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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