Rangers Conduct Snake River Rescue

July 27, 2009
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued a 72-year-old man from the Snake River at 7:30 on Saturday evening, July 25, after his canoe capsized, spilling both he and his partner into the river approximately two miles south of the Moose Bridge. Jackson Davis and Beverly Horyza, age 67, both residents of Moran, Wyoming, launched their canoe from the Moose Landing about noon on Saturday intending to float 14 river miles to the Wilson Bridge. A river guide conducting a concessioner-operated scenic float trip spotted Horyza about 5:30 p.m. and rescued her. Rangers later located and rescued Davis, who was stranded on an island between the Bourbon Street and main river channels. Neither Davis nor Horyza were injured in the boating accident and both were wearing life jackets.

At about 3 p.m. Saturday, Davis and Horyza hit a log with their canoe while floating in the Bourbon Street channel. The boat capsized and both were thrown into the Snake River. Horyza was able to reach an island in the middle of the river, while Davis was able to flip the canoe over and continue paddling downstream. Davis hit another log, causing the boat to capsize again; this time, Davis floated downstream without his canoe until he could reach the southern end of the same island on which Horyza was stranded. Davis hiked back up river trying to locate Horyza, but the two were on opposite sides of the island and were unable to reunite with one another.

The commercial float guide and his passengers saw Horyza and rescued her from the island; Horyza placed a 911 call to report the accident using the boat guide’s cell phone and Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report of the incident at 6:48 p.m.

While in the process of rescuing Horyza, the float guide also saw another capsized canoe with two people in the water and clinging to the craft; he used his river “rescue throw bag,” which contains a coiled length of rope, to reach those people, and was eventually able to pull them aboard his boat. After rescuing Davis and locating Horyza— who had driven her car back to the Moose Landing—park rangers were able reunite the pair at about 9:30 p.m.

The second boating accident was not reported to park personnel. Park visitors are required by law to immediately report any collision, accident, fire or other incident that results in property loss, property damage, personal injury or death. River users are also reminded that it is prohibited to remove or take any abandoned boat or other items from the Snake River.

The Snake is a powerful river with strong currents and cold water temperatures. Due to its tangle of channels and constantly shifting logjams, boaters are advised to have the proper equipment, as well as the knowledge and experience to accurately read the river’s current. For those unfamiliar with the Snake River, a pre-float consultation with rangers is strongly advised.

This marks the third significant search and rescue operation on the Snake River in the last two weeks, and the second in the Bourbon Street channel.

Tauck Volunteers Connect with Grand Teton NP

Tauck volunteers paint park structures
during their vacation at Grand Teton National Park

July 24, 2009
This past May, tour operator Tauck World Discovery announced plans to relocate their guest-volunteer program from Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park. The program is designed for Tauck's guests to donate a small portion of their vacation time toward preservation and beautification projects in national parks. To date, 21 volunteer groups have participated at Grand Teton in a number of beneficial projects—ranging from painting park structures to trail restoration work. The program annually runs from late May through September.

Over 11,000 Tauck guests have donated nearly 20,000 hours of labor since the innovative program began in Yellowstone in 2003, and the program has been honored at the White House with the Preserve America Award— the country's highest recognition for historic preservation. With the program now in its seventh year, Tauck's Volunteer Project Leader Bruce Fladmark reports no signs of dwindling enthusiasm. "The feeling of accomplishment and the ability to donate time to something that people feel passionate about are timeless," said Fladmark. Statistically, nearly 95% of participants have said that they would volunteer again if given the chance, and 86% said that volunteering enhanced their overall tour experience.

Fladmark credits the Tauck program with further volunteerism. The guest-volunteer program has often served as a catalyst for other volunteer work once participants return home. It also helps build a sense of community responsibility and develops a sense of stewardship for America’s national parks. In the end, Fladmark notes that participants acquire a new awareness of national parks, as well as a realization that ordinary citizens can make a difference.

Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott commends the Tauck guest volunteers for their efforts, and looks forward to continuing this effective program. “Volunteers are a key part of getting essential projects accomplished throughout the National Park System, and we are pleased to welcome the participants of Tauck’s guest-volunteer program this summer,” said Superintendent Scott. “Grand Teton hosts nearly four million visitors a year, so there is no shortage of tasks that need attention to keep the park in tip-top shape. We know that Tauck volunteers give generously of their time and talents, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with such a supportive group.”

Park to Host Lecture on Harrison Crandall

Harrison Crandall Painting, circa mid-1960s
July 22, 2009
Grand Teton National Park will host a special lecture titled,
“Harrison Crandall: Creating a Vision of Grand Teton National Park,” by Dr. Ken Barrick, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28 at the Colter Bay Visitor Center Auditorium. This program is free and open to the public.

