Recent comments

  • Visitation Decline at Great Smoky Mountains National Park Has Area Businesses, Residents, and Governments Worried   6 years 31 weeks ago

    So, I realize that this is not good for businesses however I bet the resources are seriously enjoying the break!! I was in the Smokies again this year and was mortified (once again) to see visitors chasing a Black Bear, trash on the highly visited trails and people just having no respect for nature. I know it is important for people to connect with nature but maybe this was a nice break for the bears, rivers and mountains!

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Oh, come on Ted Clayton. The endangered species law was EXACTLY written to do this because it was the last gasp of the effort to stop America from destroying its diversity of species. Real laws of nationwide land use, habitat destruction or releasing chemicals into the environment were too little too late. The endangered species act was a desperation move, to absolutely stop extinctions by forcing changes in human activities that threatened those species. Don't you remember the number of times it would be said that the destruction to the environment was an "unintended consequence" or an "unexpected side effect?"

    To the extent possible the law was intended to interject the Fish and Wildlife Service into this "unintended" ambiguity with explicit science and actions and strategies to FORCE a change in destructive activities.

    The only widespread public disapproval of the law has come when species without any charisma were ridiculed in well-funded attacks to trivialize the value of the species and undermine the respect for the public servants involved. (accompanied by constant interference by political appointees resulting in over-long administrative procedures, and critically underfunded budgets, to try the public patience.)

    The public certainly does not feel this way about shore birds. And remember, threats to birds was one of the very largest original reasons for the passage of the endangered species act.

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Ted Clayton:

    I do think you are listing over a little bit on these comments of yours. I did re-read the original post, and read it again, and don't think the facetious tone is there as you suggest.

    Do find opportunities for humor, and NPT should not be and is not humorless. Plus, I am as concerned about irrational drug laws as anyone. And I am not impressed if the policy at a park is to focus on personal-quantity-drug-busts, to the neglect the primary mission of protecting the resources and the public. (I have seen upside down priorities among law enforcement officers in parks.)

    But the fact is if a law enforcement officer walks into the middle of a drug transaction, and -- dig this -- finds "several bags" (not as you imply just the personal quantities of "weed" as you say) he must act on it. Imagine the reaction if law enforcement officers were removing substantial quantities of drugs, releasing the offending parties, and then not reporting the confiscated drugs. Many would wonder if the officer kept the drugs for himself. No?

    That is what it means to be a professional. And yes, discretion and judgement is one of the jobs of the law enforcement officer. But I think the real complaint here reflected in this thread is the law itself.

    So the drugs were not the subject of facetiousness, but perhaps if you have an attitude about the appropriateness of tasers, the tasers part of it, I guess you or the author may be holding that part of the story up to the light. Without being explicit. But even if so, this ranger did not actually use the taser, which seems to me again to possibly be good judgement, and the appropriate reaction.

    Citizens are responsible for governing our legislators and the laws they pass, not the law enforcement officer. If we don't like the laws, the citizens have to give the cover to the elected officials they need to change the laws.

    In this case, it is hard to see how Rick Smith could be wrong: we should trust the discretion of the arresting officers in this case. It does not seem there was an inappropriate use of force. It seems the arrest met 4th Amendment standards: there seemed to be probable cause and illegal substances in some commercial quantity were discovered.

    If the US Attorney or the Court decides that the commercial quantities involved were too small to justify an expensive prosecution, they often drop the case or permit a guilty plea at a lesser charge. That would stlll be the lesson Beamis seeks, without full prosecution. Although, yes, at more expense of money and time than just letting them walk in the first place. But an individual officer seemed to make a legitimate judgement that he could not ignore a drug transactions of commercial quantities, and in such a case must make an arrest.

  • Creature Feature: The American Marten   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I love storys that show how connect wildlife is with the habbit. this animal servers a role in the whole system. Without them we will be short a worker. I always wonder how people dont see a design in this wonderful world we live in.

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Rick Smith,

    Perhaps you overestimate the difficulty of assessing a law enforcement context.

    There are easily enough facts in view in this case, to see that the interdiction was probably unprofessional to the point of being "amateurish".

    The original post itself sets the snide & facetious tone, Rick (read it again) ... and I see you are happy enough to try your own hand. Nothing says that NPT has to be totally stuffed & humorless at all times.

    This looks like a 'human interest' piece to me ... and I think it does NPT good.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 31 weeks ago

    dapster said:

    "The Eco groups have much to fear from sworn testimony and cross-examination."

    I daresay 'Eco groups' have become environmentalism's own greatest liability. The laws they use to tie the United States in administrative knots weren't meant for these kinds of purposes. Congress has been grappling with the problem for years, and at some point they will undertake a package of reforms that will put an end to this 'subversion & perversion' of public law.

