International Migratory Bird Day Recognized

Yellow-bellied sapsucker at cavity nest
chiseled into aspen trunk
April 30, 2010
Grand Teton National Park will celebrate International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) with a bird-watching caravan on Saturday, May 8, 2010. Park ranger naturalist Andrew Langford will visit areas throughout the park that provide excellent opportunities to locate, identify, and count birds as part of the North American Migration Count. The free activity begins at 8 a.m. in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose, Wyoming and finishes by 4 p.m. at Christian Pond near Jackson Lake Lodge. Reservations are not required.

Anyone interested in birds is welcome to participate in Grand Teton’s IMBD celebration and annual bird count. Throughout the day, participants will take short walks at various locations, so those attending should wear comfortable shoes and bring a lunch, drinking water, warm clothing and rain gear. Bird field guides, binoculars and spotting scopes are also recommended items.

According to the IMBD Web site, the theme for 2010 is the “Power of Partnerships” in bird conservation. This theme highlights the many partnership organizations and conservation programs initiated to protect vulnerable species of migratory birds. Several avian species that have benefited from conservation programs coordinated by partnership organizations are also seasonal visitors to Grand Teton National Park. These birds include peregrine falcons, Swainson’s hawks, long-billed curlews, rufous hummingbirds, burrowing owls, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

Observed each year in May to celebrate and support bird conservation, IMBD serves as the hallmark outreach event for Partners in Flight—an international conservation program whose goal is to reverse declining populations of migratory birds by bringing attention to factors that may contribute to worldwide declines. This year marks the 20th anniversary for Partners in Flight.

For more information about International Migratory Bird Day and the North American Migration Count, please call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399. Participants of the Migratory Bird Day activity are reminded that park entrance stations are open; therefore, they will need to present a park pass to travel through these entrance gates.

Opening Dates for Grand Teton NP & Rockefeller Parkway

April 27, 2010
Acting Superintendent Bob Vogel announced today the official opening dates for facilities in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway for the 2010 season.

The following roads open to motorized vehicles on Saturday, May 1:
Teton Park Road
Moose-Wilson Road

The Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway will open June 1.

Motorists are advised to drive cautiously and be aware that wildlife are migrating throughout the park and crossing roads, especially during dawn and dusk hours. In addition, springtime repair work may be underway on any park roads. For current road conditions, call the park’s road information hotline at 307.739.3614.

Entrance Stations
The Moose, Moran and Granite Canyon entrance stations are open. Fee options include:
$12 for a 7-day permit for foot/bicycle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks
$20 for a 7-day permit for motorcycle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks
$25 for a 7-day permit for vehicle entry into Grand Teton & Yellowstone national parks
$50 for a Grand Teton/Yellowstone Annual Pass valid for one-year entry into both parks
$80 for an Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year entry to all fee areas on federal lands

Bicyclists are reminded that they must stop and show an entry pass before proceeding through the gates, just as vehicles are required to do. NOTE: New this year, an automated self-serve machine will be placed on the multi-use pathway adjacent to the Moose Entrance Station. People traveling on the paved pathway by foot, bike, or rollerblade will be required to stop and pay $12 for a 7-day entry permit, or have in possession a previously purchased pass. Personal identification is required with any pass that requires a signature.

Visitor Centers
The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center is open daily, year-round. Other visitor information centers open on the following dates:
Colter Bay Visitor Center -- May 8
Jenny Lake Visitor Center -- May 14
Jenny Lake Ranger Station -- May 15
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center -- May 29
Flagg Ranch Information Station -- June 7

Ranger-led activities begin Monday, June 7. An activity schedule can be found in the park's newspaper, Teewinot, or online at

The following campgrounds open:
Gros Ventre -- May 7
Signal Mountain -- May 7
Jenny Lake -- May 15
Colter Bay -- May 27
Colter Bay RV & Trailer Park -- May 27
Flagg Ranch RV Park -- May 29
Lizard Creek -- June 11

At any of the concession-operated campgrounds within Grand Teton National Park, fees for individual campsites run $20-$35 per night, and hiker/bicyclist camping fees cost $5-8 per site. All campgrounds, except the RV parks, operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Group sites at Colter Bay and Gros Ventre campgrounds are available by reservation at a cost of $25.00 per reservation and $5.00 per person, per night. Tent cabins, including bunk beds and wood stoves, are available at Colter Bay for $50.00 per night with a charge of $12.00 for each additional person over two. Reservations may be made by calling either 307.543.3100 or 800.628.9988. Tent sites, including showers, are available at Flagg Ranch Resort for $35.00 per night with a charge of $5.00 for each additional person over two; make reservations by calling either 307.543.2861 or 800.443.2311.

