Recent comments

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 3 days ago

    The Democratic caucuses in Utah are conducted fairly and politely. Anyone may speak and not be booed or shouted down. In Republican caucus meetings, however, only a very small number of people usually attend and they tend to be the more rabid Tea Party, Black Helicopter, UN hating extremists whose information diets are usually limited to Rush, Glen, Sean and Faux. At Democratic caucus meetings, we find people who are able to actually think for themselves and that, too, may be a disadvantage because there may not be a united front on all issues.

    I know a number of people who are Republicans who say they attended a caucus once and will not do it again. I try to convince them that if the experience was a bad one, that is exactly why they need to go back again and again until they manage to change things. But they don't have much hope of that.

    There are many more moderate Republicans fully supporting an active effort to change the caucus to a primary election. Among them are a number of former and current state legislators, former Senator Bob Bennett, and a couple of former governors. But bills to that end have been throttled in committees controlled by the power players in the state's loonislature.

    Utah is not Colorado. And for that, even ec needs to give fervent thanks.

    J Thomas, your post above was excellent. Thank you. The only point I'd suggest might not be completely accurate is the fact that moderate members of both parties feel they have been completely disenfranchised by THE SYSTEM and simply don't even try to participate. The biggest thing we need to do in this state is to try to somehow convince them that if they would just get out and vote, they really could make a big, big difference.

    By the way, your point about voting a straight ticket is right on. In Utah, a voter may register as either Republican, Democrat, or Unaffiliated. Of registered Republicans about 80% vote straight tickets. Democrats are down somewhere around 30% and Unaffiliated are lower than that. In the last election when only 28% of eligible voters particpated, over half of that 28% were registered Republicans. It's a shame, but around here the GOP does a better job of getting out the vote. But they use a lot of fear mongering to do it.

    And then, there was the gerrymandering . . . . but that's a whole 'nother story.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago

    Not all republicans are anti-wilderness. I don't necessarily buy that, although it seems that the base has a larger contingency of anti-wilderness factions. For example, Mike Simpson in Idaho has for over a decade fought to preserve the White Clouds as wilderness, and in Tennessee both Senator Corker and Alexander have just put a bill in to expand the wilderness in the state.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago

    M13 - Did you read the bill? I see nothing in there that does what you/the article claims. Perhaps you could cite where it does what you claim.

  • Traveler's Gear Box: Sierra Designs' DriDown Better Vest   1 week 4 days ago

    So it's a sort of vest and sweater ... a "svester"! I like it!

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago
    Republicans in West Virginia have no Respect for Clean Drinking Water, and no Respect for A HIGH ALLEGHENY NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE One Year After Spill That Contaminated Drinking Water, West Virginia Legislature Tries to Roll Back Chemical Regulationshttp://www.highalleghenynp.org/whatishanp.html http://www.newsweek.com/one-year-after-spill-contaminated-drinking-water-west-virginia-legislature-305975
  • Essential Spring Guide '15: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, Mammoth Cave National Park, Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area   1 week 4 days ago

    Heh!

    That's exactly where I'm headed soon, as I finish my national Parks of the Southeast adventure.

    Danny

    www.hikertohiker.com

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago

    What you see in your Colorado caucus can't be assumed to be the same in Utah,

    So the people in Utah are naturally more abrasive than Colorado? They have an atypical habit of shouting down those they disagree with? I doubt it. We in Colorado may reach different conclusions but I have no reason to believe the those from Utah are any less civil. The issue isn't the existence of caucuses.

    who is seens as more appealing to voters on items such as the econonmy, lower taxes, national defense, gun rights, and a host of other issues important to many in Utah.

    And those issues typically coincide with the belief in less Federal government and less Federal Government ownership of land. I suspect the polls that Lee is seeing aren't as unbiased in their structure or accurate in their conclusion as Lee would like one to believe.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago

    What you see in your Colorado caucus can't be assumed to be the same in Utah, which as others have, suggested, has a much different culture than Colorado. (Just one example: what are the odds Utah will vote to legalize smoking that noxious green weed?)

    As to why people in Utah continue to elect the same politicians who seem to be "anti-public lands," there are - as you know - many factors in voter decisions.

    Sadly, some voters will make decisions based stricly on party lines rather than qualifications or even issues - as long as the candidate on their party slate has a pulse, he or she will get their vote. Redrawing of voting district lines by the party in power also has an impact on elections. People tend to vote for the candidate who they preceive can do them the most good - or the least harm - on a wide range of issues most important to the voter. For that reason, incumbents pitch their ability to deliver more pork to the home folks, and that carries weight with voters.

    Public lands are apparently an important issue to many people in Utah, but that single point won't tip the vote against a candidate who is seens as more appealing to voters on items such as the econonmy, lower taxes, national defense, gun rights, and a host of other issues important to many in Utah.

    As a general rule, I'll offer an opinion that Republican candidates in Utah are seen as stronger on the issues listed above - with the exception of support for public lands. And...this past election, anyone nationwide running on a Democratic ticket, regardless of qualifications, had a major burden to overcome - the current occupant of the White Houjse.

    So, if Utah voters continue to elect Mr. Bishops and others of his ilk, it doesn't mean they support his stance on public lands. They have to accept that as part of the overall package, and as long as the anti-federalists can continue to get the votes based on many other issues, they can simply ingnore the public opinion when it comes to public lands.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago

    Because voter turnout is dismally low in Utah.

    Well then I guess they must not have particularly strong convictions. The fact is that the poll that counts elects people that want to reduce Federal Land ownership.

    Part of it is the system used by the GOP to select candidates through "neighborhood caucuses" where anyone seeking to support a more moderate candidate or issue can expect to be literally shouted down by extremist supporters of the extreme right.

    I live in a caucus state and participate in them actively. I have seen nothing like what you describe. Fact is the caucus process allows much more grass roots participation and reduces the impact of back room politics that you so frequently attack. And BTW - the Democrats use "neighborhood caucus" in Utah as well.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago

    Because voter turnout is dismally low in Utah. It's a terribly unfortunate thing because moderate voters feel there is no chance a candidate they choose might have a chance of winning. Part of it is the system used by the GOP to select candidates through "neighborhood caucuses" where anyone seeking to support a more moderate candidate or issue can expect to be literally shouted down by extremist supporters of the extreme right. (Redundency intended.) I know many people who have attended one or two in the past, but say they will never again expose themselves to the abuse they endured.

    The national Democratic party seems to have written off any chance of victory for a candidate in Utah and send virtually no money to help. Thus, Donna McAleer had virtually a pauper's chest against tons of out of state anonymous money pouring in to Rob Bishop's coffers.

    Even with the hotly contested races in the last election, Utah's overall voter turnout was below 30%. Most of those voters are the more rabid supporters of whichever ideology they subscribe. The only way we will ever have a chance is when the moderate, independent voters in Utah finally have had enough to motivate them to actually go vote.

    If that ever happens, Rob Bishop, Mike Lee, Jason Chafetz, Mia Love and the others will certainly be in for a huge surprise.

    http://utahdatapoints.com/2014/11/voter-turnout-in-utah-just-got-worse/

    http://www.sltrib.com/news/1873023-155/utah-had-3rd-lowest-voter-turnout...

    Gary's post above is only partly true. Most of us tend to be moderate in our political thinking. But there is pressure in some communities (church "wards") on those who express moderation or opposition to more extreme ideologies. It is true that the Church packs enormous wallop in the state legislature. Witness this last session in which as soon as the Church proposed a law intended to balance rights of certain groups and those of people who may oppose those groups' practices because of religious belief, the legislature jumped right on it. On the other hand, even though the Church has proposed more moderate immigration laws, the legislature has refused to consider them.

    It's certainly a mixed, and often confusing bag of political manure in Utah. And it all comes down to money and power. There is a small, wealthy, powerful group of just a relatively few people who control the entire GOP process here. (But, unfortunately, that's just a reflection of what is a growing problem nationally.)

