Monday, August 19, 2019

Highline and Loop Trails and Swiftcurrent Pass area temporarily closed

The Highline Trail, The Loop Trail, and Swiftcurrent Trail (from Swiftcurrent Pass to Granite Park Chalet) are all closed as of Sunday evening, meaning that access to the Granite Park area is not possible.

On Monday morning, park staff will hike to the area to observe bear behavior and conduct hazing activities as appropriate.

The Granite Park backcountry campsite will be closed to campers arriving Monday, August 19.

The park expects that the trails will be closed at minimum until park staff can evaluate the area on Monday, and may be closed an indeterminate period of time afterwards, depending on their findings.

Park staff who live in the Granite Park area have been monitoring grizzly bears frequenting the area and on Sunday received several first hand visitor reports of encounters with a bear or bears along the trail within the general area of the campground and the chalet. The bear or bears exhibited behavior consistent with being disturbed and frustrated by human presence. Bears can respond aggressively in defense of themselves, a food source, or cubs.

“We appreciate the public’s patience while we evaluate this situation,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “The park has a proactive bear management program, and we take reports of aggressive bear behavior very seriously.”

People can monitor trail status by visiting the park’s Trail Status webpage.

Guests planning to hike to Granite Park Chalet with reservations for tomorrow night should call the Granite Park Chalet Office at 888-345-2649 for more information and updates. The park does not expect that any trail status updates will be available before Monday afternoon.

People currently in the Granite Park region departing Monday morning will be permitted to hike out the Loop or Swiftcurrent Pass Trails, but not the Highline Trail.



Jeff
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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hailstorm pummels Big Lake WMA waterfowl

A hailstorm that flattened crops, broke windows and wrecked roofs and vehicles throughout the region Sunday also killed and maimed more than 11,000 waterfowl and wetland birds at the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area west of Molt.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists who visited the lake this week picked up dead ducks and shorebirds with broken wings, smashed skulls, internal damage and other injuries consistent with massive blunt-force trauma. They reported thousands of additional dead or badly injured waterfowl and wetland birds in and around the lake.

A neighboring landowner reported baseball-sized hail that broke windows in the area Sunday evening. Local weather reports said Molt and Rapelje suffered two-inch hail propelled by a 70-mile-per-hour wind.

FWP wildlife biologist Justin Paugh estimated that 20 to 30 percent of the birds at the lake were killed or injured. Of the birds that still are alive, Paugh estimated that five percent of ducks on the lake and 30 percent to 40 percent of living pelicans and cormorants show some sign of injury or impaired movement – mostly broken wings and broken wing feathers.

FWP’s Big Lake Wildlife Management Area features a shallow, often-seasonal lake and wetland that are nesting areas for dozens of species of ducks, Canada geese, double-crested cormorants, shorebirds, gulls, pelicans and other waterfowl. Because of wet weather this past spring, the lake filled and currently covers around 4,000 acres.

Paugh and wildlife research specialist Jay Watson were back at the lake later this week to continue their survey of the damage to birds and try to assess the potential for additional problems to crop up.

Paugh said his scientific estimates show that the hailstorm killed or badly injured between 11,000 and 13,000 waterfowl and shorebirds, some of which still are alive but will not survive their injuries from the storm. Most of the dead birds have blown ashore.

Among future concerns is the possibility that disease – including botulism – caused by rotting carcasses could further devastate the bird populations. FWP will continue to monitor that situation.

“On a positive note,” Paugh said, “the lake is still covered with waterfowl that are alive and healthy. Life will go on.”



Jeff
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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Visitors feeding bears forces closure of Signal Mountain Summit Road area

The Signal Mountain Summit Road and area in Grand Teton National Park have been temporarily closed due to reports of visitors feeding bears, and bears bluff charging park visitors and staff.

Park rangers received reports that multiple visitors were feeding bears on Signal Mountain Summit Road on Tuesday evening, August 13. It is unknown what type of bear was being fed.

Grand Teton National Park Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said, “Feeding wildlife is irresponsible, dangerous and illegal, and we take these incidents very seriously. Please share any information about the feeding of wildlife immediately to a nearby park ranger, visitor center, or by calling Park Watch at 307-739-3677.”

On the same night, park visitors and staff were bluff charged by a female grizzly with two cubs along the Signal Mountain Summit Road.

Bears are protective of their feeding areas, which include ripening berry patches. All visitors are required to maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and always carry bear spray, as well as make noise and travel in groups.

Never feed bears. Bears that obtain human food may lose their natural fear of humans and become dependent on human food. As a result, they may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed. The maximum penalty for feeding park wildlife is a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

Every visitor who comes to Grand Teton has the unique opportunity to view bears in their natural habitat. With that opportunity comes the responsibility to protect themselves and the bears. It is up to everyone to keep bears wild and alive. Please report any bear activity or human-bear interactions to a nearby park ranger or visitor center.

The proper storage of food items and responsible picnicking are vitally important in bear country. Picnickers should only have immediate use items out so that if a bear approaches, food items can be quickly gathered and the opportunity for the bear to receive a food reward is removed. Visitors should store food and scented items in bear-resistant food lockers that are located throughout the park or in a hard-sided vehicle. Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter in campsites.

Grizzly and black bears thrive in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller Jr., Memorial Parkway. Visitors may encounter a bear anywhere and at any time. Some of the most popular areas and trails pass through excellent bear habitat.

Park visitors should follow regulations related to human and wildlife safety. For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/upload/bear_safety17-access.pdf.



Jeff
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Friday, August 16, 2019

Girl dies from rockfall on Going-to-the-Sun Road

A 14-year-old girl died Monday from injuries she suffered when falling rocks struck a vehicle on Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Around 7 p.m. Monday, rockfall near the East Tunnel on Going-to-the-Sun Road struck the vehicle in which the girl and four other people were traveling westbound. The rocks hit the top of the vehicle and shattered the rear windshield, fatally injuring the girl and also injuring her parents and two other children in the vehicle.

