Recent comments

  • Two Rangers Have a Narrow Escape with an Avalanche in Alaska   5 years 41 weeks ago

    You're exactly right about the long drive - that's a fact of life in much of Alaska. My one brief visit to Skagway suggested that shopping for anything but the basics is pretty limited there, but this was a good reminder that I'm glad I don't have to drive 812 miles one-way to get to the nearest Home Depot!

    Re: the training session - I deleted some of the details that I didn't think would be of interest to many readers. The training was the annual law enforcement "refresher' that all commissioned NPS rangers are required to complete each year. A number of those sessions are held in central locations or larger parks, and rangers from smaller parks such as Klondike Gold Rush attend the one closest to their duty station. The two rangers were also hauling some radio equipment back to the park from Anchorage, rather than paying to have it shipped in by air, so the trip did double duty.

  • The World's Top Ten National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I definitely have to second the nominations Macchu Picchu, Gros Morne National Park, and Iguazu Falls National Park. Gros Morne has spectacular fjords, and is also one of the only places on Earth where rocks from the Earth's mantle are exposed at the surface. Even if you don't appreciate the geological significance, those rocks give certain sections of the Park an eerie moonscape feel (and quite different from the various lava beds like Craters of the Moon in the US), which stand in stark contrast to the emerald green hills lining some of the fjords. Meanwhile Iguazu is perhaps the most spectacular waterfalls in the world - massive in scope, with tremendous volumes of water, and surrounded by lush rainforest. Its preserved by National Parks on both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides.

    Some other nominees:
    -3 Tanzanian Sites: Hard to chose among Kilimanjaro National Park with its spectacular mountain, Ngorongoro Conservation Area - set in a perfect crater and boasting perhaps the largest permanent concentration of "safari animals in Africa, and Serengeti National Park - whose annual wildebeest and zebra migrations are surely one of the Wonders of the World
    - Roman Forum: Not technically a National Park, although it would surely be a National Park in the United States, the Roman Forum and adjacent Colloseum and Arch of Constantine is of the most-famous and most-amazing archeological and historical sites in the world
    - Pyramids and Sphinx: Again, not technically a "National Park" but surely merits inclusion on any such list.
    - Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal - "The crown of the world" includes Mt. Everest

  • Two Rangers Have a Narrow Escape with an Avalanche in Alaska   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Its also interesting to note that a road trip from Skagway to Anchorage is some 812 miles (nearly 16 hours) and requires travelling through Canada to get around massive Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. That's quite a drive for a training session, let alone for shopping!

  • Will Recent Storms in Death Valley National Park Fuel A Spring Bloom?   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Kurt, your Death Valley article is very timely, given that the park just celebrated its 76th birthday this past Wednesday (February 11). Speaking of timely, it looks like my January 19-21 visit to DEVA was just in the nick of time, since roads have been closed now in many of the areas we visited. It rained the last day we were there, and that really caught me by surprise (Death Valley being the driest place in North America). A ranger I queried about the rain told me that the January 21 rainfall in the Furnace Creek vicinity was "about the fourth" in the park since October 6. I took him at his word and haven't checked the official records.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    a bunch of you guys are idiots. the law abiding, licensed to carry, would be able to carry. the criminals and non-law abiding will still carry, if they want; so who has the advantage here? who's safe? i don't feel safer knowing the fbi, or cop, next to me, can't carry and the criminal who decides to rob the store, while he's there, or take a pot shot, will. are the people in the gang infested neighborhoods safer, if cops didn't have guns and the gang members armed illegally? think about it, makes no sense, this is stupid. the people fighting this, are either stupid idiots, like carrying illegally, or know people who do.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    How does the world look from your holy perch, B. Amstutz? I don't understand how owning a gun has anything to do with keeping me safe from a terrorist. Terrorist attacks occur in all kinds of countries, both those with very strict gun laws and those with very loose gun laws. I don't see how owning guns has anything to do with this. Yes, I thank our military personnel for putting their lives on the line to defend the country, but I don't see how that justifies allowing guns in national parks.

