©Bert Gildart: Yesterday we pulled our Airstream 60 miles north to the small settlement of Stanton, North Dakota, which is contiguous with a national-park administered area so unique that some believe it should be designated a World Heritage Site. Walking onto a field where a village once stood, we could see bones and pottery shards, brought to the surface by the recent activity of pocket gophers. And later when we walked a trail paralleling the Knife River, we could see dozens of large bones protruding from the banks. Surely this park is an archaeologist’s dream.
On a lighter side it’s also unique in nomenclature. “When we answer the telephone,” laughed Resource Management specialist John Moeykens, “it takes us longer then in any other park. Count the words, we’ve got seven in our title.
“Hello,” quipped John, “this is Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site… See what I mean!”
HE FOUGHT WITH THE FEROCITY OF FOUR BEARS
But there is more to Knife River than a name, and that is something we will be learning about over the next few days. At the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America’s conference, I met Superintendent McCutchen, and he suggested that Janie and I pull our Airstream to the small settlement of Stanton, and that if we did, either he or members of his staff would provide us with a personalized tour.
That’s what we did, and already our visit is paying dividends, for yesterday, John Moeykens provided us with an introductory tour that included an explanation of the Winter Count of Four Bears, a warrior said to have fought with the ferocity of “four bears.” John posed for many of our photos–and said he’d continue to help in whatever way he could.
We’re looking forward to the next few days, but in the meantime, there is another national park matter of concern discussed at the recent OWAA conference. The matter concerns firearms in national parks, and the issue is now reaching its head.
GUNS IN NATIONAL PARKS?
The National Rifle Association of America believes individuals should be allowed to carry firearms in national parks, and despite the feeling of park personal who manage these precious area, George Bush is bowing to pressure from NRA President Wayne LaPierre. Right now firearms are banned from national parks and for some very good reasons. Some of the best are expressed by the Association of National Park Rangers (ANPR):
STATEMENT FROM THE ANPR
“…ANPR echoes U.S. society and existing legislation in believing that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not absolute in all locations nor at all times. Park units are sanctuaries for human and animal alike, and in some cases may be the only viable habitat for a specific species. Unlike some other private, state, and federal property, natural resources in National Parks are protected, unless specified differently in the park’s enabling legislation. Because of this, humans do not have the right to kill an animal in a National Park in order to protect life or property. Allowing firearms in National Parks would increase the risk to animals, primarily predatory species, considerably.
“The current Title 36 CFR § 2.4 allows unloaded firearms to be transported through a park in a mechanical mode of conveyance or possessed in a temporary lodging structure as long as they are rendered temporarily inoperable…”
JUNE 30TH IS DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS
If you want to add your comments you can do so by using the following link . As well, you can view the complete statement of the ANPR by clicking HERE . Personally, I can not see any reason why untrained visitors should have guns in places such as Glacier National Park, where I worked for 13 summers, mostly as a park ranger. If the NRA gets its way, I predict there will me tragic consequences for wildlife–and perhaps, too, for visitors.
And now, here are a few links to postings we made last year about this time: