Recent comments

  • Park History: Kings Canyon National Park   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Excellent article, both Kings Canyon and Sequoia Parks don't get the attention of Yosemite, both are true gems in the park system and a must see if you are in the area.
    Thanks
    Ted
    www.campingsierra.com

  • Park History: Hot Springs National Park   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Kurt,
    Thanks for sharing such interestings statistics about our home town National Park! When my husband and I visited here six years ago, we were so impressed that we moved here two months later!

    Recently geographer Warren Bland named Hot Springs, Ark. the No. 1 place in America to retire.

    I gotta admit, Hot Springs is a pretty cool place to live, even for those of us who aren't yet retired.

    To get a sneak preview, check out Spa Vlogger.

    Rebecca McCormick,
    Travel Journalist, Hot Springs Village Voice

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Frank -
    I'm sorry to say that you'll never see stories in the newspapers, etc. about firearms being used for defensive purposes. It just doesn't make "good story" and it's not "news". The media prefers to report bad news because it sells newspapers and increases viewership of news programs. There are many, many instances of firearms used to protect the lives of the innocent, but you won't hear them by watching the 6 o'clock news. Try doing an internet search of "defensive gun uses" and see what I mean. There are several hundred thousand defensive uses each year. But it's not "news".

    If you really would like to read some of the actual reports check http://www.keepandbeararms.com/opsd/.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Releases EA on Castle Rock Cut Deepening   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Oh my GOD!!!! will you people get a life the dam is not going anywhere and thank god. if it wasn't there the water wouldn't be there to drink or grow food. as for recreation i love boating on lake powell and all you people out there with your so called enviro cars where do you think the elec comes from, the dam! it is dirt just dirt you know what the bottom looks like it looks like the top once again dirt. you wanna hike then hike away why do you have to make everyone misriable because you wanna hike somewhere you can't (the bottom) you know what i wanna boat everywhere so i say lets cover it all up so i can boat. why not, because it wouldn't be fair so get off your high horse and let us (the majority that is what this country was founded on) go out and play with our sea doos and our house boats and enjoy life with a motor or a sale or even a kayak! as far as i am concerened hiking causes more damage than boats so stay at home and search the web. oh without electricity because that is where the power comes from remeber the DAM!

  • Of Geologists, Paleontologists, And Science in the National Park System   6 years 37 weeks ago

    We spend 12.5 million daily in Iraq - We spend $49 billion a year to incarcerate our inmates - We spend so much on crap (cigarettes, junk food, Big TV's, etc.) and yet we can't employ a few thousand scientists. It's appalling statistics like these that reaffirm my assertion that the Religious Right is quietly winning America. I dont have a problem with agreeing that Muslim fundamentalists are the #1 enemy of this nation. But Christian fundamentalists are a close second. In 20 years, there will be a Theocracy in this country. I'm going to start laying my emigration plans soon.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Millions of women live in big cities with high crime rates, yet they stay safe without resorting to carrying weapons or staying indoors all the time. You can carry pepper spray, an airhorn or mace. Firearms aren't needed.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    You have to go out seven decimal places on a calculator to determine what percentage of Park visitors got killed in 2007.
    I'll leave my guns at home and take my chances.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    I'm curious why we rarely see stories about how "law abiding" gun carrying individuals stepped forward and prevented a crime? If carrying guns prevents so many crimes, it just seems logical that we would see hundreds of stories of this nature. On the rare occasion that we do, it tends to be a Bernie Getz type. It's highly unlikely that any of the crimes listed in this story would have been prevented if the victim was carrying. I too remember the three women who were attacked and murdered OUTSIDE Yosemite. The key here is that they were, in fact, OUTSIDE of the park where guns were legal. Would have a gun saved them? Maybe. Would have pepper spray saved them? Maybe. Would have a taser saved them? Once again, maybe, maybe not. It's not like no one carrying a gun has ever been raped or murdered. When a criminal sneaks up behind you (or gets you in your sleeping bag) and sticks a knife to your throat or a gun to your ribs, all bets are off. One can certainly turn the argument around to crimes where the victim survived, and say: if they had tried to pull a gun, would have they been killed? Maybe. In any case, if this goes through, loaded guns will still be illegal in Yosemite because they are outlawed by the State of California in any park within the state.
    Even in areas where carrying guns is legal, the vast majority of people do not carry. The same will be true in National Parks. Probably even to a greater degree, because your average park visitor is a family man with his wife and children on vacation. He wouldn't think of having a gun around his children. If anything, he may reconsider traveling to a park that allowed guns to be carried. There are much safer alternatives for self defense.
    I propose that they do a survey of ACTUAL Park visitors. Hand out questionnaires at Park entrance stations across the country. Ask one question: "Do you believe that people should be allowed to carry loaded guns inside National Parks?" I believe that most ACTUAL PARK VISITORS will say "no".
    Another alternative would be, if someone feels some overwhelming need to carry a loaded weapon they could stop at a ranger station and apply for a temporary carry permit? At least rangers would have some control.
    Personally, I have hiked, backpacked, horseback ridden, camped, run rapids and just generally hung out in National Parks all of my life, from Canada to Mexico and from Washington to Texas, and I have never felt threatened or the need to have a gun. I currently spend over one hundred days a year in National Parks.
    Sec. Kempthorne and the United States Senators supporting this should be ashamed of themselves. National Park employees both present and past (individuals who "lay it on the line" day in and day out for us) are pleading with them, literally begging them not to pass this measure. Shouldn't we listen? Shouldn't they listen?

