Recent comments

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 26 weeks ago

    As a follow-up to Rick Smith's accurate observation, and as requested by several posters, here's some additional perspective from the standpoint of someone who performed law enforcement in parks for 3 decades:

    1. Rick is exactly correct about the much higher incidence of vandalism from gunfire in areas outside of national parks as compared to inside the parks themselves. Furthermore, in NPS areas such as national preserves where hunting is allowed, my experience is that weapons-related vandalism is definitely a greater problem than in parks where loaded weapons are prohibited.

    2. Most law enforcement officers I know are very uneasy about people carrying concealed weapons in crowded public places. It has nothing to do with "power," but visitor and officer safety. In addition to the previously covered dismal or non-existent requirements for training for CHL holders, here's one example of scenarios that concerns officers:

    If an officer arrives at the scene of an incident and finds one or more people dressed in civilian clothes holding a weapon, the office has to make a split-second decision about whether this person is a threat to the officer and to any citizens in the vicinity. It becomes even worse if the officer finds two or more armed civilians in a stand-off or a "shots fired" situation – which one is the victim and which one the bad guy?

    I hope no one will make the laughable claim that CHL holders are adequately trained to know how to respond in such situations, especially when the adrenalin is running wide open. Case in point: I've spent a lot of hours on firing ranges: military, law enforcement and civilian/public ranges. A cardinal rule on the range is "keep unholstered weapons pointed down range at all times." If I had a dollar for every time the rangemaster had to remind people about that rule - in that carefully controlled, low-stress situation - I could enjoy several nice steak dinners. The point is that when people are spoken to, their tendency is to turn toward the speaker. If they're holding a loaded weapon, that's not good! If this occurs in the midst of the scenario described above, that's potentially tragic.

    I haven't tried to locate data on situations where officers arrive on scene to find an unidentified armed citizen, and the result is a terrible outcome - I doubt that there is a good database of such situations, but I certainly recall having heard about them. One is certainly too many.

    Current regulations for national parks make such potential tragedies very unlikely. If rules are relaxed to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons in national parks, only time will tell if my concerns on this issue are correct.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I went from Zion today. I thout it would be cool to hike up Angels Landing. But, on the bus they taked about the trail, and now I never want to go on angel landing hike. I have very good balance but i'm clumsy i have been ever sence I was little.
    Hearing about all the people who died did not make me more scared, It made me sad but they knew the risk.
    When i heard that some one took there baby up on the trail that made me mad. Who would put there kids, there baby in that risk. It sounds like to me theydon't care about there baby safty. There stupid but, it was there choose, stupid but it was up to them it is there kid and always will be.
    I will never do that take my kid on that trail, and you who all that are reading this i hope you dont neather.
    Remember be careful waer the right shoes, have every thing that you need, and lots and lots of water.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Let's be clear: wilderness should be open to bikes as Congress contemplated it when it passed the act over 40 years ago (look it up... it's in the notes). Bikes are no more mechanized than carbon fiber hiking poles and do less damage than horses. The number of visitors to the parks is dwindling every year. Opening wilderness to biking makes logical senses and would bring back people to their parks. The banning of bikes from wilderness is not based on objective science but rather some illogical reasoning. The pseudo environmentalists hang on to the ban as a way to appropriate to themselves a public good. Get used to it, at some point, reason will prevail and bikes will be allowed in wilderness once again.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Frank C--

    I am not providing a study, only speaking from personal experience. Every time I visit a USFS area in NM to camp or hike, I see signs that are shot up. I have seen similar shot up signs on BLM and USFS lands in other states. One sees little of this kind of thing in the weapons-free national parks. I think there is a relationship.

    Someone in the above posts mentioned the fact that most law enforcement organizations oppose concealed weapon regulations. He or she claimed they did so because of a question of power. I think that is a bogus argument. They oppose concealed weapon regs because they know that the more guns there are, the more dangerous their jobs are. That's why both the organizations that represent rangeers in the NPS, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge and tha Association of National Park Rangers (of which I am a member even though retired) oppose the proposed new NPS reg. I kinow you think that their views are irrelevant. I don't.

    Rick Smith

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 26 weeks ago

    It seems all we're getting are slippery slope arguments and straw men.

