Recent comments

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Easy Bob! No offense, just trying to make a point. Bob, just take a hard look at your local supermarkets, the shopping malls and parks...most Americans are horribly over weight...and out of shape! Why? I just assume for two basic reasons: diet and lack of a good exercise regimen. We have many allied medical professionals out there that warn us of a pending epidemic in the future of young folks that will be most prone to heart disease, diabetes and crippling orthopedic problems from being severely over weight. We need a full comprehensive physical fittest program on the national level to get this point across and put into place. Maybe we can start at the National Parks level and start breathing in some clean air and take in some good rugged hikes.
    In your case, I have compassion for your physical demise and I wish you well. It's that I'm really worried and deeply concerned about the lazy younger generation. Shouldn't we all?

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I'm 6'5", 200 lbs, and in good health but I ride a Segway because I have bad knees ... and because it is cheap, green, and efficient way to get around. I too like to experience the national parks that my taxes pay for ... if you judgmental people don't mind too much, that is! What nerve.

    You don't know anything about me but you can't make a reasoned and informed argument for your position so you resort to all you have left -- name calling.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Actually they're toys for tikes! For god sakes fat Americans...start walking & hiking more!

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Statistics are like a bikini...they reveal a lot, but what they don't show is usually more interesting.

  • Segways in the National Parks: Do We Really Need Them?   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Almost all of the comments so far are clearly from people who have never been on a Segway and know nothing about them.

    Let's clear up some misconceptions:

    - You do not have to balance a Segway; it balances itself.
    - Segways are smaller, quieter, safer and more environmentally-friendly than many other types of "contraptions" that are allowed in national parks, including cars.
    - Segways are smaller, go slower, stop faster, turn more safely, and more-easily blend into pedestrian traffic than bicycles.
    - Segways make almost no noise. The ratcheting sound of a coasting bicycle is louder.
    - Segways handle hills and loose terrains just fine.
    - Segways can have a handlebar bag to carry purses, packages, cameras, cell phones, and other material that would otherwise cause a safety hazard.
    - Segways are recognized in at least 42 states as "Electric personal assistive mobility devices" (or EPAMDs) and are not classified as motor vehicles.
    - There are lots of people who can stand but have trouble walking, balancing, bending or sitting. Victims of Multiple Sclerosis, Postpolio Syndrom, Altzeimers, and amputees, are among those who use Segways to improve their mobility. If it seems odd to you that such people can or would use Segways, then that should tell you how little you know about Segways! Do a little research at http://www.draft.org, among others, before spouting off.
    - Segways can also be fitted with a seat for those who have a different kind of disability.
    - There are many "for-profit companies" that operate tours and other businesses in national parks using conveyances other than Segways.
    - Segways allow riders to enjoy not just the sights but also the sounds and smells of national parks without being cooped up in a car and contributing to the problems.
    - Segway riders pay taxes too.

    What do you think banning Segways would solve? Do you expect (or demand) that those people will not visit national parks at all?? No, many of them will get in a _CAR_ instead. Duh. That won't solve congestion, pollution, parking, or noise problems, only exacerbate them.

    The same people who call Segway riders fat and lazy seem to have no objections to fast-food eaters riding around a national park in a car or motorcyle, burning fossil fuels, generating noxious emissions, making much more noise, and causing much more congestion. If their complaints about Segways were sincere, then those who claim that you should be getting exercise in a national park would be arguing just as strongly against every other kind of conveyance. But, of course, they don't. People are simply afraid of what they don't know.

    It would make just as much sense to complain that people with RED cars shouldn't be allowed in national parks because the mere sight of them offends you.

    Get over it.

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Frank,

    Your first source, Handgun Control Inc., cites only the absolute number of murders. Since the U.S. has a larger population it stands to reason that it would have more homicides. The last source you cite, the WHO, correctly compares incidents per hundred thousand. It's important to note that in both cases they are apparently talking about all homicides not just those involving a firearm.

    France, England, Sweden and Germany are small homogeneous countries. If compared with certain states or blocks of states with approximately the same demographics, say Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Montana, etc., U.S. homicide statistics are about the same despite our greater gun ownership.