A.L.E.R.T. air ambulance responded, but was unable to airlift the girl because of her unstable condition. Flight paramedics traveled with her via ground ambulance to Kalispell, MT. The girl died while being transported to a local hospital. The two adults suffered significant bruises and were transported to area hospitals by Babb and Browning ground ambulance. The two other children in the vehicle had minor injuries and also went by ambulance to the hospital.

The family was visiting the park from Utah.

The rocks that hit the vehicle were between fist-sized and 12 inches in diameter. The park estimates that the amount of debris could have filled the bed of a pickup truck. The rocks fell from an unknown height from the mountains above the road.

The last fatal injury from rockfall on the Going-to-the-Sun Road was in 1996 when a vehicle was struck by a falling rock in the Rimrocks section of the road, just west of Logan Pass.

Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed at the East Tunnel for approximately three hours on Monday night while the park road crew cleared the rocks and a tow truck removed the vehicle.

The park extends its deepest condolences to the girl’s family, and thanks its partner emergency care providers for the significant response.



Jeff
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Multiple Search and Rescue Incidents in Grand Teton

Grand Teton National Park rangers responded to multiple search and rescue calls in the backcountry this past weekend. Hikers and climbers attempting larger ascents are reminded to research their route and be knowledgeable of the skills required for their trip. It is imperative that hikers understand their own skills in order to prevent emergency situations for themselves and responders.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 9, Teton County Interagency Dispatch Center received notification of an emergency 9-1-1 text of an injured hiker in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. Nergui Enkhchineg, 28 year-old female from Mongolia working in the area, was hiking when she slipped on snow and fell approximately 50-100 feet on snow and rocks and sustained significant injuries. Another hiking party in the area assisted by using an emergency backcountry application on their cell phone to request assistance.

The search and rescue incident was initiated with waning daylight hours left. Using the coordinates generated by the emergency backcountry application, responders were able to immediately locate the injured party via the Teton Interagency Helicopter, allowing for quick medical assessment and treatment. The injured hiker was short hauled to Lupine Meadows and transported via park ambulance to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. The other hiker walked out with a park ranger.

Other incidents that took place in the park this weekend involved a stranded individual on the Middle Teton on Sunday, August 11. The interagency helicopter conducted a reconnaissance flight as rangers initiated a rescue. Teton Interagency Dispatch Center was then notified that a private climbing party assisted the stranded hiker to safety. Park rescue personnel were not involved.

Additionally, late Sunday evening, park rangers responded to a visitor with a medical emergency at a backcountry campsite on Leigh Lake. Rangers transported the individual to the trailhead via a wheeled litter. A park ambulance transported the individual to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming.

As good weather and conditions draw hikers and climbers into the backcountry, it is important to be prepared. Hikers and climbers should set a reasonable objective within the skills and experiences of the group. Consulting topographic maps, guidebooks, and park rangers will help parties gauge difficulty and skill level of the route before ascending. Desire to reach the summit during dangerous conditions is a hazard. Hikers should be prepared to alter their route if they do not feel confident about their skill level or if conditions worsen.



Jeff
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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

UPDATE: Human-caused fire at Yellowstone’s North Entrance; Suspect pleaded guilty to starting fire, sentenced to three months in jail

An investigation of the human-caused fire at the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park resulted in a suspect who was charged for discarding a lighted material in a hazardous manner. At approximately 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 26, a human-caused fire spread through the grass and sage between the North Entrance Station and the Gardner River. It was contained at approximately 4 acres.

Curtis J Faustich, a seasonal concessionaire employee in Yellowstone, admitted to dropping a lit cigarette on the ground while sitting at a picnic table and igniting the fire.

Faustich appeared Tuesday, August 6, 2019, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. While in court, Faustich pleaded guilty to the charge. Sentencing included:

•Three months of incarceration

•$5,000 in restitution

•Two years of unsupervised probation

•Prohibited from entering Yellowstone National Park for two years

Park law enforcement officers sincerely thank the individuals who called the park’s 24-hour Tip Line at 307-344-2132 and provided timely incident details.



Jeff
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Monday, August 12, 2019

National Park Service approves plan for Lake McDonald properties

The National Park Service Intermountain Region has approved Glacier National Park’s proposal for managing NPS-owned properties at Lake McDonald.

On July 23, 2019, the NPS Intermountain Regional Director signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the park’s Lake McDonald Properties Management Plan Environmental Assessment (EA). The FONSI is the final decision document for the plan.

Under the selected action, Glacier National Park will use an adaptive decision framework to manage cabins and outbuildings around Lake McDonald that were once privately-owned but have come into NPS possession over the last decade. Most of the structures are listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and many are in need of repair. A strategy is needed to guide the management of the properties and acquire funds for their preservation before the buildings deteriorate to the point where demolition and removal are the only available options.

The adaptive decision framework includes five different management options: historic leasing, assigning to an interested concessioner, NPS administrative use (such as park housing or offices), stabilization, or removal. The park will use one of these five options to manage each property based on historic preservation and administrative needs and objectives, the condition of the structures, and feasibility. If the preferred management option for a given property is not underway or cannot be implemented by timeframes specified in the EA (generally ranging from one to two years), then other management options identified for each property will be triggered.

In all cases but one, the decision to remove a structure will be made only after other management options have been exhausted. As historic leasing is the preferred management option for most of the properties, the FONSI now enables the park to develop a historic leasing program.

The EA evaluated impacts to historic structures and districts; vegetation, soils, and wetlands; wildlife; and grizzly bears. No potential for significant adverse impacts was identified. The EA was available for a 30-day public comment period ending March 1, 2018, and public comments were considered.

The EA and FONSI are available on the National Park Service Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) website.