Harrison “Hank” Crandall homesteaded in Jackson Hole in 1922. He was a fine-art painter, photographer, early concessionaire and fervent supporter of Grand Teton National Park until his death in 1970. In fact, he was the first resident artist in the valley and ran two Crandall Studios for decades: one at Jenny Lake (now the Jenny Lake Visitor Center) and the other at the former town of Moran near the shore of Jackson Lake. Crandall is best known for his landscape photos and oil paintings of the Teton Range, hand-painted wildflower photographs, and images of ranch life in Jackson Hole—including cowboys and cowgirls.

Dr. Barrick, an associate professor of geography at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, has been doing research in the Rocky Mountains for 25 years, including studies in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. For nearly 10 years, Barrick has done extensive research on Harrison Crandall’s contributions to the art of national parks.

Fire Danger Rating Elevated to High

July, 21 2009
Teton interagency fire managers elevated the fire danger rating to “High” for both the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park as of Tuesday, July 21. Drying vegetation combined with a recent rise in temperatures, lower humidity, and afternoon winds has increased the potential for fire activity. Local residents and visitors alike should exercise an extra measure of caution and practice heightened fire safety at all times—responsible steps include making sure that a campfire is thoroughly extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving a campsite.

Unattended or abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires. So far this summer, campers have carelessly abandoned 67 campfires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The fine for an abandoned campfire is $225, but campers can also be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire. Visitors should never leave a fire unattended, and should prepare for the unexpected by having a water bucket and shovel on hand.

Teton interagency firefighters are managing three fires for resource benefits, the most active of which is the Falling Ice Fire on the west side of Leigh Lake near the base of Mount Moran in Grand Teton National Park. The fire is still less than an acre, but smoke was visible Tuesday morning from Teton Park Road. The Snake Fire near the Teton Point Turnout and the Box Creek Fire in the Teton Wilderness on the Bridger-Teton National Forest are smoldering, but are not currently producing visible smoke.

When determining fire danger ratings, fire managers use several indices such as, the moisture content of grasses, shrubs and trees, projected weather conditions (including temperatures and possible wind events), the ability of fire to spread after ignition, and the availability of firefighting resources across the country. A high fire danger rating means that fires can start easily and spread quickly.

To report a fire or smoke in either area, call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3630. For more fire information, please visit the Web at http://gacc.nifc.gov/egbc/dispatch/wy-tdc/index.html or http://www.tetonfires.com/, or follow GrandTetonNPS or BridgerTetonNF on Twitter.

David T. Vernon Collection Lecture Series

Grand Teton National Park will host a special lecture series in celebration of the David T. Vernon Indian Arts Collection. “Celebrate the Vernon Collection” lectures will be held the week of July 20 at Colter Bay, Signal Mountain and Gros Ventre. Three guest speakers, Mr. George Horse Capture, Dr. Douglas Evelyn and Dr. Herman J. Viola will share their in-depth knowledge of American Indian interests and museum curation, as well as specific information about the David T. Vernon Collection, on exhibit in the Indian Arts Museum at Colter Bay. Collectively, these speakers have many years of experience at the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

This is the second consecutive year these three men will participate in celebrating the Vernon Collection. The return of these museum experts is a testament to the value and significance of the Vernon Collection. The collection contains an impressive variety of American Indian artifacts collected by David T. Vernon over his lifetime. The collection was purchased by the Jackson Hole Preserve, Incorporated—a Rockefeller Family foundation dedicated to conservation of cultural and natural resources. Laurance S. Rockefeller loaned the Vernon collection to the National Park Service and requested that the impressive artifacts be exhibited in Grand Teton National Park. The Indian Arts Museum was built to house the collection and it opened to the public in June 1972 with Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Vernon serving as key dignitaries at the dedication. A few years later, Mr. Rockefeller donated the entire collection to the National Park Service with the stipulation that it continue to be displayed in Grand Teton

Monday, July 20: Mr. George Horse Capture will present “Plains Indian Art from the Museums of the World” at 7:30 p.m. in the Colter Bay Visitor Center Auditorium

Tuesday, July 21: Dr. Douglas Evelyn will present “Inventions’ Treasures, Indians and Presidents- Washington’s Civil War Era Patent Office Building” at 7:30 p.m. in the Colter Bay Visitor Center Auditorium

Wednesday, July 22:
Dr. Herman J. Viola will present “Exploring the West” at 7:30 p.m. in the Colter Bay Visitor Center Auditorium

Thursday, July 23: Dr. Douglas Evelyn will present “The National Mall and the Smithsonian” at 7:30 p.m. in the Colter Bay Visitor Center Auditorium, and Mr. George Horse Capture will present “In Search of the Gros Ventre Indian People” at 9:30 p.m. in the Gros Ventre Campground Amphitheater

Friday, July 24:
Dr. Herman J. Viola will present “The View from the Riverbank: American Indians and the Lewis and Clark Expedition” at 9:30 p.m. in the Signal Mountain Campground Amphitheatre

Dr. Evelyn, a historian of Washington, D.C. by avocation and an independent museum consultant by occupation, specializes in museum planning and management following a 36-year career at the Smithsonian Institution. He helped establish the National Museum of the American Indian, serving as its deputy director for 14 years. He also served as deputy director at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, from 1979 to 1991, and at the National Portrait Gallery, where he began his Smithsonian career in 1969. Dr. Evelyn has been active in the American museum scene for over four decades, including serving as staff, treasurer and board member for the American Association of Museums; as president and board member of the American Association of State and Local History; and on the United States board of the International Council of Museums. He is now a trustee of the New York State Historical Association and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

Mr. Horse Capture served as deputy assistant director for cultural resources of the National Museum of the American Indian from March 1994 until his retirement in 2006. He was curator at the Plains Indian Museum, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, in Cody, Wyoming for 11 years, and he has taught Native American Studies at Montana State University in Bozeman. His many awards include the Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Community Folklife Program Grant—a $15,000 award to conduct the “Ft. Belknap Tribes Traditional Design Recovery Project.” He has published several book reviews, as well as other publications, including the article “From Reservation to the Smithsonian via Alcatraz,” in American Culture and Research Journal. He has served as a consultant to many Indian tribes, participated in a range of community activities, appeared in several films and television programs, and even produced several films himself, including I’d Rather Be Powwowing, a 16mm film that won the Old West Trail’s William F. Cody Motion Picture Award for best film portraying the West in 1983.

Dr. Viola is a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. A specialist on the history of the American West, he served as director of the museum’s National Anthropological Archives in addition to organizing two major exhibitions for the Smithsonian: “Magnificent Voyagers” and “Seeds of Change.” Prior to joining the staff of the Smithsonian Institution in 1972, he was an archivist at the National Archives of the United States, where he launched and was the first editor of Prologue: The Journal of the National Archives. His publications include Exploring the West, After Columbus, Warrior Artists, and The North American Indians. He is also the author of the middle school social studies textbook, Why We Remember. His most recent book, Little Bighorn Remembered: the Untold Indian Story of Custer's Last Stand, was selected by both the Book of the Month Club and the Quality Paperback Club, and was a primary selection of the History Club.

Rangers Rescue Solo Kayaker from Snake River

July 17, 2009
Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a full-scale search for an overdue, solo kayaker on the Snake River late Wednesday night, July 15 and early Thursday morning, July 16. Jane Dukes, age 71, of Colfax, Indiana, was spotted by rangers and members of the Teton interagency helitak crew from the park’s contract helicopter at approximately 8:15 a.m. Thursday after she spent an unexpected night out on the river. Dukes was found unharmed, but she did float several miles beyond her intended destination of Deadman’s Bar landing; she was located two miles upstream from the Moose landing, near the Bar BC historic site.

Dukes launched an inflatable kayak at 6:30 Wednesday evening from the Pacific Creek landing, telling family members that she would either float a short distance and paddle back to the launch site, or continue on to Deadman’s Bar, some 10 river miles downstream. Dukes was unfamiliar with the Snake River, and although she has experience canoeing on lakes and small streams, she lacked experience with both a kayak and a swift flowing river—the Snake River is currently flowing at approximately 4,300 cubic-feet-per-second below the Buffalo Fork confluence. When darkness overcame Dukes around 9:30 p.m., she beached her kayak on a sandbar in the middle of the river and stayed put, rather than continuing to float downstream on an unknown course. She also turned her kayak over and took shelter from a cold breeze. Overnight temperatures on the Snake River reached 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and Dukes had no supplemental clothing or equipment to protect her from the elements.

Rangers received a report at 9:47 p.m. that Dukes was overdue and her whereabouts were unknown. Due to the late hour and decreasing temperature, rangers quickly organized a wide-spread search that included checking several river locations. Rangers also used night-vision goggles to attempt to detect her in the dark conditions before the moon rose, but were unsuccessful in their efforts. A more extensive search was organized for first light on Thursday morning, and the Teton interagency helicopter was summoned to assist with an aerial reconnaissance. A total of 19 park personnel and Teton interagency staff ultimately assisted with the search and rescue operation.

Although Dukes was wearing a sage green life jacket that blended in with her surroundings, rangers spotted her when she waved her arms at the sight of the helicopter on Thursday morning. Two additional rangers were able to launch a raft from the west bank of the river and reach her shortly after she was spotted from the air. They then floated her to a location near the old Bar BC Dude Ranch, where a park ambulance was waiting. Emergency medical personnel assessed her physical condition and determined that she should be transported to St. John’s Medical Center for additional medical care.

Rangers credit Dukes with keeping her wits about her and for beaching on the sandbar rather than continuing through the braided and debris-strewn river channels beyond. Although this incident had a positive outcome, it could have resulted in serious injury or worse for Dukes because of the late hour of the day and her lack of river knowledge.