    Arguers also often link the slippery slope fallacy to the straw man fallacy in order to attack the initial position:

    1. A has occurred (or will or might occur); therefore
    2. B will inevitably happen. (slippery slope)
    3. B is wrong; therefore
    4. A is wrong. (straw man)

    This form of argument often provides evaluative judgments on social change: once an exception is made to some rule, nothing will hold back further, more egregious exceptions to that rule.

    Note that these arguments may indeed have validity, but they require some independent justification of the connection between their terms: otherwise the argument (as a logical tool) remains fallacious.

    A is the change in concealed carry permit rules.
    B is the killing of people, wildlife, signs, and windows.

    Unless someone can show a valid study of concealed weapons permit holders in a comparable environment, say in Forest Service land, that shows that allowing people to carry concealed weapons in these areas leads to a higher incident of people, wildlife, sings, and windows being shot, these arguments remain fallacious.

    I look forward to reviewing some facts.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Dave, unlike IMBA's track record on this issue, in which, once they got their feet in the door, they slowly expanded what they really seem to want from the National Park Service, I think the Traveler's position has been clear from the get-go, as I previously noted.

    That said, as to your concerns:

    * The photo was taken of IMBA riders at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It was an IMBA event and so I thought representative of the vision IMBA had of riding in the parks. It certainly seems to mesh with Jenn Dice's thoughts on what mountain bikers want.

    * You're absolutely right, of course, about hikers being just as likely to bring invasive species into parks as cyclists.

    * As I mentioned, "cut" is vernacular for trail building, whether for hikers, cyclists or equestrians.

    * I'll let Jenn Dice's words speak for themselves. I think she made herself clear.

    * I, too, have been known to ride mountain bikes. Got one in my garage, as a matter of fact. I've also been known to water ski. But I don't think all national parks should be open for water skiing and power boating. Ditto for snowmobiling.

    Finally, watch for a piece Sunday on IMBA and their views on wilderness areas.

    And, as D-2 and Bob have already pointed out, I don't get paid a dime for this website.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago

    You are quite correct, d-2. Dave's remark is way out of line. Everyone who writes for Traveler is an unpaid volunteer. Kurt also has significant out-of-pocket expenses that aren't reimbursed.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   5 years 26 weeks ago


    Dave, I don't think it is correct to say Kurt gets paid. My understanding is this is a webside serviced by volunteers. To be fair.

  • "Talking" Buoys Deployed Along Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Given the unique nature of the trail, it seems like this buoy project is a form of "cell phone interpretation" that most Park advocates can all agree on. It looks like an innovative approach to tell this important story in a very unique sort of Park...

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    I find it disappointing that you don't respond to any of the substantive criticisms from the posts above mine, nor the points I made, but chose to respond by going off on my use of the word disingenuous. I don't expect to change your point of view, but I hope you'll hear me out, and then maybe respond thoughtfully to my comments and those that preceded mine.

    First, let me stipulate some things. I'm a backpacker, as well as a cyclist. I work in an environmental field that requires education and persuasion.
    I don't want to see bicycles on the John Muir trail or riding through the Gettysburg Battlefield or the like, and I can't help but see this move from the White House as a somewhat self-serving gesture. I also understand the difference between the NPS mission and that of the other agencies.

    That said, I do think that on a case by case basis, park managers could establish a very clear set of guidelines, then look at fire roads and yes, trails, using those guidelines, to see if some bicycle traffic could be compatible with that trail, it's surrounding, and the overall use of that trail. Criteria would include topography, degree of use, soil types, potential conflicts with other users, whatever was really relevant to the issue at hand. There are trail quotas and permits already required in some situations, and this could be a way to manage bikes, again, on very specific routes. With a careful process, you could pick trails that would still allow for quiet contemplation of nature.

    When I used the word "disingenuous in regards to your opinion piece, I did it for some very specific reasons. It's not that you weren't clear where you stood. You are. But even with the opinion writer's option to cherry-pick your facts, you resorted to a series of emotionally loaded devices to get your point across. Here are a few:
    - The use of the photo at the top, of speeding bikers kicking up dust on a dirt road, is visually loaded. Consider the different image that would be projected by a photo of cyclists climbing towards beautiful scenery or looking at a view.
    - Your repeated use of the word "cut" when discussing whether a given existing route could be administratively opened to a new use;
    - Your comparison of IMBA to the NRA; I don't know about you, but the two organizations couldn't be much more different in my mind, and Jenn Dice sure has a different style of communication from the NRA's Wayne LaPierre;
    - Your singling out bike tire and gear cleaning in Hawaii, as if those same risks of non-native plants didn't exist from hiker's shoes and equipment;

    I could go on, but I won't. You get paid for this and I don't. I'm a supporter of National Parks. I also believe in reasonable regulations based on transparent, objective criteria. I don't see a compatibility problem with those two sets of values.

    --Dave

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    The opponents to opening trails to mountain bikers never talk about their real motivation: selfishness. They just don't want to share the trails with other users. The arguments about safety, erosion, sense of belonging, and whatever else one comes up with is utter nonsense. The real motivation here is that established users just don't want to share their recreational areas with others. These national parks belong to all of us, and as such, should be shared with as many people as possible, as long the usage is appropriate. Mountain biking is a low impact environmentally friendly mode of recreation, just like hiking. Most of the backcountry is completely empty anyway, as few people ever venture more than a few miles from the trailhead. Let's open the backcountry to mountain bikers for all of us to enjoy our national parks.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Jim and MRC, I can agree that the momument belongs to the nation - because, by definition, all units of the NPS belong to the nation. The question is - should it? What about other monuments like George Rogers Clark and Perry's Victory? NPS gets these places, like JNEM, because a local government started in and then could not afford to finish it or operate it. Even Mount Rushmore came to the NPS this way. The Arch is a beautiful piece of engineering and fantastic icon - but so is the Empire State Building and Golden Gate Bridge. They are symbols of America. Doesn't mean the citizens of America have to run them.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Recall that whole blocks of historically buildings on the waterfront were destroyed so that arch could be built. Filling in the open space with crap would be the ultimate insult.

  • Imagine the Impacts of Climate Change on the National Park System   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Frank C., I think there's a similar report to yours (loose in facts) that was put out sometime ago by Exxon...and like oil companies. I don't put much credence in oil company research teams, especially when they exploit the motto:Drill baby drill! This very idea that we're playing Russian roulette with our global environment, I can only foresee terrible and dire consequences for are stupidity...especially what has transcended down from this present lame and duck administration. Being a backpacker throughout the Sierra Mountains for the past 30 years, I can honestly say there has been some abrupt and subtle changes in the terrestrial environment surrounding Yosemite National Park. The famed plant ecologist and naturalist ranger from Yosemite, Carl Sharsmith once told me (some 20 years ago, to paraphrase) I no longer hear the chorus of song birds at different intervals of the day...as I did so many, many years ago. And, today I stretch my ears just to hear a simple warbler sing...so sad! I guess this wouldn't rile the oil industry one bit, despite all the effects of global warming on our floral and fauna in our National Parks. What lies ahead for the next generation in this country...I'm not sure. Perhaps and most likely a wilted and dying natural heritage exploited for greed, rape and pillage. This should be one of the most critical topics to be pressing on Kurt's blog...not meaningless drivel over hand guns in the National Parks.

  • Longtime Yosemite Wilderness Ranger Retires   5 years 27 weeks ago

    I volunteered in her department the summer of 2001 when she led Laura Bush through the High Sierra Camps with her friends. I dropped off her Dodge at the Cathedral Lakes Trail head and then hiked in on a Wilderness Technician patrol that did a big loop from there to Merced Lake and then back to Tuolumne Meadows. I met the party during my hike, and forgot to get a picture! Partisanship aside, a first lady is a first lady! Laurel did a great job of training me for my job, and it was really neat to see her guiding Laura.

    --Nora Curiel

  • How to Hijack a National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Never been there, don't plan to go soon, but let me get my .02 into this: The Jefferson Expansion Memorial is meant to be a symbol for the whole nation. And it is about reaching out, into the open space of the West. Well, the west wasn't that open, at least from a Native American point of view, but let's ignore that. So the arch, the river and the surrounding space were designed by Eero Saarinen to been seen as one thing. The arch only works with the river and the open space, that symbolizes the West.

    Sacrificing the open spaces for the perceived benefit of local business seems to ruin the whole idea of the memorial. The arch does not belong to St. Louis, but to the nation.

    Maybe it's a good thing that funding for large projects will be harder to get for a few years to come.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Now let me follow this logic carefully: someone commits a crime in the woods, which magically causes a game warden to appear at the scene of the said crime (maybe Lassie barked for an hour to get the warden up out of his easy chair). Now instead of fleeing the vicinity of the crime the evil gun-toter waits in the woods so he or she can "shoot the dude".