Reservations can also be made for RV camping at either Colter Bay or Flagg Ranch RV parks; added fees are charged for RV campgrounds with hook-ups. Camping sites, including showers, are available at Flagg Ranch Resort for $35-$60 per night; call either 307.543.2861 or 800.443.2311 for reservations. Fees for Colter Bay RV & Trailer Park run $55 per night; call 307.543.3100 or 800.628.9988 for reservations.

Camping is also available outside the park in nearby forest areas and at other public and private facilities.

Backcountry campsite reservations may be made until May 15 with a $25 non-refundable fee. Reservations can be made online at, by fax at 307.739.3438, or by mail to Grand Teton National Park, Backcountry Permits, P.O. Box 170, Moose, WY 83012. After May 15, all backcountry site permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

The following concessioner-operated facilities open:
Signal Mountain Lodge -- May 7
Flagg Ranch Resort -- May 17
Jackson Lake Lodge -- May 21
Colter Bay Cabins -- May 27
Jenny Lake Lodge -- May 30

For additional information about activities and services within Grand Teton National Park or the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, please visit the park's Web site, stop by any visitor center and ranger station, or call 307.739.3300

Boyd Evison 2010 Graduate Fellowship Awarded

April 22, 2010
Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton Association (GTA) are pleased to announce that James Meadow has received the Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship for 2010. Meadow, the sixth recipient of an Evison Fellowship, is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in ecology and environmental sciences at Montana State University in Bozeman. He plans to use his fellowship award to study the composition, diversity and ecological environment of thermal-influenced soils in the Imperial Meadow thermal area of the Lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. The Evison Graduate Fellowship was initiated to support studies throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Meadow received a Bachelor of Science degree in resource conservation in 2007 from the University of Montana’s School of Forestry and Conservation at Missoula. He worked from 2001 to 2006 on ecological restoration projects at various mines and other industrial sites throughout the western states. In 2007, he began his graduate studies in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University with a focus on the ecology of biological soil crusts in thermal and desert areas. In 2008, Meadow was awarded a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship to develop an inquiry-based science program for teachers and children in classrooms from kindergarten through high school; his program centered on subjects from Montana soils, to growing mushrooms and composting with worms. The project he will launch as a result of receiving the Evison Fellowship will explore a relatively unknown aspect of the thermal landscape of Yellowstone, and will catalog and study a group of organisms and their environment not previously studied. An integral part of the study will include interpretation for park visitors regarding the diversity of life forms that live only in thermal ecosystems—specifically the soils that appear barren and lifeless yet provide an important habitat for other life forms.

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

The Evison Fellowship program encourages scientific and conservation-related research in national parks. It invites highly motivated, graduate students to conduct research in Grand Teton and throughout the Greater Yellowstone Area; and it supports study leading to a master’s or Ph.D. degree in the biosciences, geosciences or social sciences. Upon program completion, Evison recipients provide a copy of their thesis to the GTA and often share their results through oral presentations to park staff and partners.

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

Bears Active in Grand Teton & JDR Parkway

Bears out of hibernation and seeking food
throughout Grand Teton and the Rockefeller Parkway
(photo by Gary Pollock, NPS)
April 20, 2010
Bears have emerged from their winter dens and local residents and park visitors need to be alert for their presence throughout all areas of Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Several recent sightings have been reported, and bears are active at locations from the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River and the park’s east boundary with Bridger-Teton National Forest, to developed areas at Flagg Ranch, Colter Bay and Beaver Creek. At some of these sites, bears were observed feeding on winter-kill carcasses.

