Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Driving Through The Thick Of It

This isn't a storm:
From a far-off distance my wife and I both thought we were approaching another storm as we traveled across southeastern Wyoming this past Saturday. Earlier that morning we had left Grand Teton National Park for our long drive home. We knew a few storms were passing across the state. The night before winds from an approaching front howled over our condo near Teton Village. The next morning saw thick fog and rain throughout the mountains.
After seeing several warnings along the highway regarding high winds in the area, I began to suspect that maybe we were witnessing a major dust storm. However, as we approached Laramie, it became clear that what we were actually seeing was thick smoke pouring out of the Medicine Bow Mountains just east of town. This was confirmed as we got to the outskirts of town when we could smell the smoke, a result of the Mullen Fire, now listed as being 78,000 acres in size.
Due to extreme winds that day, thick smoke was blowing directly eastward, which meant it followed along the I-80 corridor from Laramie to well-past Cheyenne. As a result, we drove through smoke for more than 75 miles. We later learned that the wind-driven fire forced authorities to issue evacuation orders for both residents and recreationists in the mountains.

Although driving in the smoke for that long was pretty bad, the favorable winds throughout most of the day resulted in almost 4 more miles per gallon to our gas mileage!



Jeff
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Monday, September 28, 2020

Notice of potential harmful cyanobacterial blooms on Upper Jade Lake and Pelham Lake

The Wind River Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest has been notified by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality of potential harmful cyanobacterial blooms, HCBs, on Upper Jade Lake and Pelham Lake.

HCBs are dense concentrations of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae that pose a health risk to humans, pets, livestock, wildlife, and aquatic life. Under normal conditions, cyanobacteria are present at low levels and play an important role in aquatic ecosystems. When blooms occur, cyanobacteria become visibly abundant and can look like grass clippings, blue-green scum, or spilled paint on the water surface; when suspended in the water column, they can make the water appear green. HCBs can produce toxins and other irritants that may cause health effects such as rashes, fatigue, disorientation and gastrointestinal illnesses. In extreme cases, toxins may lead to pet, livestock, or wildlife death.

All Forest visitors are urged to avoid contact with water in areas where the above mentioned blooms or scum are visible. Other safety tips include:

* Do not ingest water from the bloom. Boiling, filtration and/or other treatments will not remove toxins.

* Rinse fish with clean water and eat only the fillet portion.

* Avoid water spray from the bloom.

* Do not allow pets or livestock to drink water near the bloom, eat bloom material, or lick fur after contact.

* If people, pets, or livestock come into contact with a bloom, rinse off with clean water as soon as possible and contact a doctor or veterinarian.

For resources and information on HCBs in Wyoming, visit WyoHCBs.org. For more information on Upper Jade Lake or Pelham Lake, please contact the Wind River Ranger District office at 307-455-2466.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Thursday, September 24, 2020

How Wolves Change Rivers

Although this short video is a little dated (from 2014), it still highlights an important lesson that continues to be valid today. The video discusses how the introduction of wolves in Yellowstone have alterred the food chain, created opportunities for other wildlife, and have changed the geography of the park itself. Moreover, it shows the importance of having a complete ecosystem in places like Yellowstone:









Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Friday, September 18, 2020

Lend a Hand on National Public Lands Day

September 26th is your chance to be a part of the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Each year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers come together on the fourth Saturday in September to assist with various projects designed to restore and enhance public parks, forests, waterways and more. From trail maintenance to tree planting—volunteers of all ages and abilities roll up their sleeves and work side-by-side to care for public lands. The day also features a variety of hikes, bike rides, community festivals, paddling excursions, and other fun outdoor activities—all set on the backdrop of the country’s public lands and waterways.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many aspects of daily life in this country, and our public lands are no exception. Due to social distancing requirements remaining in place for the foreseeable future, many public lands sites will be unable to host large, in-person NPLD events. With this in mind, NEEF has announced that they will be expanding the available options for volunteers during this year’s NPLD on September 26, 2020.

Virtual and In-Person Events for NPLD 2020 The theme for NPLD 2020 is "More Ways to Connect to Nature." In addition to the standard NPLD programming, this year's celebration will include virtual events designed to connect the public to iconic parks, national forests, marine estuaries, and other public lands sites. These online events will serve as an alternative for NPLD site managers who are uncomfortable with or are not allowed to host in-person events due to local regulations.

This does not mean there won't be any in-person events. Public land sites that wish to host in-person events—in accordance with local rules and regulations regarding COVID-19—will still be able to register their event on the NEEF website.

Please click here to check out the official National Public Lands Day event map, which makes it easy to find all of the events that will be available later this month.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Monday, September 14, 2020

Public Invited to Join First Virtual Science and History Week

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park will host the first Science and History Week virtual speaker series on September 21-24. Topics include land restoration, wildlife research, and historical park figures. All virtual events are free and open to the public. Participants can register online to watch each live presentation.

Parks Canada and the National Park Service have jointly hosted an annual Science and History Day since 2004. This year, live webinars replace in-person events due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. The virtual presentations will take place during Canada’s National Science Literacy Week.

The series highlights current research and historical topics related to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Each presentation will give viewers the opportunity to connect with scientists and historians from the park and get a unique look at our archives, insights, and latest findings.

Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow added, “Science and History Week allows us to celebrate the long-standing cooperation between Waterton and Glacier as we conduct research about our shared history and resources.”

The Science and History Week virtual presentation schedule is detailed below. All presentations occur from noon to 12:45 p.m., Mountain Daylight Time.

Monday, September 21
Restoring Native Fescue Prairie Using Fire and TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) in Waterton Lakes National Park and the Blood Timber Limit
Dr. Cristina Eisenberg, Graduate Faculty, Oregon State University
Kansie Fox, Ecologist Natural Resources Senior Manager, Blood Tribe Land Department
Monroe Fox, Technician, Blood Tribe Land Department

Tuesday, September 22
Raptors on the Move: Glacier National Park
Lisa Bate, Wildlife Biologist, Glacier National Park

Wednesday, September 23
A Trip Through Time with the Mountain Legacy Project’s Repeat Photography Collection in Waterton Lakes National Park
Cassandra Buunk, MA Candidate, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria

Thursday, September 24
Revisiting Josephine Doody: Bootlegging in Glacier National Park
Kelli Casias, Historical archaeologist, Western Cultural; and PhD candidate, University of Montana

For more information, contact the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at 406.888.5827 or visit their website.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Friday, September 11, 2020

The Snake River Gateways Campaign

The National Park Service and Grand Teton National Park Foundation are working in partnership on a multi-year project, Snake River Gateways, to transform three river access sites along the Snake River. The project will enhance the visitor experience, improve safety, restore the resilience of riparian areas, improve infrastructure, and emphasize accessibility for all. Construction activities began this spring at Pacific Creek Landing, with work at Jackson Lake Dam and Moose Landing in the next few years.

"The Snake River Gateways Project will enhance visitor access and safety at several popular and beautiful locations along the iconic and scenic river," said Grand Teton National Park Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail. He added, "We simply could not make all of these critical improvements to these sites without the strong support from the Grand Teton National Park Foundation."

Pacific Creek Landing, located just north of the Moran area, will be temporarily closed to all river users and visitors during construction activities this spring and in the fall. There will be summer access to the site, after June 7, contingent upon a reopening of the park per public health guidelines. It is anticipated that a temporary closure will be in effect this fall beginning September 1, and possibly into spring of 2021.

All river users should be aware of the skills needed for navigating each section of river. During the temporary closure at Pacific Creek Landing, anyone putting in on the Snake River at Jackson Lake Dam will need to travel to Deadmans Bar, which requires an advanced skill set. River users may want to consider an alternate section of river recreation during this time.

The design for the Pacific Creek Landing will provide a safer experience with the addition of accessible site features and improved launching conditions. Visitor use areas for viewing and providing educational information about the Snake River will be established to prevent congestion at the launch ramp. Other planned features include redesigned parking areas, additional comfort station, bicycle parking, accessible pathways and viewing areas, restored social trails, redesigned roadways to provide more efficient and safe traffic flows, and improved park and wayfinding information. The volunteer Snake River Ambassadors, supported by the Foundation, will add capacity to address resource protection and safety issues as well as share information about the river's rich legacy through visitor contacts.

"We are pleased that work at Pacific Creek will begin this spring as part of this multi-year project," said Grand Teton National Park Foundation President Leslie Mattson. "We've been working closely with our partners in the park and a variety of stakeholders in the community to ensure that improvements at Pacific Creek benefit river users and visitors for years to come."

The project design was initiated in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the tenth anniversary of the wild and scenic designation of the headwaters of the Snake River. In 2009 the passage of the Craig Thomas Snake Rivers Headwaters Legacy Act of 2008 added 414 miles of rivers and streams of the Snake River Headwaters to the national wild and scenic rivers system.

The National Park Service finalized the Snake River Headwaters Comprehensive River Management Plan and associated environmental assessment in 2014. The plan defined the improvements to take place at access points along the river and headwaters in Grand Teton National Park.

The Foundation's goal is to raise $6.5 million to support improvements at all three sites, with $4 million raised to date. Funding for work at Pacific Creek Landing has been secured. Private philanthropy is providing a margin of excellence to the effort that would not be possible otherwise. The Foundation's contributions are also leveraging additional Centennial Challenge matching funds from the National Park Service, bringing the agency's total contribution to the project at over $5 million.

Yale Creek, Inc. Of Rexburg, Idaho, was awarded the construction contract for Pacific Creek Landing. Jorgensen Associates of Jackson, Wyoming, with support from Otak, of Denver, Colorado, provided the design for the project.

For more information about the project, please click here.







Jeff
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Ramble On: A History of Hiking
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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

2 grizzly bears euthanized after conflicts in West Yellowstone

Two grizzly bears have been euthanized after multiple conflicts in campsites and at residences near West Yellowstone.

Conflicts with the two subadult grizzlies — a male and a female — began in 2019. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff worked to haze the bears then, and at the time, the efforts to move them away from residential areas was thought to be successful.


Reports of problems with these bears started again on Aug. 5, and by the time the bears were last captured on Sept. 1, there were 15 reports of two bears being in campgrounds at night, inside porches and on steps, where they were able to access garbage and dog food.

FWP bear specialists set cameras and noise alarms at two sites where the bears gained access to garbage. When those hazing efforts were unsuccessful, the specialists set traps for the bears on Aug. 15, and both were captured a day later. FWP, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Forest Service agreed to relocate and release the bears due to their young age and because this was their first time being captured. Both bears were fitted with ear tags and satellite collars.

The bears then returned to the area where the conflicts had occurred previously, and on Aug. 25, the problems resumed, including the bears getting into an occupied tent, as well as a storage compartment on an RV.

FWP captured both bears again on Sept. 1.

Due to the chronic conflicts and concerns for human safety, the bears were euthanized in consultation with the USFWS.

“When garbage and other attractants are left unsecured and available to bears, human safety becomes a huge concern, and bear mortalities are the unfortunate result. This is why we ask people to be so careful with food, garbage, and similar items. It really requires just a little effort,” said Mark Deleray, FWP’s regional supervisor in southwest Montana.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park