Recent comments

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Thanks for enlightening us VCDL member. And I agree this was not technically a started "last-minute". However, the haste with which the rule was pushed through means it was sloppy and may have done more to harm the process than spur it along.

    Also, Yes, there are lots of stats and evidence that guns (in the hands of law abiding citizens) do impact crime rates and save lives. However, where are the stats showing that crime rates in parks are high enough to warrant such a rule change? I have yet to see those. Also, in your list of sources I don't see anything about the unintended consequences of guns. In parks, the potential unintended consequences to wildlife and visitors are unknown. Because of that, this rule needs to be put on hold until we can study the risks that guns have to parks.

    The last thing I want to say is the strongest argument against guns in parks has nothing to do with crime. It has to do with environmental impacts (in my opinion). And to understand the potential irreversible impacts on the environment studies need to be completed to help both sides of this argument reach a more educated and science based conclusion. And people keep asking for examples but other than the bear example I have seen few. BUT keep in mind that is not proof that the impacts would be few! It is instead evidence of how little we know.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Funnily enough i wrote about my ten favourites, out of the ones I've visitedm just recently: http://itinerantlondoner.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/top-10-national-parks/

    Would have to agree that Tikal should be in there, in fact I think it should definitely be a contender for number one.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    @ anon: Your pic shows Mesa Arch in Canyonlands NP and there it is legal to walk over it. It might not be smart, but it is legal. Only Arches NP it is forbidden to climb or walk over any named rock formation including the arches.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Many posting here have claimed that this rule change was the result of a last-minute push by an outgoing Republican administration, and was done at the behest of the NRA. This action was supported by the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and other organizations, but it was initiated, and guided, by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL,) a Commonwealth of Virginia gun-rights organization that has the slogan, "Defending Your Right to Defend Yourself." VCDL began this effort in 2003, and the effort took so long because the NPS dragged its feet throughout the process, and defended their existing rule not with facts, but with opinion and speculation.

    Just a few days before the public-comment period was to end in June 2008, anti-gun Congressmen persuaded the Department of the Interior to extend the period prescribed for public comment. (One might conclude that the comments to that time did not support their view.) As I recall, the legislators requested an additional 90 days, and were granted 45.

    IF one considers five years of petitions and campaigns a "last-minute" decision, then that person's sense of time and mine are considerably different.

    Still, NPCA, an organization to which I contributed for several decades (but which I no longer support,) and the leadership allegedly representing the retired NPS employees, are still struggling to obstruct the rule change. This opposition in spite of being able to provide no evidence to support their view, and in the face of recent academic studies from independent researchers that find no evidence that gun-control laws have any effect on reducing crime or suicide. I suggest that those really interested read those studies for themselves. (Google "gun control research.") My personal favorite is the multi-year, international study reported in a paper entitled. "Would banning firearms reduce murder and suicide? A review of international and some domestic evidence" published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy - March 22, 2007. It is available for purchase on Amazon, or to read on line at various sites. If you would like me to save you some time, the answer is, "No."

  • Survey Predicts Change in National Park Gun Regulations Will Lead to Wildlife Shootings, Management Problems   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Mr. Burnett, I checked your link: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/09/trigger-happy-man-shoots-another-rustling-brush#comment-8646
    The drunken idiot used a RIFLE (not a very conceal worthy weapon). To set the record straight, this person did not have a conceal carry permit. Yes, he should be one of the people NOT allowed to carry a gun in a park! My question is, why should Mr. Idiot-without-a-conceal-carry-permit be the standard by which law-abiding conceal carry citizens should be judged?
    Also, lets not forget that each individual is responsible for his/her own safety. If you don't want to defend yourself against some psycho-murderer that's your choice. why take that right away from the rest of us that care to take responsibility for ourselves?

    I hear your point that poaching is the major issue (personally, I believe it's personal safety and not poaching). Perhaps a middle ground can be found though. The high court ruled that sensible regulations can be made. My thought is that since most hunting bullets are fairly large: 44Mag and up and the gun would have to have a significantly long barrel 6" or greater. The answer may be to allow CCW as long as they are not over certain size limits.
    This way personal protection is available while keeping poaching at least at it's current level.

    Human life is too precious to leave in the hands of psychos and criminals. Encourage people to defend themselves and others!

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Re:2. OK Amstutz... I was not talking about jay-walking... I would include all crimes in my assessment of normal humans stopping crimes. It doesn't always take a gun. A gun may make it easier but it may not make it all situations safer.

    Re:3. Parks are already protected by LE's

    Re:4. Negative impacts on parks. The most important, and EIS related impacts, could occur to wildlife that encounter or approach people with guns. For instance, in Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, and Grand Teton NP griz and black bears will often purposefully approach or suddenly find themselves in close proximity to humans. Today people must rely on bears spray and other non-lethal means to get themselves out of those situations. In fact, even in places where guns are allowed ( FS lands) bear spray in advised over the use of a gun in bear encounters. With bears having a low reproductive rate an isolated bear population (especially Griz) can be quickly impacted through the loss of just a few breeding females.

    Yes there are guns in parks. The loaded ones are in the hands of 2 groups: Law enforcement and law breakers. Gun owners who travel to or through a park must remove ammunition from the weapon. This rule stands not just for guns but also for crossbows and bow and arrows.

    As for the stats you present...they are interesting but they really don't tell the whole story... but they definitely support you stance pretty well!

    But this one is confusing "34% have been driven away, wounded, or captured by armed citizens; 40% have decided against committing crimes for fear their would-be victims were armed."
    is it a percentage of the 2.1 million quoted earlier? or 34% of crimes committed against CCW permit holders? To me each explanation is not very impressive. Providing percentages without population or sample parameters makes understanding them very difficult.

    Finally, the last percentages do seem to show that violent crimes are higher in restricted states... however it is not possible to directly link that change to the presence of CCW permit holders.

  • Updated: Murder-Suicide Leaves Two Dead at Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    When Maverick was in his 70's he decided he wanted to hike the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim 80 times before his 80th birthday. He exceeded his goal, wore out who knows how many pairs of shoes, and always had a smile and a story for my tour groups as we lunched on the porch of the Bright Angel Lodge. Thanks, Maverick. We'll see you down by the creek...

  • Major Bike Race Will Affect Yosemite Traffic on February 18, 2009   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I only wish I could be there to see the tour pass by. This is an exciting event. If you are in the neighborhood don't miss it.

  • Is San Juan National Historic Site Haunted?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Here is my contribution for the readers who don't speak Spanish: a translation of the "interesting story" referred in this post. In fact it is an old Puerto Rican Legend that was reproduced by the website linked in this post. Hope you like it:

    Puerto Rican Popular legends:
    Legend of the “La Garita del Diablo” (The Sentry box of the Devil)

    The inhabitants of the island of Puerto Rico were very prone to pirates’ attacks. Because of that all their lives they had to be on guard watching.

    The capital city was surrounded (and still it is) by castles and walls. Around the walls they had, between trails and trails, sentry boxes or “torrecitas” (small towers) where the soldiers did their guard shifts day and night. By the nights you heard the rounds of shouts that the sentries shouted to not fall asleep.
    -Alert sentry! - shouted one.
    And nearest responded:
    - Alert he is!

    Among all the sentry boxes, there was one, the most distant and solitary one. It was on a deep cliff at the end of the bay.

    In the silence of night, the noise of the sea produced a rumor as if the bad spirits were ‘cuchicheando’ (murmuring).

    There was a soldier who they called “Flor de Azahar.” Azahar was a white flower and because soldier Sánchez had a very white skin like Azahar, they called to him thus.

    That night was Sánchez turn to watch that sentry box.

    As usual, the password shouts of the soldiers can be heard from trail to trail every so often. But, it was soldier Sánchez turn, and nobody answered. You only can listen the wind whistling and the sea with its rumor.

    Fear seizes these men who spent the night shaking, only by thinking what had happened to their fellow soldier.

    When the sun came out, they all ran towards the sentry box to see what had happened to the sentry soldier that had been speechless during all night. They found: the rifle, the cartridge belt and the uniform of the soldier. Sánchez had disappeared without a trace.

    The soldiers, who were superstitious, began to say that a demon had surprised him and had taken him flying to the air.

    From that day, the sentry box of the missing Sánchez, it is known as “La Garita del Diablo”.

    That was what the soldiers believed and the rest of the Island.

    But the truth ..... that I will tell it to you, want to know it? Then here it goes:

    Sánchez (Flor de Azahar) was an Andalusian soldier and very handsome, who belonged to the Cavalry regiment and play a very beautiful guitar.

    Diana, a very beautiful mestiza (mixed race), lived deeply enamored of Sánchez and Sánchez of her. They were satisfied of looking at each other and speaking with their eyes. To Sánchez his mission prohibited him to approach her, and to her, it was prohibited by her adopted mother, who was stricter than a sergeant.

    Flor de Azahar (Sánchez) communicated with Diana through his guitar. At nights he played it and sang. In the song he communicated to her his messages.

    One night he sent her a message, the one only she could understand, which said:

    “Tomorrow at nigh fall, go and look for your love, because far from your arms, his heart dies.” The following night, Diana woke up very quiet and stealthily, and left the house to look for her love. When they met in the sentry box, they fused in kisses and love words and decided to flee far away and to live together for ever.

    Diana had brought him civilian clothes. He left in the sentry box his rifle, the cartridge belt and his uniform and, without making any noise, they fled towards the mountain range and forests of (the town of) Luquillo.

    There, hidden from the rest of the Island, they build their home and lived for the rest on their days.

    They say that still, in the sentry box, at nights you can hear the strum of a guitar and a laugh dissolved in the wind. Meaning that Diana and Flor de Azahar are laughing at those who invented the legend of “la Garita del Diablo.”

    The End.

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The series is going to premier on the big Screen at Mountainfilm in Telluride - all 12 hours - May 22 - 25, 2009 with Ken Burns in attendance. It should be a pretty amazing weekend with topics ranging from the National Parks to a symposium on food as well as about 60 other films exploring global cultures, adventure sports and the environment. mountainfilm.org

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Just because there is a rule that says you can't do something it doesn't stop the people trying to. If you think you can't walk over an arch take a look at this.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8602783@N05/3281780132/

    Tried to report it but they were long gone.

  • National Park Service Revenues Down $1.3 Million On Transition to America The Beautiful Pass   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The post above is spot on - the appropriate comparison is not ATB Pass revenues vs. National Parks Pass revenues, its total revenues vs. total revenues. I think many people could make the argument that the National Parks Pass was under-priced at the level of visits to just two premiere National Parks in one year. Sales of the ATB Pass may be down from National Parks Pass levels, but that may be a good thing if it means more people are paying the normal Parks entrance fees. At the end of the day, the article on the NPT Home Page today has a much better take on it - for the price of just *one person* to enter one major theme Park like Disney or Universal Studios for just *one day* you can get your entire family into every Federal Public Land in the United States for one year. Really, the most amazing thing is just how cheap the ATB Pass really is.....

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    1. It's spelled Amst U tz. 2. I'm talking about violent crimes not jay-walking or littering. 3. Places you cannot carry are already protected by officers with guns. ie. Court house, Police station, etc. 4. What negative impact on the park could guns have. I'm not being funny I am seriously wondering. Nobody has given one here yet. (unless I missed it.) And there are already guns in the NPs correct? If there are credible reasons I wouldn't have a problem with the law staying 5. Since you want stats here you go...just a couple to ponder....

    Americans use firearms for self-defense more than 2.1 million times annually.

    99.9% of self-defense firearms uses do not result in fatal shootings of criminals, an important factor ignored in certain "studies" that are used to claim that guns are more often misused than used for self-protection.

