Teton Park & Moose-Wilson Roads Open for Spring-time Activities

March 26, 2010
The Teton Park Road from Taggart Lake parking area to Signal Mountain Lodge and the Moose-Wilson Road in Grand Teton National Park are now free of snow and available for non-motorized activities such as hiking, biking, and inline skating. These two roads will open to vehicle traffic for the full summer season on Saturday, May 1st. The Antelope Flats Road is currently open to vehicles.

Although the Teton Park Road is open to non-motorized use, visitors should be alert for park vehicles that may occasionally travel the road for administrative purposes.

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

As a reminder, entrance stations are operating and collecting fees. Fee options are as follows:

  • $12 7-day permit for foot/bicycle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks

  • $20 7-day permit for motorcycle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks

  • $25 7-day permit for vehicle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks

  • $50 Grand Teton/Yellowstone Annual Pass valid for one-year entry into both parks

  • $80 Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year entry to all fee areas on federal lands

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

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

Important Note: the multi-use pathway running from Dornan’s to South Jenny Lake will not be open for public use until the snow recedes naturally.

Public Closure in Effect to Protect Sage Grouse

March 16, 2010
A temporary public closure is in effect to protect breeding sage grouse at the Moulton Ranch lek (a seasonal mating arena) off the Antelope Flats Road in Grand Teton National Park. A quarter-mile radius around the lek site will be posted as closed to all public entry from March 15 to May 15, to minimize human disturbance and reduce stress on grouse that traditionally use this site during their annual mating season. Violations of the wildlife protection closure may result in a citation.

Sage grouse are highly sensitive to human disturbance. Human activity near a lek can trigger birds to flush or leave the area, and continual disturbances can cause birds to permanently abandon or re-locate a lek site. To minimize disturbance to grouse, yet allow for bird watching, an adjacent viewing area has been established at the southwest side of the closure perimeter. Visitors may reach the viewing area by parking at a small pullout near one of the Moulton cabins and walking along a gated dirt road that heads north from the junction with Antelope Flats Road; the viewing spot is located just east of this dirt road. Visitors must observe the wildlife closure signs, stay within the viewing area, and not approach grouse at any time. Visitors should arrive well before sunrise and not leave until after the birds have completed their morning display, remain as quiet as possible, and refrain from talking loudly or making unnecessary noise while at the viewing area.

Grand Teton National Park rangers will be leading early-morning trips to observe the strutting sage grouse as they perform their springtime mating dance on this traditional lek. Strutting grouse tours are currently scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays during the weekends of April 10-11, April 17-18, and April 24-25. Trips begin at 5:30 a.m. from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, and reservations are required. Call the Discovery Center at 739.3399 to make reservations and obtain information about what to wear and bring along on these ranger-led excursions. The April ranger-led tours offer local residents and park visitors an excellent opportunity to see the unique antics of sage grouse as they perform their seasonal mating dance.

Sage grouse populations have been declining over several years throughout much of the West, in part due to habitat loss. Recently, Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the population of sage grouse has declined by 90 percent and their habitat has been reduced by 50 percent across the western states. Consequently, the birds were named a “candidate species” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The FWS has plans to annually review the status of sage grouse and work with western states, such as Wyoming, on conservation programs as part of the recent decision on listing sage grouse under the ESA.

Grand Teton Launches Youth Ranger Club

Participants of the Ranger Club learn about
emergency medical services from park rangers.
March 12, 2010
In collaboration with the Van Vleck House and Teton Youth and Family Services, the Teton County 4-H Program, and Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Department, Grand Teton National Park staff recently launched an innovative new youth program titled, “The Ranger Club.” Through a variety of activities, 12 young people—from the third, fourth and fifth grades—are learning about Grand Teton and its natural and cultural resources. The young participants are also making personal connections to their local environment, and discovering how to be responsible stewards of the natural world.

The Ranger Club is a five-week educational program that gives young people an opportunity to: meet rangers who are responsible for the park’s law enforcement functions, fire management, and emergency medical services; interact with park biologists who study and monitor wildlife (pikas, grizzly bears, wolves, moose, bison, and elk); and learn from park naturalists who provide information to visitors through interpretive presentations and guided hikes.

