Thursday, February 28, 2019

Roads in Yellowstone begin to close for 2019 spring plowing

Roads in Yellowstone National Park will begin to close to oversnow travel on March 1. Spring plowing will start as road segments close. All oversnow travel will end for the season Friday, March 15, at 9 p.m. Weather permitting, some park roads will reopen to automobile travel Friday, April 19, at 8 a.m.

Road Closure Dates (gates close at 9 p.m.)

• Friday, March 1, East Entrance to Lake Butte Overlook (Sylvan Pass)

• Sunday, March 3, Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris

• Tuesday, March 5, Norris to Madison, Norris to Canyon Village

• Friday, March 15, all remaining groomed roads

At Mammoth Hot Springs, the Gift Shop, Ski Shop, and food services will close Sunday, March 3. The Mammoth Hot Springs Campground, Yellowstone General Store, Post Office, Medical Clinic, the Albright Visitor Center, and self-serve fuel pumps remain open all year.

At Old Faithful, Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins close Sunday, March 3. The Bear Den Gift Shop, the Geyser Grill, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center will close Friday, March 15.

At Tower Junction, self-serve fuel pumps are available all year.

The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City, Montana, is open to automobiles all year.

Visitors driving to and in the park during the spring should have flexible travel plans and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time. For the most current information on road conditions and closures, visit Park Roads or call 307-344-2117 for recorded information. In addition, sign up to receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone by texting “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).

Learn more about area-specific spring reopening dates here: https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/hours.htm



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, February 25, 2019

Changes to Backcountry Advance Reservations in Glacier

Backpackers may want to note a few small changes to the backcountry advance reservation process in Glacier National Park. Please note the following from the park website:

• New in 2019! Standard group (1-8 campers) advance reservation applications will be processed using a modified lottery system in 2019 - All applications submitted on opening day will be processed in randomly sequenced order. All applications received after opening day (March 15 @ 11:59:59) will be processed in the order they are received.

• New in 2019! Large group (9-12 campers) advance reservation applications will be processed in randomly sequenced order in 2019 - All large group applications received on March 1 will be randomly sequenced. Only the first five (5) large group permit applicants from the randomly sequenced list will be awarded reservations. The 2019 large group application will close at mid-night on March 1.

For more information on making backcountry reservations, please click here.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Presenters sought for annual Yellowstone Winter Photo Festival

Yellowstone National Park calls on photographers to share their spectacular Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem winter photos at the 10th Annual Winter Photo Festival that will be held Thursday, February 28, 2019, at the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center at 7 p.m.

All photographers must register by Thursday, February 28, at 5 p.m. by contacting West District Naturalist Miriam Hornstein at 307-344-2803 or miriam_hornstein@nps.gov.

During the festival, photographers will present their digital images to attendees. Presentations will be limited to either 25 images or five minutes, whichever comes first. To enhance the richness of the images, photographers will narrate their presentations. They are also encouraged to provide tips on their photography techniques. Framed prints are not hung on the wall as part of this event.

While there are no prizes at the festival, photographers will be rewarded with accolades by all who attend.

The event is sponsored by the National Park Service and the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, February 22, 2019

THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS - Sodden & Verdant

Several months ago I published a short film by Christopher R. Abbey on what it's like to climb 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48. Roughly two weeks ago Mr. Abbey published another excellent film that chronicles his three-day backpacking trip in the Mt. Sterling area of the Great Smoky Mountains. Hope you enjoy:





Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Senate Moves to Protect More than 2 Million Acres of National Parks and Public Lands

More than two million acres of public lands are poised to receive new or enhanced protection with last week's Senate passage of the Natural Resources Management Act (S.47). National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) led outreach efforts for years in support of many of the bill’s provisions and commends the bipartisan Congressional leadership who worked to strengthen protections for national parks, wilderness areas, waterways and wildlife across the country.

The legislative package authorizes designation of two new national park sites and six National Heritage Areas to tell new American stories; permanent protection against new mining claims on lands including the doorstep of Yellowstone and North Cascades national parks; permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); and directives for the Department of Interior to study sites that could further enhance and diversify the national park system.

“The Senate’s action today, including protecting two million acres of national park and other public lands, is further proof that these issues can, and should, be bipartisan,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association. “NPCA has worked alongside communities, businesses and elected officials for years to protect Yellowstone’s doorstep from industrial mining, connect parks and wild lands in the California desert and increase preservation of centuries-old Native American structures in Georgia. We commend the many members of Congress who were champions for their constituents and the places and issues that they, and all Americans, care so deeply about.”

The Natural Resources Management Act includes permanent mineral withdrawals to approximately 30,000 acres of National Forest System lands, adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. This landscape has been targeted by two proposed industrial-scale gold mines. NPCA worked more than three years alongside the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition to defend their communities and garnered support for the withdrawal from tens of thousands of members and supporters.

In the California desert, lawmakers approved the long-awaited expansion of Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks, new wilderness designations that promote landscape connectivity, protections for fragile waterways and increased habitat for wildlife including desert tortoise, mountain lion, and bighorn sheep. NPCA worked in partnership with local communities, elected officials, and stakeholders on California desert legislation since 2009 and will continue efforts to connect, protect and enhance this vital landscape and tourism economy.

Ocmulgee National Monument will also be re-designated as Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, quadrupling the national park site from 700 to nearly 3,000 acres. The Department of Interior will also be authorized to explore options for preserving additional historic, cultural and recreation sites of the Ocmulgee River corridor between Macon and Hawkinsville. NPCA worked for years in support of the opportunity, including the development of a 2017 study on the significant increase in economic activity that the expanded park would bring to middle Georgia communities.

“This area is recognized as one of the most important archaeological landscapes in the country,” said Chris Watson, NPCA’s Senior Southeast Program Manager. “This expanded national park designation recognizes Ocmulgee’s exceptional characteristics, such as its documented human presence that dates back nearly 17,000 years and preserves the regions treasured wildlife, history and culture. Already one of the most visited attractions in Central Georgia, the enlarged park will serve as a significant economic engine, bringing increased visibility to the region. The park also holds strong ancestral connection for the Muskogee Nation of Oklahoma, and we are honored to be working with them to help preserve these lands.”



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Indiana Dunes becomes the 61st National Park

The spending bill signed by President Trump on February 15, 2019 included a provision that changed the name of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to Indiana Dunes National Park. This change takes place immediately. The bill also changes the name of the Miller Woods Trail to the Paul H. Douglas Trail in honor of the late Illinois Senator who helped lead the fight along with Save the Dunes and other citizen groups to create the national lakeshore in 1966.

Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz commented, "103 years in the making, what a terrific tribute to the neighbors, partners, visitors and National PARK staff. We are so appreciative to the entire Indiana delegation for their recognition and support of this national treasure."

The park staff looks forward to celebrating this name change in the near future and to working with local communities and partners on spreading the word about the nation’s 61st national park. The work will continue to protect this very special place in Northwest Indiana and to provide outstanding service to the visiting public.

My new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, includes a passage on how the Prairie Club, a hiking club based out of Chicago, fought to protect the dunes which were being industrially mined for sand, which was used to make concrete. Among an array of actions and tactics, the club even hosted the “Pageant of the Dunes” in 1917, a massive outdoor play that helped to raise awareness of the issue.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

HikingintheSmokys.com Adds Four New Hikes to Website

A couple of weeks ago Kathy and I paid a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains to take advantage of some nice spring-like weather, and to do a little hiking. As a result, we were able to do a couple of new hikes, which have just been added to our website. Here's a quick rundown of the new hikes:

Spruce Flats Falls - This hike has been on my radar for several years now, and I finally got a chance to check it out. It didn't disappoint - in fact, I would say it has to be one of the most scenic waterfalls in the park. Though it isn't marked on the official park map, the trail is well defined and very easy to follow.

Avent Cabin - This is another destination that isn't marked on the official park map. This hike visits the former art studio of Mayna Treanor Avent, who was a nationally renowned artist. Her works have been exhibited across America, including the Smithsonian Institute's National Portrait Gallery.

Ogle Place - This short loop hike along Cherokee Orchard Road visits the Ogle Farmstead. Along the route you'll visit the cabin that was built by Noah “Bud” Ogle in the 1880s, his barn, as well as his "tub" mill.

Gatlinburg Trail - If you're looking for an easy hike just outside of Gatlinburg, the Gatlinburg Trail is a great choice. The trail follows along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River for a large portion of the hike. It also visits the remnants of an old homestead.

During our visit we also took the opportunity to hike the Bullhead Trail, which was heavily damaged during the November 2016 wildfire. As a result of many downed trees the park was forced to close the trail for almost two years. After removing enough of the deadfall to make the route safe, the park finally reopened the trail to the public in late-October of 2018. Although there are several burn scars along the route, the wildfire has created huge panoramic vistas in several places. As a result of all the changes, we have updated the two hikes on our website that utilize the Bullhead Trail. The shorter hike ends at a large cairn built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the mid-1930's, now known as "The Pulpit". The longer hike goes all the way to the top of Mt. LeConte. As you can see from the new photos on these pages, I have to think that this trail might become the most popular route to the summit in the coming years.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, February 18, 2019

Today is the Final Day to Take Advantage of a 70% Discount On "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

Today is the final day of the limited time sale on the eBook version of my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking. As mentioned on Friday, the eBook version of my book can be purchased for only $2.99 on Amazon, a 70% discount off the regular price of $9.95. This limited time offer ends tonight. For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Additionally, if you like the book, I would really appreciate if you could provide a review on my Amazon page.