    Hmmmmmmm......that's very plausible except for one thing, the NPS has no "game wardens" but otherwise your scenario rings true in every possible way. Glad you brought it to our attention.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Not everyone would agree, but if a consensus were to be reached on your position, then the area should be transferred entirely to the city or state, rather than diluted on a piece-meal basis as this legislation would do.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 27 weeks ago

    This will cause more Game wardens to get their brains blown out. Someone will commit a crime and a Game Warden willl investigate and the person will just shoot the dude instead of dealing with what the hell could happen if there were indifferent repercussions. These permits were designed for Black bear areas of the country. But I would want to carry a gun in case I came across a Black bear who wanted to eat my arse.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Anonymous: You are clearly not reading the entirety of my posts. As I mentioned, I do NOT own a gun. Secondly, I have not made the argument that people should be able to carry weapons on private property; of course the Bill of Rights is a limit on FEDERAL power only. If a private shopping mall or a private bank or a private land owner wants to prohibit people from carrying weapons on their land, fine! But the Second Amendment restricts the federal government's ability to infringe upon the rights of the people to carry weapons on federal land, such as national parks, national forests, etc. Please re-read my posts carefully before setting up a strawman argument.

    Beamis' claim that most NPS employees have a liberal bias is laughable

    Laughable how spot on it is. But unfortunately, I don't believe there is any real evidence to back up either opinion. Each side only has anecdotes, and my anecdotes differ substantially from Mr. Smith's.) The CNPSR states that "in their personal lives, CNPSR members reflect the broad spectrum of political affiliations." I'd be interesting in how CNPSR knows this to be a fact? Are members required to divulge their political affiliation? Maybe a statistical survey should be done, but with only 675 members, everyone would need to be surveyed for validity. Maybe the CNPSR could pay to have a true statistical survey done on the political affiliation of the twenty-some thousand NPS employees. I'd wager good money that the NPS is composed primarily of Liberal employees, especially in the trenches. (Clearly political employees and upper "elites" are reflective of the current administration's political affiliation.)

    Until someone presents some valid evidence, you can laugh at Beamis' claim all you want, but you can't disprove it.

    And the political composition of the NPS is a key component of this discussion. Bias must be addressed, especially when it comes to surveys like this. No one has yet to produce evidence that this survey is statistically valid, and any biases inherent in the survey are also up for discussion. Of course, the CNPSR, if it wants to defend the validity its survey, should proffer any data it has for the political composition of its membership. Without addressing this issue, I'd have to conclude that such evidence doesn't exist or the evidence shows that the majority of CNPSR members are liberal.

  • How to Hijack a National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    It's about time. This place is not a national park - it's an amusement park. The NPS spends more than $10 million a year managing this ride and museum - something that the private sector could do with the income generated. I will acknowledge that the court house story of the Dred Scott decision is worth preserving as a state historical site. This was created by the City or St. Louis and only became a national memorial by Executive Order. The ability of this site to manage itself with fee income and use St. Louis police for law enforcement is a perfect example of the kind of park we can do without in the national park system.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Unless there is some compelling evidence that concealed carry is a tangible threat to park resources and public safety this rule change should go through and receive the full support and acquiescence of the NPS as well as its retirees. End of story. It WILL happen and everyone should get on board with it just as the Forest Service and other agencies have in the past. The idea that this simple adjustment of the rules will somehow transform national parks into the OK Corral is ludicrous.

    By the way I've never known very many cops who want the public to be armed. It's a threat to their monopoly on power and probably makes 'em a little nervous, which is probably a good thing given all of the power they now possess in the era of "Homeland Security".

    Long gone are the days of Barney Fife with his lone bullet stored in his shirt pocket. I'm sure Andy and ol' Barn didn't begrudge folks having their guns because that made their jobs easier and spread the coverage of personal protection throughout Mayberry more evenly.

    As for CNPSR, I don't really care for lobbying arms of special interest groups, regardless of their cause. They tend to be agenda driven and therefore irrelevant, in most cases, to objective discussion. No offense was intended towards Rick (as I have no idea what groups he is a member of) but will stick by my stand that what an organization of NPS retirees has to say about concealed carry rules is less than relevant in making a true determination of what the law should be concerning the Constitutional right to bear arms in national parks.

  • Interior Officials Planning To Make It Easier for Mountain Bikers to Gain Backcountry Access in Parks   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Disingenuous?

