Fire Management Officer Lisa Elenz Receives Award for Excellence

March 24, 2008

Lisa Elenz, fire management officer (FMO) for Grand Teton National Park, was recently recognized for her outstanding contributions to the National Park Service (NPS) fire program during a combined meeting between the NPS Pacific West and Intermountain regions held in Portland, Oregon. Intermountain Region Fire Management Officer Len Dems presented the 2007 Intermountain Region fire management awards to one national park unit and nine individuals who have demonstrated high performance in the field of fire management.

Elenz was awarded the “Excellence in Wildland Fire Management Award” for her regular and consistently exceptional work in support of area national parks and the NPS fire program at the local, regional, and national level. In addition to her responsibilities for supervising wildland fire operations for Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, Elenz also oversees fire management for three other parks—Fossil Butte National Monument, Fort Laramie National Historic Site, and Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area. Elenz is one of only a handful of women who work as fire management officers in large national parks.

“Lisa is an exemplary fire management officer who manages a complex and comprehensive fire program for Grand Teton and other national parks in Wyoming. We are so pleased that she was recognized for her exceptional work,” stated Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “Lisa’s training, expertise and dedication to her profession make her an inspiration to other fire managers across the National Park System.”

Elenz works on long-term fire behavior analysis projects and instructs national level courses on long-term risk assessment and fire behavior analyses. She coordinates local firefighting operations through an interagency fire management team, which includes fire management staff from Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and the Jackson Hole Fire/EMS.

Elenz initially came to Grand Teton in 1998 as the assistant FMO. In 1999, Elenz directed the Alder Fire initial attack operation and functioned as lead for the Teton interagency firefighting efforts, which ultimately saved the historic Jenny Lake Lodge. Elenz served on a special assignment as the acting FMO for Bandelier National Monument during the critical months immediately following the 2000 Cerro Grande wildland fire. In 2001, while serving as the acting FMO for Grand Teton, Elenz played a leadership role during the Green Knoll Fire. She coordinated interagency firefighting efforts during the initial attack phase and remained directly involved throughout the extended firefighting period.

Prior to her positions at Grand Teton, Elenz spent two years as an FMO trainee and seven years as a Fire Station Captain in the Wawona district of Yosemite National Park. While working as fire station captain, she supervised wildland and structural fire operations for the district and planned and implemented prescribed fire and hazard fuel reduction programs within the urban interface of Yosemite.

Elenz started her NPS career by working as a fee collector on Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim, after receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Northern Arizona University in 1988.

Bear-Proof Food Canisters Required for Backcountry Camping in Grand Teton National Park

March 10, 2008

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that all persons camping below 10,000 feet in the park’s backcountry will be required to use approved, portable bear-proof canisters for food storage—except at certain designated backcountry campsites where food storage facilities are provided. Hard plastic bear-proof canisters of the type approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee will be required beginning March 15, 2008. Although food canisters are not required for areas above 10,000 feet, proper food storage will still be compulsory in those locations.

The new requirement is being implemented to prevent bears from learning to associate humans and their activities with easily-obtainable food. By reducing the potential for property damage—and/or injury to visitors from bears aggressively seeking human foods—the new mandate will increase visitor safety and reduce the number of adverse actions required to manage food-conditioned bears.

Approved bear-proof canisters will be loaned without charge at three park locations: the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, Jenny Lake Ranger Station, and Colter Bay Visitor Center. Backcountry campers may use their own canisters as long as they are approved units. The following are currently authorized for use: Backpacker Model 812-C, BearVault BV350 and BV400, The Bear Keg, and The Bare Boxer Contender. For additional information on bears and food storage canisters, please visit

Currently, bear-proof canisters are mandatory in Alaska’s Glacier Bay and Katmai national parks, California’s Yosemite National Park, the BLM-managed King Range National Conservation Area in northwestern California, and other federally-managed land areas. Mandatory canister use has been found to be a key element in achieving a successful bear management program. The counter-balance method for storing food out of a bear’s reach does not always effectively keep bears from obtaining human foods. Many areas lack suitable trees for proper counterbalancing, and some bears have chewed through branches or otherwise acquired counterbalanced food. Once bears discover human food, they frequently alter their wild behavior and foraging habits in order to continue getting those foods. As a result, management actions—including the destruction of bears—are often necessary. Mandatory canister use helps prevent unnatural bear behavior and consequently reduces the loss of bears from associated management actions.

Last summer many bear/human conflicts occurred in the Jackson Hole area. Some bears have already learned to associate humans with easily-obtainable foods, and they may continue their pursuit of those foods, setting the stage for further conflicts. Proper food storage at all park locations—front country and backcountry—will be critical in minimizing such encounters.


Annual Snow Plowing to Begin on Teton Park Road

March 4, 2008

Weather depending, the annual snow plowing of the Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park may begin as early as Monday, March 10. Consequently, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing along this designated winter use trail will cease for the 2007/08 winter season. Although winter recreation on the unplowed portion of the Teton Park Road comes to an end as plowing operations get underway, park visitors may continue to use other winter trails—and/or areas adjacent to the Teton Park Road—for cross-country skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing.

For safety reasons, visitors may not access the Teton Park Road while rotary snow removal equipment and plows are working; the road is closed to ALL users during this time. Skiers and snowshoers using trails adjacent to the Teton Park Road are cautioned to avoid the arc of snow being blown from the rotary equipment because pieces of ice and gravel may be mixed in with this spray of snow. Park rangers will enforce the temporary road closure to ensure safe conditions for plow operators and park visitors alike.

Depending on weather, snow conditions and plowing progress, the roadway should become accessible to traditional springtime, non-motorized activities by April 1st.

Pet owners are reminded that dogs are not allowed in the park’s backcountry, which includes all areas 50 feet away from park roadways and turnouts. Pet owners are required to have their dogs leashed whenever they are outside of a private vehicle. Pet owners must also clean up their dog waste. A “mutt-mitt” station is conveniently located near the road closure gate, providing bags for this purpose.

The Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail running from Moran Junction to Flagg Ranch within Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway is scheduled to close for the winter season on Sunday evening, March 9, at 9 p.m. The Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway also closes to snowmobile use on Sunday evening, March 9, in conjunction with other winter closures in nearby Yellowstone National Park. This road will remain closed to all motorized vehicles from April 1 to May 31, due to springtime grizzly bear activity.

Depending upon snow conditions, ranger-led snowshoe hikes originating from the new Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming are scheduled to end on Saturday, March 15. To make a reservation for this activity, or to inquire whether snowshoe hikes are still being offered, please phone
307.739.3399. The Discovery Center will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout March, April and May.

The opening of the Teton Park Road to bikers, hikers and inline skaters will be announced once the road has been plowed and snow removal equipment is no longer operating. The Teton Park Road will open to vehicle traffic for the 2008 summer season on Thursday, May 1.

Bronze Sculpture on Display at Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center

March 3, 2008

Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that the National Museum of Wildlife Art has graciously loaned a life-sized bronze sculpture to Grand Teton National Park for display in the Art Gallery room of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose, Wyoming. Created in 2000 by Cheyenne-born wildlife sculptor, Dan Ostermiller, the eye-catching sculpture titled “Tres Osos” (Three Bears) depicts a mother grizzly and her two cubs.

Dan Ostermiller, a professionally and publicly recognized artist, is a fellow of the National Sculpture Society and a member of the Society of Animal Artists. Ostermiller’s art is represented by galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Vail, Colorado, New York City, and Houston, Texas. More than 40 of his monumental pieces have gone to public and private collections in over 16 states since his first show was held in 1980. Ostermiller’s sculpture goes beyond a straightforward rendering of form. His artistry excels in capturing a moment to tell a story and depict a mood. “Tres Osos” depicts an adult grizzly bear with her two cubs: one cub is lying flat on its belly, head extended and foreleg hanging over the sculpture base, while another cub is relaxed and leaning against its mother, who appears to be watching over her youngsters.

The loan of this artistic sculpture is made possible through a partnership agreement between the National Museum of Wildlife Art and Grand Teton National Park. This agreement enables the museum to share art work with park visitors, while providing a sense of the unique relationship between park wildlife and artistic renditions of wildlife. Ostermiller’s “Tres Osos” joins several paintings in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center’s Art Gallery already on loan from the museum.

According to Adam Duncan Harris, curator of art at the museum, the work is a great example of the contemporary side of their holdings—one with a slight sense of whimsy that families, in particular, might enjoy.