Recent comments

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   5 years 39 weeks ago

    "Super predator" is an unfortunate term, often applied by White Conservative ideologues to sectors of the human population (whose skin is not white) they'd prefer to see behind bars, and thus out of their consciousness. It's unfortunate when an innocuous term is hijacked like that, but still I personally wish scientists would now stop using it.
    I think a better term to use is apex predator.

    Apex predators are a vital part of the overall health of an ecosystem. Reintroducing gray wolves back into Yellowstone NP was arguably a very good thing for that system, if for the only reason being we took the "management" out of the process. The removal of this keystone species certainly gave us humans the opportunity to see just how drastic an effect our management decisions could have.
    When wildlife managers remove apex predators from an ecosystem, within which those actors also function as keystone species, we severely alter the natural balance. Following this line of logic I would say that the human presence within an ecosystem is often too harshly examined, and altering our predatory behavior may not always be necessary.

    Humans are certainly apex predators, indeed the apex predator of the planet. But are we a keystone species? I guess that depends on the particular environment/geographic area we find ourselves in at any given time, or the ideological system we live our lives by.
    When utilized in solely recreational ways our predatory instinct tends to cause "imbalance". At least that's the knee jerk reaction we conservationists and preservationists have been programmed into believing, but is this always the correct conclusion? Why must we humans, with our self-assigned dominant role within the gaia, remove ourselves from the evolutionary process?
    Commenting on the study, Dr. Darimont states: "We're changing the very essence of what remains, sometimes within the span of only two decades. We are the planet's super-predator." I say, so what? We are not the only apex predator at work on this planet.

    Dr Darimont again: "This should be a wake-up call for resource managers," he said. "We should be mimicking natural predators, which take far less and target smaller individuals." Why??
    We humans are part of nature, not above it. We are part of evolution, and sounding alarms about our effect on accelerated evolution isn't always necessary.

    NPS managers have a hard enough time managing the human personnel process. Maybe they should take a step back from managing predators and see how the ecosystems correct themselves.

  • Park History: Arches National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I really didn't know Arches National Park teems with so many arches - 2000. That's prodigious!

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Well, if you cite Thoreau, I'll reply with Stephen Colbert: What a heck of governments have we established in Iraq and Afghanistan then.

    Our society has become too complex and fractional to leave it to the "invisible hand". No one but a national government can build and maintain national infrastructure. And the small-government- (or better "starve-the-beast"-) ideology already damaged the ability to maintain this infrastructure and the infrastructure itself, from bridges to restrooms in National Parks (to finally get back to our topic here on the traveler).

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Unfortunately, taking away guns are not going to take away the intent to commit crime, murder most of all...There are many crimes (that result in death) where guns are not involved...I am an educated chemical engineer, not just some backwoods Kentucky hick with a shotgun, although those people do exist...My reason for chiming in is simple...the black bear population in Eastern Kentucky is on the rise. I mt. bike, hike, and backpack in Eastern KY with my wife all year long...I have also always been an avid hunter (mostly bow more than gun) and have always had a respect for our right to bear arms. Contact with bears is something I have not had much experience with, which is what led me to this discussion...I definitely see the benefits of the bear spray, having read much documentation on it. I will say that if it works as well as many people say it does, I will stick it on my hip from now on, just in case...I am also a serious conservationist, meaning I would rather watch animals in the wild theses days than hunt them. As for the right to bear arms...well, I stand beside the people who support freedom....freedom in its most raw form....If not, we have become exactly what we were trying to escape....Great Britain...I think we should focus on a more educated society, which apparently is way down on the agenda...With an educated society not focused on capitalism some issues cease to exist...Imagine if everyone were educated and trying to help each other instead of trying to screw each other for money, which has become the norm in our country....No mortgage crisis, no 50 billlion dollar scandal, etc...I am ashamed at what America has become...

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Hiked the Angel's Landing trail yesterday, January 17 (wintertime, obviously) for the first time. My wife and I are in our mid-fifties, pretty good shape, and didn't have any problems that way, but the ice from this year's extra snowfall made many areas of the trail especially dangerous. The Wally's Wiggles area of the trail was completely snow and ice covered, and without proper crampons, was not easy going, despite the liberal sanding by the Park Service. We got to the Scout's Landing area, started up the Angel's Landing trail with the chains, and turned back after just a few yards because of the ice. Just flat too dangerous in the winter - bad enough in the summer - but there were many that were making the climb. I just decided that the reward just wasn't worth the risk this time - maybe under better conditions.

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   5 years 39 weeks ago


    You accurately point out the perils of taking a brief quote from any writer and applying it to another topic, so I'll happily modify my use of it slightly:

    This new study of human impacts on both plant and animal populations suggests that in recognizing the values of "wildness," Thoreau seems to have been on to something.

    I'll respectively decline to infer what Thoreau would or would not "approve of..." :-)

  • Red Rocks and White Snow   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Fantastic park. I have done two cycling trips through southern Utah and spent a day in Bryce each time. I hope to go back in the not too distant future.

