Recent comments

  • Reading the Fine Print – Did the NPS Ever Manage This National Monument?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    TO: Jim, and others interested in whether or not National Monuments should only be operated by the NPS, and fans of Misty Fjords:

    From the beginning of the creation by President Carter, it was planned that this area be managed by the US Forest Service. It was never managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, nor, the National Park Service.

    The background is, there WAS a fight inside the Carter Administration on the designation of Misty Fjords, but it happened several years BEFORE the Presidential Proclamation on the Nat Monument (NM). By the time the Misty Fjords NM was proclaimed by Pres Jimmy Carter, there was no serious consideration of national park service management.

    Officially starting in 1971, five federal agencies were looking all over Alaska for the creation of conservation units. The original focus was on undesignated public (federal) land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. One of the agencies was the US Forest Service, who ultimately identified large areas in interior Alaska (by which I mean the huge block of Alaska, but excluding the Aleutian Pen. and Southeast Alaska). The Forest Service recommendations in Interior Alaska were in conflict with proposals made by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and by the National Park Service, each of whom advocated for parks or refuges where the Forest Service proposed extensive National Forests. Forests may permit commodity development via its multiple use legislation, including timbering and mining, but also has very tight wilderness management where designated.

    Soon after the Forest Service floated this proposal, the NPS planning team, under Al Henson in Alaska and Randy Jones in Washington, began pushing for two national parks in Southeast Alaska, within lands ALREADY MANAGED BY THE FOREST SERVICE, in Mysty Fjords and in Admiralty Island. Back to the 1930s, the NPS had conducted recons of these places, but the Forest Service was livid, because the idea of the study in the 1970's was to be focused only on the large tracts of lands managed by the BLM as undesignated public land. Some Alaskan Indian groups in the Southeast also were raising challenges to the Forest Service and in favor of the NPS because of dissatisfaction toward the development plans and lack of 'subsistence priority' in the Tongass National Forest.

    The real clash, and ultimately the basis for how the National Monument decision was made AND how the lands are currently managed, came as the Carter Administration struggled over how much land to conserve, what parcels, and what restrictions or special management should apply to the new conservation designations in Alaska.

    The main opponents to the Department of Interior proposals by Secretary Cecil Andrus (especially the national parks and wildlife refuges) were the Department of Defense -- DOD wanted aids to navigation and ability to conduct maneuvers, the Commerce Department, who complained about locking up economic development opportunities, and the Department of Agriculture -- the department that manages the Forests and supposedly advocates for the National Forest recommendations. Amid all this, the simple decision was to cut the baby in half: there would be no new national forests in Interior Alaska (on lands already managed by the Dept of Interior), and the National Park Service would back off of pushing for a Misty Fjords or Admiralty Island national parks (on lands already managed by Dept of Ag/Forest Service). The concern about the development would be addressed by wilderness proposals to Congress, to protect Misty and Admiralty from development under the USFS' multiple use policies.

    In effect, the Forest Service adopted wilderness recommendations to protect Misty and Admiralty from the National Park Service.

    And, it is the nature of government to find a way to stabilize the political situation as Carter and Andrus prepared to face Congress with the most sweeping, most controversial conservation action in the history of the United States.

    Leaving the Forest Service in place is consistent with that, and 'Wilderness' designation was the tool for both the Forests and the Refuges to block development, rather than converting those areas into parks.

    When the time came to create the National Monuments -- the study-area protections in place from development since 1971 would come off in 1978, and Senator Gravel blocked the simple extension of those protections -- President Carter and Secretary Andrus saw the National Monuments as the only way to provide solid protection, but also were forcing Alaska back to the legislative table to win back all the special exceptions for Alaska that legislation would bring. They expected and wanted a new bill in the following Congress to erase the Carter Monuments, to be sought by all parties including Sen. Stevens and Rep. Don Young. They expected the Carter Monuments were too inflexible to be livable to Alaskans, and they believed the National Park Service and Wildlife Refuges NEEDED congressional legislation to be finally accepted by Congress and ALL the parties, or else effective mangement would be impossibly difficult for the ranger-on-the-Ground.

    Because of the earlier deal, in 1977, on what agency would be the lead on what areas, what agency had developed the expertise for what area, and because of the outstanding quality of the lands designated by Carter as National Monument, and to provide political continuity and maximum leverage, the decision was made to break with tradition and permit the Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service to manage those national monuments that would have been managed by those Agencies if the Carter/Jackson/Udall bill had passed in 1978.