Jeff
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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Man pets bison in Yellowstone

In case you missed this, below is the video that has surfaced of a man petting a bison in Yellowstone National Park last month:



Park officials are apparently investigating the incident. They also warn visitors to stay 25 yards away from all large animals - bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes, and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

This is yet another example of people who really don't belong visiting our already over-crowded national parks, in my opinion. On July 22 a nine-year-old girl was injured by a bison when she and roughly 50 other people stood within 5-10 feet of the bison for at least 20 minutes. There are many other examples.



Jeff
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Friday, August 9, 2019

Smokey Bear turns 75 today!

Happy Birthday to Smokey Bear, the mascot of the U. S. Forest Service created to educate the public on the dangers of forest fires.

Smokey Bear's famous message "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" was created in 1944 by the Ad Council, making it the longest running Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign in U.S. history.

Smokey's correct full name is Smokey Bear. In 1952, the songwriters Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins had a hit with "Smokey the Bear". The pair said that "the" was added to Smokey's name to keep the song's rhythm. This small change has caused confusion among Smokey fans ever since.

The U.S. Forest Service authorized the creation of Smokey Bear on August 9, 1944. Smokey's debut poster (see picture above - on right) was delivered on October 10 of that year by artist Albert Staehle.

Be sure to check out the Smokey Bear website to see the history of the AD campaign. The site includes an interactive trail by decade with an extensive collection of old posters, TV/radio spots (including the famous Bambi TV spot), and other memorabilia.



Jeff
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Thursday, August 8, 2019

FIRE DANGER ELEVATED TO VERY HIGH in Northwest Montana

Cooperating Interagency Fire Officials across northwest Montana have raised the Fire Danger Level from “High” to “Very High”. When fire danger is "Very High,” fires can start easily from most causes. They can spread rapidly, grow quickly, and increase in intensity immediately after ignition. The increase in fire behavior can produce long-distance spotting, fire-whirls, often making fires difficult to control.

Since July 1 there have been a total of 33 reported wildfires in the area, with over half being human-caused. A few fire prevention tips include:

* When recreating, please stay on designated roads and never park on dry brush or grass, as exhaust pipes and vehicle undercarriages can be very hot and easily start a wildfire.

* Check spark arrestors on off-road vehicles, chain saws, and other equipment with internal-combustion engines to ensure they are in working order.

* Never leaving a campfire unattended. Use water and a tool to mix and stir until your fire is out and cold to the touch.

* Adjust trailer chains so that they are not dragging. Dragging chains throw sparks into roadside vegetation and ignite quickly moving grass fires. Int

Interagency Fire Officials will continue to monitor conditions and look closely at the number of human-caused fire starts to determine if fire restrictions should be implemented in the northwest Montana area. For more information, contact your fire protection agency.



Jeff
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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Man believed drowned in Pray Lake in Glacier National Park

On Tuesday at approximately 4:30 pm, rangers responded to a bystander report of a man drowning in Pray Lake in Glacier National Park.

Rangers immediately responded. Witnesses reported that they had seen the man struggling in the lake, and then go underneath the water.

Rangers dove into the lake to locate the victim, but were unable to find him. National Park Service and visitor boats searched the lake until dark, but have not located the man. Local dive team resources were unable to respond on Tuesday because they were already assigned to another drowning outside the park.

Searching began again today at first light, with National Park Service searchers, the Flathead County Dive Team and Blackfeet Tribal Police.

Witnesses reported that it appeared the man may have gone into the lake to retrieve a dog. The dog has died.

The victim is a 64-year-old man who is a resident of Edmonton, Canada. The National Park Service will release his name once family notifications have been completed.

The area immediately around Pray Lake will be closed to visitors while the search continues.

Pray Lake is located in the Two Medicine area of the park, next to the Two Medicine Campground. It’s relatively small in size, 700 feet long and approximately 400 feet wide. The area near the inlet where the man was last seen is approximately 20 feet deep.



Jeff
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Bear dies in hazing incident at Many Glacier Campground

On Monday, August 5, rangers euthanized a black bear after the animal suffered an injury from a rubber projectile hazing round.

Rangers initially responded around 4:45 pm to a report of a black bear in the Many Glacier Campground.

The campground was full and many hikers were returning to their vehicles in the nearby parking lot. An interpretive spotting scope program also was ongoing nearby.

To encourage the bear to leave the area, rangers attempted to haze the bear by voice, but it stayed in the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and campground area. After voice hazing was ineffective, a ranger fired one rubber projectile hazing round, which inadvertently pierced the bear’s abdomen. Rangers and wildlife biologists determined that the bear suffered a mortal injury. After removing people from nearby campsites, rangers fired a second shot from a shotgun to euthanize the bear.

The Many Glacier and Swiftcurrent region has seen a number of bears routinely frequenting the area throughout the summer, and it is believed this bear was one of them. Many Glacier Campground prohibited soft-sided tent camping for a period of time in June because of bear activity.

Hazing – which may include yelling, clapping, horns, bean bag rounds, and rubber projectile rounds – is a technique used to push bears out of developed places and into areas where natural behavior and foraging can occur. The park uses hazing as part of its proactive Bear Management Plan to encourage bears to stay away from developed areas where human food rewards are likely to occur.

Once bears begin to frequent campgrounds, parking lots, and other visitor areas, the likelihood of habituation and food conditioning rises dramatically. Habituated or conditioned bears may seek and obtain non-natural foods, destroy property or display aggressive, non-defensive behavior towards humans.

To discourage conditioning and habituation, the park hazes dozens of bears each year near or within developed areas. On Monday, for example, park rangers responded to seven separate bear incidents in Many Glacier alone. Hazing mortalities remain uncommon, but do occur occasionally. In the last 15 years, the park estimates four bears have died as a result of hazing activities.

The park will review the incident and seek to identify any training or other changes needed to improve the program.



Jeff
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Investigation Underway into Grizzly Bear Shot by Two Backpackers

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the death of a grizzly bear from a reported self-defense shooting in the Cabinet Mountains south of Troy.

Two backpackers from Sanders County reported shooting an adult female grizzly bear in self-defense on a forested trail near Dad Peak in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. The reported surprise encounter occurred along a section of trail with huckleberry bushes. The incident occurred on August 2 and the individuals notified authorities on August 4 after exiting the backcountry.

The incident remains under investigation.

FWP reminds recreationists to “Be Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps to prevent conflicts, including making noise, especially around berry patches, densely forested areas and near streams. Bear spray is an effective deterrent and everyone is encouraged to carry it in the outdoors.

More safety information is available on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website, fwp.mt.gov. Residents can call FWP regional offices to learn more about bears or to report bear activity. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5501.



Jeff
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Monday, August 5, 2019

New Mexico man charged after his dog kills fawn

A New Mexico man who allowed his dog to kill a fawn in southern Colorado has been charged with several wildlife crimes.

Michael Garcia, 36, of Las Cruces, N.M., has been charged with illegal possession of wildlife, allowing his dog to harass wildlife and unlawful manner of take of wildlife. He was issued a citation by a Colorado Parks & Wildlife wildlife officer on July 23. The fines for the offenses are $1,372.50 and an assessment of 20 license-suspension points.

Garcia may elect to pay the fines or appear in court, explained Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for CPW in the San Luis Valley. If he does not pay the fine, he will be required to appear in court on Sept. 16.

“This is a disturbing case; we’ve heard from many members of the public wanting CPW to investigate,” Basagoitia said. “Information that they’ve provided has been greatly helpful to CPW efforts.”

According to the officer’s report, the man was in an area near the Conejos River when his dog chased the fawn and killed it. Garcia posted photos of the dog and the dead fawn on social media. Someone saw the post, reported it to Operation Game Thief and CPW began to investigate.

Garcia was working as a fishing guide on the Conejos River. District Wildlife Officer Rod Ruybalid located him, conducted an interview and issued the citation.

In addition to the fines, Garcia will also be issued 20 license-suspension points, which means he must appear before a CPW suspension-hearing officer. This is a separate process that could result in the suspension of license privileges from one to five years. Only the Parks and Wildlife Commission has the authority to impose suspensions.

Wildlife crimes can be reported anonymously to Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Those who report are eligible for a cash reward if the tip results in the issuance of a ticket or a conviction.

Chasing and killing wildlife is one of the reasons cited on most national park websites as to why they don't allow dogs on backcountry trails.



Jeff
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Friday, August 2, 2019

Senate Committee Introduces Bill to Increase Funding for National Park Roadways

Earlier this week the United States Senate introduced a bill that includes a 21 percent increase in funding for national parks. America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, a surface transportation bill, would be used to repair and update roads, bridges, and transportation systems in national parks across the country. National park provisions are an important, but small portion of this nearly 500-page surface transportation bill.

“This legislation comes at a critical time for the country and our national parks,” said Emily Douce Director of Operations and Park Funding for the National Parks Conservation Association. “There are crumbling roads along the Blue Ridge Parkway, aging bridges in Great Smoky Mountains and outdated shuttle buses in Zion. Our national parks are scraping by on shoestring budgets, while facing billions of dollars in needed repairs and updates to their aging infrastructure and transportation systems. In fact, more than half of the Park Service’s $11.9 billion maintenance backlog is comprised of transportation needs. This bill is a big step in the right direction. If enacted, this would provide critical funding to repair important roads, bridges and park transit systems to ensure millions of visitors can continue to experience and enjoy national parks now and for years to come.”

The National Park System is second only to the Department of Defense in the amount of federal infrastructure it manages, including 10,000 miles of publicly accessible roads and 1,440 bridges. The America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act would authorize federal highway programs that provide $287 billion over five years.

Key park provisions included in the bill:

• Guarantees an increase in annual funding to the Park Service – an additional $310 million over the span of the five-year bill – through the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which provides funds to improve roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure in parks.

• Dedicates $50 million a year and authorizes $100 million a year for the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program designed to address exceptionally large repair projects in our parks, such as the reconstruction of the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades and a portion of the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone.

• Provides measures to improve the resiliency of roads and bridges to natural disasters and extreme weather events.

• Encourages innovative solutions to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, establishing a program that would support projects that protect motorist and wildlife through improved transportation infrastructure.

“Our park infrastructure is in bad shape, and the problem will only get worse if the chronic underfunding continues. We commend Chairman Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member Carper (D-DE) and the rest of the Environment and Public Works Committee for leading the effort to address the costly backlog of transportation projects throughout our country. Now, the other Senate committees and the House of Representatives must finish the work and pass final legislation to fix our country’s infrastructure, including our parks, and doing so without compromising public input and protections for our nation’s air, water and wildlife,” said Douce.



Jeff
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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Weekend Road Work Scheduled for Saturday, August 3rd in Grand Teton

Pavement preservation continues in Grand Teton National Park throughout the weekend. On Friday, August 2, road work will take place on U.S. Highway 89 between Pacific Creek Road and the Moran Junction Entrance Station. There will be flaggers stationed throughout the work zone to direct traffic through the entrance station. Travelers should expect up to 30-minute delays as chip seal activities are underway and the highway is reduced to one lane of travel. Road work will take place between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. The Pacific Creek boat launch will remain open for use during road work, but users should expect delays getting to and from the boat launch.

Road work is also scheduled for this coming Saturday, August 3. Work will take place on U.S. Highway 89 south of Moran Junction between Triangle X Ranch and Elk Ranch Flats, as well as a small work zone at a pullout just south of the Jackson Hole Airport. Travelers should expect up to 30-minute delays. Road work will begin at approximately 8 a.m. and last until 2 p.m.

A traditional cattle drive is also taking place early Saturday morning between Elk Ranch Flats and east of Moran Junction on U.S. Highway 26/89/191. The road will be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic between approximately 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. for the cattle drive.

To avoid travel delays, motorists may choose to use an alternate route and drive the Teton Park Road between Jackson Lake Junction and Moose Junction. Road work is weather and temperature dependent.

Travelers are advised to drive slowly and maintain the recommended speed limit on chip seal pavement to reduce the risk of debris damaging cars or windshields. Visitors can expect temporary delays and reduced speed limits in these mobile construction zones.

In addition to the pavement preservation work, the final phase of emergency repairs related to the June 2017 washout of the Gros Ventre Road will occur late this summer. Work is expected to begin in mid-August and continue into November. Traffic delays associated with the Gros Ventre Road repair project will be limited to 15 minutes between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The work will focus on realigning the road to restore the original 45 m.p.h. speed limit and replacing the concrete barriers with a guardrail. Additional stream bank armoring will occur upstream and downstream from the work that was completed in the fall of 2017.

Travelers can call the park road information line at 307-739-3682 or visit the park’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to get information about road work locations in the park.



Jeff
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Remains of 2015 Yellowstone River drowning victim found and identified

The remains of Feiyang “Isaac” Xiang, a 21-year-old male from China who likely drowned in 2015, have been found and positively identified. Xiang, a seasonal concessionaire employee in Yellowstone, was last seen being swept down the Yellowstone River in the northern section of the park on Thursday, July 23, 2015. A large and extensive search for Xiang ensued aided by several dog teams, dozens of ground searchers, and helicopter teams. Search efforts did not turn up any sign of Xiang.

In February 2018, staff discovered human bones in the vicinity of the 2015 drowning site. Law enforcement officers collected the remains and sent them to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for DNA testing. In June 2019, the park received confirmation that the remains were of Xiang.

Yellowstone National Park law enforcement officers have stayed in touch with Xiang’s family since the incident. When the remains were positively identified, staff notified the family. In July 2019, Xiang’s family returned to the park and collected his remains. They have since returned to China.

Yellowstone National Park worked with many agencies and individuals during the search and investigation and would like to thank all of them.



Jeff
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Two Trail Projects Announced for Grand Teton National Park

The Grand Teton National Park Foundation just announced two trail projects that will definitely be of interest to hikers and backpackers. In their July Newsletter, published yesterday, the Grand Teton friends group announced that the Tribal Youth Corps and Youth Conservation Program are currently working together to build a new section of trail near Grand View Point. The announcement states that the "new route will connect the existing one to a new parking lot at Bug Canyon, just down the road from Jackson Lake Lodge". This new trail appears to significantly shorten the existing route to Grand View Point, a little known and underrated destination within the park that offers outstanding views of the entire Teton Range (see photo below). For more information on this project, please click here.

The Foundation also announced that they will be spurring a major restoration effort along the Teton Crest Trail next summer. The announcement states that the "Foundation is currently seeking support to fund improvements along this iconic footpath in two particular places — Hurricane Pass and Paintbrush Divide". It continues by stating that "Decades of use along the trail, coupled with natural erosion processes at high elevation, have led to deteriorating trail conditions that necessitate repair and improvement." For more information on this project, and to help support it, please click here.



Jeff
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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Cattle Drive Scheduled for Saturday Morning August 3rd

A traditional cattle drive will take place early Saturday morning, August 3, in Grand Teton National Park. While the cattle drive is underway, a two-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 26/89/191 will be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic from Moran Junction to the Elk Ranch Flats area that lies just one mile south of the junction in the northern area of the park. Motorists should expect a travel delay between approximately 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. as cattle are herded from their summer pasture at Elk Ranch Flats to their pastures east of Moran. Park rangers will provide traffic control on the highway during this cattle drive.

Ranch wranglers will drive a herd of approximately 300 cattle eastward from the Elk Ranch Flats summer pasture to the private ranch using a right-of-way along U.S. Highway 26/287. As the cattle are herded towards Moran Junction, the animals must cross the Buffalo Fork Bridge on the highway.

To avoid the travel delay, motorists may choose to use an alternate route and drive the Teton Park Road between Jackson Lake Junction and Moose Junction.

In accordance with the 1950 Grand Teton National Park enabling legislation, certain historic grazing privileges were retained. Since that time, the fenced and irrigated Elk Ranch Flats pastures have been used for grazing each summer season.



Jeff
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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Biologists to continue grizzly captures for research purposes in Yellowstone National Park; Public reminded to heed warning signs

As part of ongoing efforts to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Yellowstone National Park and the USGS would like to inform the public that biologists with the National Park Service and Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) will be continuing scientific grizzly bear research operations in Yellowstone National Park through October 31.

Team members will bait and capture bears at several remote sites within Yellowstone National Park. Once captured, the bears are anesthetized to allow wildlife biologists to radio-collar and collect scientific samples for study. All capturing and handling are done in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST.

None of the capture sites in the park will be located near any established hiking trails or backcountry campsites, and all capture sites will have posted warnings for the closure perimeter. Potential access points will also be posted with warning signs for the closure area. Backcountry users who come upon any of these posted areas need to heed the warnings and stay out of the area.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team was established in 1973 to collaboratively monitor and manage ecosystem bears on an interagency basis. The gathering of critical data on bears is part of a long-term research and monitoring effort to help wildlife managers devise and implement programs to support the ongoing conservation of Yellowstone’s grizzly bear and black bear populations.

The IGBST is composed of representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.



Jeff
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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Fire contained near North Entrance in Yellowstone - Park seeking public’s help

At approximately 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 26, a fire began spreading through the grass and sage between the North Entrance Station and the Gardner River. Personnel from Yellowstone National Park, the town of Gardiner, and Paradise Valley responded.

