Stefan Ekernas Receives 2011 Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship

Stefan Ekernas awarded 2011 Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship.

April 28, 2011
Grand Teton National Park and the Grand Teton Association (GTA) are pleased to announce that Stefan Ekernas has received the Boyd Evison Graduate Fellowship for 2011. Ekernas, the seventh recipient of an Evison Fellowship, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana in Missoula. He plans to use his fellowship award to study the impacts of climate change on food webs in the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), looking specifically at white-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus townsendii) and pronghorn (Antilocapra Americana). The Evison Graduate Fellowship began in 2005 to support studies throughout the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Ekernas received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Dartmouth College in 2001, a Master of Arts in Conservation Biology from Columbia University in 2005, and a Master of Science in Organismal Biology and Ecology from the University of Montana in 2010. He served as research director for WildMetro, a non-profit group in New York City focused on urban ecology, and he worked as an adjunct lecturer at Baruch College in Manhattan. Prior to moving to Montana, he worked as a research associate at Christian Medical College in Tamil Nadu, India. His past research focused on the effects of urbanization on small mammal communities in New York City, and the interface between conservation and public health in India.

Ekernas’ research in the GYE will focus on both food webs and climate change as he seeks to investigate species interactions within and beyond protected areas. He and his team will explore the relationships between white-tailed jackrabbits, wolves, coyotes, and pronghorn—with a specific focus on jackrabbits and pronghorns.  A key member of the food web, jackrabbits have already disappeared from parts of the ecosystem. To investigate the impacts of climate change on food webs, Ekernas will look at the relationship between decrease in snowpack and jackrabbit population. When completed, he will make his findings available to Grand Teton and to the public. He also intends to give public lectures as his research progresses.
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.

Snowdesk Broadcasts Reach out to Distant Classrooms Across the U.S.

Clay Hanna & Kristen Dragoo broadcast from their snowdesk
located outside of the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center.

April 27, 2011
Over the past few months, ranger naturalists brought the winter world of Grand Teton National Park to classrooms across the United States. Rangers made “virtual visits” to classrooms in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wyoming by using video conferencing technology. Although some of the locations were experiencing more spring-like weather, students were transported live to Moose, Wyoming where temperatures were generally sub-freezing during broadcasts outside of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Each classroom held a special connection to Grand Teton because their teachers were past participants in the National Park Service (NPS) Teacher to Ranger to Teacher (TRT) program.

The TRT program provides an opportunity for teachers to work as national park rangers during summer months and take their newfound knowledge of national parks back to classrooms for the school year. Teachers develop and present curriculum-based lesson plans that focus on their park experience and participate in distance learning sessions via video broadcasts. Because of their summer work in Grand Teton, each teacher was able to prep their students with pertinent information before the virtual visit and also extend the learning experience after the broadcast.
Through this unique distance learning program, over 500 students were able to learn about and connect with Grand Teton National Park—a place that few of the students have ever visited. Youngsters from 3rd through 10th grade interacted with rangers who broadcasted live and outside with the snow-covered Teton Range and Jackson Hole valley as a backdrop. Rangers created a frozen stage by leveling out an area in the snow for demonstrations and by carving a “snow desk” complete with an NPS arrowhead. From this frozen stage, and the “snow desk,” rangers taught the students about animal survival during the harsh winter climate of Jackson Hole and demonstrated each adaptation using props. Students learned how winter conditions change the way everything (plants, animals and people) survives in Grand Teton.

During the 35-minute video conference broadcast, rangers and students were able to interact visually and verbally. To enhance the learning experience and reach different learning styles, each classroom was also provided with props such as animal pelts, wildlife photographs, park maps and educational newspapers. To facilitate the broadcast, each classroom only needed a computer with access to the internet, a web cam, microphone, speakers, and the appropriate video conference software.

The success of this program is tribute to the TRT participants who worked hard to fit this innovative program into their specific school curriculum and busy schedules. With past successes and potential new TRT participants, Grand Teton rangers hope to expand the “snow desk” broadcasts to other schools and students next winter.  

To learn more about TRT programs, visit  

Facility Opening Dates for 2011 Season

April 26, 2011
The official 2011 opening dates for facilities in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway are as follows:

The Teton Park Road and Moose-Wilson Road will open on Sunday, May 1. The Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway opens on June 1; however deep snow may limit the extent of accessibility.

Motorists are advised to drive cautiously and be aware that wildlife are migrating throughout the park. Animals are 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: 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
$50: Grand Teton/Yellowstone Annual Pass valid for one-year entry into both parks
$80: Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year to all 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. The pathway will become accessible as the snow cover naturally melts.

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 7
Jenny Lake Visitor Center
May 13
Jenny Lake Ranger Station
May 21
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Ctr.
May 22
Flagg Ranch Information Station
June 6

Ranger-led activities begin Monday, June 6. An activity schedule can be found in the park's newspaper, Grand Teton Guide, or online at

The following campgrounds open:
Gros Ventre
May 6
Signal Mountain
Jenny Lake
May 6
May 13
Colter Bay
May 26
Colter Bay RV & Trailer Park
May 26
Flagg Ranch RV Park
June 1
Lizard Creek
June 10

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-$64 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 will open:
Signal Mountain Lodge
May 6
Flagg Ranch Resort
May 16
Jackson Lake Lodge
May 20
Colter Bay Cabins
May 26
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 website, stop by any visitor center and ranger station, or call 307.739.3300.

Missing Skiers Found after Six-Day Search

Searchers probed an avalanche field with 10-foot poles on Saturday.

Helicopter 7HL piloted by Nicole Ludwig staged
at the Highlands NPS housing area on Sunday.

April 24, 2011
On the evening of Saturday, April 23, after a long day of searching an avalanche debris field in Garnet Canyon Meadows, a Grand Teton National Park ranger picked up two discernible beacon signals deep in the snowpack. Due to the late hour—coupled with the need to evacuate all search teams from the Teton canyon and cease helicopter operations before day’s end—a handful of rescuers were not able to dig deep enough to locate the source of the signals. Early Sunday morning, a core group of park rangers flew back into Garnet Canyon to resume digging. After two hours, they reached Walker Pannell Kuhl and Gregory Seftick, buried under 13 feet of snow near a large boulder in the avalanche path.

Over 35 rescue personnel and four canine teams methodically searched the large avalanche field in Garnet Canyon for more than ten hours on Saturday. With the help of good weather, rescuers hoped to find any clue as to the fate of Kuhl and Seftick. At 7 p.m. with just two teams left to airlift from the canyon, Ranger Nick Armitage made one final sweep with his avalanche transceiver over an area that had been probed by rescuers earlier in the day. After Armitage picked up first one beacon signal, and then another, five additional rescuers joined in digging through the dense snowpack to reach the source. Although five feet of snow was cleared away, rescuers were not able to reach the beacon before the last helicopter flight needed to be made. Upon removing the snow, however, rescuers also made a positive probe hit. It should be noted that avalanche probe poles are generally 10 feet long and the beacon was deeper than their initial reach.

On Sunday morning, helicopter pilot Nicole Ludwig—flying a Teton County Search and Rescue contract helicopter out of Hillsboro, Oregon—airlifted six park rangers back into the Garnet Canyon Meadows to resume digging toward the two beacons. Rangers continued to excavate through another ten feet of snow before they reached Walker and Greg. Rangers then prepared them for a helicopter flight to the valley floor where a Teton County coroner met the ship and took Greg's and Walker's bodies to a local mortuary.

It appears that Walker and Greg were buried by a large avalanche that shed off the north face of Nez Perce Peak sometime Saturday night, April 16, while they were in their tent, located near a large boulder between the Platforms and the Meadows of Garnet Canyon. Walker and Greg carried avalanche beacons and other appropriate gear with them on their trek into the Teton Range, and their beacons were transmitting when the avalanche enveloped their campsite. 