    POSTSCRIPT: The Carter/Andrus strategy was to get a quick agreement with Sen. Stevens and the Governor, based on the bills that had been emerging up until that point. However, the environmental organizations decided to use the leverage Carter created to either kick up to much stronger bills, including much larger Wilderness in Southeast Alaska, and claimed they would be happy PERMANENTLY with the comparatively inflexible management of the Carter National Monuments. (the only significant exception for Alaska was access for subsistence hunting and fishing on all the national monuments). This tactic led to Rep. Udall being defeated in his own Committee and loosing the Commerce Committee (refuges) as well. MANY Members of Congress were turned off at how cynical the environmentalists had become, to push for more just because Carter's monuments put pressure on Alaskans. (they even tried to take over management of eagles on State-owned land in the Southeast) But Udall ultimately won on the House Floor due in part by a tremendous effort by Andrus and Carter to go political on what had until then been lobbied pretty much on the merits alone.

    By the time it was over, the strongly environmentalist Senator Paul Tsongas, leader of the pro-environmental bill in the Senate, said he could even trust the word of Senator Ted Stevens more than he could the environmentalists. By that time, in the Southeast, all talk of a national park for Misty Fjords was gone, and right until the end the fight was over how much land in the forest would be designated Wilderness.

    When Carter was beaten in the 1980 election, the environmentalists finally folded, and Carter got his bill. Under Reagan, there was fear there would never be a better bill, and the monuments would never be fully supported. So, the idea that the environmentalists would settle for permanent national monuments was a bluff.

    At the time of the Hostage Crisis in Iran, it seemed in both cases that President Carter would be denied getting his victories before the Election, when possibly they would have helped him defeat Ronald Reagan.

  • Park History: Dinosaur National Monument   5 years 39 weeks ago

    The proposal for national park status for Dinosaur National Monument has been on the table for at least twenty years. Perceived conflict with the interests of the oil and gas industry in the nearby Uinta Basin has been the main reason legislation has stalled, even though former Colorado Rep. Ben Nighthorse Campbell supported park designation in 1989. To my knowledge, no one has suggested a name change-- the proposal has always been for Dinosaur National Park.

    More info:

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Before we start the inevitable spewing forth the rhetoric, let's at least try to maintain some semblance of accuracy.........

    The majority of CCW holders are most likely law-abiding citizens.

    Criminals don't care what the law is.
    Correction: Criminals very often seek loopholes in the law to minimize the penalties for their transgressions. Or work well within the boundaries set forth by our legal system in terms of illegal search or other rights violations, and never sees the interior of a penitentiary due to what some consider legal "errors".

    Something about who will follow the law?
    Correction: Many CCW holders who are regular contributors to this site freely admit personal violations of the current laws restricting loaded weapons within the boundaries of various NPS units. So, either nobody gives a damn about the current laws (or at least fewer people than you think), or there are far fewer CCW holders than you believe who are fine, upstanding, law-abiding citizens, or that segment of the CCW holder has transgressed into the criminal element domain. Choose any scenario of the three and the end result is that there are far less people following protocol than you tout in your "facts".

    Parks are safe??????
    Overall, yes. Like it or not, yes, far safer than other urban, suburban or rural areas with the same relative populace, and I mean in terms of the populace in the densest areas around the visitor centers, where most of the tourists gather. The crime rate on any given day in those regions is much less than in most equivalent metro areas. But on the other hand, if you're looking for ANY area of the country that, by your self-serving definition is "safe", forget it, it doesn't exist. Absolutely any area can be subjected to crime, but that simple "fact" doesn’t justify everyone and their brother walking around loaded for bear.

    The last statement is just plain ridiculous. This coming from a staunch anti-NRA gun owner who spent more time in special services than I care to remember and who was trained by our government to be quite familiar with how to use various forms of weapons against his fellow man. The "fact" is your firearm can't save your sorry behind in every circumstance, so maybe it would be more practical to be trained in alternative methods of defending yourself, your family and your possessions. The "fact" is that if you were, you would most definitely find yourself feeling "safe" in virtually any environment. Provided the paranoia can be effectively eradicated.

  • National Park Service Chastized For Poor Cultural Resource Oversight   5 years 39 weeks ago

    To Anonymous Nov 27,

    I like your point. I was recently backpacking in the San Rafael Wilderness (USFS) and was pleased and surprised to see they have allowed picnic tables to remain in some backcountry campsites.