Participants in the Ranger Club program personify the motto of the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program: Explore, Learn and Protect. At the culmination of the Ranger Club sessions, park staff will award participants with a Junior Ranger hat. To prepare for this award, Ranger Club members will design their own personal hat band with images that convey their interpretation of national park values. The ranger hats and handcrafted hat bands will be featured in a photo exhibition during the 2010 National Junior Ranger Day celebration on Saturday, April 24, at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.

Local youth clubs, such as the Ranger Club, are made possible through partnership agreements and special grants awarded to community organizations like Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Department, the Van Vleck House, and Teton County 4-H program, as well as a host of other organizations and community groups. The youth club program is administered by the Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Department and coordinated by Van Vleck House. The program is designed to promote educational, cultural and social-learning opportunities for local children who may benefit from supplementary and affordable after-school activities.

For more information about the Ranger Club, please contact Grand Teton National Park at 307.739.3399, or the Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Department at 307.739.9025.

If you have further questions about the variety of youth clubs, please contact Emily Sustick at 307.733.6440 or Mike Estes at 307.732.5761.

Grand Teton to Host Presentation on Red Crossbill Research by Dr.Jamie Cornelius

Red crossbills received their descriptive name
because of their color and the configuration of their beaks.

March 12, 2010
Grand Teton National Park, in collaboration with The Murie Center, will host a special presentation by Dr. Jamie Cornelius on the behavior of red crossbills on Thursday March 18, 2010 at 1 p.m. in the Director’s Room of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose, Wyoming. Cornelius will discuss her research on red crossbills and describe how they face an increasingly unpredictable food supply due to habitat disturbance and a changing climate. This presentation is a free and open to the public.

Cornelius’ talk is titled "Tracking a Nomadic Songbird in Grand Teton National Park: Behavior and Physiology of the Red Crossbill." Red crossbills are irregular residents of the Jackson Hole valley and Grand Teton National Park. However, their presence in Jackson Hole—as well as their breeding activity—is dependent on the annual crop of confer cones. Cornelius’ research is designed to define the behavior and physiology of red crossbills in the winter versus the summer, and determine the differences in years with variable food availability. Her study of red crossbills uses cutting-edge technology and addresses contemporary conservation issues. Red crossbills are tracked using innovative radio-transmitter technology that measures the heart rate of free-living birds, and allows for determining the energy it takes to survive and reproduce under different environmental conditions. Cornelius’ work will further the understanding of how a species adapts to habitat changes and will help in predicting how other species might cope with increasingly unpredictable food supplies in the face of habitat disturbance and changing climate.

Dr. Cornelius is currently serving as a biologist in residence at The Murie Center in Moose. She is a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany. Her project is a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the University of California at Davis.

Steve Cain Receives Award for Professional Excellence in Natural Resources

Steve Cain, Grand Teton NP Senior Wildlife Biologist
March 8, 2010
Steve Cain, senior wildlife biologist at Grand Teton National Park, recently received the National Park Service Intermountain Region Director’s 2009 award for professional excellence in natural resources. This annual award recognizes outstanding contributions in a specific natural resource field, and salutes individual accomplishments in advancing the science and successes of natural resource management by National Park Service (NPS) employees throughout the Intermountain Region.

Cain’s outstanding contributions include: research, collaboration and impetus for an initiative to protect the migration corridor for pronghorn that summer in Grand Teton National Park and winter in the Upper Green River Basin; monitoring efforts and strategic planning for the past two decades with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team to help recover the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly population; initiation of studies to document the effects of a newly constructed multi-use pathway on bears, birds, and elk ; introduction of a non-lead ammunition program for Grand Teton rangers and hunters participating in the annual elk reduction program on park lands; inspiration of a $500,000 donation from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation to support a five-year monitoring program for gray wolves in the park; and overseeing establishment of a pika inventory and monitoring project to document the population and track effects of climate change on pikas living in the Teton Range.

During Cain’s career at Grand Teton—which spans nearly 20 years— he has accomplished major changes in wildlife and resource management practices and worked closely with federal and state wildlife managers, collaborating on programs that span the GYE. Cain has raised the profile of the NPS policy regarding natural processes, native species and the need for science-based management in the park. Cain, and many others, made significant contributions to the 2007 Bison and Elk Management Plan for Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge, which aims to reduce the reliance of elk and bison on supplemental feed and reduce the risk of disease transmission. Cain has authored several peer-reviewed publications on pronghorn migration, bison ecology, and other wildlife issues in Jackson Hole, leading to better awareness of management challenges in the park and surrounding areas.