The Snake is a natural river and its current and water temperature can be deceiving. Novice boaters should never underestimate the river and should consult with rangers before beginning their trip. Anyone planning to float the distance from Pacific Creek to Deadman’s Bar should get an early start to avoid fading light and reduced visibility as dusk sets in.

This marks the second significant search and rescue operation involving ill-prepared boaters on the Snake River.

Glaciers to be Discussed at AMK Ranch Lecture

July 14, 2009
The current status of glaciers in the Teton Range—including preliminary findings for glacial changes over time and the implications for park resources and visitors—will be discussed by
Dr. Glenn Tootle during an informative talk slated for Thursday,
July 16, at the historic AMK Ranch, north of Leeks Marina, in Grand Teton National Park. Also presenting are Jake Edmunds, lead graduate student on the Teton Range glacier study, and Greg Kerr, director of the Office of Water Programs at the University of Wyoming (UW). The program is part of a summer lecture series annually hosted by the University of Wyoming-National Park Service Research Center. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m., immediately following a barbecue cookout.

Formerly an assistant professor and researcher in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Wyoming, Tootle is currently with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Tootle supervises a research project team of three UW graduate students (Jake Edmunds, Derrick Thompson and Jeb Bell) on glaciers in the Teton Range and Wind River Range.

For fifteen years, Teton glaciers existed without much scrutiny. However, in 2008 two studies were initiated to document glacial changes in the Teton Range. The research to be discussed in the AMK lecture incorporates aerial photographs and remote sensing data. The project utilizes USGS aerials to calculate 3-dimensional images of glaciers and to evaluate glacial area and volume changes. Edmunds’ early findings indicate the two glaciers studied (Middle Teton and Teton) have lost over half of their area since 1967.

This research represents a growing initiative on the part of the National Park Service to monitor the trend of natural resources during the current period of climate change, studies made possible in part through funding provided by Grand Teton National Park Foundation. The Teton glacier studies, in particular, provide significant insight into the possibility of an environmentally-changing Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Among other factors, climate and glaciers strongly influence the timing and intensity of peak stream flows, which are important factors driving both agricultural practices and natural ecosystems in the area. The findings will also provide vital information for a future meeting of regional climate change experts discussing current research, information gaps, and priorities for the GYE.

Rockefeller Preserve in GTNP to Host Book Club

Margaret "Mardy" Murie
July 14, 2009
The staff of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve in Grand Teton National Park invites local residents and park visitors to join them for a new opportunity—a monthly book club discussion. The introductory book club discussion will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, in the Preserve Center’s resource room. After the Thursday afternoon discussion, participants may take an optional hike on the Preserve trails with a ranger.

In an effort to inspire a spirit of stewardship, the newly-created book club is designed to explore literature that examines our connection to the natural world. The first book to be read and discussed is Wapiti Wilderness by Margaret and Olaus Murie.

The Muries arrived in Jackson in 1927 from Alaska, after Olaus was commissioned by the U.S. Biological Service to study the Jackson Hole elk herd. In 1945, Olaus and Margaret “Mardy,” along with his brother, Adolph, and sister-in-law, Louise, pooled their resources to purchase the STS dude ranch in Moose, Wyoming. From their ranch, the Muries helped to spearhead the modern-day American conservation movement. Olaus was also an outspoken supporter of the controversial establishment of Grand Teton National Park. After Olaus passed away in 1963, Mardy went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States—in 1998 for her unfailing work on behalf of natural landscapes and their wild inhabitants. Wapiti Wilderness is the story of the Muries’ lives as they made a home in early-day Jackson Hole.

For those interested in participating in the book club discussion, a copy of the book of the month can be purchased from a Grand Teton Association bookstore at a 10 percent discount. Grand Teton Association bookstores are located in park visitor centers and at the interagency visitor center located on North Cache Street in Jackson, Wyoming.

To sign up for the book club, or for more information about this new activity, please call the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve at 307.739.3654.

Future books, times and dates for the monthly book club have yet to be determined.

Passing Thunderstorm Ignites Several Fires

July 13, 2009
More than 500 lightning strikes were recorded in Grand Teton National Park and on the north zone of the Bridger-Teton National Forest as an active thunderstorm moved through the greater Jackson Hole area early Monday morning, July 13. At least three lightning-caused fires ignited in Grand Teton during the past 24 hours. Teton interagency firefighters are on alert for additional fires as the temperature rises and afternoon winds increase.

Lightning ignited the Valley Fire, one mile southwest of the park’s Beaver Creek housing area on Sunday afternoon, and early Monday morning, lightning ignited the Smurf House Fire near Moran Junction. Interagency firefighters suppressed both fires at a tenth-acre due to their proximity to park developments. Firefighters are monitoring a third fire, Falling Ice Fire west of Leigh Lake. The fire, which is one-tenth of an acre, may be managed for resource benefit.

