Recent comments

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 41 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 41 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? ;-)

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 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?

  • National Park System Would Gain Official Wilderness Under Omnibus Lands Bill   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Help me out here: why is a wilderness declaration of regions within an existing national park really matter? I understand that declaring other lands as 'wilderness' affords them protection from development, road building, etc., but aren't lands within a park already protected?

    I guess I'm asking why this bill is anything more than empty rhetoric in some cases, like the act "designat[ing] 90,000 acres of wilderness within Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks", etc.

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    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Mr Wade: I previously commented that the "survey" to which you refer is not scientific; it seems based mostly the respondents' feelings rather than scientific data. I pointed out that it was more akin to a questionnaire than a scientific survey, and I listed some of the problems with gathering data online.

    ... the survey we did ... provided ample indication from a significant number of current and former employees of the NPS that the risk would increase.

    Could you please direct me to the data you collected? Is it posted on the CNPSR website? Or maybe you could answer a few questions:

    What were the methods of data collection?
    Exactly who was surveyed?
    What does "ample indication" mean?
    To what does "significant number" equate? Do you have raw numbers and/or percentages?
    How many and/or what percent didn't think the risk would increase?

    Thank you in advance.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Bill,

    I understand that it is a little distasteful to see your organization mentioned, much less categorized with Exxon or NRA. But I did not say that CNPSR are liars, thieves or otherwise disparage them, only bringing forward that they are a "lobby", like a large number of other such groups that 'work' the government.

    Its no different than discussing lawyers. Many of us have developed a reflexive snarl when we use the 'L-word'. However, there is a wide range in the ethical footing in the lawyer-population: Some are indeed scoundrels, while others are quality people. Yet, we don't hear 'nice' lawyers object, "Don't call me a lawyer", because some lawyers are nefarious. Lawyers are lawyers - and lobbies are lobbies.

    When and if we pass laws to reduce the influence of lobbying upon the government, the controls enacted will not be applied "using the legal definition of lobbying". Rather, a lobby-control law will be applied on the basis of actions & relationships, whether an entity meets a particular legal definition or not.

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a lobby.

    We have groups who engage in lobbying-activities, but do not register as or meet the formal definition of a lobby. If we passed a law that controlled only those groups that are registered or meet the technical definition of a lobby, then the day after the law comes into effect, every since lobby in the country would suddenly be reorganized as an informal body outside the "legal definition", and all lobby-activities would proceed, 'business as usual'. Hmm?

    I think we ought not lose sight that lobbies we like & approve are just as much a part of the 'issue' and 'problem' of lobbying, as are those lobbies we think stink.

    And, they will be controlled under the law, the same as those we don't want mentioned with.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Bill Wade
    Chair, Executive Council
    Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

    Ted -

    I object to you categorizing CNPSR as a lobbyist in the same breath as Exxon. The law requires an organization to register if it has lobbyists. CNPSR is a non-profit 501c3 and has to report on any "lobbying" it does, in order to retain its non-profit status. Last FY, using the legal definition of lobbying for non-profits, we "lobbied" about 2% of what we were legally allowed.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    NRA "drives" laws through Congress.

    When involved in a conflict or struggle, folks need to know who the opponent actually is, if they are to take effective actions. The problem is, folks very commonly react toward figures & entities other than the source of their grievance. Sounds weird - and often is! - but it's true.

    The boss comes into work and gets on everyone's case, all day long. The real source of the boss's irritation is his wife, but he's treating the crew at work like the enemy. Then when he goes home, he kicks the dog, for good measure. This is the classic case of "redirecting" frustration to a less-threatening or less-dangerous figure (if he lights-in to his wife, he only digs himself in deeper).

    This is called "displacement", in Psych 101.

    In our present case, it is better to hang the blame for the new gun-law on the NRA, because the real 'culprit' is that American citizenry as a whole, who strongly support gun rights. That's really why we have the new guns-in-Parks rule: Because elected Representatives know taking positive actions to correct erosion of the Second Amendment pays generous dividends, next time elections come around. They don't need the NRA to figure this out, or know what to do.

    To rail against America as a whole, and try to paint the vast masses in some vaguely nefarious shade, is too big a bite to gnaw off and choke down. But here's the NRA - and handy to the scene of the 'crime'. "Damn s.o.bs - always subverting the American government..."

    Frankly guys, I think Capitol Hill can stand on its own against the NRA ... and they're not really into handing out Legislative powers to let lobbies "drive" law-making.

