Monday, December 31, 2012

NPS Purchases Second Wyoming State Lands Parcel in Grand Teton NP

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, Intermountain Region Director John A. Wessels and Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott recently announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has purchased the second of four parcels of Wyoming school trust lands within Grand Teton National Park. Eighty-six acres known as the Snake River Parcel were acquired for an appraised value of $16 million with funds made available from congressional appropriations in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said, "This second purchase makes a significant step toward ensuring that state-owned lands within the park's boundary become entirely part of Grand Teton National Park."

Terms for the purchase of state school lands within Grand Teton National Park were set forth in a 2010 agreement between the Department of the Interior and the state of Wyoming. This agreement specified the order in which state parcels would be acquired, and the timeframes for doing so. In April 2011, the first purchase was made with the State receiving $2,000 for a 40-acre parcel of subsurface mineral rights.

Under the terms of the 2010 agreement, the next tract will be the Antelope Flats Parcel, a 640-acre section appraised at $45 million. The deadline for its acquisition is January 5, 2014. With that purchase, the NPS will retain a binding option to acquire the fourth and final parcel: 640 acres with an appraised value of $46 million located along the Gros Ventre Road adjacent to the east park boundary.

At the time of statehood in 1890, the Federal government granted Wyoming sections of land throughout the state to be held in trust to provide revenue for its public schools. Approximately 1,366 acres of school trust lands were subsequently included within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park when the park was enlarged to its present-day size in 1950. The state of Wyoming also held title to 40 acres of subsurface mineral rights within the park. Because of their location in Grand Teton, the State could not fully realize the economic value of these lands as required by its constitution.

Efforts by the NPS to acquire school trust lands within Grand Teton date back many decades. Over the past 10 years, acquisition of these state-owned parcels has remained one of the park's highest priorities.

"We look forward to the eventual purchase of the remaining 1,280 acres of state-owned lands within Grand Teton National Park so that future generations will enjoy unrestricted access to their public lands," stated Intermountain Region Director John A. Wessels.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Top 10 Stories from Glacier National Park in 2012

2012 was another busy year for Glacier National Park. The park made headlines in the national media on a couple of occasions. Mishaps in the backcountry seemed to dominate the news this year. Below is my rundown of the top 10 stories from the park over the past year:

10) In September Glacier officials announced that the Quartz Creek Fish Barrier Modification and Improvement Project had been completed. The barrier was constructed in order to prevent additional non-native fish from reaching Quartz Lake in the northwestern section of the park.

9) In July the National Park Service announced that it had acquired the second largest privately owned property remaining in Glacier National Park. The 120-acre property, which was in private ownership but located entirely within park boundaries, is on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Harrison Lake. It was originally settled by Dan Doody, who was appointed as one of the first six Glacier rangers after the park was created in 1910.

8) Back in August Glacier National Park announced that it will proceed with plans to expand the Apgar Transit Center parking lot in order to accommodate increased visitor use due to the relocation of visitor center operations. The parking lot will be extended approximately 90 feet to the north, and 90 feet to the east, and will provide approximately 190-195 spaces for passenger vehicles, including 9 accessible spaces, and 21 RV or oversized vehicle spaces.

7) After 40 years of government service, Glacier National Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright announced his retirement in November, which will be effective at the end of the year.

6) Last January two lost cross-country skiers were rescued after an unplanned, overnight bivouac near Bowman Lake.

5) Sixteen miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road were closed for three days in July after several rock and mud slides occurred between The Loop and Triple Arches. One of slides was captured on video.

4) A Colorado man drowned in the North Fork of the Flathead River in Glacier National Park in September. The man was fishing near Camas Creek with a local relative when they became separated from each other's sight by a bend in the river. The relative went downstream to check on the man but was unable to find him. SAR rescuers found the victim’s body later that day.

3) In July a Glacier National Park trail crew member was seriously injured after sliding approximately 200 feet down a snow field from the Highline Trail to the Going-to-the-Sun Road below.

2) Back in October two hikers were rescued after spending an unanticipated five nights in the backcountry. One of the hikers slipped and fell approximately 100 feet down a steep area between Cut Bank Pass and Dawson Pass. Unable to make their back up to the ridge, the hikers dropped down to the Nyack Lakes area where they waited for rescuers.

