A heavy snow load appears to have caused the collapse of the front porch roof on the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center in Grand Teton National Park. The collapsed roof was discovered mid-morning Thursday, March 23, 2017. The seasonally-used building is closed each winter from late September through late May and was unoccupied at the time of the porch roof collapse. The main building structure and its contents appear to be undamaged upon initial evaluation.
The collapsed porch roof was discovered by two park maintenance employees conducting a routine wintertime building check. Maintenance crews have been busy this winter clearing large amounts of snow off park buildings. Area measurements show the current snow water equivalent is around 150 percent of median, and recent rain and warm temperatures may have contributed to the weight of the snow on the roof.
In order to facilitate more thorough assessments of the building’s structural integrity and eventual reconstruction of the porch roof, park road crews are clearing the snow from Moose-Wilson Road between the winter closure at Death Canyon Road junction and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve access road. This section of the Moose-Wilson Road will remain closed to motor vehicles until its normal scheduled opening in mid-May.
Park managers’ priority is to ensure the continued safety of park employees and visitors. The immediate vicinity around the preserve center is closed to the public. Visitors should comply with the posted closure notices and temporary fencing around the affected area. Once the snow melts and the area dries, the porch roof will be safely demolished and a comprehensive building inspection conducted before opening the building for summer visitation.
The Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve was donated to the National Park Service in 2007. Laurance S. Rockefeller’s 1,106 acre gift to the American people was a continuation of the Rockefeller family’s tradition of philanthropic conservation in Jackson Hole, which began when John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated 33,000 acres to the park in 1943. The preserve center serves as refuge for physical and spiritual renewal as well as a jumping off point for further hiking and exploration of the preserve.