  • Humans as "Super-Predators" – New Study Offers Startling Information about Hunting and Fishing   5 years 39 weeks ago

    This new study of human impacts on both plant and animal populations suggests that Thoreau was simply ahead of his time.

    Thoreau was also ahead of his time politically, which statist preservationists selectively overlook. Forgive me for a partial reposting of an 18 month-old comment, but with the continued selective quoting of Thoreau, it bears repeating.

    Thoreau wrote in Civil Disobedience (and I highly urge those who have recently commented about following rules to read or re-read it):

    I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government.

    Thoreau would not approve of government land management because it's "inexpedient" (not tending to promote a purpose; not tending to the end desired; inadvisable; unfit; improper; unsuitable to time and place).

    Using Thoreau, an anarchist, to support statist premises is highly absurd and anachronistic.

  • Red Rocks and White Snow   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Nice photo! Red rock country is dramatic any time of the year, but it takes on a special beauty when snow offers contrast to the other colors.

  • Groups Ask for Extension on Comment Period for Grand Canyon "Natural Quiet" Definition   5 years 40 weeks ago

    The Feds doesn't really give a damn or two about the improvement of parks. They have far more important things to do than attend to the needs of these people who care for it. It's a sad trend, if we think about it.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago

    The Heller decision said that an individual right to own and possess a firearm was protected under the 2A and that person did not have to be a member of a milita. Your comment was you said the part you did not undestand of "infringement" was a well regulated militia. Regulated in colonial times meant same ammo and same arms to be carried or to well trained, not rules like park regulation.

    It did say that restriction such as were common at our founding was that felons could be prohibited. Since CCW holders by definition have background checks, they are not felons so are not restricted in their 2A rights.

    The also said carry was part of the right but that was not the issue challenged by Mr Heller. So yes some limited restriction may apply like in schools or by felons acoording to the majority opinion. That does not mean any and all restriction that some may like. These issues will be decided in later challenges.

    The issue of self defense in an inherent right that can not be legislated away. Firearms are one of the tools of self defense so the issue of ability to have a weapon prepared for use is part of that right. The request was to have CCW holders be allowed in NPS like on NFS and BLM lands to carry. This request was granted.

    The effect will not blood in the parks but rather CCW holder who drive on highways that cross NPS will no longer have to stop , store the gun and then stop and put the gun on again.

    Visitors will not be effected since only CCW use is allowed. There will not see or be aware of anyone carrying a guns.

    Criminal use will still be punishable just not the act of having a gun on a person.

    The most that NPS has to do is change signs and post signs on buildings. Othewise there will be no difference.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I've read the decision. If you have, too, you will see it went out of its way to say it is not definitive, but a narrowly drawn decision based on a specific, overstated local rule. It is not a landmark ruling on whether regulations of guns are legal. Read it again.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Read the SCOTUS Heller decision. It explains that the preface is a purpose ,not the sole purpose. That is what the decesion was about whether an individual not part of the militia has 2A and it was decided in the affirmative .

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 40 weeks ago


    Lots of smoke, but thank God the winds were blowin' away from us!

    Good thing the wind blew all that smoke out over the ocean, where the CO2 would be quickly absorbed...

  • Glacier Bay National Park Issues New Cruise Ship Contracts   5 years 40 weeks ago

    These is a good idea and a good way to enjoy the beauty of the park. NPS is there to preserve and manage the parks for Americans to enjoy. A cruise ship is an ideal way to provide that enjoyment and they have attempted to make sure that that method does not do damage to the water and air.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago


    the part that says "well-regulated militia"

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    "All that carbon" is being absorbed by the seas and flora as it always has. Flora loves CO2...and today there is more forestland in the U.S. than there ever has been in recorded history. No "deforestation" here, BTW.
    Take a biology course. Some scientists now believe we are entering a cooling now what do we do? Do you have an answer to that? I guess just the opposite of what the enviros say we need to do! Burn more carbon!!
    I actually had an Al Gore "peace prize" party a few years ago when he "won." We fired up the barbie in the back yard and a friend who works at the tire store brought some old tires. We set 'em ablaze just after sunset so that no one would complain...pretty funni. Lots of smoke, but thank God the winds were blowin' away from us!

  • Delaware Can Relax; The New National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Series Will Celebrate “National Sites” Too   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Please visit the link below to see the images of the latest quarter designs:

  • Upon Further Review: Preferential Treatment for Local Residents at National Parks?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Apologies for hijacking your thread, Jim. I just had to vent some of my frustration with the situation here. I do appreciate the challenges NPS staff can face dealing with a wide variety of Park visitors. Your articles are excellent and entertaining examples!

  • Upon Further Review: Preferential Treatment for Local Residents at National Parks?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I realize there's always more to an issue than meets the eye, but it sounds like there's room for improvement on the Mount Rainier access question. Hopefully the park staff will take another look at the balance between safety, liability and costs vs. visitor access.