The fire was contained at approximately 4 acres, including a half-acre spot fire on the other side of the Gardner River.

The North Entrance Road was closed for approximately 90 minutes until the fire was contained. Outbound traffic was still able to exit the park via the Old Gardiner Road.

The quick response by fire crews prevented threats to visitors and buildings.

The fire was human caused and is under investigation. Anyone who was in the area on Friday evening and has information about people using the picnic area near the entrance station is encouraged to call the park’s 24-hour Tip Line at 307-344-2132. Callers can remain anonymous.

Wildland fire crews from the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service will be in the field today mopping up.



Jeff
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Friday, July 26, 2019

Changes at String Lake to Protect Visitors and Resources - Visitors Reminded to Plan Ahead and Picnic Responsibly

String Lake is a popular summertime destination at Grand Teton National Park. Last summer, researchers found that over 4,000 people visit the String Lake area each day during the peak summer season. Nearly 25% of those visitors spend at least 3-4 hours at String Lake and don’t leave the immediate area. The park has initiated changes to encourage opportunities for safe and enjoyable recreation for park visitors while protecting park resources.

Visible changes will include: increased messaging about proper food storage practices and safe and responsible picnicking, rope and pole barriers along trails and lakeshore access to protect sensitive wetland and riparian habitats, road delineators to channel traffic and protect pedestrians and cyclists, and designated horse trailer parking at the Cathedral Group Turnout. Park staff will monitor the piloted changes, and adapt as appropriate.

In addition to the changes visitors will see this summer, the park is continuing the “Lakers” volunteer program. The Lakers are a dedicated group of volunteers stationed at String Lake whose purpose is to promote visitor safety and minimize human-wildlife interactions. Since their inception in 2016, the Lakers have educated thousands of visitors on the importance of food storage and bear awareness at String Lake. From May through September the Lakers maintain a presence seven days a week. These volunteers are vital to providing opportunities for safe visitor access and enjoyable experiences at String Lake.

Proper storage of food items and responsible picnicking are vitally important in bear country. Picnickers should only have immediate use items out so that if a bear approaches, food items can be quickly gathered and the opportunity for the bear to receive a food reward is removed. Visitors should store food and scented items in bear-resistant food storage lockers that are located throughout the park or in a hard-sided vehicle. The String Lake area has 12 food storage boxes available for public use, supported by Grand Teton National Park Foundation.

During the summers of 2017 and 2018, park staff worked with researchers to better understand visitor use and experience at String Lake and Leigh Lake, including lakeshore access, parking, wayfinding, sign management, and human-wildlife interactions. Researchers found that high visitation at String Lake takes place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The park encourages visitation during off-peak hours.

String Lake is located north of Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. The String Lake area includes three parking lots, two picnic areas, lakeshore access, and restroom facilities.

Plan ahead before your visit to String Lake and consider the following:

• Large groups are encouraged to carpool.
• Check the weather forecast before you arrive to better plan your day and destinations. If you plan to hike later in the day, it is critical that you know the weather forecast for the elevation of your destination, particularly to avoid lightning and thunderstorms.
• Arrive early or late as the parking lots at String Lake are typically full between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
• Be thoughtful of other visitors who are enjoying the natural landscape and soundscape.
• Picnic responsibly and have a plan in case a bear approaches. Utilize food storage boxes to minimize human-wildlife interactions.



Jeff
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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Menors Ferry Day 2019

Families and children of all ages are invited to participate in Menors Ferry Day, hosted by Grand Teton National Park and Grand Teton Association. The event will take place this Saturday, July 27 from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. at the historic Menors Ferry, located in Moose, Wyoming.

Celebrate this historical landmark located within Grand Teton National Park. There will be a variety of activities. Take a walk back in time to learn more about Bill Menor, the proprietor who once lived at Menors Ferry, and the lifestyle that he lived. Historical activities include spinning demonstrations, music, historic interpretation, and a walking tour. This event is free and open to the public.

Menors Ferry was historically operated by Bill Menor. The ferry and general store drew homesteaders and visitors from across the Jackson Hole Valley, as it was the only safe ferry crossing in the area across the Snake River. Menor also operated a smokehouse and blacksmith shop. In 1918, he sold his cabin and business to Maud Noble, who continued to operate the business until 1927 when the State of Wyoming built a bridge over the Snake River, thereby rendering the ferry obsolete.

For additional information about activities and services within Grand Teton National Park or the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, please visit the park's website at nps.gov/grandteton or a park visitor center, or call 307.739.3300.



Jeff
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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Bear Incidents Prompt Frequent Changes in Campground, Trail Status in Glacier National Park

Park staff have had a busy summer responding to bears near campgrounds, trails, roadsides, and other developed areas.

Because of bears frequenting the area, the Hole in the Wall backcountry campground currently is closed temporarily, along with the small spur trail from the main Boulder Pass Trail to the campground.

The park has re-opened Many Glacier Campground to tent camping after park rangers confirmed that no bear-related incidents have occurred in the area since July 14, when rangers last hazed two bears. The campground was first restricted to hard-sided camping on July 6 after incidents involving a black bear that damaged property in the campground. At that time, patrols were increased and the park attempted to trap and tag the suspected black bear, but were unsuccessful.

In a separate incident last Wednesday at Rising Sun Campground, park resource management staff captured and relocated a different black bear as well as her cub after both bears showed little fear of humans. The sow, tagged as number 324, had been frequenting Rising Sun Campground and displaying a pattern of habituated behavior. Her cub of the year also showed signs of being habituated to humans.