  • National Park Service Open to Cutting Single-Track Bike Trails in the Parks   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Segways are not permitted on the National Mall and can only cross the mall at 3rd, 4th, 7th and 14th Streets. All Segway tour operators are fully aware of this ruling, however two of the three tour operators - Capital Segway and City Segway Tours consistently ignore the law. Segway speed in DC is also restricted to 10mph on the sidewalks. I suggest that if you see segway riders acting recklessly and outside the law that you report it to the nearest NPS representative.

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Gee, Ted, you must have been on the scene to be able judge the actions of the 5 individuals and the 2 rangers. And, you even have a solution for the rangers involved--a refresher course. Come on, since you weren't there, let's leave the prescriptions for more training and the snide remarks out of NPT.

    Rick Smith

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   6 years 31 weeks ago

    These 5 male and 1 female "perps" (buncha local kids?) could have been dangling their bodies over a precipice, risking injury & death ... and putting others at risk and costing the public money attempting to rescue them ... and that would have been 'approved recreation'.

    So they're gonna share a bag of weed, and the Rangers abandon their storm-damage assessement duties and go for a little Dirty Harry side-excitement? Got it.

    Actually, the 2 Rangers obviously need a refresher course in basic law enforcement. There were 6 suspects, one Ranger is grappling with a 'man', and the other Ranger has only a disabled Taser to back him up. Not very professional ... but all too typical of Park 'law enforcement'.

    Good cops read the situation better than these guys did ... and make a call to HQ when they (obviously) aren't ready to deal with it.

    This incident reads more like Barney Fife gettin' the low-down on Mayberry.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Alas, it would seem that the bill may have died in committee yesterday. Voting was divided strictly along party lines. Go figure. The vote was close, though.

    From the "Island Free Press":

    Even as the witnesses were testifying in the House, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources dealt the legislation what may be a fatal blow. The Senate committee voted 12-11 not to report the bill, S3113, out of committee. The vote split along party lines, with Republicans, including North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr, voting to report the bill out of committee and Democrats voting against it. Since this Congress will probably recess at the end of the month for the year, it seems increasingly unlikely that the legislation to set aside the consent decree will be passed.

    A big thanks to all who fought for this bill. Special thanks the the NC and mostly VA representatives who co-sponsored the bill and fought for the rights of their respective constituents.

    Also a big thanks to everyone who has posted on either side of this issue. I have learned much from you all, and I hope you feel similarly. Spirited debate is always informative as long as one keeps an open mind.

    The bill may be reintroduced next year. Otherwise, I see no other alternative than a return to the Judicial Branch of our government to resolve this issue. This time, however, it hopefully will involve more than just a single biased federal judge. The Eco groups have much to fear from sworn testimony and cross-examination.

    Their "science" and spin will not withstand the truth in that setting.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Ms. Anon,

    Thanks for your down-to-earth account of the importance of personal protection.

    I not only disagree with Bob Janiskee, that it is somehow disturbing or that something is amiss to hold that "If you don't look out for yourself, nobody else will." - but worse, I hold that he is fundamentally & factually mistaken on the point, both in principle & in practice.

    Law enforcement' purpose - as I'm sure you know, M'am - is not to provide personal protection to the populace. Never was, never will be. They are here to enforce the laws of the land, which in no way extends to making sure that no harm comes to any of us individually. The Police' duty is to the law, not to the person. The responsibility for taking care of oneself rests with oneself.

    The confusion might arise, because we expect to pick up the phone and call 911 if something bad is happening ... then an Officer comes and protects us addresses the bad that we have brought to her attention. The Officer comes to enforce the law ... and all too often, merely to make a report of the offense, which already harmed the caller.

    The Secret Service guards the person of the President, etc, but they aren't "law enforcement". The rich & the celebrated hire commercial guards to protect them from threats, and to shield their privacy. All the rest of ya'll, indeed M'am, "look out for yourselves".

    There is also the matter of restraining orders, etc, which attempt to confer protection by temporarily abridging the Constitutional rights of a 3rd party (to stay away from a spouse, etc). This too, though, is not the Police' business, but the Court's. And all too often, graphically displays that protection cannot be assured, by writ of any kind.

    No, firearms opponents have it wrong, in the Parks & outside them. The Liberal ethos is suffering from the effects of both delusion and denial, grasping at straws to justify an essentially erroneous view of both the practical realities and the basic principles of the law, with respect to firearms.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Bob says, "I do admit it disturbs me to hear an ex-police officer like yourself say "If you don't look out for yourself, nobody else will."

    You, and those folks who take a trendy, holier-than-thou anti-gun stance, should take these words very seriously. People who are astoundingly naive enough to believe that they are safe just because there are police on duty somewhere may be in for a very rude surprise some day.

    When you call 911, the police usually end up investigating a crime that's already happened. If you believe your life and the lives of your loved ones are worth more than some scumbag willing to maim or kill you then you need to take responsibility for your safety. The police are paid to enforce laws, not protect you.

    I still laugh when I see all the brouhaha from the anti gun crowd proclaiming concealed carry permit holders will suddenly start poaching when the park regulation are finally changed. Masters of FUD, these folks.[Ed: FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt -- at least, I think that's what Rick means here.]

  • Canyonlands National Park, Still A Work in Progress After All These Years   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Canyonlands National Park is the least visited of Utah's five national parks and is truly one of the great gems of the national park system. Near and dear to my heart, and perhaps one of the most threatened by energy development, Canyonlands deserves to be expanded to include the Glen Canyon NRA lands to the west and BLM lands to the south all the way down to Dark Canyon, which is losing some of its protected status in the newly-minted proposed final Monticello Resource Management Plan. The canyons from Dark to the current park boundary would be excellent additions to Canyonlands.

    The elements illustrated quite well for me how treacherous canyon country travel can be during a four day backpack trip in the Needles District. My friends and I had planned a Dark Canyon expedition during the very, very dry winter of 2005-2006, when by early March not a snowflake was to be found anywhere in the Abajo Mountains and Elk Ridge where our hike would begin. So, the second weekend in March, we arrived in Moab just in time for a blizzard, which cut off access to the upper trailheads to Dark Canyon west of Blanding. We made a last minute decision to spend four days in the Needles instead. When we arrived, the snow hadn't reached such a low elevation yet, so we were elated that we'd have a good-weather backpack trip. Our elation lasted until that evening while setting up camp in Chesler Park, which soon received about six inches of snow, drifting up to a foot in places. We spent the next three days negotiating icy slickrock above precipitous cliffs and slots, making an otherwise tame trail truly treacherous. During the whole hike, we encountered no other visitors and we had more fun in that wild, wild place than I've had anywhere else in a long, long time.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 weeks ago

    From what you've said, Anon, I judge that you're a very trustworthy individual who, by virtue of your fine training and long experience, could be expected to act very responsibly if allowed to legally pack in the national parks. I assure you that it's not people like you I'm worried about. I do admit it disturbs me to hear an ex-police officer like yourself say "If you don't look out for yourself, nobody else will." Is the situation really that bleak? Do we all need to pack, even when we're in a national park?

    BTW, Anon, I had occasion to fire a variety of weapons myself during basic training and the rest of my stint with the U.S. Army (three years and 13 days, mostly spent overseas) back in the Stone Age. With one notable exception, I qualified expert with every single one of those weapons, too. The .38 caliber, two-inch barrel police revolver that was my TOE weapon when I served with the 513th MI was darn near completely useless. I developed a plan for using that metallic piece of crap if I was ever called upon to do so in an emergency -- if, for example, a horde of Commie tanks burst through the Fulda Gap and descended on Oberursel/Ts. My two-step plan was to do this: (1) Fire one round when my assailant got within 30 feet -- preferably lots closer; then (2) throw the revolver at him and run like hell. Thank goodness that I never got the chance to do that. Anyway, for greater piece of mind I got myself (notice I didn't say "bought") a .45 automatic. It was heavy and ugly, but very competent.

  • Critics: Changing Gun Laws in National Parks Would Open a "Pandora's Box" of Problems   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I'm a female and believe in carrying a weapon, whether its on the road or in a park. I am not about to let some ciminal violate me or hurt me. I value my life way to much. I carry a weapon and I know what is right and what is wrong unlike some people out there. I dont think I'm a threat to anyone except to the criminal who is out there to hurt me. I know how to use a weapon. I was a police officer and served 8 years in the military with expert (weapons) medals. I want to feel safe and I would never hurt any innocent people. I'm responsible and I know there are a lot of people out there that are just like me. If you dont look out for yourself, nobody else will.

  • Canyonlands National Park, Still A Work in Progress After All These Years   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Canyonland's is a beautiful of the best I have ever visited. Great trails that lead to fantastic views.......this park is a must see. When Arches NP gets too crowded, just head a few miles up the road to Canyonlands......well worth the trip.

  • National Park History: “The Spirit of the Civilian Conservation Corps”   6 years 31 weeks ago

    My mom (a child of the depression) and I sometimes have this conversation: "what this country needs is a good hardship to get us back on track."