    I while back when I read that the Sierra Club was suing Olympic NP for repairing backcountry shelters, I nearly had an aneurysm. Forcing the NPS to remove backcountry lean-tos from a rain soaked trail? Lord have mercy. Can't this nonprofit find causes with less Grinch-like motives to spend their supporters time and money on?

    (For example, why doesn't the Sierra Club donate money to helping the NPS preserve Cultural Artifacts instead of paying lawyers to steal Christmas trees from Cindy Lou Who?)

    Like Beamis, I see this poor management of Cultural Resources as another symptom of a malignant and perhaps fatal disease.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    The more guns the better. I see no reason why people should not be armed everywhere they go, whether it be mid-town Manhattan or along the placid shores of Yellowstone Lake. This is a non-issue. Statistics show that places with the strictest gun laws are usually the least safe i.e. Washington, DC and NYC, while concealed carry jurisdictions generally have much lower rates of crime. The criminals never know who might be packing heat and thus are a bit less likely to perpetrate a crime. Guns-----the more the merrier.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Thanks Marylander and Scott for such reasonable and well worded responses to this story.

    I was dismayed at the American Hiking Society's reactionary stance on this issue, and frankly, as much as I love trails, I may not continue my membership due to the AHS's unwarranted and dogmatic position regarding mountain biking in national parks.

    This bizarre fear of bicycles in parks reminds me of the horrified response some people have to gay marriage. Reee-lax! So, cats and dogs might start living together. We'll survive it. And so will the slickrock in Arches.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Actually, the murders you likely are trying to associate with Yosemite occurred outside the park. And you and many others continue to broadly -- and wrongly -- assume that folks who don't want to see concealed weapons in the parks are anti-gun and anti-2nd Amendment. Quite a few gun owners are opposed to the proposed rule change.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Fact- CCW holders are in most part law abiding people.
    Fact- Criminals are do not care what the law is.
    Fact- If the Law states, No Firearms in National Parks who will follow the Law.
    Fact- Murders on the Appalachian Trail and In the Yosemite Park in the years past and more crimes elsewhere (parks are safe??????)
    Fact- Anti Gunners don't like or accept facts!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • This Park Nourishes Its Forest Service Roots   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Great write-up Jim. And, thanks for pointing out the agency relationship between F.S. and NPS. I hadn't even heard of this park and should have.

    rob mutch

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Frank C:
    ... "it is their [the people's] right and duty to be at all times armed" ...

    Why do you gun rights folks always refuse to look at the historical context in which the original statements of the Bill of Rights were made?? The "tyrants" at that time were the British, a completely separate government seeking to abolish our nation.

    If you feel your own government is acting as a tyrant you are inherently devoted to overthrow of the government you claim to be a loyal citizen of.
    Sounds crazy, right? But that's where the logic of your argument leads.

    Keep your damn guns at home where they belong.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Give the IMBA an open mile into the National Parks they will bring down an mountain with time.

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Why should the guy videotaping be fined? I'm the one who videotaped this while vacationing in the Smokys. This is a documantation of what happenned. Animals are unpredictable. Its not like I helped the bear break into the car or the bear was acting up for the camera. There were many people standing close by, and startling the bear may have been the worse thing to do. I'm just glad nobody was hurt. I was nervous about being so close to the bear but their were a buffer of bystanders between me and the bear. I know I could out run the bystanders. The rangers ended up moving the bear far away from people. Hope you enjoyed the video.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    This may not be good for hikers with exclusionary tendencies - - but it IS good for the NPS and the promotion of healthy alternatives to motorized recreation. Expanded appreciation for what the NPS can offer to legitimate trail users, such as hikers, bikers, and equestrians, can only improve the overall NPS mission.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    The NPS should not allow bikes on trails within the national parks. There are so many places that mountain bikers can ride, we do not need to open up the parks to bikes as well. There need to be some places that we can go for slow, contemplative travel on foot, and bikes definitely destroy the experience for hikers. Not only that, bikes cause massive erosion and scare wildlife.

    What no one seems to mention is that when bikes are banned, it does not mean that bikers are banned. They are still welcome to travel on foot with the rest of us.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Jay, if you don't trust an interest group, and I'm not a member of the NRA, you should look to the founders who made statements like, "it is their [the people's] right and duty to be at all times armed". I don't leave the defense of the Bill of Rights and Constitution to interest groups, nor should park rangers who take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Defending the Constitution should be the interest of every American, not just groups of Americans. And defending the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights against tyranny is impossible without the second.