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    I agree, the hot heads etc. are already carrying guns illegally. It is not the permitted weapon carriers that people need to worry about. It is the untold number of people that already carry them illegally. In most states where permits are allowed, brandishing the firearm irrationally is illegal anyway. Not many people that have a permit and carry do so for illegaly purposes. I carry mine for my family's protection. Changing the rules would allow this to be done legally.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Marie, I wouldn't say we're "thinking like guys."

    My wife won't go out for a run by herself because she fears for her safety, and we live in a pretty darn safe area. I understand her fears, and I can understand the fears of a single woman or even two or three women out hiking in the backcountry. I certainly wasn't trying to minimize a woman's fears. Sadly, they're justified.

    But I feel a lot more insecure walking the streets of New York or Washington or Philadelphia than I do the backcountry of a national park. I do think parks are different than national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands. For one reason, most parks, unlike national forests and BLM lands, have specific entrances and exits and you have to pay to enter. I think that right there reduces the criminal element in a national park.

    But as I said earlier, I'd like more information on crime in the national parks to get a better feel for how safe or dangerous they are. The statistics alone indicate they're safe, and I'd wager that a close examination of where the assaults and rapes occurred would indicate that, by and far, the majority of NPS units are incredibly safe.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Gentlemen,
    I am a woman who camps alone or with my college age daughter and I agree with Fred. I have been all over the Southwest camping in a tent and sometimes I do not feel safe. There are long stretches of NV that are like Deliverence Territory. I carry a gun and I will continue to do so for the protection of myself and my daughter. Women are more the subject of violent crime then other men as we are seen as an easy target because we are not as strong. I remember what happen not only to those women outside of Yosemite but the young women who was hiking with her dog back east a few months ago and the guy attacked, raped and killed her. He cut off her head he hit her so hard. You would of thought her dog would have scared him off but it didn't. If she had a gun she might have been able to save herself. Please forgive me but you guys are thinking like guys put yourself in a woman's shoes and you would feel different.

    Marie

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Good questions Kurt. Perhaps these stats are non-issues. But since I know that I am a responsible person, and I've received many hours of expensive training, received three separate FBI background checks, and purchased a quality conceal-carry handgun I'll continue to carry. But I will be responsible and safe. I only wish you and I could say that about everyone. Our Parks and our world would be better off.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Fred, I hear what you're saying regarding the rapes. Still, I would be curious to know the details and locations of those crimes.

    How many were in the D.C. metro area? How many were in the backcountry? How many were "date rapes." How many involved women hiking alone by themselves?

    Without the full details, I'm not sure we can make a complete judgment on exactly how safe the parks are...but I'd venture they're a lot safer than most parts of the country.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Snowbird06
    Fred, your taking more of chance of being wiped out in a major car crash then the "million-to-one" chance of being a crime statistic in the National Parks.
    Personally, I think the NRA plays on the fears and minds of the common folk (and perhaps create a bit of paranoia) to enhance the profits of the gun industry...and besides it's good for business! I'm sure Fred your probably cool as a cucumber with even temperament but I wouldn't worry to much if you left your hand gun (or get rid of it for good) at home. The odds do give us some welcoming relief that the National Parks are still relatively safe to visit.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    I like to think that I'm one of the level-headed guys you mentioned and not one of the stressed-out guys. I carry in case I encounter the one-in-a-million people who should be in that anger management class.

    I repeat myself when I mention that these instances are incredibly small. But I wonder what you would say to YOUR daughter in the emergency room if she had been one of these victims; "Gee honey, there was only 35 rape victims in 2006, so I never carry a defensive weapon when we hike the back country". Sounds pretty thin to me.

    I'm just trying to point out here that these aren't just numbers on a piece of paper. They represent people just like you and me. I just don't want to take that million-to-one chance that someone in my family might be a "number" on a piece of paper.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Snowbird06
    Fred, I just hope that your a decent soul that uses good rational judgement if you have to use your (concealed) hand gun and not someone that is hot-headed with a quick temper. I see too many border-line misfits that are terribly hot headed (with the "outa my way" attitude) visiting the National parks today and basically should be in some kind of anger management class. Stresses in are society today are at the max: the economy, the housing crises, the medical care fiasco and the phony Bush war. How we cope with these issues on a daily basis as individuals is a matter how strong are thresh-hold for stress and pain is. Let's face it, some of us aren't going to make it (or just plain loose it mentally). In my estimation carrying a concealed weapon into the National Parks is NOT a good policy considering the stress mood of this nation. The National Parks are to unload and unpack are weak and weary minds and to leave the heavy metal at home. Who needs more NRA propaganda stress to buy more guns...and more guns...and more guns!!!

  • Glen Canyon NRA Releases EA on Castle Rock Cut Deepening   6 years 37 weeks ago

    The "natural environment"?!?!?

    It's hardly a natural environment. A giant, artificial lake in the desert has nothing natural about it.

    If you want to preserve the natural environment, tear down the dam. If not, save it as a place for recreation.

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Not to comment on the merits of the ethical argument regarding protection, I want to reiterate that relative to places where people live (and many are happy to live) with gun laws that are just as strict as they are in the national parks, the numbers are very small. The amount of random crime is much smaller still (though those numbers aren't reflected here), and the demographics of the crime depend on the type of park (for instance, most park units in Washington, DC are National Park Service units - you could be accosted in Dupont Circle (an area in DC with a high rate of robberies, though otherwise very popular) - nothing more than a fountain and a lawn filled with benches surrounded by a traffic circle - and it would go into these NPS stats presumably.

    In Washington, DC, a city with just under 600,000 people - (perhaps, triple or quadruple if you count the people who actually work there, but still far, far less than the visitors to NPS units),

    This is only through November 2007 (in fact, the number of homicides for instance in Washington were 181; this number does not count suicides or other forms of death in the NPS stats)

    171 homicides
    294 Sexual Assaults
    3,534 Robberies
    3,065 Assault with a Deadly Weapon
    3,500 Burglary
    Theft 6,816
    Theft from Auto 6,530
    Stolen Auto 5,534
    Arson 16

    Now, that's a per capita difference that's huge, the gun laws are similar, and yet the numbers are vastly different. Changing gun laws is a red herring argument when it comes to crime in a place. And, perhaps, also protection. On the ideology of gun laws, on protecting oneself and one's loved ones, and the means, those are interesting arguments. But, strictly on the merits of quantity of crime and a correlation to gun regulations, there simply isn't one.

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

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    This link takes you to an article in the L.A. Times. According to the article, "The National Park Service says there were 116,588 offenses in national parks in 2006, including 11 killings, 35 rapes or attempted rapes, 61 robberies, 16 kidnappings and 261 aggravated assaults."

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-guns23feb23,0,1267373,full.story

    Maybe this is not a very large number. Maybe you don't think that this small number justifies my right to carry a concealed weapon. But, though the odds are pretty small, how would you feel about YOU or your WIFE or your DAUGHTER being one of those small numbers of victims listed here?

    I'll keep on carrying my pistol, thanks for your concern.

  • Would a Change in Gun Laws Be a Threat to National Park Bears?   6 years 37 weeks ago

    I really like what Wildvisions had to say... I spent much of last summer out in the interior of Alaska. And sadly (from my perspective), the only place I saw a brown bear was inside Denali National Park. But I spent three months at various locations around the Alaska range, the Brooks range and all along the haul road. Alaska was FABULOUS, but much of the 'rumors' I'd heard before my trip were terribly false. I was trained to watch bear behavior and to protect myself from the larger mammals. But my pepper spray just gathered dust all summer.

    If you're that worried about bears, perhaps you need a bit more experience. I never see enough wildlife to suit me when I'm in the field. LOL

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    "To defrauded town toilers, parks in magazine articles are like pictures of bread to the hungry. I can write only hints to incite good wanderers to come to the feast.... A day in the mountains is worth a mountain of books." -- John Muir

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    The key observation here would be that Women tend to be the victims of these crimes and as a woman who travels alone or with my college age daughter I would feel more comfortable with my gun then without. I remember the 3 women (mom, daughter and daughter's freind) who were killed outside of Yosemite a number of years ago. Had any of them had a gun they might not have been raped and killed. The article does not show how often women are victims of other violent crimes in the park that do not result in murder. Urban parks are troubling for women since the parks have easy access by criminals from the city and seeing a woman alone or a group of women sleeping in tents it an opportunity for them.

    Since we are a country set on equality we could not make a law that says just women can carry guns and not men we have to have one that covers both. I support guns being allowed in parks and maybe the violence against women may decrease.

    Marie

  • Violent Deaths in the National Parks   6 years 37 weeks ago

    I remember the murders in DC and a spree of muggings a couple years ago on the Mall. They eventually caught the people involved with the muggings. It was surprising for DC residents because the Mall is considered one of the safest places in a city - a small city with a huge amount of park land, that averages nearly 200 murders a year, not many of them in park units. You occasionally hear of rapists in Rock Creek Park, but even that is rare. So, in one of the most dangerous cities in the entire country, where class differences are extremely wide and racial tensions huge, parks are usually considered among the safest places to be. A few murders and muggings in park units in DC seems like nothing when you consider the sheer scope of the problem in Washington and the fact that most people I know have been mugged at some time or other.

    Interestingly, the Supreme Court may throw out DC's very strict gun laws. Most people in DC don't think that adding more guns to the streets would help the problem but only exacerbate it. When I was mugged for instance, it was by two people who did so before I could act. They would have had my gun in an instant. One reason people think that murders are actually lower than they otherwise might be is because a lot of the people who commit crimes here actually don't have guns.

    For me, it's absurd to look at violence by simply looking at people as "criminals", which is not what people are. People commit crimes, but unless they are part of organized crime, they generally aren't inborn as criminals. Crime results from a lot of factors; one reason it occurs so infrequently in the parks is because those factors don't come into play much in parks.

    On the other hand, as people know who read me, I have far larger systemic problems with the way that society is formed. I just question the premises that have produced this discussion.

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

  • Would a Change in Gun Laws Be a Threat to National Park Bears?   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Dave, I'm just curious on something. You say that you are thinking of avoiding NPs and only visit national forests "where we can protect ourselves." Do you do that currently in your day-to-day life? What I mean is, do you only travel to cities or states where you are able to carry a weapon for protection? I'm not trying to incite with this comment, I'm sincerely curious. I know there are cities (like Washington, DC) which do not allow handguns, concealed or otherwise, and some states (like California) that prohibit concealed weapons. Do you apply the same standards outside the national park when you determine where you will/won't travel to?

  • Would a Change in Gun Laws Be a Threat to National Park Bears?   6 years 37 weeks ago

    The park rangers aren't even around to catch poachers cutting down redwood trees. And we are supposed to expect them to be around to protect us from attacks from animals or drug dealers in the back country? My wife and I are thinking of avoiding national parks in the future and just patronizing the national forests where we can protect ourselves.

  • Of Geologists, Paleontologists, And Science in the National Park System   6 years 37 weeks ago

    Most of us agree that increased NPS funding is sorely needed. However, there are tough times and decisions ahead. The challenge for all of us is to successfully make the case that funding the science and preservation in the NPS is as important as stopping the tremendous amounts of contaminated medicines and dangerous products coming in from overseas, controlling our borders and ports, dealing with an out of control war on drugs and burgeoning prison population, declining levels of science (and almost all other kinds of) education, fighting and winning the war on terrorism, a multi-trillion dollar national debt, and a plethora of other serious issues facing our nation. Yes there is a constituency for our parks and for science in those parks. But there are equally dedicated constituencies for all those other issues. It is going to be a very hard sell.