Fire managers raised the fire danger rating to moderate on July 8, which means fires start and spread easily. In addition to lightning-ignited fires, the Bridger-Teton National Forest has dealt with 50 abandoned campfires so far this summer.

“With warmer and drier weather in the forecast, it is critical that campers make sure their campfires are cold to the touch before leaving them,” said Fire Prevention Technician Lesley Williams. “Should your campfire become a wildfire, you can be held liable for suppression costs.”

For local fire information, log on to http://gacc.nifc.gov/egbc/dispatch/wy-tdc/index.html, or use the redirect from http://www.tetonfires.com/.

Second Fee-Free Weekend and Special Events in Grand Teton National Park

Pristine Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park
July 13, 2009
Grand Teton National Park will mark its second fee-free weekend on July 18 and 19, by offering special ranger-led activities. In addition to free admission into the park, several family-friendly programs aimed at providing education and promoting conservation are scheduled to help make the weekend a time to remember.

Jenny Lake: Canoe and Kayak Trip
Saturday, July 18, 2009—7:30 am
Join a 3-hour trip with a ranger to explore the beauty of Jenny Lake by canoe or kayak. Reservations are required; the limit is 10 boats. Canoes or kayaks can be rented from Jenny Lake Boating or participants can bring their own. Those attending should bring drinking water, rain gear and a snack. Participants must wear a life preserver during this activity. Obtain more information at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center (307.739.3392).

Gros Ventre Amphitheater: International Year of Astronomy
Sunday, July 19, 2009—9:30 pm
In recognition of the International Year of Astronomy, Park Ranger Naturalist Bob Hoyle will give a talk about American Indian mythology and the use of the sky and its celestial bodies in cultural history. Following the program, large telescopes will be set up for participants to view stars, galaxies, nebulas and other cosmic phenomena. Anyone planning to attend the program and telescope session should dress warmly as evening temperatures in Grand Teton can be quite chilly. For information on the International Year of Astronomy or the International Astronomical Union, visit their Web site at http://www.astronomy2009.org/.

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve: Birds and Climate Change
Birds of the Preserve
Saturday, July 18, 2009—10:00 am – 12 noon
Discover the magnificent, colorful world of birds on a hike to Phelps Lake with a ranger. Round-trip distance is 2.5-3 miles.

Songs of Spring and Summer
Sunday, July 19, 2009—8:00 am – 10:30 am
Summer bird songs are a pleasant addition to any outdoor excursion. Join a ranger for an easy walk emphasizing “birding by ear” as a form of bird identification. Round-trip distance is 2.2 miles.

Our Changing Planet: Climate Change in Grand Teton
Saturday, July 18, 2009—2:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Will the park’s spectacular scenery look the same in 20 years? Come explore some of Grand Teton’s pristine habitats and learn about how climate change will aff­ect them. Round-trip distance is 3.2 miles.

Space is limited to 10 people in the special programs listed above, and reservations are recommended: call 307.739.3654. Meet on the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center Porch. Bring appropriate clothing, sunscreen, insect repellant, water and snacks if desired.

Craig Thomas Discovery Center: All Day Hike with a Ranger
Saturday, July 18, 2009—9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Join a park ranger to walk along crystal-clear glacial lakes, enjoy incredible mountain views and discover special stories about Grand Teton. Roundtrip hike to Trapper and Bearpaw lakes is 7.5 miles. This activity is limited to 15 people, and reservations are required. Those attending should bring drinking water, rain gear and lunch. Obtain more information at the Discovery Center (307.739.3399).

These ranger-led activities are being offered in addition to the regularly-scheduled activities that are listed in the park's newspaper, the Teewinot. Please visit online at http://www.nps.gov/ to see a complete list of ranger-led activities for 2009.

Two-Day Closure for Moose-Wilson Road

July 13, 2009
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that a temporary travel closure will be in place on the unpaved segment of the Moose-Wilson Road within Grand Teton National Park from 5 a.m. Thursday, July 16, to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 17. The road closure will allow for a two-part road improvement project to be completed: grading work will be done on the gravel roadbed from the Granite Canyon trailhead parking area for a distance of 1.5 miles north; and a dust abatement product will be applied. Barring inclement weather or equipment malfunction, the Moose-Wilson Road will reopen by 5 p.m. on July 17.

The scheduled two-day closure will prevent the ability to make a “through trip” on the Moose-Wilson Road, so local residents and park visitors are advised to make alternate travel plans and expect to use a detour route via Highway 26/89/191. Visitors wishing to reach the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve or the Death Canyon trailhead will need to access these locations by driving south from the Teton Park Road junction near the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose, Wyoming.

The gravel surface of the Moose-Wilson Road between the Granite Canyon trailhead and the old JY Ranch gate (1.5 miles north of the trailhead) becomes eroded throughout the summer due to the volume of vehicles that travel on it. Road grading creates a smoother surface and provides an added measure of safety for motorists using this park roadway.