When bears leave their winter dens, they search for any food source that will help restore fat reserves lost during hibernation. Winter-killed animals provide immediate sources of protein, and hungry bears will strongly defend this and other food sources against perceived threats. Carcasses and freshly killed animals should serve as a point of caution—a red flag to detour away from the area. As snow banks recede, bears also dig up and eat spring wildflowers and burrowing rodents.

Adult male bears usually emerge from hibernation by mid to late March, followed by females without cubs. Female bears accompanied by cubs emerge later in the spring and are extremely protective of their young.

Park visitors are reminded to never approach a bear under any circumstances. This is particularly important for situations involving a bear near a carcass and other food sources, or a female bear with her cubs.

With the increased activity of bears, appropriate precautions must be taken. Visitors are advised to carry bear spray, keep it easily accessible and know how to properly handle it. Hikers enjoying the park’s backcountry should exercise good judgment, stay alert, and follow recommended safety precautions such as making noise and traveling in a group.

Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible. Timely reporting will help to keep bears away from unnatural food sources, and allow park rangers to provide important safety messages to visitors about bear activity.

Access to human food and garbage usually leads to food-conditioned bears. When bears lose their fear of humans, they often become a nuisance and a safety concern. Park visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage and other odorous items unavailable to bears at all times by storing attractants inside vehicles, by disposing of garbage in a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster, and by keeping personal items—such as backpacks or drink containers—with them at all times, especially when they contain food.

For further information on how to behave when hiking, camping or picnicking in bear country, read the park’s newspaper, Teewinot, online at .

Contract Awarded for Auditorium Addition to Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center

Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center to Get Auditorium Wing

April 19, 2010
Acting Superintendent Bob Vogel announced today that Grand Teton National Park has awarded the contract for construction of an auditorium addition on the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center to a Utah-based contractor and construction company, Raass Brothers, Inc. To accomplish the project, Raass Brothers, Inc. will work with a co-contractor, R & O Construction, also of Utah. The Grand Teton National Park Foundation, a partnership organization of the park, pledged to fund 100 percent of the project costs. They are nearing that goal, making it possible to begin construction almost immediately. Completion of the auditorium addition is expected for spring 2011.

The Discovery Center’s addition will place a 154-seat auditorium on the south side of the building. The new auditorium room will include an architectural feature called a “glass curtain wall” that will reveal stunning views of the Teton Range at the completion of video programs and educational lectures. The Seattle office of the architectural firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, designed both the principal visitor center building and the auditorium wing.

Through the initial phases of design, the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center included an auditorium. However, as a result of constraints over the scope and budget of the project, the building was downsized and the auditorium was removed from the final plan. Subsequent approval to add the auditorium was obtained in mid 2007; because the new visitor center was nearly completed when the approval came through, the auditorium addition became a separate phase of the overall project.

The entire funding for the auditorium addition is being raised by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation; no federal funds are allocated for its construction. The main visitor center was financed through a combined public-private initiative with funding provided by the federal government, the Grand Teton Association and the Grand Teton National Park Foundation.

The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center accommodates many visitor services: park orientation at a staffed information desk; educational experiences through traditional exhibits; innovative audio/visual displays; ranger-led programs at a state of the art topographic map and from a terrace with unobstructed views of the Tetons; and an art gallery with paintings and sculptures depicting Grand Teton and its wildlife. The facility also includes a bookstore—operated by the Grand Teton Association, the park’s cooperating partner—public restrooms and staff office and work spaces. The new auditorium space will provide versatility and flexibility for educational programs and special events such as lectures and community presentations.

“Construction of the auditorium addition allows the original vision for the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center to be realized,” said Acting Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Bob Vogel. “We appreciate the incredible fund-raising campaign orchestrated by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Their efforts will bring the primary building model to its intended design and function.”

Grand Teton to Use Protective Oak Mats on Construction Sites at Moose

Tract of oak mats on sagebrush
Photo courtesy of Encana
April 14, 2010
Grand Teton National Park construction project managers will use interlocking oak plank mats to minimize distrubance to vegetation and soils during construction activities related to the Moose Complex rehabilitation project. As part of a cooperative arrangement, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. has generously offered to loan to the park several sections of wooden mats from their surface reclamation project at the Jonah Field near Pinedale, Wyoming. Grand Teton plans to accept delivery of several sections of mats this week at park headquarters in Moose.

