Recent comments

  • Comment Period Reopens on Whether National Park Visitors Can Arm Themselves   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I go to National Parks to view and enjoy our nation's great outdoor heritage. I am not a gun owner and never have been. I do not want to feel the need to purchase a weapon just so I can visit our great nation's natural resources.

    Basically I agree with commenter Sully above.

  • Comment Period Reopens on Whether National Park Visitors Can Arm Themselves   6 years 29 weeks ago

    If the only things dangerous in National Parks were animals, I would be the first to agree that there is no need for guns. I don't feel that poaching would increase. People will still poach whether or not they are allowed to carry guns legally. In all, there will not be a noticeable difference on daily life in National Parks if guns are allowed in. A concealed carry license from the home state might be nice to require. We are all smart people; let’s figure out how to make it work without many layers of government bureaucracy.

  • Comment Period Reopens on Whether National Park Visitors Can Arm Themselves   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I'm a Second Amendment advocate, but carrying firearms in our National Parks would just lead to easier poaching, unnecessary killing of wildlife by anyone who feels even remotely threatened, and an increase in opportunistic crime by people who can now legally carry a gun in secluded places where young people, families, and women are hiking alone. I understand the degree of protection that a firearm can provide, against both natural and human predators, but most of this risk can be eliminated by doing things such as making noise, hiking with a friend, taking proper precautions when storing food, etc. Also, many people will feel threatened coming across someone carrying a weapon while they are out hiking in the middle of nowhere with their families. I love our National Parks, and I want everyone else to as well, regardless of how they feel about me owning a gun.

    All of this aside, there is virtually no reason to carry a weapon in a National Park in the first place. I have hiked in about 8 National Parks in Arizona, Utah, and up here in Alaska in the last year alone. This includes about a dozen back-country hikes in Denali National Park, which is definitely grizzly bear country. I have never felt like I needed a firearm to keep myself safe. I'm sure anyone can point out an incident where a hiker could have avoided injury if they only had a firearm, but these instances are very rare. The potential benefits simply do not outweigh the potential costs. I know Americans are polarized on the gun control issue, but I urge fellow Second Amendment advocates to exercise restraint and use common sense, instead of just looking at this issue as another potential political victory. Besides, your little 9mm is just going to make that charging grizzly bear angrier....

  • National Park Quiz 10: Speak of the Devil   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I disagree with (1). Many areas (for example White Sands) are declared "National Monuments" that do not feature "a geologic formation that resembles a monument". Joshua Tree in California was a National Monument before being upgraded to a National Park several years ago, as were Death Valley and Grand Teton.
    According to Wikipedia (we all know how trustworthy they are): "A National Monument in the United States is a protected area that is similar to a National Park except that the President of the United States can quickly declare an area of the United States to be a national monument without the approval of Congress. National monuments receive less funding and afford fewer protections to wildlife than national parks." [Ed. Nice catch, Anon. The Hauptquizmeister agrees that he should be called on the carpet when he does not offer the correct answer as a choice and instead indicates a distractor (teacher-speak for an answer selection put in there to lead you astray). If you will look at the revised item #1, you'll see what the quiz item looked like before the Hauptquizmeister got sloppy with draft number three of this quiz when he decided to put in a joke distractor -- that spaceport thing -- and inadvertently replaced the correct answer with another distractor. Man, that's some pretty good weaselspeak, if I do say so myself!]

  • National Park Quiz 10: Speak of the Devil   6 years 29 weeks ago

    An early morning hike in Arches on the Devil's Garden Primitive Loop trail is one of the more special places I've been in the NPS. Early morning, as the first part of the trail gets pretty crowded with people trekking to Landscape Arch and a bunch of other arches along the first couple miles of trail. Also, you'll get out to explore some great fins/mazes all by yourself. (Not as impressive as the Fiery Furnace, but also less of a chance that you'll get hopelessly lost as well.)

  • Should Yellowstone National Park's Elk Herds Be Culled to Fight Brucellosis?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Wait a minute! I'm confused. I thought that Yellowstone's elk had been wiped out by the wolves. Herds decimated. That's what I've been reading on blog after blog, comment after comment.
    This proposal is insane. And when the elk herds REALLY HAVE BEEN DECIMATED, through "culling", what do these ranchers think that wolves, bears and other predators are going to eat? Their cows maybe? Then the call will come out to "cull" the wolves, bears, mountain lions, coyotes etc. In other words, what is being proposed, is the virtual destruction of the Yellowstone ecosystem. The end of Yellowstone National Park as the last great intact wildlife sanctuary in the lower forty eight. The end of the millions of dollars injected into the local economy annually by wildlife watchers, photographers and hunters. The end of countless businesses that rely on them. Let's face it, with gas pushing $5.00 a gallon, not very many people are going to drive hundreds or thousands of miles just to see Old Faithful; and they sure as heck aren't going to drive those miles to see cattle. Nor are they going to drive those many miles (for the majority of Americans Yellowstone is a bit out of the way) for poor to average wildlife viewing or hunting opportunities. They come here for FANTASTIC opportunities that are unavailable anywhere else in the lower forty eight. It's time that the states of Montana, Wyoming (especially) and Idaho recognize what a cash cow (sorry!) that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is, and how comparatively unimportant the relatively few ranchers in the area are. Split state status, the development of a viable vaccine for cattle, or the recognition that brucellosis is no longer a human health issue. The answer is there. Not in the slaughtering of thousands of animals, and the destruction of the last intact temperate ecosystem in the lower forty eight as well as the economies of three states. That's kind of like dropping an atomic bomb to destroy an ant hill!

  • National Park Service May Reopen the Statue’s Crown at Statue of Liberty National Monument   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island just last week. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to visit the crown but enjoyed the climb to the pedestal observation area (the elevator was closed that day). Remember that you have to reserve a spot to visit the pedestal when you make your ferry reservation.

    The park was crowded but everything was well organized. Worst then the crowds was the Byzantine security gauntlet. You have to pass through a metal detector before getting on the ferry and then a metal detector and an explosives detector before going into the pedestal.

    When I got in line for the pedestal a Ranger told me that my small camera bag was okay. However, at the front of the line I was told that I would have to put my camera bag in a locker (despite the fact it was ½ the size of many of the “purses” carried by ladies in the line). What a locker it was too, I think it had more computing power then the space shuttle.

    Getting a locker requires a 6 second fingerprint scan and entering your date of birth. Only the government would have lockers that need two full time attendants because the system for renting them is so complex. Greyhound has been renting lockers for years without invading visitor’s privacy. When I returned the computerized locker system couldn’t even tell me which locker was mine, even though it had my fingerprints and birth date. The attendant told me that if I didn’t remember the number I was out of luck.

    All that being said the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are definitely worth a visit. You never can really appreciate the scale of the Statue until you see it in person. Magnificent!

  • Should Yellowstone National Park's Elk Herds Be Culled to Fight Brucellosis?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    The collective foot takes organizing and the hard work that goes with that. That someone is us. So, if people are in this region (Greater Yellowstone) - not currently involved or we are not currently involved with you - we need you. If you are away from this area, there is need for a whole host of tasks - not just with buffalo advocacy but with other groups. Our group - Buffalo Allies of Bozeman has created a page particularly catered to how people can help.

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

  • Should Yellowstone National Park's Elk Herds Be Culled to Fight Brucellosis?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    First it was the Wolves, then the Buffalo, now it's the Elk. What's it going to be next...mule deer? Hummingbirds? NO documented cases of Bison transmitted disease. "Suspected" cases of Elk transmitted disease. When is someone going to put their collective foot down and end this purely political/greed motivated witch-hunt by the cattle industry? I was unaware the outfitters were up in arms about the wolves-I guess they aren't able to fill those COW and CALF permits as easily any more huh?
    Ok, done ranting.

  • National Park Quiz 9: The American Revolution   6 years 29 weeks ago

    You do know that number 1 is also incorrect. The Minute Man statue is actually at North Bridge. Seems every site in New England gets the prefix "Old" added at some point, except "New" England. Extra points to you bob for mentioning the encampment of '77 & '79-80 at Morristown. Great book by Mark Boatner (Landmarks of the American Revolution) covers sites which cover numerous aspects of the revolutionary time period. [Ed.: With thanks to Phil, the Hauptquizmeister has revised item #1 to remove the offending adjective. He sincerely hopes that no readers were forever ruined through their encounter with "Old" North Bridge.]

  • Comment Period For Revised Gun Regulations for National Parks About to Close   6 years 29 weeks ago

    When 51 U.S. Senators sign a letter to change the rule on carrying firearms and 20,000+ comments are submitted (most favoring a change to allow concealed carry) the debate is essentially over.

    At the first level of a lawsuit someone might find a sympathetic judge but on appeal those grasping at this straw are going to lose.

    The Supreme Court ruling is going to be applied well beyond a person’s home and in the case of the National Parks where you are sleeping becomes your temporary domicile—this is a long standing common law interpretation.

    The fat lady has sung.

  • Should Yellowstone National Park's Elk Herds Be Culled to Fight Brucellosis?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    For years, buffalo advocates have been called paranoid for suggesting that the livestock industry would go after elk next. They have already started in Wyoming this past year with a test and slaughter program. Now, they are suggesting it for the entire region. Outfitters have been claiming - at least a number of them have been - that wolves have been decimating the elk herds. Are outfitters now going to speak out against the assault on wildlife (elk and buffalo) by the livestock industry?

    A few signs point to yes. Buffalo Allies of Bozeman held a forum the previous Monday on ways that people in the Gallatin Valley could advocate on behalf of Yellowstone buffalo. While the original intention of the meeting was to draw new people in who wanted to take action, what actually happened was that a wide spectrum of some of the same old people showed up instead. At the meeting were representatives from the state legislature, members from professional environmental groups like Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Defenders of Wildlife, grassroots groups like Gallatin Wildlife Association, Bear Creek Council, and Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo, as well as hunting interest groups - like the Safari Club. I would never have guessed the Safari Club would have sent a representative to a buffalo advocacy meeting, but it has happened. However, other groups representing outfitters and hunters have not gotten on board, yet. Will they now that the livestock industry first through a press release of the U.S. Cattlemen Association and now this are going after the precious elk industry both at a state and a federal level?

    As a wildlife advocate, I do not support the slaughter or testing of either wild elk or wild buffalo or any other species carrying brucellosis. However, one of the weaker arguments of our position is being called out by the livestock industry - namely, why aren't elk treated with an equal footing as buffalo? Now, there is a proposal by the livestock industry to treat them the same. The position, however, is the same. Brucellosis is not a reason to stop the movement of wildlife; it's not a reason to give preferential treatment to the livestock industry on public lands; it's not a reason to put the onus on prevention of brucellosis on wildlife control rather than on taking measure to protect cattle. Now that a broader cross section of wildlife is under attack, will there be an uncomfortable alliance between environmentalists and outfitters - groups who have warred so long over wolves?

    Although we should be frank about our differences, we should be willing to work together where our interests converge. Many wildlife advocates are also hunters. Can the two sides form enough of a coalition to stop what's being called for by this industry even as they continue to war on other issues? That is something that I am willing to work for so long as one group does not co-opt the positions of the other and remain frank about their differences. In fact, it could be an opportunity for a robust dialogue by groups that don't typically get along and perhaps can lead to greater understanding of what's at stake in Greater Yellowstone.

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

  • Will The Superintendent's Summit Chart The Path For The National Park Service's Next Chapter?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    We've been critical of this conference for several reasons - we think it tends to be largely politically driven; its cost-benefit (for two days, as the previous commenter points out) is questionable; and it comes at a very bad time of year for some parks/superintendents. But it's unfair, at least at this point in the process of putting on the summit, to take shots at the Chair of the Conference and the superintendents who are the discussion leaders. The Chair, while superintendent of a small NPS area, is a very competent public affairs professional with a lot of experience in these kinds of events - far more than most, if not all, the senior leaders of the NPS. And there is nothing to suggest that the discussion leaders won't be effective at facilitating dialog - sometimes senior/SES leaders don't do very well at all at facilitating, but do fine contributing. The real issue here is what becomes of the results of the dialog - especially this close to the end of the terms of the political leaders. If the results are worthwhile, the career leaders will make good use of it, regardless of what happens after the election. If it turns out to be nothing but window-dressing, it won't go anywhere, and shouldn't.