The concentrated search for Kuhl and Seftick lasted six days, due in part to stormy weather, new snowfall and ongoing concerns about avalanche danger for rescue teams. Search operations involved park rangers and staff, as well as numerous Jackson Hole community rescue personnel. Grand Teton National Park appreciates the cooperation and dedication of the organizations and companies who assisted during the past several days. Those groups include trained rescue personnel, volunteers and support staff from Teton County Search and Rescue, Teton Interagency Fire personnel, Bridger-Teton National Forest and Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center staff, a Yellowstone National Park employee, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, Wyoming K9 Search and Rescue teams, and Grand Targhee Resort ski patrol and canine teams, as well as experienced professional mountaineers from Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and Exum Mountain Guides.

The Seftick and Kuhl families extend their heartfelt thanks to all rescuers for their work in helping to locate their sons and brothers.

Search for Missing Skiers Enters Sixth Day

Pilot Nicole Ludwig ferries search teams from helispot to Garnet Cyn.

Jason O'Neill loads his search dog Murphy onto the helicopter.

Garnet Canyon lies between the Middle Teton (L) & Grand Teton (R)

April 23, 2011
The search for Walker Pannell Kuhl, age 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah and Gregory Seftick, age 31, of Columbia Falls, Montana resumed today, Saturday, April 23 in Grand Teton National Park. Kuhl and Seftick began an overnight camping and skiing trip one week ago, and were reported missing on Monday, April 18, when Kuhl failed to show up for work. This marks the sixth day for a concentrated search to locate the missing skiers.

A high pressure system brought sunny skies and calm winds this morning, creating perfect weather conditions to continue search operations. Four K9 search and rescue teams from nearby Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming, and more than 35 search and rescue personnel were airlifted from a helispot on the Teton Park Road (elevation 6,685 feet) into a high elevation helispot in Garnet Canyon (9,500 feet) near the base of Nez Perce Peak to begin another full day of combing through a large avalanche debris field. A broad snowfield on the north face of Nez Perce gave way sometime after Friday, April 15, and the resulting avalanche path covers Garnet Canyon Meadows where it is presumed that the two men may be found. The avalanche debris field is approximately 200 feet wide, 200-300 yards long and 15 feet deep.

Grand Teton National Park rangers again enlisted the assistance of trained rescue personnel and support staff from Teton County Search and Rescue, Teton Interagency Fire, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol, Wyoming K9 Search and Rescue, and Grand Targhee Resort ski patrol and K9 teams, as well as experienced professional mountaineers from Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and Exum Mountain Guides (two park concession companies) to provide the best possible and most complete exploration of the snow-covered area where Kuhl and Seftick may be located.

Local weather forecaster Jim Woodmency, who joined the search effort today, reminded the search teams that over three feet of new snow has fallen on the Teton Range over the past week. Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center has recorded 661 inches of snowfall at the Raymer snow plot (elevation 9,300 feet) so far this winter. The Tetons receive an average of 400 inches of snowfall per year.

Further information about today’s search effort will be available after individual teams return to the incident command center near park headquarters at day’s end.  

Garnet Canyon Closed to Public Entry on Saturday, April 23

April 22, 2011
4:30 p.m.

Garnet Canyon will be close to public entry on Saturday, April 23 to conduct ongoing search operations.

This closure is necessary to allow for avalanche control work, and to minimize contamination (fresh human scent) of the search area for the K9 teams.

We appreciate your compliance with this temporary closure.

Search for Walker Pannell Kuhl & Greg Seftick to Resume Saturday

North face of Nez Perce Peak where an avalanche began
 a large snowfield just below the summit.
The avalanche debris settled in Garnet Canyon Meadows

April 22, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers plan to resume the search for Walker Pannell Kuhl and Greg Seftick on Saturday, April 23. A forecast for better weather conditions this weekend prompted rangers to prepare for another sizeable search period. Several rescuers and search dog teams will be airlifted to a helispot in the Platforms area of Garnet Canyon. Search teams will focus their attention on a large avalanche debris field that lies in Garnet Canyon Meadows.

Adverse weather completely grounded search operations all day Thursday. As clouds clear today, April 22, rangers will conduct a helicopter overflight of the area to determine whether avalanche control work needs to be done in preparation for inserting rescue teams tomorrow.

