Saturday, August 19, 2017

Rangers Rescue Injured Climber on Grand Teton

Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a helicopter-based rescue of a climber who was seriously injured while descending the Grand Teton. The rescue effort began at 4:16 p.m. Friday, August 19 when rangers received a call from a member of the injured climber’s party.

Evan Pack, 33, of Lehi, UT summited the Grand Teton and was beginning to descend the mountain when he lost his footing on a downclimb and fell approximately 20 feet. He suffered serious injuries requiring evacuation from near 13,770 foot summit.

As Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received the initial call for help, the Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter was headed to Yellowstone National Park to assist an injured hiker on Avalanche Peak. Once that hiker was flown to safety, the helicopter returned to Grand Teton National Park and deposited two rangers who were on-board at the Lower Saddle below the Grand Teton.

Once configured for short-haul, the helicopter returned to the Lower Saddle and flew the rangers to the location of the accident. The rangers provided emergency medical assistance, prepared Pack for the short-haul flight, and loaded him into a rescue litter. One ranger then flew with Pack to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache at 7:04 p.m. Pack was transferred to an Air Idaho Rescue helicopter and flown to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, ID.

The other ranger assisted the remaining four members of Pack’s party with the descent from the Grand Teton to the Lower Saddle.

Grand Teton National Park will experience a Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21. The backcountry will remain open to climbers and hikers, though many areas are expected to see increased visitation. Rescue resources will be extremely limited, so appropriate skill level relevant to the climb or hike is essential to visitors’ safety. Overnight backcountry permits have all been distributed through the eclipse. Visitors must have a permit to spend the night in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park.

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.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Mountaineers Rescued on Grand Teton

Grand Teton National Park’s Jenny Lake Rangers, Teton Interagency Helitack, and the Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter came to the rescue of two mountaineers Tuesday, August 15. The mountaineers, Nick Marucci, 30, of Salt Lake City, UT and Laura Robertson, 23, of Orem, UT were attempting to complete the Grand Traverse when they became mentally and physically exhausted after five challenging days in the high mountains.

Marucci and Robertson ascended Teewinot Mountain and Mount Owen on the first two days of their journey before cool temperatures, rain, and hail hampered their progress on Sunday. On Monday, the two climbers ascended a portion of the North Ridge of the Grand Teton despite limited visibility and wet, icy conditions. After ascending a few hundred feet, suffering minor injuries, and loosing manual dexterity due to the cold, they called for help at 4:15 p.m. Their call was forwarded from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center.

Jenny Lake Rangers took the call and attempted to talk the mountaineers through various escape route possibilities. Rangers stationed at the Lower Saddle also attempted to reach their location but were unable to do so due to the wet conditions. The rangers then advised Marucci and Robertson to descend to a small ledge and spend the night in their tent before descending two rappels further to the Grandstand feature the following morning.

After discussing options with the climbers to make the long descent out of the mountains Tuesday morning, it became clear that they were too exhausted and an aerial rescue would be the safest and most expeditious form of rescue. Rangers conducted a reconnaissance flight before configuring the helicopter for short-haul rescue.

Once an adequate window between mid-level clouds opened, one ranger was flown to the climbers’ location at 12,600 feet and he prepared the two climbers for extraction by short-haul. Just after noon, Robertson was flown solo to the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache in an evacuation suit before the ranger flew with Marucci to the same location a few minutes later.

Jenny Lake Rangers advise mountaineers attempting the Grand Traverse to become familiar with portions of the route’s complex terrain before attempting the route in its entirety. Special attention should be given to possible escape routes along the way. Additionally, cool temperatures and precipitation can come to the Teton highcountry with little warning—adequate rain gear is essential.

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.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sprague Fire Grows to 100 Acres - Glacier Resumes Issuing Backcountry Permits

The Sprague Fire, which was sparked in a lightning storm on August 10 in Glacier National Park, has actively burned over the past two days.

The park is managing the Sprague Fire using a confine and contain suppression strategy. The objective is to keep the fire within natural and human made fire breaks due to the steep terrain, concern for firefighter safety given the terrain, and scarcity of firefighter resources due to high fire activity throughout the northwest. The park expects that this fire may continue to burn in some capacity throughout the summer season before a snow event this fall.

Though a cool weather system moved through the area on Sunday and Monday, little rain fell on the fire. The fire is now estimated at 100 acres and is burning in steep, heavily forested terrain on the west side of the park. Due to very dry fuels and predicted dry weather conditions, fire managers expect to see continued fire growth over the next several weeks.

The fire is located above Crystal Ford on the Gunsight Trail. This is the main access trail to the Sperry Chalet. Depending on fire behavior, the Sperry Chalet may remain closed for the rest of the season. The structures at Sperry Chalet are not immediately threatened by fire at this time, however the park is prepared to implement structural protection precautions as necessary. Sperry Chalet has 17 guest rooms that hold between 40-50 overnight guests each night during the summer season. The chalet was scheduled to close for the season on September 11.

Thus far, ground firefighting resources have not been able to access the fire safely for direct action. Crews are evaluating the terrain and identifying natural fire breaks, areas for human-made fire breaks, and other fuel modification strategies that will be used to contain the fire. The fire is expected to grow beyond the steep mountainous terrain it is now in. If the fire moves off of the steep slopes, crews will be able to conduct ground firefighting operations. As available, aerial resources will continue to be used to reinforce natural and manmade barriers.

Other fires within the park have been contained or are being staffed. A fire was reported in the North Fork area of the park on Sunday. The Adair Peak fire was evaluated on August 14 for fire behavior and threats to structures. It is burning in heavy duff in a remote area. It would require a substantial firefighter commitment to extinguish in the short-term. Due to this, the park will continue to evaluate and assess this fire, but will direct firefighting resources to other fires unless fire behavior changes. Fire managers expect that the Adair Peak fire may grow somewhat. No structures are immediately threatened.

Glacier National Park has resumed issuing backcountry permits for designated backcountry campgrounds. Some backcountry campgrounds are closed due to fire activity. All front country campgrounds remain open. Check here for updated backcountry status. Trail closures remain in effect for the Howe Ridge Trail, Camas Trail, Trout Lake Trail, the Gunsight Pass Trail from Lake McDonald to Gunsight Pass (including all secondary trails such as the Snyder Lake Trail), and the Lincoln Lake Trail. Most areas of the park are open including all areas of the North Fork, Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, Many Glacier and Goat Haunt. Please check the park website for updated trail and road information at


Sperry Chalet Closed for the Season Due to Wildfire

As a result of the recent Sprague fire, Sperry Chalet has announced that it has closed for the season. Here's a statement from the chalet manager:
We regret to inform you that the Sperry Chalet season is over. The National Park Service and teams of wildland fire fighters are putting in a great effort at fighting the Sprague fire which is threatening the Sperry Trail, but the fire is winning this battle. It is currently estimated at 100 acres and is expected to grow further. The buildings at Sperry Chalet are not currently in any danger, but we are cut off from reaching the chalet.

