JH Airport Agreement Extension Draft EIS Released

March 30, 2009
The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that the Jackson Hole Airport Use Agreement Extension Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Airport DEIS) has been released for public comment. The purpose of the Airport DEIS is to enable continued air transportation services at the Jackson Hole Airport through an extension of the term of the existing agreement with the United States Department of the Interior (DOI). An extension of the agreement is needed to ensure that the Jackson Hole Airport will remain eligible for federal funding beyond the year 2013.

In 2005, the NPS initiated a process under the National Environmental Policy Act to address the Jackson Hole Airport Board’s request to extend the term of their agreement. The airport is located on 533 acres of federal land within Grand Teton National Park and operates under the terms of a 1983 agreement between the Airport Board and the DOI. The NPS administers the agreement, which currently authorizes the operation of the airport until April 27, 2033. Under Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, an airport must own its land or have more than 20 years remaining on its lease or agreement in order to remain eligible for grants from the FAA. Without an extension of the agreement’s term, the airport would lose its eligibility for Airport Improvement Program funding in April of 2013 — 20 years before the current agreement expires.

Grants from the FAA cover 95 percent of the eligible costs for airfield capital improvement or repair projects that enhance airport safety, capacity, or security, and for projects that address environmental concerns. Over the past decade, this program has funded almost $25 million in projects at the Jackson Hole Airport. Similar funding will be needed in the future to enable the airport to maintain the certification that enables it to provide scheduled commercial passenger service.

The Airport DEIS considers two alternatives. Under the no action alternative, the term of agreement would not be extended, and the airport would likely be unable to maintain its certification for scheduled commercial passenger service within a few years. The airport would continue operations at a much reduced level, serving only general aviation, and would close no later than April 2033. Under the preferred alternative, the agreement would be extended by the addition of two 10-year options, thus ensuring continued eligibility for future Airport Improvement Program funds.

A copy of the Airport DEIS is available online at the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) Web site through the following URL: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/. The document is also available on Grand Teton National Park’s Web site at http://www.nps.gov/grte/parkmgmt/planning.htm, or interested persons may request a copy through the Superintendent’s Office by calling 307.739.3410.

The review and public comment period will run for approximately 60 days. The actual closing date for comments will be determined by the Environmental Protection Agency issuance of a Notice of Availability of the Airport DEIS in the Federal Register and will be announced at a later date. Written comments may be submitted through the PEPC Web site, in person, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted over the phone, by fax, or e-mail.

Prospectus Issued for Float & Fish Concession Contracts

March 26, 2009
The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a prospectus soliciting proposals for up to 12 concession contracts 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 Grand Teton National Park; these contracts will be valid for ten years. The NPS has determined that the existing 11 concessioners are preferred offerors for this contract, pursuant to the terms of 36 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 51—Concession Contracts and Permits. An additional contract to provide fishing only from the Moose landing to downstream locations may also be awarded. Since this is a new contract, no preferred offeror exists.

The existing concession operations provide visitor services within Grand Teton, approximately 12 miles from the town of Jackson. Each contract authorizes specific activities, designated launch and takeout points, passenger meeting points, meal sites if permitted, and the number of launches allowed per day and month.

There are several unique attributes to these concession contracts that could potentially affect the operations; these include a compressed operating season, limited launches per day and month, and a high cost of doing business in the area. Any offeror for a contract will need to take into account these specific conditions.

Prospectus packages are available by contacting Jacque Lavelle in the NPS Intermountain Region Chief of Concessions Management Division by phone at 303.969.2661 or by email at Jacque_Lavelle@nps.gov. Interested parties may also write to Concessions Management Division, 12795 West Alameda Parkway, Denver, CO 80228. The cost for a copy of the prospectus is $35 per copy, if delivered by Federal Express, or $30 if picked up in person. Checks and money orders (no cash accepted) must be payable to the NPS, and a physical address and phone number must be provided to receive a Federal Express package.

A prospectus package is available online at http://www.concessions.nps.gov/Prospectus.cfm. For those planning to submit a proposal, who have obtained a prospectus from the Web site, should provide contact information to Jacque Lavelle in order to receive future responses to questions or amendments to the prospectus. Those requesting a hard copy, or who have been placed on the mailing list, will be provided with additional information specific to the prospectus. Information relative to the solicitation will also be posted to the above mentioned concessions Web site.

Contract offers must be received no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, May 22, 2009, by the Chief of Concessions Management, NPS Intermountain Region, 12795 W. Alameda Parkway, Lakewood, CO 80228.

A site visit was conducted on September 25, 2008. Copies of the materials distributed during the site visit are available by contacting Mallory Smith, Grand Teton National Park’s chief of Business Resources, at 307.739.3434 or through email at Mallory_Smith@nps.gov.

Teton Park Road Opens for Spring Activities

March 23, 2009
The Teton Park, Moose-Wilson, and Antelope Flats roads in Grand Teton National Park have been plowed free of snow and may now be used for non-motorized activities such as hiking, biking, and inline skating. The Antelope Flats Road will open to vehicles in about two weeks time. The Teton Park and Moose-Wilson roads will open to vehicle traffic for the full summer season on Friday, May 1, 2009.

While these roadways were cleared of their winter snow cover this past week, new snow is likely to accumulate on their surfaces during late season snowstorms. Visitors should also be alert for park vehicles that may occasionally travel the Teton Park Road for administrative purposes.

Leashed dogs are permitted on the Teton Park, Antelope Flats, and Moose-Wilson roads, as well as other park roadways. Dogs are restricted to roads and turnouts — they are not permitted to travel beyond the roadbeds, or into the park’s backcountry. Owners are required to keep pets on a leash (six foot maximum length). Mutt Mitt stations are in place at the Taggart Lake parking area and pet owners are required to use waste disposal bags to pick up after their dogs.

As a reminder, entrance stations are operating and collecting fees. Fee options are as follows:
$12 for a 7-day permit for foot/bicycle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks
$20 for a 7-day permit for motorcycle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks
$25 for a 7-day permit for vehicle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks
$50 for a Grand Teton/Yellowstone Annual Pass valid for one-year entry into both parks
$80 for an Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year entry to all fee areas on federal lands

When entering the park using a pass, please be sure to bring personal identification.

Bicyclists are required to stop and show an entry pass before proceeding through the gates, just as motorized vehicles are required to do.

The new pathway running from Dornan’s to South Jenny Lake will NOT be open for public use until the snow recedes naturally and final construction work can be completed on the bridge spanning Cottonwood Creek. A formal announcement will be made when the new pathway becomes available for public use, and until that time, visitors and local residents must refrain from accessing the pathway.

The annual springtime opening of the Teton Park Road is a much anticipated event because it provides a unique and excellent opportunity to access the roadway before regular vehicle traffic begins for the summer.

Snow Plowing of Teton Park Road Begins

March 9, 2009
The annual snow plowing of the Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park will begin on Sunday, March 15, weather depending.
As plowing operations get underway, recreation on the snow-packed trail will cease for the 2008/09 winter season. Park visitors may continue to use other winter trails—or areas adjacent to the Teton Park Road—for skate skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing until snow conditions are no longer favorable for such activities.

For safety reasons, visitors may NOT access the Teton Park Road while rotary snow removal equipment and plows are working; the roadway is closed to ALL users during this period of time. Skiers and snowshoers using areas 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 can be mixed with the snow spray. Park rangers will enforce the temporary road closure to ensure safe conditions for both the plow operators and park visitors. Depending on weather, snow conditions and plowing progress, the roadway should become accessible to traditional springtime, non-motorized activities in early April; the opening of the Teton Park Road to bikers, hikers and inline skaters will be announced once snow removal equipment is no longer operating.

The Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway is scheduled to close for the winter season on Sunday evening, March 15, in conjunction with other winter closures in nearby Yellowstone National Park. This road remains closed to all motor vehicles from April 1 to May 31, due to springtime grizzly
bear activity.

Depending upon snow conditions, ranger-led snowshoe hikes from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center are scheduled to end on Sunday, 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 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout March, April and May.

Pet owners are reminded that dogs are not allowed in the park’s backcountry, which includes all areas away from park roadways and turnouts. Pet owners are required to have their dogs on a maximum 6-foot leash 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 Teton Park Road closure gate to provide bags for this purpose.

The new pathway running from Dornan’s to South Jenny Lake will NOT be open for public use until the snow recedes naturally and final construction work can be completed on the bridge spanning Cottonwood Creek. A formal announcement will be made when the new pathway becomes available for public use, and until that time, visitors and local residents must refrain from accessing this pathway.

The Teton Park Road will open to vehicle traffic for the summer season on Friday, May 1.

Retrospective on Teton Search & Rescues

Renny Jackson, Jenny Lake subdistrict ranger

March 3, 2009
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott invites the public to a free program on the history of search and rescue operations in the Teton Range given by Renny Jackson, Jenny Lake subdistrict ranger. Jackson will provide a personal, 30-year retrospective of rescue missions on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in the Cook Auditorium at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, two miles north of Jackson, Wyoming.

Over the past five decades, rescue operations conducted by Grand Teton National Park rangers have involved some difficult and complex situations. From one of the earliest rescue missions conducted in the Teton Range on Thanksgiving Day of 1950, when a DC-3 plane crashed into Mount Moran, killing 21 people, to a 2003 rescue operation where six climbers were hit by lightning on the Grand Teton, requiring an intricate and well-coordinated helicopter evacuation, and the most recent tragic incident in 2008 when a Helena, Montana resident died in fall on the south side of Gilkey Tower, skilled and highly-trained rangers have responded to assist injured people in the alpine and backcountry areas of the park.

Jackson plans to present an overview of the evolution of mountain rescues by recounting three different rescues on the North Face of the Grand Teton from 1967, 1980 and 2002. Through the lens of these incidents, Jackson will focus on the story of how mountain rescue operations have changed over time.

Jackson has served as a climbing ranger at Grand Teton National Park for the past 30 years and he will share a wealth of knowledge and personal experience about the progression of mountain rescue in the Teton Range and beyond. He just recently returned from a month-long trip to the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal where he participated in an international clinic near Mt. Everest, instructing Sherpas and other local climbers about mountain rescue techniques. Jackson has received the Department of the Interior’s Medal of Valor Award on three separate occasions for the critical part that he played in technical rescue missions in the Teton Range and on Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park. He also just received a 2008 Stewardship Award from the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Jackson’s retrospective on mountain rescue also highlights Grand Teton National Park’s 80th anniversary — the park was established on February 26, 1929. In tribute to the park’s milestone anniversary, birthday cake will be served after the program.

Grand Teton Recruits for Youth Conservation Program Participants

YCP crew at work in Grand Teton NP
March 3, 2009
Grand Teton National Park is now recruiting participants for the 2009 Youth Conservation Program (YCP). Thanks to generous donations made by several donors through the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, this marks the fourth year that the park has offered this youth employment opportunity. Grand Teton plans to recruit 15-20 short-term positions. Applications must be postmarked by March 27, 2009.

The YCP is a summer employment program for high school students, ages 16 to 19. YCP enrollees develop an understanding of National Park Service (NPS) conservation ethics as they assist with critically-needed maintenance and rehabilitation on park trails and pathways. Participants work alongside NPS crew leaders and become familiar with NPS stewardship goals, while learning essential trail maintenance skills. YCP participants may also answer basic visitor questions and serve as park ambassadors as they complete project work on some of the most visible, and most impacted, park trails (i.e. Taggart, Bradley, Jenny and String lakes, and trails in the vicinity of Jackson Lake Lodge and Colter Bay).

YCP crews focus their efforts on projects dealing with rehabilitation of trails and backcountry areas through activities such as brushing, hazard tree removal, and construction of water bars and drainage swales. In addition to the project work, environmental education programs and extensive recreational opportunities are also offered.

The 2009 YCP program will run for ten weeks from June 22 through August 27. Participants must be at least 16 years of age by June 22, and live locally as housing is not provided. Applicants must also be United States citizens and students in good standing. Other qualifications include good team skills, a willingness to learn about Grand Teton National Park and its trail system, and the ability to work at a physically demanding job which may involve lifting 30-40 pounds. The program includes three work crews with five to six YCP trail members, and wages are set at $10.20 per hour.

As an extension of their mission to support new and innovative projects that add value to the park, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation provides funding for salaries, work boots, work pants, tee-shirts, and free transportation to and from Jackson for YCP participants. For more information about YCP and how to contribute to future YCP activities, or other Foundation programs, please call Leslie Mattson at 307.732.0629, or email leslie@gtnpf.org.

To obtain an application or get further information about the 2009 YCP, please call Brian Bergsma in Grand Teton National Park at 307.739.3364, or write to YCP Program, GTNP, Drawer 170, Moose, WY 83012. Applications are also available online at http://www.nps.gov/grte/supportyourpark/ycp.htm

Nighttime Highway Closure Scheduled

March 2, 2009
Construction work on the bridge across the Snake River on
Highway 89/287 just south of Flagg Ranch Resort will begin next week, requiring a temporary nighttime road closure between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for the dates of Sunday, March 8 through Friday, March 13. Park visitors and residents of Flagg Ranch Resort and Yellowstone National Park’s south gate are advised to plan for overnight travel restrictions to be in place during each of the scheduled nights (Sunday through Friday).

Access to Flagg Ranch Resort and the Grassy Lake Road will not be possible during the nighttime hours. Daytime travel will be allowed; however, motorists should expect minor traffic delays of up to 30 minutes during daylight hours.

A second round of nighttime closures will occur between Sunday, March 22 and Saturday, March 28 with similar restrictions. The second road closures will occur after the winter season ends in Yellowstone National Park and visitors cannot otherwise travel beyond the Flagg Ranch area until May 8, when Yellowstone’s summer season road opening occurs.

These two scheduled travel closures are necessary to facilitate major construction work being done on the Snake River bridge near Flagg Ranch Resort. The bridge repair work is part of a broader road construction project underway on Grand Teton National Park’s north park road. Additional travel restrictions will become necessary during the 2009 summer travel season. Further information on this large-scale construction project will be announced at a later date.

Roadwork schedules may change or be delayed due to weather conditions, equipment failure, or other unforeseen circumstances. For road updates, call the park’s recorded information line on road conditions at 307.739.3614 or visit the park’s Web site at www.nps.gov/grte.