Tuesday, June 27, 2017

FWP Euthanizes Two Male Grizzlies

Two sub-adult male grizzly bears were euthanized by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Monday morning after livestock depredation events during the weekend west of Stanford.

The two bears were siblings and had been seen south of the Missouri River, south east of Great Falls several times during the past few weeks. The bears killed four calves late Friday night or early Saturday morning. This was the first time the two bears had killed livestock.

When the depredation was reported, FWP and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services responded in a joint effort to capture the bears. One bear was caught in a snare. The other bear was darted in the open field. Both were handed over to FWP, who then proposed euthanizing the bears to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is the federal agency with oversight responsibilities for grizzly bears.

The two bears are part of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem population, which is currently still listed on the Endangered Species List, though populations in the NCDE have surpassed recovery goals set by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Grizzly bears in the NCDE have been moving out from the Rocky Mountain Front and onto the plains west of Great Falls for the last few years, with some bears pushing further east each year. The two males killed Monday mark the farthest grizzly bears have been seen east of the Rocky Mountain Front in more than a century.

The bears were 2.5 years-old and weighed a little less than 300 pounds. As the public reported sightings of the bears over the past few weeks, FWP biologists and wardens visited with landowners and ranchers inquiring about conflicts and advising people on keeping attractants safely put away.

Last Thursday about 14 miles west of where the bears killed the four calves, FWP biologists set traps trying to capture the bears. The effort was unsuccessful as the two grizzlies pushed further east.



Jeff
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Many Glacier Trail Overpass Struck by Delivery Truck

In late May, a delivery truck bringing new mattresses to the Many Glacier Hotel struck one of the historic “bridle bridges” in the Many Glacier area. The collision tore half of a load bearing girder beam off the bridge. In a separate accident a week later, the other trail overpass was struck by a construction vehicle.

The overpasses are located across the Many Glacier access road near the upper and lower ends of the parking area, and are used for pedestrian and horse traffic.

Glacier National Park, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, has completed structural assessments to assess bridge safety. Those assessments determined that the upper parking lot bridge was not safe for pedestrian and horse travel. During the assessment period, engineers discovered that the interior of the girders on the upper bridge were rotten. It is likely that those beams were part of the original bridge construction.

The park has temporarily dismantled the upper parking lot bridge, and is seeking funding along with the Federal Highway Administration to rebuild it with new girders once funding is secured. The replacement bridge will likely use many of the existing bridge materials and will likely match the profile of the original overpass. The other bridge that was struck required minor repairs that have already been completed.

Horseback rides that previously used the overpass will cross the road at the upper end of the Many Glacier Hotel parking lot with traffic control this summer.

The Many Glacier Trail Overpasses are a contributing element to the historic character of the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District. Constructed in 1914, the bridle bridges were designed to provide visitors and employees safe access across the entrance and exit roads to the hotel.



Jeff
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Saturday, June 24, 2017

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delists grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem

In the final step marking a remarkable recovery effort, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Thursday that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be removed from the Endangered Species List.

“The delisting demonstrates Montana’s long-standing commitment to the recovery of grizzly bears,” said Martha Williams, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “FWP takes its public trust responsibility seriously and we intend to follow through in sustaining grizzly bears in Montana as well as all other species that we manage.”

Grizzly bears were put on the Endangered Species List in 1975. At that point as few as 136 bears remained in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Today the population is estimated at more than 700.

Management of bears in Montana’s portion of the GYE will be guided by the interagency Conservation Strategy, which will ensure a recovered grizzly bear population and that FWP and the other states continue to meet the criteria in the recovery plan. This Conservation Strategy was approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in December. The strategy along with the Southwest Montana Grizzly Management Plan and a Memorandum of Agreement between Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will ensure a healthy grizzly population is maintained in the GYE.

Also, the three states have agreed to manage bears conservatively and not down to a minimum number. The goal for state management is to maintain a healthy grizzly bear population in the GYE.

“The grizzly bear population in the GYE has met all the recovery goals and the necessary safeguards are in place. This is an amazing success story,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator.

FWP remains committed to continue its monitoring of females with cubs, genetic variation, bear distribution and mortalities.

In addition, FWP staff will monitor and respond to instances of human-bear interaction, livestock conflicts and provide grizzly bear outreach and education.

Thursday’s announcement only applies to the GYE. Grizzlies in the rest of Montana, including the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, will remain on the Endangered Species List.



Jeff
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Friday, June 23, 2017

USDA Announces $20 Million for Jobs for Young People, Veterans

USDA and partners committed $20 million in 21st Century Conservation Service Corps partnership agreements to provide 4,000 work opportunities for youth, young adults and veterans up to 35 years old, a move that will help the U.S. Forest Service accomplish mission-critical infrastructure and landscape restoration projects on the ground. The U.S. Forest Service is one of seventeen USDA Agencies.

The funding represents investments by USDA of $13 million and $7 million from partner organizations. Contributions by the Forest Service and partners are expected to reach $40 million by the end of 2017 and provide 11,000 work opportunities. Some funds are already placed with 21st Century Conservation Service Corps partnership agreements; other funds will continue to be obligated throughout the summer.

“The 21st Century Conservation Corps is not merely a summer jobs program,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “This is about nurturing our public lands as well as our veterans, youth and young adults through a variety of opportunities to develop leadership potential and professional and personal connections through work across many diverse landscapes.”

The work accomplished by participants will include hundreds of miles of trail maintenance and improvements, watershed protection, removal of vegetation as part of wildfire prevention, improvements to recreation facilities, and other essential work on lands managed by the Forest Service.

Since the program started in 2014, the Forest Service generated nearly 30,000 opportunities for youth and veterans to work on projects that benefit public lands. Corps partners provide hands-on service and job training while working with the Forest Service and other land management agencies to build America’s rural and urban economies, strengthen America’s infrastructure, and modernize the way government works.

Involving veterans in these opportunities helps them learn new skills while continuing to serve their nation and local communities. In FY 2016, 910 veterans were engaged on Forest Service volunteerism and service projects, of which 170 participated in 21st Century Conservation Corps projects. In FY 2017, the agency expects to hire 186 veterans.

About 20 percent of the 4,000 opportunities funded by this year’s commitment will be for Youth Conservation Corps jobs, a summer employment program on public lands that employ high school-aged youth. About 25 percent of the dedicated resources will support high-priority trail maintenance and improvements.

Projects will be on public lands in rural communities from coast to coast and will include diverse work experiences.

Annually, the Forest Service engages about 100,000 volunteers and 21st Century Conservation Service Corps participants. As part of an emphasis on strengthening and deepening connections with the public through outdoor experiences, the agency is committed to expanding its capacity for greater volunteerism and community service. The goal is to increase engagement to 115,000 volunteers by 2020 mostly through individual and partner organizations committed to the conservation of the public lands legacy.

To participate in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps contact a member organization.

For additional information about funded projects, jobs, volunteering and other opportunities for young people, visit the Forest Service online Working with Us page.



Jeff
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Snow Climber Rescued After Fall on Disappointment Peak

Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a rescue for a snow climber who fell after slipping and falling on snow Monday afternoon. Robert Henderson, 68, of Wilson, WY was descending the Southeast Ridge of Disappointment Peak when he fell. Rangers responded quickly to the scene and transported Henderson to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, WY.

Henderson’s fall, which took place just before 1:30 p.m. was witnessed from below by two hikers in the Amphitheater Lake area. Those hikers were the first to call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center and report the accident. Shortly thereafter, Henderson’s climbing partner, Dan Matzke of Moose, WY, called the dispatch center and reported that Henderson had lost his footing and slid on the snow before disappearing from view. Henderson’s fall carried him a total of 400 feet downhill, including a 60-80 foot cliff, to a location amongst snow and trees approximately 300 feet above Amphitheater Lake.

A ranger who was climbing on Disappointment Peak met up with Matzke, assisted him on the technical descent to Amphitheater Lake, and reached Henderson’s location at about 3:00 pm. The ranger assessed Henderson, who was alert but had suffered leg and shoulder injuries. Matzke continued downhill with a bystander.

At 4:20 p.m., the Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter inserted two rangers to Henderson’s location via short-haul. The rangers loaded Henderson into a rescue litter and prepared him for extraction by short-haul. One ranger attended Henderson during the short flight out to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 5:11 p.m. He was transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s. The helicopter returned to retrieve the remaining two rangers.

Though Henderson and Matzke were planning to climb on snow and had all the necessary gear to do so, park rangers recognize that many visitors to the Tetons may not be expecting wintertime conditions in June. Rangers advise that elevations above 9,000 feet are mostly still snow-covered, and appropriate knowledge and experience using an ice ax and crampons is necessary for traversing steep terrain.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or gear is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.



Jeff
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Avalanche Creek Trail Temporarily Closed Due to Bear Activity - closure likely to last several days

The Avalanche Creek Trail is temporarily closed from the trailhead to the head of the lake for bears frequenting the area. The closure does not include the Trail of the Cedars.

Over the past week, the park has received reports of up to six different grizzly bears in the Avalanche area, coming close to people. The bears are exhibiting some signs of habituation, meaning they appear more comfortable than is natural around humans.

On Saturday, the park rangers received a credible report of a group of people nearly completely surrounding a grizzly bear along Avalanche Lake, causing the bear to swim out into the lake to create distance between itself and the crowd.

The temporary closure will likely last several days, and will give park managers the opportunity to assess bear behavior and movement, allow the bears to move to more remote areas, and identify any needed additional actions. The closure is in accordance with the park’s Bear Management Plan.

“It is exciting to see bears here at the park,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “One of the best things people can do if they see a bear is to make sure they back up, and create 300 feet of distance. That helps reinforce natural bear behavior, and keeps both people and bears safe.”

Park visitors should travel in groups and make loud noises by calling out or clapping their hands at frequent intervals, especially near streams, and at blind spots on trails. These actions help avoid surprise bear encounters. Do not approach any wildlife; instead, use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get a closer look. Visitors should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from any bear within the park.

Proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening, and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person, and animal involved. Anyone participating in recreational activities in bear country is highly encouraged to have bear spray. The bear spray should be readily accessible, and hikers should know how to use it. Visitors should store food, garbage and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes when not in use. Garbage must be deposited into a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These actions help keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food, and help keep park visitors, and their personal property safe.

Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of bear activity to the nearest visitor center, ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800 as soon as possible.

For further updates on the Avalanche Lake Trail, and other trails within the park, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm



Jeff
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Glacier to Expand Visitor Use Research

This summer, Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest are expanding visitor use monitoring efforts to better understand use along the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River.

For the past five years, Glacier National Park has been collecting data on trail, and road use along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and surrounding trails. This year, with a donation from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, monitoring will expand to the river and several other places within the park. The Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park both manage segments of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. The other locations to be monitored include the North Fork, Two Medicine, Many Glacier, Goat Haunt, and Belly River.

The data, collected by the University of Montana, has been valuable to Glacier National Park as visitation has increased dramatically. With several years of data in hand, the park can now better inform visitors about how to plan their trips with crowding in mind, and also make educated decisions about where to station staff to best meet park needs.

“For the last few years, we have heard at our annual meetings with North Fork residents that river use seems to be increasing,” said Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Webber. “This information will allow us to better understand how much, where and when use is occurring. It will help us to better plan for proper facilities and management.”

“This is the sort of thing we could not do alone,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “With the expertise from the University of Montana and the financial support of the Glacier National Park Conservancy, we are conducting cutting edge research about the way our public lands are used here in northwest Montana.”

Monitoring technology used in the park and now expanded to the Flathead National Forest along the Flathead Wild and Scenic River include: tube counters placed along roads and trails, and camera counters that enable the calibration of mechanical counters and estimation of river use levels.

The data collected will better help the park and forest understand visitor use outside the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor, including the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. This information will establish baseline visitor use numbers which in turn will inform future planning efforts such as a Backcountry/Wilderness Stewardship plan for the park, and a joint Flathead Comprehensive River Management Plan for the park and forest.



Jeff
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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Kayak guide dies attempting to rescue client in Yellowstone Lake

A 23-year-old kayak guide, Timothy Hayden Ryan Conant from Salt Lake City, Utah, died while attempting to rescue a client who capsized on Wednesday, June 14. The incident occurred in the West Thumb area of Yellowstone Lake. The kayaking group consisted of nine clients and three guides.

After receiving a call through the park’s dispatch center, rangers responded to the scene in a patrol boat and found Mr. Conant in the water. They brought him on board and immediately started CPR while in route back to the dock. CPR continued as Mr. Conant was transported to the helipad at Grant Village via ambulance (approximately ½-mile from the dock). A Life Flight landed to assist, but Mr. Conant was pronounced dead before taking off.

The client, who Mr. Conant attempted to save, was rescued by other guides in the group and brought to shore before rangers arrived on scene to help Mr. Conant. The client was transported to the park clinic and treated for hypothermia. The incident is still under investigation.

“Our hearts are with the Conant family after this terrible loss,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk.

Mr. Conant worked as a guide for Oars, a company based out of Angel Camp, California. Oars has offered non-motorized boat tours in Yellowstone under a permit since 1996. This was Mr. Conant’s first season working for Oars as a guide.

Since 1894, there have been 41 deaths in Yellowstone Lake. The most recent was in 1997 when two people died while canoeing.

With a surface area of 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the United States that is above 7,000 feet. It is roughly 20 miles long and 14 miles wide with 141 miles of shoreline. The average year-round temperature of the lake is 43F. Survival time is estimated to be only 20 to 30 minutes in water of this temperature.



Jeff
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Friday, June 16, 2017

Public Comments Encouraged on Telecommunications Plan

Grand Teton National Park is developing an environmental assessment to address existing and future telecommunications services within developed areas of the park to meet mission critical park operations, safety and emergency services, and visitor information needs and expectations. Public comments regarding the document are encouraged and requested by July 14, 2017.

The purpose of the assessment is to analyze the impact of potential design and locations of telecommunication proposals received from providers to date, appropriateness of facilities, and any telecommunication infrastructure needs the park anticipates within the next 20 years and more.

The proposal includes installation of a fiber optic cable network and wireless telecommunications facilities at strategic developed locations within the park and potentially connecting to Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance. The focus would be on developed areas in the park that currently support critical operations and/or see a high volume of park visitors. Examples of these areas include Moose, South Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake Lodge, Signal Mountain, Colter Bay, and Flagg Ranch. A scoping newsletter contains more information about the proposed project and is available at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/telecommunications.

During the scoping period for this environmental assessment, the National Park Service seeks input from the public on relevant issues, potential alternatives, concerns, opportunities, or topics that should be addressed during the planning effort. Additional opportunities for public involvement will also be provided later in the planning process.

Comments on the telecommunications plan are encouraged to be submitted online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/telecommunications, or can be mailed to the park.



Jeff
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Man Severely Burned in Hot Spring

A 21-year-old man, Gervais Dylan Gatete from Raleigh, North Carolina, sustained severe burns after falling into a hot spring late on Tuesday, June 13. The incident occurred in the Lower Geyser Basin off of Fountain Flat Drive just north of the Old Faithful area. Mr. Gatete, currently an employee with Xanterra Parks and Resorts, was with seven other people when he fell.

After the incident, the group attempted to evacuate Mr. Gatete by car. Just before midnight, they flagged down a ranger near Seven Mile Bridge on the West Entrance Road. Park staff provided immediate medical assistance and transported the patient via ambulance to the airport in West Yellowstone. From there, he was flown to a hospital.

Since rangers were not at the scene of the incident last night, it is not yet clear exactly where and how it occurred. Investigations continue today and additional information will be provided when it is available.

“Yellowstone’s thermal features are dangerous,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk. “We continually stress that people must stay on trails and boardwalks in geyser basins, not only to protect resources, but for their own safety.”

The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there is scalding water just below the surface.

This is the first serious injury in a thermal area this year. Last June, a man left the boardwalk and died after slipping into a hot spring in Norris Geyser Basin. In August 2000, one person died and two people received severe burns from falling into a hot spring in the Lower Geyser Basin.

Learn about safety in thermal areas at go.nps.gov/yellsafety.



Jeff
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Monday, June 12, 2017

Hiker Fatality Near Yellowstone's North Entrance

On Friday, June 9th, Yellowstone park search crews located the body of Jeff Murphy who was missing near the park’s North Entrance. Mr. Murphy’s death appears to have resulted from a fall on Turkey Pen Peak.

Mr. Murphy, 53, from Batavia, Illinois went for a day hike on the Rescue Creek Trail on June 7th. The park initiated the search on June 8th when Mr. Murphy’s wife reported that he failed to check in. “All of us at Yellowstone extend our sympathy to the Murphy family for their tragic loss,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk.

At its peak, the search involved eight hiking teams, five dog teams, four horse teams, and a helicopter.

The Rescue Creek Trail, which had been closed due to this search, is open. However, visitors should anticipate temporary closures in the area until the investigation is complete.



Jeff
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Friday, June 9, 2017

Montana's wolf population still strong, report shows

Wolf numbers in Montana remained healthy in 2016 and more than three times the federally-mandated minimums.

Montana’s annual wolf report shows a minimum of 477 wolves were counted for 2016. This is down from 536 wolves counted in 2015, but doesn’t necessarily reflect a reduction in wolf numbers, but rather a reduction in counting effort. Included in this number is a minimum number of 50 breeding pairs. This compares to a minimum count of 32 breeding pairs in 2015, and 34 breeding pairs in 2014.

“Though the minimum count is down, we’ve long held that these minimum counts are useful only in ensuring Montana’s wolf population stays above the federally-mandated minimum threshold. The minimum count is not a population count or an index or estimate of the total number of wolves,” said Bob Inman, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks carnivore and furbearer program chief.

The actual wolf population in Montana is hard to pin down, but FWP employs another counting method that get closer. The Patch Occupancy Model, or POM, incorporates data on territory and wolf pack sizes, along with hunter observations and known wolf locations to get to a more accurate estimation of wolf populations.

The most recent POM estimate from 2014 was 892 wolves in Montana, about 61 percent higher than the minimum counts from that year. Data for 2015 and 2016 POM counts of Montana’s wolves are being compiled and will be analyzed this summer.

The other benefit of the POM method is it’s a much cheaper undertaking since it incorporates data analysis rather than direct counting efforts.

During the 2016/2017 wolf hunting and trapping season, 246 wolves were harvested – 163 by hunters and 83 by trappers. This is the highest harvest to date, but only 16 wolves higher than the 2013/2014 season.

2016 also saw 57 confirmed wolf livestock depredations – 52 cattle, five sheep. This is down from 64 in 2016.

The recovery of the wolf in the northern Rockies remains one of the fastest endangered species comebacks on record and a real success story. Montana’s wolf population remains healthy, well distributed and genetically connected. In the mid-1990s, to hasten the overall pace of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 66 wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. FWP began monitoring the wolf population and managing livestock conflicts in 2004. After several court challenges wolves were successfully delisted in 2011.

The delisting of wolves in 2011 allows Montana to manage wolves as it does any other game species, which is guided by state management plans, administrative rules and laws.

To learn more about Montana’s wolf population and read the FWP 2016 Annual Wolf Report, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov. Click Montana Wolves.



Jeff
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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Significant and Accelerated Erosion Closes Portion of Gros Ventre Kelly Road

Approximately 4.5 miles of the Gros Ventre/Kelly Road in Grand Teton National Park is closed from the Gros Ventre Junction with US Highway 26/89/191 to the Gros Ventre Campground due to significant erosion along the Gros Ventre River that is threatening the road. This closure includes all vehicle and bicycle traffic. Traffic to the community of Kelly and the Gros Ventre Campground, as well as other locations in the area, is rerouted via Antelope Flats Road. All detours are signed along the roadways.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “The large amount of water flowing in the Gros Ventre River is causing some significant and accelerated erosion that may soon compromise the road.” He said, “The safety of anyone traveling that road is our first priority due to how fast the erosion has progressed in the last two days.” The river bank has eroded more than 10 feet in the last 36 hours. An area closure has been implemented around the affected location.

The National Park Service will continue to monitor the situation and allow the dynamic system of the river to respond to the increased water flow. At this time, it is unknown how long the closure will be in effect and what the extent of the damage will be. It is anticipated the erosion will continue as the water flow remains high and fast.

The Gros Ventre Campground is open and available for first-come, first-served overnight camping. During the road closure, access to the campground is via the Antelope Flats Road, which is approximately ½ mile north of Moose Junction. The Antelope Flats Road provides access to Mormon Row as well. There is no through vehicle traffic on Mormon Row or Warm Ditch Roads, although, bicycles are allowed.



Jeff
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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dust Abatement Application on Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park

A temporary travel closure will be in place on the unpaved section of the Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park June 6-8, for a dust abatement application. The temporary closure will begin at approximately 4 a.m. Tuesday, June 6 and the road will reopen by 8 a.m. Thursday, June 8.

The temporary closure is only on approximately two miles of the road, on the unpaved section of the road. Motorists and bicyclists should plan to use an alternate route during this temporary closure. This is the first of three scheduled dust abatement treatments for the 2017 season.

For those wishing to reach the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve or Death Canyon Trailhead, access will be possible by heading south from the Teton Park Road junction near the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center.

Electronic signs will be placed on Wyoming Highway 390 to alert park visitors and local residents of the scheduled road closure. For travelers heading south to Teton Village from the Moose area, signs will also be placed near the junction of the Teton Park Road.

The product used for dust abatement is a slurry of magnesium chloride, the same product that is used to treat dirt roads in and around Jackson Hole. This product coats the road surface, but it can also adhere to the undercarriage of vehicles. Motorists who drive the unpaved portion of the Moose-Wilson Road after it reopens on Thursday may want to rinse off their vehicles to eliminate any residue.

Roadwork schedules may change, or be delayed, due to weather conditions, equipment malfunction, or other extenuating circumstances.



Jeff
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

National Trails Day in Grand Teton - Volunteers Needed

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 is National Trails Day, the largest celebration of trails in the United States! Last year, over 170,000 people turned out to support and enjoy pathways in parks and forests across the country! Join the Grand Teton National Park Foundation in Grand Teton for their annual volunteer project and help improve one of the popular trails.

Over 200 miles of trail in Grand Teton offer access to gorgeous backcountry lakes and streams, glacially carved canyons, and incredible wilderness camping. Natural and human-caused erosion mean these trails need constant maintenance to protect the natural environment and ensure a positive visitor experience.

Give back to one of your favorite parks and join the Foundation on June 3rd! Please RSVP to alex@gtnpf.org or call 307-732-0629 by Thursday, June 1st.

Volunteers will meet at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 11AM and return around 3PM. Wear sturdy shoes or boots, bring plenty of water, lunch, snacks, and a daypack with sunscreen, raincoat, and warm layers! Project work will focus on the Moose Ponds trail- cleaning drainage features, trimming overgrown brush, and continuing clean-up from a large avalanche.

For more information about our project, visit the National Trails website listed below: http://nationaltrailsday.americanhiking.org/ntd-events/



Jeff
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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Jenny Lake Renewal Project Enters Final Summer of Major Construction

The Jenny Lake Renewal Project will enter its fourth and final major construction season this summer at Grand Teton National Park. The $18 million project to enhance the visitor experience at the park’s most-visited destination will impact visitors in the South Jenny Lake developed area as well as the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point area on the west shore of Jenny Lake. Visitors to Jenny Lake this summer should plan ahead, arrive early or visit late, and be vigilant in this active construction zone.

All South Jenny Lake visitor services will be open during the 2017 summer season, however, access routes to some facilities and operational dates will be impacted. Jenny Lake Boating has begun offering scenic cruises, though the Jenny Lake shuttle boat is not scheduled to begin operation until mid-June. Portable toilets will be available as the area’s restrooms are renovated. Detailed information regarding South Jenny Lake visitor services can be found at go.nps.gov/jennylake.

Parking at the South Jenny Lake area will be extremely limited, especially for buses, recreational vehicles, and trailers. To avoid parking challenges, visitors are encouraged to arrive early, before 9:00 a.m., or arrive later in the day, after 4:00 p.m., when it is generally less crowded.

Upon parking, visitors should make their way to the temporary visitor center, which will serve as the starting point for reroutes to the lakeshore, trailhead, and east shore boat dock. The best route to the lakeshore will change frequently early in the summer and will be signed appropriately.

The Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point area will be closed until mid-June, as will both hiking trails along the southwest shore of Jenny Lake. A loop hike around Jenny Lake will not be possible before mid-June. Those wishing to access Cascade Canyon at any point this summer should use the horse trail to bypass the closure.

Beginning mid-June, visitors will be able to hike from the west shore boat dock to Hidden Falls and continue their hike 0.3 mile further uphill to a scenic viewpoint just below the traditional Inspiration Point. The trail will dead-end at this point, and hikers will not be able to continue into Cascade Canyon.

 The Jenny Lake Renewal Project is a public-private partnership between the National Park Service and Grand Teton National Park Foundation. The foundation completed a $14 million capital fundraising campaign for the project in August 2016. Visitors will get a glimpse of the project’s long-term enhancements beginning mid-summer 2017, when they will be able to enjoy a restored Hidden Falls viewing area, reconstructed backcountry trails that reflect the Civilian Conservation Corps aesthetic, and new paths and overlooks on the east shore of Jenny Lake.



Jeff
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Glacier National Park announces inspection procedures for non-motorized, non-trailered watercraft this summer

This summer, non-motorized, non-trailered watercraft will be permitted on Glacier National Park waters. Hand-propelled watercraft will be permitted on Lake McDonald and North Fork waters beginning May 15, and will be permitted on Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier waters beginning June 1. This year, non-motorized watercraft will require an in-person inspection by National Park Service boat inspectors.

Privately owned motorized and trailered watercraft will continue to be restricted, following the detection of aquatic invasive mussels within the State of Montana announced in November of 2016. For more information about the detection and the park’s response, please see the National Park Service press release issued on November 10, 2016 and the park’s aquatic invasive species website.

Motorized watercraft rented and operated under National Park Service contract will continue to be available, including Glacier Park Boat Company’s motorized rental boats and boat tours. Motorboat rentals will be available this summer on Lake McDonald and Two Medicine Lake. Hand-propelled boats will also be available for rent at numerous lakes across the park.

Inspection Standards:

• Motorized or trailered watercraft will be prohibited from launching.

• All non-motorized watercraft will be inspected, including but not limited to canoes, kayaks, row boats, sail boats, paddleboards, float tubes, inner tubes, and wind surfboards.

• Small, low grade inflatable children’s water toys including water wings, rings, and the like will not require a permit.

• All watercraft must be clean, drained, and dry upon arrival to receive a launch permit.

• Watercraft must be accessible for inspection: uninflated rafts or float tubes, watercraft with internal water holding tanks, wash systems, etc. will be denied a launch permit.

• New, unused inflatable watercraft will not require an inspection; however they will require a permit before launching.

• An inspection will be required upon each entry to the park if intending to launch. Visitors staying overnight in the park will not need a daily inspection.

The park is preparing for a possible ten-fold increase in the number of non-motorized watercraft inspections requested, compared with the number of motorized inspections conducted historically, and asks that visitors plan ahead and build time into their schedules to receive the inspection.

The park received additional funding this year from the Glacier National Park Conservancy to expand inspection capacity to meet this anticipated demand.

Visitors can speed up the inspection process by ensuring that their watercraft is clean, drained, dry, and ready for inspection upon arrival. The park will continue to assess the inspection program and aquatic invasive species threat throughout the summer and may make adjustments in hours and scope of the permitting process, and areas where boats are permitted, depending on funding and as new information emerges.

Procedures and locations for obtaining a non-motorized watercraft launch permit are outlined below:

Lake McDonald and North Fork Area*
May 15 – May 31 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Apgar Backcountry Permit Center in parking lot across the street
Beginning June 1
7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (station closure time may be adjusted as summer daylight wanes)
Adjacent to the Apgar Boat Ramp

* Boaters traveling to the North Fork region should visit the Lake McDonald inspection station for a launch permit. After successful inspection, they should proceed directly to their North Fork launch destination. North Fork residents should contact the Polebridge Ranger Station for alternate inspection procedures.

Two Medicine
beginning June 1
7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Two Medicine Ranger Station

St. Mary
beginning June 1
7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
St. Mary Visitor Center

Many Glacier
beginning June 1
7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Many Glacier Ranger Station

For rules and regulations about boating, please visit the park’s web page at: http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/boating.htm



Jeff
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Grand Teton National Park Foundation Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Grand Teton National Park Foundation, Grand Teton National Park’s primary fundraising partner, celebrates twenty years of successful partnership with the park in 2017. Since 1997, the organization has raised more than $65 million in support of projects and programming that vastly improve visitor services, preserve park resources, and provide outreach to a wide variety of audiences.

In 1997, Jack Neckels, Grand Teton National Park’s superintendent, approached Jerry Halpin, the owner of Lost Creek Ranch, with the idea of forming a nonprofit that would raise funds to build a new park visitor center. Grand Teton National Park Foundation took shape under the leadership of Halpin as board chair and a group of founding board members that included the late Clay James and his wife Shay, Rob Wallace, Ed and Lee Riddell, Brad and Kate Mead, and Bob and Nancy Jaycox.

Leslie Mattson joined the team in 2004 as the president and led the effort to raise $25 million (which included an $8 million congressional appropriation) for the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, which opened its first phase in August 2007 and the subsequent auditorium addition in 2011. The completion of this facility not only laid the groundwork for the partnership that exists between the organization and Grand Teton today, it also created a sizeable and growing network of supporters. From annual initiatives supporting youth engagement and wildlife research, to the multiyear transformation that is underway at Jenny Lake and the recent protection of 640 acres of critical habitat on Antelope Flats, this partnership has had a tremendous and long-lasting impact on Grand Teton and the nearly five million annual visitors.

“The fledgling Foundation would not have evolved into what it is today without the entrepreneurial spirit of our park friends and the ongoing support of thousands of people who love Grand Teton. I thank all of you,” Foundation President Leslie Mattson said. “I also want to recognize Jack Neckels and the founding board members whose vision twenty years ago resulted in an organization that has an enormous impact on our wonderful park and serves as a national model for park partnerships.”

"The 20-year partnership with Grand Teton National Park Foundation has been, to say the least, amazing. We greatly appreciate their efforts at building capacity within the park historically, and into the future,” Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said. “The Foundation is a leader and model with National Park Service units across the country, and we are extremely proud to have them as our partner, neighbor, and friend."

Highlights from the last 20 years:

• Built a state-of-the-art visitor center designed by world-renowned architect Peter Bohlin and exhibit designer Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

• Transformed Jenny Lake through safe and sustainable trails, new bridges, lake overlooks, and modern interpretive exhibits.

• Helped purchase a 640-acre inholding on Antelope Flats that has critical wildlife habitat, iconic views of the Teton Range, and was threatened with potential development.

• Advanced conservation and research for gray wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, pronghorn, bison, osprey, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, and more.

• Preserved cultural treasures including Menor’s Ferry, Maud Noble Historic District, Mormon Row Historic District, Lucas Fabian Homestead, and more.

• Employed 220 high school students during 11 seasons of the Youth Conservation Program. Participants improve trails, learn about stewardship, and gain insight into park service careers.

• Engaged more than 400 local Latino youth and family members in Pura Vida—a program that introduces this population to Grand Teton’s resources and recreation.

• Introduced 418 diverse college students to NPS careers through NPS Academy.

• Brought diverse Mountains to Main Street and Tribal Youth Corps students to the park for internships and leadership training.

About Grand Teton National Park Foundation:

Grand Teton National Park Foundation provides private financial support for special projects that enhance and protect Grand Teton National Park's treasured resources. Since 1997, the organization has raised more than $65 million for youth outreach, trail renewal, cultural initiatives, wildlife research and protection, and most recently, the purchase of a $46 million privately owned inholding that was threatened with potential development. This tract of prime wildlife habitat was the Interior Department’s highest priority project in 2016 and the largest land protection deal in the country. The Foundation continues to be a model in national park partnership, solving challenges and creating a solid future for Grand Teton.

To learn more about Grand Teton National Park Foundation, visit www.gtnpf.org or follow the organization’s updates at www.facebook/gtnpf.



Jeff
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rehabilitation work to begin in the area of 2016 Lava Mountain Fire

As temperatures start to turn warmer and creeks begin to rise, questions have been asked about what impacts spring run-off will have on the scared area left after last year’s Lava Mountain Fire on the Wind River Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest.

Last fall, a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team assessed the risk to resources that might be caused by spring run-off and/or heavy rains. The BAER team concluded that the road system is at high risk due to the potential for increased sediment delivery, flood flows, and debris flows. To reduce this risk, the following steps will be taken once the snow clears:

* Stabilize roads with rolling dips, waterbars, outsloping, and ditch cleaning,

* Replace undersized culverts, and

* Remove existing culverts; create low-water crossings where practicable.

To complete the necessary work, short term road closures or delays will be implemented on some roads during early summer.

A gate will be placed on Forest Service Road 732 (the road west of the gravel pit); this gate will close the road for the next two to three summers. The BAER team determined that the hillside above Teton Valley Ranch Camp was very unstable and susceptible to sliding. There is a concern that after road work is complete, use during wet periods could create ruts causing water to channel to undesired locations and down the hill, possibly triggering slides. Keeping the road closed will greatly reduce the chances of ruts developing before vegetation is established. Once the vegetation on the hillside has established this risk will be reduced. There will not be any restriction on winter use as that use would not create any ruts in the road.

District personnel will monitor the area regularly to check conditions. The public is encouraged to contact the Wind River District office (307-455-2466) for the latest information or to report any issues they observe.



Jeff
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Yellowstone Seeks Additional Public Input on Effects to Historic Mt. Washburn Lookout

Yellowstone National Park seeks additional public input on potential direct and indirect effects of a project involving the historic Mt. Washburn Fire Lookout. The park proposes to erect a three-sided mounting structure around the lookout. This effort, which is part of a larger project to improve the park’s wireless infrastructure, may have adverse effects per Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The law requires agencies take into account effects on historic properties.

The park believes the effects from most of the project to improve wireless infrastructure (in other areas) would be negligible based on visual simulations; the exception being the visual effects to Mount Washburn.

The park is seeking public comment on whether the construction of this mounting structure would cause an adverse effect to the historic fire lookout. Information on this project is available online through the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system.

Submit comments through PEPC, by hand-delivery, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or by any other means. Comments must be received by June 22, 2017.

Hand deliver comments during business hours to:

Albright Visitor Center
Attention: Mt. Washburn Determination of Effect
Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

Mail comments to:

Yellowstone National Park, Compliance Office
Attention: Mt. Washburn Determination of Effect
 P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190

Public Comment Considerations

• Bulk comments in any format (hard copy or electronic) submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted.

• Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personally identifiable information, be aware that your entire comment – including your personally identifiable information – may be made public at any time. You may ask us to withhold your personally identifiable information from public review, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

• The park has already completed a 45 day public comment period for environmental resource impacts related to this project which included comments on effects to historic properties



Jeff
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Don’t Rush to Rescue Young Wildlife

Although this was published specifically for the state of Colorado, this information and advice applies to anywhere:

Spring has come to Colorado bringing blooms and rain showers, and of course the young wildlife of the year. As birds and mammals give birth, Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to remind citizens that newborn wildlife may be found in backyards , along trails, or in open spaces. The best course of action is to leave them alone.

Each year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife receives scores of calls from concerned humans about wildlife that has been "abandoned" by adult animals. Many are tempted to "help" a young animal by picking it up or trying to feed it, however it is critical that people understand there is no substitute for their natural parents.

Wildlife experts agree that it is quite normal for adult animals to leave their young in a safe place while they go forage for food. And often baby birds are learning to fly, near their nests when they are deemed "abandoned." While well-meaning people sometimes gather up this baby wildlife and bring them to wildlife rehabilitation facilities, it is often the wrong thing to do.

"Baby mammals are scentless in order to prevent predators from finding them," said Janet George, senior terrestrial biologist for CPW. "When humans touch these animals, they are imparting them with a scent their adults will not recognize or even fear. This can result in true abandonment of healthy offspring."

Because birds do not have a highly developed sense of smell, baby birds are a different story. They can be picked up and moved out of harm's way or placed back in the nest if they are songbirds. However, do not try this with raptors! Great-horned owls and other raptors are territorial and have been known to fly at humans seen as a threat to their young.

If you find young wildlife, enjoy a quick glimpse, leave the animal where it is, and keep pets out of the area. Quietly observe the animal from a distance using binoculars and don't hover so close that the wild parents are afraid to return to the area.

"If twenty four hours go by and the parent does not return, or the young animal appears sick and weak, it is possible the newborn was abandoned or the parent is dead (hit by a car, for example)," said Jenny Campbell, customer service expert with CPW. "Call our office and we will work with our volunteer transport teams to get animals to a certified wildlife rehabilitation center to get aid for the wildlife if possible. Don't move the animal yourself!"

Donna Ralph of the non-profit Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center agrees. "Many of the animals we get should have never been picked up in the first place," said Ralph. "They would have had a better chance for survival if left in the care of the parent animal."

"The sooner the animal can be released back to where it came from the better," she explained. "Make sure you provide your contact information so we can let it go in the same place you found it."

Ralph said her center has already taken in many small mammals this year including several fox kits. "Baby foxes don't look like most people would expect them to look like. They are very small, very dark (almost black) and appear to be very kitten like. People who find them think they might be baby raccoons, skunks, or something else."

Ralph's advice: Don't try to feed them. Don't put anything into their mouths. Contact the CPW, a veterinarian, or licensed wildlife rehabilitator to give these babies the care they need.

"Whatever you do, don't try to keep the animal as a pet," she said. "It is illegal to keep wild animals in captivity unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator."

In addition to potential harm for wildlife, humans need to recognize the potential harm to them, as well. There can be risks associated with the handling of wildlife animals, including disease transmission of rabies, distemper or other illnesses. Wildlife can also carry fleas that might subsequently spread disease to humans or pets.



Jeff
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Spring Construction Update in Grand Teton

Several construction projects will be underway this summer in Grand Teton National Park. Here's a rundown of what to expect this summer:

Trails
The 2016-2017 winter saw above-average snowfall in the Teton Range, which means many trails will not be snow-free until much later than usual. The high moisture content and weight of this snow means park trail crews will be busy during the first part of the season repairing bridges and clearing debris such as fallen trees and rocks. As the season progresses, they may reroute small portions of some trails to avoid problematic areas.

Roads
The Signal Mountain Summit Road will be closed from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday from May 15 through early June to support a fuels reduction project. Visitors may also encounter 15-minute delays along U.S. Highway 89 throughout the park during May as road crews will be re-striping the road. Motorists on the Pacific Creek Road will encounter 15-minute delays in July and August as road crews resurface the road.

Historic Buildings and Districts 
The University of Wyoming will replace the Berol Lodge roof beginning in late August. Also in late August, two Lupine Meadows cabin foundations will be replaced. The Mormon Row interpretive path, the Murie Residence, and Menor’s Ferry Store will all experience minor repairs this summer.

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center
Removal of the front porch roof which was damaged this winter began May 1 and is expected to last two weeks. Once the roof has been removed, potable water supply restored, and building safety checks completed, the building will open to the public—likely by early June. The work is being funded by Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc. and completed by Dembergh Construction of Wilson, WY. The area around the building is closed to the public during the construction activities.

Moose Water and Wastewater Infrastructure 
Replacement of the aging and inadequate water system which supplies the Moose and Beaver Creek areas is continuing this summer. The contractor, RSCI Group of Boise, Idaho, and their subcontractor, Westwood Curtis Construction of Jackson, Wyoming, are replacing the water transmission line from its origin at Taggart Creek to Moose. The contractors will install water distribution lines at 4 Lazy F Ranch and Moose, as well as replace the storage tank at Taggart Creek.

Construction of the new Moose wastewater treatment plant is also underway. The new plant will be located just northwest of the Moose Post Office. Visitor impacts associated with the Moose water projects include potential 15-minute delays on the Teton Park Road, a temporary reroute of the multi-use pathway between the Moose Entrance Station and the Chapel of the Transfiguration Road during July, trail reroutes near the Taggart Lake Trailhead, and closure of the 4 Lazy F Ranch Road during May.

Pilgrim Creek Water Infrastructure 
Installation of a new water supply system for Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay Village and placement of a new water transmission line to Jackson Lake Lodge will continue this summer. Bairco Construction, Inc. of Lovell, Wyoming, will remove the Pilgrim Creek wells from the floodplain and bring the entire water supply system closer to the developed highway corridor. The Grand View Point Trailhead may be closed for one or two weeks, and visitors to this trailhead may experience brief delays throughout the summer (you can use this trailhead instead).

You may also want to note that the entire Moose-Wilson Road has opened to motor vehicles for the season. Schwabacher and Deadman's Bar roads opened over the past couple of weeks, and of course the Teton Park Road opened on May 1. Other roads such as the Grassy Lake Road and Signal Mountain Summit Road will open when road and weather conditions permit, which will likely be early-June.



Jeff
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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day with a Ranger

Grand Teton National Park will host a bird-watching caravan on Saturday, May 13, 2017 to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Led by park ranger and skilled naturalist Andrew Langford, the caravan will visit areas throughout the park that provide the best opportunities to locate, identify, and record birds. The activity is free and reservations are not required.

Anyone interested in birds is welcome to participate in the bird-watching excursion, which begins at 8:00 a.m. at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose. The tour through the park will end by 4:00 p.m. at Christian Pond near the Jackson Lake Lodge.

Throughout the day, participants will take short walks at various locations. Participants may join the caravan anytime during the day—a schedule of the times and locations visited can be found at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose or by calling 307-739-3399.

Those attending should wear comfortable shoes and bring a lunch, drinking water, warm clothing, and rain gear. Bird field guides, binoculars, and spotting scopes are also recommended items.

International Migratory Bird Day is observed each year in May to celebrate and support avian conservation. The event serves as the hallmark outreach event for Partners in Flight, an international conservation program whose goal is to reverse declining populations of migratory birds by bringing attention to factors that contribute to worldwide declines.

The theme of this year’s International Migratory Bird Day is "Stopover Sites: Helping Birds Along the Way." The journey between non-breeding sites across the Americas and the Caribbean to nesting sites in the United States and Canada can be a long one. Birds need to rest and refuel at stopover sites along the way. The health and safety of these sites is critical to the survival of migratory birds.

Participants in the caravan are reminded that park entrance stations are open, therefore a park pass is required for travel through these fee stations.



Jeff
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Friday, May 5, 2017

Waterton and Glacier Achieve International Dark Sky Status

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, with the support of its partner the Glacier National Park Conservancy, announced last week that it has achieved provisional Gold Tier designation as Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park through the International Dark Sky Association.

Dark skies are integral not only for human health and enjoyment, but play an essential role in wildlife health. Unnatural light can disrupt migration and other natural processes, putting wildlife at risk. Night skies are also important culturally, and are prominently featured in regional tribal creation stories. Recent studies suggest that upwards of one-third of the world’s population is unable to see the Milky Way due to light pollution around populated areas. The park’s night sky programs are the most popular programs in the park with some Logan Pass star party programs attracting upwards of 700 participants to a single programming event.

To achieve the designation, each park completed a significant number of lighting improvements to reduce light pollution as well as committing to completing further lighting retrofits in the coming years. The parks will also continue to educate visitors about the importance and significance of the dark night sky resource. The provisional designation means that the two parks will now have three years to attain a 67% retrofit rate of their non-compliant lighting fixtures.

To date, Glacier National Park has retrofitted approximately 29% percent of its fixtures. The park received significant philanthropic support from the Glacier National Park Conservancy to make this designation a reality, including: 1) completing the lighting inventory required in the application process, 2) completing the joint application for both park areas, and 3) funding continued retrofits of lighting fixtures. The Conservancy will kick off a campaign this summer to raise funds for the remainder of the needed improvements that must be completed by 2019.

Parks Canada and the National Park Service have been working cooperatively to achieve Dark Sky Status since 2006, but with the support from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, the parks overcame the final hurdles required to submit their application to the International Dark Sky Association last year. “The night sky provides perspective and inspiration, allowing us to reflect on our humanity and our place in the universe,” said John Donovan, Glacier National Park Conservancy Board Member and donor to the dark sky designation program. “Dark skies have become an endangered resource in their own right, and we are incredibly proud to help preserve and protect them to be enjoyed and experienced now and by future generations.”

As part of the application, the City of Columbia Falls, the City of Whitefish, the Waterton Natural History Association, University of Redlands, and members of the Big Sky Astronomy Club wrote letters of support.

“This is another significant step forward in our ongoing partnerships with Waterton Lakes National Park and the Glacier National Park Conservancy,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “In a time when one third of the world’s population can no longer see the Milky Way, protecting this resource is essential. Through this partnership, our sister park to the north will join us in pursuing dark sky friendly infrastructure and programming. Here in Glacier, our philanthropic partner Glacier National Park Conservancy has served as a steadfast supporter of dark skies, supporting not only our application, but also our ongoing star parties, solar viewing, and other dark sky initiatives.” This coming year, the Conservancy will support the popular solar viewing and night sky viewing parties that regularly see 30,000 visitors each year.

"Dark night skies are a source of awe and wonder that many people cannot experience in cities and are integral to the health of nocturnal wildlife," said Waterton Lakes National Park Superintendent Ifan Thomas. "Parks Canada is proud to collaborate with the U.S. National Park Service to achieve the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park's provisional designation as the first trans-boundary IDA International Dark Sky Park. We are committed to protecting and presenting the natural wonder of the night skies."

International Dark Sky Association Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend commented that “the International Dark Sky Places Program has been a program of many firsts in its history, but today’s joint announcement of Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park as a provisional IDA Dark Sky Park is a first of special significance. In the spirit of the peace park and its history, we’re especially pleased that dark skies are a shared resource that furthers the sense of amity and goodwill between the United States and Canada. The new Dark Sky Park is the embodiment of the sense that all of humanity shares just one night sky that knows no limit at international boundaries.”

As a Dark Sky Park, collectively Waterton and Glacier will serve as a leader in dark sky preservation, promoting public dark sky programming, engaging with neighboring cities about the importance of dark skies, and continuing to upgrade and install night sky friendly lighting fixtures within the parks.

This summer, the parks will host a series of star parties and solar viewing programs for the public to learn more about this new designation.

About the IDA Dark Sky Places Program:

IDA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation program in 2001 to recognize excellent stewardship of the night sky. Designations are based on stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach. Since the program began, 15 Communities, 46 Parks, 11 Reserves, 2 Sanctuaries and 3 Dark Sky Friendly Developments of Distinction have received International Dark Sky designations. For more information about the International Dark Sky Places Program, visit http://darksky.org/idsp.



Jeff
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

South Jenny Lake Area Temporarily Closed for Helicopter Operations

Beginning today, May 3, a temporary area closure will be in effect for the South Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park. The temporary public closure is necessary to ensure public safety during construction activities involving helicopter transport of heavy material to trail locations on the west side of Jenny Lake. The duration of the temporary closure is weather-dependent and may last through Friday, May 5.

The following locations will be temporarily closed to all public access during this time: the south Jenny Lake developed area; the multi-use pathway north from Lupine Meadows Road; and trails to backcountry locations including Moose Ponds, Hidden Falls, and Inspiration Point. Signs will be posted throughout the closure area, and park staff will be positioned to suggest alternate routes to those visiting the area.

Areas not affected by this temporary public closure include: Cascade Canyon access from the String Lake Trailhead, Teton Park Road, Jenny Lake Scenic Loop Road, Lupine Meadows Trailhead, and the String Lake area. The Teton Park Road, which is the primary access route to the south Jenny Lake area, is open to motor vehicles.

Additional closures will be implemented over the summer in the south Jenny Lake area as construction continues. Park managers appreciate the public’s cooperation in observing all posted closure notices in the area.



Jeff
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Monday, May 1, 2017

Bear Awareness Program at Montana WILD

Do you trail run or mountain bike? Hike or backpack? Camp, hunt or fish? Float or trail ride? Join us at MT WILD in Helena for an update on the latest in bear awareness. Bill and Marti Cook, MT WILD volunteers, will be teaching about new, state-of-the-art bear safety products and the latest research on defense against bear attacks. Plus, hands-on instruction on how to use bear spray and information about grizzly populations.

Program is for youth 9+ years-old and adults. The free event is set for 6 – 7:30 p.m. on May 24 at the Montana WILD Education Center at 2668 Broadwater Ave. No reservation required. For more information call Montana WILD at 406-444-9944.



Jeff
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Montana Recreational Trails Program Grants Awarded

Montana State Parks announced today that 54 trail organizations, communities, and various land-managing agencies throughout Montana will receive federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) federal grant awards for their projects in 2017.

69 RTP applications were received this year from a variety of eligible applicants, including federal and state agencies, towns, cities, counties, and private trail clubs and organizations.

The funds are appropriated to the states through legislation passed by Congress called the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) that provides funding for the program through 2020. The Recreational Trails Program current awards total approximately $1.66 million in federal funds. Funds have been approved and will be allocated to the highest-scoring 54 projects based upon their relative scores and State Trails Advisory Committee recommendations.

Foys to Blacktail Trails Inc. secured the $90,000 award to complete the trail connector between Herron Park and Blacktail Mountain. Building the final segment of the Foy’s to Blacktail Trail is the culmination of 16 years of persistent work by Flathead County and the volunteer-driven nonprofit Foy’s to Blacktail Trails (FTBT), formed in 2001 with the goal of preserving historic CCC trail linkage between Herron Park and Blacktail Mountain. Bridger Ski Foundation received $70,000 to assist with upgrading trail grooming equipment and West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation received $60,000 to complete trail improvements and provide additional connector trails on the popular Rendezvous trail system.

The RTP Program awards grants through an annual competitive application process. Projects can range from construction and maintenance of trails, development of trailside and trailhead facilities, avalanche education and trainings, and interpretive programs.

A list of the successful 2017 Recreational Trails Program grant recipients is available here: http://stateparks.mt.gov/recreation/rtpGrants.html



Jeff
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Grand Teton National Park is Significant Economic Driver for Local and Regional Economies

A new report concludes that visitors to Grand Teton National Park in 2016 spent an estimated $597 million in local gateway communities. The ripple effects of that spending had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of over $779 million and supported 9,365 jobs in nearby communities. The overall economic impacts of visitor spending during the National Park Service Centennial year increased seven percent from 2015 levels.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “In 2016 park staff and the global park community welcomed over 3.3 million recreational visitors to Grand Teton National Park. Visitors from around the world experienced all that this majestic place has to offer while contributing significantly in economic benefits to our nearby communities.”

National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning more than $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. Grand Teton National Park ranked among the top five national park areas in terms of economic benefit along with Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Denali National Park.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5 percent).

Report authors also produced an interactive tool to illustrate their findings. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and full report are available at the National Park Service Social Science Program webpage at go.nps.gov/vse.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. In Wyoming, national park visitors spent an estimated $945 million in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands. These expenditures supported a total of 13,431 jobs, $392.1 million in labor income, $684.9 million in value added, and $1.2 billion in economic output in the Wyoming economy. There are several sites affiliated or managed by the National Park Service in Wyoming, including Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area; Devils Tower National Monument; Fort Laramie National Historic Site; Fossil Butte National Monument; Grand Teton National Park; John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway; and Yellowstone National Park. Visit https://www.nps.gov/state/wy/index.htm for more information about National Park Service sites in Wyoming.



Jeff
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Well-Known Wolf Severely Injured and Killed in Yellowstone

On April 11, 2017, hikers discovered a severely injured wolf inside Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner, Montana.

Park staff investigated the situation and concluded the wolf was in shock and dying from the injuries. “Staff on scene agreed the animal could not be saved due to the severity of its injuries. The decision was made to kill the animal and investigate the cause of the initial trauma,” said P.J. White, Chief of the Wildlife and Aquatic Resources Branch. At this time, the nature of the initial injuries is unknown. An investigation into the cause of the injuries has begun which will include a necropsy.

Park staff identified the wolf as the white female of the Canyon Pack, one of three known white wolves in the park. This wolf lived to 12 years, twice the age of an average wolf in the park and had a broad range that extended from Hayden Valley to the Firehole River area to the northern portion of the park. For these reasons, the wolf was one of the most recognizable and sought after by visitors to view and photograph.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Yellowstone National Park Tip Line at 307-344-2132. For more information, visit http://go.nps.gov/tipline.

The park will provide more information about the investigation when it is available.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
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First Day of Summer in Grand Teton National Park

I realize that we're still a few weeks away from the first day of summer. I'm just reusing the title that Finley Holiday Films used for their outstanding short film highlighting Grand Teton National Park. This excellent short video shows what this beautiful park looks like in June as the snow melts, and the wildflowers and wildlife begin to emerge from a long winter:



With more than 240 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see Grand Teton National Park. Fortunately the park offers a wide variety of outstanding day hikes. If you do plan to visit Grand Teton this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Snowboarder Rescued After Avalanche in Granite Canyon

Grand Teton National Park rangers, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, and the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter coordinated a rescue effort for Alex Thompson, 26, of Jackson, Wyoming on Sunday, April 9 after he was caught in a soft slab avalanche in Granite Canyon.

Thompson was snowboarding in the park’s backcountry with three companions after exiting an open backcountry access gate at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski area. Thompson was traversing across the top of Air Force Couloir when the slab broke above him. The sliding snow carried him approximately 1,000 feet downhill until he came to a rest atop the snow. Thompson suffered injuries during the fall due to collisions with rocks.

One of Thompson’s companions called Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol around 11:30 a.m. shortly after the slide. Ski patrol launched initial rescue efforts and called the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center as the incident was within park boundaries. Three ski patrollers skied down to Thompson’s location with a rescue toboggan and medical gear. They assessed Thompson’s condition and prepared him for ski-toboggan transport to the bottom of Granite Canyon and eventual aerial rescue.

Meanwhile, park rangers met the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter and prepared to fly to the patient. With two park rangers on board, the helicopter landed near Thompson’s location and the rangers brought him aboard. Thompson was flown out to a temporary staging area along the Chapel of the Transfiguration road at 1:47 p.m., just as deteriorating weather conditions made visibility increasingly difficult. Thompson was transferred to a park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming.

The avalanche crown left behind was six to twelve inches deep and measured 30 to 50 feet across. Rangers caution backcountry recreationists that recent snow squalls have deposited pockets of unstable snow at high elevations in the Tetons. Relatively small avalanches can still have serious consequences as they can carry victims long distances over terrain that can include trees, rocks, and cliff bands.

Thompson’s group was aware of the avalanche hazard for the day, which was listed as moderate by the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center. They were adequately equipped for winter backcountry travel, wore helmets, and carried avalanche beacons, shovels, and probes.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com