1) In July, Jakson Kreiser, a 19-year-old seasonal employee with Glacier Park, Inc., went missing while hiking from the Logan Pass area. An extensive search was conducted for several days, but search personnel were unable to locate the Michigan native. His remains were found in September in an area southwest of Hidden Lake.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Invasive Plant Citizen Science Program at Glacier

This short video from the NPS provides an overview of the Invasive Plant Citizen Science Program in Glacier National Park, and how you can help:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Ranger-led Snowshoe Hikes on Tap in Grand Tetons

Grand Teton National Park ranger naturalists invite visitors and locals to experience the extraordinary wonders of winter during one of the new snowshoe hikes scheduled for the season. In addition to the regular daily snowshoe hikes from the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center, rangers will also conduct guided snowshoe treks to Taggart Lake, as well as five full-moon snowshoe hikes.

Daily snowshoe hikes begin on Wednesday, December 26 at the Discovery Center in Moose, Wyoming. These two-hour excursions are offered every day at 1:30 p.m. and previous experience is not necessary. Snowshoes are provided for a fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children, 8 years and up.

For something different, join rangers for a snowshoe trek across glittering snow and under a bright full moon. These two-hour outings travel a level section of one of the park's snow-covered trails. Previous snowshoe experience is not required, and snowshoes are provided free of charge for these hikes. Full moon excursions are offered once a month on the following dates:

December 27 (Thursday) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
January 26 (Saturday) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
February 24 (Sunday) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
March 26 (Tuesday) from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
April 24 (Wednesday from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

For more of a challenge, join a guided snowshoe hike to Taggart Lake. Explore the magic of winter and get your blood pumping at the same time. These moderately strenuous excursions gain 400 feet of elevation across a three-mile, round-trip trail to the lake. Dates and times will be announced throughout the winter. Previous snowshoe experience is not required, but may be helpful. Snowshoes are provided for a fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children, 8 years and older.

People have used snowshoes as a means of winter travel for thousands of years. These ranger-led snowshoe outings are designed to introduce beginning and casual snowshoe hikers to a rare experience: oversnow travel across a frozen and pristine landscape in the company of others. Venture into the winter landscape and learn about the natural wonders and unique characteristics that make this season so special.

Those attending any of the snowshoe hikes should wear warm layered clothing, sturdy insulated boots, and a face scarf or ski mask. Bring along an energy snack and water and a sense of adventure.

Reservations are required for all snowshoe hikes. Call the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor center at 307.739.3399 to sign up.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Section of Hay Creek Road Closed in the North Fork Area of the Flathead National Forest

To provide for public safety a section of the Hay Creek Road in the North Fork area of the Flathead National Forest will be closed to all vehicle traffic Monday through Friday from now until March 31, 2013. Logging trucks are operating on this stretch of road during those days as part of the Hay-More Stewardship project.

The section of road which will be closed is National Forest System Road (NFSR) #376 (Hay Creek) from the intersection of County Road #486 (North Fork Road) to the intersection of NFSR #909 (Cyclone Creek Road.)

The road will be open from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Monday at 12:01 a.m. for vehicle traffic. This stretch of road is being plowed which means it is not open to snowmobiles traffic.

For more information about area road access, contact the Hungry Horse/Glacier View Ranger District, 406/387-3800.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Take a First Day Hike

Start the year off on the right foot by taking a First Day Hike in a state park near you. All across the country state parks will be offering guided First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day 2013.

The idea for First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation State Park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. Many other states have offered outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day, however, all 50 state park systems have now joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

An organization called America’s State Parks has compiled an online database of more than 600 hikes on their website. You can find a First Day Hike by clicking here.

There are a couple of opportunities for a First Day Hike across Montana, including three options near Glacier National Park:

* Lone Pine State Park
* Lake Elmo State Park
* First Peoples Buffalo Jump

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gable Pass in Glacier National Park

Most people who visit Glacier National Park tend to visit the most popular spots in the park, such as Logan Pass or Many Glacier. However, the park offers numerous destinations with stunning scenery that are off the beaten path. One such spot is at Gable Pass in the northeastern corner of the park. It's located to the northwest of Slide Lake, and towards the southwest of Chief Mountain. The video below highlights some of the outstanding scenery that can be seen in this part of the park:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, December 17, 2012

Threatened grizzly bear populations and their recovery

Prior to western expansion and settlement, grizzly bears ranged from Alaska to Mexico and as far east as the western shores of Hudson Bay. When Lewis and Clark explored the West in the early 1800s, an estimated 50,000 grizzly bears roamed between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Plains, across vast stretches of open and unpopulated land. However, when pioneers moved in, bears were persecuted and their numbers and range drastically declined. As European settlement expanded over the next hundred years, towns and cities sprung up, and habitat for these large omnivores--along with their numbers--shrunk drastically. Today, with the western United States inhabited by millions of Americans, only a few small corners of grizzly country remain, supporting about 1,200 - 1,400 wild grizzly bears. Of 37 grizzly populations present in 1922, 31 were extirpated by 1975.

In 1975, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the Lower 48 States under the Endangered Species Act, placing the species under federal protection. Today, grizzly bear distribution is primarily within but not limited to the areas identified as “Recovery Zones”. Here are the latest population figures as of October 2012:

* North Cascades area of north central Washington (9,500 sq mi) at less than 20 bears.

* Selkirk Mountains area of northern Idaho, northeast Washington, and southeast British Columbia (2,200 sq mi) at approximately 80 bears.

* Cabinet Yaak area of northwest Montana and northern Idaho (2,600 sq mi) at more than 40 bears. The Selkirk Mountain and the Cabinet Yaak are also known as the Selkirk/Cabinet Yaak ecosystem.

* Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem of north central Montana (9,600 sq mi) at approximately 765 bears.

* Bitterroot Recovery Zone in the Bitterroot Mountains of east central Idaho and western Montana (5,600 sq mi), however this area does not contain any grizzly bears at this time.

* Yellowstone area in northwest Wyoming, eastern Idaho, and southwest Montana (9,200 sq mi) at more than 580 bears;

(Note: the San Juan Mountains of Colorado also were identified as an area of possible grizzly bear occurrence, but no evidence of grizzly bears has been found in the San Juan Mountains since a bear was killed there in 1979.)

For more information on recovery in each of these ecosystems, please click here.

In September 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service completed a 5-year review of grizzly bear as listed in the lower 48 States. A 5-year review is an assessment of the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review.

For more information on hiking in grizzly bear country, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grand Teton Launches Class Of 2016 Initiative

To highlight the National Park Service’s upcoming centennial in 2016, Grand Teton National Park will soon be launching a multi-year initiative focused on local “Class of 2016” students.

In partnership with the Grand Teton Association (GTA) and Jackson Hole High School, park staff will provide hands-on lessons and experiences for students throughout their high school years. Through this outreach program, Grand Teton hopes to create opportunities for students to find meaningful experiences in their nearby national park and gain a better understanding of its significance.

A kick-off event for the Class of 2016 initiative held yesterday introduced a group of freshman students to park scientists, interpreters and climbing rangers. During this initial event, students hiked with a ranger and discussed the ecology of the park, explored the Craig Thomas Discovery Center’s exhibits, and discovered how the area became a national park.

Over the next four years park staff will work with students in this multi-faceted program to provide similar experiences to upcoming high school classes. Members from the Class of 2016 initiative will serve as mentors to their underclass peers.

In partnership with the GTA, the park will host a Class of 2016 essay and creative arts scholarship competition. Through “From Past to Present: Stewardship for the Future,” students will respond to park-related prompts through essays, art, poetry, song or photography. GTA will fund the scholarship as well as transportation, materials and other supplies for programs and events.

The Class of 2016 initiative is one of many action items laid out in ‘A Call to Action’ by Director Jarvis. A ‘Call to Action’ charts a path toward a second-century vision for the NPS by asking park employees and partners to commit to concrete actions that advance the mission of the NPS. In conjunction with many other action items, it also directs all parks to help students develop a deep understanding of park resources and the relevance of parks in their lives through a series of park education programs.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, December 15, 2012

GNPF Announces Nine Grants for Glacier National Park for 2013

This week the Board of Trustees of the Glacier National Park Fund (GNPF) announced that they have awarded nine year-end grants from unrestricted funds to Glacier National Park for 2013 projects. Unrestricted funds come from the sale of the Montana Glacier National Park specialty license plate, as well as from annual fund donors who have allowed Trustees to allocate funds as needed by the Park.

As National Park budgets continue to be challenging, GNPF wants to provide support to the Park and assist in meeting the needs of the roughly two million visitors to the park each year.

The history of private/public partnerships has a long history in Glacier National Park. “We are fortunate to have so many wonderful donors - locally and across the country - who love Glacier National Park and understand the importance of giving back to ensure that others will be able to enjoy the Park well into the future.” says Jane Ratzlaff, Executive Director of the Fund.

The following nine grants have been awarded for 2013:

• Boardwalk and Trail at the Red Rocks Area
• Research on Harlequin Ducks Along the Upper McDonald Creek
• Going-to-the-Sun Road Podcasts
• Discovery Cabin and the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Program
• Exhibit to Share the Significance of Lake McDonald to the Kootenai People
• Youth/Adult Citizen Science Stewardship
• Half the Park Happens after Dark – Astronomy Program
• Wireless Water Tank Monitoring System
• Oberlin Bend Overlook Repair

There are many other projects that still need to be funded in 2013. Some of these projects include: replacement of the Grinnell historic wall, building a raised walkway at Josephine Lake, the need for more bear-proof food storage lockers, preserving the genetic legacy of the fisher, research the breeding biology of the Northern Hawk Owl, and many more. If you would like to support any of these projects in Glacier National Park, it's not too late. Visit the website and make a general donation.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Yellowstone Winter Season Begins Saturday

Yellowstone National Park will open to the public for the winter season as scheduled on December 15th.

Beginning at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, visitors will be able to travel to the park's interior roads on commercially guided snowmobiles or snowcoaches from the North, West and South Entrances. Travel through the park's East Entrance over Sylvan Pass is scheduled to begin December 22.

The road from the park's North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana through Mammoth Hot Springs and on to Cooke City, Montana, outside the park's Northeast Entrance is open to wheeled vehicle travel all year.

At Old Faithful, the Geyser Grill, the Bear Den Gift Shop, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center open for the season on December 15. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins and the Obsidian Dining Room open on December 18.

The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, dining room and gift shop will open for the season on December 20. The Yellowstone General Store, the medical clinic, campground, post office and the Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs are open all year, as are the 24-hour gasoline pumps at Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction.

All communities around and on the way to Yellowstone are open year-round, with local businesses offering a wide range of winter recreation opportunities. Extensive information and assistance for planning a visit to Yellowstone during the winter is on the park's website.

Park staff members will continue to closely monitor road conditions and weather forecasts that can have an impact on roadways and guided oversnow travel operations. Weather during the winter season is extremely unpredictable in Yellowstone and road closures or delays can occur with little or no warning. Visitors are reminded to come prepared by carrying personal emergency survival equipment in their vehicles and dressing appropriately for outside activities in extremely cold weather.

All the administrative steps have been completed in order for the 2012-2013 winter season to open as scheduled on Saturday. Winter Use in Yellowstone this season is being managed under an operating plan much in the same manner as has been permitted the last three winters. Under the rule, up to 318 commercially guided, Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches will be allowed into the park each day.

In early 2013, the National Park Service intends to issue a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and a proposed rule to guide long-term winter use in Yellowstone, which will take effect in time for the 2013-2014 winter season.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Glacier Visitor Mural

More than 800 visitors at Glacier National Park helped to paint this mural at the 1913 Ranger Station this past summer. This is the second mural created by visitors, both under the direction of park volunteer/artist Sheryl Mink. The mural will hang in the lobby of the St. Mary Visitor Center this coming summer. Park officials hope to have a third mural project to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ranger station. The 1913 Ranger Station is located near the trailhead for the Beaver Pond loop hike, across from the St. Mary Visitor Center.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Us and Them and Glacier National Park

The video below, by Scott McKinley, shows some nice footage of Glacier National Park and its wildlife. Scott did a great job of synching the video to the music:

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winter Season Activities to Begin in Grand Tetons

Although winter seems to be unusually late in coming this year, activities for the 2012/13 season begin Saturday, December 15 in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center is open year-round and winter hours run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. To observe the Christmas holiday, the Discovery Center (12 miles north of Jackson) will be closed on December 25.

A Single Day Pass is available to winter visitors at the Moose, Moran and Granite Canyon entrance stations. This winter-season permit allows a one-day entry into Grand Teton at a cost of $5 per vehicle. The single day pass is valid only in Grand Teton and cannot be used for entry into Yellowstone. Winter visitors may choose to purchase one of the following other options for entry:

• $25 Seven-day Pass valid for single vehicle entry into Grand Teton and Yellowstone
• $50 Grand Teton/Yellowstone Annual Pass valid for one year entry into both parks
• $80 Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year entry to all federal land fee areas

Ranger-led snowshoe hikes begin Wednesday, December 26 at the Discovery Center. This 2-hour activity is offered every day at 1:30 p.m., and previous experience is not necessary. Snowshoes are available for a rental fee of $5 for adults and $2 for children, 8 years or older. Reservations are required and can be made at 307.739.3399.

Backcountry users and mountaineers planning to stay overnight in the backcountry must get a non-fee permit before their trip at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Permits are not required for day users. To obtain weather forecasts and avalanche hazard information, stop at the Discovery Center, visit the backcountry website, or call the avalanche hotline at 307.733.2664.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities in the park. Most trails are skier tracked, but not groomed. The Teton Park Road (TPR) is currently a designated trail, open to non-motorized use only. The TPR gets intermittently groomed in winter for cross-country and skate skiing from the Taggart Lake parking area to Signal Mountain; however, plowing of park roads and other access areas take priority and will often preempt grooming operations. In addition, grooming will only begin after sufficient snow (at least 2 feet) accumulates on the TPR. Important reminder: Snowshoers should walk adjacent to the groomed ski trail, as snowshoe treads ruin the grooved track set for skiers' use.

Skiers and snowshoers are not restricted to established trails; however, for protection of wildlife, they are required to observe closure areas from December 15 to April 1. To obtain trail maps, closure locations, or winter information, go to the park's website or visit the Discovery Center in Moose, Wyoming. Winter wildlife closure areas include:

• Snake River floodplain from Moran to Menor's Ferry near Moose
• Buffalo Fork River floodplain within the park
• Kelly Hill and Uhl Hill
• Static Peak and Prospectors Mountain
• Mount Hunt areas (see the park's cross-country ski brochure for descriptions)

Leashed pets are allowed on the park's plowed roads and turnouts, the unplowed Moose-Wilson Road, and the Grassy Lake Road. Pets are not allowed in the backcountry, which includes all other park areas beyond the plowed roadways.

The unplowed TPR is open to visitors who wish to walk, snowshoe or ski with their leashed pet. Dogs are restricted to the TPR winter trail, and must be restrained at all times on a leash no longer than 6-feet in length. Dogs must also be leashed while in the parking areas at Taggart Lake or Signal Mountain. Please keep dogs off the groomed ski tracks as a courtesy to other trail users.

Mutt Mitt stations are in place at the TPR trailheads to dispense plastic bags for pet waste; trash receptacles are also available for disposal of used bags. Pet owners are required to clean up their pet's waste and properly dispose of the bags in the receptacles provided. Some pet owners have left used bags along the side of the road, and when these bags become buried in snow, they cause problems for rotary snow plows during the spring road opening. If pet owners do not comply with the rules and regulations-especially with regard to pet waste disposal and leash rules-it is possible that pets will be prohibited from the TPR in the future.

Snowmobilers may use the frozen surface of Jackson Lake for the purposes of ice fishing only. A Wyoming State fishing license and appropriate fishing gear must be in possession.

On Jackson Lake, snowmobiles must meet National Park Service air and sound emissions requirements for Best Available Technology (BAT). Before operating a snowmobile in Grand Teton, review the regulations and approved BAT machines here, or stop by the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming.