Grand Teton rangers intend to continue searching for the missing skiers—as weather and snowpack conditions allow.

Garnet Canyon is a popular backcountry area for skiing and mountaineering; therefore, rangers request that anyone traveling into Garnet Canyon over the next days or weeks to be on the lookout for items such as skis, poles, backpacks and other gear. If such items are found, please leave them in place and contact rangers as soon as possible with a good description or GPS plot of their exact location. This information will help direct further progress in the ongoing search.

If any items are found, please call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3300.

Search Operations for Missing Skiers Suspended Due to Inclement Weather

Rescuers & K9 search teams will resume
exploring a large avalanche debris field, as weather permits.  

April 21, 2011
Grand Teton National Park rangers were forced to suspend the search for missing skiers Walker Pannell Kuhl, age 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Gregory Seftick, age 31 of Columbia Falls, Montana today, April 21, due to adverse weather conditions. The Teton Range and Jackson Hole experienced continual winter-like storms with heavy snow and gusty winds throughout the day. These conditions made it impossible to insert rescue teams and K9 search teams into the Teton backcountry.

The decision to “stand down” rescue teams came fairly early in the day as weather conditions worsened. Similar weather is forecasted for Friday, April 22, so rescue teams will be on standby.  Saturday’s weather holds more promise and will likely allow for rescuers to resume searching the most probable location where Kuhl and Seftick may be found. That location is a large avalanche debris field in the Garnet Canyon Meadows.

Further information about the ongoing search will be made available as weather allows renewed operations.

Missing Skiers Not Found Despite Extensive Search on Wednesday

Two search dog teams arrived by helicopter on Wednesday.
Four dog teams will be used to search avalanche debris fields today.

Rangers aboard Teton County SAR helicopter
do aerial search of high terrain.

Search teams use probes to examine
large avalanche debris field in Garnet Canyon.

April 21, 2011
Rescue teams on the ground and in the air, along with two search dog teams with Wyoming K9 Search and Rescue, conducted a thorough and extensive search of multiple locations in Garnet Canyon on Wednesday, April 20; still no clues were discovered that might lead to the whereabouts of Walker Pannell Kuhl and Gregory Seftick—missing for four days after they entered Garnet Canyon on Saturday, April 16, for on an overnight camping and ski trip.

Because of clear skies and stable weather conditions on Wednesday, multiple rescue teams made significant progress in searching areas that were inaccessible on Tuesday due to low visibility, erratic winds and high avalanche probability. Three rangers aboard the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter were able to thoroughly conduct an aerial search of high terrain areas and typical climbing routes on the Grand Teton, Middle Teton, South Teton and other secondary peaks adjacent to Garnet Canyon. In an effort to eliminate all possible outlier locations where Kuhl and Seftick might have traveled, the aerial search also covered the Shadow Peak area to the south of Garnet Canyon, Black Dike Couloir and Cascade Canyon to the north of Garnet Canyon. 

Three teams of four people each searched high elevations in the south and north forks of Garnet Canyon after being shuttled by helicopter to a helispot in the Meadows area of the canyon. One team combed over Jackson Hole Mountain Guides’ high camp area and the toe of Teepe Glacier where an avalanche had occurred days before. A second team explored the Middle Teton glacier area, the North Fork moraine and the North Fork headwall above the Meadows. A third team searched the South Fork of Garnet Canyon to the saddle between the South Teton and Middle Teton. These areas contain substantial snow drifts, large boulders, and other features where someone might take cover from the elements. No evidence of the missing skiers was found during these widespread searches.

Joined by two search dog teams, other rescue teams methodically searched a massive debris field on the lower Meadows area of Garnet Canyon, Rescuers used avalanche transceivers, probe poles and a device called “recco” that works similar to sonar and can pick up a dense object that is not otherwise visible. Some mountaineers wear clothing embedded with “recco” chips that can help in directing a visual signal from a hand-held device much like the audio sounds received from an avalanche beacon.