The sectional oak mats are designed to protect vegetation, reduce damage to plant root systems and limit soil compaction caused by construction equipment and heavy machinery. As the mats are laid down, they flatten plants; however, the topsoil and root systems are largely undamaged. Use of the mats will greatly accelerate the recovery of construction areas and facilitate the revegetation of native plants after completion of the Moose Complex project. The “on loan” wooden mats will be used at targeted sites—specifically, locations near the Snake River that are especially fragile—to preserve native vegetation that otherwise would be damaged by heavy construction equipment.

Encana initiated a pilot project in 2005 to test wooden mats at drilling pad sites in the Jonah Field. The test took place at a location where a drilling rig was erected on a platform of interlocking mats. Encana has been using the mats to limit damage to surface vegetation at drilling sites in natural gas fields near Pinedale since that pilot project was launched, and the company says that use of wooden mats at drilling sites has reduced vegetation disturbance by as much as 60 percent.

“We appreciate Encana's technical assistance support and the loan of a truckload of oak plank mats,” said Chris Finlay, Grand Teton National Park’s chief of facility management. “This mutual arrangement benefits both Encana and the park. It allows Encana to showcase their reclamation efforts and their technical expertise in the use of improved techniques to minimize site disturbance at construction areas; and it permits Grand Teton to use those same techniques, at minimal cost, to protect native soils and vegetation during construction work on the Moose headquarters campus.”

National Park Week & Junior Ranger Day

April 13, 2010
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has proclaimed April 17-25, 2010, as National Park Week. To highlight this annual observance, Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks will waive entrance fees during the week—along with all 392 national park units across America. April can be an outstanding time to visit Grand Teton and enjoy unique seasonal activities. Visitors may choose to bike, hike, or inline skate the Teton Park Road without vehicle traffic, observe sage grouse as they perform their spring-time courtship displays, drive park roads to sightsee or search for bears, wolves and other wildlife, or simply photograph the dramatic Teton Range draped in its winter mantle of snow.

During National Park Week, park ranger naturalists will lead weekend trips to observe sage grouse as they perform their annual mating dance (called strutting) at a lek in the Mormon Row area. Strutting grouse tours are scheduled for April 17-18 and April 24-25, and begin at 5:30 a.m. from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming. Reservations are required.

In addition to National Park Week, the National Park Service has declared Saturday, April 24, as National Junior Ranger Day. To mark this occasion, Grand Teton will offer educational activities for children of all ages from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Children who participate in three or more of the scheduled activities on Saturday will earn their Junior Ranger title and receive a Junior Ranger badge or patch. In celebration of Junior Ranger Day, the Grand Teton Association will be offering a 15% discount in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center bookstore to children who earn their Junior Ranger title during the Saturday event.

A variety of activities and learning experiences will be offered to inspire children and encourage them to become partners in helping to preserve not only Grand Teton, but also national parks throughout the United States. Indoor activities will include an Animal Olympics competition where children test their skills against the abilities of certain wildlife species. Other activities will involve a Ranger Club photo exhibition, an art project that will be displayed in the Discovery Center, and a chance to don an actual ranger uniform. Outside the visitor center, children will explore a park ambulance, fire engine, patrol car, and plow truck. Children will also be able to meet the park’s horses and try out scientific equipment, such as radio telemetry, used in tracking and monitoring park wildlife.

Please call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 307.739.3399 for further information about Grand Teton’s Junior Ranger Day event, and/or to make reservations for the weekend tours to watch strutting sage grouse.

Children in Nature Multicultural Program

Latino students examine wildlife pelts & use telemetry equipment
during "Pura Vida en Grand Teton National Park" program

April 12, 2010
In collaboration with Teton Science Schools, Grand Teton National Park recently launched a new multicultural program designed to connect local Latino students with nature. Through weeklong bi-lingual courses, participants will get an opportunity to discover, explore and learn about the park. The first sessions of the Children in Nature Multicultural Engagement Program—called, Pura Vida en Grand Teton National Park—took place during the two-week spring break for Teton County schools. Additional summer sessions are planned for June and August.

