's also not logically tenable. It's making an assumption that people (in this case, NPS regulators) don't know where to stop. I consider it perfectly reasonable that regulators will know where to stop. It's a pretty big leap to say that allowing man-powered travel (like bikes, kayaks, canoes, etc.) will eventually lead to fuel-powered travel (like ATVs, snowmobiles, etc.). Simply prohibiting an activity simply because it may lead to other, worse activities is, in my opinion, not a reason to prohibit that initial activity. It may be valid in true cause-and-effect situations (such as increased biking leads to increased erosion, which is a valid argument to make) but it is not valid in conscious decision making decisions. If I chose to eat ice cream tonight, it is not true that it will lead to me gorging myself on ice cream until I did.

    Now to Ted's comment:

    I do hear you regarding overzealous mountain bikers, you make a fair point. I'm wondering if trail co-existence is even possible in some areas, or if biking should only be pursued where there is adequate space to build two sets of trails. It's a very interesting point you make, but I still have to say that it deserves serious consideration in those parks where space permits. It sounds like (again, I haven't been there) that Big Bend is a good candidate. It should still be less intrusive than motorized vehicles.

    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Brucellosis Solution: Kill All Elk and Bison in Yellowstone National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I've been away on vacation camping in Grand Teton and Yellowstone; this is the first chance I've commented on this. As someone who is an activist on this issue, is allied with friends in Buffalo Field Campaign, and has started a group this year in Bozeman, I feel the need to weigh in on the issue. Obviously, the editorial itself is built on a fallacy so obvious I don't feel the need to comment, but I do feel the need to react to Ted's comments above and in a general way to some of the other comments below.

    First of all, to the general tenor of remarks about buffalo as a food source, I have to point out that what we in this area promote is the idea that buffalo are wildlife, i.e., not domestic. What Ted Turner does nearby does not fit the model of what most buffalo advocates here want because Turner's buffalo are raised like cattle and then marketed for consumption. The idea is that a restored bison population is one that is more than a restoration of numbers. It is a restoration of habitat, a restoration of respect for buffalo as wildlife, and that comes with a lot of consequences to the way that land is currently used in places like Montana. It's not an anti-hunting agenda; it is, however, against (there are individuals exceptions to this view amongst advocates) accepting what Ted Turner is doing as a viable alternative to a wild and free ranging buffalo population.

    Now, I want to turn to Ted.

    It's tricky to be sure what we are actually dealing with, and what the possible choices are with regard to Brucellosis in Yellowstone, because both sides in the debate are untrustworthy & devious on the topic.

    Ted, I'm not sure what you mean by this. At our tables, for instance, I try my best always to point people to the sources of information on brucellosis that don't come simply from groups like Buffalo Field Campaign. There is a wide ranging discussion on this and not consensus on every fine particular of the debate. As a whole, it is safe to say that buffalo advocates regard brucellosis as a red herring issue, that we believe that given bison management in practice, that brucellosis is not the reason for the persecution of buffalo (given that buffalo are killed in areas where there are no cattle, where the public in areas want the buffalo, that elk in fact are not controlled and kept from cattle in most areas, etc.) In as much as brucellosis is an issue for some ranchers, we believe that the onus is on them to protect their livestock and not on everyone else to control wildlife as though it is domesticated. In fact, many argue that this can be done at much lower cost than current management plans. Brucellosis is the cost of doing business. If it were such an egregious cost, you wouldn't still have so many ranchers. If it were such an egregious cost, then none of them would allow elk to feed with their cattle. Yet, they do. I could go on and on.

    Wikipedia's Brucellosis entry emphasizes that the disease transmits to humans and is serious. By inference, the more-fundamental threat to the cattle industry than the direct effects of the disease on cattle, is that infected herds would have to be destroyed, to forestall the threat of transmission to consumers.