    The issue is not the use of guns in backcountry, allowing indiscriminate carrying of weapons in parks, or poaching, because the proposed legislation would not legalize these actions. The issue revolves around allowing law-abiding citizens who have gone through an expensive and extensive process (which includes criminal background check as well as gun safety training) of applying for a receiving a concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed weapon on federal public lands under the Department of the Interior's purview.

    You mention that you don't feel comfortable around people with guns in the backcountry (how would you even know if they're concealed?), but a little discomfort is a small price to pay for preserving the integrity of the Bill of Rights.

  • Hikers, Bikers and National Parks   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I am still going to stand on the platform that thinks that it is time for the National Parks to offer mountain bike trails. I have been hiking on numerous BLM trails, National Forest trails, state park trails that are shared use with moutian bikers and have personally seen that it works -and I am never the one of the bike! It's time, ladies and gentleman.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Questions for so-called advocates of the Second Amendment:

    Why would a anyone ever need a gun when visiting a National Park?

    Self defense against wild animals? Shooting a protected animal would certainly violate established wildlife protection laws.
    Self defense against humans? ANYONE could claim self defense for a shooting without any witnesses...
    Roughly two/thirds of NPS sites are cultural or historical in nature; should concealed weapons be allowed in these many Federal buildings?

    Personally I could care less whether or not a US citizen chooses to own legal firearms and keep them on their own property. But I just don't understand why a gun owner would ever need one on vacation in a National Park.
    I wish that gun owners would stop whining about their "violated" personal rights and spend that energy on the broader spectrum of real human rights violations that plague our society.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    You can debate guns or no guns till the cows come home. The bottom line is our constitutional rights will be and are going to be restricted and sadly licensed after 911 changed all the rules.

    It seems the enemy has suceeded in changing America They didn't do it alone however! They did it with the help of history ignorant well meaning Americans who become activist just to have a cause to fight for.

    All you good Republicans and maybe even a few Democrats who support the Second Amendment need to make more noise in Washington. I voice my beliefs!

    Not being able to carry a licensed firearm in the wide open spaces of a National Park is the last resort. We do need to be aware however that this could be a security issue in a parks congested public spaces.

    Codification of the right to keep and bear arms into the Bill of Rights was influenced by a fear that the federal government would disarm the people in order to impose rule

    How many of you reading this knows a well meaning, voting, citizen who thru igorance of US history supports a cause that reduces our constitutional rights?

    We need more history taught in public schools.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    It would be nice if each park put a system -- maybe something like Zion -- in place to limit car pollution in the park. It didn't seem to have a significant impact on tourism when I was there. Also, what on earth could the use of hand guns be in a protected park provide? I personally don't feel comfortable backpacking around and running into people that have guns. I live in IL so concealed weapons are illegal here, but I'm not afraid of them when I'm out in the open in legal states. I do feel a little uncomfortable people have guns in the back country that have no use for them but to shoot them off, or potentially kill protected wildlife. I imagine it's a principle issue about guns rights, but it's difficult to trust an interest group's explanation.

  • Shenandoah National Park Ranger Roy Sullivan Set the World Record for Being Hit by Lightning   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I am amazed there has not been a book written about Roy and his life. The story is absolutely fascinating if not absolutely tragic. I there any other information on Mr. Sullivan?

  • The Monkey Wrench Gang: Coming to a Theater Near You?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    I'm a long time fan of the Monkey Wrench Gang and have always wondered if and when a movie would come out. I was just searching around this evening to see if anything was in the works. It's great to hear that it may be coming out but if it's this year wouldn't there have been some previews out and about by now? Also, what is with that cast??? McConaughey is the only one in the correct age range for the characters. I could see him play Hayduke OR Seldom Seen. I could imagine him playing a good crazy GW Hayduke:-) Goodman could play a great Bishop Love too now that I think about it. But the others?? Who would Dreyfuss play? Or who would Nicholson play? I think they're both too old for Doc Sarvis. And Elizebeth Shue is gorgeous and all, underrated as an actress but really she's a bit old to play Bonnie. Abbzug was only in her early to barely mid-20's. I do hope that this cast isn't confirmed yet. I think they could do better.

    You all agree? Disagree??

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Take heart Fred. Gun sales in the post-election era are up over 20% nationally.
    I'm not sure if that's good for Obama or not........

  • Bush Administration: Slash and Burn on The Way Out of Office?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    Kurt, while I appreciate and understand fully you obligation to temper these political reports while trying to remain at least some bit objective, I, not maintaining any affiliation with the press, and thereby not making any effort to maintain neutral, have just a few issues with the above article.....