Although the temporary closure will inconvenience visitors and local residents who wish to drive the length of the Moose-Wilson Road on Thursday and Friday, the dust abatement application will make future travel a safer and more enjoyable experience. By minimizing dust on this road, visibility will be improved and damage to nearby vegetation will be reduced. The product used for dust abatement is a slurry of magnesium chloride. It is the same product that is used to treat dirt roads in and around Jackson Hole. This product coats the road surface, but it can also adhere to the undercarriage of vehicles. Motorists, who drive this portion of the Moose-Wilson Road after it reopens on Friday evening, may want to rinse off their vehicles to eliminate any residue.

Roadwork schedules may change, or be delayed, due to weather conditions or other extenuating circumstances.

Injured Climber Evacuated by Helicopter from Teewinot Mountain

July 12, 2009
An injured climber was evacuated by helicopter from Teewinot Mountain on Saturday afternoon, July 11, in Grand Teton National Park. Sam Russell, 22, of Jackson, Wyoming sustained serious injuries when he slipped on snow and tumbled about 200 feet before landing on a break between two snow patches, while attempting to descend the North West Couloir (elevation 12,000 ft). He was wearing crampons and carrying an ice axe at the time, but was unable to perform a self arrest.

Russell’s climbing party had successfully reached the summit of Teewinot and was on their way down when the accident occurred; all of the climbers had ice axes and crampons, but none were wearing helmets. The group decided to make their decent via the South West Couloir but missed their intended route and ended up on the more technical North West Couloir.

Grand Teton National Park rangers were notified of the accident at around 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, when Russell’s companions placed a call for help from a cell phone. Rangers immediately organized a rescue operation and requested the assistance of an interagency contract helicopter for support in the rescue. The helicopter flew to Lupine Meadows, picked up several rangers, and performed an aerial reconnaissance flight. Rangers were able to remain in contact via cell phone with a member of Russell’s climbing party, which was helpful in pinpointing his location on the mountain.

A suitable helicopter landing zone near the accident site allowed rangers to arrive on scene just before 2 p.m. Rangers provided Russell with emergency medical care before placing him into a rescue litter for aerial evacuation. He was then flown via the short-haul method at 2:30 p.m.—with a ranger accompanying him below the helicopter—directly to the Jenny Lake rescue cache located on the valley floor. A park ambulance transported Russell to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson for further treatment of his injuries.

Park rangers also evacuated Russell’s companions via helicopter after helping them descend to the high west shoulder of Teewinot Mountain.

Rangers remind climbers that dangerous and variable snow conditions persist above 9,000 feet. Backcountry users are advised to stop in or call a visitor center or ranger station on the day of travel to obtain the most current trail, route and snow conditions. Climbers should also note that most climbing accidents involve slips on snow, and most occur on the descent at the end of a long day.

This marks the first major mountain rescue operation in Grand Teton National Park this summer.

Rangers Rescue Stranded Father & Son from Snake River

July 11, 2009
Grand Teton National Park rangers, Teton interagency fire personnel and emergency medical personnel rescued a father and son on Friday night, July 10 at 9 p.m. after they became separated from their small boat and stranded on a logjam in the swift-flowing Snake River. Forty-year-old Byron Thames, of Los Angeles, California, and his 15-year-old son were floating down the river in a petite, swimming pool-style, inflatable raft when their boat partially deflated, causing them to eventually fall into the river. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report of the incident at 5:55 p.m. from the wife and mother of the two Thameses. At 6:40 p.m., park rescue personnel located the two boaters hanging onto a logjam on the right side of the Bourbon Street channel, about a mile and a half south of the Moose Bridge.

Thames and his son launched their inflatable dinghy from Deadman’s Bar—one of four river launch areas in the park—at approximately 2:30 p.m. They intended to float all the way to the Wilson Bridge, about 25 river miles away. A river guide for a park concessionaire saw the pair getting ready to launch and questioned their preparedness. The guide noticed that the two did not have any oars or paddles and cautioned that they needed something to help them navigate their small craft. Thames then picked up two sticks to serve as makeshift paddles for his float trip. Besides lacking oars, the Thameses did not have any life jackets—basic safety equipment required when boating on park waters.

The pair floated several miles downstream without incident until the side of their inflatable dinghy got punctured, leaving only the floor chamber inflated. They were able to float past Menor’s Ferry and attempted to pull out at the Moose landing; however, they could not reach the riverbank using the makeshift stick paddles and continued floating beyond the Moose Bridge. About a mile and a half south of Moose, the river forks and the floaters took the left channel known as Bourbon Street. At this point, their inflatable dinghy became lodged against an obstruction, causing both men to fall into the river. Byron was trapped in a tangle of branches on a submerged tree and pinned underwater. River users call this river debris a “strainer.” Strainers are a particularly risky hazard for boaters because they can trap people against the branches and cause them to become submerged in the current. Fortunately, Thames was able to free himself from the strainer and make his way upstream to where his son was clinging to a logjam. Once he reached his son, Thames was able to call his wife from his cell phone; she then called for help.

Rangers used a technical river rescue technique to reach the stranded men, positioning a rescuer into the current to reach each of the floaters, one person at a time. While both men experienced early stages of hypothermia, they were not seriously injured and refused medical treatment. A total of 21 park personnel and Teton interagency firefighters responded to this incident. Two citations were issued to Byron Thames: one for not having life jackets, and the other for failure to obtain a park boat permit.

Although this incident had a positive outcome, it could have resulted in serious injury or worse for the two boaters. The force of the current and water temperature of the Snake River can be deceiving. Rangers remind river users that the section of the Snake River that runs from Deadman’s Bar to Moose is fairly technical and demands a certain level of skill to negotiate. Proper equipment, as well as knowledge of how to read a river’s current, are essential before beginning any float trip. Boaters are required to have certified personal floatation devices for all persons aboard the watercraft and to obtain appropriate permits.

Junior Ranger Essay Contest Winner Highlights Grand Teton National Park

Jason R. Maki
Jr. Ranger Essay Contest Winner
July 10, 2009
With more than 400 compositions submitted for the 2009 National Park Foundation Junior Ranger Essay Contest, Jason Roy Maki, of Marysville, Washington, won second place for his piece highlighting the best of Grand Teton National Park. Maki and other contestants, submitted essays to answer the question: “Why are our national parks important to you and what is your best idea to protect our parks for the future?” This is the third year for the Foundation-sponsored contest, which is open to children aged 9 to 12. Vice Chair of the National Park Foundation Vin Cipolla explains the importance of the writing competition, stating: “This essay contest is about giving [the children] a microphone to tell their stories, and also empowering them to become stewards by giving them a chance to direct grants to the parks of their choice.”

As part of his second place prize, Maki won a $500 Visa gift card, an America The Beautiful pass, and an opportunity to direct a $2,000 contribution to the park of his choice. Maki chose Grand Teton as the recipient of his contribution, and his choice seems appropriate given the vivid descriptions he uses in his winning essay. Maki states simply, “I love Grand Teton National Park the best,” and who could doubt him when he describes some of his favorite moments: “I’ve seen an eagle and an osprey fighting over a fish…I’ve even seen a rare black wolf running across a snow field… [and] I’ve watched a huge bison lit up against the night sky when lightning struck the mountains.” Maki appreciates the importance of all national parks, and explains that a “national park is like a special cabinet that contains memories that are filled with truly special natural treasures.” Maki comments that “We the people own the national parks,” and he urges us all not to litter, feed animals, or leave campfires carelessly. In addition, Maki offers several suggestions for increasing awareness for our national parks. First, Maki recommends a national contest for kids in school to brainstorm ideas about protecting and preserving national parks. Second, Maki proposes a reading program where school-age children can learn about national parks and eventually visit them one day.

“Jason’s enthusiasm about our park and his stewardship potential are truly inspiring,” Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott said. “The Junior Ranger Essay Contest highlights the kind of future leaders we need to endorse and advocate for our national park system. Jason was generous in his decision to gift Grand Teton National Park with a monetary contribution, and it will be put to use furthering the kind of awareness that Jason so eloquently promotes in his essay.”

All winning essays will be featured in the 2009 Junior Ranger Gazette, published by sponsor Unilever. They are also posted on the National Park Foundation’s Web site www.nationalparks.org/essaycontest.

Grand Teton Celebrates National Park & Recreation Month with Ranger-led Bike Ride

July 7, 2009
To help celebrate National Park and Recreation Month, Grand Teton National Park will offer a unique excursion: a bicycle ride with a park ranger. Visitors and local residents may join a park ranger naturalist on Saturday, July 11, at 9:30 a.m. at the Taggart Lake trailhead, just three miles north of the Moose entrance station, for a leisurely bike ride along the park’s new multi-use pathway.

It is also possible to join the ranger at any point along the pathway between Taggart Lake and Jenny Lake. As a friendly reminder, those attending should bring drinking water, rain gear and a snack. Bicycle helmets for all participants are highly recommended. The distance between Taggart Lake trailhead and Jenny Lake is approximately 3.5 miles. This section of the pathway is mostly level or rolling; there is slight elevation gain of about 165’ over the 3.5-mile distance. This activity will last for two and one half hours.

July was designated as America’s National Park and Recreation Month in 1985 and has been annually observed since that time. In an effort to promote physical activity and encourage an appreciation for the great outdoors during the 2009 National Park and Recreation Month, Grand Teton has scheduled several new ranger-led activities—beginning with the bike with a ranger tour. This is an excellent activity for families and reservations are not required. Additional new ranger-led activities will be announced throughout the month of July.