We are beginning the process of canceling all reservations for the remainder of the season. We will be contacting reservation holders directly. The guests we are unable to serve will be receiving full refunds. If you have any questions about your reservation please call our office.

We are grateful for the support we have received from the National Park Service. We have also received help and encouragement from a great many people including fellow park concessions, neighboring private businesses, concerned citizens, and the amazing guests of Sperry Chalet. I feel honored to be part of this supportive Glacier Park community.

And of course we applaud the efforts of all firefighters working in Montana this year. This summer has been a good reminder for us about the importance of respecting Mother Nature's incredible powers.

Best Wishes



Grand Teton National Park Announces Official Eclipse Viewing Locations

Grand Teton National Park managers expect August 21, 2017—the day of the Total Solar Eclipse Across America—to be the busiest single day in the history of the park. Visitors to the park on eclipse day can ensure a successful viewing experience by developing a plan and heeding a few simple guidelines. Complete eclipse viewing information can be found in a special edition newspaper available in park visitor centers and entrance stations, and by visiting and clicking the eclipse banner.

Visitors are invited to view the eclipse from the center path of totality along the Gros Ventre Road, which will be the largest eclipse viewing area in the park. The road will be one-way traffic eastbound from its junction with U.S. Highway 26/89/191 to the community of Kelly, with parking allowed in the left lane. Portable toilets will be located along the road, as well as park staff.

Rangers and astronomers will provide telescopes and interpretive programs at four designated eclipse viewing areas including the Gros Ventre Campground Amphitheater, Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center parking area, Jackson Lake Lodge back lawn, and behind the Colter Bay Visitor Center.

Due to limited parking available at the Gros Ventre Amphitheater, parking passes are required. One hundred free passes will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis Saturday, August 19 from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose and the Colter Bay Visitor Center starting at 8:00 a.m. Campers at the Gros Ventre Campground and visitors parking along the Gros Ventre Road are invited to join the program by walking to the amphitheater.

The eclipse will be visible throughout the park with the duration of totality ranging from 2 minutes 19 seconds near the park’s southern boundary to just a few seconds along the park’s northern boundary. No matter where visitors view the eclipse, they should be prepared with ample food, water, eclipse glasses, sunscreen, and other necessary items for the day as little to no infrastructure exists in most locations. Visitors should pack out all trash and recyclables and heed the following guidelines as they make their eclipse day plans:

•Expect heavy congestion, traffic gridlock, and long delays. Allow ample time to arrive at your eclipse viewing location and consider staying in place afterward until traffic thins,

•Have water, food, and vehicle fuel for the day. Bring a minimum of 2 quarts of water per person,

•No roadside parking will be allowed on U.S. Highway 26/89/191, Teton Park Road, or Moose-Wilson Road,

•Eclipse parking begins at 6:00 a.m. park-wide. Overnight parking or camping in roadside pullouts, turnouts, or parking lots is not allowed,

•Prevent human-caused wildfires. Charcoal burning and campfires are allowed only at designated campgrounds and picnic areas within metal fire grates. Stoves and grills that burn contained fuel sources such as liquid petroleum gases are allowed on hardened surfaces if attended at all times, and

•Additional portable toilets will be located throughout the park.

Several special eclipse and astronomy programs are planned in the park this weekend, Friday, August 18 through Sunday, August 20. Please visit the park’s website or the special eclipse newspaper for more information.


Partial Fire Restriction Begin Today August 15 on Public Land

Stage 1 fire restrictions will be go into effect for Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, Bureau of Land Management High Desert District and National Elk Refuge beginning 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, August 15.

Stage 1 fire restrictions apply primarily to campfires and smoking. The restrictions are based in part on the current high fire danger and predictions of continued warm and dry weather. Other factors include current regional and national fire activity and increased visitation to the area during the upcoming total solar eclipse. Several geographic areas are experiencing major incidents which have the potential to exhaust all agency fire resources. “The limited number of available fire resources due to the national fire situation and the increased traffic may limit our ability to respond to fires in a timely fashion,” said Mike Johnston, assistant fire management officer for the Bridger-Teton National Forest. “We want people to take the danger seriously and obey the restrictions that are in place.”

Fire managers study the moisture content of various fuel types, track current and expected weather conditions, and monitor available fire-fighting resources, as well as the occurrence of human-caused fires, to determine when fire restrictions need to be applied to public lands. The Teton Interagency Dispatch Center has recorded over 73 unattended campfires so far this summer.

Teton and Sublette Counties will also begin fire restrictions this week. The Shoshone and Caribou-Targhee National Forests have implemented some form of fire restrictions as well. Teton Wilderness on the Blackrock Ranger District, and the Bridger Wilderness on the Pinedale Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, will be exempted from the stage 1 restriction order. These areas are higher in elevation and the fuels are not as dry as the rest of the forest.

Stage 1 fire restrictions include:

•Lighting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, barbecue or grill is allowed only at designated recreation sites such as established campgrounds or picnic areas. Use of portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel, or use of a fully enclosed sheepherder type stove with a spark arrester screen is permitted.

•Smoking is allowed only in an enclosed vehicle, building (unless otherwise prohibited), developed recreation site, or while in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials (i.e. parking lots, developed campsites, or locations surrounded by water).

The following restrictions exist year round:

•Operating a chainsaw is prohibited in national parks and on the wildlife refuge. Operating a chainsaw on national forest lands is permitted only when equipped with a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester that is properly installed and in effective working order. Operators must also carry a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher with a minimum rating of 2A and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches.

•Discharge of fireworks and use of explosives requiring blasting caps are prohibited.

•Charcoal burning fires are only allowed in official campgrounds and picnic areas.

•Stoves and grills that burn contained fuel sources that can be turned off and on are allowed. Stoves and grills must be attended to all times and be setup on hardened surfaces devoid of vegetation at least three feet in diameter.

Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, and/or by imprisonment for more than six months.

Unattended or abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires, and it is extremely important that all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before campers leave their site. Visitors should NEVER leave a fire unattended, and should prepare for the unexpected by having a water bucket and shovel on hand and ready to use. The fine for an abandoned campfire as well as campfires in unapproved areas is up to $5000 or 6-months in jail, but campers can also be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire.

A copy of the order and additional information on allowable stoves is available on To report a fire or smoke on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, or National Elk Refuge, call 307.739.3630.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Glacier National Park Fire Update - 8/14

Glacier National Park has resumed issuing backcountry permits in designated backcountry sites. Some backcountry campgrounds are closed due to fire activity. All front country campgrounds remain open. Check for updated status.

Trail closures remain in effect for the Howe Ridge Trail, Camas Trail, Trout Lake Trail, the Gunsight Pass Trail from Lake McDonald to Gunsight Pass (including all secondary trails such as the Snyder Lake Trail), and the Lincoln Lake Trail.

The Sprague Fire (estimated at 35 acres) is being managed using a confine and contain strategy due to the steep terrain and concerns with fire fighter safety. Aerial resources have been used to slow fire growth, and ground resources are on scene. Other fires within the park are being staffed.

Sperry Chalet remains closed. The structures in the Sperry Chalet complex are not immediately threatened, however the Sprague fire has necessitated the closure of the main trail that accesses the chalet. No overnight guests remain at Sperry Chalet.

Most areas of the park are open including all areas of the North Fork, Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, Many Glacier and Goat Haunt. Please check the park website for updated trail and road information at


Yellowstone releases reports about visitors and traffic

Yellowstone National Park has released the results of two separate studies completed in 2016 that provide current information about traffic and parking, as well as visitor demographics, values, experiences, and expectations.

The park invested in these studies to better understand the challenges of increased visitation. Since 2008, annual visitation in Yellowstone has increased by more than 40 percent. This visitation growth challenges the park’s ability to manage visitor use in a way that protects resources and offers high-quality, safe visitor experiences.

“Historic and recent trends demonstrate that visitation will increase over the long-term, therefore, it is imperative for us to plan now,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk. “Good visitor use management will allow the park to protect resources, encourage access, and improve experiences.”

The new data from the Visitor Use Study shows that visitors enjoy and care about Yellowstone, but they think it’s too crowded during the summer season. Visitors value the park for its natural character and come specifically to experience scenery, wildlife, thermal features, a largely intact ecosystem, and sounds of quiet and nature. More than half of Yellowstone’s visitors surveyed think that there are too many people in the park. Based on data collected in the study, 83 percent of Yellowstone’s visitors come from the United States and 17 percent come from abroad, including visitors from Europe (49 percent of international), China (34 percent of international), and Canada (10 percent of international).

The Transportation and Vehicle Mobility Study shows that within Yellowstone’s most heavily-travelled corridors, parking lots are overflowing, traffic jams abound, and roadway safety incidents are on the rise. The report identifies the busiest corridors as the roads that connect Yellowstone’s West Entrance with visitor attractions throughout the western and central parts of the park (such as Old Faithful, other geyser basins, the Canyon Area, Hayden Valley, Fishing Bridge, and Lake Village). During much of the summer season, there are on average nearly 30 percent more vehicles using these corridors than those roads can comfortably and safely handle.

Outside of heavily-travelled corridors, traffic levels are also high, with vehicles following closely behind other vehicles 60-80 percent of the time. According to the study, assuming a conservative 3.7-5.3 percent growth rate per year, all roadways in the park are expected to perform poorly by 2021-2023 due to traffic volume. Two thirds of Yellowstone’s visitors surveyed think that finding available parking is a problem, and over half think that the amount of roadway traffic and congestion are problems.

The data from these two new reports, combined with internal data about resource impacts, will help Yellowstone managers consider the types of management strategies that could be used in the future. These strategies include (but aren’t limited to) communication and traffic management systems, shuttle systems and other types of transportation alternatives, and reservations or timed-entry systems. These strategies could be implemented in key locations or park wide.

The park will continue to gather information, including focused studies through 2019, that will guide the park in evaluating tradeoffs in visitor experience and developing the most appropriate strategies to address summer season visitor use challenges. As we move forward, Yellowstone will reach out to its many stakeholder groups to better understand their thoughts on summer visitation and gather information to shape future management actions.

The full reports are available to read and/or download on the park’s summer use planning webpage at


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Glacier Park Wildfires Update - Red Flag Warning Issued Thru Sunday Evening

Interagency fire response continues in Glacier National Park after several fires were sparked following a severe storm with over 150 lightning strikes in Glacier National Park late Thursday afternoon.

Aerial resources and fire crews are working on the Sprague, Howe Lake and Rogers fires on the west side of the park. New fires being assessed on the east side of the park include a small fire visible from the Going-to-the Sun Road near Siyeh Bend, and on Elk Mountain in the southeast area of the park. Both of these fires are estimated to be less than a tenth of an acre in size, and are in rocky areas with little potential for spread.

A red flag warning has been issued from 2 PM this afternoon through Sunday evening for the Glacier National Park region. Strong winds and possible thunderstorms are predicted. Due to extremely dry conditions, potential for new starts and fire growth is high. Additional fire personnel are staged on both sides of the park to respond to new fires.

The Apgar Lookout Trail has been reopened, as has the John’s Lake Trail area trails. Closures remain in effect for the Howe Ridge Trail, Camas Trail, Trout Lake Trail, the Sperry Trail from Lake McDonald to Gunsight Pass (including all secondary trails such as the Synder Lake Trail and the Lincoln Lake Trail). The Inside North Fork Road is also closed to vehicles from Fish Creek to Logging Lake.

Backcountry campgrounds in the areas listed above are also closed. Other backcountry areas in the park are still open for day use. No new overnight backcountry permits are being issued, in order to reduce the number of people overnighting in the backcountry while the park remains in extreme fire danger. Individuals with current backcountry permits for areas not impacted by fires are not being asked to leave.

Sperry Chalet remains closed. The structures in the Sperry Chalet complex are not immediately threatened, however the Sprague fire has necessitated the closure of the main trail that accesses the chalet. As of Friday, no overnight guests remain at Sperry Chalet.

Most areas of the park are open including all areas of the North Fork, Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, Many Glacier and Goat Haunt. Please check the park website for updated trail and road information.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Afternoon Update - Multiple Fires in Glacier Park Following Storm

Fire personnel conducted a detection flight over the park midday today.

Three fires were confirmed following yesterday afternoon's storm.

The Sprague Fire is currently estimated at 10 acres. A Type 1 and Type 2 helicopter are being used to drop water on this priority fire. Heli- rappel crews have been inserted to support fire suppression activities, and additional crews will be responding this afternoon.

The Rogers Fire is currently estimated at two acres, though little to no smoke was seen on the fire during the overflight.

A new start was detected near Howe Lake that is estimated at less than .1 acre.

Air resources working on the Sprague Fire will assist with the Rogers and Howe Lake fires as available. Additional field personnel will also assist from the ground. Helicopters dropped water on the Rogers Fire yesterday while also responding to the Vaught Fire.

No new fire activity was detected for the Vaught Fire or for previous smoke reports on Apgar Mountain or in the Nyack area, however there was low visibility in the Nyack area due to fog. Closures will remain in effect for all of these areas while the park continues to monitor conditions.