    As far as a double standard for employees (park, concessioner and others) living in a park, no doubt that exists at times, as it does anyplace you have similar isolated communities or "company towns." Ideally, that wouldn't be the case, but I didn't see major abuses during my years of living in several parks.

    The "Oscars" of the world, as described in the original story, are a different set of challenges, but it comes down to the same aspect of human nature. One area where I worked had a large campground, and one family came every year on the same weekend in the fall. The patriarch of the bunch was unhappy if they didn't get site #42 - even if #41 or #43 were vacant, and looked pretty much the same. His position was "we always camp in this spot."

    People are always, if nothing else, interesting!

  • What Priorities Should The Next National Park Service Director Address?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Jim has an excellent point. Private inholdings in national parks are potential time bombs that can impact the resources, visitors and integrity of an affected park unit. The current economic crisis will likely make the owners of such inholdings more willing to sell either outright or to accept payment for limits on the uses of such lands. I can think of dozens of inholdings in the midst of sensitive wildlife habitat that would be candidates for a special purchase/easement program.

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Assuming that you're referring to the rule bringing national parks in line with state concealed carry laws:

    a) A common sense rule that ends the prohibition on law-abiding citizens being prepared to defend themselves in wilderness areas where self-reliance is a necessity, and simply brings the national parks into compliance with the Bill of Rights and local law and practice, would only be called "stupid" by someone with a lot of ignorance and/or bias on the subject.

    b) Federal lands managed by BLM and the Forest Service generally comply completely with state firearms laws, including open carry where that is not otherwise prohibited by state or local law. It's commonly practiced and doesn't cause any problems as far as I have observed. The new Interior Department guidelines are still, illogically and unnecessarily, more restrictive than other federal lands in that they only allow concealed carry by state permit holders and therefore, no, I'm not satisfied.

    What part of "shall not be infringed" do you still find confusing?

  • Park Rangers, Active and Retired, Lament Change in Gun Rules for National Parks   5 years 40 weeks ago


    Are you satisfied with the stupid new rule that Department of the Interior cubicle-dwelling burearcrats thought was a good idea?

    Rick Smith

  • Upon Further Review: Preferential Treatment for Local Residents at National Parks?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    Jim wrote: "'s only human nature for some people who live near a park and use it on a regular basis to
    develop a sense of 'ownership' of the area." Rangertoo replied concerning some NPS staffers: "Someday,
    someone going to call attention to this kind of double standard...".

    Here just outside Mount Rainier NP, outraged locals had to listen to buddies of the rangers bragging of their
    40-50 ski days at Paradise during the bogus six-month closure in 2006-07 while the public (except for
    concession clients) was excluded. The newly completed VC construction project hardly missed a beat during
    this period. This week they have used relatively minor road damage from the recent storms as an excuse to
    again bar the public from Paradise on weekdays.

    Park media propaganda first claimed this was because of "avalanche hazard" at the damage site on Glacier
    Hill. The road closes nightly and does not reopen at all on days when the Northwest Avalanche Center
    forecast is "Extreme" and on many, if not most, days when the hazard forecast is "High". Literally millions
    of vehicles have passed this point in the past several decades and the number of incidents involving the
    public can be counted on one hand with fingers left over. You and I have hundreds of times higher statistical
    chance of being hit by an NPS vehicle than an avalanche on this road.

    Now they are claiming they can't afford to post flaggers for the light weekday traffic and even refuse to allow access to the trailheads below the damage. I can see the need for traffic control on busy weekends and holidays. It seems to me timed traffic lights on utility trailers (used on the Stevens Canyon road repair last summer) would serve just as well. The damage has left a one-lane section about a hundred feet long with good sightlines for half a mile in both directions. A simple sign on a barricade: "One-lane Section--Yield to Downhill Traffic" would provide adequate safety. Scroll down to the seventh archived article for photos at:

    Much of the reason weekday traffic is so light (and weekend visitation is declining) is that for many years
    the gate at Longmire has opened at eleven or even after noon with just a few inches of new snow. People have
    learned not to waste their precious time and money playing 'waitgate'. I hope Rangertoo is correct and "someday... the floodgates will open." Probably a flood of taxpayer protest will be needed for the Paradise gate to open as well. It appears Park management here can't be bothered with something so mundane as allowing the pesky public access to their Park. Talk about proprietary interest getting out of hand!

  • Climate Change: Fact or Fiction?   5 years 40 weeks ago

    I cannot fathom why someone would be interested in parks and have no clue about climate change. Smartin271 mentions that the photos have differences, yes they do, how nice to notice. But seeing the differences and saying it is climate change is deemed to be reactionary. What do you people think all that carbon is doing? When your septic tank overflows, do you say, oh it has plenty of room, don't be reactionary? Why fight this? What will it hurt to be more gentle on the planet?

    Follow the money? Yes, the people who don't want to spend more to be cleaner, follow the oil companies money.