    Well, this isn't accurate as it currently exists. The easiest counter-example I can draw from is from this year where cattle in the Paradise Valley got brucellosis. Livestock officials - not wildlife advocates - were quick to point out how safe the meat was, even meat that may have been infected with brucellosis. Here is a quote from an AP story: "Brucellosis persists in wild animals including bison and elk in the greater Yellowstone area. It can cause pregnant cows to abort their calves, but transmission to humans is rare. Consuming animals with the disease is not considered dangerous, state officials said." Schweitzer says the same thing in another article. The television news had a long story about how the meat was safe and that the only people at risk potentially were meat handlers. Here is another counter-example. Many bison sent to slaughter are never tested at all for brucellosis - they are not tested before or after the slaughter. However, the meat is given to Indian tribes as well as to food banks. No one requires a test for brucellosis for elk that are hunted in Montana. I haven't heard of a single case of undulant fever caused by brucellosis.

    Herds are destroyed en toto because of outdated APHIS rules, not because of any realistic threat.

    But, even if there were ... well, let's move on ...

    There is a large U.S. Centers for Disease Control Brucellosis FAQ, which shows that the situation with this disease is broader & more complex than the Yellowstone Park dispute.

    Will killing all elk & buffalo in Yellowstone free humanity (or even America) from the Brucella germ? No. It is a diverse problem, and global.

    There has been a long war against brucellosis; and yes, eradicating brucellosis in Yellowstone wouldn't end the problem.

    Are the herds of Yellowstone too large? By a large margin. "Ridiculous", if the mission is to preserve a 'natural habitat'. Instead, we have effectively the "Yellowstone Elk & Buffalo Ranch".

    I don't disagree with this; however, this is something that's in wide dispute outside and inside the buffalo advocacy community. For instance, consider this. The National Park Service has said repeatedly since the late 1960s that they didn't believe that Yellowstone was overgrazed by elk, bison, and everything else. They argued that if it were, you would see an irruption of the species followed by a steep decline. Since that never happened, then they argued that Yellowstone never reached its carrying capacity. I have been heavily influenced by an ecological scientist named Frederic Wagner, however, who argues that the northern range (the only part of Yellowstone where there has been significant study on this issue) has been overgrazed by elk - not by bison, because their numbers have never been allowed to get very high.

    Now, this is where this gets us nowhere in settling the argument. The Park Service isn't killing elk at all (unless one considers the reintroduction of wolves to be an elk reduction program, which is not what they say it was). They are killing lots of bison, but they don't do so because of range management considerations but because of brucellosis. Some buffalo advocates accept the NPS argument about range and suggest that as one less reason to be killing buffalo. The argument goes that buffalo are nearly extinct and reducing numbers makes no sense for an endangered herd on a range that could support more buffalo. However, I and others like me who are buffalo advocates think that Yellowstone is completely out of whack when it comes to the wildlife restricted to such a small area. The answer for me is to allow buffalo to increase into their historic range and to manage them (if "manage" is even the right word) as wildlife as we do any other species that wanders out of the park. Then, you can have hunts or whatever, but you stop treating them like people treat cattle. The lack of range, then, is an argument not to cull herds, but to allow herds to expand. So, no matter where you stand on the range issue, it doesn't make sense to kill Yellowstone buffalo.

    Would some like to see the ranching outside Yellowstone reduced or ended, so that overly-large populations of animals can be better-supported by having exclusive access to non-Park grazing lands? It does seem so.

    Yes, of course. This is an argument first and only about grass and who gets it. Domestic abuse of cows on range land as commodity for slaughter is no rationale to keep bison off the grass. And, the livestock industry, who has a completely different idea on the use of grass and its purpose, see bison as direct competitors. They also see elk that way, but they cannot get traction on that because people in Montana value having their wildlife - and no one will deny that elk are wildlife; they get confused by buffalo (in part because operations like Ted Turner's).

    Grass is the issue; ideology over the use of grass and who owns the grass ... it's not at all about brucellosis. But, it's a lot of smoke to clear up.

    Are the picturesque buffalo & elk herds being managed with a view firstly to tourism-values, and only secondarily in accordance with solid wildlife science? Sure. Many visitors report that their priority in coming to the Park, is to see the elk & buffalo. More normal population levels would be more-dispersed and much less visible. People see them readily, only because they are over-crowded.

    And, that's an improvement over the Albright years when buffalo were kept in a fence close to the road and fed hay so that people could see them. People complain on blogs every day if they see too many or too few buffalo -- if the buffalo in the road keeps them from getting somewhere else or if there aren't enough wildlife to capture with a picture. I read them every single day as I read dozens and dozens of blogs that people put out about their travels to Yellowstone.

    But, we have to note something that the philosopher Alston Chase noted years ago when he wrote Playing God in Yellowstone, namely that Yellowstone is not an intact ecosystem. And, even if it were, ecosystems themselves are not closed systems. We cannot pretend that Yellowstone National Park is intact; the boundaries are arbitrary. There is no reason to put up a border to stop and control their movements and their numbers.

    The dominant token on this game-board appears to be the hope that by having over-large populations of these major herbivores, the chronic feed-shortage will disperse them seasonally into more & larger areas surrounding the Park, maintaining an implied pressure to treat regions surround the Park as though they are extensions of the Park ... when actually, they're not.

    I actually hope they'll expand further and that they pose a never-ending challenge to our assumed land use ideology. However, if there is any place where areas outside the park are a lot like areas in the park, it's in Yellowstone because there are a lot of wilderness areas and areas that are nearly managed like wilderness areas. I have a friend in the Gallatin Wildlife Association named Glenn Hockett, who routinely travels with a map of the area. He knows the ranchers, he knows the allotments, and traveling with him is a treasure where I learn so much. Glenn makes a very convincing argument that there are some very natural boundaries of bison expansion in the area; he points out the natural "buffalo jump" in Tom Miner Basin, for instance. I think he's wrong, that buffalo would find ways beyond those boundaries, but he at least makes a case that in the interim that buffalo would be manageable wildlife with clear winter and summer ranges, that those of us who would rather deal in philosophical and ideological extremes might not need to do so. What's more, a lot of people in this area would like to see that.

    Then, perhaps, the park would begin to look more like what's outside of it and vice versa. I don't want the place I love the most to be simply a zoo of curiosities. I know that it's much more than that, and we are caging it up.

    This is an example of the 'halo' idea - that Parks need to be surrounded by an ever-widening 'halo'-zone which falls effectively under Park-management, even though they are not Park and may actually have long histories of other usage.

    There's no need for this halo to be under park management. Geez. That's the last thing that most of us would want, whether extremists like me, or more middle of the road types.

    The herds of Yellowstone ought to be a lot smaller than they are. That would greatly reduce the risk that diseased animals would travel far and thus expose domestic livestock to their disease. It would also take away a tourist-attraction (great masses of large animals in plain view), and disarm those who aim to use elk & bison to create an enlarged 'virtual' Yellowstone Park.

    I'm not sure what you are getting at here. But, the shift in your argument from brucellosis to range management, I hope I have shown, has more to it than it seems. And, no matter what, there is no reason to keep wild buffalo from being wild - whatever boundaries happen to be in the way.

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

  • Yellowstone National Park Reporting Bullish Visitation   6 years 29 weeks ago

    One possible explanation is the weak dollar and the high number of foreign tourists. That seems to be the most likely explanation. However, no matter who seems to be visiting, we were simply shocked last week by the huge, huge numbers of SUVs driving through Yellowstone, presumably a great number being rental cars.

    Yellowstone being a world famous park; it's going to draw people looking to visit the United States. It seemed that the largest number of tourists we saw were speaking German, though there were a large number of Asian tourists as well. But, that's anecdotal. Since we don't get demographic statistics, we'll probably never do much better than that.

