Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Week of Snow Forecast

With recent closure for a search and rescue and the forecast for a week of snow, possibly accumulating 2-3 feet or more at Paradise and less to the lower elevations on top of the current new foot or so of snow at Paradise, it's likely the road to Paradise in Mt. Rainier NP will be closed until next week and the road from the Nisaully entrance to Longmire will likely be restricted travel. I will update this as the snow storms progress and the conditions change, but for now the only places Mt. Rainier NP will be open is the northwest corner if you can get there.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Updated Blog Design

Sorry I didn't think of this earlier. I updated the blog design with a block of links, "Websites of interest", which go directly to those Websites for relevant or important information about Mt. Rainier NP. Sometimes, small ideas take awhile to find the right synapse to trigger an "Aha!" moment in the consciousness. Let me know if you have other links that could be added.

Rescheduling Work

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry. Not a new thought by far, especially for me these recent years, but while I've been working to keep the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide current and worked on the infamous todo list and the 2012 plans, I've had to reschedule the planned work, some of it a bit overdue, for other things which are immediately of more importance.

That said, I've embarked on an exercise routine by walking the 6-7 mile trip to town and home instead of driving, either for stuff in town (a moderate size commercial area) or to work on printed versions of Web pages, but both end up at a cafe as the reward and rest before the 3+ mile walk home.

So far I've been walking 4-5 days a week which pretty much kills the morning and some of the afternoon recuperating, having lunch and taking a nap, so by 3-4 pm I'm human again. It's being older now days that takes so much time, which results in taking time away from the Website work.

And when you add the other days for other things in life, there isn't much left except evenings to work on the Website in front of the computer. I get some work done on the paper edits but that has to be translated to the computer (I don't work well on my iPad, I'm too slow typing and poking).

The plan is to resume weight training again and then running 3-4 days a week and reduce the walking to 2-3 days. But that's waiting for the shin splints to heal and the body to agree to running and weight training after a 2+ year hiatus. The goal is to resume hiking in Mt. Rainier NP this spring (I'm not a snow person anymore).

Anyway, that's the story. I'll work on the todo list and the planned work as time permits and post updates. Thanks for following this blog and visting the Website. I hope the information helps.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rights of NPS Rangers

It's time we stood up for the rights of the National Park Service rangers who do the work in our NP's to provide the best and safest experience for all visitors. And those right include not only the right to a safe and secure visit, but more so the rights of the rangers to also work in a safe and secure environment when interacting with visitors.

We know rangers are at risk and we know rangers risk their lives for us during our visit. We saw evidence of that with the death of ranger Margaret Anderson in Mt. Rainier NP this last weekend (1/1/12) when she used her vehicle to block the highway a half mile from Paradise with 125 visitors and many staff and rangers from someone with an arsenal of weapons heading there.

She was shot before she got out of her vehicle and the man fled into the woods where he died overnight from hypothermia. This was the first death in the line of duty from guns in the NP's history, less than two years after the law allowing guns to be openly carried or displayed in NP's.

The law would not have prevented this event but it might have changed the event itself with the response of the rangers if guns were banned and the man was treated as a threat. This we won't know but banning guns not only protects visitors, it protects NPS rangers and staff. This is true at the visitor facilities but more so in the backcountry where someone with a gun would be less likely to be discovered and their actions with guns not discovered for some time.

Banning guns makes sense because it protects the NP's and protects all the people, visitors and employees, when they're in the NP. As the law is now, you can only carry a weapon in the NP. You can never remove it or use, even in self defense from attack by a person or an animal. That's the law. So what does a gun in a NP prove, other than you can carry it there?

Nothing. Other than showing your willfull disregard for others and their safety and security in a public place. And I have yet to hear from, read about or meet anyone who actually carried a gun in the backcountry and it saved lives. And even if it did once or so, all the times they didn't need it? So why carry it? Why make others worry if they know you have it?

Why raise the level of concern with others or with a ranger? When this law was passed in 2009 and went into effect February 2010 I knew and said then this would result in the death of a NPS ranger from someone with a gun. Guns don't protect people, they only provide the opportunity for someone to injury or kill someone. We have seen that now.

So Congress and the President, how about it? Restore the Reagan era law on guns in NP's immediately. The Republicans stuck the change in the Credit Card Reform Act because they knew it would pass and not be vetoed by the President, so the Democrats can stick the repeal in a bill which will do the same.

