Saturday, October 29, 2011

Park Prescription: Take a Hike and Call me in the Morning

Amid the twin crises of health care and a tough economy, national parks and protected lands are a largely unrealized source of public health benefits. National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis says, “Being outdoors has positive effects on health that don’t cost a dime.”

Jarvis will share more of those thoughts in a keynote speech Sunday in Washington before thousands of public health leaders at the 139th meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To cover Jarvis’ speech visit the APHA press site:

National parks have always been loved for their symbolism and scenery, Jarvis said, “but they can also act as medicine and therapy.”

Simply taking an hour-long walk in a natural environment can bring about a drop in blood pressure and heart rate because of the immediate relaxation you experience. And because health care costs are center stage in the debate about the nation’s economy and its future, “When you consider the power of the outdoors and its universal – and free – availability, there’s no health care investment that yields a better return,” Jarvis said.

National parks and all public lands and open space have enormous potential for our good health but we need to move beyond potential, Jarvis said. “The National Park Service is engaged in a wide-ranging effort to bring the outdoors into the public discussion about public health and to expand alternatives for Americans seeking a more active lifestyle, making choices about nutrition or reawakening their relationship with nature.”

National Park Service actions include:

* A pilot program with concessioners in select parks to offer nutritious, locally grown food. It encourages healthy eating habits and sustains the local economy.

* “Park Prescriptions.” Partnerships with local health care providers who actually prescribe a park visit to get patients outside to exercise and get the benefits of sun and fresh air. Three national parks – Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, Indiana Dunes and Golden Gate – are participating so far.

Jarvis said local, regional and state parks are also part of the greater outdoors health resource. The National Park Service, for 45 years, has helped communities develop local places where residents can get physical exercise through its Rivers and Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. “In Little Rock, Arkansas we partnered with the city and doctors to establish a trail known as the Medical Mile that offers not only a waterfront view but exhibits and media with a focus on health and exercise.”

The connection of people and nature is at the center of the worldwide Healthy Parks, Healthy People movement. Last spring, the National Park Service hosted the Healthy Parks, Healthy People – US conference to discuss ways to address America’s human and environmental health challenges.

The actions and partnerships Jarvis describes are part of a five-year plan – A Call to Action – to prepare the National Park Service for its second century of stewardship when the bureau turns 100 in 2016.

Given the unprecedented challenges we face, the future demands not only a new way of looking at the natural world and our place in it, but an understanding of how our physical well-being is tied to that of the environment.

“Parks are going to be a critical factor in this equation,” Jarvis said. “For the health of the human species and of the global ecosystem that supports us, we need to reach back to what our rural forbears instinctively knew: That we are part of the natural world, that it sustains us in ways that are profound and absolutely essential, that whether we’re aware of it or not, there is a part of us that is always outdoors.”

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Video: Glacier National Park's Early Days

Below is a video clip from Finley-Holiday's Centennial Edition Glacier National Park DVD. This short video of the early days of Glacier National Park, combines some very cool historical photos and video clips, with comtemporary views of the park:

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Post Might Save Your Life

Did you know that your cell phone could save your life, even if you can't get a signal?

Even if your phone has no service, attempting to dial 911 or leaving the phone turned on intermittently could transmit an electronic lifeline that lets rescuers know you’re alive.

Professor Hike on the Backpacker Magazine website explains how this all works, and how to utilize cell phone technology in case you become lost.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

National Parks Conservation Association says Interior Appropriations Bill falls short

On Friday of last week, the National Parks Conservation Association issued a press release critical of the recent Senate Interior Appropriations Bill. In their press release, the NPCA states:

“The proposed funding for park operations however falls short of protecting park resources and serving visitors. Although the Senate has proposed a more robust allocation than the House, the NPS operating account is cut more than twice as much. We appreciate efforts by both the House and Senate subcommittees to protect park operating accounts, however reducing operations funding $20 million below last year’s level should be reconsidered. Maintaining this account is critical to meeting fixed operating costs so that seasonal and other ranger levels can be maintained. We strongly encourage the House and Senate to work together to come as close as possible to meeting fixed costs. In addition, our national parks cannot sustain continual reductions to the construction budget, as contemplated here by a 40 percent cut in line-item projects, when NPS already estimates they receive $325 million less every year than needed to keep the maintenance backlog from growing."