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

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Disease v. genocide is a false distinction for a lot of reasons; I'd argue that disease is actually an argument for genocide, not against it. And, I'm not talking about smallpox blankets, which was certainly a minor part of it. I'd argue that disease was something that Euroamericans understood was happening, understood why, and not only did nothing to stop it but actually celebrated when entire areas were wiped out - calling it a gift from God. Disease was considered a happy part of the process of genocide - to that extent, it was intentional and part of the process.

    Smallpox could have been stopped and minimized. Settlement could have been stopped knowing the consequences of disease, but it wasn't. In fact, it was celebrated as a divine gift. It is not distinct from genocide; it was part of the process. Whether by direct annihilation or forced assimilation, indigenous culture was believed to be inferior, land grabs were justified because of this distinction (in fact, John Locke's famous book, which justifies property rights, uses indigenous people as a critical example of misuse of land), and so genocide was justified. That disease was such a big part of it doesn't change that it was genocide.

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

  • Rainbow Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Wow - what a treat to see my YouTube video posted here. If you're interested, I have a number of stills of the Smokies at my Great Smoky Mountains National Park album, link as follows: There's also another album that focuses primarily on the wildflowers of the park. Both albums are selectable from - you're always invited!

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Anon, I was responding to other comments whose authors' used "genocide" cavalierly.

    The Trail of Tears is a dark stain on the federal government, but I do not believe it was a form of genocide. The Choctaw signed a treaty to give up their land in exchange for land in Oklahoma territory before embarking on their Trail of Tears. (Of course the federal government reneged on most promises, and the Choctaw sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War). As for the Cherokee, they initially traded with Europeans, supplying them with deer skins and reducing the southern deer population by 1.25 million in the 18th century. The latter half of the 18th century saw Cherokee numbers decline by 75% due to disease, not genocide. The relocation of the Choctaw was voluntary and the deaths along the way were the result of a harsh winter and federal incompetence, not a systematic "one-sided mass killing in which a state or authority intends to destroy a group". The Cherokee in George were forced to move, though. I don't consider it an attempt at genocide, because instead of removing the Cherokee to Oklahoma, the government could have killed them in mass, and the 4000 who died tragically on the trail pales in comparison to those who died previously due to disease. The Cherokee Trail of Tears is example of the federal government and the office of the presidency overstepping constitutional authority to violate the property rights of a sovereign nation. When one uses the morally loaded word "genocide" to describe the entire history of interaction between European settlers, Americans, and American Indians, one is merely judging and does a disservice to historical inquiry and understanding.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    It certainly was (is) a form of genocide. Frank, by your definition, the Holocaust wasn't genocide because only 2/3 of all Jews in Europe were killed (and an equal proportion of Roma). In North America, over several hundred years, native populations were wiped out by the most conservative estimates by 85% of people and by the least conservative by as much as 98% from pre-Colombian totals. And, yes, it was often the policy if not to wipe out the entire population to wipe out their entire way of life.

    Genocide has a couple of definitions that have generally been accepted - one by the UN and one by the man who coined the term Raphael Lemkin. By both definitions, what has happened to indigenous peoples in North America constitutes genocide.

    No two genocides are alike, but you don't discount the term by noting what's different about different types and setting the one to the exclusion of the other.

    Not that many years ago, I gave a Columbus Day presentation in Washington, DC, on this issue as it related to the war in Iraq. You can still download the slide presentation by clicking on this link (pdf).

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

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Frank C, you do bring up interesting points but off the topic a bit...wasn't the "Trail of Tears" a form of slow genocide? In my opinion it was!

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Keep in mind, this park is not the only one with this type of problem.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    First, it's cavalry not Calvary. Capital-C Calvary is the hill on which Jesus was crucified. Cavalry is a group of soldiers on horseback. I made the same mistake until my first Chief of Interp pointed out the difference to me.

    And I don't think Ted was calling for a return to arms. As for tearing up the treaty, the federal government has essentially done that by refusing to abide by its terms. Anonymous mentions "finishing the job" and that is the "job" of total annihilation of native populations (which I dispute was our country's intent), which was never completed. Today, there are about two million American Indians north of the Rio Grande. Estimates of pre-Columbian population in the same area fall between two to ten million, so the modern population equates to the lower end of the pre-contact estimate. Now compare Jewish populations in Europe pre- and post-WWII.