Pass the law and put the ban in effect immediately. It's easy to do, NP's just post the old signs at entrances and ask visitor if they have guns, and if so, please secure under the rules. If they don't they will be cited and their gun(s) confiscated. Very simple and easy to do. And all of us visitors feel safer and all the rangers can treat people with guns as threats if they don't comply with the law.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

NP Closed Until Saturday

The NPS is reporting the NP will be closed through Friday and reopen Saturday morning as usual. You can get the latest news from the NP's Twitter feed.

Let's hope for the best for everyone and express our condolences to Margaret Anderson's family, the staff at the NP and to all NPS employees. We are grateful for your dedication and service in the protection of America's National Parks and all the visitors to the National Parks. Thank you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Broken Links

Update.--I have compiled a list of 54 Web pages with about 75 broken links. As noted they will be fixed with new links or removed if none is found. There are still broken links on the blogs (blogger.com), but likely they'll remain broken unless they're a popular read post. More news as this work progresses.

Original Post.--My next task with the photo guide is to fix the external broken links on the many (425) Web pages with the Website and photo guide. The first run found over 70 critical ones (excluding the blogs) and many on important Web pages. So that's the goal, to fix them or remove them if a new link can't be found.

It's the hazards of linking to other Website, you're always finding the other Website redid their Websites and broke all the links. That's life in the Internet, always a puncture here and there. But over the next few weeks they'll be good as new or in the virtual bit bucket. After that are other broken links from the filters I used to find the first bunch. The second bunch is more troublesome and will be more time consuming. But that's for another month in the future.

For now. I apologize for the broken links. They'll be back.

What is missed

Reading the news stories about the gunman who killed the NPS ranger who blocked the road to Paradise and was shot before she could exit the vehicle, the gunman then engaged law enforcement officers for an hour before escaping into the forest and the darkens. This whole incident points to why guns should not be allowed in National Parks. Let me explain.

The gunman had passed by the checkpoint for chains for all vehicles. With the snow and ice the NPS decided to verify all vehicles had them if the weather and road conditions got worse. This usually happens somewhere between the gate east of Longmire where traffic is controlled daily to the parking lot on the west side of Glacier Bridge over the Nisqually River.

The gunman blew by the checkpoint and continued onto Paradise. He never got there as the NPS ranger blocked the highway at Barn Flats, see map above. That is where the action happened. As you can see this was just about half a mile from Paradise and the Jackson Visitors Center where the NPS estimated 125 people were in the center or on the snowplay area just north of the center.

The fact the gunman didn't have snowshoes and without many of his weapons along with little clothing and food was the reason nothing happened. Had the gunman got to Paradise and the center area, we'd be reading a whole different story about a massacre of unreal proportions with the weapons he had in his car. Had he had chains and quietly passed inspection, that would be the news.

Is that what the NRA and gun right advocates argue is the freedom to openly carry guns in National Parks? Enough firepower to kill or injure tens of people, both NPS staff and visitors? Is that what gun rights is about, the freedom for a law-abiding gun owner with an arsenal to wipe out so many lives without us saying no they can't do that in an National Park?

I'm not going to apologize for my view on guns in NP's anymore. Ever. This guy intended and could have wrecked havoc on innocent lives for what? Just because he could express his hate, rage and anger with guns? Is that what America is about? Is that was we call American values?

I know it's not. It about the safety and security of this country and all the people, which includes the right to reasonal restratints on guns in the name of public safety. In the name of common sense. In the name of decency. In the name of humanity. What Christian would argue for the right for this guy to do what he had planned? Just because he could? In the name of what?

I won't apologize again for my view. I will fight for the change in the law. I expect the President and the Democrats to change the law. Not when but now. Not how but completely. We elected you and it's time you stood up for all of us, not the NRA, gun lobby and gun advocates. Us. All of us.

I expect and will voice my view for it. We escaped the worse because one NPS ranger did her duty, did the right thing and gave her life. What more reason do you need? This is my National Park. This is our National Park. This is America's National Park. Protect it for all of us.

NP is Closed

Mt. Rainier NP is closed until further notice. The fatal shooting of a NPS law enforcement officer, news releases, and the search for the gunman will resume today (Monday January 2nd) in the area between Longmire and Paradise.

The NPS is reporting all visitors at Longmire have been evacuated and all visitors at Paradise were in a secure lockdown overnight in the Jackson Visitors Center until early this morning when they were escorted out of the NP. You can follow the latest NPS information on their Twitter account.

The area where the gunman fled has 2-3+ feet of snow at this time. Let's hope they capture him soon and let's pray for the family of the NPS ranger killed in the line of duty working for all of us in Mt. Rainier NP.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Guns in the NP

I've written more than a few times that the law allowing people to legally carry guns in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, unless reasons exist where it's for the protecion of visitors (eg. Alaska and Florida Everglades) and then with a permit or a guide with a gun, should be repealed.