    Legal action based on "emotional appeal"

    Asserting in a lawsuit that something that we don't like is increasing the "risk" of bad things happening is extremely common. It's "emotional" because the suit says there is something "scary" about the activity we don't like, that there is something to "fear", and we want it stopped. Fear is an emotion, so to "appeal" on such a premise to the Court is an "emotional appeal".

    Disrespecting the NPCA and the CNPSR

    These people are just lobbyists, same as the NRA. They have no more business doing what they do - and no less - than the Exxon lobby has doing what it does. They're just a group acting on behalf of a particular point of view. The test of this assertion will be, when & if we finally manage to pass real lobby-reform laws to brush-back the lobby-horde, the NPCA & CNPSR will find themselves toeing the same line that Exxon & NRA surrogates are put behind.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Bill Wade
    Chair, Executive Council
    Coalition of National Park Service Retirees

    Well, Frank the facts are these: the entire Executive Council of CNPSR, duly elected by the members, voted unanimously to support this suit. And, while I suspect every single person in CNPSR doesn't agree 100 percent, the way our organization runs is that the membership allows the EC to make the decisions on their behalf. Not unlike the country does business; however, not one single member has yet to notify me that they disagree with the suit, and we've been discussing it for some time now. So, I have no clue where you get the idea there is some internal dissent.

    As to the risk, you know very well something like that is hard to quantify; but the survey we did resulting in the report referred to on our website; and that we submitted to DOI, provided ample indication from a significant number of current and former employees of the NPS that the risk would increase. That's exactly what we said.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Bill, it's "Kurt.";-)

    That aside, I'm not at all in favor of crooks. But the system as it's currently running is working if you believe the crime stats for national parks.'Nuff said.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Ted Clayton:

    To categorize a lawsuit brought by the NPCA and the CNPSR as an "emotional appeal" is patronizing to say the least. To disregard the professional experience that many of their members have in park/resource management is to belittle the value of their experience. And to disregard their professional assessment of the situation (because it doesn't agree with yours) is unnecessarily disrespectful.

    Concerning President-elect Obama, what exactly is his "nature", as you so dangerously phrase it?
    It will be interesting to see whether or not he takes on this particular ruling, his support for the 2nd Amendment notwithstanding. (If his eventual decision doesn't completely jibe with your interpretation, will you still see him as a "supporter"?)

    And: Do you really think the NRA does not exercise it's considerable political clout whenever possible? That opinion is beneath your demonstrated intellect, don't patronize the forum please.
    If you are sincerely unfamiliar with the breadth and reach of the NRA I suggest you go take a look at the NRA website, and you'll get an idea of just what that organization can and will get themselves involved in.

    Bill Woodard:
    Just how many "crooks" have been responsible for crimes within the National Parks so far? The no-carry situation in National Parks has been in effect for decades, and I'm just not familiar with how many crimes have occurred in our Parks that could have been prevented by law-abiding gun owners. Can you share your source and statistics for your assumptions? Or at least some sort of comparable precedent that would support the need for this ruling?

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Not only that, Kurt, but Senator Crapo, R-Id, admits that the NRA drafted the letter that Senators signed and sent to Kempthorne. I think Ted is underestimating the capacity of the NRA to drive campaigns like this.

    But, as you point out, so what? Does it surprise anyone? My only question is why did they wait so long? They had 7 1/2 years of a friendly admiinistration. Maybe they waited so long so that it would be a last minute deal that their allies in the Department could get through without going through the normal rule-making processes, shortening the public comment period and ignoring the NEPA compliance processes. And does it surprise anyone that groups who think more guns in parks is a bad idea would challenge the rule?

    Rick Smith

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Kirk: Why are you in favor of crooks, who never have or had paid any attention to any law be the only ones to carry concealed firearms in the national parks? When any organization or business support a law that does not allow a citizen with a concealed weapons license to carry a gun for protection is telling the crook it is ok to rob and kill the unarmed citizen.
    Sorta dumb isnt it -- considering what it take to get a concealed weapons license. You mention illinois as a non concealed weapons state. Question: how many people are killed by guns in illinois that says "it is ok for the crooks to carry weapons but not for the law abiding citizen. Dumb really dumb illinois the crook free state.

    [Ed: This posting, originally all in caps, was edited to sentence case. Come on folks; let's quit "shouting"" at each other.]

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    This is most disappointing: I dont understand why any group is willing to tell the crooks it is OK to come into the NPS and rob and kill who they want because no one will be able to protect themselves. Sorta dumb isnt it. If vistor can pass the concealed weapons laws and a FBI and local law enforcement agencies test I dont see why you want only the crooks to carry guns in national park, have you ever heard of a crook, anywhere, that pays attention to any law.
    If the sign at the entrance to any np states "no weapons allowed" this is the same as saying "come on in crooks no one here has a gun." Think about it.