In acknowledging the individual accomplishments of Cain, Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott stated, “We are so proud of Steve’s lengthy NPS service and dedication to the natural resources of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole and the Greater Yellowstone Area. He is a key force in the increased understanding and preservation of wildlife that make this such a special landscape.” Scott added, “Steve consistently makes science-based recommendations, and suggests adaptive and cooperative approaches that promote and improve resource management. His efforts have been critical to the conservation of species in Grand Teton and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and he sets a superb example for others to follow.”

Cain will receive an eagle sculpture plaque, along with his award certificate. He and other regional award winners will be considered for a service-wide award to be presented by the NPS Director in Washington later this spring.

Annual Plowing to Begin on Teton Park Road

March 8, 2010
The annual snow plowing of the Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park will begin on Monday, March 15, weather depending. As plowing operations get underway, recreation on the snow-packed trail will cease for the 2009/10 winter season. Park visitors may continue to use other winter trails—or areas adjacent to the Teton Park Road—for skate skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing until snow conditions are no longer favorable for such activities.

For safety reasons, visitors may NOT access the Teton Park Road while rotary snow removal equipment and plows are working; the roadway is closed to ALL users during this period of time.

Skiers and snowshoers using areas adjacent to the Teton Park Road are cautioned to avoid the arc of snow being blown from the rotary equipment because pieces of ice and gravel can be mixed with the snow spray. Park rangers will enforce the temporary road closure to ensure safe conditions for plow operators and park visitors alike. Depending on weather, snow conditions and plowing progress, the roadway should become accessible to traditional springtime, non-motorized activities in early April; the opening of the Teton Park Road to bikers, hikers and inline skaters will be announced once snow removal equipment is no longer operating.

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

Depending upon snow conditions, ranger-led snowshoe hikes from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center are scheduled to end on Sunday, March 14. To make a reservation for this activity, or to inquire whether snowshoe hikes are still being offered, please phone 307.739.3399. The Discovery Center will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout March, April and May.

Pet owners are reminded that dogs are not allowed in the park’s backcountry, which includes all areas away from park roadways and turnouts. Pet owners are required to have their dogs on a maximum 6-foot leash whenever they are outside of a private vehicle. Pet owners must also clean up their dog waste. A “mutt-mitt” station is conveniently located near the Teton Park Road closure gates to provide bags for this purpose.

The paved, multi-use pathway running from Dornan’s to South Jenny Lake will not be open for public use until the snow recedes naturally.

The Teton Park Road will open to vehicle traffic for the 2010 summer season on Saturday, May 1.

LSR Preserve to Host Fifth Book Club Discussion

March 2, 2010
Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott extends an invitation to local residents to join an upcoming Laurance S. Rockefeller (LSR) Preserve book club discussion on A Sand County Almanac, a non-fiction book containing conservation essays by forester, ecologist and author Aldo Leopold. The book club discussion will take place on Thursday, March 11, from 4 - 6 p.m. at the historic Murie Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

Established in the summer of 2009 to inspire a spirit of conversation stewardship, the LSR Preserve book club is designed to explore literature that examines our human connection to the natural world. This will be the fifth LSR Preserve book club discussion, and the third one to take place in collaboration with The Murie Center.

Aldo Leopold, forester American ecologist, and environmentalist. A Sand County Almanac is considered to be a quintessential collection of essays about the American conservation movement. In his book, Aldo Leopold describes the land around his home in Sauk County, Wisconsin, which had been logged, repeatedly burned by fires, overgrazed by dairy cows, and left barren. Leopold provides his thoughts, philosophy and theories about our American land ethic and our responsibility to the natural world. A Sand County Almanac was edited and published by Leopold’s son, Luna, after his father’s death in 1948. Another son, A. Starker Leopold, was also an author, as well as a wildlife biologist, and professor at the University of California at Berkeley. In tribute to his thoughtful conservation work and writings, Aldo Leopold’s landmark book will be used as a springboard for discussions about wilderness and conservation ethics.

Please RSVP to attend the book discussion, as space is limited. To sign up for the discussion, or learn more about the book club and the upcoming meeting, please call Grand Teton National Park at 307.739.3656.