Last week, bear 324 apparently killed an animal in the brush near the campground. The loud sounds and lack of visibility in the brush led to the temporary closure of the upper loop of the campground. The remains of a marmot were located the next day. The following day, park resource management staff encountered bear 324 and her cub in the closed upper loop of the campground. The sow and cub travelled into the occupied loop, despite efforts to keep her out. She passed through occupied tent sites, paying little attention to the presence of park staff or crowds of onlookers. The cub also stood up and pushed on a tent. Park resource management staff decided that capturing bear 324 and her cub was an appropriate management action according to the park’s Bear Management Guidelines. The sow was tranquilized and placed in a 2-compartment trap. After a short time, the cub entered the back compartment of the trap and was captured.

Last Thursday, park staff released bear 324 and her cub in the North Fork district, far from any campgrounds or developed areas. The hope is that living in a less developed setting will allow her to teach future cubs to live in wild areas, feeding and foraging naturally.

Bear 324 was first captured and tagged in 2015 because she was frequenting Rising Sun Campground. Since then, she has raised several cubs in the area, some of which have required relocation. Sows typically pass on habituated behavior to cubs, requiring more management action for successive generations. In 2017, the park fitted bear 324 with a radio collar to allow resource managers and rangers to target her for hazing, which was somewhat effective.

Resource managers decided that bear 324 was a candidate for relocation rather than removal because she did not exhibit a significant pattern of seeking human food, and did not show signs of aggression.

“These events demonstrate the critical role that campers play in wildlife conservation,” said Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “While bears can wander or even live in developed areas, if we are diligent about keeping food rewards away from them, they can sometimes be relocated rather than euthanized.”

Visitors are reminded to keep campgrounds and developed areas clean and free of food and trash. Local residents and businesses located in and around the park are reminded to secure all types of non-natural food sources including garbage, livestock, feed, pet food, bird seed, and hummingbird feeders.

If you see a bear along the road, please do not stop. Stopping and watching roadside bears will likely start a “bear jam” as other motorists follow your lead. “Bear jams” are hazardous to both people and bears, as visibility is reduced and bears may feel threatened by the congestion. Report all bear sightings to the nearest ranger.

Glacier National Park is home to both 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. Visitors are encouraged to check the park’s Trail and Area Closings and Postings webpage before heading into the park, and to learn more about bears and safety while recreating in bear country.



Jeff
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Fire Danger Raised to High in Grand Teton

Fire danger has increased to “High” for Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, National Elk Refuge, and the rest of the Teton Interagency Dispatch Area. Recent hot temperatures and regular afternoon winds have created dry forest conditions. With little to no forecasted rain in the coming weeks, fire activity is expected to increase. Three wildfires have been detected in the last week, with the Box Creek Fire remaining active in the Teton Wilderness.

A high fire danger rating means that fires can start easily and spread quickly. When determining fire danger, fire managers use several indicators such as the moisture content of grasses, shrubs, and trees; projected weather conditions including temperatures and possible wind events; the ability of fire to spread after ignition; and availability of firefighting resources locally and across the nation.

There are no fire restrictions currently in place, but it is important to be aware of the increased risk and take extra care when building campfires, parking on dry grass, or recreating outdoors.

Visitors and local residents are reminded that unattended or abandoned campfires can easily escalate into wildfires. This year there have already been more than 83 abandoned campfires reported in the Teton Interagency Dispatch area. Campers should be prepared with plenty of water and a shovel on hand.

As a reminder, simply pouring water on a fire is not sufficient. Most of the reported unattended fires found by fire personnel involve smoldering logs and white ash which can easily spread embers when stirred by a breeze or gust of wind. Campers need to drown campfires with plenty of water and then stir the coals, repeating as necessary. Before leaving the area, the campfire should be cold to the touch. Campers need to be aware they could be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire.

Please visit the Teton Interagency Fire website at tetonfires.com to learn more about current fires, fire safety, and any fire regulations that may be in place. To report a fire or smoke, call the Teton Interagency Fire Dispatch Center at 307-739-3630.



Jeff
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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Nine-year-old girl injured by bison in Yellowstone

On the afternoon of July 22, there was an incident with a bull bison near Observation Point Trail in the Old Faithful Geyser area.

According to witnesses, a group of approximately 50 people were within 5-10 feet of the bison for at least 20 minutes before eventually causing the bison to charge the group. A nine-year-old girl from Odessa, FL was charged and tossed into the air by the bull bison. The girl was taken to the Old Faithful Lodge by her family where she was assessed and treated by a park emergency medical providers, and later taken to and released from the Old Faithful Clinic.

No citations have been issued. The incident is still under investigation.

Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are wild. When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards (23 m) away from all large animals - bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.



Jeff
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Search Efforts for Mark Sinclair Will Continue in Limited Capacity

Glacier National Park has scaled back a large search effort for the man who went missing two weeks ago.

Search efforts began the morning of July 9 in the Logan Pass area of Glacier National Park for Mark Sinclair, 66, recently of Whitefish, MT.

Active search efforts took place between July 9 and July 18. The overall search area encompassed numerous drainages east and west of the Continental Divide including Upper McDonald Creek, Mineral Creek, Swiftcurrent, and Belly River drainages. Trails and off-trail search areas included Flattop Mountain, the Highline from Logan Pass to Goat Haunt, Swiftcurrent Pass, the Loop, and Hidden Lake. Other associated trail areas attached to the Highline were also searched. Aerial searches included the entire spine of the Continental Divide on both sides from Logan Pass to 50 Mountain.

The search area is characterized by steep slopes with cliff faces frequently over 100 feet high, gray rocks that act as camouflage, and dense shrubs that conceal the ground. Searchers also encountered high winds and heavy rain and hail.

Flathead County Sheriff’s Department -- including ground patrols, canine units, a search drone, and a volunteer search and rescue division -- assisted Glacier National Park Search and Rescue team members. Two Bear Air and the U.S. Forest Service provided daytime aerial search capacity and nighttime infrared flights. The U.S. Geological Survey also assisted with search drone support.