The Children in Nature Multicultural Engagement Program at Grand Teton received funding from a generous matching grant provided by the National Park Foundation (NPF) and Grand Teton National Park Foundation (GTNPF) through a target project called America’s Best Idea Grants.

Six middle school and nine high school students were enrolled during the spring break courses. At the start of each weeklong session, students watched a short video titled, This is America—a condensed overview of Ken Burns’ documentary film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Students then spent the remainder of the week exploring Grand Teton, meeting park staff, learning about park resources and operations, and becoming acquainted with the many occupations and duties required to run the park. Students participated in various activities from discovering how to snowshoe and dress appropriately for winter conditions, to learning about wildlife and taking a behind the scenes tour of the park administration building and the operational facilities located throughout the headquarters area. They also participated in a role-playing exercise where they learned how citizens may provide ideas and comments to help park officials with decisions and issues related to Grand Teton’s cultural and natural resources management. Each week ended with a picnic celebration in which students’ parents and park staff participated. These first sessions were instrumental in introducing students and their parents to the many features of Grand Teton and the value of experiencing the park’s wildlife and beauty.

The Pura Vida en Grand Teton National Park summer programs are scheduled for June 14-18, August 2-6 and August 16-20. These programs will bring together approximately ten middle school and three high school students who will serve as mentors. Activities will be similar to the spring break sessions, with students meeting park staff, exploring the park through various outdoor recreational experiences, and completing a resource-related project. Prior to each week, youth mentors will meet with Teton Science Schools’ staff to ensure that they have the skills and support they need to feel confident in mentoring younger students.

Ken Burns’ documentary on national parks served as a catalyst for the Children in Nature Multicultural Engagement Program. The landmark film inspired the NPF to establish an America’s Best Idea Grants program. Through matching grants, the NPF seeks to reach traditionally underserved groups and empower them to create strong, lasting bonds of stewardship with our treasured lands—continuing a tradition of diverse Americans working together to preserve and enhance the legacy of national parks. Grand Teton’s Pura Vida program was specifically created to reach out to the Latino population in the park’s gateway communities, introduce Latinos to Grand Teton’s resources and recreational opportunities, and provide leadership development and mentoring opportunities to middle school and high school students.

For those interested in registering for a summer program session, please contact Teton Science Schools Registrar Judy Herman at 307.734.5659. For more information on the Children in Nature Multicultural Engagement Program, or other park educational outreach efforts, please contact Susanne McDonald at 307.739.3656.

Grand Teton National Park Plans Spring Prescribed Fire Projects

April 5, 2010
Interagency News Release

An early spring means opportunities for completing prescribed fires, including the Elbo West burn that was originally planned for last fall. As soon as weather permits, Teton interagency fire personnel and Grand Teton National Park natural resource managers plan to burn the 182-acre Elbo West unit, which is part of a 4,000-acre native rangeland restoration project along Grand Teton National Park’s east boundary. This project involves a multistage effort to convert pasture land back to native vegetation as part of the 2007 Bison and Elk Management Plan for the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park.

Located southwest of the Teton Science Schools’ campus and Ditch Creek Road, the Elbo West burn unit was an irrigated hayfield prior to the 1970s. Despite a decades-long recovery time, non-native grasses and a host of noxious weeds still dominate the area.

As soon as vegetation dries, fire managers also plan to burn a one-acre section of a restoration project that lies between Kelly Warm Springs and the Warm Springs Road. The burn will remove thatch and dead grass so resource managers can apply herbicide directly to cheatgrass that is spreading on the site.

Firefighters will only ignite burn units when favorable weather and fire behavior conditions exist. Smoke will be evident during the day of the burn. Smoke from larger prescribed fires may persist for several days after, especially in mountain valleys during early morning and evening hours. Local residents and visitors should be aware that minimal traffic restrictions may occur during the burn for safety concerns and fire equipment access.