    Of incarcerated felons surveyed by the Department of Justice, 34% have been driven away, wounded, or captured by armed citizens; 40% have decided against committing crimes for fear their would-be victims were armed.

    The total Violent Crime Rate is 26% higher in the restrictive states (798.3 per 100,000 pop.) than in the less restrictive states (631.6 per 100,000).

    These figures are compiled from the FBI's annual report on crime (Uniform Crime Reports), and from other law enforcement agencies.

  • National Park Service Revenues Down $1.3 Million On Transition to America The Beautiful Pass   5 years 28 weeks ago

    It costs more and looks crappier. Of course people would avoid it like the plague.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    MHopper1000,
    I'm right there with ya, buddy. I'm tired of leftist liberals trying to destroy the constitution..."from my cold dead hands," filthy hippies! Bring it!!

  • Is San Juan National Historic Site Haunted?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    These forts are really something everyone should visit. We spent days wandering through learning about the history of the sites.

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Here's the latest wildflower forecast from Death Valley:

    Wildflower Update for Death Valley National Park
    February 8, 2009

    A strong storm has brought one to two inches of rain and significant flooding throughout the park the last few days. This has greatly increased our prospects for spring wildflowers in Death Valley. Much of the park received an early rainfall in October and a parkwide rain, nearly one half inch, just before Thanksgiving. This early rain, followed by warm temperatures allowed a widespread sprouting of annual wildflowers seeds. Some of these such as Desert Gold, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose and Sand Verbena have already been observed blooming along park roadsides in the southern and northern ends of the park.

    In Death Valley, the driest spot in North America, spring wildflowers are not a yearly event. It’s a rare treat for conditions to be just right. The bloom this spring may still be spotty, nothing like the huge blooms in 1998 and 2005, but still worth a viewing. The heavy rains were received late in the season, so the peak blooming period along the valley floor and up to 2,000 feet may be anywhere from mid-March to early April.

    Charlie Callagan
    Ranger Naturalist

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Jim, I'm told that Lake Manly, at least a portion of it, did reappear following the Feb. 7 rainstorm.

  • Are We Properly Caring for Our Ocean-Based National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    First, let me note that protection of marine resources has historically been substantially undervalued. Nevertheless, I have a couple quibbles with the above article.

    For one, the 99.9% figure includes both commercial and recreational fishing. It would probably be more appropriate to note the percent of US waters that are closed to commercial fishing. Fishing is permitted in National Marine Sanctuaries, Marine National Monuments, and waters designated as National Park, but only to the extent that such fishing is consistent with the designation of those protected places.

    For two, it is worth noting that the 85.5 million acres of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is about 2.5 million acres larger than all of the US National Parks *combined*. Additionally, the Bush Administration also recently nominated Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the first US nomination of a new World Heritage Site in 15 years. Moreover, not mentioned above is that the Bush Administration then outdid the above again by designating three new Marine National Monuments last month, with a total size of 125 million acres. Combined the four Marine National Monuments represent 2.5 times the total acreage of the National Park System.

    However, none of those four National Monuments are going to be run by the National Park Service. Thus one wonders whether protection of marine habitats should be consolidated under a single agency while maintaining the same level of protection? This might mean transferring Biscayne National Park to this agency, and maybe the marine sections of Dry Tortugas while leaving the NPS in charge of Ft. Jefferson and the nearby islands.

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    This Valentine's day Iam sitting in the LA Basin watching a series of storms come through. I was wondering if there is a possibilty that a portion of Lake Manly might reform? Be a great chance to get an, "I kayaked Death Valley", shoulder patch if it did.