The response team will conduct another detection flight later this afternoon and will release an update with flight findings, overnight fire behavior, and an update on closures in the morning.

The following trails are still closed: Apgar Lookout Trail, Howe Ridge Trail, Camas Trail, Trout Lake Trail, the Sperry Trail from Lake McDonald to Sperry Chalet (including all secondary trails such as Synder Trail), John’s Lake Trail, and Lincoln Lake Trail.

Most areas of the park remain open including all areas of the North Fork (all closures have been lifted from earlier this week), Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier.

Fire managers expect hot and dry conditions to persist through the weekend. Additional trail closures are possible as conditions change or new fires are detected. Visitors should check the park’s trail status page for the most current closure information:…/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm


Wildfires Force Trail Closures in Glacier

A storm that moved through the park late yesterday afternoon triggered approximately 150 lightning strikes throughout the park. Multiple fires have been reported.

Fires are suspected or known in the Apgar Lookout area, the Nyack area, Sprague drainage, and Camas drainage. Visit the following website for estimated fire sizes:

The following trails are closed: Apgar Lookout Trail, Howe Ridge Trail, Camas Trail, Trout Lake Trail, the Sperry Trail from Lake McDonald to Sperry Chalet (including all secondary trails such as Synder Trail), John’s Lake Trail, and Lincoln Lake Trail.

Backcountry campgrounds in the areas listed above are closed and backcountry users in those areas are being walked out. Those include Arrow, Camas, Snyder, Sperry, and Lincoln Backcountry Campgrounds.

Other backcountry areas in the park are still open for day use. No new overnight backcountry permits will be issued today to reduce the number of people overnighting in the backcountry while the park assesses the impacts from last night’s storm.

Sperry Chalet guests will either hike out via the Gunsight Pass Trail, or remain in place while the Sprague fire is being assessed. Guests with reservations for tonight will not be able to access the chalet. Additional updates will be available as the fire is further evaluated. The structures in the Sperry Chalet complex are not immediately threatened, however the main trail accessing the chalet may be impacted by the fire.

No horseback rides will depart from the Lake McDonald Corral today.

A Type III incident commander has been assigned and additional resources are being ordered. The initial attack for these fires is being managed with park and Flathead National Forest fire management staff and law enforcement, including air support.

Most areas of the park remain open including all areas of the North Fork (all closures have been lifted from earlier this week), Apgar Village, the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Granite Park Chalet, Two Medicine, St. Mary, and Many Glacier.

Fire managers expect hot and dry conditions to persist through the weekend. Additional trail closures are possible as conditions change or new fires are detected. Visitors should check the park’s trail status page for the most current closure information.…/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm

The park is currently experiencing a power outage on the west side of the park unrelated to the fires. The outage extends beyond the park boundary. This may impact the park’s ability to provide up to the minute fire updates.


Yellowstone/Tetons: Expect heavy visitation around August 21

Visitation to Yellowstone National Park in the days before, during, and after the solar eclipse on August 21 is anticipated to be heavier than usual.

On August 21, visitors will see the moon pass between the sun and earth, blocking a part of the sun – a partial eclipse – throughout the park. Yellowstone is not in the path of totality.

Park roads and facilities may be overwhelmed by this large influx of visitors who are here to see the eclipse. Yellowstone does not recommend traveling in and out of the South Entrance on August 21. That entrance borders Grand Teton National Park and the center-line of the solar eclipse will pass over that park, placing it in the path of totality. August 21 is anticipated to be the busiest day in the history of Grand Teton National Park.

In Yellowstone, the partial eclipse will occur between 10:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. The eclipse will “peak” around 11:36 a.m. for a little over two minutes.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rangers Conduct Two Rescues in Teton Range

Grand Teton National Park’s Jenny Lake Rangers recently conducted two overnight search and rescue efforts. During the first rescue, rangers assisted a climber who slipped and fell on snow while descending the Middle Teton. The second rescue consisted of a helicopter extraction of two climbers who became disoriented and stranded while descending Mt. Moran.

The second and more complex rescue operation began around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 8 when Ron Sloot, 58, of Colfax, WA and Geoff Mitchell, 35, of Spartanburg, SC called for help. After summiting Mt. Moran around 4:30 p.m. Monday, the two climbers began to descend the commonly-used CMC route. Around 9:00 p.m., after the fourth rappel, they realized they had taken a wrong turn, used an old anchor point, and were now off-route. The climbers spent several hours searching in the dark for a traverse, climb, or rappel out of their predicament before calling Teton Interagency Dispatch Center and being connected with the on-call search and rescue coordinator.

After consulting with the stranded climbers, the coordinator advised they stay in their current location until sunrise. Once it became clear the climbers would not be able to self-rescue in the daylight, rangers prepared the Teton Interagency Contract helicopter for short-haul. Unfortunately, inclement weather precluded use of the helicopter until mid-afternoon.

Around 3:00 p.m., a ranger was inserted to the ledge where the two climbers were waiting. After preparing the climbers for the flight, the ranger and climbers were flown out by short-haul and returned to Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache around 3:30 p.m. The two climbers consulted climbing rangers at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station, A Climber’s Guide to the Teton Range, and several online sources before beginning their trip.

The first rescue operation began around 5:15 p.m. Monday, August 7, when a patrolling ranger in Garnet Canyon was informed by other mountaineers of an accident which had taken place near the saddle of the south fork of the canyon. Carl Miester, 46, of East Windsor, NJ was descending a snow field near the Middle Teton with five others when he slipped, fell, and slid approximately 50 feet on snow before tumbling across 20 feet of rock and sustaining minor injuries. He did not have an ice ax or helmet.

The ranger responded to the scene, assessed Miester’s injuries, and assisted him down to the Meadows backcountry camping zone where Miester spent the night with his party. Another ranger met up with the party the next morning as they descended the trail and assisted them the rest of the way to Lupine Meadows Trailhead.

Rangers would like to remind hikers and climbers in the Teton Range that an ice ax and experience in its use is still necessary to access many high-elevation areas. As days become shorter in late summer, a keen eye should also be kept on the time and a turn-around time designated so trips can be completed with sufficient daylight. Rangers would also like to thank the many mountaineers and guides who assisted rescue operations and relayed information between rangers and the individuals in need of assistance.

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.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Glacier National Park Sees Record Breaking One Million Visitors in July

Glacier National Park saw record breaking crowds in July. For the first time, visitation surpassed one million visitors in a single month. The park recorded 1,009,665 visitors, up approximately 23% over visitation last year. Last year was also a record setting year.

In mid-July, the park held an emergency congestion management workshop to begin developing new congestion management strategies for areas outside the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor, including the North Fork, Two Medicine, and Many Glacier. Preliminary solutions include reconfiguring some parking areas and providing time-limited parking adjacent to restrooms and camp stores.

