Annual Elk Reduction Program and Grizzly Bears

September 26, 2008
The annual elk reduction program in Grand Teton National Park will begin on Saturday, October 11, 2008. Under its 1950 enabling legislation, Grand Teton National Park is mandated by federal law to conduct an elk reduction program — when necessary — for the conservation of the elk population in Jackson Hole. Since the elk herd is currently above its management objective of 11,000 animals, intensive management (including the reduction program) is warranted. The need for the park’s elk reduction program stems partly from an annual winter feeding program on the National Elk Refuge, which sustains high numbers of elk with unnaturally low mortality rates. A majority of elk that are fed on the refuge either summer in, or use migration routes through Grand Teton National Park; as a result, the reduction program has historically included specified park lands.

The elk reduction program utilizes Wyoming licensed hunters that apply for and receive limited quota permits in hunt areas #75 and #79. As provided in the 1950 legislation, a park permit deputizes hunters as park rangers with the authority to take one elk each. Permits are issued for either any elk, or for cow/calf elk.

As a part of their special use permit — and as an added safety measure — each participant receives a strong, proactive message alerting them to the presence of grizzly bears throughout the authorized hunt zones. In addition, hunters are required to carry bear pepper spray as a non-lethal deterrent for use during potential bear encounters. Hunters are also advised not to leave a carcass unattended and to remove their harvested elk as soon as possible. Each fall, park rangers strictly monitor and patrol the elk reduction hunt areas located within the park to ensure compliance with rules and regulations associated with this wildlife management program.

Bears and other scavengers throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) have learned to seek out and feed on gut piles and other hunter-related carrion during the fall season. While this represents an important, highly nutritious food source to these animals, it can create circumstances when bears aggressively defend carcasses and/or gut piles. Hunters and other park visitors should keep in mind that dozens of grizzlies use the park regularly and may be encountered anytime and anywhere throughout the fall. All necessary precautions for recreating in bear country need to be strictly followed, particularly those that apply to hunters.

During the 2007 elk reduction program, many grizzly bears moved widely throughout Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest in pursuit of discarded gut piles and other remains. Bear #399, a 12-year-old female, and her three sub-adult cubs were among those that followed the activities of hunters in the region. Because these bears were comfortable foraging near roads and other developed areas, they served as visible reminders of grizzly bear recovery in the southern portion of the GYE, including increasing numbers of grizzlies in the southern portion of Grand Teton.

The Conservation Strategy for Grizzly Bears in the GYE guides the continuing efforts by land and wildlife managers to conserve bear habitat and minimize bear-human conflicts through education and compliance with appropriate regulations, including those related to keeping a safe distance when viewing bears. To ensure a healthy grizzly bear population, every effort is made to educate park visitors, concessioner employees, local residents and hunters about living and recreating responsibly in bear country. Park rangers will continue to monitor wildlife and educate all users about their personal responsibility for maintaining a safe visit.

Site Visit Scheduled for Lodging Prospectus

September 22, 2008
Grand Teton National Park anticipates issuing a prospectus soliciting proposals to provide lodging, food and beverage, retail and marina services at the Signal Mountain Lodge and Leeks Marina areas of Grand Teton National Park. The prospectus is expected to be released during the spring of 2009 when facilities and roads will still be closed for the winter season. A site visit is scheduled for Tuesday, October 7, 2008, in order to allow interested parties an opportunity to see the facilities prior to their season closure.

The site visit will examine existing concession facilities and areas authorized for operations, and also address questions about the existing concession contract. The existing concession operation is located in northwest Wyoming within Grand Teton National Park, specifically, on the shores of Jackson Lake at the Signal Mountain Lodge and Leeks Marina areas. The NPS has determined that the existing concessioner is not a preferred offeror for the new contract, pursuant to the terms of 36 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 51—Concession Contracts and Permits.

A site visit is not required to submit a proposal for the prospectus, but is encouraged. No questions specific to the prospectus will be entertained during the site visit; however, questions specific to the prospectus will be answered after it is issued.

The site visit will begin at 9 a.m. at Signal Mountain Lodge, located 17 miles north of Grand Teton National Park headquarters at Moose, Wyoming. Parties interested in attending must R.S.V.P. by the close of business on Wednesday, October 1, 2008, to Mallory Smith at 307.739.3434 or by e-mail at If responding via email, please include the names of all persons planning to participate in the site visit. Once an R.S.V.P. is received, information will be provided on the specific meeting location and visit agenda.

Park Receives Shipment of Bear-Proof Food Storage Boxes

September 22, 2008
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott is pleased to announce that a shipment of 52 bear-proof food storage boxes has been delivered to the park, thanks to financial support from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF) and the Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC). Durable bear-proof food storage boxes provide a convenient method of securing human foods away from the reach of bears. Although a few boxes were already stationed at some picnic sites and campgrounds throughout the park, obtaining additional boxes has become a high priority of the park’s bear management program.

The GTNPF — a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting Grand Teton National Park by raising funds for special programs and projects — began a focused campaign in 2008 to secure money for the purchase of food storage boxes in an effort to reduce bear-human conflicts. The GTLC — an authorized park concessioner — joined in the endeavor and supplied additional funding through a campground improvement program required under their current contract. Other funding was supplied by the National Park Service through concessioner franchise fees.

Bear-proof food storage boxes cost $1,100 each. The GTLC committed approximately $20,000 in funding for 2008 to place bear boxes in high priority sites. Franchise fees will provide an additional $25,000/year for the next four years. GTNPF donors have provided funding for 21 boxes to date, with the promise of additional donations in the future. The generosity of individual GTNPF donors will be acknowledged though the placement of donor recognition plaques on the boxes.

More than 3.5 million visitors come to Grand Teton National Park each year, most during the summer months, and thousands of them picnic or stay overnight at one of the park’s 916 campsites. Proper food storage is vital to prevent bears from becoming “human food-conditioned” while they search for available food sources throughout the park; however, nearly 85% of the park’s front country campsites lack these sturdy containers. The park has identified approximately 850 front country sites for bear-proof food storage box installation. This first shipment of boxes will be placed at the String Lake picnic area and in the Colter Bay tent village and campground.

Since 2006, park rangers have documented almost daily violations of food storage regulations by careless or uninformed visitors. Although overall compliance with food storage regulations is high, it only takes one incident of a bear obtaining food for them to get food-conditioned and become a potential nuisance bear. Out of concern for public safety, nuisance bears are often removed from the park, and in serious cases, nuisance bears are euthanized. By being widely available for visitors to use, bear proof food storage boxes will help prevent bears from becoming food-conditioned.

National Public Lands Day Celebration with Alfred Runte

Author Alfred Runte
September 16, 2008
In recognition of the 15th annual National Public Lands Day, Grand Teton National Park will host a presentation by guest speaker, Alfred Runte, on Saturday, September 27 at 2 p.m. in the Director’s Room at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming. This presentation is free and open to the public; an author book signing will follow in the Discovery Center’s bookstore. In addition to Runte’s special appearance, all entrance fees (including commercial tour fees) will be waived for visitors entering Grand Teton National Park on September 27.

Alfred “Al” Runte is an environmental historian and former college educator who taught at five major institutions of higher education, including Baylor University in Waco, Texas and the University of Washington in Seattle. Runte's literary works focus on parks, conservation, and public transportation. He has written numerous books on these subjects; his first book, National Parks: The American Experience (1979; revised 1987, 1997), has been praised as the definitive study of the national park idea. Recently, Runte completed a history of railroads and the environment, titled Allies of the Earth: Railroads and the Soul of Preservation. Runte is also advising Ken Burns on a forthcoming PBS series titled “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” due to air in the fall of 2009.

Runte’s lecture, Our Public Lands: An American Legacy, will focus on public lands with an emphasis on the National Park System. During his talk, Runte plans to encourage his audience to ponder such questions as: How did our public lands come into being? What should be done to protect them? Are public lands something that Americans want to protect for future generations, and maintain for their present-day use and enjoyment?

Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott expressed her support of National Public Lands Day and stated that, “With the fall color display and watchable wildlife, September is a truly special time to visit Grand Teton National Park and take advantage of a free entry day. I hope that local residents and park visitors will also make time to attend Mr. Runte’s presentation, which promises to be informative and thought-provoking.”

National Public Lands Day began in 1994 with the purpose to increase awareness of the value of all public lands, to foster shared stewardship of America’s national resources, and to encourage people to volunteer their time. Federal land agencies have created partnerships with private individuals and citizen groups in an effort to improve, restore or enhance public lands and to provide additional opportunities for education, outdoor recreation, and enjoyment. Eight federal agencies and many state and local partners, plus dozens of non-profit organizations, tens of thousands of individuals, and national sponsor Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. are expected to participate in this annual day of caring for shared lands.

National Public Lands Day is the only time that entrance fees are systematically waived on public lands across the country. In addition to national park units, fees will be waived at other land management sites, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service. In addition to National Public Lands Day, United States veterans are admitted free to national parks each year on Veteran’s Day.

Please visit for more information.

Closing Dates for Visitor Facilities

September 15, 2008
Grand Teton National Park's facilities and operations will make the annual transition from summer season to fall season during the next few weeks. The following dates reflect the facility closings that will occur during late September and throughout October.

Lizard Creek: September 2 (closed)
Flagg Ranch: September 21 (12 noon)
Jenny Lake: September 28 (12 noon)
Colter Bay: September 28 (12 noon)
Ranger Stations & Visitor Centers
Flagg Ranch Information Station: September 2 (closed)
Jenny Lake Ranger Station: September 21 (5:00 pm)
Jenny Lake Visitor Center: September 27 (4:30 pm)
Concessioner Lodging & Services
Colter Bay: September 28

Gros Ventre: October 12 (12 noon)
Signal Mountain: October 19 (12 noon)
Ranger Stations & Visitor Centers
Colter Bay Visitor Center: October 13 (5:00 pm)
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center: October 13 (5:00 pm)
Concessioner Lodging & Services
Jackson Lake Lodge: October 5
Jenny Lake Lodge: October 5
Flagg Ranch: October 6
Signal Mountain Lodge: October 19
Triangle X: October 31
Entrance Stations
Moose: October 31 (5:00 pm)
Moran: October 31 (5:00 pm)
Granite Canyon: October 31 (5:00 pm)
Road Closures for Motorized Use
Moose-Wilson Road: October 31 (evening)
Teton Park Road: October 31 (evening)

The public is welcome to contact the park for more detailed closure information at 307.739.3300, or consult the park’s newspaper, Teewinot, online at A winter opening schedule will be announced in December.

Teacher-Ranger Program Launched in 2008

Ranger Nelson Turner swears in a young Junior Ranger

September 12, 2008
Grand Teton National Park participated this past summer in a new National Park Service (NPS) program called “Teacher to Ranger to Teacher” (TRT). By hiring educators from across America, Grand Teton joined other national parks in recruiting teachers and enlisting their help to encourage young people to learn about their national parks. Erica Vogt from St. Mary, Pennsylvania, Carmi Strom from San Diego, California, and Nelson Turner from Brentwood, Tennessee, spent eight weeks of the summer season working for the park’s division of interpretation. After returning to their respective classrooms, these three teachers will now create curriculums to introduce their students to the remarkable American heritage that national parks preserve.

The TRT program targets areas with large, ethnically diverse populations and links national parks with teachers from Title 1 urban and rural school districts — those that qualify for federal funding to help disadvantaged youths achieve state-mandated academic standards. Selected participants spend the summer working as park rangers, performing various duties related to their own interests and the needs of the park. Their duties may include developing and presenting interpretive programs for the general public, staffing visitor center desks, developing curriculum-based materials, and assisting resource management through research or other special projects. Then, during the school year, these teacher-rangers bring the parks into their classrooms by developing and presenting new lesson plans that draw on their in-park experience. During National Park Week in April, teacher-rangers will wear their NPS uniforms to school and discuss their summer experiences as a park ranger; they will also engage students and other teachers in activities related to national parks, and talk about the role that the NPS plays in preserving our nation’s legacy.

Erica Vogt, a middle school reading teacher from St. Mary’s School District, worked at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. Vogt said of her TRT experience, “I loved taking visitors on hikes and teaching them about the wonders of the area. I also loved the fact that I worked for the Park Service, which is committed to conserving our natural resources.” She also stated that, “I hope to show my students that there is so much of the world to learn about and explore. I want them to keep filling their vessels, and to keep finding ways to make a better life for themselves.”

Carmi Strom, a resource teacher from the Oak Park Music Conservatory who worked at the Colter Bay Visitor Center, said he intends to “show my students that national parks are not just pictures in books, but places where you can actually visit to experience the incredible scenery and wildlife, or perhaps even work in.” He added that he was “extremely proud to wear the NPS uniform and to work as a park ranger.” Strom previously taught at Oak Park Elementary School in San Diego and was named teacher of the year in 2001/02. Prior to his summer in Grand Teton, Strom worked as a seasonal park interpreter for Great Basin and Denali national parks, Cabrillo National Monument, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Middle school science teacher, Nelson Turner, worked at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Turner said, “This was an experience of a lifetime and I feel very fortunate to have been given this amazing opportunity.” Turner presented a program on astronomy as part of his seasonal work and often marveled at the brightness of stars in the Wyoming night sky. He plans to develop a geology unit to explain the physical environment of Grand Teton to his Tennessee students. Turner commented that, “I thought I came as a teacher, but I found out that I was more like a student in summer school, learning about the natural world from knowledgeable park staff.”

The TRT program is made possible through an Inter-governmental Personnel Act Agreement (IPA) between the public school district and the NPS. The program was initiated in 2003 and became a national program in 2007. This summer, over 80 teacher-rangers wearing NPS uniforms served visitors at various parks nationwide while learning about park resources and issues. As park ambassadors, the teacher-rangers are taking the knowledge gained back to their home schools and sharing their unique experience with children who may one day become ambassadors themselves.

Site Visit Scheduled for Float-Fish Concessions Prospectus

September 11, 2008
Grand Teton National Park anticipates issuing a prospectus soliciting proposals to provide guided float trips and fishing trips on the Snake River, multi-day lake trips on Jackson Lake, and/or guided horseback rides in the park. The prospectus is expected to be released in late 2008, when roads and/or launch points will likely be closed for the winter. Consequently, a site visit is scheduled for Thursday, September 25, 2008, in order to provide interested parties an early opportunity to see the areas authorized for operation.

There are currently eleven concessioners providing these services within Grand Teton National Park. An additional contract may be awarded to provide guided fishing trips on the section of the Snake River south of Moose only. The existing concession contracts authorize and designate specific activities related to launch and takeout points, passenger meeting points, and meal sites if permitted, as well as the number of launches allowed per day and month.

A site visit is not required to submit a proposal for the upcoming prospectus; however it is highly encouraged to take this opportunity. The site visit will view existing boat launch and takeout locations and address questions about the existing concession contracts. No questions specific to the upcoming prospectus will be entertained during the site visit. Instead, questions specific to the future prospectus will be answered after it is issued later this year.

The site visit will begin at 9 a.m. at the Grand Teton National Park headquarters building in Moose, Wyoming. Parties interested in attending the site visit must R.S.V.P. by the close of business on Monday, September 22, 2008 to Grand Teton National Park Chief of Business Resources Mallory Smith by phone at 307.739.3434 or by e-mail at If responding via email, please include the names of all persons planning to participate.

Once an R.S.V.P. is received, specific information will be provided on the meeting location and visit agenda.

Fending Off Aquatic Invasive Species

September 10, 2008
Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest are partnering to provide Teton County residents with an opportunity to learn more about aquatic invasive species that threaten Wyoming’s waterways. Interested persons are invited to attend a free barbecue dinner and presentation on Wednesday evening, September 17th. Boaters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts who use Wyoming’s lakes and streams will learn about invasive species that threaten the health of these waterways from Bob Wiltshire of the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species out of Livingston, Montana. Wiltshire will give a presentation immediately following the barbecue to inform the audience of the consequences of aquatic infestations, and to offer suggestions about what can be done to protect local waters.

The barbecue will be held from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the University of Wyoming/National Park Service Research Center — formerly known as the historic AMK Ranch — located one mile north of Colter Bay near Leeks Marina.

“Anyone recreating in the waters of the Greater Yellowstone Area, or anyone interested in learning about protecting Wyoming’s watersheds would be a well served to attend this dinner and presentation,” said Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton. “Bob Wiltshire is a recognized authority on the subject of aquatic invasives, and as a community, we are fortunate to have such an expert come to share with us how our role can serve to slow the spread of these nuisance species,” said Hamilton.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott said, “Aquatic invasive species are a growing concern across the western states and other parts of the country. As a first step to address this problem locally, the park initiated a self-certification program this past summer whereby people applying for a park boat permit could certify that their watercraft was free of contamination.” Superintendent Scott added, “Grand Teton has also ordered a high-pressure decontamination system that boaters can use in the future before they launched their craft on park lakes or the Snake River.”

Currently, efforts are underway to survey waterways across Wyoming’s Teton and Lincoln counties and to look for and identify various aquatic invasive species that could be colonizing in area waters.

Crandall Painting Donated to Teton Collection

Herb and Quita Pownall present Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott
with original painting by Quita’s father, Harrison Crandall

September 5, 2008
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott is pleased to announce that Herb Pownall and Quita Crandall Pownall, daughter of renowned Teton photographer and artist Harrison R. Crandall, have donated one of her father’s original oil paintings to the park’s Teton Collection. Created in the mid-1960s, the fine art painting depicts a classic Teton scene with mountain peaks partially obscured by clouds and autumn-tinted aspens. The painting will eventually hang in the Jenny Lake Visitor Center — Crandall’s former art studio and showroom — an historic log structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Harrison “Hank” Crandall was born November 23, 1887, in Newton, Kansas, and raised on the Midwest plains. Crandall was inspired as a young boy to photograph the Teton Range after seeing a William Henry Jackson photo of the rugged mountains in a grade school geography book. After studying art at the School of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California, and serving in World War I, Crandall moved west at the age of 25 and settled briefly in Idaho. He first visited Jackson Hole in 1921 and returned the following year with his bride, Hildegard “Hilda,” to make a permanent home. With photographic equipment and camping supplies in hand, the Crandalls spent their first summer scouting locations for photographs, while camping with two friends in what is now Grand Teton National Park. As artist and photographer of the Teton landscape, Crandall became both a Jenny Lake homesteader and a fervent early supporter of the establishment of the park. And with the growth of tourism, Crandall also became one of the earliest concessionaires, selling national park souvenirs and art.

In 1924, he and Hilda homesteaded 120 acres northeast of Jenny Lake and opened the String Lake Dance Pavilion. Although immensely popular with valley residents and “dudes” from local dude ranches, the summer-run, open-air dance hall operated for only 2.5 years because Hank wanted to focus on opening an art studio. He designed his rustic log structure to withstand heavy snows, incorporating sky lights for added natural light and an intricate cross-hatch pattern on the ceiling. Wood from the dismantled dance pavilion was used by local artisans to build the log cabin in 1925 and 1926, and the Crandall Studio opened in 1927. Hand-painted photo postcards of ranch life and the Teton landscape became very popular. Later offerings included paintings, photographs, cameras and film, animal skins, and Navajo rugs. In 1929, when the Snake River Land Company bought the Crandall property, Hank received one of the first concession permits in Grand Teton National Park and relocated his studio nearer to Jenny Lake. It was relocated again in about 1960 and finally moved to its present site in 1991, where the historic building received treatment to rehabilitate and restore its logs, flooring and fireplace.

Crandall’s oil paintings often depicted scenic Teton landscapes but he is also known for paintings of 32 species of wildflowers, which provided an invaluable ecological record of the Jackson valley to the US Biological Service during the 1920s to1940s. Through his art, Crandall became an influential promoter of Grand Teton National Park and the National Park Service, inspiring and informing countless people and future generations. He died in 1970 at the age of 83. His daughter Quita Pownall, an artist herself with formal art training, was occasionally tutored by her father; she hand painted many of the Crandall photographs, including his wildflower panels.

Crandall’s painting will be added to the Teton Collection, which serves as a testament to the crucial role that art has played in preserving Grand Teton National Park and other public lands, and reflects the historic significance of artwork throughout the greater Jackson Hole area. Initiated by the Grand Teton Association (formerly Grand Teton Natural History Association) in the late 1950s, this eclectic art collection features work by John Clymer, Olaus Murie, Conrad Schwiering, Jim Wilcox, Joanne Hennes, and Harrison Crandall. These artists, and many others, found creative inspiration from the Teton landscape, and each skillfully captured the spectacular scenery and wild inhabitants of this region. Much of the Teton Collection is now showcased in the art gallery at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming. The Grand Teton Association is currently in the process of creating an informational brochure to hand out at the gallery that will provide an overview of all the artists and their paintings.

The Jenny Lake Visitor Center — historic Crandall Studio — is located eight miles north of Moose Junction on the Teton Park Road and open daily from late May through late September. It is scheduled to close for the 2008 season on September 27.