  • NPCA Applauds National Park System's Cut of Stimulus Package, But Says Much Remains to Do   5 years 28 weeks ago

    It would be really interesting to understand what some of the primary motivations among the various Congresspersons and their staffers were for the NPS getting the lower figure. Some questions that would be worth investigating - did some of the Senators questions whether the NPS had sufficient support staff in place to spend the money quickly? Did some of the Senators believe that some of the identified "ready-to-go" projects were ready-to-go because they were low-priority or not sufficiently meritorious enough to have been funded previously? Do some of the Congressmen have ongoing questions regarding cost control and efficiency in the National Park Service, and so are trying to use tight budgets as a proxy for greater cost effectiveness measures in the Park System? I don't necessarily have any answers for this, but two things do strike me as very intersting about the above article:
    - the NPS seems to have gotten a surprisingly low figure relative to the needs identified by Park Advocates like the NPCA, especially when, say, compared to the funding received for other National priorities in the bill like Education and Transportation Infrastructure spending, which are receiving spending increases of nearly a doubling in total funding or more for some programs within those areas. Surely spending on the National Parks would be just as stimulative as those other two categories, and certainly the NPCA routinely argues that the needs of National Parks is just as important as those areas, and yet as a percentage of budget the NPS is receiving much, much less, and certainly much, much, less in absolute dollar terms...
    - the NPCA seems to have meekly applauded the $750 million as "a very strong step" rather than criticizing the $1.5 billion in cuts from the House version of the bill. The NPCA is normally a fierce advocate for fully-funding the Park System, and yet the NPS ended up with only about 1/3rd of what the House was willing to give them. So why not a stronger stance from them on this? This stimulus bill was perhaps a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address any backlog of needs for the Parks and to "make Parks a priority." Quite simply, it didn't happen, and the NPCA seems nevertheless reasonably happy with that.... Very interesting....

  • New Lodge Gives You an Opportunity to Better Know Kenai Fjords National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    This is great news. I'm not sure how many Lodges have been built recently in National Parks, but it doesn't seem like many. This Lodge sounds like it should really benefit visitors to this relatively unknown gem of a National Park.

  • Rare Motion Pictures Show Civil War Veterans at the 75th Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reunion   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The handshake is a good suggestion, Franz; I can attest to the worth of it from personal experience. Let me make an additional suggestion. If it isn't feasible to stop and thank the uniformed military personnel you see, say a soldier hurrying past you in an airport terminal, just salute him/her by placing your hand over your heart. You'll see a lot of smiles.

  • Rare Motion Pictures Show Civil War Veterans at the 75th Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reunion   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Short, but very moving. Having been to Gettysburg and several of the other War Between the States battlefields (which by the way are disapearing at an alarming rate due to urban sprawl) and stood where the battlelines were formed on Cemetary Ridge, and tried to imagine..... And stood above looking down into Devil's Den and hearing the voices....and wondering how we could ever forget....

    And now our World War II veterns are dying by the thousands every year as they reach their 80's and 90's. Then will come our Korean and Viet Nam vets as they move up the ladder...

    Please do as I do, when you see a vetern - anywhere, anytime - walk up to them, shake their hand and thank them sincerely for their service to their country.

    And stop by Arlington Cemetary sometime...and look at the thousands and thousands of white tombstones marching in perfect formation onto the horizion....and try not to be permanently touched...

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 28 weeks ago

    "FYI MH, there are tons of reports of CCDW carriers stopping crimes"-Amststz

    Hmmm, there are many more reports of people without guns stopping crimes.

    But the real point that I want to make is from something that you said later in your comment. "...the law says that after training, testing, and a shooting test I am aloud to carry in certain places, abiding by certain rules. It allows me to protect my family if need be and others if I can do it safely."

    There you said it, "certain places", not all, and the reason for that is guns are not appropriate in all places. Part of understanding if guns are appropriate in parks is to study their impact (i.e., do and EIS).

    As for an earlier argument about cars in parks causing more deaths to both people and wildlife there is one very important difference between cars and guns.... purpose. Additionally, before any road in built in a park today an EIS is done to help quantify its potential impact.

    The very difficult task will come in defending the statistics used in an EIS. How do you compare potential human lives lost/saved/ or even changed to environmental impacts? I think the key there will be in the Organic act... it helps argue the purpose of the parks and in the end, the parks are there for preservation of the environment (not for the ungoverned use of the people).

    Also... notice that is discussion is being framed around NPS sites and not around wildlife refugee sites.