“Visitors to Grand Teton can discover recreational activities to help them pursue healthy lifestyle goals during each season of the year,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “During National Park and Recreation Month in July, visitors and area residents can take advantage of not only the multi-use pathway, but also the extensive hiking trails located throughout the park’s backcountry. Biking and hiking are just two of the many excellent ways that visitors can explore the beauty and wonders of the park while getting fresh air and exercise.”

For a complete list of ranger-led activities and programs, please refer to the park’s newspaper, the Teewinot, online at www.nps.gov/grte or call one of the park’s visitor centers: the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399, the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307.739.3594 or the Jenny Lake Visitor Center at 307.739.3392.

Park to Aid with Airport Expansion Project

Grand Teton National Park has agreed to allow the Jackson Hole Airport to use a previously disturbed area for the stockpiling of construction materials and equipment needed for an upcoming airport terminal expansion project. The area is located on the east side of Highway 26/89/191, in close proximity to the airport, and may be visible to passing motorists. Grand Teton also plans to temporarily stockpile gravel and other materials in the same location for use on road improvement projects scheduled for July and August.

In discussions with the Jackson Hole Airport board, Grand Teton officials recognized that allowing the airport to use an alternate stockpile area would alleviate safety concerns regarding the operation of the Teton Interagency Helibase located at the northern end of the airport parking lot. It will also reduce disruptions to both public and employee parking. The Teton Interagency Helibase supports firefighting activities, search and rescue operations and other emergency services for Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge.

Contractors for the airport terminal expansion project will only be permitted to stockpile materials and equipment on previously disturbed land; the area will be enclosed with a secure fence to prevent people and wildlife from entering the site. In order to lessen traffic to and from the stockpile location, certain restrictions will apply. The materials and equipment stored in the area will not be accessed on a regular basis; generally, no more than three trips per day will occur between the stockpile site and the airport. In addition, warning signs will be placed to alert motorists traveling Highway 216/89/191 about the potential for trucks crossing the road.

The Jackson Hole Airport terminal expansion project is consistent with the terms of the current agreement between the airport board and the Department of the Interior. Additional space is required in the terminal building to accommodate ticketing functions and security procedures, as well as baggage handling and screening operations. The project is expected to begin in mid-July.

Two Youths Overcome by Carbon Monoxide

July 1, 2009
Two nine-year-old girls from Jackson, Wyoming families suffered carbon-monoxide poisoning while “teak surfing” behind an inboard ski boat on Jackson Lake on Tuesday afternoon, June 30. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a 911 call regarding the situation about 4:30 p.m. and park emergency medical providers, along with numerous park personnel from other divisions, responded immediately to the Colter Bay Marina to provide life-saving medical care before transporting the young girls to St. John’s Medical Center. After receiving highly concentrated oxygen treatment, the girls were revived and later released from the hospital.

A family of four (mom, dad, son and daughter), along with a young girl and her brother from another family, were out for an afternoon excursion on the lake. The young girls, and their older brothers, were taking turns holding onto a swim platform attached to the back of a 20-foot, 1994 Tige ski boat while being pulled across the water. Because of the close proximity to the boat’s exhaust ports, the two girls and one of the boys were subjected to a high concentration of carbon-monoxide gas. When both girls lost consciousness and slumped down behind the platform, one of the brothers realized something was wrong and quickly pulled them out of the water and onto the platform. The young man also made an emergency call for help on his cell phone. Although the father was operating the ski boat when the girls lost consciousness, his son took over in order to drive to the marina to get emergency care. During this time, the father gave CPR to one of the girls.

An investigation is underway regarding the circumstances of this incident and a citation for operating a vessel while allowing a person to hang onto a swim platform will likely be issued, as well as a citation for failure to provide required personal floatation devices for all boat occupants. Because of its inherently unsafe nature, “teak surfing” is illegal in all national park units—including Grand Teton; it is also illegal in a number of states.

The activity is called “teak surfing” because the swim platforms on boats are often made of teak wood. Swimmers use these transom platforms to body surf on the wake behind a slow moving boat; however the inboard-motor exhaust ports place the swimmers in direct contact with carbon-monoxide gases, leading to potentially deadly exposure. High concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause a rapid loss of consciousness and death. Levels of carbon-monoxide are more dangerous in the boating environment because they can lead to drowning. In addition, carbon-monoxide concentrations released from boats can be over 150 times higher than exhaust from an ordinary automobile.

Carbon monoxide—an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas—is a leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths each year in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 500 people perish annually due to carbon-monoxide poisoning. Symptoms of carbon-monoxide poisoning may include severe headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, fainting, and death. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, slight nausea, and a mild headache.

“This incident serves as a harsh lesson that a seemingly innocent activity can actually be quite dangerous,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “We are so relieved that these two young ladies were revived, and that this incident had a positive ending for the families involved.”