Today, April 21, rescuers will focus their efforts on the large avalanche debris that sits in the lower Meadows. This debris field is approximately 250 feet wide, 200-300 yards long and over 15 feet deep. It apparently shed off of the north face of Nez Perce Peak on the south flank of Garnet Canyon.

Four fresh K9 search teams will join two six-person rescue teams today to carefully comb over, and through, the jumble of avalanche debris in the Meadows area.

The weather forecast calls for increased winds and 70 percent chance of snow showers with two to four inches accumulation possible. Inclement weather conditions may hamper or delay search operations on Thursday and Friday.

Search Continues for Missing Skiers in Garnet Canyon

Teton Co. Search & Rescue helicopter delivers
search dog teams to Garnet Canyon during snow squall.

Search teams fan out over the lower Meadows in Garnet Canyon
in low visibility conditions on Tuesday, April 19.
April 20, 2011
Several rescue teams were flown by helicopter into the Meadows area of Garnet Canyon early this morning, April 20, to resume a methodical search for Walker Kuhl, age 27, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Gregory Seftick, age 31 of Columbia Falls, Montana. The two men skied into Garnet Canyon at Grand Teton National Park on Saturday, April 16, with plans to camp overnight and explore areas around the Grand Teton. They were reported overdue for work at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, April 18.

Today, three rescue teams of four people each, as well as two dog teams continue to explore the lower Meadows—an area that is one of several possible locations where the missing men may be found. Rescuers are also probing areas higher in elevation in the south and north forks of Garnet Canyon. Search teams were not able to check the steeper terrain in those areas yesterday because of unstable snow conditions.

Improved weather conditions today have provided better visibility and allowed for additional helicopter flights. Rescue teams will continue to both expand their search areas and focus on likely locations that might provide clues as to the whereabouts of the missing skiers.

At this time, similar rescue operations are planned for tomorrow, weather permitting. While weather conditions today are nearly ideal for the search operation, the forecast is calling for increasing clouds and snow by tomorrow.

Overdue Skiers Prompt Large-Scale Search

April 19, 2011

Grand Teton National Park rangers organized a full-scale search for two overdue backcountry skiers on Tuesday morning, April 19, after an initial search late Monday proved unsuccessful. Approximately 40 rescuers and support staff assembled at first light on Tuesday to begin an extensive search of the Meadows area and other locations within Garnet Canyon near the Grand Teton and other high peaks. Walker Kuhl, age 27, from Salt Lake City, Utah and Gregory Seftick, age 31, of  Columbia Falls, Montana set out to camp overnight in the Teton Range on Saturday, April 16. According to their backcountry permit, they intended to explore Teepe Pillar and Teepe Glacier—features near the Grand Teton. When Kuhl failed to report to work in Salt Lake City on Monday morning, park rangers were notified and the initial search began.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office at 11:15 a.m. on Monday, informing them of concern for the whereabouts of Kuhl and his friend, Seftick. Kuhl’s girlfriend contacted the Sheriff’s Office with information that he failed to report to work that morning after a weekend trip to Grand Teton National Park. Upon receiving notification of overdue backcountry skiers, rangers checked the Taggart Lake trailhead and found the vehicles owned by the two men. This discovery prompted a search and rescue operation.

Because of unstable snow conditions on Monday afternoon, rangers chose not to use a ground search, which would put rescue personnel at risk. Instead, a helicopter reconnaissance flight took place late Monday. Erratic winds and poor visibility pre-empted a thorough search and at sunset, rangers were forced to suspend the operation and make plans for a larger search effort Tuesday.

Four teams with four rescuers each began skiing into Garnet Canyon from the Teton Park Road, followed by an operation team that will support the advance teams with radio communications and other needs. A helicopter flight was launched at 11:20 a.m. after weather conditions allowed and visibility improved. The rescue teams will conduct a methodical search of several areas throughout the Garnet Canyon area, and focus on probable locations where Kuhl and Seftick might have gone.

Both Kuhl and Seftick have some knowledge of the Teton backcountry and have previously climbed and skied in the Teton Range. They carried avalanche equipment with them and are familiar with the use of such equipment.

Avalanche conditions over the past few days were rated as “considerable,” by the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, meaning that human-triggered avalanches were likely. Today’s avalanche report states that  moderate danger exists in high elevations above the 9,000 feet and low danger for mid to low elevations from 6,000 feet to 9,000 feet. Six to seven inches of new snow fell overnight at the 9,300 and 9,580-foot elevation snow plot stations on Rendezvous Mountain. 

Further information will be available as the search effort progresses.

Celebrate Nat'l Park Week & View Sage Grouse

Male sage grouse display & strut during their annual mating dance.

April 12, 2011
To celebrate the arrival of spring and National Park Week, park ranger naturalists will lead early-morning tours to observe strutting sage grouse as they perform their annual mating dance on an historic lek (strutting arena) located just off the Antelope Flats Road near Mormon Row. Strutting grouse trips will be offered on both Saturdays and Sundays of the following weekends: April 16–17,
April 23–24, and April 30–May 1, 2011.

Strutting grouse tours begin from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at 5:30 a.m. Reservations are required; to obtain information about what to wear and bring along on these free, ranger-led trips and make a reservation, call 307.739.3399.

Ranger-led excursions offer a unique opportunity to witness this spring-time ritual, as sage grouse congregate and perform animated mating displays. As participants view the antics of strutting grouse, rangers will provide information about their natural history and conservation efforts underway for sage grouse populations that are declining throughout much of the American West.

National Park Week is slated for April 16-24, and sage grouse tours are just one of many opportunities to connect with this year's theme, “Healthy Parks, Healthy People.”  The 2011 motto highlights the connection between human and environmental health and the vital role that America's national parks play in both. National Park Week also salutes the individuals, groups and associations that help make the National Park System one of America’s greatest assets.  

To highlight National Park Week, Grand Teton National Park—along with the entire 394 national park units across America—will waive entrance fees throughout the week. A seven-day pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park is normally $25 for a private vehicle.

Additional information about National Park Week is available on the National Park Service website at .

Junior Ranger Day & National Park Week Offer Fun Family Activities

April 12, 2011
Grand Teton National Park will celebrate National Junior Ranger Day and the start of National Park Week on Saturday, April 16, with several fun activities planned for the whole family. The activities are free of charge and will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., families will have an opportunity to talk with park rangers and explore the vehicles and equipment regularly used in operating the park and keeping visitors safe; vehicles will include an ambulance, fire engine, patrol car and snowplow. Staff from the Teton Raptor Center will also be on hand to introduce families to live birds and provide information about birds of prey that live in Grand Teton.

From 12 noon to 3 p.m., children can participate in a Ranger Bootcamp Obstacle Course, where they will compete in physical activities that mimic park ranger jobs. Youngsters can also test their skills against the abilities of certain wildlife species during a game called Animal Olympics. Other activities include a story corner, a touch table with animal furs, feathers and bones to examine, and a chance to dress up in an actual ranger uniform. Children who participate in at least three of the activities will earn either a Junior Ranger patch or badge.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar proclaimed April 16-24, 2011, as National Park Week. To highlight this annual observance, Grand Teton National Park—along with the entire 394 national park units across America—will waive entrance fees throughout the week. A seven-day pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park is normally $25 for a private, noncommercial vehicle.

Junior Ranger Day offers just one of many opportunities to connect with this year's National Park Week theme, “Healthy Parks, Healthy People.”  The 2011 motto highlights the connection between human and environmental health and the vital role that America's national parks play in both. 

Grand Teton Association will offer a 15-percent discount in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center bookstore on Junior Ranger Day. Numerous educational and informational books and other interesting items (videos, posters, ornaments, plush animals, toys, etc.) can be purchased using the special Junior Ranger Day discount.

Bear Biologist Stephen Herrero to Speak

Dr. Stephen Herrero with bear cub.

April 11, 2011
Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott invites the public to celebrate bears, and our fascination with these charismatic creatures, with Dr. Stephen Herrero, world-renowned bear biologist. Herrero’s public appearance is free and will take place from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, in the new Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center auditorium at Moose. Internationally known for his work on human-bear conflicts, Herrero is also the author of Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, among other books and scientific papers.

