Recent comments

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    I am a biologist, and some of my work takes place inside National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. I do not support the NPCAs lawsuit, because I view it as a misallocation of limited financial and human resources. That the Brady Campaign filed suit is understandable, because "that's what they do." But this as an unworthy pursuit by the NPSA. The stated argument is that this rule change will place parks staff, visitors, and wildlife at risk. But such reasoning lacks merit. Currently, some 40 states issue carry licenses to anyone who passes criminal background checks and demonstrates training with firearms, and another 8 states issue such licenses on a discriminatory basis. Data from these states (notably Florida, where shall-issue has been law for 21 years) demonstrates that persons with carry permits are extraordinarily law-abiding, and in some states literally hundreds of times less likely to be involved in crimes than the population at large. This evidence flies in the face of claims that carry licensees will perpetrate crimes if allowed to carry in National Parks or Wildlife Refuges; they don't do so anywhere else, so it is wholly without merit argue that they will within park boundaries.

    The lack of evidence that licensees commit crimes points to another motivation, one that is likely subjective if not unspoken. Many of those (with whom I have discussed this rule change) support this lawsuit primarily for symbolic reasons. Simply put, they don't like "those people" who would carry guns for personal or family protection. Those are personal beliefs and they are fine, as long as they don't drive policy. But it has been appalling for me to learn that this personal, subjective, and prejudicial bias is what's motivating much of the opposition to the rule change.

    As an aside and as a more primary observation, I find it unfortunate that these discussions are taking place in the light of the DOI-solicited public comments. Such comments are of an academic interest only. The bill of rights exists precisely to protect the rights of individual from the will of the majority (eg. legislation enacted by democratically elected governments, or rules promulgated by the DOI). If the second amendment specifically protects the right of individuals to own and to carry defensive arms (and it certainly appears to do so), then this question of whether they may be carried within park boundaries is moot, constitutionally speaking. So in effect, this argument is about whether the constitution is in effect within the boundaries of lands administered by the Park Service ... so the issue, and many of these arguments, are flawed from their foundation. And that is roundly unfortunate.

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Random Walker - Thanks for the link, I stand correct on that point. In practice, though, even decisions on signage seem to be made on a case-by-case basis, and there certainly are a number of wilderness areas where trailhead signage is only placed at the wilderness area boundary, but further trail markers are not placed within the area itself.

    Jim - Not only was there a threat of a fillibuster, but it was acutally made over the summer and the bill failed when Harry Reid could not find the 60 votes needed to override the fillibuster. And while the issues have not changed, the composition of the Senate has - however that may well be contingent on having new Senators from Illinois, New York, Delaware, and Minnesota in place (at least once Biden and Clinton formally resign in those two cases.). As you said, "stay tuned".....

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Ted:

    From the published Supreme Court ruling No. 07-290, District of Columbia, et al., Petitioners v. Dick Anthony Heller,
    Opinion of the Court:
    "Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment IS NOT UNLIMITED... Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms... or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.."
    "In sum, we hold that the District’s ban on handgun possession IN THE HOME violates the Second Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm IN THE HOME operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense. Assuming that Heller is not disqualified from the exercise of Second Amendment rights, the District must permit him to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it IN THE HOME." (emphasis added)

    Nothing in their opinion should should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions... That's all we, the dissenters to the legal carry in National Parks ruling, are saying. And the Right-leaning Supreme Court apparently agrees with us.

    I bring to your attention the purposeful use of the phrase "in the home" in the original case, and in Supreme Court's ultimate decision. IN THE HOME. How does DC v. Heller, concerning legal possession of a firearm in the home, guarantee the right to take a legally owned and loaded weapon into a National Park? It's clear that the Supreme Court, stacked with right wing personal rights advocates such as it currently is, only interprets the 2nd Amendment so far as legal possession within one's own home. Thorough reading of their very thorough published opinion proves this out, and gives pretty good insight into possible future cases concerning guns and personal use rights. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    The issue of ownership protected by the 2nd Amendment is not the issue addressed by the legal carry ruling controversy. Yet proponents of legal carry within our National Parks constantly circle back around to that point (which is not being questioned by the anti-carry within a National Park opinions expressed here), for what purpose I am not sure.
    Ownership of an item does not imply I can or should take that item with me anywhere I go.

    Again I ask that we stick to the specific issue at hand.

    Jim in Houston:

    I agree that crime is real. I've been the victim of violent crime. My life wasn't threatened, though I did suffer bodily harm.
    But you know what? I never once thought "I wish I'd had a gun..." The gang that surrounded and attacked me did so swiftly, even efficiently. The lead pipe they used to break my arm and lacerate my scalp almost knocked me unconscious... I doubt I would have had the faculty to use a gun to defend myself. But I never wold have thought to carry one, I just wasn't raised with the thought that I may have to defend myself one day with a gun. So that's my bias.

    I grew up in an urban area, and have lived in urban areas most of my life, and to the contrary of popular beliefs propagated by our national media, never once in my life have I heard a gunshot while living in a city.
    (Except on New Year's Eve: In the region of the country in which I now live it's customary to shoot off guns to celebrate the coming of the New Year. But such reckless use of a firearm would only be perpetrated by criminals, right?)

    I guess I'm naive, I don't spend my days expecting "imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm". And yet I've managed to survive for 45 years.

    Go look at the home pages of every pro-gun website and you see many examples of fear-mongering.

    I admit I have a strong personal bias about this ruling, and sometimes that bias comes out in my argument. I truly do not intend to be snide, I just want someone to answer the questions I continue to ask, specifically related to the issue these comments are intended to address.

    For all:
    Please don't quote chapter and verse on the 2nd Amendment or DC v. Heller as a tactic to avoid responding to the issue of legal carry in a National Park.

  • How Many National Park Rangers Does It Take to Cut Down a Tree?   5 years 29 weeks ago

    It sounds to me like $600 toilet seats and $100 hammers are a deal compared to the cost of this.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    If only I had a dollar for every time I see in the Morning Report something about firearms possession in a park, I could have retired already!

  • Yosemite National Park Officials Looking For Suggestions on Preserving Badger Pass Ski Lodge   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Ted,

    ClaireWalter's 5,000 figure is for the winter season at Hurricane Ridge, not for year-round. This is directly from the page she considerately linked to in her post.

    And although most would agree that Hurricane Ridge is indeed the prime Olympic destination, studies have shown that the Hoh Rain Forest receives approximately equivalent annual visitation. This study showed that about half of Olympic's visitors see Hurricane Ridge, and with current visitation around 3,000,000, that puts about 1.5 million visitors on Hurricane Ridge every year (0.3% visiting in winter). Ted's $200-400 million annual lodge earnings figure would require $130-$260 spent per visitor, meaning a family of four would spend $1000 there annually. ........ummm, I'm going to say that's overshooting it a bit.

    My uneducated guess is that the Hurricane area makes enough money in the winter to justify plowing expenses, but not much profit - operating expenses will be extremely high during that time. The summer season is probably what puts them in the black. But having no knowledge of the concessionaire and their operations, I'm really just speaking out of my you-know-what. :)

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Bravo Ted...Bravo!!

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 29 weeks ago

    It will be interesting to see how this bill fares so early in the new session; perhaps that will provide a hint at how other park-related actions will fare.

    To add to the comment by Sabattis, media reports late last year indicated that this bill didn't come up for a vote due to threats of a filibuster by Senator Coburn of Oklahoma. With other pressing business facing Congress at the end of the session, his threat was sufficient to stall the bill. One would presume he still has the same objections to this bill, and some of that same "pressing business" is still on the table, so stay tuned for developments...

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Limited signage is allowed in designated wilderness areas:
    The Wilderness Act of 1964 and Signs

  • Fake USGS Site Urges Evacuation of Yellowstone National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Well, post-eruption you won't have to elbow your way through the crowds at Artist's Point to get a good look. Of course, actually finding the spot where Artist's Point used to be would be a whole new challenge! I wonder how snowmobiles fare in several hundred feet of ash?

  • Avalanche Awareness Clinic Set for Olympic National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    The U.S. Forest Service has a NWAC Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center website that offers unusual & cool weather & forecasts.

    I use this site to fine-tune the Olympic Peninsula outlook.

    I don't know if the Forest Service does this for other regions, but it seems to me they might.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    "Or perhaps you'll take it upon yourself to interpret a particular situation you decide is unlawful, thus justifying your need to provide defense?"

    Among your snide questions, this one's the winner. As to when I decide a situation is unlawful, it's really easy. As a CHL holder (and indeed as a citizen), I am permitted to use lethal force when faced with "imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm". This is what the law allows. You will not even know I carry a gun until that happens.

    "Why do organized gun ownership concerns always seemingly resort to fear when searching for supporters?"

    Funny. We use facts showing that crime is real, that the police have no obligation to protect us, that regular citizens have proven quite capable of defending themselves, and that CHL holders have a remarkable record for safety. It is the opponents who seem to come up with "fear" as evidence of a problem (see plaintiffs).

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Warren,

    The questions you have on the Second Amendment were taken up earlier in '08 by the Supreme Court, and their treaty on the history, analysis and legal status of both the questions and the Amendment are published in their ruling, D.C. vs Heller..

    This ruling says it better than I can, it's on the formal public record, and it's from the Supreme Court of the United States.

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Paul - If you've ever visited a Park that is largely wilderness, like North Cascades, and compared it to the experience of say visiting Yosemite Valley or the developed areas of Yellowstone, I think you would quickly see the difference. Wilderness designations involve making a tradeoff in favor leaving a place virtually untouched, and against further development of things like tour roads, National Park Lodges, and developed campgrounds that help make National Parks more accessible to broad segments of the American population. When a wilderness is designated, the wild splendor of the place is left almost completely untouched (for example, you can't even put trail signs up in wilderness areas) and provides an unmatched experience for those who go there. On the other hand, it does often mean that fewer people will go there, due to the lack of facilities and the more difficult access.

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 29 weeks ago

    It may not be such a reach, Kurt. Most of the larger units have a cadre of relatively well paid employees who have a vested interest in building new infrastructure. These range from contracting officer and Trail Foreman to Landscape Architect, Chief of 'Maintenance', and beyond. Many no doubt sincerely see a need, or many needs, but some are careerists looking to fill the eye of their supervisor or congressperson. The regional offices are especially well stocked with this type.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Ted:

    The CNN poll you referenced, as worded, concerns the right to own guns. It did not ask respondent's interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, specifically where and when it would be appropriate to carry legally owned and loaded firearms. That's a big difference.
    I see where you're going though: one can always find a poll or statistic to support their viewpoint. But the poll you quote does not pertain to the point I made.

    Perhaps you could help me understand how legal ownership, as provided for in the 2nd Amendment, implies that one can carry a fully loaded legally owned gun on Federally owned and protected lands wherever and whenever one chooses? The specific word that confuses me is "militia", and how the 21st Century issue of gun owners wanting to keep a fully loaded at their side at all times while walking Federally protected lands relates to that concept.

    Let's all take a look at dictionary definitions of the word "militia".
    - a military force raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.
    - a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, or emergency law enforcement.
    - a military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities, typically in opposition to a regular army.
    - all able-bodied citizens eligible by law for military service.

    Some questions for everyone:
    Will you need to have your gun on you while hiking the Grand Canyon in the event you are called to service while on vacation?
    Or perhaps you'll take it upon yourself to interpret a particular situation you decide is unlawful, thus justifying your need to provide defense?
    If you're no longer eligible for military service, will you keep your gun at home?
    Were the framers of The Constitution concerned with contemporary issues of possession, purchase, and transportation?
    "A well regulated Militia..." Where's the regulation in letting gun owners carry wherever they choose?
    Why do organized gun ownership concerns always seemingly resort to fear when searching for supporters?

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Preoccupation with the economic crisis certainly played a role, but it was still somewhat surprising that Congress failed to pass its now seemingly standard end-of-session omnibus public lands bill. Even with the economic crisis, this probably would have still have passed but for the objections of Senator Coburn of Oklahoma. Sen. Coburn objected to a number of provisions, including the earmarking and overall price tag of some of the projects included, closing off certain Forest Service and BLM Lands to further energy exploration, and concerns regarding both the price tag of the new National Heritage Areas included and the possibility of new National Heritage Area designations interfering with private property rights.

    It is interesting to note, however, that both Senator Coburn and environmental groups both objected to at least one aspect of the bill - a plan to spend to transfer land out of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge on the Aleutian Peninsula to eventually facilitate a multi-million dollar road project to replace the existing ferry access to an airport for residents of a small town. (sound familiar? - different town, similar story.)

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Wow..cute comic! And is that the way we as U.S. citizens should see it? That we cannot go and visit a national park without feeling bodily threatened and in need of a firearm?
    My husband & I have visited numerous parks, and the day when I don't feel safe...we'll be staying home!

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Warren Z.,

    Warren said:

    "So... let's take all of the discussion about "lobbyists" out of the argument, and get back to the issue."
    Warren, Kurt elevated the lobbies to a central position in his leading article here. His objection to the role of the NRA (lobby) is that their (lobbying) role improperly tipped the national lawmaking process. His elevation of the role of lobbies is entirely appropriate: They have been key & primary players - both pro & con - throughout the life of the issue under discussion. Largely, "lobbyists" are "the issue".

    Warren said:

    "Let's get real here. The majority of the general public, the professionals, and the legislators don't think this ruling is lawful, necessary, or prudent. Enough said. [emph. added]"
    On the contrary, actually: "Majority in U.S. poll support gun ownership rights"
    "Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they believe the Constitution guarantees each person the right to own a gun, according to a poll released Sunday.

    In all, 65 percent said they thought the Constitution ensures that right, and 31 percent said it did not. The question had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 points.

    Men and people living in rural areas were most likely to say the Constitution guarantees the right to own a gun.

    Nearly three quarters of men (72 percent) said they believed so, versus 26 percent who did not. More than half (58 percent) of women said they believed so, versus slightly more than a third (35 percent) who did not.

    That question had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4.5 points.

    Among rural dwellers, 73 percent said they agreed, versus 64 percent and only half (50 percent) of city dwellers who thought the same."

    On the matter of public views regarding firearm ownership, a large majority is consistently supportive.

  • Fake USGS Site Urges Evacuation of Yellowstone National Park   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Everytime I hear "someone created a fake website", I think "here's a guy who should probably get away from his computer and walk in the woods once in a while."

    Although, I admit, I think this might be the year I finally visit Yellowstone. Ya know, before it blows up and what-not. After that it'll be damned hard to find lodging!

    ======================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 29 weeks ago

    OK, makes sense I suppose. Thanks for that!

    ====================================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • National Park Quiz 36: Management   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Jeez, Barky, I can't get eleven correct myself! I demand a recount.

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Barky, no, it's not exactly empty rhetoric. While the areas in question have been "managed" as defacto wilderness, that's not the same as being officially designated wilderness. Which means that if someone down the road decided to build a road into or through a portion of the defacto wilderness, or put a backcountry ranger cabin there, or who-knows-what that's currently prohibited in officially designated wilderness, and somehow got NPS approval, they could.

    True, it's probably a reach that anything would happen to these defacto wilderness areas, but you never know....

  • National Park Quiz 36: Management   5 years 29 weeks ago

    Wow, only got one wrong (including the bonus questions). My best showing yet! Sadly, one I got wrong (the Craters of the Moon) is one I actually visited. I thought the City of Rocks was the jointly managed recreation area, being a haven for recreational rock climbers. Are you sure that's not the correct answer? ;-)

    =====================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 29 weeks ago

    So... let's take all of the discussion about "lobbyists" out of the argument, and get back to the issue.

    As Kurt wrote earlier: "The public agrees: of the 140,000 people who voiced their opinion on this issue during the public comment period, 73 percent opposed allowing loaded, concealed firearms in the national parks, according to NPCA tallies." And that was during an intentionally abbreviated (by the Bush Administration) comment process, that also masterfully managed to ignore the necessary NEPA compliance process. If put through the full legislative process, this ruling would most likely NOT have seen the light of day. And the Bush Administration knew that.

    I think the public comment statistic shows that if left up to a public vote, an essential part of the democratic process, concealed carry in the Parks would not be allowed. Are these 73% all blindly following the political agenda of some unknown evil bent on ruining the fine fabric of our nation by chipping away at our God-given, er, I mean our Constitution-given rights?

    Let's get real here. The majority of the general public, the professionals, and the legislators don't think this ruling is lawful, necessary, or prudent. Enough said.
    Sorry gun owners, but sometimes you just don't get your way. Will you now raise your militias to force your views on the rest of us?