Unfortunately, this is the new reality. Given the dire straights of our public finances, I really don't see national parks being fully funded for a very long time, if ever. Given all of the other priorities, in addition to the mounting debt problem, national parks will be one of the first departments to be squeezed. Take a look at what's happening to state parks around the nation for evidence of this.

There are ways to solve this problem though. I think national parks should be given more leeway for generating revenue. It's a matter of thinking outside the box. As just one example: why not allow parks to offer special private tours for high paying donors? Several years ago I saw a PBS program in which James Taylor (folk singer from the 70s for the younger readers... :) ....) did a multi-day rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. At the end of each day of rafting, JT would sing and play a couple of songs next to the camp fire. Imagine the Park Service holding similar tours, with a celebrity, or a famous biologist, etc., and charging a fee to high paying donors.

Why not have the Great Smoky Mountains build a museum so that the public can see all of the artifacts that are currently collecting dust in a warehouse? I would have to think this would be something a large number of people would be willing to spend money to see.

There are other proven ways of raising money. Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountains Association are two great examples. The Blue Ridge Parkway recently announced that they have disbursed more money this year than at any time in their history. This was driven in large part by the more than 27,000 Blue Ridge Parkway specialty license plates that are now on the road. The BRP Foundation receives $20 for every plate sold.

The reality of the situation is that no matter how much we raise taxes, there will never be enough to fully fund our parks. Our exploding debt will eat every non-entitlement dollar collected. National parks must come to grips with this, and begin looking for ways to raise funds, or the result will be closed parks, reduced hours, or reduced services, just as many state parks have already endured.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

National Parks Announce Fee Free Days for 2012

To encourage Americans to explore America’s natural beauty, rich history and culture, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced that the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 days in 2012.

Salazar emphasized that our national parks and public lands serve as an economic engine for many local communities, supports jobs and driving tourism. Recreation in national parks, refuges, and other public lands fueled nearly $55 billion in economic activity and supported 440,000 jobs in 2009. The fee free dates for 2012 are:

* January 14 to 16 (Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend)

* April 21 to 29 (National Park Week)

* June 9 (Get Outdoors Day)

* September 29 (National Public Lands Day)

* November 10 to 12 (Veterans Day weekend).

More information is available at In addition, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service will waive their entrance and standard amenity fees January 14 to 16, June 9, September 29, and November 10 to 12.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will also have a fee free day on October 14 in recognition of National Wildlife Refuge Week. The Bureau of Reclamation will waive standard amenity fees on September 29 and November 12. Many park-related hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and tour operators will offer specials on fee free days. “The majority of national parks don’t have an entrance fee and those that do charge a maximum of $25 a week for an entire family” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We realize there are additional expenses when visiting a park so many associated businesses will have discounts and enhancements on the fee free days.” “One of the great things about a national park vacation is it can be as economical or luxurious as desired,” added Jarvis. “A visit can be a few hours or several days. One could pack their lunch or eat at a snack bar, cafeteria, or gourmet dining room. One could sleep under the stars in the backcountry or stay in a campground, motel, or majestic lodge.

There is something for everyone at each of the country’s 395 national parks. So mark the dates, grab a friend or family member – especially one that has never been to a park before – and come visit one of your national parks.”

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

National Parks factoid of the day

What percentage of the U.S. surface area is designated as national park?

Answer: 3.5%

There are 58 U.S. national parks. The largest is the Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, which is two-and-a-half times the size of the country of Wales.

You can find a few other interesting factoids by clicking here.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yellowstone’s North Entrance Plan Approved

A new plan designed to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety at Yellowstone National Park's historic North Entrance has been approved.

A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) allowing construction to begin on the Gardiner, Montana, North Entrance and associated Park Street infrastructure was signed by the National Park Service Intermountain Region Director October 13. An Environmental Assessment (EA) proposing three alternatives was released for public review and comment in July 2011.

Among the highlights of the approved preferred alternative:

• A new entrance station complex will be built to better facilitate entry into the park, allowing visitors the option of entering Yellowstone through the historic Roosevelt Arch or traveling over a new access road to bypass congestion.

• Expanded parking areas, crosswalks and walkways will be installed, protecting pedestrians, improving traffic circulation, and allowing better access to businesses along Park Street.

• The administrative road in front of the Gardiner Transportation Center will be moved to separate traffic from delivery vehicles and employee parking.

Improvements will be completed in phases during the early spring and late fall periods as funding becomes available to reduce the impact on day to day operations around the entrance.

Copies of the EA and the FONSI, along with several maps that illustrate details of the improvements are available on the National Park Service Planning, Environmental and Public Comment (PEPC) Web site at

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Moose-Wilson Road Closure in Grand Tetons to Continue Due to Grizzly Bears

A temporary closure of the Moose-Wilson Road will continue indefinitely due to the repeated presence of several grizzly bears, including a sow with cubs, which are currently foraging on chokecherry and hawthorn bushes that line this narrow road. Intermittent closures have been in effect since 9 a.m. Friday, October 7, when numerous vehicles and crowds of people congregated just feet away from foraging bears. Because of its narrow surface lined with dense vegetation, hillsides and wetlands, the Moose-Wilson Road does not allow for a safe distance between people and bears, creating situations where both may be at risk for injury. Combined, these factors make it extremely difficult to safely manage a large wildlife jam.

National Park Service Management Policies provide guidance to direct the management of park resources. The policy specifies that "…when there is a conflict between conserving resources and values and providing for the enjoyment of them, conservation is to be predominant." To ensure that bears can use an important seasonal food source, and to provide for visitor safety, the Moose-Wilson Road closure will continue until bears move away from the area. Rangers remind park users to Be Bear Aware, as bears and other wildlife are active throughout Grand Teton National Park.

The road is closed from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve access road to the intersection of the Moose-Wilson and Teton Park roads in Moose. Park users can still access the Preserve parking lot from the south via Highway 390. Law enforcement and science and resource management personnel are actively patrolling and monitoring the closure area.

Local residents and park visitors are advised to plan ahead and use an alternate route because this temporary closure prevents the ability to make a 'through trip' on the Moose-Wilson Road. To alert travelers of the road closure, signs are in place on Wyoming Highway 390. Signs are also placed near the junction of the Teton Park and Moose-Wilson roads to alert motorists heading south to Teton Village from Moose.

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Yellowstone Gray Wolf Euthanized

It's 2011....and people are still feeding wild animals!

A habituated gray wolf believed to be conditioned to human foods was killed by Yellowstone National Park staff on October 8th.

Since July, the 110-pound male wolf had approached staff and visitors at close range at least seven times and had been unsuccessfully hazed each time from the Fishing Bridge developed areas. The wolf was a member of Mollie's Pack from the Pelican Valley area, and was estimated to be between 2 and 4 years old.

The decision to remove the wolf came following a history of fearless behavior in the presence of humans, repeated visitation to developed areas within the park and numerous unsuccessful hazing attempts. Each of these factors was indicative of the wolf's potential habituation to human food, which posed an increased risk to park visitors and staff.

Efforts to relocate food-conditioned animals have generally proven unsuccessful because they simply return to the areas from which they were removed.

