Thursday, October 30, 2014

Suspect Named in Vandalism Case at Eight Western National Parks

A 21-year-old New York State woman, Casey Nocket, has been identified as the primary suspect in recent vandalism cases that affect eight national parks in the western United States.

National Park Service investigators have confirmed that images were painted on rocks and boulders in Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park, all in California; Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado National Monument, both in Colorado; Crater Lake National Park, in Oregon; Zion National Park and Canyonlands National Park, both in Utah.

Investigators continue to collect evidence of the crimes, conduct interviews, and are consulting with the U.S. Attorney's Office about potential charges. We ask the public to exercise patience and allow due process to take its course as the investigation moves forward.

The image in Rocky Mountain National Park was reported to the park and removed in late September before similar images were found in the other national parks.

Ice and snow now cover the image at Crater Lake National Park, and it may not be accessible for assessment and clean up until next summer.

An image in Yosemite National Park was removed by an unknown person or persons.

If people visiting these parks come upon these images, they should contact the nearest park ranger with information about the image location. Visitors should not attempt to remove the images.

The National Park Service was contacted on October 20 about this vandalism case. The investigation began immediately.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Grand Teton Seasonal Road and Facility Closures

Jackson residents and park visitors are reminded that two roads within Grand Teton National Park will close to vehicle traffic for the season on the evening of Friday, October 31, 2014. These seasonal closures include the length of the Teton Park Road between Taggart Lake parking area and Signal Mountain Lodge parking lot, as well as the Moose-Wilson Road between Granite Canyon and Death Canyon trailheads.

In addition to the annual road closures, the Moose, Moran and Granite Canyon entrance stations will be temporarily closed for the month of November and early December. They are scheduled to reopen on December 15 for the winter season.

The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose is scheduled to be closed from November 2 to March 2, 2015. A short seasonal closure of the Discovery Center was implemented last year as a cost saving measure, and a substantial cost efficiency was achieved during that closure. Customary winter visitor services will be provided at other park locations and via online access or through phone contact. Education outreach programs to area schools will take place for the 2014/2015 winter season, as they have in previous years.

Teton Park Road is not plowed after the first of November. However during the period of time that the Teton Park Road remains free of snow, visitors are welcome to use the roadway for other recreation such as walking, bicycling, and in-line skating. Once the snow begins to accumulate on the roadbed, winter season activities such as cross-country skiing, skate skiing and snow-shoeing become possible.

Pets are only permitted on park roadways where vehicles are allowed access, and by special exemption, pets are allowed on the Teton Park Road year-round. However, pet owners are reminded that dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet and under physical restraint at all times. Dog owners are required to clean-up their pet's waste, and mutt mitt stations are provided for that purpose during the off season months.

In addition to road closures in Grand Teton National Park, the Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway will close for the season with the first major snowstorm.

Additional announcements about winter season operations will be made in mid-December.

For more information on hiking in the Grand Tetons, please visit our brand new hiking trail website.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vandalism Reported in 10 National Parks

The National Park Service is currently investigating reports of vandalism in at least 10 national parks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Utah.

While the NPS can’t discuss details of a case under investigation, officials emphasize that they take the issue of vandalism seriously. National parks exist to preserve and protect our nation’s natural, cultural and historic heritage for both current and future generations. Vandalism is not only a violation of the law but it also damages and sometimes destroys often irreplaceable treasures that belong to all Americans.

The NPS also emphasizes that there are forums for artistic expression in national parks because national parks inspire artistic creativity. These images are outside that forum and outside the law.

Parks affected (awaiting confirmation) include: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Yosemite National Park, California; Death Valley National Park, California; Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California; Joshua Tree National Park, California; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado; Crater Lake National Park, Oregon; Bryce National Park, Utah; Zion National Park, Utah; and Canyonlands National Park, Utah.


‘Vital Signs 2013' Report on Natural & Cultural Resources Posted Online

A comprehensive report on the status of the natural and cultural resources of Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway is now available for reference online. This report, titled Vital Signs 2013, is posted here.

To protect and manage the wide variety of natural and cultural resources held within both Grand Teton and the JDR Memorial Parkway, resource management staff monitor and study individual resources as well as ecological processes—essentially the vital signs—of the park and parkway. Information on the state of key resources helps guide decisions made for their long-term management. Although data collected on some resources may be too limited to predict significant trends, the information gathered provides a baseline for future assessment of resource conditions.

Resources summarized in the Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway's Vital Signs 2013 report are monitored because of their significance to—or influence on—the ecosystem. Report summaries are grouped into four categories, which include:

* Climate and Environment with a focus on air quality, water quality, fire, glaciers, soundscape, and climate.

* Natural Resources with an emphasis on plants and animals that are, or have been, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (bald eagle, gray wolf, grizzly bear, peregrine falcon), as well as species that have experienced declines in the ecosystem, or are of special concern due to a lack of data (golden eagle, great blue heron, greater sage-grouse, moose, trumpeter swan, and whitebark pine). Natural resource summaries also include species that are considered vulnerable (bighorn sheep, Columbia sharp-tailed grouse, common loon, pronghorn), and species that significantly impact the ecosystem and management actions due to their population size and movement outside park boundaries (bison and elk). Other species included are important indicators of ecosystem health because they are especially sensitive to environmental pollutants, habitat alteration, and climate change (amphibians and osprey).