But even the most vocal advocates against the amendment put into the Credit Card Reform Act of 2009, where there was obvious, Obama wasn't going to veto the bill over this one "small" amendment, cowered before the NRA and right wing gun rights members in Congress and were afraid to stand up for all of us and all visitors to NP's and WR's.

Today (1/1/12) a law enforcement officer in Mt. Rainier NP was shot and killed by a man with gun considered a suspect in the shooting of four people in south Seattle last night. The NP and law enforcement found other weapons and a bullet proof vest in his car when he fled into the snow after shooting the NP ranger.

Now I'd like to ask all those assholes in Congress if this is what you wanted with this amendment because you can't argue around the fact and reality this is what it has lead to, the first death in Mt. Rainier NP from guns. Over the years since Reagan implemented the ban on guns in NP's and WR's - his idea - to the new law not one person has been injured or killed in the NP.

All because gun owners had to be responsible to secure guns unloaded in their vehicles. Since the start of the new laws (2/22/10), there have been several reports of visitors openly carrying guns, even into facilities which is banned. True guns owners followed the law then and this one didn't, but as they say, when it comes to guns, it only takes one.

But tell that to the ranger's family, her two kids. Tell them you still like the idea because you're in the pocket of the NRA and believe the Second Amendment to the extreme, gun owner rights trumps the rights of all the rest of us. Our safety and security and all those visitors from other countries isn't important. The employees working in all the NP's and WR's isn't important.

Just guns and gun owners. Fuck the American people. Well you got your example today of what that means. You can't explain it away now. A ranger is dead and her family is without her. All because of a legal gun owner exercising his Second Amendment rights.

Maybe all of you in Congress should volunteer to go hunt for him. Or are you afraid of someone legally having a gun in a NP? Maybe you could convince the 150 law enforcement officers in the NP now what a good idea you had with the law? Maybe you could tell us this made all of us safer.

And when you answer, we'll nod and say, "Yeah, right. Tell that to her children."

Now will the Democrats have the balls to fix this and repeal this law to what Reagan implemented? It's time you did. It's time you stood up for all of us and hold the assholes in Congress who supported this amendment accountable for this death. It's time you represented our rights.

Will you do that? Or will you call it an anomaly or cower in fear of the NRA? Will you leave the advocacy against guns in NP's and WR's to the people and those in the media demanding change? And it's time President Obama ordered the change from Congress. Put the repeal in a bill the Republicans like and won't go against like they did to get this law passed.

It's time now to do the right thing for the American people, for America's NP's and WR's, and for this ranger's family.

2012 Plans

I've updated the Mt. Rainier photo guide with the plans for 2012 and beyond. There is still another 2-3 years of work which orginally started in 2006 but didn't get momentum until 2008. The plans, found here, are divided into routine and current work and current and new projects.

As you can see, it's a lot, partly because the routine and current work take about a week a month with some newer work from reviews needing up to a week each. The current projects are 1-3 weeks work and most of the new ones are in the 2-4 week timeframe from start to final production for the Web.

The Website with the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide currently has just over 420 individual Web pages and about 40 photo galleries. When completed I expect the whole set will encompass about 500 Web pages, and this doesn't include all the publications and files available from the Web pages, many of them scanned government or public domain reports or books.

I don't have a timeline for the work. This last year showed me plans are easily trashable, and while I'm slowly getting and feeling better, it's still hard some days, which is why I'm working slowly and increments. I'm back to an excercise plan (walking 5-6 miles 2-3 days a week to town and back), but it's far from what it was before all these health issues started.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll talk about the future book plans down the road when I have those sections finished to turn the photo guide into a book.

January Reports

I have updated the news, conditions and prospects for January along with the updating the season background for winter, with a map for the NP. All of this pretty much is what you would expect, snow everywhere but the northwest corner which is snow free to about 3,000 feet.

The snowplay area will not open until the snowpack is 5 feet at Paradise which will be sometime in early January, earlier if there is a rash of snowstorms come through the area and the NP. Warmer temperatures in late December after some snowstorms in the week or so before melted some of the snow to where it is lower than 5 feet.

The Jackson visitors center is open daily through January 2 and then resorts to the weekend and holiday schedule into May. This means after the New Years holiday there will be no services at Paradise on weekdays. In addition the cold weather and snow is requiring chains on 2WD cars most days beginning anywhere from Longmire to Cougar Rock campground.

Remember to carry chains in your vehicle in the NP

Before you go you should check the NP's Twitter Account for the latest road conditions and snow conditions at Paradise. It will save you driving time if everything is closed or help to be ready to sit awhile at Longmire until the gate is open.