Open House for Snake River Headwaters Comprehensive Management Planning

Ansel Adams' photo Tetons and the Snake River (1942)

November 22, 2010
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott announced today that Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will co-host an open house on Tuesday evening, November 30 from 5–7 p.m. at Snow King Resort to gather public input regarding concurrent planning initiatives by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service for managing the newly designated Wild and Scenic Snake River Headwaters. The open house will include a presentation about the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and a discussion about planning efforts being launched by the federal agencies as a result of the recent designation. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service will develop separate, but concurrent, management plans for river segments located with their respective administrative boundaries.

On March 30, 2009, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act that amended the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to add approximately 388 miles of the Snake River and its tributary rivers and streams to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The National Park Service administers 121 miles of designated river segments, while remaining areas lie within the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Passage of this landmark legislation reflects the leadership and collaborative approach of the late Senator Craig Thomas who worked for five years with groups of outfitters, conservationists, business owners, sportsmen and other river users to protect the Snake River’s headwaters. This historic river protection legislation was renamed and passed as the Craig Thomas Snake Headwaters Legacy Act of 2009 in his honor.

As required by the Craig Thomas Snake Headwaters Legacy Act, the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service planning efforts will:

·    Document the Snake River Headwaters’ boundaries and river segment classifications (wild, scenic or recreational).
·    Provide for protection of the free-flowing condition of the Snake River Headwaters in keeping with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
·    Describe the “outstandingly remarkable values” which provide the unique, rare or exemplary characteristics that make the Snake River Headwaters eligible for inclusion in the system.
·    Establish a management program that protects the outstandingly remarkable values, free flowing condition, and water quality of the river system.
·    Address user capacity and establish the kinds and amounts of appropriate visitor use.

The designation of the Snake River Headwaters is atypical because it encompasses an entire watershed involving 13 rivers and 25 separate river segments, totaling 388 river miles. This watershed spans areas managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a portion of state and private lands. Due to the sheer size of this designation, a collaborative planning effort is vital. Members of the public are highly encouraged to join in this first step towards development of the two comprehensive river management plans.

A public meeting is also scheduled in Bozeman, Montana, on December 2, 2010 from 5–7 p.m. in the Public Library at 626 E. Main Street. This session will focus on planning efforts for river segments located within Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

For additional information about the Snake River Headwaters planning, please visit online at

Male Black Bear Euthanized in Grand Teton NP

Black bear forages on naturally occuring berries
along Moose-Wilson Road
November 1, 2010
Grand Teton National Park officials euthanized a male black bear on Friday, October 29, out of concern for public safety. The bear gained entry into the main lodge building at Triangle X Ranch on Tuesday evening, October 26, and tracks indicated that it also visited and “nosed around” several other cabins on the property.  It returned to the ranch attempting to get inside the main lodge on Wednesday evening as well as Thursday night, when it was captured in a culvert trap. The bear damaged a portion of the lodge roof in its attempts to gain entry into the building, received food rewards, and appeared to have little concern for the presence of humans and their activities at the ranch. This human-food conditioned and habituated behavior forced park officials to make the difficult decision to remove the bear from the population in order to reduce future threats to people and their safety.

The eight to ten-year-old black bear weighed 177 pounds, but was slightly underweight. The bear’s history and previous habits are unknown; it did not have ear tags or other identification that would mark it as a previously captured bear. However, a bear with a similar description got into a dumpster at Dornan’s earlier this year. Park officials are following up with Triangle X Ranch representatives to determine why the bear received food rewards and to mitigate any identified problems.

After transporting the captured bear to park headquarters to gather information on its physical condition (weight, tooth wear, blood samples, etc.), park biologist discovered that both the trap and the bear were inexplicably coated with bear spray. Park rangers subsequently questioned ranch managers about this situation and learned that one of the ranch employees disobeyed an agreement to not approach the trap, and also discharged a canister of bear spray at the animal early Thursday morning while it was confined in the trap. An investigation into this incident is ongoing; however, the individual ranch employee was issued a mandatory court appearance for cruelty to animals and will appear before the federal magistrate on these charges.

This is the only bear euthanized in Grand Teton National Park this year. In fact, park rangers and biologists did not capture or taken any management actions on bears—black or grizzly—during the past year. The availability and relative abundance of naturally occurring berries may have helped to keep bears in undeveloped portions of the park and away from developed areas and human food sources.

Once a bear acquires human food, it often loses its fear of people and may become dangerous. Park officials strongly remind local residents and visitors that proper storage of food items and disposal of garbage is extremely important. Thoughtless actions of people can literally lead to a life or death situation for bears that easily become corrupted by the availability of human food and garbage. Human carelessness doesn’t just endanger people; it can also result in a bear’s death.

Bears roam near park developments and throughout the backcountry. Consequently, for the health and safety of bears and people, park visitors and local residents must adhere to food storage rules. Detailed information about how to behave in bear country is available at park visitor centers or online at With information and proper actions, people can help keep a bear from becoming human-food conditioned and possibly save its life.