    The Korean War claimed more than 33,000 American lives, so either the 13,200 figure is wrong, the "less than 2 years" time frame is wrong, or the statement is meaningless.

    As for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the National Campaign to Reduce Youth Violence, these sources cite percentage increases without baselines making it impossible to judge their significance. For example: If one person were killed in 2000 and two were killed in 2001 that would be a 100 percent increase, but without knowing the size of the population, the baseline number of incidents, etc. the increase may be statistically meaningless.

    You asked for sources so I will provide a few. Unlike you, I've tried to avoid interest groups like the Handgun Control inc. or the NRA. If you follow the link you will find the entire document.

    The U.S. Dept. of Justice:

    The National Crime Victimization Survey for 2005 (PDF page 81) reports that handguns are used in fewer than 8% of all crimes of violence. This doesn't include homicide, but homicides are fewer than 0.5% of all crimes of violence, so even if one includes homicides the answer would be about 8%.

    According to the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey (2005 data), table 66, handguns are used in 5.4% of U.S. assaults and 26.3% of robberies.

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cvus05.pdf

    The Times of London:

    "New York has “banned” pistols since 1911, and its fellow murder capitals, Washington DC and Chicago, have similar bans. One can draw a map of the US, showing the inverse relationship of the strictness of its gun laws, and levels of violence: all the way down to Vermont, with no gun laws at all, and the lowest level of armed violence (one thirteenth that of Britain)."

    "America’s disenchantment with “gun control” is based on experience: whereas in the 1960s and 1970s armed crime rose in the face of more restrictive gun laws (in much of the US, it was illegal to possess a firearm away from the home or workplace), over the past 20 years all violent crime has dropped dramatically, in lockstep with the spread of laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons by law-abiding citizens. Florida set this trend in 1987, and within five years the states that had followed its example showed an 8 per cent reduction in murders, 7 per cent reduction in aggravated assaults, and 5 per cent reduction in rapes. Today 40 states have such laws, and by 2004 the US Bureau of Justice reported that “firearms-related crime has plummeted”.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article2409817.ece

    The Detroit Free Press:

    "Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold."

    "But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics. The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined."

    "More than 155,000 Michiganders -- about one in every 65 -- are now authorized to carry loaded guns as they go about their everyday affairs, according to Michigan State Police records."

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080106/NEWS06/801060602/1008

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Mt. Rainier works with the US Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, WA. They don't need their own NPS volcanologist--USGS does a great job.

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Right off the NRA Web Site: http://www.nraila.org//Issues/Articles/Read.aspx?ID=209

    FABLE VI: Since firearm accidents are a large and growing problem, we need laws mandating how people store their firearms.

    To the contrary, fatal firearm accidents in the United States have been decreasing dramatically from year to year, decade to decade.1 Today they're at an all-time low among the entire population and among children in particular, and account for only 1% of fatal accidents. More common are fatal accidents involving, or due to, motor vehicles, falls, fires, poisoning, drowning, choking on ingested objects and mistakes during medical care.2 Since 1930, the U.S. population has more than doubled, the number of privately owned firearms has quintupled, and the annual number of fatal firearm accidents has declined by 74%.3 Among children, fatal firearm accidents have declined 84% since 1975.4

    Anti-gun activists exaggerate the number of firearm-related deaths among children more than 500%, by counting deaths among persons under the age of 20 as deaths of "children."5 To these activists a 19-year-old gangster who is shot by police during a convenience store robbery is a "child." In some instances, they even have pretended that persons under the age of 25 were "children," and Handgun Control, Inc., on at least one occasion, pretended that anyone under the age of 35 was a "child."6

    Along with misrepresenting accident and other statistics in an effort to frighten people into not keeping guns in their homes, anti-gun activists also advocate "mandatory storage" laws (to require all gun owners to store their firearms unloaded and locked away) and "triggerlock" laws (to require some sort of locking device to be provided with every gun sold.) Both concepts are intended to prohibit or, at least, discourage people from keeping their firearms ready for protection against criminals--the most common reason many people buy firearms today.

    NRA opposes such laws because it would be unreasonable and potentially dangerous to impose one storage requirement upon all gun owners. Individual gun owners have different factors to consider when determining how best to store their guns. They alone are capable of making the decision that is best for themselves. Gun safes and trigger locking devices have been on the market for years, of course, and remain available to anyone who decides that those products fit their individual needs.

    Storage and triggerlock laws could also give people the false impression that it is safe to rely upon mechanical devices, rather than upon proper firearm handling procedures. Mechanical devices can fail and many trigger locking devices pose a danger when installed on loaded firearms.

    Mandatory storage laws also would be virtually impossible to enforce without violating the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches. American gun owners and civil libertarians are keenly aware that in Great Britain, a mandatory storage law was a precursor to that country's prohibition on handgun ownership.

    Most states provide penalties for reckless endangerment, under which an adult found grossly negligent in the storage of a firearm can be prosecuted for a criminal offense. Responsible gun owners already store their firearms safely, in accordance with their personal needs. Irresponsible persons are not likely to undergo a character change because of a law that restates their inherent responsibilities.

    NRA recognizes that education has been the key to the decline in firearm accidents. NRA's network of 39,000 Certified Instructors and Coaches nationwide trains hundreds of thousands of gun owners each year. Separately, NRA's award-winning Eddie Eagle® Gun Safety Education program for children pre-K through 6th grade has reached more than 15 million youngsters nationwide. NRA's Home Firearm Safety Manual advises: "The proper storage of firearms is the responsibility of all gun owners," and that gun owners should "store guns so they are not accessible to untrained or unauthorized persons."

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Three out of four violent crimes committed in the U.S. do not involve firearms. Since 1991, the number of privately owned firearms in the U.S. has increased between 65-70 million, and the nation's murder rate has decreased 43%. (BATFE and FBI)

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Your statistics are from an unreliable source at best. If you want to find out how tough it is to be an African American in the USA don't ask a member of the KKK.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I never considered Sylvan Pass a trail, although once it surely was. That said, don't forget that the Burlington Northern RR wants to use howitzers to blast the avalanche chutes that lie in Glacier NP above its tracks...Glacier officials have gone on record opposing that possibility, but Interior officials in Washington so far have refused to let that decision be printed in the Federal Register.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Kurt, I was thinking about the howitzers used for avalanche control on Sylvan Pass when I wrote that. That's interesting about the pack animals, I didn't know that.

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    "Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval." Art, I think that my comments DO need to be approved before posting them! Thank you, Kurt!
    As I posted elsewhere, it's very interesting how concerned folks are about the second amendment while the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th have been shredded by the Bush administration and the Patriot act. Seems that the Bill of Rights has bigger problems.
    "It's also true that the "wild west", where everyone was armed, was considerably less violent than the eastern cities where gun restrictions were in place. While the media does not report it, every state that has enacted a "right to carry" law has seen their crime rate go down. More guns, less crime." A fascinating statement. I didn't see your source quoted?
    Here are a few statistics along with their sources:

    In 1992, handguns killed 33 people in Great Britain, 36 in Sweden, 97 in Switzerland, 60 in Japan, 13 in Australia, 128 in Canada, and 13,200 in the United States. [Handgun Control Inc., cited in The Washington Post, 1998]
    In less than 2 years, more people are killed by handguns in the United States than were killed in the Korean War.

    Annual rates of firearm homicides for youths age 15-19 increased 155% between 1989 and 1994. [National Summary of Injury Mortality Data, 1987-1994; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 1996]

    Between 1986 and 1992, the total number of children killed by firearms rose by 144 percent. [National Campaign to Reduce Youth Violence]

    Handguns are used in 80 percent of homicides, nearly 70 percent of suicides and nearly all accidental shootings. [Prevention First]

    Nearly 16 children a day died in 1997 as a result of a firearms homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting. [Children’s Defense Fund, 1998]

    In the U.S., youth homicide rates are more than 10 times that of other leading industrialized nations, on par with the rates in developing countries and those experiencing rapid social and economic changes. The youth homicide rate in the U.S. stood at 11.0 per 100,000 compared to France (0.6 per 100 000), Germany (0.8 per 100 000), the United Kingdom (0.9 per 100 000) and Japan (0.4 per 100 000). [World Report on Violence and Health, World Health Organization 2002]

    "Since insensitive remarks can lead to violence, and peace is the only legitimate objective......" I am always very careful to avoid insensitive remarks; and, though peace may not be the only legitimate objective, it is always an honorable one.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 10 weeks ago

    From my own perspective, I think two data points on backcountry and wilderness use might be more telling than over-all park visitation statistics.

    (Note: These are not "official" numbers. They were given to me by anonymous staff of these entities without official vetting by their media relations office.)

    The first is from Yosemite National Park. The following pairs of visitation numbers for each of these years are in the order of [total wilderness permitees]/[total gate entrances] = [percent of users in wilderness]:
    1980: 64,441 / 2,583,154 = 2.5%
    1990: 51,923 / 3,237,834 = 1.6%
    1996: 52,523 / 4,190,557 = 1.3%
    2000: 48,248 / 3,550,065 = 1.4%

    As park visitation has generally increased, according to these admittedly limited snapshots, wilderness visitation has not only declined in numbers, but also in percentage. But that tells a small part of the story. For another more interesting snapshot, let's go to the Inyo National Forest, and the Mount Whitney Ranger District. Their wilderness permit allocation limit has been set at about 20,000, the same number since around 1984. The first number for each year is number of parties, not the number of individuals, and the second number is the average of the number of nights on the permits.

    1986: 7,582 -- 2.03
    1995: 9,104 -- 1.89
    2005: 9,959 -- 0.86

    In the Yosemite case, fewer people are venturing into the wilderness, at least deep enough to stay overnight. In the Mount Whitney corridor, fewer people are going in groups, and far fewer people are spending the night at all. I'm not willing to say that there's a loss in interest in nature, but from these numbers there does appear to be a loss of interest in camping.
    __________
    The WildeBeat "The audio journal about getting into the wilderness"
    10-minute weekly documentaries to help you appreciate our wild public lands.
    A 501c3 non-profit project of Earth Island Institute.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Frank,

    While I've never heard of rangers using explosives to keep trails open, I do know the Forest Service employs them to , essentially, disintegrate pack animals that die in the backcountry so their carcasses don't attract predators....

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 10 weeks ago

    OK. OK. Though these numbers are discouraging, because it is difficult for the general populace to care about outdoor issues if they don't spend any time in the outdoors; and it is difficult to recruit conservationists, wildlife biologists, botanists etc. if children aren't given an opportunity to learn to care and wonder about nature; I have to admit that there is part of me that says...."ALL RIGHT!" The fewer people out there, the smaller the crowds. The better chance for ME to find my little corner of heaven, and have it all to my self!!
    After all, if I've learned anything at all in the last several years, it's that all that matters is ME! That's the way it is any more. Whether the issue is carrying guns in parks, oil and gas drilling, global warming, developments deeper and deeper into the wilderness, conservation, endangered species protection, snowmobiling in parks and using high explosives to keep trails open in areas known to have high concentrations of hibernating grizzly bears, health care, etc.,etc. ALL THAT MATTERS IS ME!!
    Who cares what happens after I'm dead? Or what damage I may do? As long as I get everything I want while I'M alive?

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Whoa there, Art...when did I frame any sort of argument? All I did was respond to your comment. I am a member of the NRA, gun owner and avid hunter. I have no problem with the 2nd Amendment, or anyone's right to own or use firearms. All I did was say that no where in the Constitution is it "enshrined" (using your words here, not mine) that firearms can be used for self-defense. That's wonderful that English Common Law and many state's constitutions protect the right to self-defense. All I'm stating is that the way our Constitution was written, along with the Bill of Rights, does nothing to "enshrine" a person's right to use a firearm in self defense.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 10 weeks ago

    In all likelihood, this is another example of cutting essential programs that is derived from the "core operations" process - the brainchild of Mike Snyder, the Regional Director in the Intermountain Region of the NPS, in which Dinosaur NM is located. Another recent example of this is the effort to consolidate the Santa Fe Support Office into the Old Santa Fe Trails Building, which many have worried could cause serious impairment to this National Landmark. There are other things like this "afoot" in the Region, obviously instigated by Snyder - about whom some have said, "He knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing!"

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

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 10 weeks ago

    It just makes a good story -- that's all. If the fortunes of our little travel business are any indication, there are still plenty of families willing to trade a couple of weeks in front of their TVs for a wholesome National Park experience.

    Dan Wulfman, Founder
    Tracks & Trails - Western Driving Adventures

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I've been to Dinosaur only once, but the trip is still vivid in my memory. I live near D.C. and get to visit the best museums that the country has to offer any time I want to, but it is no comparison to actually being in Dinosaur and seeing the massive jumble of bones in the rock. More impressive, having truly knowledgable staff there to answer even the most routine questions from the tourists!! In my experience with the national parks, having visited now all but 4 in the United States, the staff will go above and beyond to make your trip educational. The volenteers, however, get tired with answering the same questions by the kids over and over and you simply do NOT get the same experience. I truly wonder if the people who decided that this cut would be a 'good' idea have ever spent a great deal of time in Dinosaur and have a honest understanding of the "mission" of the park. If the museum was the experience, then I'd have had the experience here in D.C. -but you can't get the true experience of Dinosaur from a musuem. Anyone who has ever been there knows this... once again, cuts are being made by people who do not have a clue what they are cutting. It makes me very frustrated. If I were in charge, I would require that before a park suffers a cut back, the people in charge would have to spend a minimum of 3 weeks living and working there.

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world as well as property.
    -- Thomas Paine, Writings of Thomas Paine

    Sam,
    How is it that the same people who insist that the 1st amendment provides shelter for pornographers (including pedophiles provided the images are computer generated), that the 14th amendment provides for the destruction of human life, even up to the moment of birth, and the right to commit sodomy (though nowhere in the language of the Constitution are these "rights" apparent), seem unable to discern the right to self defense in an amendment that specifically states, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed"?

    In his arguments on behalf of British troops in the Boston Massacre, John Adams invoked the English Common Law of self-defense. The right to bear arms and the right to self defense predate the Constitution and were part of many state constitutions and Common Law before the federal constitution was written. The 2cd amendment simply affirmed a right the people already possessed and had exercised for centuries. It was not invented by Madison.

    Your argument that the framers intent was to establish a national firearms collectors club, affirming a citizens right to possess arms while denying their right to use them in self defense is amusing. Please keep posting. It is only when arguments like yours are expressed that we see how truly lame they are.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Do like the military, develop a "free" on line game that sparks interest and teaches "real" out door skills and the park system will be there for folks to try them out.(this will implant the seeds into a newer generation) and the next time this "cycle" again hits,the results may not be as severe.

  • National Park Visitation Debate -- Here We Go Again   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I have a hard time envisioning reduced attendance at the parks. Seems to me that yes, a lot of teens are hooked on video games, but it also seems that a lot of young adults are also hooked on adventure, rock climbing, hang gliding, surfing, snow boarding, and other outdoor activities. I am chronically impressed through my travels through the NPS exactly how many young people take full advantage of these parklands.

  • Bryce Canyon National Park   6 years 10 weeks ago

    I've visited Bryce several times, but never in Winter. That photograph is absolutely stunning, and makes me want to get on the next flight to Utah before the snow melts!

  • U.S. Sen. Coburn Runs Poll On Whether "Concealed Carry" Should be Allowed in Parks   6 years 10 weeks ago

    Art, you say: the fact remains that the right to own firearms and to use them in self defense is enshrined in the Constitution.

    Where in the Constitution is the right to use firearms for self-defense enshrined? All it says is "the right to keep and bear arms". To bear, of course, means to carry or possess. While the founding fathers have approved your right to own firearms, there is nothing that says they have an "enshrined" right to use them.