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago

    I have a love/hate relationship with Utah. My mother-in-law lived there for some time, and so I spent a considerable amount of time exploring the state. While it's beautiful, and there surely is much public lands to enjoy, "the church" has a stranghold on the states political system almost to the point where the seperation of church and state doesn't exist there. If there is one state where I think there is a theocracy in place, it's Utah. While many mormons i've known are great outdoors people and some of the best skiiers and climbers i've ever known, many of the church's leaders (and they run the state politically system too) seem to loathe anything to do with the federal government, and I think a lot of that hostility stems from the fact that they were basically "booted out" because their version of the magical sky fairy didn't fit the status quo from that time period. So that hostility still exists and is an underlying theme in the states political atmosphere. But, on the same token, a majority of that state is public lands, and so I can understand some of the sentiment.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 4 days ago

    It's certainly true in Utah where polls show a majority of Utah citizens support public lands of all kinds and oppose efforts by small, but very powerful groups of developers and mineral interests to obtain and exploit them.

    Lee, if that is true, why have the majority of Utah citizens not voted out the politicians that support the Feds releasing lands to the state?

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 5 days ago

    Don't forget the Bureau of Land Management--a federal agency--and its plans for "your" public lands. Meanwhile, some states are excellent managers, New York, for example. Where do you think Theodore Roosevelt got his ideas? Unfortunately, Utah is not New York.

  • Laying Out Your Strategy For Exploring Mount Rainier National Park   1 week 5 days ago

    Unless the Northwest's persistent high-pressure ridge migrates, peak flower season this year is more likely to be in May than July.

  • Laying Out Your Strategy For Exploring Mount Rainier National Park   1 week 5 days ago

    I agree with Lee. I've been thinking of going to Rainier for 2 years now. Spent a few months last year "investigating". This site looks like it'll be a great help in scouting out where I want to go.

    Thanks, Kurt. :)

  • Laying Out Your Strategy For Exploring Mount Rainier National Park   1 week 5 days ago

    I disagree, Mega. After reading Kurt's article and logging on to the website, it looks like Kurt is passing along a very helpful pointer to all of us who may be planning a visit to Rainier. Someone has done an excellent job of setting up the website. I think using visitrainier.com in conjunction with the park's NPS website would provide a great way to maximize your time in the park.

    Myself, I'll thank Kurt for letting me know this site exists.

  • Wildflower Season In Death Valley National Park: A Mixed Bag   1 week 5 days ago

    One of these days I really want to get back down there at the right time of year.

    Excellent article.

  • Laying Out Your Strategy For Exploring Mount Rainier National Park   1 week 5 days ago

    Is it just me, or was this simply an advertisement for a particular website?

    This isn't up to the Traveler's usual standards for this sort of article.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 5 days ago

    Rick, the word is not "reclaiming." The correct word is purloining.

    Please be more careful in your choice of verbs in the future!

    ;-}

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 5 days ago

    What a surprise that real estate 'developers' would push for reclaiming public lands for profit.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 6 days ago

    It's certainly true in Utah where polls show a majority of Utah citizens support public lands of all kinds and oppose efforts by small, but very powerful groups of developers and mineral interests to obtain and exploit them. Unfortunately, Utah's lopsided single party political structure gives them a heavy advantage over the rest of us.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 6 days ago

    But I still contend that the closer decison making is to local people the more corruption increases because the opportunities also increase. That is just human nature.

    I totally agree. History shows us that most of our current national parks were initially opposed by entrenched local interests. That does not mean that all local people were necessarily against new parks, but the political and business leaders were, because it would erode their power base. That pattern continues today across the country, from the Maine Woods to southern Utah to southeast Alaska.

  • Springtime At Acadia National Park: It Could Be Cold, Wet, And Frozen   1 week 6 days ago

    The usual springtime schedule in Acadia National Park may be delayed, but hope springs eternal for hikers, birders and others who want to visit when Acadia awakes from its wintry slumber.

    Our latest blog post highlights things to know, activities to consider during springtime in Acadia:

    http://www.acadiaonmymind.com/2015/03/hope-springs-eternal-for-springtim...

  • Photography In The National Parks: Reflecting In National Parks   1 week 6 days ago

    As an untrained and fairly inept snapshot level photographer, I have to say that I look forward to the recurring columns in NPT featuring photography. They give me little tips and something to strive for. My admiration to those who do this work.

  • Report: House Natural Resources Committee Wants To Transfer Federal Lands To States, Tribes   1 week 6 days ago

    But I still contend that the closer decison making is to local people the more corruption increases because the opportunities also increase.

    I would argue the opposite. The closer the decison making is to the local people, the more likely the people are to be aware of what is being done and the more likely they will respond.