* Cultural Resources with attention to archeological sites, historic structures, and museum collections that are significant representations of the human evidence on park lands. These resources are inventoried, protected, and monitored to ensure protection for future generations.

* Challenges related to nonnative plants and animals, grazing, park visitation, plant restoration, and the human-bear interface that are generally caused or largely influenced by human activity.

"We are committed to educating the public about the natural and cultural resources of both Grand Teton and the Rockefeller Parkway, and so it's important that we share this Vital Signs 2013 report as a necessary step in that direction," said Superintendent David Vela. "We hope that anyone interested will take the time to review these findings and become better informed about our management activities related to the long-term conservation of these elemental resources."


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Temporary Closures Scheduled for Jenny Lake Area

Starting Monday, October 27, a temporary area closure will be in effect for several trails within the Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton National Park. The temporary public closures are necessary to ensure public safety during construction activities involving helicopter-assisted transport of heavy material to trail locations on the west side of Jenny Lake. The public closure will last from October 27 through October 30, and possibly longer.

For safety during the staging of several loads of construction materials, trails leading from the Jenny Lake boat launch area to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and the Moose Ponds trailhead will be closed to all public access. Signs will be posted throughout this closure area, and park staff will be positioned to provide suggestions for alternate routes/detours for anyone visiting this area of the park.

Areas not affected by this temporary public closure include: the Teton Park Road; Jenny Lake scenic loop road; access to Cascade Canyon via the Horse Trail; access to Jenny Lake via the String Lake parking lot and trailhead; and access to the Lupine Meadows parking lot and trailheads.

This slight and temporary inconvenience will be short-term in nature. Park managers appreciate the public's cooperation in observing all posted closure notices in the Jenny Lake area.

This transport of rocks and other construction materials via helicopter is part of the Jenny Lake Renewal project. Work on the backcountry trail system from the west shore of Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point will continue during the summer of 2015. Detour routes will be well marked for visitors wishing to reach Hidden Falls or Cascade Canyon during the 2015 hiking season.


Montana State Parks Seeks Public Comment on Draft Strategic Plan

Montana State Parks is seeking public comment on a draft Strategic Plan. This plan, Charting a New Tomorrow, establishes a shared direction for Montana State Parks and Recreation programs through the year 2020.

The draft plan was prepared with guidance from the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board to address longstanding resource challenges and propose solutions to moving the park system forward given the available resources.

The plan proposes a number of targets and actions to develop diversified and sustainable funding for the Parks system and statewide recreation programs. It will also seek to foster strategic partnerships and build an engaged constituency to ensure the success of Montana State Parks and outdoor recreation across the state.

Throughout the planning process, the Parks Division conducted internal and external outreach; including a staff survey, evaluation of statewide recreation trends, and a series of 8 community listening sessions around the state which engaged over 117 Montanans, organizations, and partners.

Montana State Parks provides diverse, family-friendly, affordable, and enriching recreational opportunities to more than 2 million park visitors each year. Additionally, the Division supports community recreation through its four grant programs, and is an essential component of Montana’s multi-billion dollar tourism and recreation industries. The plan outlines five goals designed to enhance the park system and uphold the Montana State Parks brand promise; providing significant, relevant and accessible parks that preserve and protect our historic, cultural, and recreational resources for the future of Montana and all people.

On October 15, 2014, the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board proposed that the draft strategic plan be made available for a 30-day public comment period.

The draft strategic plan can viewed on the Montana State Parks website, public comment page, direct link here.

Additionally, Montana State Parks will be hosting a statewide public meeting on Wednesday, October 29. The meeting will be from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at the following locations:

• Kalispell – FWP Region 1 - 490 North Meridian Rd
• Missoula – FWP Region 2- 3201 Spurgin Rd
• Bozeman – FWP Region 3 - 1400 South 19th Ave
• Great Falls – FWP Region 4 - 4600 Giant Springs Rd
• Billings – FWP Region 5 - 2300 Lake Elmo Dr
• Glasgow – FWP Region 6 - 54078 US Highway 2 West
• Miles City – FWP Region 7 - 3521 I-94 Business Loop
• Helena – FWP HQ - 1420 E. 6th Ave

For more information about the statewide public meeting contact Maren Murphy at (406) 444-3364.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Announcing Launch of New Hiking Website

Today we’re proud to announce the official launch of our brand new hiking website for Grand Teton National Park. The new site provides details on more than 40 hikes in the Grand Tetons, and is organized similarly to our, and websites. The URL for our new site is:

In addition to being a great source for trail information, we designed the site to be an excellent tool for vacation planning as well. We’ve included a lot of travel information that will be helpful while planning your vacation.

Even if you have no plans on traveling to the Grand Tetons, I hope that you might enjoy some of the photographs on the site. If you know of anyone planning a trip to Grand Teton National Park, or any hikers in general that may be interested, please feel free to forward the website onto them.

Thanks again for all of your support! We would also love to hear any feedback you might have.