    I'm also wondering whether you really believe that guns and cars are equally appropriate for national parks, or if you wanted to rethink that point. I agree that cars have more overall impact, but I also have to believe that they might be just a teensy more essential for actually, y'know, visiting most parks.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I've never had any problem with people carrying guns, generally dislike the gun-control lobby, am well trained and licensed to carry myself, and would fully support concealed carry in the parks...

    ...except for these "discussions" here. After reading this stuff I want to become a gun control activist. The ignorant, condescending, and melodramatic comments are certainly persuasive, thought not, I fear, in the manner intended. The views of the more measured and logical of the gun-rights supporters (surely, hopefully, a majority of that camp?) are certainly marginalized by this. Sad, but a similar fate as debates on any other emotionally charged issues, I suppose.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Just stating facts fontinalis. I'm not angry at all. As for protector, do you sleep good at night? If yes then I, and my other brothers in arms, are doing our job. You are welcome. As a friend and author wrote in his book "On Killing" you are just a sheep and we are the sheep dogs. You follow along doing what everyone else does criticizing the sheepdog until one day when the wolf comes by. Then we are your best friend. I'd rather be criticized by people like you and fight the terrorist in their "yard" than leave myself, my family, and my country vulnerable to threats foreign and domestic. So bash us gun carriers and military all you want, we'll still be here when you need us....it's our job. Sleep well tonight, and tomorrow when your driving down the road, feel safe that you won't be blown up by a roadside bomb . And know that your kids will be safe in school, unlike the massacre that happened at a school in the Soviet Union. Because terrorist " don't live here" and you don't need protection........right?

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Nothing like an angry rant with a little ad hominem assault thrown in to engender confidence, eh?. I'm sure everyone fells much better knowing our new self-appointed protector, Amstutz, is on watch. Enjoy your next trip to the park, folks. Stay low.

  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park's Mining History   5 years 41 weeks ago

    A good followup to this item would be an article detailing the controversy surrounding the bringing of this area into the park, the decision makers behind that idea, and the resultant waste and difficulties foisted upon the Service with that decision. This would be particularly timely considering that the name of one of those primary decision makers is now being bandied about as a nominee for Director of the National Park Service.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    You do all realize we, (CCDW) permit holders, carry all over the united states right now, right? And there already are thousands who do. What is so different about me carrying it in a NP? As for the training. You lump everyone into a non trained don't know caliber, etc, category. I myself am in the military. Infantry (door kicker/grunt) and have been for 13 years. Been to Iraq over 30 months, been in very stressful situations, am trained to know when to pull my gun and when not to. I also have been hunting 16+ years and have been in the woods more than most of you traveling tourist posting quotes and stats. Speaking of stats... check the one on Australia's guns law and how well that one worked out. How much training do people get before driving a car? Statistically these are more deadly than guns, especially legal guns! Should we ban all motorized vehicles from NP? What's their impact on the environment? Bet it's worse than my gun's. I could go on and on about how ridicules the gun ban and your reasoning for it. Just make sure if, God forbid, you ever find yourself being robbed, your kid is being taken from you, etc. you let me know NOT to use my weapon because you don't believe we need them in the hands of people who can use them correctly. ( Oh and drugs aren't smuggled across the borders in NP either so don't worry about criminals with fully auto guns in your NPs. )

  • Upon Further Review: Pocahontas meets Hollywood   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I agree with the previous post...Often real history is more interesting and exciting than the Hollywood version...if it's done right.

  • Super Volcano, The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Yellowstone is but one of many potential mega disasters that can and eventually will have global impacts. We live on a restless planet. Indeed, we would not live were it not for the fact that our world continues to be geologically and climatically active. Personally, I worry far more about the uncertainty of our economy and geopolitical issues than the stirrings of Yellowstone.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    MHopper1000, wow, these comments have been pretty calm until now. I'm thinking people like you and your comments are part of the reason some don't want people like yourself to carry a weapon in the National Parks. Sounds to me like you don't like "Hippies", which I believe went out in the 70's anyway. I was on the fence about this subject until I read your comment. Now I believe there is good reason for no guns in the parks. Why not leave the law the way it was (no cwc) inthe parks if people like you are going to do it anyway? Nice comments, WOW!

