Guns in National Parks

  • Guns are no longer prohibited in America's national parks. (Photo courtesy of Fenners)

People can now carry guns in national parks. The National Park Service is adapting to the new law. Samara Freemark reports:


People can now carry guns in national parks. The National Park Service is adapting to the new law. Samara Freemark reports:

The new policy means a reversal for the nation’s 392 National Park sites. Firearms have been prohibited in the parks.

But now….

Whatever law you were under in that state outside of the park now applies in the national park unit.

That’s National Park Service spokesman David Barna. He says that means that parks everywhere except Illinois and Washington DC will allow firearms.

But different states have different laws about the specifics – for example, whether you can conceal your weapon or not.

Barna says that could get complicated.

Appalachian Trail passes over 14 states. Yellowstone National Park is in 3 states. And the burden is going to be on the public to know those various laws.

Barna says the Park Service will help gun owners out with website updates and postings in park facilities.

But he says they can’t put up notices every time a park trail crosses a state line.

For The Environment Report, I’m Samara Freemark.

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Thaw and Order

  • Melting glaciers as seen from aboard the Fairweather Express II in Glacier Bay, Alaska (Photo by John Ryan)

A National Park might not be the first place
you’d expect to turn into a crime scene. But John Ryan
found one – of sorts – on a boat touring Alaska’s Glacier
Bay National Park:


A National Park might not be the first place
you’d expect to turn into a crime scene. But John Ryan
found one – of sorts – on a boat touring Alaska’s Glacier
Bay National Park:


Scene of the crime. Glacier Bay National Park. 9 o’clock on a sunny Saturday morning.

The crime: Global warming. You know: ice caps melting. Sea level rising. Deserts and
disease spreading. Scientists say it’s big, very big.


Intergovernmental investigators have ID’d the perpetrator: it’s us. Emissions from fossil
fuels like coal and oil have started heating the earth.

But here on the Fairweather Express II, you’d never know it. Park ranger Kevin Richards
is at the mic, entertaining passengers as we cruise past mile-wide glaciers
in the sun.

“That snow fell when Thomas Jefferson was signing the Declaration of

Richards tells the crowd how the glaciers have retreated 60 miles in the past 200 years.

But he hasn’t once mentioned global warming.

In the audience, Anchorage pathologist James Tiesinga smells a rat.

“The rangers seem very reluctant to say the words ‘global warming’, they skirt
the issue of why the glaciers are receding. I can’t help but wonder if the Park Service
has communicated the message to its employees, ‘don’t bring this up, it’s a hot topic’.”

And I notice the visitors’ newsletter put out by the park talks in depth about the changing
glaciers, but fails to mention that the climate is being changed by humans.

During a break in the naturalist’s stand-up routine, Tiesinga asks why there has been no
mention of global warming? Are we witnessing a coverup?


As huge chunks of ancient ice tumble into the bay, the Park Ranger, Kevin Richards, says, no,
there’s no censorship of climate science.

“Until very recently, yeah, if you’re working for the government, you
probably didn’t talk a lot about it. But now it’s okay, it’s an open forum right now.”

He says he’ll get to the connection
between melting glaciers and a warming earth near the end of his talk, but it’s a lot more
complicated than you might think.

“We just can’t talk about tidewater glaciers the same way we do about
terrestrial glaciers. It’s not the same process.”

Here’s why it’s not the same: tidewater glaciers have snouts that stick out into the ocean. Terrestrial glaciers are
land-locked. Richards goes on to say that land-locked glaciers in the mountains above
Glacier Bay are shrinking under a warming climate. But he says the dramatic loss of 60
miles of ice from Glacier Bay itself is not a sign of global warming.


To fact-check the on-board nature talk, I called up Roman Motycka.
He studies glaciers at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks’ Geophysical
Institute. He confirmed that global warming is hitting most Alaskan
glaciers hard.

“90% of the glaciers in South-Eastern Alaska are wasting away, and that’s
complicated, but primarily due to global warming.”

So why aren’t tourists in Glacier Bay hearing that when they witness fall
ice chunks fall into the ocean?

“It’s really complex there. Here’s what happened when all
that ice got lost.”

Motycka explains that tidewater glaciers have their own cycles of
advance and retreat. In a nutshell, when the snout of a glacier ends up floating in deep water, it becomes inherently prone to calving – that is, dropping icebergs – independent of the climate. And that’s what’s happened in Glacier Bay. So, in other words…

“Your naturalist was right, the terrestrial glaciers are the
ones that are more important to look at in terms of straight climate


Back on the Fairweather Express II, Park Ranger Kevin Richards
finishes his day at the mic talking about global energy consumption and
making a plea for people to protect the environment back home,
wherever they come from.

So in the end, park rangers are still the nature lovers in funny green outfits you might
remember from your childhood. And as this episode of Thaw and Glacier comes to a
close, all is well in Glacier Bay. Except for a little thing called…


…global warming.

For the Environment Report… I’m John Ryan.

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Aerial Firefighting

High-risk fire conditions are expected to continue for another fewweeks across the Midwest. Firefighting crews are on standby, hoping toprotect not only forests, but also the fast-growing number of homes andcabins. In Wisconsin, they’re trying a new tool they hope will keepfires under control. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonsonreports: