Grand Teton Offers Limited Firewood Permits

August 31, 2010
For a second year, Grand Teton National Park will allow a limited number of firewood cords to be collected for personal use—by permit only—along Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (JDR Parkway). Wood collection will begin on Friday, September 3 and end on October 11, 2010. Each permit will be limited to four cords of wood at a cost of $15.00 per cord. Firewood is limited to private, non-commercial use.

Permits to gather the available firewood will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis from the Permits Desk at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose. This opportunity is possible as part of a hazard tree removal project along the Grassy Lake Road. In past years, wind storms toppled numerous trees onto the road creating a safety concern for motorists. Interagency fire personal cleared the hazard trees last year, leaving behind stacks of rounds and limbs. Anyone obtaining a firewood permit will simply need to cut the already downed trees into manageable lengths and remove the wood. Standing trees may not be sawed down.

In order to gather firewood, a Special Use Permit is required. This permit will specify the amount of wood permitted, and those who gather wood must have the authorized permit with them while on site. Guidelines and regulations for firewood collection will be issued along with the permit.

No motorized vehicles are permitted away from established roads in the JDR Parkway. Winches, cables or ropes cannot be used to drag wood to the road. Logs should be hauled by hand or a non-motorized wheeled cart.

Wood collectors will need to buck the wood into manageable lengths and the use of chainsaws is approved in the identified areas. A map of these areas will be issued along with the firewood permit.

For further information about this opportunity, please call Barbara Visnovske at 307.739.3431 during business hours.

Escaped Campfire on Elk Island Prompts Suppression Actions

Elk Island, the largest island on Jackson Lake,
 lies near the southwestern shoreline
August 27, 2010
Teton Interagency firefighters initiated suppression actions on a new fire in Grand Teton National Park today, August 27. The tenth-acre Elk Fire was spotted at 6:49 a.m. Friday on the northwest tip of Elk Island, which is located in Jackson Lake. The island serves as a popular site for boat camping.

Law enforcement rangers located the boater that had camped at the site on Thursday night, and although he had a fire permit, he failed to properly extinguish his campfire before leaving the site Friday morning. High winds caused the fire to spot outside the rocky area below the high water mark where fires are permitted. The boater had changed his camping location about 2 a.m. because of the winds. He stated that he did not notice that the fire was still smoldering and therefore did not make attempts to extinguish it.

“It’s imperative that campers extinguish their fires before going to sleep at night,” North District Ranger Patrick Hattaway said. “Campfires should never be left unattended or abandoned. Campers need to make sure their campfire is cold to the touch before leaving a campsite.”

Hattaway said failure to properly extinguish a campfire has a minimum fine of $100, but can require a mandatory court appearance and a judge can require restitution for suppression costs and damages.

The Elk Fire is smoldering in grass and light timber. Three firefighters from Teton Interagency’s Engine 4 responded to the fire by taking a boat from Colter Bay to Elk Island. They expect to have the fire contained by 6 p.m. today.

The Teton Interagency dispatch area, which includes Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest, was in a Red Flag Warning on Thursday for critical fire weather because of high winds and low humidity.

Spread Creek Dam to be Removed

Spread Creek dam is slated to be removed
to reconnect about 50 miles of native trout habitat

August 27, 2010
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott is pleased to announce that Grand Teton National Park, in partnership with Trout Unlimited (TU), will begin a project to remove the Spread Creek dam—a water diversion structure located on a tributary of the Upper Snake River that flows from the Bridger-Teton National Forest into the east boundary of the park. The project will reconnect approximately 50 miles of critical trout habitat along Spread Creek and allow for the natural movement of native cutthroat trout and other non-game fish that historically migrated through this waterway to spawn. This project involves the removal of the dam, installation of natural-design and fish-friendly rock weirs, and the restoration of stream channel contours and vegetation.

The Spread Creek diversion structure is managed by Grand Teton, but located on Bridger-Teton forest land. The National Park Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WG&F) identified the dam as a priority for restoration activities because Spread Creek provides habitat for the Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat trout—a state and federally recognized sensitive species. For more than 40 years, the existing Spread Creek diversion dam has caused a year-round barrier to fish migration because it spans the width of the creek and blocks tributary spawning and rearing habitat for native fish such as cutthroat trout, mountain suckers and whitefish.