What does it take for people to understand that feeding wildlife is bad for the animal, and potentially bad for other people? You can read the rest of the press release by clicking here.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Online Tour of "Land of Many Stories"

A Glacier National Park Centennial exhibit entitled Land of Many Stories is now a virtual tour of the exhibit, and is just a mouse click away. The exhibit represents the rich history of the park and features a wide diversity of tangible artifacts from the early 1900s to today.

The exhibit explores the many ways people have used and enjoyed the area now known as Glacier National Park from pre-European contact to present day and illustrates how, although much has changed over the years, a great deal remains the same for today's visitor.

The virtual Land of Many Stories exhibit is a collaboration to help make the exhibit accessible to more people. Deirdre Shaw, Glacier National Park Museum Curator and Jennifer Bottomly-O'Looney, Montana Historical Society Curator of Collections developed the content for the virtual exhibit; Glacier Interpretive Specialist David Restivo designed the on-line tour. Not every artifact is highlighted but the virtual tour gives viewers a taste of the exhibit through the use still photography to create the online experience.

Website visitors are able to get an overview of the exhibit and then take a closer look at items of interest. Virtual visitors can experience a wide variety of exhibits including ornate Glacier Park Hotel Company china, Native American tools and arrowheads, park ranger equipment and initials carved in a tree carved by one of Glacier’s first rangers.

Funded through a donation by the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Foundation (to the Glacier National Park Fund) the exhibit is the product of a partnership between Glacier National Park, the Montana Historical Society, Glacier National Park Fund.

The Land of Many Stories and virtual tours of the Going-to-the-Sun Road construction and a few popular park hikes are viewable at:

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Video: Tyler Bradt's record 186-foot Kayak Drop

Check-out the insane video footage of kayaker Tyler Bradt paddling over the 186-foot Palouse Falls in Washington State.

The April 21st, 2009 run over Palouse Falls smashes the previous world record of 127 feet, set this past March by Brazilian Pedro Oliveira. Oliveira broke Bradt’s former record of 107-feet set at Alexandra Falls in Canada.

Afterwards, Bradt said he was a little sore, and suffered a sprained wrist. Notice the broken paddle after he resurfaces at the bottom - I imagine that wrist injury occurred about the same time that paddle broke.

In an interview with, Bradt discussed some of safety precautions his team set-up prior to the run: "There was cell service at the waterfall in case of an emergency and Spokane is 60 air miles from the waterfall. We had medical equipment and ways to stabilize me in case of a back injury. We had two boats at the bottom and a person ready to repel behind the falls with a throw bag. We thought through the different scenarios and prepared for them all."

Here's the video:

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Free Workshop for Early Childhood Educators

Glacier National Park, in partnership with the Flathead Community of Resource Educators (CORE), and Project Learning Tree, is sponsoring a free one-day workshop for early childhood teachers and youth group leaders on Thursday, October 20, 2011.

The free workshop will be held at Lone Pine State Park Visitor Center, 300 Lone Pine Road, Kalispell, from 9am to 3:30pm. Teachers can receive six Office of Public Instruction renewal units for attending.

The training offers pre-school and elementary school teachers, daycare providers, home-school parents, 4-H leaders, Girl and Boy Scout leaders and others an opportunity to explore many of the educational trunks available for use in classrooms, at troop or group gatherings or outdoor education programs.

Educational trunks about forests and timber, wetlands, wolves, birds, bears, fire in the ecosystem and more will be featured at the workshop. In addition, Project Learning Tree (PLT) facilitators will be presenting activities from the new PLT Early Childhood Guidebook. All participants will receive a copy of the guidebook. There is no cost for the workshop due to sponsorship from Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Plum Creek Timber Company.