This summer has seen temporary traffic restrictions at all of those locations, as the number of cars looking to enter those areas has far exceeded physical capacity.

In the next week, the park will implement a one-hour time limit for approximately 60 parking spaces up at Logan Pass. The intent of the time limit is to provide an opportunity for people hoping to make a quick stop, use the restroom, take a few pictures, and go for a short walk to be able to do so. The parking lot has routinely filled before 9 am this summer, and continues to be full well into the late afternoon.

“We ask that visitors bring their patience, prepare for significant parking delays, and expect more people on the trails this summer,” said Superintendent Jeff Mow. “Glacier Country has a tremendous amount to offer its tourists. While people wait for times that are less crowded to visit the park, our surrounding public lands and local businesses can offer exceptional opportunities for people coming to see this spectacular region.”

In addition to the increase in visitors, the park also saw a comparable increase in the number of emergency medical calls, and total calls for ranger service. Year to date, the park has seen a 29% increase in emergency medical calls over last year.

July was exceptionally hot and dry and with it came many requests for help. In the last 15 days of July, the park responded to 15 calls for heat exhaustion on the Loop Trail alone.

“Rangers have been stretched pretty thin responding to the increased number of calls this summer,” said Mow. “We deeply appreciate everyone who takes the time to really read up on trail conditions, wildlife safety, and what to bring with you on your trip. Every person who comes to the park well-prepared really helps us out as we strive to meet this increased demand.”

The park has numerous resources on its website for people looking to plan for their trip, including videos about backcountry safety and descriptions of the top hazards in the park. For more information please visit


Friday, August 4, 2017

Fire Danger Increased to High in Tetons

Teton Interagency fire managers announce that the fire danger rating is high for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, National Elk Refuge, and Teton Interagency Dispatch Area. The potential for fire activity has increased due to normal summer curing of vegetation combined with hot temperatures, and dry, windy afternoons.

A high fire danger rating means that fires can start easily and spread quickly. When determining fire danger, fire managers use several indicators such as the moisture content of grasses, shrubs, and trees; projected weather conditions including temperatures and possible wind events; the ability of fire to spread after ignition; and availability of firefighting resources across the country.

As increased visitation associated with the total solar eclipse approaches, visitors and local residents alike are reminded that unattended or abandoned campfires can easily escalate into wildfires; therefore, it is important that all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving a site. Campers and day users should have a shovel on hand and a water bucket ready for use.

Visitors have abandoned 56 campfires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and in Grand Teton National Park so far this summer. Campers should be mindful that they could be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire. Local residents and area visitors are reminded to know the risks, exercise caution, and practice heightened fire safety at all times.

Fireworks are not permitted in Grand Teton National Park, on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, or in the National Elk Refuge. It is critical that everyone comply with this regulation, especially given the very dry vegetation and warm temperatures throughout the Teton Interagency Dispatch Area.

The total solar eclipse on August 21 will take place during peak fire season in Western Wyoming. Visit and agency social media sites to learn more about fire safety and what fire regulations are in place. To report a fire or smoke in Bridger-Teton National Forest or Grand Teton National Park, call the Teton Interagency Fire Dispatch Center at 307.739.3630.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

New Procedures for Motorized Watercraft Launch on Lake McDonald

Starting today, August 3rd, Glacier National Park will begin scheduling motorized watercraft inspections and sealing for those boaters wishing to launch on Lake McDonald after a 30-day quarantine period.

The quarantine process is designed to prevent invasive zebra and quagga mussels and other invasive species from entering park waters on motorboats. Glacier National Park sits at the headwaters of three continental scale watersheds, and the introduction of invasive mussels would have significant economic, ecological, and recreational impacts not only for the park but also communities downstream.

The quarantine process will consist of several steps. Please click here for more information.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Yellowstone/Jeff Bridges remind people to be safe in bear country

Yellowstone National Park is trying to increase the number of people carrying bear spray and Jeff Bridges wants to help. The actor and part-time Montana resident joins the “A Bear Doesn’t Care” campaign, which began in 2016, by appearing in a new poster stressing the importance of safety in bear country.

“I wanted to get involved with Yellowstone because I care deeply about bears,” said Jeff Bridges. “As hikers, backpackers, anglers, and photographers, we all need to carry bear spray and know how to use it -- no excuses!”

In 2016, data collected by park scientists revealed that 52 percent of backpackers and 19 percent of day hikers were carrying bear spray. Those numbers represented a five percent and an eight percent increase respectively since 2012.

“We are encouraged to see an increase in hikers carrying bear spray, but there are still many people choosing to put themselves and park bears at risk,” said Superintendent Dan Wenk. “Remember, a bear doesn’t care how far you’re hiking, if you’re just fishing, or even if you’re a movie star. No matter who you are or what you are doing, you should always carry bear spray and know how to use it.”

The campaign supplements the park’s ongoing bear safety education program, which encourages people to be alert, make noise, hike in groups of three or more, and not run if they encounter a bear. Using bear spray is the last line of defense after following all other recommendations.

“Yellowstone visitors care deeply about preserving bears and observing them in the wild,” says Kerry Gunther, the park’s Bear Management Specialist. “Bear safety practices and carrying bear spray is the best way for them to participate in bear conservation because reducing potential conflicts protects both people and bears.”

Posters from the “A Bear Doesn’t Care” campaign are available for download at and Visit for information about bear encounters. A brand new instructional video about how to use bear spray is on Bear spray demonstrations are conducted by park rangers at Yellowstone visitor centers throughout the summer months.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wildfire Protection Entities and Counties to Implement Stage II Fire Restrictions Effective Tomorrow

Stage II Fire Restrictions will go into effect at 12:01am on Friday, July 28th across most of Northwest Montana. Federal, State, and Private jurisdictions implementing restrictions include:

• Glacier National Park
• Flathead National Forest, excluding the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness
• Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Northwest Land Office / State Land and Private Classified Forested Land within Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Sanders Counties. (Classified Forest Lands are defined in ARM 36.10.101 and determination may also be found on tax bills.)
• Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Region 1 & 2 within Kalispell Restrictions Area
• Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Sanders Counties
• Kootenai National Forest is going into Stage I Restrictions. However, all surrounding private land classified as

Forested is under Stage II restrictions.

The intent of Stage II Fire Restrictions is to effectively reduce the number of human-caused fires during periods of very high fire to extreme fire danger by decreasing potential sources of ignition. Each year, 70 to 80% of wildfires are human-caused and this summer the trend has continued. Northwest Montana is currently experiencing critical fire conditions including extremely dry forest fuels; forecasts of temperatures above normal accompanied by low humidity, wind, and minimal precipitation; and competition for firefighting resources, as many fires continue to burn across the State and the West.

Local agencies and partners are working in coordination to suppress all fires, but critical fire conditions often mean that fires have high potential to grow quickly and escape initial attack. Any new ignition puts firefighters and local communities at risk.

Please visit: for clarification on Stage II fire restrictions.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Man Fatally Injured in Fall on Going-to-the-Sun Road

At approximately 6:30 pm on Saturday, July 22, Glacier National Park dispatch received a call from a shuttle bus driver and simultaneously from a visitor with an inReach device that someone had fallen at Haystack Creek. The creek is approximately five miles west of Logan Pass, along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Park rangers and Two Bear Air Rescue immediately responded.

Rangers found that a man had fallen approximately 100 feet below the road near Haystack Creek. He did not survive the fall.

The victim has been identified as 26-year-old Robert Durbin of Corvallis, Montana. He was traveling to the park on a vacation with family.

Initial witness reports indicate that Durbin was taking photographs along Haystack Creek on the upper bank of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. At some point, he fell into the creek and was washed through the culvert that goes underneath the road, falling approximately 100 feet below the roadway.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed to traffic in both directions for approximately one hour on Saturday evening while rangers secured the scene of the accident and Two Bear Air Rescue recovered the victim’s body from a ledge below the road.

No suspicious circumstances have been noted, and the investigation is on-going.

Falls are a leading cause of death in Glacier National Park. Park visitors should use caution around all water features, especially waterfalls and lakes. Water can be cold, fast moving, and high at many times of the year, and rocks can be very slippery. There are numerous areas in Glacier’s high country with steep drop offs. Visitors should remain vigilant as they enjoy the park to be aware of their surroundings and areas where falls are possible.

The park extends its deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Extremely High Visitation at String Lake Prompts Actions - Additional Volunteers Needed

The popular String Lake area of Grand Teton National Park has experienced extremely high visitation levels in recent weeks and the trend is expected to continue. String Lake, located north of Jenny Lake, is easily accessible, hosts a scenic lakeshore and provides water recreation, hiking and picnic opportunities.

A String Lake volunteer group was created in 2016 to greet and assist visitors to the area, provide bear safety and food storage education, and facilitate traffic flow through the area. Their on-the-ground presence has improved the experience of visitors to the area and helped prevent human-bear conflicts, while also providing park managers a clearer picture of visitation dynamics in the area.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “We greatly appreciate the work and passion of our String Lake volunteers. They have greatly helped to identify visitor experience and resource protection issues, and create solutions for improvement.” He noted that additional volunteers are welcome and encourages anyone interested to contact the park for more info.

This summer the volunteers have identified that parked vehicles often obstruct traffic flow and block access for critical emergency services. The String Lake area has approximately 165 designated parking spots. However, the volunteers have recently recorded nearly two and a half times that many vehicles parked in the area at peak times. Many of these vehicles have been parked within the lane of travel, on curbs, on vegetation, and in other inappropriate locations.

Park managers have implemented a number of short-term measures to alleviate the congestion and are considering potential long-term solutions. Meanwhile, signs indicating that the parking lot is full are being set up and the volunteers are contacting motorists as they enter the area. Visitors are allowed to drop off passengers and possibly find a spot that has emptied. If they do not find a free spot, visitors should park in designated overflow parking spots with all tires off the pavement. Parking on curbs and other non-designated areas is not allowed and citations may be issued for noncompliance.

Facility improvements have also been implemented at String Lake. With the assistance of the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, six new bear-resistant food storage lockers were installed in the fall of 2016, doubling the number of lockers. A new horse trail bypass was added to prevent visitor use conflicts along the busy shoreline. Other facility changes included improved signage and temporary restrooms located at the canoe launch and trailhead. New limits on commercial group use in the picnic area have also been implemented. Visitors are encouraged to consider other picnic areas in the park such as Sacred Heart and Jackson Lake Dam.

Visitors to String Lake can be proactive in preparing for a positive experience by coming early, before 9:00 a.m. or arriving later in the day, after 4:00 p.m. Recreationists and picnickers should be sure to use the food storage lockers whenever coolers, food, drinks, or other bear attractants are not in immediate use. Visitors driving open-bed pick-up trucks should be mindful not to leave bear attractants in open beds. In the spirit of Leave No Trace, all visitors are reminded to take personal items and trash with them upon leaving the area.

In addition, a team of social science researchers is studying visitor access, use and experience, and resource impacts associated with increased visitation. The two-year study will help park managers develop solutions that provide quality experiences while protecting the area’s resources.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Yellowstone Opens New Trail at Grand Prismatic Spring

Significant resource damage and visitor safety concerns from off-trail travel on the hills south of Grand Prismatic Spring has led the park to construct and recently open the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail. To alleviate traffic congestion, safety concerns, and resource impacts, the park also made a parking area near the Fairy Falls Trailhead at Midway Geyser Basin. Parking is very limited at this popular destination.

Trail crew rehabilitated the hillside resource damage. They also designed and built the trail with assistance from the Montana Conservation Corps and Yellowstone’s Youth Conservation Corps. The new trail gradually climbs 105 feet over 0.6 miles from the Fairy Falls Trailhead to an overlook with views of Midway Geyser Basin.

The trail and overlook protects a heavily visited part of the park. Superintendent Dan Wenk remarked that the trail and overlook, “provide a different view of Grand Prismatic Spring and minimize the growth of unsightly, unofficial social trails in the process.”

The park also advises visitors to pack their patience. Anticipate traffic, limited parking, and delays at this and other popular park destinations.

Photos are available on Yellowstone's Flickr site.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fire Danger Moves to Very High

Interagency Fire Officials - which includes Glacier National Park - made the decision yesterday to raise the Fire Danger Level from "High" to "Very High". When the fire danger is "Very High", fires will start easily from most causes. The fires will spread rapidly and have a quick increase in intensity, right after ignition. Small fires can quickly become large fires and exhibit extreme fire intensity, such as long-distance spotting and fire whirls. These fires can be difficult to control and will often become much larger and longer-lasting fires.

Hot, and mostly dry weather will continue through the weekend, with thunderstorms expected tonight into Saturday across all of western Montana. On Sunday, a cold front passage may lead to critical fire weather conditions in northwest Montana as winds become breezy and the relative humidities drop.

Elevating the fire danger enhances public awareness that wildfire probability increases as temperatures rise and vegetation dries out. Since July 1 there have been a total of 69 reported wildfires in the area; many were lightning caused; with over half being human-caused. As the numbers reveal, human-caused fires are a contributing factor to the overall fire danger situation.

At this time, campfires are banned on Weyerhaeuser property lands in Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Missoula, Sanders and Ravalli counties due to very high fire danger. Interagency Fire Officials will continue to monitor conditions, and look closely at the number of human caused fire starts to determine if fire restrictions need to be ordered and put in place in the greater Flathead area.