  • Heavy Metals Detected in Wildlife of Cape Krusenstern National Monument   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I'm kinda partial to "continued monitoring" for things like bacteria in peanut butter, mercury in the fish I eat, pretty much anything in the water I drink, particulates & spores in the air I breathe, etc.

    (6+12)*2 = 36 animals. Figure $20-50 per sample for the full suite of metals (assuming UAF charges a bit more than lower 48 facilities), $5-10 each for the biologist's time checking for gross pathology of internal organs, and $5 each for the simple DNA (probably strand breakage, not complete sequencing), that adds up to $1000 - $2500 plus a day or 2 of field time to collect the animals. That's not going to bankrupt taxpayers or even the mine (continued monitoring is likely to be a condition on their permit for hauling through the monument). And no, the point is not just the effects on voles & birds: those were the easiest & cheapest to get the data from, with the assumption that if levels are well below thresholds for them, we don't need to spend the money to monitor large mammals & birds.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    "If you think terrorism is not likely to occur in national parks (and for the most part, I agree), ask yourself why the government has spent millions training NPS law enforcement offices in counter terrorism measures. Several NY national park officers responded to 9/11, and don't forget that the Statue of Liberty, a supposed terrorist target, is a NPS site. Plus all those dams, such as Hoover and Hetch Hetchy. Supposedly the terrorists are targeting those. While I don't know of any data to suggest that CCW could prevent terrorist acts in these areas, I don't see the harm in trying."

    They train NPS to respond to terrorism is mostly about politics and fear (and policy guided by fear). Like you said some if the policy, fear, and politics is, perhaps, relevant.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    "I have been sitting here wondering how my carrying a pistol while I am hiking in the boondocks in a national park has any enviromental impact. If I accidentally encounter a grizzly bear and am attacked, I should have the right to protect myself and my family." - LelandG

    That is the exact sentiment that is dangerous to visitors and wildlife like a griz. A grizzly bear has little chance of being stopped by a weapon that was designed to take down a person. And a loud gunshot meant to scare off a trail bear can often do more to incite a situation than diffuse it. Also, bear attacks happen very quickly and many people who have been attacked while holding a gun report that they didn't even have time to aim their gun.

    Finally, you, like other concealed weapons permit holders have been vetted by the authorities but you may still know very little about how you and your gun will react to wildlife.

    Here is the environmental impact: While the populations of grizzly bears in the lower 48's parks are doing well, the number of breading females in these areas are key to their long term viability. If a percentage of breading females were killed or injured by guns during self defense encounters with visitors that could be a significant impact to a population.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    While there are many silly comments here I won't bother responding to, there is one that I frequently that I simply cannot ignore this time: "If I accidentally encounter a grizzly bear and am attacked, I should have the right to protect myself and my family."

    The problem is that bear attacks are exceedingly rare, while bear encounters are commonplace. Take the Sierra Nevada for example - visitors and rangers get bluff charged all the time by bears. However, a black bear has never actually attacked a Yosemite visitor - they are afraid of people are are simply trying to scare them away. Will a visitor with a gun realize that the bear running at their campsite is simply bluffing? Or would a visitor fire, in an attempt to protect his or her family?

    A well-meaning, responsible gun-carrying individual might be an expert in guns, but is likely not an expert in wildlife encounters. This is a major environmental risk of guns in parks, as bluff charges are commonplace, while LelandG's hypothetical grizzly bear attacks are not.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    While I'd argue that there are very few ways in which 2nd Amendment rights can be legally limited, there are some, most especially with regard to "sensitive places such as schools and government buildings." Given that this is accepted by the Supreme Court (those words are from Justice Scalia, no infringer of gun rights, in his majority opinion designating DC's gun ban as unconstitutional), how exactly is it that public parks, where large, unpredictable animals and small, unpredictable children often abound, are not considered sensitive in their own right?

    And with all do respect to carriers of concealed weapons permits, passing a proficiency test on the use of a handgun seems unlikely to do much for the piece of mind of the average family-of-four on vacation. Did the test include understanding threat displays of bears, bison, or elk so you even know when might be an appropriate time to pull a gun or when to leave it holstered? Did your FBI screening certify that in an intensely stressful moment you'll still be able to put all rounds on target rather than into the crowd in the background gawking at you and the enraged deer? Did this intensive check test your knowledge of ammunition so that you'll even know which handgun calibers and loads will actually be affective against a grizzly (the majority are outright useless) versus just wounding it, sending it into a further rage toward the unarmed family of four?