    Bill Wade
    Chair, Executive Council
    Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

  • National Park Service May Reopen the Statue’s Crown at Statue of Liberty National Monument   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Thanks for this great tip. I hope they do reopen it. I never even knew that the crown was accessible, I bet the view is grand.

  • Senators Willing to Legislate Clean Air Over National Parks if EPA Does Protect Airsheds   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Pigeon Forge, TN is all about money. Has nothing to do with the National Park, just a "tourist trap" with everything known to man to spend your money on. Tasteless but millions love it !!!
    Fewer and fewer of us care about our "natural world"......sad !

  • NPR on the National Parks   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Minnesota Public Radio added its own story about Voyageurs National Park to the National Public Radio broadcast. It included an interview with Mike Ward, the soon-to-be new Superintendent of Voyageurs. The MPR reporter also asked a board member from one of the Park's friends' groups (Voyageurs National Park Association) to talk about some of the challenges facing the Park. You can hear the program at

  • What do People Take Home from a Visit to Gettysburg National Military Park?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Great article, Bob--thanks for an in-depth look at one of the best Civil War parks. I have to correct something though--the Confederacy actually did invade the North one more time--in 1864. Lee sent Gen. Jubal Early to "threaten or take" Washington, D.C. in order to divert some of Grant's troops from the siege at Petersburg. Early met Lew Wallace's Union forces at Monocacy in Maryland on July 9, 1864. The battle of Monocacy was also known as "the battle that saved Washington." Although a Union defeat, Wallace was able to delay Early's attack on the Capitol long enough for reinforcements to arrive to man the forts around the city.

    Here is the park site for more info:

    I highly recommend visiting this little-known Civil War battlefield. The park opened a brand new visitor center there last year that has a really excellent interpretive program. The 144th anniversary observance is this weekend, with re-enactors and artillery demonstrations. Check it out if you are in the area!

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    re Kaths' "But we have to remember that many people will really suffer if oil goes any higher. Many people are already suffering from pollutants in our air and water. Having to stay inside for most of the summer because of air pollution is no fun ! And if you are worried about wind farms killing birds, how many do you think are killed each day by moving vehicles. I love birds and butterflies and all things natural but I would much rather see solar panels and wind farms than drilling rigs, blowoffs and potential spills. The Alaska pipeline is already past its expected lifespan. I just hope we don't suffer a disaster with it.
    In my opinion, American technology is way behind in the renewable energy area. We tend not to do things until our backs are against the wall.........I think our new president MUST throw down the gauntlet like Kennedy did with the space program. We can get it done in less than 10 years and in the mean time we must conserve and be very carefull as we extract the crude and coal that is available without destroying our precious saved wild places.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Isn't it a shame when our own government gives its citizenry the impression that their involvement is important to the process, but then takes behind the scenes steps to suppress that involvement? Several NPS affiliated employee groups have been concerned about this in relation to the proposed gun rule. In a May 21st letter these groups wrote Director Bomar and in part said:

    "Our question to you is: What specific steps have you taken or will you take to ensure that National Park System visitors and National Park Service employees will be informed of this proposed change to a regulation that has been in place in some form for 88 years? Will you provide them with the opportunity to know that they have the ability to officially comment on this proposed change? In our opinion the current regulation has served park resources, park visitors, and park employees well over the decades.

    National Park Service employees were denied the ability to comment in their official capacities by Departmental directive earlier this year. Their professional expertise in managing parks should not be ignored in making this decision, nor should it be hidden from the public as they weigh their individual decision on whether to oppose or support the proposed change.

    The more than 280-million-plus visitors to the National Park System is the exact constituency that the Department and agency should be making every effort to involve in this decision making process. Notice of this proposed change and instructions on how to send in comments should be placed in park newspapers or leaflets inserted in park brochures, on park bulletin boards and visitor center desks, added to park web sites, and broadcast on park radio stations. Park visitors are the group that will be most affected by the proposed change, and they should be informed of the proposed change and challenged to think through how such a change may impact the quality of their future park visits from a park resources standpoint as well as considerations related to personal safety and an atmosphere of tranquility.