Grand Teton will work in partnership with TU, a nonprofit 501(c) (3) corporation dedicated to protecting, reconnecting, restoring and sustaining native trout habitat. TU’s Wyoming Water Project is securing the funding for the project and will oversee and conduct restoration activities, including the removal of the existing diversion structure, construction of a water delivery system, and restoration of the natural stream channel. Grand Teton staff and TU are working closely with stakeholder groups such as the WG&F, Bridger-Teton, and Triangle X and Moosehead ranches who are historic water users along with Grand Teton National Park.

This project involves removal of the dam by mechanical means. Workers will bury a portion of the old concrete edifice to help support a new irrigation infrastructure. In place of the dam, three rock weirs will be installed to maintain water level at a new headgate that will divert irrigation water to authorized users in the park. The weirs are designed to allow for native fish to either pass over or through the structures to access historic spawning and rearing areas. After the dam is removed and the rock weirs are in place, the Spread Creek channel will be reconstructed to establish its natural hydrology, which has been interrupted for decades. Restoration of the channel downstream of the rock weirs will reflect the natural elevation and contour of the streambed and encourage native re-vegetation.

“This is an historic step toward correcting a long-term disruption to fish migration and an important action for restoring Spread Creek’s hydrology,” said Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott. “We appreciate and applaud the work of Trout Unlimited and their funding partners in making this milestone project possible. We also appreciate the cooperation we’ve received from historic water users, Bridger-Teton National Forest staff and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department as we launch this project to improve critical fish habitat outside and inside Grand Teton National Park.”

Climber Evacuated from Valhalla Traverse

Icy slope where Smith fell while crossing the Valhalla Traverse

August 26, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued an injured climber from the Valhalla Traverse on the Grand Teton Thursday afternoon, August 26, after receiving a call for help at 11:30 a.m. alerting them of a climber who had fallen and sustained injuries. Michelle Smith, 29, of Jackson, Wyoming was traversing across snow and ice when she slipped and fell 30 feet.

Smith and her climbing partner were planning to do a one-day trip up the Enclosure Couloir (12,000 feet) on the northwest side of the Grand Teton. Both climbers were using ropes while crossing the Valhalla Traverse, and both have extensive climbing experience in the Teton Range.

Three rangers were flown from Lupine Meadows to the Lower Saddle at 12:40 p.m. to meet up with two other rangers who were already on patrol at the Lower Saddle. From there, two of the rangers were short-hauled below the helicopter and delivered in close proximity to the accident site. One ranger hiked to Smith and reached her at about 2:30 p.m. The ranger provided emergency medical care to Smith before preparing her for aerial evacuation.

Smith was flown to the Lower Saddle via short-haul, then placed inside the helicopter for the flight down to Lupine Meadows where a park ambulance was waiting to transport her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson.

Rangers remind hikers and climbers that one-third of all backcountry injuries result from slips on snow and ice.

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 accidents occur on the descent at the end of the day.

Temp Closure for Moose-Wilson Road--Aug. 25

August 23, 2010
A brief travel closure will be in effect on the unpaved section of the Moose-Wilson Road within Grand Teton National Park for about 28 hours, beginning at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, August 25. The road is scheduled to reopen by 8 a.m. on Thursday, August 26, barring equipment malfunction or rainy weather. The temporary closure is scheduled to allow for dust abatement work to be done on the unpaved roadbed.

Road crews will complete this project in the shortest time possible; however, because the temporary closure prevents the ability for making a “through trip” on the Moose-Wilson Road, local residents and park visitors are advised to plan accordingly and use an alternate route.

For those wishing to reach the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve or Death Canyon trailhead, access will be possible by driving south from the junction with the Teton Park Road near the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.

To alert travelers of the road closure, electronic signs will be placed on Wyoming Highway #390, beginning Tuesday, August 24. For motorists heading south to Teton Village, signs will also be placed at the junction of the Teton Park Road in Moose.

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; therefore, motorists who drive this portion of the Moose-Wilson Road after it reopens on Thursday may want to rinse off their vehicles to eliminate any residue.

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

Youth Conservation Program Flourishes

During a YCP recognition event, Becca Woolridge reads
an original essay about her summer on the YCP crew

YCP teens learn trail building skills
August 18, 2010
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott and the Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF) celebrated the fifth successful season of the Youth Conservation Program (YCP) during a gathering on August 3rd at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. This year, a record number of YCP teens participated in the program, which ends for the season on Thursday, August 19.

Thanks to generous donations from donors through the GTNPF, Grand Teton was able to expand the program to offer youth employment to 21 YCP crew members for the 2010 season—an increase of seven participants over last year’s crew of 14. The Foundation provided $173,000 in support of the 2010 program, and has given over $500,000 during the last five years.

Since its inception, dozens of teens on YCP crews have worked with National Park Service (NPS) staff to improve trails and structures throughout Grand Teton. Their efforts this summer included re-routing trails and restoring vegetation at Blacktail Ponds, constructing buck-and-rail fences at Lupine Meadows and Inspiration Point, creating new trail structures and causeways on the Emma-Matilda lakes trail, and removing weeds at numerous park locations. Additionally, students helped prepare and launch the historic Menor’s Ferry and assisted wildland fire crews with a hazard fuel reduction project near Signal Mountain.

NPS personnel provided the YCP crew with several educational and team-building experiences that introduced the teens to park operations, fire and rescue activities, history and science programs, and safety procedures. Crew members worked primarily for Grand Teton’s trails branch; but they also collaborated with other park divisions in order to gain a well-rounded understanding of the variety of resource protection and management issues that the park regularly encounters. YCP members were able to see firsthand the value of land stewardship and develop personal conservation ethics.

During their team-building exercises, the students participated in “Ranger Olympics” with the Jenny Lake rangers to gain an understanding of search and rescue operations. This extracurricular activity took place just one day before the park’s largest rescue operation in history occurred when 17 people were struck by lightning on the Grand Teton. Students also met with park wildlife biologists to learn about bears, wolves and cougars, and gain an understanding of the science and resource management program in Grand Teton.

The YCP is a summer employment program for high school students, ages 16 to 19. Enrollees develop conservation ethics as they assist with projects to complete critically-needed maintenance and rehabilitation on park trails and other resources. Participants work alongside NPS crew leaders to learn essential trail maintenance skills and become familiar with stewardship goals. As they complete project work on some of the most visible park trails, YCP participants also serve as park ambassadors. The YCP program runs for ten weeks, from mid-June through mid-August.

As an extension of their mission to support innovative projects that protect and add value to Grand Teton, the GTNPF provides funding for YCP participant salaries and some of their work gear, as well as their daily transportation to and from Jackson. For more information about the YCP program and how to contribute to future YCP activities, or other programs, call Leslie Mattson at 307.732.0629, or email

Prospectus Issued for Visitor Services in Rockefeller Memorial Parkway

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway
connects Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks

August 17, 2010
The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a prospectus soliciting proposals to provide lodging, food and beverage, campground, service station, retail and other visitor services within the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (JDR Parkway) located between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, approximately 55 miles north of Jackson, Wyoming. The new contract will be valid for 15 years, and this solicitation for commercial services is fully competitive.

The existing concession operation provides commercial services at Flagg Ranch Resort; the current contract is held by International Leisure Hosts, Ltd.

Under the new contract, the NPS will require the authorized concessioner to undertake improvement projects, including upgrades to some lodging rooms, the addition of camper cabins, the addition of a coffee/snack shop, and the replacement of diesel and unleaded gas pumps.

Attributes that warrant special consideration for this business opportunity include a high cost of doing business in a remote area and the management of services in two distinct seasons with vastly different operational needs and visitation. Any offeror for the contract will need to take into account these unique conditions.

Hard copies of the prospectus are available by contacting Jacque Lavelle, Intermountain Region chief of concessions, at 303.969.2661, or by email at Interested parties may also write to National Park Service, Concessions Management Division, 12795 West Alameda Parkway, Denver, CO 80228. The cost for a print of the prospectus is $35.00 per copy, if delivered by Federal Express, or $30.00 per copy, if picked up in person. Checks and money orders (no cash accepted) must be payable to the National Park Service, and a physical address and phone number must be provided in order to receive a Federal Express package.

Prospectus packages are also available online at Those planning to submit a proposal, who have obtained a prospectus from the website, 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 website.

A site visit for this business opportunity is scheduled for Thursday, September 9. For those who wish to participate, please contact Grand Teton National Park Chief of Business Resources Mallory Smith at 307.739.3434 or by no later than September 3, 2010.

Contract offers must be received by the Chief of Concessions, National Park Service, Intermountain Region, 12795 W. Alameda Parkway, Lakewood, CO 80228 no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, November 15, 2010.

Lecture Series on Changes Affecting GTNP

The Mormon Row Cultural Landscape
August 17, 2010
Grand Teton National Park will host a series of lectures titled, Our Changing Park, beginning Thursday, August 19. The lecture series will offer a glimpse into some of the current issues facing the park. Lectures will be presented by specialists in a variety of subject areas; these experts will share their observations, their collected data, and their perspectives on challenging issues. The speakers will also lead discussions about the various changes affecting the park’s natural and cultural resources. All talks will take place at 7 p.m. in the Director’s Room at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose.