    People of that era lived a hard life, but they also lived pragmatic and practical lives. They worked hard because they knew work was hard to find, and they took pride in their work because it's all they had. They would later become "the greatest generation" because of the work ethic they gained during those hard years.

    Nowadays, we're soft & lazy and demand everything from everybody and don't give a crap about anyone else. We have no concept of what adversity or challenge really is anymore, we just whine when we don't have a paved road to drive on or a cushy seat to sit in.

    The CCC is an anachronism, to be sure, but it made a long-lasting, significant contribution to the NPS and the country and the people who were members.


    My travels through the National Park System:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers Cleaning Up After Climbers   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Not to surprising, I mean this is Colorado were talking about here. The people in this state have a have poor attitude. I don’t go to the state of Colorado any more because the people have becomes rude and arrogant. Every time I come across folks from Colorado in places such as Yellowstone they are inconsiderate to other campers. They also refused to obey the speed limit in Yellowstone. Every time an idiot is tailgating me and trying to get ahead of everyone else on the road it is always some on from Colorado. Every time I make conversation with other campers, hikers and fly-fishermen as soon as they find out that I am not from Colorado they become rude and insulting. Even some fly-fishing magazines have spoken of this in their articles. When Coloradans visit recreation places in my state they trash the place. Every Holiday such as Memorial Day the entire State Patrol in my state has to go to the place where Coloradans congregate to pary. Every year they arrest three or four people for rape at these gathering. So no I am not surprised at all.

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   6 years 31 weeks ago

    While we're quoting the Bible,

    "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed." Genesis 1:29

    Some scholars have suggested that Jesus healed using cannabis.

    At any rate, at the risk of sounding like a NORML commercial, were the use of natural substance, such as cannabis, not prohibited under law, the cost of said substance would be low, or even free if grown at home, and there would be no "credit card" debt and all that other nonsense. (People would also stop growing it in parks.)

    If you think your religion prohibits adults from deciding what to do with their body, that's fine. Just don't try to control (using governmental force) what other adults decide to do with, to, or for their own bodies.

    As far as discrimination, wouldn't it be nice if each instance was treated as a unique situation rather than a one-size-fits-all mandate? I mean, doesn't it make sense to overlook someone passing off a bag of herbs and focusing on storm damage instead? Maybe someday...when freedom of choice has been restored.


    And speaking of double standards and "discrimination":
    Denver Advisory Panel Recommends No Arrests of Marijuana Smokers During Democratic Convention

    If it works for the dems, can't it work for the NPS?

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   6 years 31 weeks ago

    The only way to assure that all people who commit crimes are treated equally during their encounters with law enforcement is for law enforcement officers to treat all of them as prescribed by policy - in this case arrest, in other cases citation. A policy that "you can throw away the drugs/paraphernalia instead of writing a cite if you feel like it" would tend to lead to officers picking and choosing how the people they encounter are treated. That could lead, even unconsciously, to discrimination. Thus, whether or not you like drug laws, the actions on the part of these officers was correct.

    And I'm glad to hear that Big Thick has tasers now. It's a place that needs them.

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I agree that it is most assuredly not a victimless crime. The substance abUSERS are not the only ones that hit rock bottom. Before that happens, families are ravaged. Abusers get high, get into debt (max out [cash advances, too] credit cards off the charts), empty bank accounts, come close to or actually lose jobs, lie, steal & whatever it takes. Then they have black outs & don't remember anything. Although rehab is a good thing, it doesn't help all habitual substance abusers. If not for the grace of God, families would be torn apart irrepairably. They come to the point of total brokenness. Only by a miracle through Jesus, the substance abuser's delivered from drugs, forgiven & redeemed:-D And the family restored!!! However, the consequences are still there. Day by day with the help of God, one doesn't simply exist but lives a full life. "The thief comes to steal, kill & destroy but Jesus came to give us a full life." John 10:10 That is reality...practical, doable & happening in our lifetime ( & eternity). Trust me, there couldn't be a better high than the abundant life;-) Sincerely,

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 31 weeks ago

    I worked at Fire Island National Seashore a few years ago and lived on the island. When I was considering returning, I asked if I could drive my Jeep 4x4 to my duty station from Long Island (so I could live on Long Island instead of living in isolation for a month). No. Only law enforcement are allowed to drive on the beaches and a small number of Fire Island residents (who live in private communities that pre-date the park). I socialized quite a bit at the only microbrewery on Long Island, and when people found out I was a national park ranger, they asked me why they couldn't get permits to drive to their houses. I didn't know. I couldn't get one either. Had to be law enforcement.