    We must be careful before tossing a morally loaded grenade like the word "genocide". Applying a mid-20th century term to historical actors is problematic at best. As the above numbers show, American Indians were not completely wiped out of North America. Additionally, American Indians played a role in their own fates; they did not submit to concentration camps to be numbered and gassed. They made treaties, traded, conducted warfare, intermarried, and so on. We ought to lay down labels of blame and instead try to understand the complex set of events Columbus set into motion. What happened here was not genocide; it was a lopsided war with one side possessing superior technology and the other side having no immune system to smallpox and other diseases inadvertently introduced by Europeans.

    Ted claims that the U.S. (the federal government?) doesn't have to give American Indians anything, and Kelly brings up a federal threat to the preservation of the Black Hills. While I agree that it is too late for reparations, our government ought to own up to its past legal obligations and transfer all federal lands in the Black Hills to the Lakota. We can't usurp private land, and if we did, we'll, we'd be recreating the same historical process that brought us here. But we can open our eyes to the federal government and its laundry list of lies and broken promises.

    Given the federal government's long history of treachery and deviousness, I don't know how anyone can trust it to manage our public lands today.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Hello: This is the only comment on this board that I totally agree with. We cannot change what happened in the past; we can only go on from today. There has to be some means of accommodation that shows respect for the Lakota sacred gounds as well as share the beauty of the land. I know that I would support such action. Thanks again for your comment.

  • Big Bend National Park: Is It Ready For A Mountain Bike Trail?   6 years 29 weeks ago


    It's a pleasure to read your excellent comment!

    Bicycles & biking are a great thing, no doubt about it. That's not to say the venue is without problems & complications ... but 'considering some of the alternatives', bikes are wholesome & earth-friendly.

    Kurt's post mentions ...

    "The trail would be roughly 5 feet wide because of the need to accommodate mountain bikes."
    ... but does not say why that width is needed. I'd say, this is a rather pregnant & pointed oversight that deserves more attention:
    • Firstly, standardizing the width of a bike-trail at 60 inches will radically reduce the range of places & contexts where bike trails will ever exist.
    • The generous width is to accommodate competitive behavior among bikers: so they can race & pass each other.
    • Bicycles and hikers are seriously incompatible on trails. Even slow-moving bikers require that pedestrians get off the track for them.

    Five foot wide tracks are not trails: they are narrow-gage roads. Be real.

    Although many cyclists are nice & considerate people, the dominant cultural expression in the Pacific Northwest is certainly the 'rowdy', go-fast, fly-through-the-air, skid & slide, yee-haw! & yippeee! mountain-biker. Uh, yeah.

    Is that bad? No laughing! No hollering loving obscenities at your friends! No breaking traction! Sounds kinda 'stuffed', huh?

    But those are the realities, Mike et al. Bikes hog the trail, and the main fun of mountain-biking is to get an adrenaline-buzz going. "Hey! Watch this!"

    If I was a mountain-biker, I'd fight that 60 inch trail standard tooth & claw. If that's the direction it goes, that's the end of the line for ya. A token 5-foot wide route here & there, and that's it.

    Here on the Olympic Peninsula, we have bike-routes on forestry-land, but not in the Olympic National Park. Guys 'n gals get all wild 'n crazy, battered & bruised ... you can hear 'em shrieking & bellowing a mile away. They're outside, having a ball. I could care less if they are scuffing up the trail and reveling in rutting.

    But we don't try to mix bikers & hikers on Park trails. They're not compatible.

  • Lakota Gather Peacefully at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, But Still Insist that the Black Hills Belong to Them   6 years 29 weeks ago

    It hasn't made the news much yet, but the energy industry and the U.S. government are gearing up for a new mining boom in the Black Hills, this time for not for gold but instead for uranium. Defenders of the Black Hills is trying to get the word out to people: