Firefighters and Homeowners to Participate in All Fire Day Training

May 26, 2009
Teton interagency firefighters will start the wildland fire season with an integrated fire training exercise on Saturday, June 6. About 200 firefighters from Teton, Sublette and Lincoln counties, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Wyoming State Forestry Division will gather at Star Valley Ranch for the 11th annual All Fire Day. Star Valley Ranch residents are also participating this year, along with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, Star Valley Search and Rescue, and Star Valley Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

During All Fire Day, firefighters will work through a variety of drills, structure assessments and live fire exercises. Homeowners at Star Valley Ranch will have the opportunity to participate in a mock evacuation and learn the steps to take in protecting their homes from wildfire.

“This year, we are including a Firewise program and conducting our interagency fire training with cooperators and emergency response personnel in a wildland-urban interface community,” said All Fire Day Incident Commander Bryan Karchut. “By doing so, both the firefighters and the community will get a valuable experience as they practice their wildfire response and a mock evacuation in a life-like situation.”

"The Town of Star Valley Ranch is extremely delighted to have been chosen to host this year's All Fires Day training session,” said Mayor Boyd Siddoway. “This is an excellent opportunity for the citizens of Star Valley Ranch and western Wyoming to safely experience and learn about what these dedicated men and women do. We look forward to a continuing partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and local fire and EMS units."

Residents from the surrounding area will have the opportunity to attend a Firewise workshop on Friday evening, June 5, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Alpine Town Hall. Pat Durland with the national Firewise Communities program is the featured presenter. To register, please contact Terri Potter at the Alpine Fire Station, 307.654.7581.

All Fire Day training was established in 1998 to provide opportunities for interagency fire personnel to complete field exercises that test skills. The exercises also promote safety and efficiency in wildland firefighting, while building relationships and better communication through increased agency coordination.

Media representatives are welcome to attend the Firewise workshop and Saturday training session. Please contact Angie Crook at 307.886.5336 or Traci Weaver at 307.739.3692 for further information.

Gros Ventre Campground EA Open for Review

May 26, 2009
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that the Gros Ventre Campground Rehabilitation Environmental Assessment/Assessment of Effect (EA/AEF) is now available for public review. Public comments will be accepted on the EA/AEF for 30 days, from May 26 to June 25, 2009.

The purpose of this project is to rehabilitate the Gros Ventre Campground through improvements to its infrastructure and other facilities that would benefit the visiting public, wildlife and other natural resources, park operations, and seasonal park employees. The primary objective of the project is to address health and safety concerns related to aging campground infrastructure. The project would also meet current and future visitor demands, reduce impervious surface, and restore natural vegetation and wildlife habitat. In addition, the project would provide for additional RV administrative sites for park concessioners, park partners, and seasonal employees.

The EA/AEF, prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), examines two alternatives: Alternative 1, a no action alternative; and Alternative 2, the preferred alternative. The preferred alternative proposes to upgrade, and/or replace, critical campground infrastructure. Elements of the infrastructure improvements include: Installation of a new water and waste water system; installation of up to 50 visitor-served electric hook ups sites; addition of administrative campsites; upgrades on comfort stations to meet current accessibility standards; construction of new shower and laundry facilities for visitor and administrative use; and the permanent closure of two existing campground loops. The campground entry area—including the office, parking area, and dump station—would be realigned and expanded to meet present-day visitor needs. The preferred alternative also proposes to reduce the existing campground footprint by up to eight acres and restore valuable wildlife habitat.

Electronic copies of the Gros Ventre Campground Rehabilitation EA/AEF are available online at or on the park’s Web site at Interested persons may also request a copy through Grand Teton National Park’s planning office by calling 307.739.3390.

Grand Teton Recruits Volunteer Ambassadors for New Multi-Use Pathway

Visitors will enjoy scenic Teton views while strolling,
bicycling or roller-blading along the new park pathway

May 21, 2009
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that Grand Teton National Park is now recruiting for volunteers interested in serving as an ambassador for the park’s new multi-use pathway—scheduled to open for public use on Saturday, May 23. Volunteer ambassadors will patrol the eight-mile-long paved pathway on foot, bicycle or roller blades to meet and greet other pathway users and offer information about the “rules of the road,” as well as emergency assistance in the event of an accident, injury, or equipment malfunction.

Volunteers who choose to become a Grand Teton pathway ambassador will join a cadre of park employees and local residents trained to help usher in activities on the park’s pathway system. Through a gentle informal approach, volunteer ambassadors will educate people about how to safely and responsibly use the new paved route between Dornan’s and the South Jenny Lake area. Pathway ambassadors will also provide proactive information regarding wildlife and resource protection, and be available to help anyone who may require first aid or need a minor bike repair. Ambassadors will also tally visitor statistics for documentation of pathway use.

“This is a great opportunity for local residents to support Grand Teton National Park while sharing their knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Teton landscape with visitors from around the world and across the United States,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “Pathway ambassadors will undoubtedly make a positive difference in the enjoyment and experience of visitors using the new recreational route.”

Official ambassadors will wear a National Park Service jersey, vest or other recognizable, and authorized, clothing while in volunteer status on the pathway; clothing items will be supplied by Grand Teton National Park.

For anyone interested in joining the Grand Teton National Park pathway ambassador program, an orientation and mandatory training session is scheduled for Monday, June 1, at 10 a.m. To sign up as a participant in the program, or learn more about this opportunity, please contact Sara Petsch, volunteer coordinator for pathway ambassadors, at 307.739.3397.

New Multi-Use Pathway Opens for Public Use

May 19, 2009
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that the new multi-use pathway, that parallels the Teton Park Road from Dornan’s to South Jenny Lake, will open for public use on Saturday, May 23, 2009. Starting Memorial Day weekend, park visitors and local residents can use the eight-mile-long pathway as an alternate recreational route between the Moose area and South Jenny Lake.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the pathway took place on May 17, 2008, and construction work began shortly after. HK Contractors, Inc. of Idaho Falls, the project’s construction company, worked steadily throughout the summer and fall of 2008, concluding the majority of pathway construction several months ahead of a fall 2009 projected completion date. Consequently, people can get an opportunity to use this new pathway earlier than anticipated.

As the new multi-use pathway begins its first year of operation, visitors and local residents will have a unique opportunity to enjoy an area of the park not previously used in such a concentrated way. To help different types of users safely enjoy the pathway—and avoid disturbing wildlife— bicyclists, hikers, inline skaters and other users will be encouraged to follow some basic rules of courtesy and safety:

  • Respect the rights of others
  • Ride single file and stay on the right side of the pathway
  • Observe bicycle speeds that are reasonable to the numbers and safety of other users
  • Use a bell, whistle or voice whenever passing others
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment such as helmets and pads
  • Don’t use motorized vehicles (except wheelchairs and other mobility impaired devices)
  • Be bear aware and maintain a safe distance from all wildlife
  • Obey the sunset to sunrise closure for protection of park wildlife.

Because this new pathway bisects an important wildlife corridor not previously occupied by people on foot or on a bike, users will need to follow regulations designed to prevent adverse impacts to wild animals. For example, pets are not allowed on the multi-use pathway in Grand Teton to reduce potential negative impacts to wildlife from the presence of domestic pets. In addition, base line studies were conducted, and monitoring will continue, to assess the impacts that the pathway and its users may have on wildlife and their activities and movements. These studies will be used in the planning of future pathway segments.

Superintendent Scott said, “It is my sincere hope that the creation of this new pathway in Grand Teton offers visitors a safe alternative to explore one of the most stunning landscapes on earth. Through the pathway, along with our established hiking trails and new visitor centers, we have set the stage for people to make a personal connection to the natural world and become more conservation-minded—engaged in helping to care for the land, our incomparable wildlife, and our common heritage. We must keep in mind that all of us are stewards of this special place, for now and future generations.”

Road Construction Update #1

May 19, 2009
Construction work on the Snake River Bridge near Flagg Ranch Resort—2.5 miles south of Yellowstone National Park’s entrance gate—will be underway during the Memorial Day weekend, resulting in minor traffic delays of 15-20 minutes. The deck of the Snake River Bridge has been reduced to only one lane; consequently, traffic flow will be somewhat restricted. Reconstruction of the Snake River Bridge will also require a limited number of overnight travel closures during the next few weeks. Closures are scheduled to occur between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Specific dates for these overnight travel closures will be announced at a later time.

Reconstruction of the North Park Road in Grand Teton, between Lizard Creek campground and Flagg Ranch Resort, began in 2008. During the 2009 travel season, road construction activities will again be underway to widen and repave the park road and complete the reconstruction of the Snake River Bridge. Motorists are advised to expect daytime travel delays of up to 30 minutes from now through the end of November. Important note: Work on the North Park Road will cease on weekends during July and August—and during the Fourth of July and Labor Day holiday weekends—to allow for unfettered traffic flow during peak travel times.

Starting Sunday, June 8, the Signal Mountain Summit Road will be closed to weekday travel while the road receives an asphalt overlay. This project requires a travel closure for weekday traffic only—weekend traffic will be allowed. The weekday travel restrictions will be in place from June 8 through June 26.

Other road construction projects are planned for upcoming months, and each will involve 15-minute delays in traffic. These projects include: Routine striping projects on all park roads during the month of May; an asphalt overlay on the road from Colter Bay to Leeks Marina during early July; an asphalt overlay on the road to the Teton Science Schools’ Kelly Campus during mid July; a chip seal project one mile north of Moose Junction to Cunningham Cabin along
Hwy 89/191 planned for late August to Labor Day weekend; and a chip seal project from the park’s south boundary to one mile north of the Moose Junction on Hwy 89/191 scheduled for after Labor Day through mid September. As always, roadwork schedules may change due to weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances.

Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead, and schedule extra time for their travel through Grand Teton National Park during the next several months. As road improvement work is underway, every effort will be made to minimize inconvenience to drivers using park roads; however, traffic will be held up for short periods of time. These road construction projects are necessary to improve safety, as well as provide routine maintenance, for the many vehicles that use park roads throughout the year.

For current road construction information, travelers are advised to call the park’s information hotline at 307.739.3614. The park’s newspaper, Teewinot, includes a road construction map for further reference and can be found online at, or picked up at any entrance station or visitor center.

American Indian Guest Artists 2009 Program

American Indian guest artists
demonstrate their cultural artwork
May 18, 2009
Grand Teton National Park annually sponsors a program for visiting American Indian artists at the Colter Bay Visitor Center and Indian Arts Museum. For the past 34 years, artists from diverse tribes have demonstrated their traditional and contemporary art forms, providing visitors an opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for, and understanding of American Indian art and culture.

Artists participating in the program represent tribes from across the United States. Among the art forms demonstrated are painting, weaving, pottery, beadwork, and musical instruments. Guest artists exhibit daily, Monday through Sunday, from approximately 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the lower level of the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum. Artists also offer their finished items for purchase. The dates and guest artists scheduled for the 2009 season are:

May 18-24
Willie & Debbie LaMere (Shoshone)
beadwork & flint knapping

May 25-31
Willie & Debbie LaMere (Shoshone)
beadwork & flint knapping

June 1-7
Charlie Rising Sun (Northern Cheyenne)
flutes & Indian art

June 8-14
Charlotte Tendoy (Shoshone)

June 15-21
Guillermo Martinez (Tarascan-Apache)
drums & flutes

June 22-28
Andrea Two Bulls (Ogalala Sioux)
beadwork and painting

June 29-July 5
Ted Moran (S’Klallan)
Northwest coastal carving

July 6-12
Shonto Begay (Navajo)

July 13-19
Eddie Two Bulls (Ogalala Sioux)

July 20-26
Maynard White Owl (Nez Perce–Cayuse)
beadwork & jewelry

July 27-Aug 2
Dolly & Bonnie Woodie (Navajo)
weaving, clothes & beadwork

August 3-9
Paul Hacker (Choctaw)
flutes, knives & pottery

August 10-16
Willie & Debbie LaMere (Shoshone)
beadwork & flint knapping

August 17-23
DG House (Cherokee)

August 24-30
Jola Fay LeBeau (Eastern Shoshone)

August 31-Sept 6
Lela Teton & Josie Bronco (Shoshone)

September 7-13
Clyde Hall & Nancy Nacki (Shoshone)
beadwork & quillwork

September 14-20
Guillermo Martinez (Tarascan-Apache)
drums & flutes

September 21-27
DG House (Cherokee)

Sept 28-Oct 5
Willie & Debbie LeMere (Shoshone)
beadwork & flint knapping

Author Highlights Book on Historic Bar BC Ranch

May 14, 2009
Grand Teton National Park will host a fireside chat with author Renee Howard Smelker at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 18, in the lobby of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Smelker has just completed a book titled, The Bar BC Chronicle, Jackson Hole Dude and Cattle Ranching, that portrays life on the historic Bar BC Dude Ranch from the 1920s through early 1940s. The program is free to the public, and a book signing will immediately follow the informal discussion at the Grand Teton Association bookstore, also in the Discovery Center.

Smelker uses letters written between her father Bill Howard, wrangler and long-time foreman of the Bar BC Ranch, and ranch owner Irving Corse to capture a sense of what life was like on one of Jackson Hole’s best known and beloved dude ranches. Smelker, who lived at the ranch until she was sixteen-years-old, brings the place, indeed the whole valley, to life through the correspondence that passed between her father and Mr. Corse, co-owner of the ranch with Struthers Burt. Their letters, dating from March 20, 1929 through February 19, 1942, depict the day to day operations on the ranch and reveal the very different personalities and backgrounds of these two men. The letters are also supplemented with notes to explain meanings and provide historical context and relevant background information. Throughout the book, Smelker provides an engaging commentary, blending first-hand experiences with the history of this distinctive place and unique era.

“The history of Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park is closely entwined. Because Grand Teton was established on February 26, 1929, Renee Smelker’s descriptions of life on the Bar BC Ranch from 1929 through 1942 are especially relevant to us,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “Renee has provided an interesting look at our mutual past, and having her as a guest author during the park’s 80th anniversary year is especially fitting.”

Grand Teton Becomes First National Park to Earn StormReady Status

StormReady alerts public to severe weather
situations, such as lightning storms (photo--Bob Skaggs)

May 11, 2009
The National Weather Service (NWS) provides a nationwide community preparedness program titled, StormReady. After completing the requirements for this emergency preparedness program, Grand Teton National Park has subsequently earned recognition as a StormReady unit. The NWS confirms that Grand Teton is the first national park to gain this key designation.

Nearly 90% of all presidentially-declared disasters are weather related; these disasters lead to about 500 deaths per year and cost approximately $14 billion in property damage. The NWS designed the StormReady program to help prepare people, government agencies, and community organizations for the communication and safety network necessary to save lives and reduce property damage during a severe weather event.

StormReady uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of severe weather. To be StormReady, a community, organization or agency must:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
  • Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts
  • Have more than one way to alert the public to severe weather events
  • Create a system that monitors local weather conditions
  • Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars and outreach
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and conducting emergency exercises

To meet the StormReady emergency management guidelines,
Grand Teton was required to demonstrate its capability to provide an essential and response-ready communication network. In addition, several park employees completed training as weather spotters; these employees will provide critical weather observations to field offices for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott said, “Grand Teton National Park continually seeks new ways to improve safety for visitors, local residents, and park employees. Completing the StormReady requirements—and gaining the knowledge and network necessary to effectively deal with severe weather events—is an important step in creating a safer environment for anyone residing in, or recreating throughout the park. We are proud to have earned StormReady status, and we intend to effectively implement the StormReady communication system for the benefit of not only the park, but also our neighbors.”

For more information about the StormReady program, please contact Chris Jones, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton, Wyoming at 307.857.3898, ext. 726.

Prescribed Fire Planned at Hunter Ranch Area

Old ranches and hayfields were scattered
across Antelope Flats during bygone days
May 8, 2009
Teton interagency fire personnel and Grand Teton National Park natural resource managers are planning a 60-acre prescribed fire as part of a 4,000-acre native rangeland restoration project in the Aspen Ridge/Hunter Ranch area of Grand Teton National Park This project involves a multistage effort to convert pasture land back to native vegetation as part of the 2007 Bison and Elk Management Plan for the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park. The prescribed fire may be initiated as early as Monday, May 11.

The Aspen Ridge/Hunter Ranch area was an irrigated hayfield prior to the 1970s. Despite a decades-long recovery time, this extensive hayfield area is still dominated by non-native grasses and a host of noxious weeds.

“Non-native, perennial grasses are a considerable threat to native plant succession and restoration,” said Grand Teton National Park Ecologist Kelly McCloskey. “Without human intervention and management, the pasture grasses—particularly smooth brome—will likely remain, preventing the regrowth of native plants. Prescribed fire is an effective tool in creating and preparing a natural seed-bed.” Post burn, resource managers will treat the site with herbicides to remove remaining non-native species.

“The prescribed fire and herbicide treatment will be monitored for several years to determine the success of this project,” said Chip Collins, assistant fire management officer for Grand Teton National Park. “Depending on the outcome, further actions may be needed to sufficiently restore native vegetation across the historic hayfields in the Mormon Row area.”

Fire managers will consider several factors before beginning the Aspen Ridge/Hunter Ranch prescribed fire; these include weather forecasts, the condition of vegetation (dried or greening), and the presence of nesting birds in the area.

Prescribed-fire ignitions will proceed only when favorable weather and fire behavior conditions are met. Smoke will be evident during the day of the burn and may persist for several days after, especially in mountain valleys during early morning and evening hours. Local residents and visitors should exercise caution in the vicinity of the prescribed-fires. Minimal traffic restrictions may occur to allow for public and firefighter safety, and fire equipment access.

Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship Awarded

May 4, 2009
Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton Association (GTA) are pleased to announce that Nicholas Dowie has received the Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship for 2009. Dowie, the fifth recipient of an Evison Fellowship, is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in the Department of Biology at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He plans to use his fellowship award to study the symbiotic relationship between three specific organisms in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks: conifer trees, pinedrops (Pterospora andomedea), a unique non-photosynthetic plant that spends most of its life underground and obtains carbon from fungi in order to reproduce, and a truffle-like fungus (Rhizopogon spp.) that associates with conifers to obtain carbon, which it does not produce itself.

Dowie received a Bachelor of Science degree in plant biology at Montana State University in Bozeman in 2005. He expects to finish a Master of Science degree at the University of Wyoming during summer 2009. Already working towards a Ph.D., Dowie is most interested in the study of evolutionary ecology, mycorrhizal symbioses (mutually-beneficial relationships between fungi and plant roots), and myco-heterotrophic plants that obtain carbon from various species of fungi.

Dowie’s research will involve collecting and analyzing the genetics from samples of pinedrops, fungi, and various types of conifers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Dowie will attempt to decipher the nature of relationships between these organisms, determine the intricacies of the three-way relationship between conifers, pinedrops and fungi, and reveal how these species persist in natural ecosystems. Pinedrops, which are ecologically sensitive and have become extinct in some regions, may associate with specific strains of fungus to reproduce and persist. At the conclusion of his study, Dowie will submit his research data and findings for review by the divisions of science and resource management at Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

The Evison Fellowship was established in memory of Boyd Evison after his death in October, 2002, and created to honor Boyd’s extensive and dedicated service to both the National Park Service (NPS) and the GTA. Evison retired in 1994 from an exemplary 42-year career with the NPS and soon after began a second career as executive director for the GTA—a non-profit park partner dedicated to aiding interpretive, educational, and research programs for Grand Teton National Park.

The Evison Fellowship program encourages scientific and conservation-related research in national parks. It invites highly motivated, graduate students to conduct research within Grand Teton and the greater Yellowstone area; and it supports study leading to a master’s or Ph.D. degree in the biosciences, geosciences or social sciences. Upon program completion, the Evison Fellow provides a copy of his/her thesis to the GTA.

An Evison Fellowship provides tuition assistance and a yearly stipend to cover travel and field research costs; Grand Teton National Park offers housing and office space for students during field sessions. To inquire about applying for a Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship—or to donate funds toward this worthy program—please contact Jan Lynch, executive director, Grand Teton Association by mail at P.O. Box 170, Moose, Wyoming, 83012, or by phone at 307.739.3406.

Spring Clean-Up Beautifies Grand Teton NP

Park employees remove buck and rail fence
May 1, 2009
Approximately 100 Grand Teton National Park staff and Grand Teton Association (GTA) employees joined together on Thursday morning, April 30, to carry out the park’s annual spring clean-up. Each year before the summer season is in full swing, park and GTA staff, along employees from park concessioners (Grand Teton Lodge Company, Signal Mountain Lodge, Triangle X Ranch, and Flagg Ranch Resort), set aside a day to remove litter and debris from roadsides and turnouts to “beautify” Grand Teton before summer visitors arrive.

This year, a fence removal project was also incorporated into the annual clean-up activities. A two-mile section of old buck and rail fence was removed along Highway 26/89/191 from the Airport Junction to the south end of Blacktail Butte. This project will improve wildlife movements across park lands and reduce costs associated with maintaining an aging and decaying structure. For several years, park employees and volunteer groups have been removing barbed wire fences, and other fence remnants, from the Antelope Flats area. Removal of the buck and rail fence eliminates a significant barrier to wildlife migration in this area of the park; it also reduces old fencing that no longer serves a practical purpose.

"Keeping Grand Teton free from unsightly trash is a relatively simple step that area residents and park visitors can also help accomplish. While park employees and the staffs of GTA and park concessioners collectively pick up trash each spring, anyone can contribute to keeping the park’s roadsides tidy by properly disposing of litter. This responsible act also reduces the chance of bears getting unintended food rewards,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “It was great to see so many people in orange safety vests scouring the roadsides for trash and removing old fencing.”

Park and GTA staff enjoyed the positive attention they received from passing motorists who honked their vehicle horns as a way of showing support for the clean-up efforts in progress.