    Meanwhile, I helped wildlife biologists set up exclosures and monitor the piping plover population. (They often drove off-road Polaris vehicles.) I always had to walk the beach, and when I did, the most damage was not done by vehicles (although vehicle tracks are arguably an aesthetic damage--but just wait for the next storm surge or high tide). The most pollution came from plastics and other nastiness coughed up by the surf.

    The real issue at Fire Island was the birds. So, close the beach to travel when you gotta protect the nests. But after that, open driving to local residents, including non-LE rangers, and perhaps provide sections for low-impact recreational uses (ORV on the beach--not dunes).

  • At Big Thicket National Preserve, a Combative Drug Dealer Changes His Mind When Ranger Stafford Shows Him His Taser   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Lone Hiker, I already made this suggestion on NPT long ago, and Beamis disagreed. At the time, I thought taxation and regulation would be a great revenue stream to help the parks. But then I realized, even in the remote chance of that passing, there would be so much parasitism around the revenue that it would not be worth it. First, a federal bureaucracy would need to be established, or maybe the ATF could become the ATFC (adding "C" for "cannabis"). Either way, more bureaucrats will need to be hired to come up with rules, regulations (can't buy it on a Sunday! No sir-e-bub, not on the "Lord's Day"!), enforcement, etc, etc, until the amount of taxes being collected from regulation increases as the bloated bureaucracy clamors for more food--er, I mean taxes--to try to satiate its leviathan appetite for growth and management.

    After months of study and investigation, I see what would happen under regulation. Take tobacco. I was in a Kansas City laundry mat (don't ask) when a guy ran out of the adjacent convenience/liquor store with armfuls of cigarette cases. The market price for tobacco is probably pretty low, but the government has stepped in with taxes, pricing the lower income brackets out of the market and forcing them to crime to sustain their medical condition (addiction). How would regulating (taxing) Mary Jane be any different?

    I do appreciate Rick's input and find that we have much in common. However, I side with Beamis about enforcement. Make people break their bowls, take their stashes (and smoke it later around the campfire), and tell them not to deal in the park again. That's enough punishment until freedom of choice can be restored.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 31 weeks ago

    Mr. Finegan,

    JTH supplied the document I was about to bring up myself. This designation is indeed not listed on the NPS website for the area, and has curiously disappeared and reappeared over the years for reasons unknown.

    To those of us on the ground down here, it is very much not a triviality. It may be the keystone to our argument when this issue returns to court. Notice I didn’t say “If”…

    In other news:

    Eddie’s comment is spot-on.

    Here’s a look at another look at the “slight of hand” moves that SELC uses in their favor. Look at the below “Google Earth” based map put out by the CHNSRA NPS. The area we are looking at is Hatteras inlet, with the South end of Hatteras Island visible on the right, and the North end of Ocracoke Island visible on the left.

    Please pay particular attention to the area marked “Ramp 59”. Notice that an area marked in orange color, which denotes “Pedestrian Access Only” is bracketed by areas marked in red on both sides, which denotes “Closed for Resource Protection”. This means no human/canine entry at all, period. Once you reach one of these areas, you will see one of these this blocking your way, depending on whether it’s bird or turtle season:

    Also, please note the immense buffer zone that surrounds this now-drowned turtle nest. You can see a family standing at the other side of the closure. A bit excessive, perhaps?

    The only way you can access this seemingly “Open” area is by boat, and the inlet is not a place to be taken lightly due to ocean swells that enter it, and an approximately 3 knot current that runs through the inlet at all times except slack tides. You don’t want to take your canoe there, trust me.

    The SELC talking heads would include this area in their touting of percentages of beach open, but it cannot be accessed! There have been many instances of this throughout this summer under the Consent Decree.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   6 years 31 weeks ago

    As several on this page have stated both sides are adament in thier beliefs. I have been visiting and driving on the beaches of NC for more than 40 years . Before the advent of the SUV and when there were no restrictions. Each year there are more and more restrictions and less area to enjoy. This summer our family made it's yearly visit and it was a down right shame to look and see literally miles of beach that was not accessable to anyone except the " authorities" that seem to be on it every evening. This island depends upon the tourist trade for it's livelyhood and with out access to the beaches it will be economically devestated. In fact this year has been a bad one already. There needs to be some type of solution that involves comprimise that will protect both sides. The facts show that vehicle use is not the culprit but more the weather. This strip of sand has constant winds and many storms that present more of a threat than the few off road vehicles that use it. The areas that we use are not user friendly without vehicle access. Let's try and get this opportunity solved soon so we can all enjoy the island again.