    This doesn't even touch on those rather annoying details of implementation. The 2nd Amendment applies only to what the Federal government can't do -- not to what states can -- and given that any number of National Parks extend over multiple jurisdictions, likely with inconsistent rules, the question of whose laws get followed seems relevant. Why we should add answering this to the list of Park Service duties I have no idea.

    The one restriction that is unquestioned by anyone is that guns can be prohibited on property when it is at the request of the landowner. Given that the Federal Government is the owner of record for parcels controlled by the NPS, they're free to place such a restriction just as they have elsewhere. Why would they want to? Well, they serve all of the citizens of the United States, not just the gun owning one's, and they are under no obligation - Constitutionally or otherwise - to allow guns on the people's (as in "we the people...") property. In fact, they may even decide that National Parks are "sensitive" places too, and that the self-assurance radiated by concealed weapons permit holders is not something upon which the majority wants to rely.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I personally don't care what Obama or the Brady Bunch say. Im gonna carry my gun wherever I want, whenever I want. As an American, I'm guaranteed the right. So all you disgusting hippies can know, try to convince the crackheads you've all let out of prison not to rob me. I've got something for them if they do. And I will carry my gun in a National Park. Leave my guns alone and go after the real threats to this country, like the economy, immigration, and drugs.

  • Heavy Metals Detected in Wildlife of Cape Krusenstern National Monument   5 years 41 weeks ago

    The mine owner themselves have voluntarily spent millions (of their money, not yours) on studies, monitoring, and improved dust control measures. This in itself speaks volumes on the magnitude of this problem and the need to get the fugitive dust problem under control.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    If you think terrorism is not likely to occur in national parks (and for the most part, I agree), ask yourself why the government has spent millions training NPS law enforcement offices in counter terrorism measures. Several NY national park officers responded to 9/11, and don't forget that the Statue of Liberty, a supposed terrorist target, is a NPS site. Plus all those dams, such as Hoover and Hetch Hetchy. Supposedly the terrorists are targeting those. While I don't know of any data to suggest that CCW could prevent terrorist acts in these areas, I don't see the harm in trying.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    I have been sitting here wondering how my carrying a pistol while I am hiking in the boondocks in a national park has any enviromental impact. If I accidentally encounter a grizzly bear and am attacked, I should have the right to protect myself and my family. The above post by Cris indicates that he has never been in the back country and a "semiautomatic" pistol or revolver is irrelevant-just hyperbole and scare tactics. I personally don't want to try to load a pistol while I am being charged by a bear. In addition, three shots is a sign of needing help.
    Persons who have concealed permits have already been verified by the FBI, fingerprinted, and passed proficiency tests to have that privalege. These are not the people you need to worry about. You do need to worry about the Drug/alcohol crazed individuals and sex deviants that do not wear a T-shirt indicating such that do visit our National Parks.
    I personally do not see a problem with the new regulation. The people that do want to pick and choose which part of the Constitution that they agree with and force their personal beliefs on others.

  • Bush Administration's Haste Could Doom New Gun Rules In National Parks   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Obviously to protect ourselves from the hotbed of terrorism that occurs in national parks! ;)

    It's ironic that there have been attempts in the past to disarm park rangers in recent history because it was shown that the crime rate in parks was so minimal. Here is an article discussing it (there are other viewpoints out there)

    Pendleton, M. R. (1996) Crime, Criminals and Guns in Natural Settings: Exploring the Basis for Disarming Federal Ranger. American Journal of Police, Vol. XV, No. 4.

  • Heavy Metals Detected in Wildlife of Cape Krusenstern National Monument   5 years 41 weeks ago

    Oh crikey...here we go..."continued monitoring"...code for "we need gobs of taxpayer money to pad our wallets over sumthin' that we really know..nudge, nudge, *wink* *wink* doesn't merit attention."
    I'm gettin SO tired of this crap. Envirowackism is bankrupting us, while destroying the reputation of good science.