Participants must register in advance as there are only 20 slots available. Teachers can register for the workshop through PIRnet at Other youth group leaders may register by calling Patti Mason at 406-752-4220. For more information about the Flathead Community of Resource Educators (CORE) visit

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Visitors Asked To Be Bear Aware in Glacier

Glacier is home to many large mammals including elk, moose, deer, bears, wolves, mountain lions, lynx, wolverines, bighorn sheep and mountain goats to name a few. Drivers need to always be alert in the park as vehicle encounters with wildlife can be fatal or cause serious injury to both the animal and people. Every year thousands of animals die on national park roads throughout the U.S. Drivers are reminded to obey all park speed limits, and adjust for conditions such as rain and darkness.

Park managers recommend that hikers always carry bear spray while in bear country. Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright noted, “Be knowledgeable about how to use bear spray and have it readily accessible and not stowed away in a pack.” Bear spray is meant to be used in the case of imminent attacks only and is not intended to be used as a repellent. It should never be sprayed on gear (hiking and/or camping equipment) or around campsites. “Under no circumstances should bear spray create a false sense of security or serve as a substitute for standard safety precautions in bear country,” Cartwright added.

Park hikers, backpackers and campers are all urged to familiarize themselves with standard safety precautions and to follow them when in bear country. These precautions include:

· Never travel alone or after dark
· Make (loud) reoccurring noise when in bear country (especially near streams, brushy areas, hilltops and blind curves)
· Keep children close by and within sight
· Always be aware of local surroundings
· Keep observant and alert for evidence of bears and mountain lions and/or their activity
· Do not approach any wildlife; use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get closer looks
· Trail running is not recommended as it can lead to surprising bears at close range

Visitors are also reminded to keep food and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes and never leave food unattended in campgrounds or picnic areas. Garbage must be deposited into a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These actions help keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food, and help keep park visitors and their personal property safe.

Cartwright notes that Glacier National Park can be filled with many potential dangers. “We want everyone to have a safe experience while they visit and enjoy the park.” Go to the park’s web page for details about: Bears, Mountain Lions, Wildlife, Water and Watch Your Step at

Visitors should report any bear or mountain lion sightings or signs of bear or mountain lion activity to the nearest visitor center or ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800 as soon as possible. This information helps park rangers keep animals away from unnatural food sources as well as helps prevent wildlife from becoming habituated to humans.

For further information on Glacier National Park, visit the park’s web site at or call 406-888-7800.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Black Bear Captured and Euthanized

Glacier National Park Rangers and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists captured and euthanized a black bear in the Polebridge area on Wednesday, October 5, after numerous incidents in which the bear broke into vehicles, raided trash storage areas and caused damage trying to access a residence. The bear broke vehicle windows and pulled off car door handles to gain access into at least four cars and trucks, including a vehicle in the park. The bear obtained a food reward in most of these incidents.

The female bear was six years old and weighed 241 pounds, and had been previously captured in downtown Kalispell in June of 2008, after it was seen in the Woodland Park area. The bear was tagged and released in McGinnis Creek in the North Fork of the Flathead, and has not been involved in any other management situations since.

After the recent incidents in the Polebridge area, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists and park rangers set traps and captured the suspect animal. After consultation between Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists and Glacier National Park personnel and verification that the correct animal had been captured, the bear was euthanized. This action is consistent with state and federal bear management plans.

This bear was determined to be a conditioned bear and a potential threat to human safety. Conditioned bears are those that have sought and obtained non-natural foods, destroyed property or displayed aggressive non-defensive behavior towards humans, and are removed from the wild. Conditioned bears are not relocated.

Black bears are not good candidates for animal capture facilities such as zoos and animal parks due to the plentiful nature of the species and the large number of problem black bears throughout the United States.

Bears will go to great lengths to obtain foods, particularly in the fall during their pre-denning hyperphagia or hyper-eating period. In the fall, bears will consume 20,000-30,000 calories per day in order to gain the fat reserves needed for winter.

To keep bears wild, people need to remain vigilant about securing attractants such as birdfeeders, trash, and pet and livestock feeds. It is also important to pick fruits such as apples, pears and plums as soon as the fruit is ripe, and to remove any fruit on the ground.

Visitors to Glacier National Park are reminded that the park is home to black and grizzly bears. Hikers are highly encouraged to hike in groups, make noise when hiking, and have bear spray accessible and know how to use it. For more information about recreating in bear country, please visit

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Public Invited to Brown-Bag Lecture

The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at Glacier National Park is hosting a brown-bag lecture on Tuesday, October 11, from 12- 1pm at the Community Building in West Glacier. The public is invited to join Dr. John Weaver share information from his recent report, Conservation Value of Roadless Areas for Vulnerable Fish and Wildlife Species in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, Montana.

The report was written to inform discussions and decisions about the remaining roadless areas in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. The goal is to assess the conservation value of 1.33 million acres of roadless areas for a suite of vulnerable species using latest scientific information and conservation needs.

Weaver is a senior conservation scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Over the past 30 years, Weaver has played key roles in conservation of large carnivores in the United States and Canada. He has held leadership positions with the US Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service, served on several recovery teams, and helped restore wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho.

Recently, Weaver's field research and recommendations on wide-ranging wildlife (grizzly bears and woodland caribou) around Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories led to a 7-fold expansion of that park to nearly 12,000 square miles.

Additional brown-bag lectures will be scheduled throughout the coming months. For more information, please visit or contact 406-888-5827.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Dead Men Walking: Search and Rescue in US National Parks

The September 2009 issue of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine published the results of a study called Dead Men Walking: Search and Rescue in US National Parks.

The study was conducted by Travis W. Heggie PhD and Michael E. Amundson BS from the University of North Dakota to identify search and rescue (SAR) trends in US National Parks.

There are some interesting statistics and conclusions from the study that I thought hikers and backpackers might be interested in:

* From 1992 to 2007 (the time period for the study) there were 78,488 individuals involved in 65,439 SAR incidents. This translates into 4090 SAR incidents, on average, each year.

* These incidents ended with 2659 fatalities, 24,288 ill or injured individuals, and 13,212 saves during the 16-year period.

* On average there were 11.2 SAR incidents each day at an average cost of $895 per operation.

* Total SAR costs from 1992 to 2007 were $58,572,164.

* In 2005, 50% of the 2430 SAR operations occurred in just 5 NPS units: Grand Canyon National Park (307) and Gateway National Recreation Area (293) reported the most SAR operations. Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National Park and Nevada’s Lake Mead National Recreation Area rounded out the top 5.

* Yosemite National Park accounted for 25% of the total NPS SAR costs ($1.2 million); Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve ($29,310) and Denali National Park and Preserve ($18,345) had the highest average SAR costs.

* Hiking (48%) and boating (21%) were the most common activities requiring SAR assistance.

* Hiking (22.8%), suicides (12.1%), swimming (10.1%), and boating (10.1%) activities were the most common activities resulting in fatalities.

* On average, one person dies every other day throughout our national park system.

* The study revealed that during those 16 years, young males, day hikers, and boaters needed rescue more than anyone else.


Without the presence of NPS personnel responding to SAR incidents, 1 in 5 (20%) of those requesting SAR assistance would be a fatality. Future research and the development of any prevention efforts should focus on the 5 NPS units where 50% of all SAR incidents are occurring.

Perhaps all of this will serve as a reminder to be extra careful while exploring our national parks, forests and wilderness areas, and to be thankful that there are emergency personnel close by if we need them.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Exhibits Tell Native American Story of Glacier National Park

New exhibits now greet Glacier National Park visitors at the St. Mary Visitor Center. The new visitor center exhibit entitled "At Home in This Place" focuses on tribal perspectives about the place we today call Glacier National Park. The new exhibits were installed in early July and were viewed by tribal leaders and elders Wednesday afternoon, July 14 during a dedication ceremony. As part of the dedication, tribal perspectives and remarks were offered by Peter (Rusty) Tatsey (Blackfeet), Vernon Finley (Kootenai) and Thompson Smith (Salish-Pend d'Oreille). Tribal singing and drumming groups performed honor songs on behalf of all three tribes. Remarks were offered on behalf of the National Park Service (NPS) by Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright and Hudson Bay District Interpreter Mark Wagner who served as the project coordinator.