    [Ed: This posting, originally all in caps, was edited to sentence case.]

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Oh, I don't know Ted, I it's fairly accurate to say NRA drove this measure right through the Senate. They worked with Sen. Coburn in drafting the amendment he pushed to change the rules, and I wouldn't be surprised if they ghosted the letter the 50 senators sent to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne asking for a rule change. And you know they had a strong lobby going to keep the pressure on Kempthorne.

    That said, so what? It's not a pejorative to describe the NRA's role any more than it is to criticize the NPCA for pushing issues it views as vital to the parks.

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Our members, with over 20,000 years accumulated experience managing national parks, can see absolutely no good coming from the implementation of this rule.

    Here's another example of Mr. Wade disingenuously lumping all CNPSR members into the anti-gun crowd. To avoid portraying the CNPSR as totally unified, which it is not, he ought to insert "Some" before "Our" and make the appropriate grammatical edits. However, I expect Mr. Wade will continue to ignore internal dissent and will to continue to censor CNPSR members who defend the entire Constitution.

    In their lawsuit the two groups contend the rule change would increase the risk to visitors, park staff, and wildlife
    .

    An increase in risk? By what factor? I don't know what evidence the groups might possess; the federal government does not keep national statistics on poaching in parks. I don't know that there is any evidence that concealed weapons permit holders would put visitors and park staff at higher risk.

    The lawsuit will accomplish something though; it will waste money.

  • How Many National Park Rangers Does It Take to Cut Down a Tree?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    That's funnier than most attempts at humor I've read recently! You ought to submit a version of this story to national magazines like The Atlantic or the libertarian-oriented Reason. I wouldn't bother with Harper's, though; unless it's changed, the editors wouldn't see the humor.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    "The Bush Administration's last-minute gift to the gun lobby, allowing concealed semiautomatic weapons in national parks, jeopardizes the safety of park visitors in violation of federal law," said Mr. Helmke. "We should not be making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed firearms in our parks."

    This comment shows a lack of understanding of concealed carry. Concealed carry permit holders have been through a thorough background check and completed classes in gun safety and handling. These are the good guys. The real "dangerous people" don't care about the laws and certainly would not be in favor of any law abiding citizens having a legal right to carry a gun. That could be dangerous for them in carrying out whatever evil intent they may have. The bottom line is this.... dangerous people will and always have had guns at their disposal. They just don't want anyone else to have them. In other words, allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry guns in National Parks makes them safer for everyone except the criminals.

    John

  • NPCA, Park Retirees File Lawsuit to Halt Change in National Park Gun Rules   5 years 41 weeks ago

    In this article, Kurt characterizes the new rule-change as "National Rifle Association-driven".

    Well ... certainly, the NRA liked this idea, was doubtless instrumental in hustling around Congress etc on it's behalf, and otherwise cheerleading & pitching-in any way they could. Sure ... but 'NRA-driven' is a significant enhancement of the capacity they wield.

    Right off the top, if the NRA et al were able to "drive" gun-laws in this country, gun-laws in the country would be way, way different than they are. Agreed?

    The NRA would for sure "support" the new regulation. Where their presence would have a positive effect (it would not, in all situations), they would participate in "lobbying" key persons, or groups. They would willingly help "promote" and "publicize" it.

    For opponents of the new Parks gun-regulation, who want to know who their 'enemy' is, presenting the change as something that the NRA 'pulled off' in this coup, poses the suggestion that the way to minimize the chances of more changes like this, is to seek ways to minimize the NRA & its public role. Take the NRA down a few notches, get these usurping interlopers out of the Halls of Congress, and this gun-nonsense will abate. Hmm.

    More accurately, the new rule was driven by factions within Congress, and the national political parties. They had a friendly Administration in the White House, and 'went for it'. The NRA was high-fivvin' 'em all the way, you bet - but "driving"? Hmm.

    The guns-in-Parks rule-change was mainly "elected Representative/Senator/Politics-driven". The way to reduce the chances of more of this kind of stuff is to focus on the Congress, who was actually responsible, and not to 'kid' ourselves that the NRA "drives" laws in this country.
    =====

    The important thing to be considering now is the outlook of President-elect Obama. He is the one who will have the greatest weight in determining how the changes move forward, or don't.

    Of & by his own devices & nature, Obama is a gun-opponent. He doesn't like guns and would like to see them gone. However, after serving in a high position with the main gun-control lobby, and considering a role as chairman & leader of the whole movement, he then withdrew from the organization and subsequently distanced himself from the gun-opposition camp as a whole.

    The combination of his stated position on the 2nd Amendment (support) and his appointment of Salazar to Interior suggest he will permit the new regs to stand.
    =====

    Neither this lawsuit by former Parks staff, nor the one by the Brady organization, strike me as containing anything that is going to have Judges sitting on the edge of their chair, head cocked & listening intently to the penetrating logic of the complainant. The reasons given for bringing suit are primarily "opinions" and "emotional appeals", and are all subordinate to the Law of the Land pertaining to firearms. NPCA, like Brady, has no substantive case.

  • National Park Quiz 36: Management   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Great quiz! Please correct the answer key to show that B Historic Jamestowne is the correct answer for question number 5. The text describing the answer is correct, but the incorrect letter (C, indicating Montecello) is listed.

    [Ed: The correction has been made, with thanks to Kevin.]

  • This Park Combines Scenery and History on a Desert Island   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Well, we can have a bit of literary fun with the terms "desert" and "deserted" as they apply to this story.

    In the context of the story and the absence of a source of fresh water, "desert" was the intended word.

    However, a case could be made for either, since the majority of the islands in the park are uninhabited. According to several sources, when the term "desert" is used as a noun, it often refers to a warm and arid land that usually receives less than 10 inches of sporadic rainfall per year; when used as an adjective, it can refer to "an isolated tropical island with few or no inhabitants," "a desolate or forbidding area," and so on.

    As noted by other comments, I'd rate this park as a fascinating spot, but the nature of the terrain does have some "forbidding" aspects.

  • Resolved: I’ll Visit at Least These Five National Parks in 2009   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Well, Rick, I do have a friend up that way who operates a skytrekking operation. Maybe I could get him to cut me a deal. The trip I have in mind would still be pretty expensive, since I'd like to see some other parks and float some rivers as well. Will you lend me seven thousand dollars?

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Kurt notes that if we get a good cellulose-conversion process going we might become greedy, over-harvest the forest here on the Olympic Peninsula, and thus generate an environmental movement backlash against our excess.

    The problem is, though, that logs yield more value if they are turned into lumber & pulp, than if they are turned into fuel.

    Obviously, both log-prices & fuel-prices vary, but even with the lowest log-prices and the highest fuel-prices, it will be a challenge if not a 'stretch', to make a profit turning logs into SUV-fuel.

    Logs are just worth too much.

    Take the case of firewood. Around here, it sells for $150/cord. Pulp-logs, the cheapest kind, sell for about $300 a cord-equivalent, whole, with no additional work. Today, that $300 buys 7 barrels of crude, but the logs can't come anywhere close to producing 7 barrels worth of energy.

    So at what price-points do logs begin to match the energy-value of oil? Well, it's obviously going to be pretty 'extreme' - that's a safe call. I would guess conservatively that the price of fuel-energy has to rise to 'destructive' levels, before it makes economical sense to turn logs in fuel.

    Until fuel goes really-really high, you'll make more money selling your logs to the lumber & pulp mill, than you will selling them to the distiller.

    ... So in the parallel universe we inhabit, Conservationists continue to manage the Olympic timber stands properly, and therefore we continue to get away with decorating the hill-sides with handsome clear-cut patch-work quilting.

    ... Although, we steadily increase the amount of selective cutting on the Peninsula, and this trend may strengthen to the point where it begins to reduce the quality of our hillside artwork ... though fortunately this type of forestry causes the remining trees to become even more valuable, enabling us to work less and hike in the Olympic Park more! We'll learn to live with less-handsome, evenly-forested hillsides. ;-)

  • Bush Administration Publishes Proposed Rule For Mountain Biking in National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    The impact on National Parks that mountain biking induces is much higher than hiking or climbing (currently accepted). The disruptions to wildlife and ecosystems testify of this, and should be scientifically assessed. Hiking and climbing are low noise, low energy sports , compared to high speed biking downhill.
    Sabine, l'ensemble des enquêtes scientifiques déjà réalisées, et il y en a beaucoup, ne sont pas d'accord. Les vététistes ont le même impacte sur les sentiers que ceux qui vont à pied, tandis que ceux qui utilisent les chevaux (ou bien les motos) peuvent créer des effets fort négatifs sur les sentiers et sur le terrain en général. Voir ce site: http://www.americantrails.org/resources/ManageMaintain/SprungImpacts.html

    And I apologize if you don't speak French. I'm just relying on your name, which suggests that you may. I study foreign languages and try to use them whenever I can. (Everyone, I just wrote that the scientific evidence is to the contrary of Sabine's opinion; see the referenced website.)

    Kurt, if you feel I'm violating a rule of etiquette by writing in another language, let me know and I'll edit this post.