While recreating in the Flathead, please stay on designated roads and never park on dry brush or grass, as exhaust pipes and vehicle undercarriages can be very hot and easily start a wildfire. Please check spark arrestors on off-road vehicles, chain saws and other equipment with internal-combustion engines to ensure they are in working order. Never leaving a campfire unattended, and making sure they are completely extinguished before leaving is something expected of every recreationist.

Additionally, an interagency fire information line has been established in order to streamline calls, share facts and serve the public during fire season. The Office of Emergency Services Information Line is 406-758-2111, and the Interagency Fire Fact Sheet can be found at: Fact sheets will be updated as needed during the fire season.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Waterton-Glacier Science and History Day

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park will host the 14th annual Waterton-Glacier Science and History Day on Tuesday, July 25th, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at the West Glacier Community Building in Glacier National Park.

The event is free of charge, and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring a sack lunch to enjoy during the one-hour lunch break. Held yearly on the fourth Tuesday in July, this event alternates between the two national parks with Glacier hosting in odd years, and Waterton Lakes hosting in even years.

Science and History Day is an opportunity for the public to hear the latest results from scientists and historians carrying out projects in and around the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Presentations for this year are grouped into themes of history, wildlife, and aquatic and land environments.

Topics for the 2017 program include: changing landscapes in Glacier's alpine, threats to meltwater stoneflies and other rare alpine insects, the history of West Glacier's fire hose tower, and grizzly bear ancestry. An optional self-paced walking tour of the West Glacier Headquarters Historic District will be available during the lunch hour.

“We are honored to host Science and History Day this year,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “We welcome everyone from the U.S. and Canada to Glacier for this special event. Please come and learn more about history and research initiatives in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.”

Waterton Lakes National Park Superintendent Ifan Thomas noted, “This event is a unique opportunity to hear from park experts about a variety of topics. Joint research initiatives reflect our longstanding spirit of cooperation as the world's first International Peace Park.”

Attendees are reminded that a passport is required for crossing the U.S./Canadian Border. A detailed agenda is available at visitor’s centers in Glacier National Park, and at


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Glacier National Park Sets New June Visitation Record

This year, 620,962 people came to the park in June, up 28% over visits from last year.

Last June was also a record breaking month over previous years. Over the last ten years, visitation during June has nearly doubled, from 341,317 in June in 2007 to the 620,962 number recorded at the end of last month.

The park has experienced extremely crowded conditions in all areas of the park this summer season.

“We had thought the park seemed much busier than last year, even before we saw the official numbers,” said Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “In the past, much of our visitation has been attributed to the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. However, this year the Going-to-the-Sun Road opened twelve days later than in 2016 and we still saw a dramatic increase.”

Park rangers initiated a one hour emergency temporary closure of the Many Glacier Valley for the first time over the Fourth of July weekend due to gridlock conditions in hotel and trailhead parking areas and access roads.

Bowman and Kintla Lake parking areas are routinely filling by 10 am or 11 am. Logan Pass parking is routinely filling between 9 am and 10 am. Avalanche Creek, Apgar Village, and the Apgar Visitor Center parking lots are also regularly filling in the morning or early afternoon.

In the North Fork area and other areas of the park as needed, rangers are temporarily restricting traffic to ensure that roads and parking areas remain accessible to emergency vehicles and do not become gridlocked.

Park shuttle ridership has also increased. As of July 10, ten days into the shuttle’s operational season, ridership had increased by 6,829 over 2016 levels, for a total of 30,644 riders.

Visitors should plan for crowded conditions and waiting periods for parking, particularly during peak times of day. Early morning and later evening continue to offer less crowded opportunities to visit the park during the summer months.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Fire Danger Elevated to Moderate in Grand Tetons

Based on current fire conditions, federal interagency fire management partners have elevated the fire danger rating to Moderate. This rating applies in Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the National Elk Refuge. Fire managers consider several factors – including calculated fire indices, moisture content of various fuel types, current and expected weather trends, and fire activity – when rating the fire danger. When the fire danger is "moderate" it means that fires can start from most accidental causes, but the number of fire starts is usually pretty low. If a fire does start in an open, dry grassland, it will burn and spread quickly on windy days.

At campsites around the Forest and Park, 24 unattended campfires have been extinguished by rangers and firefighters so far this season.

Area visitors are reminded to be cautious when building campfires. In Grand Teton National Park, campfires are only allowed in fire grates within front country park campgrounds and in established fire rings at some designated backcountry lakeshore campsites. Within campgrounds on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, fires may only be built in fire rings, stoves, grills, or fireplaces provided for that purpose.

Unattended or abandoned campfires can escalate into wildland fires, and it is extremely important that all campfires are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before campers leave the site. Visitors should never leave a fire unattended, and should always prepare for the unexpected by having a water bucket and shovel on hand and ready to use. Visitors are responsible for keeping fires under control.

Please visit for the most up-to-date fire information in Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest. To report a fire in either area, please call (307) 739-3630.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Resuscitation Efforts By Park Rangers and Bystander Successful at Jenny Lake

Grand Teton National Park rangers and staff responded to a medical emergency at the Jenny Lake boat ramp today at approximately 1 p.m. A 29-year old female from West Fargo, North Dakota, was in the area with her husband and three children when she went into cardiac arrest.

A bystander, a nurse, immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Several calls were made to 911 and park dispatch requesting medical help. A park ranger responded to the scene within four minutes of the call and took over chest compressions followed closely by park emergency medical service personnel who used a defibrillator and advanced life support interventions. Additional park rangers and staff responded to the area to help manage the scene.

The woman regained a heartbeat and breathing. A park ambulance transported her to Lupine Meadows where Air Idaho Rescue Helicopter was waiting to transport her to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Her current condition is unknown.


Fire Danger Moves to High on Flathead

The Northwest is heating up and drying out rapidly, creating a higher risk for fire starts in our area. Fire danger has moved to “HIGH” in NW Montana which means, all fine dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes. Unattended brush and camp fires are likely to escape. Fires spread rapidly and short-distance spotting is common. Fires may become serious, and their control difficult unless they are suppressed successfully while small.

“Hot dry weather is forecasted for the foreseeable future, area wildland firefighters have responded to 15 fire starts since June 28th in the Flathead area; of these starts, 11 were human caused and 4 were holdover fires from lightening. Timely initial attack by firefighters kept these starts at less than an acre in size,” said Flathead National Forest Spokeswoman, Janette Turk.

“Although the fire danger rating is transitioning to high, there are still no fire restrictions in place. Forest visitors should be very aware of the conditions while visiting and recreating in NW Montana. We can’t stop the hot weather and lightning storms, but we can do our part to be “Firewise” when we are camping, traveling, and at home in the wildlands. Take the time to find out the weather conditions and fire danger where you live. Get the information you need about the current wildland fire danger by calling your local fire protection agency.”


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Public Open House to Share Info on Gros Ventre Roundabout

Grand Teton National Park is hosting a public open house on Tuesday, July 11, at the National Museum of Wildlife Art regarding the construction of a roundabout on US Highway 26/89/191 at the busy Gros Ventre Road and Sagebrush Drive intersection in the southern area of the park. Construction is anticipated to begin spring 2018. Anyone wanting to learn more about the roundabout, including construction plans, is invited to stop by the open house anytime between 5-6:30 p.m. on July 11. National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration representatives will be available.

The Gros Ventre intersection on US Hwy 26/89/191 has an average daily traffic volume of approximately 14,200 vehicles and almost 200 bicycle riders during the summer season. Safety concerns have been identified at this location, and the Federal Highway Administration indicates that this type of intersection has the greatest safety risks of any type of intersection in the country. It is a high-speed, two-lane rural road with an unsignalled intersection.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “The current situation at the Gros Ventre intersection is an extremely high-use area with some serious safety risks that need to be addressed.” These safety risks include:

◦Cyclists crossing the highway with vehicles frequently exceeding the posted speed limit,
◦Pathway users often not observing traffic controls,
◦Poor sight distances, advanced warning signs and pavement markings,
◦Safety risks with left turns in the intersection from Gros Ventre Road and Sagebrush Drive,
◦Poor sight lines for vehicles turning or crossing the intersection from Gros Ventre Road and Sagebrush Drive,
◦Visibility of pathways users to drivers is often obstructed by parked vehicles,
◦Confusion of unfamiliar drivers at the intersection, and ◦High presence of wildlife crossing the road.

The National Park Service, in partnership with Federal Highways, Wyoming Department of Transportation and Teton County, conducted safety audits and analyses, and evaluated several alternative solutions to the issue. A roundabout was determined to be the best safety improvement for pathway users, highway users and wildlife, as well as the best balance of safety, protection of scenic views and cost. Other considerations included tunnels under the highway and Gros Ventre Road, bridge underpass with additional pathway, pedestrian bridge, overpass or underpass with on and off ramps, stop light, and activated pedestrian crossing.

A roundabout is a circular roadway at an intersection designed to expedite the flow of vehicle traffic through an intersection and reduce accidents, as well as a reliable design to slow traffic through the area. It also provides an opportunity for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate the intersection safely and efficiently.

Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring. During construction, two-lane traffic will be open at all times on the highway, except in short instances for specific construction activities. Traffic delays are expected for the highway, Gros Ventre Road and Sagebrush Drive from early spring into the fall. Daytime delays will be maximum 15 minutes between 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 30 minutes maximum between 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. There will be some impacts to pathway users in early spring through mid-June. Access to the Gros Ventre Road from the highway will be rerouted via Antelope Flats Road for up to five days in early June to complete the temporary highway bypass. Additionally, the Gros Ventre Road will be closed after September 15, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for approximately two weeks to construct the roadway without vehicular traffic.

Vela said, “We understand that next year will include traffic impacts related to this project, as well as other area road projects associated with high water issues. We are coordinating with Teton County and others to work together to best minimize impacts and provide for safe access for all users.” Vela encourages those interested in the roundabout construction plan to visit the open house on July 11 to learn more.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Black Bear Euthanized Due to Safety Concerns

For public safety, a female black bear weighing about 125 pounds and believed to be approximately four years old was euthanized yesterday in Grand Teton National Park. The decision to remove the bear from the population was based on recent activities in which the bear exhibited no fear of humans and approached humans, including a couple sleeping in a tent.

Last week there were three reports of a black bear approaching humans and an observation of the bear on the porch of a cabin in the Jenny Lake area. There were no injuries reported with the incidents, but bear spray was deployed in one instance. Park rangers and biologists determined it was the same black bear involved with each incident due to photos taken by bystanders or direct observation. There were no food-storage violations associated with these incidents.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, “Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway are home to black and grizzly bears, and everyone should follow bear safety practices.” He said that bear safety practices are for the wellbeing of the visitor and the bear.

At approximately 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21, a visitor camping at Jenny Lake Campground woke as he felt something on the other side of his tent. He exited the tent, with bear spray, to investigate what was going on. He saw a cinnamon colored bear approaching the tent from about 20 feet away. The man yelled to his wife to exit the tent. He then deployed his bear spray as they both waved and spoke loudly to chase the bear away. The bear sniffed the tent, and then stood on his hind legs looking at the couple and swatting the tent with damage to the tent. The couple continued to shout encouraging the bear to leave. Suddenly, as if something else scared the bear, the bear turned and ran away.

Other human-bear interactions took place last week with the same cinnamon colored bear in the Jenny Lake area. The bear approached a visitor as he was sleeping in a chair in his campsite, walked onto the porch of a cabin in the area, and closely approached a member of the park’s wildlife brigade.

On Wednesday, June 21, park staff searched for the bear and implemented a strategy to trap or immobilize the bear. Efforts continued through Tuesday morning, June 27, when the bear was successfully trapped.

Due to the bear exhibiting no fear of humans, making contact with an occupied tent and repeated incidents, the bear was removed from the population. Black bears are not good candidates for zoos and other accredited facilities due to the plentiful nature of the species throughout the United States.

Park visitors are reminded that all campgrounds and developed areas should be clean and free of trash and food. Park regulations require that all edibles, food containers and cookware be stored in a hard-sided vehicle or food storage locker when not in use, day or night. Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter in campsites. Fire rings should be free of trash before vacating a campsite.

Hikers are highly encouraged to hike in groups, make noise when hiking and have bear spray readily accessible and know how to use it. For more information about recreating in bear country, please visit


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two Visitors Injured by Bison at Mud Volcano

Wednesday morning, June 28, 2017, a married couple received injuries after being “butted” by a bison at Mud Volcano, just north of Lake Village in Yellowstone National Park.

Theodore Schrader, 74, and Patsy Holmes, 72, from Heber City, Utah, were taking photographs on a boardwalk at Mud Volcano, when a bison approached them. The bison butted Mrs. Holmes, who then fell into Mr. Schrader and both individuals fell to the ground.

Park rangers responded immediately and evacuated the couple from the trail, a quarter mile, to the road. The couple was transported to the Lake Clinic.

Mr. Schrader had minor injuries. Mrs. Holmes was transported by Life Flight to Idaho Falls, Idaho. She was in stable condition.

Citations were not issued to either individual.

The park reminds visitors that wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals - bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.

This is the first confirmed incident of a bison injuring visitors in 2017.

In 2015, five people were injured after approaching bison.


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.


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.


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.