Through a question-and-answer dialogue, Herrero will explore considerations for bear safety outside the bounds of the most typical human-bear encounters. Attendees are encouraged to bring their questions and engage in an informal conversation. This session will be particularly interesting to those who spend a lot of time out-of-doors in bear habitat. It will include provocative discussions on topics such as cyclist-bear interactions, and how people might chose between using bear spray and playing dead.

Dr. Herrero will present a public talk at 6 p.m. on Friday evening at the Teton County Library in Jackson, Wyoming, prior to his Saturday morning appearance in Grand Teton. His evening presentation will focus on discoveries about bear behavior, and will include interesting highlights and insights about the magical moments that he and others have experienced in observing bears. Local residents and area visitors are encouraged to join both presentations, as each will spotlight different aspects about bears, their behavior, and human safety around bears.

Born in San Francisco, Dr. Herrero earned his Ph.D in animal behavior and ecology from the University of California at Berkeley, and currently serves as professor emeritus with the University of Calgary in Alberta. His extensive research in carnivore ecology, behavior, conservation and management led to the development of policies in bear safety and improved bear conservation across the U.S. and Canada. Herrero is recognized throughout the world as a “leading authority” on bear ecology, behavior and attacks.

Herrero’s book, Bear attacks: Their causes and avoidance, has sold over 115,000 copies and been translated into German and Japanese: a testament to our human attraction to—and fear of—bears. He is a founding member of the Staying Safe in Bear Country Society, which produced four bear safety videos in cooperation with the International Association for Bear Research and Management. These videos include, “Staying Safe in Bear Country,” “Working in Bear Country,” Living in Bear Country,” and “Polar Bears: A Guide to Safety.”  

Grand Teton National Park Foundation will provide breakfast pastries, hot coffee and tea before Dr. Herrero’s Saturday morning session to mark the first public event to be held in the new Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center auditorium. Members of the public should come early to enjoy the refreshments and get a first peek at the newly completed auditorium wing; construction of the new auditorium was funded 100 percent by Grand Teton National Park Foundation donors.

Seating will be first-come, first-served for Dr. Herrero’s appearance; the new auditorium accommodates 154 people.

Backcountry Skier Triggers Avalanche on Shadow Peak

April 1, 2011
A backcountry skier escaped injury in a large avalanche he triggered on the south aspect of Shadow Peak in the "Four Hour Couloir" in Grand Teton National Park Friday.

The Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a 911 call at 2:20 p.m. Friday reporting a large slide originally thought to be on Albright Peak, but later corrected to be Shadow Peak. Park rangers mobilized for a search and rescue, but stood down at 3 p.m. when the reporting party called back to say everyone was safe and uninjured.

Rangers later spoke with skier Jimmy Chin, who said a "large, wet slab cracked around him with a two-foot crown." He said he rode the slide for at least 1,000 feet. Rangers will conduct a more thorough interview once Chin returns from the backcountry.

"Backcountry skiers need to stay informed of the latest snow conditions, especially with warm temperatures, a deep snowpack and a lack of freezing temperatures at night," said Park Ranger Ryan Schuster.

Skiers are advised to obtain current avalanche forecasts before entering the backcountry by visiting the Bridger-Teton National Forest avalanche website at, or calling the avalanche center at 307.733.2664. The website rated the avalanche danger Friday as “moderate” for high and mid-level elevations and “considerable” for low elevations during the afternoon. The advisory also stated, “At the high elevations, pockets of dense surface slabs with depths to two feet could be triggered in very steep wind loaded avalanche terrain. Avalanches are unlikely at the mid and low elevations this morning in the mostly stable snowpack. As warm temperatures and sunlight weaken the snowpack today wet slides will become possible this afternoon.”

Backcountry users are reminded that weather and other factors may prevent the ability of rescuers to effectively reach locations in the Teton Range to perform an evacuation. Anyone entering the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park should be prepared with appropriate emergency equipment such as avalanche beacons, extra clothing, water and high energy snacks, among other items.