The lecture subjects cover a wide range of topics, such as: what is challenging the survival of whitebark pine in the Great Yellowstone Ecosystem; how is climate change affecting Wyoming and the Intermountain West; how will rising environmental temperatures in alpine and mountain ecosystems affect the America pika; and what are the challenges for preservation of historic park properties.

The scheduled lectures are:
August 19
Whitebark Pine: The Story of a Giant Prey, a Tiny Predator, and a Strangling Fungus
Join Grand Teton National Park Ecologist Nancy Bockino as she discusses the ecology of whitebark pine, a keystone species of high mountain ecosystems in western North America. Learn about the threats to its survival and the outlook for its future.

September 2
Climate Change: Observed Trends and Future Impacts on North American Climate and Weather
National Weather Service Meteorologist Arthur Meunier will talk about observed climate trends and discuss the likelihood of climate change impacts on the weather and climate of Wyoming and the Intermountain West. A discussion of climate change mitigation strategies, costs, and effectiveness will follow.

September 9
Beyond Buildings: Preserving a Sense of Place at Historic Sites in Grand Teton National Park
Join Kathryn Longfield, Grand Teton’s cultural resource specialist, in a discussion of current issues facing historic properties and the methods to preserve human history, cultural landscapes, and the historic sense of place that reflect social history and its patterns of development.

September 23
Perils Facing the American Pika
Join Grand Teton National Park Biologist Sue Wolff as she discusses the American pika, a talus-dwelling relative of the rabbit family, and possibly one of the first mammals in North America to be affected by climate change. Discover how pikas are influenced by rising temperatures and learn about their current population.

For more information about the lecture series, call the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307.739.3594, or the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399.
American pika, a member of the rabbit family

Third Annual John Colter Day Observed

Colter Stone artifact
August 16, 2010
The third annual John Colter Day will be held Wednesday, August 18, at the Colter Bay Visitor Center and Indian Arts Museum. Colter explored the greater Yellowstone area during the winter of 1807-08, and was likely the first European to travel the region. Colter Bay, on the northeast shore of Jackson Lake, is named in his honor. To highlight this historical figure, Grand Teton National Park will offer programs during the week, including demonstrations of the lives of mountain men of the 1800’s, discussions on John Colter’s contributions to the exploration of the American West, and tipi demonstrations.

John Colter Day Highlights include:
Colter Stone on Display
The Colter Stone will be displayed at the Colter Bay Visitor Center from August 15 through August 20. The stone—which is on loan from the Teton Valley Historical Museum in Driggs, Idaho— is a piece of rhyolite lava rock carved in the shape of a human head and engraved with the name John Colter, and the year 1808. Discovered in Tetonia, Idaho in 1933, the stone, if authentic, represents the only solid proof of the route followed by trapper and explorer John Colter. The Colter Stone remains a fascinating piece of the puzzle of Colter’s pioneering sojourn through this region. As member of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition from 1804 to 1806, Colter was given an early discharge from the Corps of Discovery. He set out on his own from a fur trapping fort in present-day southern Montana and headed south to present-day Cody, Wyoming. On his return, he passed through what is now Yellowstone National Park. The middle section of his journey is a matter of speculation; one theory indicates he traveled via Togwotee Pass, while the other commonly held view traces Colter’s route through Jackson Hole, over Teton Pass and along the west side of the Teton Range. No evidence exists to substantiate either route, and the only sources of information are vague accounts and maps from interviews with Colter after his return.

Wednesday August 18
9 a.m. – Tipi Demonstration
Join Ranger Laine Thom behind the Colter Bay Visitor Center for a 45-minute program demonstrating the basic structure that the Plains Indians called home.
10 a.m. – The Story of the Colter Stone
Ranger Naturalist Dan Greenblatt will detail the legend and history of this fascinating artifact in the Colter Bay Auditorium.
2:30 p.m. – John Colter: Mountain Man Superhero
Dr. Barbara Mueller, professor of anthropology at Casper College, will discuss the life of John Colter, widely considered to be the first mountain man of the American West. Presentation in the Colter Bay Auditorium.
7 p.m. – The Life of a Mountain Man
Join Ranger Andrew Langford as he re-creates the rugged life of a mountain man, enduring brutal winters and physical dangers in unmapped West during the 1800s. Presentation at the Colter Bay Amphitheatre.

For more information about John Colter Day events, please call the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 739.3594.

Rangers Conduct Successful Safety Checkpoint

August 16, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers issued 48 warnings and six citations—including three arrests— during a traffic safety checkpoint conducted late Saturday evening, August 14 and early Sunday morning, August 15 on Highway 26/89/191 at the park’s south boundary. In just over four hours, park rangers processed safety screenings for 497 vehicles.

The goal of the operation was to identify and correct safety violations and reduce the number of impaired drivers in an effort to make roads safer for the traveling public. Rangers received overwhelmingly positive comments from motorists who passed through the late night checkpoint. Many individuals thanked park rangers for helping to make roads safer and for protecting park wildlife.

Of the six citations that were issued, three were for driving under the influence of alcohol, two for having an open container, and one for possession of a controlled substance. Of the 48 warnings, over half were issued for not wearing a seatbelt—a federal law and a practice that saves lives.

During the safety checkpoint, vehicles and drivers received an initial screening. Of those, 33 drivers and vehicles exhibited potential clues of impairment or other serious safety hazards and were consequently directed to a secondary screening location. Rangers administered 11 field sobriety tests during the operation.

The last time rangers conducted a traffic safety checkpoint was in 2006. That evening, rangers screened 300 vehicles, arrested four drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol, and issued nine citations: three for having an open container, one for possession of a controlled substance, and five for public intoxication to individuals under 21 years of age.

The following statistics were collected during the 2010 checkpoint:
Total Citations – 6
DUI – 3
Open container – 2
Possession of a controlled substance – 1

Total Warnings – 48
No seatbelt – 28
Headlight out – 3
Tail/Brake light out – 3
License plate lamp out – 10
No or expired vehicle registration – 2
No or expired insurance – 2

Grand Teton to Welcome Shelton Johnson & Host Special Public Events

Shelton Johnson, Yosemite National Park Ranger
August 13, 2010
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott is pleased to announce that
Grand Teton National Park, in collaboration with the Grand Teton Association, will host Yosemite Park Ranger Shelton Johnson for
two public programs and book signings scheduled for Saturday,
August 21, and Monday, August 23. Johnson was featured in the 2009 Ken Burns documentary film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and has gained national recognition for his part in the popular PBS television series.

Johnson collaborated with Ken Burns during the filming of the landmark documentary and told a compelling story about his early experiences as a National Park Service ranger. In addition, he worked on a companion project that reveals the untold stories of diverse people in national parks.

During his programs, Johnson often focuses his masterful story-telling on personal experiences, and usually unveils the story of the buffalo soldiers—a group of African-American soldiers who patrolled Yosemite at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, Johnson presents a dramatic portrayal of the buffalo soldiers through a character he developed, named Elizy Boman. Through his presentations, Johnson tries to both enlighten listeners and create lasting connections between African-Americans and their national parks.

Johnson has also authored a book called Gloryland—a fictional memoir of an African-American, born in 1863, who became a buffalo soldier stationed in Yosemite in 1903. Today, Johnson travels throughout America to speak with school children and share the story about the buffalo soldiers: a tale he has recounted in print, on camera, and in person.

“We are delighted to be able to bring Shelton Johnson to Grand Teton,” said Superintendent Scott. “This will be a great opportunity for park visitors and area residents to listen to stories about his life, his career and his outreach programs. Shelton has a captivating way of telling a story and his presentations promise to be both entertaining and inspiring.”

The schedule of events is as follows:
Saturday, Aug. 21
2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Book signing at the Colter Bay Visitor Center & Indian Arts Museum
7:00 p.m. Public presentation in the Explorers Room at Jackson Lake Lodge. Ranger Johnson introduces the film, This is America, (Ken Burns’ companion video to his documentary film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea) and leads a discussion with the audience after the screening.

Monday, Aug. 23
2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Book signing at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center
7:00 p.m. Public presentation at the Gros Ventre Campground. Ranger Johnson provides a traditional campfire program, The Road to Wonderland, and talks about the path he took from the urban landscape of Detroit's inner city to the wilderness of Yellowstone and Yosemite.

Injured Runner Evacuated from Lower Saddle

August 12, 2010
In a quick rescue operation taking less than an hour, Grand Teton National Park rangers evacuated an injured runner from the 11,650-foot Lower Saddle on Thursday morning, August 12, using the Teton Interagency contract helicopter. Meredith Edwards, age 26, from Wilson, Wyoming was on a day trip, attempting to run to the Lower Saddle and back.

Edwards was at the Lower Saddle when she took a misstep on a rock just before 11:00 a.m., causing an injury that prevented her from hiking out on her own. Two rangers who were already on patrol at the Saddle assisted Edwards and provided initial emergency medical care before requesting an aerial evacuation.

One ranger accompanied the helicopter to the Lower Saddle where they picked up Edwards and flew her inside the ship down to Lupine Meadows. From there, Edwards transported herself to further medical care.

Rangers remind hikers and climbers that dangerous and variable snow conditions persist above 10,000 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 the day.

This marks the eighth major search and rescue operation of the season conducted by Grand Teton rangers.

Rangers to Conduct Traffic Safety Checkpoints

August 10, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers will conduct traffic safety checkpoints in the park on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday,
August 15. The goal of these checkpoints is to identify and correct safety violations and reduce the number of impaired drivers in an effort to make park roads safer for the traveling public.

Park law enforcement personnel are very committed to roadway safety and safe driving practices. With approximately 160 miles of paved roads, Grand Teton has some unique driving conditions that require motorists to use an extra measure of caution. For example, drivers need to be especially alert for wildlife during dawn, dusk and nighttime hours, when animals linger near to, and cross over, park roads in search of food and water. Other safety concerns include drowsiness or intoxication of the vehicle operator, which may lead to inattentive or impaired driving situations.

Motorists are reminded that federal law requires the occupants of a vehicle to wear seatbelts when driving on park roads. Other public safety issues that will be addressed during a checkpoint stop may include the use of child safety seats and the presence of inoperable headlights.

Park rangers have seen a noticeable increase in alcohol-related contacts in 2010 compared to the last two years. As of August 1st, 17 people have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)
in Grand Teton, and the peak travel season is still in full swing. In 2009, rangers handled 17 drunken driving incidents; 17 such incidents were also tallied in 2008, and 25 in 2007. Anyone charged with driving under the influence in the park faces prosecution in federal court and penalties that could include up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The last time Grand Teton rangers conducted traffic safety checkpoints, they processed over 300 vehicles. Forty of those vehicles were asked to pull into secondary interview areas where about 20 warnings were issued for violations ranging from expired vehicle registrations to inoperable lights and failure to wear safety belts; nine citations were issued for alcohol-related violations and possession of controlled substances.

Rangers Rescue Mountaineering Guide from Grand Teton

Rangers prepare for helicopter rescue of injured climbing guide

August 6, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers used a Teton Interagency contract helicopter to rescue and evacuate an injured climbing
guide from the Grand Teton on Friday, August 6. Nate Opp, age 31, an employee of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, fell approximately 20 feet while hiking just below the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton. He was not guiding clients at the time of the accident.

Opp sustained a head injury in the fall, which prompted a timely and expeditious flight from the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides’ Corbet High Camp at 11,200 feet to Lupine Meadows at 6,700 feet, where a park ambulance waited to transport him to medical care in Jackson, Wyoming.

A separate employee with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides contacted the Jenny Lake Ranger Station via satellite phone at 10:10 a.m. on Friday to report the accident. Rangers initiated a rescue operation that involved landing the helicopter with one ranger on board onto Teepe Glacier below the Grand Teton. The ranger got out of the helicopter and continued on foot to reach Opp’s location—near the high camp that is situated below the Lower Saddle.

Two additional rangers hiked down from the Lower Saddle and provided emergency medical care to Opp before the third ranger could arrive by helicopter and prepare him for a short-haul evacuation in a rescue litter suspended below the helicopter. One ranger flew in tandem with Opp during an aerial evacuation directly to the Jenny Lake rescue cache on the valley floor.

No further details about the accident are known at this time.

Celebrate Astronomy Day with Grand Teton & JH Astronomy Club

Lagoon Nebula
August 6, 2010
Grand Teton National Park will join with the Jackson Hole Astronomy Club to celebrate Grand Teton Astronomy Day on Sunday, August 15. Several family-oriented activities are planned, offering park visitors and local residents an opportunity to learn about star gazing, meteor showers, sunspots, star clusters, galaxies and much more. The special “Astronomy under the Tetons” day will begin at 2 p.m. at the Colter Bay Visitor Center in Grand Teton and end with late-night star gazing session on the shore of Jackson Lake.

To highlight Grand Teton Astronomy Day, solar-filtered telescopes will be available to view sunspots and other solar features from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. near the Colter Bay Visitor Center. Throughout the afternoon, exhibits and information tables will also be set up, providing fun and interesting information to children and adults alike.