    1)it's relatively easy to castigate the outgoing administration for its seemingly heavy hand on that landscape.
    Seemingly heavy-handed? How 'bout brass-knuckled, or horse shoe in the glove?

    2)Now, presidents certainly can do what they want, and this president hasn't made any secret of his oilman roots or his catering to the extractive industries

    And THIS is exactly what's wrong with the system as it currently is managed. Pandering is a crime in most states, but in politics is "business as usual". Double standards are meant to be corrected, not tolerated.

    3)Also impacting the public lands experience are the administration's push to allowed concealed weapons in national parks, its decided favoring of off-road vehicle enthusiasts and the extractive industries when it came time for the BLM to update six resource management plans in Utah, the decision to overlook science and public opinion on the Yellowstone snowmobile issue, and the administration's fiscal drain on not just the National Park Service but also the U.S. Forest Service.

    Speaking of pandering..........

    4)"One key difference, is that the Obama administration may be acting with much higher congressional and public support than the current administration."

    Who cares, if as you say, the president isn't beholden to anyone anyway?

    5)[/i]"Things have been very polarized in this country. And I think when you have one side that has sort of refused to even look at that middle ground, and that’s your government, then I think it really does polarize your citizenry,"[i]

    Not polarized enough to get the typical spineless, lethargic American off their arse and actively seeking the type of change the system needs to be serviceable in the 21st C. Big problem here in America today. We believe our own propaganda. We still are operating under the illusion that we are the world leaders, the best in everything, which hasn't been true for going on 50 years now. We've become complacent in our lives and our system of government. The downfall of our attitude is that with complacency comes stagnation, and with stagnation comes decay. Our elected officials recognize this, and feed the complacency knowing that in so doing, the public is effectively removed from inflicting any dangerous thought or suggestion concerning modification of the power base. Throwing the dog a bone, as it were, is the most sure-fired method of maintaining total control over the masses. The economy in the toilet? Throw the dog a bone, a rebate check which by the way, you'll owe half of the sum back come next April 15. Save the banking and auto industries, with taxpayer funded bailouts. Cut interest rates and restrict credit availability such that you're screwed if you try and place money into savings accounts or instruments, the stock or bond markets, or virtually anything save overseas investments, but on the OTHER hand, nobody can borrow money at today's low interest rates to stimulate the economy unless you have an absolutely spotless credit history, which means you really don't need to borrow money for much anyway.

    Just remember folks, BOTH you're ever-lovin' political parties created the current situation. An elephant may be currently in the head office, but the company board is a jack-ass majority, who in essence have the final say over matters of the day. Back one or the other and you're part of the problem, NOT the solution.

    But we in this country don’t seem to have the desire or ability to learn the easy way.

  • Whatever Happened to That Rule Change To Allow You to Pack Heat in National Parks?   5 years 39 weeks ago

    IF this rule change does take place, you can be SURE that the Obama administration will work TIRELESSLY to strike it down. We now (on Jan 20) have in place the most gun-hating government in more than 33 years.

  • A Sad Sign of the Times: NPS Promotes Body Armor Options To Rangers   5 years 39 weeks ago

    SO WHAT? What's the big deal if National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, all State Park Rangers, Fish and Game Wardens and everyone else who does some form of law enforcementout out in woods, fields or desert wears level II or III vests and carries OC-10, batons, revolvers, semi-auto pistols, shotguns, M-4's or even full automatic weapons in the trunk. They have a NATURAL right to protect themselves against the increasing number of poachers, dope growers, meth cooks, illegal aliens, smugglers, miscellaneous criminals and all the other @#$%bags who are aware that Rangers and other conservation personnel (not to mention visitors) are often unarmed and a long ways from help.

    After all (Mr. and Ms. overly sensitive America), simply seeing someone wearing body armor or a gun shouldn't be a cause for neurotic fear - it's not the gun, it's the person carrying it that decides if the gun will be used for good or evil purposes. All the personnel above are at least minimally trained to unholster a weapon only when necessary, and also only to fire when stopping an aggressor from performing "grave bodily injury or death." This kind of training is as basic to law enforcement academies as learning your ABC's is in elementary school.

    Hunters are another group of people who receive firearms safety training, along with people who get CCW's, although they do receive less training (and you can't get enough training!)

    But if seeing a law enforcement officer in full uniform wearing body armor carrying a gun out in the woods makes you feel uncomfortable, educate yourself about guns and firearms training to get over it - knowledge is power.

    If that doesn't work, go see a shrink (or turn off liberal / sensationalist media - they are the modern sensitizing source of gun and all other fear of violence phobias).