Mark Sinclair is still considered a missing person. The search effort has been moved to a “limited continuous mode,” meaning that active searching will not occur every day, but will continue in a reduced capacity with patrols. The park’s investigation will actively continue in hopes of gaining further information about his whereabouts. If a clue or witness report provides new information about Sinclair’s possible whereabouts or belongings, additional search efforts will follow up.

Updated missing person posters with Sinclair’s picture and description will be posted throughout the park for the duration of the summer.

Park rangers would like to continue hearing from anyone who was in the Logan Pass and Granite Park vicinity on or after July 8 who may have had contact with Sinclair or seen him on a trail, including guests at Granite Park Chalet and backcountry overnight campers.

The park has not ruled out the possibility that he may have traveled further from the Logan Pass vicinity, given the number of trails that connect directly from this area and extend in every direction across Glacier’s one million acres.

“We continue to ask the public to think back to their visits to the park last week. Additional sightings or the discovery of Mark’s belongings could help investigators identify new search tactics,” said Search Team Commander Ed Visnovske. “The park deeply appreciates the efforts of our county and federal partners - we could not have covered such a significant area or conducted such an in-depth search without that support.”

Background:

Around 2:30 pm on Monday, July 8, staff at the Logan Pass Visitor Center saw Sinclair leaving the parking lot and walking toward the Highline Trail. He left behind his dog, unsecured vehicle, and car keys.

After the search began, two visitors called the tip line and reported seeing him between Haystack Butte and Granite Park Chalet on the Highline Trail in the early evening on July 8. No other verified sightings have been received beyond July 8.

Members of the public who have information about Sinclair’s last seen whereabouts are urged to call the tip line at 406-888-7077. Media calls should continue to be directed to the Glacier National Park Public Affairs Office.

The park does not expect to issue another press release unless something significant changes with this case.



Jeff
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Monday, July 22, 2019

"Fauna of the Flathead" Guided Hikes at Wayfarers - July through September 2019

Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) will host Fauna of the Flathead guided hikes at Flathead Lake State Park at Wayfarers on July 27th, August 24th, and September 28th at 10:30 am. Flathead Valley has world-class wildlife viewing opportunities. Learn about some of the animals that make their home here.

Flathead Lake State Park invites you to get out and enjoy the outdoors with a park guide! Guided hikes will explore the fauna that makes up Flathead Lake State Park. The hikes are 1.5-miles in length and meet at the Flathead Lake State Park Ranger Station at Wayfarers. Hikers should wear sturdy shoes, bring a water bottle, and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Cost is $4 per person or $10 per family.

When: July 27, August 24, and September 28th at 10:30am

Where: Flathead Lake State Park – Wayfarers Unit, 8600 Mt. Hwy 35, Bigfork http://stateparks.mt.gov/wayfarers/

Flathead Lake State Park consists of six unique park units located around Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. The park units on the east side are Wayfarers, Yellow Bay and Finley Point and the west side units are West Shore, Big Arm and Wild Horse Island. In addition to boating, swimming and fishing, each park unit offers unique experiences including camping, rental picnic shelters, group camping, hiking, sightseeing, picnicking, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

For more information call the Flathead Lake Ranger Station at (406) 837-3041.



Jeff
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Friday, July 19, 2019

Teton Rangers Respond to Two Emergency Rescues - Significant Snow Remains at Higher Elevations

Grand Teton National Park rangers responded Wednesday evening, July 17, to a member of a climbing group that seriously injured her leg and was unable to move. At approximately 5:40 p.m. a park ranger hiking in the Lower Garnett Canyon area was notified that a climber was injured and needed help.

Natalie Ulloa, 17 years old from Houston, Texas, was descending the Southwest Couloir route after summiting the Middle Teton when she slipped on ice and snow earlier Wednesday afternoon. She fell approximately 100 feet onto rock.

Two rangers with medical equipment and gear began hiking to the location from the Lupine Trailhead and two other rangers that were located at the lower saddle of the Grand Teton climbed the Middle Teton and descended down to the injured climber. A helicopter rescue was attempted twice but was not an option due to very windy conditions.

Ulloa was stabilized and kept warm, and prepped to spend the night on the mountain with two of the rangers. The two other rangers hiked down with four members of the climbing group. The hike down was challenging due to terrain, snow and ice, and the skill set of the individuals.

On Thursday morning, July 18, another attempt to fly to the scene was thwarted due to dangerous high winds. Four additional rangers hiked to the scene to help manually lower the injured climber over snow, ice and boulders to Garnet Meadows where a helicopter could land if there was a break in the winds. It took approximately three hours to carry Ulloa to the meadows.

Six members of the park trail crew hiked to Garnet Meadows with additional gear, including a wheeled litter, to assist as needed if the helicopter could not land. At approximately 2:30 p.m. a break in the winds allowed the Teton Interagency Helicopter to land at Garnet Meadows and transport Ulloa to Lupine Meadows where a park ambulance was waiting to take her to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming.

At approximately 5 p.m. another emergency call was received involving a hiker that was injured by a large falling rock near the base of the Son of Accoupolus Couloir, near the mouth of Death Canyon. Daniel Henderson, 22 years old from Hancock, Michigan, and his climbing partner were approaching a climb in Death Canyon. Near the base of the cliff they pulled loose some rocks, and a large rock hit Henderson causing multiple injuries.

They called 911 and were transferred to Teton Interagency Dispatch. A park ranger hiked to the scene to stabilize and access Henderson’s injuries. The Teton Interagency Helicopter was used to short haul the injured climber to the meadow at the historic White Grass Dude Ranch. A park ambulance transported Henderson to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. The climbing partner was uninjured and hiked out to the trailhead.

Conditions at elevations above 9,000 feet in the Teton Range are still snow-covered. Hikers and climbers in these areas should carry both an ice axe and crampons and know how to use them or adjust the route. Please visit the Jenny Lake Ranger Station before backcountry trips for the most current route conditions.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or gear is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.



Jeff
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