    IMBA's track record in dealing with the Park Service and in the importance of single-track opportunities as outlined above is accurate to the best of my knowledge. Even Mr. Eller didn't challenge it, though he did challenge PEER's contention that the proposed rule would shield superintendents from following NEPA. I've made calls to doublecheck that and am still awaiting a firm answer.

    The NPS communications staff in Washington couldn't tell me unequivocally that an environmental assessment would be necessary, though they did say the public would be involved in any trail decisions. That said, there have been parks that have permitted mountain bike trails without doing EA's.

    One case in point is Mammoth Cave, which in 1999 opened 13.7 miles of trail to mountain bikes after being approached by a local group of cyclists. Here's some history, provided by the park, on that endeavor:

    From 1999-2004, virtually all of the maintenance on Sal Hollow trail was performed by volunteers from the Bowling Green League of Bicyclists, who donated hundreds of hours of labor to maintain and improve the trail. Their work included some significant reroutes of this trail. During most of this period, the hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclists shared the trails without any conflicts reported.

    However, in 2004 the bicyclists began to report that portions of the work they had completed were being impacted during wet periods by horseback riders who also used the trail. Park management responded to this issue by temporarily closing Sal Hollow Trail to horseback riding in 2004. Sal Hollow remains closed to horseback riding in 2006; all of Buffalo Trail and Turnhole Bend Trail which is open to bicycles also remains open to horses and hikers.

    The Sal Hollow Trail closure resulted in considerable visitor feedback, including positive comments from hikers and bikers, and negative comments from the equestrian community. Mainly as a result of this issue, the local horseback-riding community organized into a new interest group in 2004, the Mammoth Cave Equestrian Trail Riders Association.

    The primary objectives of this association were to keep all horse-trails open, and promote safe, eco-friendly riding in the park. A similar negative response from the equestrian community was generated in 2005, when the park announced the possibility of opening some administrative roads to bikes under a new nationwide agreement between the National Park Service and the International Mountain Bike Association.

    During a public comment period for this proposal, the horseback-riding community submitted approximately 700 comments in opposition to opening any roads which would be shared by horses and bikes, primarily citing safety concerns posed by sharing trails. The biking community submitted less than a dozen responses in favor of the proposal during this period. The park’s action on this matter was to open four administrative roads to bicycles on the south side of the river, which are not used by horses (about 5 miles total), but none on the north side.

    Currently, the park has a total of approximately 80 miles of trails open to various user groups. All trails are open to hiking, approximately 50 miles are open to horses, and approximately 20 miles are open to bikes. In 2005, park management called on each of the three primary backcountry user groups (the Mammoth Cave Equestrian Trail Riders Association, the Bowling Green League of Bicyclists and the Mammoth Cave Chapter of the Sierra Club), to form a single coalition, the Mammoth Cave Backcountry Summit Council, in order to facilitate communication and exchange information directly with each other and the NPS regarding backcountry issues at the park. This group has since met semi-annually, and has found common ground on a number of issues, including enhancing resource protection and supporting the maintenance and sustainability of all trails in the park.

    The Traveler's point of view has been steadfast: There already are quite a few mountain bike options in the national park system -- roughly 40 parks, I believe, offer some opportunities. Plus, there are thousands more trails -- dirt roads, double tracks, single tracks -- on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands.

    As I've pointed out many times before, NPS has a much different management mandate than do those other two agencies. With all the existing opportunities, I just don't see the need to "cut" or "build" -- frankly, even in footpath vernacular the word most used in my experience is "cut" -- single-track biking trails in the national parks.

    Are there dirt roads that could be opened to mountain bikers? Very possibly. The Traveler currently sees no problem with that option.

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 27 weeks ago

    Just to set the record straight, like Jim, I was a protection ranger and carried a weapon for at least half my career. I don't think our points of view are irrelevant.

    Beamis' claim that most NPS employees have a liberal bias is laughable. During my 31 years in the NPS, I met far more conservatives than I did liberals.

    Rick Smith

  • Conservation Groups Sue to Cut Air Pollution Over Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 27 weeks ago

    In my view, the answer to this problem is a no brainer: nuclear power.

    It's 100% clean. It's renewable. It's safe to operate, and the transportation and storage of nuclear waste have been scientifically proven to be safe. Most of the power generated in France comes from nuclear power.

    People in the Southern Appalachians need power - there's no getting around that fact. We can continue doing it the old way using coal-fired plants, or we can solve the problem by switching to nuclear energy.

    Jeff
    www.HikingintheSmokys.com