According to Cartwright, "Several years of consultation with cultural experts from the Blackfeet, Kootenai and Salish and Pend d'Oreille tribes provided authenticity and a true tribal perspective on issues related to land, plants, animals, mountains and history of this area."

Although Tony Incashola was unable to attend the exhibit dedication, his written remarks were read by Thompson Smith, Tribal History and Ethnogeography Projects Director for the Salish-Pend d'Oreille Culture Committee. Incashola said of his people’s relationship to Glacier: "This is a refuge for the plants and animals, a small, relatively pristine corner of the world where we can still find quiet and solitude. So it is therefore also a place of refuge for those cultures that depend upon these things. For these reasons, the Salish and Pend d'Oreille are glad that this place was given protection a century ago."..."This exhibit represents a small measure of hope. We hope it can help raise awareness of the urgent need to change, to regain the kind of environmental stewardship that Indian people exerted here for millennia. We are seeing the tribes and the park and many other partners come together more and more to learn from the past in order to create a more just and sustainable future."

There are five new main exhibits: 1) Welcome-panels from each of the tribes detailing local Native peoples and their historic and current relationship with the land; 2) Bittersweet Meanings looks at changes faced by tribes with the creation of Glacier National Park; some good, others difficult; 3) Backbone of the World provides native perspectives on the land, mountains, creation stories, and place names; 4) The Wisdom in Spoken Words features oral histories and traditions with video of stories about Glacier by tribal elders. The exhibit includes an indoor tipi setting for sitting and listening to these stories; 5) Animal Lessons is a large winter scene diorama featuring elk, wolves, coyote, and grizzly bear which includes animal stories told by tribal leaders.

Additional exhibits in the lobby focus on other park stories and help interpret resources seen from the building.

These include the following panels: Where the Prairie Meets the Mountains, Who Lives in the Meadows, and Glaciers on the Move.

There is also a new interactive 3-D park topographic map with optic fiber lights highlighting the following: Continental Divides depicts the Continental Divide, Hudson Bay Divide, Triple Divide Peak; Glacier's 10,000-foot Mountains; Tourism and Early Park Days shows locations of historic hotels and chalets; and Goodbye to the Glaciers is an animated look at the disappearance of park glaciers from 1850 to 2020.

These new exhibits will be permanently on display at the St. Mary Visitor Center. Summer hours of operation at the St. Mary Visitor Center are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Eight steps to prevent Search and Rescues

Backpacker Magazine published an article that details 8 steps that (the author claims) would have prevented 95% of the search and rescues (SAR) incidents and accidents that occurred over the summer season.

These are all common sense measures, but they're always good to keep in mind whenever you head out into the wild:

1) Never assume that your expertise will keep you safe

2) Get in the habit of turning around every 5-10 minutes and looking at your route from the 180 view

3) If you get disoriented, always retrace your steps to get back on track.

4) Take some gear, including extra clothes, a rain shell, a map and compass, a butane lighter, a headlamp, and perhaps a cell phone, pocket flares, or an emergency beacon.

5) Know the weather report.

6) Have a plan

7) Don't scramble unroped on cliffs, drop-offs or snowfields, especially if you're alone.

8) Don't be afraid to dial back your plans (i.e. don't let your ego get the best of you)

You can read the full article by clicking here.

Another thing to beware of is the first five minutes after you first start to question as to whether you might be lost or not. According to Professor Hike on Backpacker Magazine, this is the most critical time period for hikers to prevent themselves from becoming lost. The professor offers three personal case studies to show you what he means. You can click here to read the article.

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