    In this decade where “civic engagement” has become an NPS buzzword and a mandatory process for all controversial NPS decision-making, surely the NPS intends to make every effort to “engage” its primary constituency before a final decision on this draft regulatory change is made. The members of the Association of National Park Rangers, the Coalition of National Park Retirees, and the US Rangers' Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police look forward to your timely response."

    There has been no reply from Director Bomar or the NPS.

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    I wouldn't approve of drilling in the traditional national parks. But ANWR is huge and the oil drilling would be on a tiny percentage of the land. The 800 mile pipeline crosses Alaska and has had no significant problems. We have to remember that most of the national parks were not virgin territory. They were mined, logged and ranched. And now they're parks. In other words, drilling is not forever.

    It's easy for some to be elitist about this. It's as though some are doing a Marie Antoinette impression and saying "Let them walk or ride bikes". But we have to remember that many people will really suffer if oil goes any higher.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Censorship directed from the top Mr. Longstreet? Ah, American lobbyists showing their truly gutless colors. Pity that those who this affects most are at the same time the least informed that changes are being considered. And Fred, "We the People" haven't been in existence since the American political system degenerated into the ridiculous bi-partisan system of stalemate, bickering and finger-pointing that is now the "Blue and Red" bastardization of the original Republic of American Colonies.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Above, Bill R insists that even if it continues to be illegal to carry loaded, concealed weapons in our national parks, he'll be "packing" (a gun, I assume, and not a picnic basket) to protect himself from nudists and, apparently, Charles Manson. Of course, breaking this law would make Bill a criminal, not one of those "law abiding citizens" we hear so much about from the NRA. And if I'm not mistaken, criminals are not supposed to have guns at all. I'd suggest that someone who publicly expresses an eagerness to break the law might want to think things over a bit before calling non-gun advocates "idiots" for expressing a reasoned argument, based on facts and reality. In light of the miniscule number of non-accident related deaths in our national parks, there is no justification for visitors to be carrying loaded, concealed weapons in the parks, regardless of any danger posed by random naked people along the trail.

  • Comment Period for Proposed Gun Rule Change in National Parks Extended 30 Days   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Frank N --

    You're absolutely right. And park managers have been all but told not to bring it up locally.

    J Longstreet
    A National Park Superintendent

  • Do You Care About Energy Exploration Near Our National Parks?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    Sounds to me Kath your afraid to give up your SUV or make alternative lifestyle changes just yet...just kidding! They just did news brief a couple weeks ago on the decline of the fishing industry in the Port of Valdez and how poorly it has recovered. Did you talk to the local fisherman in Valdez or physically inspect the beaches of Valdez to make your claim there's "no evidence" of the past spill? Looking from a boat while cruising through Prince William Sound isn't quite like making a thorough investigation to see if there's been a FULL RECOVERY of the past Valdez oil spill. I think your looking at the cosmetic factors that makes the boat cruise so enticing to visit Prince William Sound. Get out and talk to the local fisherman and visually check and see under the rocky beaches along the Port of Valdez and you will still see remenants of the past oil spill. Yeah sure, emerald green slick under the rocks if you look hard enough in the right places.

    Kath, give the oil companies an inch they will take a foot...and you say compromise with ANWR. No way! Look what they have mapped out in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah in our National Parks for gas and oil exploration...and you worry about influx of visitors in our National Parks. Shame on you!

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   6 years 29 weeks ago

    There used to be a trail up to the summit of lady mountain in zion. In fact it was one of the first in Zion, it was similar to the angels landing trail with installed chains/railings to help people through the scary/difficult sections. However the numerous deaths that occurred from falling, prompted them to remove all the chains and official signage from the trail. You however can still "hike" lady mountain, you just need to be competent at exposed scrambling, and know how to use a rope for the few short technical climbing sections. The NPS will never "close" any trail, however they might remove all the hardware they installed on it. Angels landing can be ascended without the chains/railings by people who have adequate hiking experience. You wouldn't see out of shape parents with children trying to hike the route without the chains. If the hike is worth it, then one can gain the experience necessary to safely obtain the summit.