Snowmobiles may also use the Grassy Lake Road in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway (JDR Parkway) for recreation. The BAT machine requirement does not apply to snowmobile use on the Grassy Lake Road between Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch and Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Dog sleds are not allowed on the Teton Park Road or on Grassy Lake Road in the JDR Parkway.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Glacier National Park named as a Top 10 Destination for 2013 by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet's experts have compiled a list of 10 US destinations that they think travelers should add to their wish lists for the upcoming year. Making that list is none other than Glacier National Park. Although it came in at the 10th spot, Glacier is the only national park to make the list. Here's what Lonely Planet had to say about the most beautiful place in the world:
One of the countries wildest, most remote and pristine national parks, Glacier is everyone’s favorite national park who’s been. Its jagged, snow-blanketed ridges and glacier-sculpted horns tower dramatically over aquamarine lakes and meadows blanketed in wildflowers. Most visitors stick to the drive along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, so it’s easy to escape crowds by venturing beyond it. A relatively new shuttle system offers an eco-friendly alternative. But go soon. The park’s 25 glaciers are melting – and could be gone altogether by 2030 if current climate changes continue!
Of course if you plan to take Lonely Planet up on their suggestion you'll definitely want to venture into Glacier's stunning backcountry. Be sure to visit to help plan your hiking itinerary. If you need some help in trying to determine which trails to hike, please visit our Top 10 Hikes in Glacier National Park.

To see the rest of Lonely Planet's top 10 U.S. destinations, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Proposal to Conduct Streambed Maintenance and Provide Protection along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

Public comments are encouraged on a proposal to conduct streambed maintenance and install riprap as needed at bridges and culverts along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Maintenance of bridges and culverts along the Going-to-the-Sun Road occurs under the park's road maintenance guidelines, which permit routine clearing of debris from within ten feet upstream or downstream. Rehabilitation of several of the road's historic bridges and extensive drainage work has also occurred as part of the road's ongoing major rehabilitation project. But a number of bridges and culverts are located where flooding and potentially damaging sediment loads occur frequently, and additional stream work is required.

High water from spring run-off and weather events can cause bridge spans and culverts along the road to become clogged with sediment and debris. Large upstream sediment deposits can alter the shape of the stream channel and, in some cases, result in unstable channel alignments that are prone to flooding.

The park is proposing to remove, or dredge, sediments as needed from stream channels at bridges and culverts along the Going-to-the-Sun Road beyond what already occurs. The proposal also includes placing riprap at the Logan Creek Bridge and other bridges and culverts along the road as needed to reduce sediment deposits caused by erosion.

Two alternatives have been identified:

1) No Action - no increase in sediment removal from stream channels at road bridges and culverts beyond what already occurs and no riprap would be installed at the Logan Creek Bridge or other areas.

2) Action - remove sediment deposits from stream channels at bridges and culverts along the road as needed, beyond what already occurs, and install riprap.

Additional information about this project is available on the National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website. Comments can be posted to this website or mailed to Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: GTSR Bridge/Culvert EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT, 59936. Comments are due January 3, 2013.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Backcountry Horsemen Contributing Time and Muscle to Trail Work

Operating under a new five year agreement with the Forest Service, the Wildhorse Plains Chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen has joined forces with the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District and Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) trail crews to clear and improve trails on the ranger district, bringing the added capacity of their stock to clear logs and rocks from trails, carry supplies and tools for restoration work, clear culverts and ditches, and repair water bars – all critical but sometimes unnoticed components that keep a trail system accessible and usable.

The two organizations have also been sharing expertise and skills in a series of work-days and training sessions that ultimately benefits public users of the trails. District trail managers organized their first trail maintenance instruction workshop for backcountry Horsemen in spring of 2010 under a previous agreement. This summer, the Backcountry Horsemen spent a day with members of a YCC crew, demonstrating how stock must negotiate a trail and why trail widths and switchbacks are required to be a certain size.

You can read the rest of this article on the Lolo National Forest website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Scoping Begins for Removal of Failing Newbold Dam in Kelly, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, the National Elk Refuge and Trout Unlimited propose to remove an aging diversion dam on the Gros Ventre River at Kelly, Wyoming. The Newbold dam impedes native fish passage, and in its current condition, will likely fail during spring runoff. Grand Teton is beginning to analyze potential impacts of the dam's removal and will develop an environmental assessment (EA) if it is determined to be an historic resource. Public comments will be considered for this project and the scoping period will be open from December 5 through January 11, 2013.

Grand Teton acquired the Newbold diversion structure in 1949, along with headgates, irrigation ditches and all associated water rights. The dam, a low-head log and rock structure, has eroded to the point that failure is inevitable. Its current failing condition is illustrated by the adjacent photograph taken November 16, 2012.

The Newbold dam has been identified by the National Park Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Trout Unlimited as an impediment to natural movements of native cutthroat trout and non-game fish, particularly bluehead sucker, a state-listed sensitive species. Both species have declined in distribution and abundance across their range. The diversion dam is the only barrier to upstream migration between the Snake River and numerous miles of upstream Gros Ventre River and tributary habitat. Recent radio telemetry movement studies indicate that some adult trout are able to pass the low-head dam; however others, including smaller trout, native suckers, and small non-game fish, are unable to cross the barrier. The Newbold dam could also pose a safety hazard to people fishing downstream should the diversion structures suddenly fail.

Because dam failure could affect the structural integrity of a bridge about 650 feet upstream, consultants from the NPS Water Resources Division (WRD) and Trout Unlimited recommend a controlled removal.

Trout Unlimited proposes to raise funds and contract for the removal of diversion structures during the spring of 2013 in partnership with Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge. After removal, some bank restoration and revegetation would occur, including re-contouring the project access area.

Primary issues to be resolved during analysis include: determination and mitigation of potential effects of downstream dam removal on the upstream bridge; completion of an evaluation on the dam and associated ditches for their eligibility as historic resources; and attainment of cultural resource compliance with the State Historic Preservation Office, if structures are deemed historic.

To obtain information and submit comments, visit online at Comments may also be submitted to Grand Teton National Park; Attention: Carol Cunningham; P.O. Drawer 170; Moose, WY 83012.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Monday, December 3, 2012

Public Meeting to Discuss Development of the Island Unit Non-Motorized Trail System

The Swan Lake Ranger District is hosting a public meeting on December 19, 2012, to discuss implementation plans for development of the Island Unit non-motorized trail system which is documented in the 2012 Decision Notice for the Island Unit Trail Systems Additions Project. The trails that will be discussed are the Foys to Blacktail Trail and the Lakeside to Blacktail Trail.

The intent of the meeting is to lead to a collaborative trail development plan for the non-motorized trails documented in the Island Unit Trails decision. Before developing the non-motorized trail system, USFS officials feel it's important to discuss and develop with trail users and partners the trail design and management plans, as well as a development timeline. The USFS will be limiting this discussion to the two non-motorized routes and will have an open house pertaining to the motorized portion of the Island Unit Trail system at a later date.

The meeting to discuss development of the non-motorized trails in the Island Unit Trails decision is scheduled for December 19, 2012 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Flathead National Forest Supervisor’s Office located at 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT.

If you are unable to attend the meeting and wish to participate, you can contact the office by December 31, 2012. Your knowledge and input may help with the development of the two trails.

Swan Lake Ranger District
200 Ranger Station Road
Bigfork, MT 59911
(406) 837-7500

Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Communication may be emailed to Shannon Connolly at or Joy Sather at or faxed to 406-837-7503.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Extreme Hiking: Angels Landing

One of Zion National Park’s most famous features is the death-defying hike up to Angels Landing. The trail climbs 1200 feet in roughly 2.4 miles. The last half-mile features sharp drop-offs along a very narrow path, and includes chains for hikers to hold onto. The chains are there for a very good reason. In the past eight years alone, six people have plunged to their deaths after losing their footing along this trail.

Below is an excellent video that shows what hiking this trail is all about. Back in September my wife and I visited Zion. Although this trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park, we opted not to take it. Instead, we hiked up to Observation Point, which is a bit safer, and arguably offers better views, including a birds-eye view of Angels Landing.

If you've never been to the park, I highly recommend it. The question is, would you hike to Angels Landing? With a baby?

Hiking in Glacier National Park