At 3 p.m., Bob Hoyle, former professor of astronomy and park ranger naturalist, will present a one-hour program at the Colter Bay Amphitheater titled, “Why is the Sky Blue: the physics of color in the natural world.” At 9 p.m., Ranger Hoyle will present a PowerPoint program at the Colter Bay Amphitheater titled, “Watchers of the Sky.” This educational program focuses on the cultural history of star-gazing and brings this field of study into the modern-day science of astronomy; the program also includes incredible images of stars and other astronomical objects.

As a finale, several large telescopes will be set up at 10 p.m. along the shore of Colter Bay for participants to view stars, galaxies, nebulae and other celestial objects. Anyone planning to attend the evening program and telescope observation session should dress warmly as evening temperatures at Colter Bay can be quite chilly, even in August.

For those who would like to learn more about “Astronomy under the Tetons,” call either the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307.739.3594 or Jackson Hole Astronomy Club Program Coordinator Walt Farmer at 307.733.2173. Information is also available on the Astronomy Club’s website at or Walt Farmer’s website at

Grand Teton to Waive Entry Fees August 14-15

August 6, 2010
Grand Teton National Park will waive entrance fees for the weekend of August 14-15 as part of a nationwide initiative proclaimed earlier this year by Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Secretary Salazar announced that fee waivers are being offered during targeted summer weekends as a way to encourage Americans seeking affordable vacations to visit their national parks and national refuges. The initiative is also designed to encourage people to connect with the great outdoors and engage in healthy activities. In addition to the August weekend, entrance fees will also be waived for National Public Lands Day on September 25, 2010.

Besides the fee-free weekend, Grand Teton park ranger naturalists will be conducting their summer schedule of programs. Ranger-led programs give visitors the chance: to ponder the challenges of protecting public lands and natural resources during a “Voices for Wilderness” walk from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center to the Murie Ranch; to explore the beauty and geology of Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point during a ranger-led hike from Jenny Lake; to discover the role of geology and fire ecology by taking a “Fire and Ice” cruise from the Colter Bay marina; to learn about American Indian culture during a tour of the David T. Vernon Indian Art Collection at the Colter Bay Museum; to understand the power of place by taking an “Explore the Preserve” hike at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve; and to gather their families for an illustrated campfire chat at a “Jenny Lake Twilight Talk” or “Signal Mountain Campfire” program.

In addition, several special ranger-led activities will be conducted to encourage visitors to explore special park features. These programs include:
Canoe String Lake & Leigh Lake with a Ranger
Bring your canoe and enjoy an early morning paddle with a ranger on String and Leigh Lakes on Friday, August 13, at 8 a.m. Participants should bring a canoe and all necessary paddling equipment, including a personal floatation device, water, sunscreen, raingear, and snacks. Reservations are required; call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399.

100 years of Horses in the National Parks
Meet and greet the Grand Teton mounted patrol horses and learn about the historical and current uses of horses in the protection of our national parks on Saturday, August 14, at 7 p.m. This 45-minute program meets at the Gros Ventre Campground Amphitheater. For directions and more information please call the Discovery Center at 307.739.3399.

Additional special programs will be posted on flyers at park visitor centers; visitors can also call for this information by dialing the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399, Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307.739.3594, Jenny Lake Visitor Center at 307.739.3392 and the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center at 307.739.3654.

A full listing of programs can be found in the park’s newspaper, Teewinot, posted online at A hard copy of the Teewinot can be picked up at any park visitor center or entrance station.

Pilgrim Fire Ninety Percent Contained

Pilgrim Mountain obscured by smoke from the Pilgrim Fire
during Wednesday evening, August 4

August 6, 2010
Teton Interagency firefighters and the Cedar City Hot Shot crew made significant progress in containing the Pilgrim Fire on Thursday, August 5. The Pilgrim Fire is currently 90 percent contained and remains at 13 acres in size. The fire, presumed to be lightning-caused, is located just north of the junction between Pilgrim Creek Road and Highway 89/287—about one mile east of the Colter Bay area.

With minimal fire activity and very little growth on the Pilgrim Fire, the Cedar City Hot Shot crew will be reassigned to other fires in the area. A squad of Teton Interagency firefighters and two fire engines will continue to extinguish hotspots and place line around the remaining fire perimeter.

The Pilgrim Creek Road has been reopened; however, visitors are advised that fire equipment and firefighters are still working in the area, so caution is advised.

The current fire danger rating is high. Vsitors are reminded to do their part to prevent human-caused fires by extinguishing campfires and properly disposing of smoking materials. For additional fire information, please visit

Please visit the Teton Fires Wildland Fire webpage at for full updates and a map.

Fire Prompts Closure of Pilgrim Creek Road

A Teton Interagency contract helicopter makes water bucket drops
on the Pilgrim Fire during Wednesday evening, August 4

August 5, 2010
Teton Interagency firefighters responded to smoke reports late yesterday afternoon, August 4, in Grand Teton National Park. The Pilgrim Fire—which began about 5 p.m. on Wednesday—is currently 13 acres in size and burning in grass, sagebrush and light timber about a half mile east of the junction of the Pilgrim Creek Road and Highway 89/287, and about one mile from Colter Bay. The fire is presumed to be lightning-caused, but is still under investigation. Anyone who may have been in the vicinity of Pilgrim Creek with information about this fire is requested to phone the Teton Interagency fire-reporting line at 307.739.3630.

Wednesday evening, three wildland fire engines, a water tender, and two helicopters worked to suppress the south and west flanks of the fire, and to lay hose for water distribution around the perimeter of the fire.

Today, the Cedar City Hot Shot crew from Utah—on loan from the Bull Fire—will work with engine crews and Jackson Hole Fire/EMS personnel out of Moran to continue suppression efforts. Pilgrim Creek Road is temporarily closed due to suppression activities, but no other closures are in effect.

The current fire danger rating is high. Park visitors are reminded to do their part to prevent human-caused fires by carefully extinguishing campfires and properly disposing of smoking materials. For additional fire information, please visit

Please visit the Teton Fires Wildland Fire webpage at for full updates and a map.

Vehicle Collision Kills Gray Wolf in Grand Teton

A gray wolf pauses along a riverbank
August 3, 2010
A yearling male wolf was hit and killed by an unknown vehicle on Wednesday morning, August 4, just north of the Spread Creek Bridge on Highway 26/89/191 in Grand Teton National Park. The black-colored wolf, weighing about 50-60 pounds, was discovered by a passerby around 8 a.m. It was lying in the middle of the roadway and still alive; however, it died before rangers could arrive. The young wolf was probably a member of the Buffalo Pack that frequents the eastern portion of Grand Teton; this pack has successfully denned in the park since 2008.

Park officials did not receive any reports of an accident and further details are not known. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, a motor vehicle operator is required to report an accident involving property damage, personal injury, or death—which includes the injury or death of wildlife.

This is the second gray wolf killed by a vehicle on park roads this year. On February 15, a sub-adult male wolf was hit and killed on Highway 26/89/191 in the vicinity of Elk Ranch Flats. Earlier this year, a 3 1/2-year-old male grizzly bear was hit and killed just south of the Spread Creek Bridge—not far from the current wolf mortality. This is a wildlife-rich area of the park, with brush and trees near to the roadbed; vegetation can reduce the visibility of animals that may be lingering near the road. Wildlife are also typically found near riparian areas, and motorists should slow down, use extra caution, and be more alert while driving through riparian areas or locations with limited roadside visibility .

Each year in Grand Teton, an average of one or more wolves and bears (grizzly and/or black) are involved in vehicle collisions that result in the injury or death of the animal. In the past five years, vehicle-related deaths of wolves and bears include: 2006, one black bear and one gray wolf; 2007, two black bears and one grizzly bear cub; 2008, two gray wolves; 2009, one black bear; and 2010, two wolves, one grizzly bear, and one bear (unverified species) that was injured, but left the scene.

These encounters between vehicles and bears or wolves—among other wildlife incidents—serve as a reminder that wildlife actively cross and use park roads. Motorists are reminded to drive the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop suddenly for wildlife along or on park roadways. Driving slower than indicated speed limits—especially at night—can increase the margin of safety for people and wildlife. Collisions between motor vehicles and wildlife may result in severe damage to a vehicle, serious or fatal injuries to the occupants of that vehicle, and/or death for the animal involved.

In addition to wolves and bears, other wildlife such as elk, moose, bison, deer, pronghorn antelope, as well as smaller creatures such as beavers, marmots, and porcupines, may also be encountered on or near park roads. Many of these animals have been killed in vehicle collisions. In fact, over the past five weeks, one large animal (coyote size or larger) has been hit and killed on park roads each day, accounting for the deaths of nearly 50 animals.

Vehicles take a significant toll on park wildlife, resulting in the deaths of well over 100 animals per year.