Thank you very much!



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Lewis River Bridge in Yellowstone to be replaced

On December 21, 2018, the National Park Service Acting Intermountain Regional Director Kate Hammond signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for an environmental assessment (EA) to replace the Lewis River Bridge in Yellowstone National Park. The bridge is located south of the Lewis Lake Campground on the South Entrance Road.

The replacement will be built on a new alignment directly east of the existing bridge. Parking and pedestrian areas located north and south of the existing bridge will be redesigned and reconstructed.

The park considered two alternatives in its EA. Alternative B, the approved action, will shift the South Entrance Road several hundred feet to line up with the new bridge. Traffic will continue on the existing bridge while the new bridge is under construction. Alternative B was selected to ensure excellent bridge structure integrity into the future, improve pedestrian safety, and reduce localized vehicle congestion.

Depending upon funding, roadwork could begin as early as spring 2020 and last for two consecutive years followed by the spring of a third year. When the proposed project is implemented, construction delays would normally be limited to 30 minutes. There may be up to six temporary road closures of up to six hours each to set bridge girders. The Lewis River Falls Overlook Trail and parking areas would be closed during construction.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, February 15, 2019

Annoucement: 70% Discount On "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

A few weeks ago I announced that my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, would be published in eBook format. Today I wanted to announce that for a very limited time the eBook version of the book will be on sale. Beginning right now you can purchase the eBook version for only $2.99 on Amazon, a 70% discount off the regular price of $9.95. You can take advantage of this limited time offer through the weekend. For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Additionally, if you like the book, I would really appreciate if you could provide a review on my Amazon page.

Thank you very much!



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Key Milestones in Hiking

The following timeline was adapted from my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking (through Monday, 2/18/19, the eBook version of the book is being offered at a 70% discount):

Over the last several decades the sport of hiking has become one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world. According to the latest National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, 33.9% of all Americans above the age of 15 participated in hiking during the period between 2005 and 2009. This trend, however, leads to the burning question; when did people begin taking to the trail for pleasure? Since the dawn of humankind men and women have walked the earth to hunt, gather wild edible plants, explore, trade goods with neighboring communities, and migrate to other regions. At some point in our long evolution we as humans realized that there doesn’t have to be a utilitarian reason for walking. Somewhere along the line we discovered the joy of traipsing through the woods, observing the beauty of a wildflower, seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, marveling at the roar of a waterfall, or contemplating the awe-inspiring views from the top of a mountain. Is this a recent phenomenon, or is this an innate characteristic of human beings? No matter the answer to that question, here are the key milestones in the history of hiking that has led to its popularity today:

~3300 BCE: In 1991 two German tourists found the mummified remains of “Otzi the Iceman” in the Ă–tztal Alps along the Austrian–Italian border. Although scientists aren’t entirely sure what this late-Neolithic man was doing at an elevation hovering just over 10,500 feet, there are some that speculate that he may have been an early mountaineer. More importantly, the remnants of the rucksack that he carried on his back is the oldest rucksack ever found.

125: The 2nd century Roman Emperor, Hadrian, hiked to the summit of Mt. Etna on Sicily to see the sunrise, making this earliest recorded hike for pleasure.

1642: Darby Field makes the first recorded ascent of Mt. Washington, which would become the focus of the first tourist destination in the United States in the late 1700s.

1760: The Industrial Revolution begins in Great Britain, and is generally recognized as lasting until the start of World War I. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the labor movement, automobiles, environmentalism, club culture, and even art. As a result, it is arguably the single most important event to spur the development of hiking and walking for pleasure.

1778: Thomas West, an English priest, publishes A Guide to the Lakes, a detailed account of the scenery and landscape of the Lake District in northwestern England. The guide helped to popularize the idea of walking for pleasure, and is credited as being one of the first travel guides.

1786: The modern era of mountaineering is marked by the first ascent of 15,771-foot Mont Blanc in France, the tallest peak in the Alps.

1799: Williams College (of Massachusetts) President Ebenezer Fitch ascends Mt. Greylock with two other companions.

1819: Abel Crawford, along with his son Ethan, blaze an 8.25-mile trail to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. The path is recognized as the oldest continually used hiking trail in the United States, and is likely the first footpath in the entire world to be built specifically for recreational hiking.

1830: A crew of 100 students and professors from Williams College blaze the Hopper Trail to the summit of Mt. Greylock. Later that same year students constructed a 37-foot wooden tower atop the mountain. This tower, and its replacement, were maintained into the 1850s, and were used for sightseeing and scientific observations.

1850: The Exploring Circle is founded by Cyrus M. Tracey and three other men from Lynn, Massachusetts. The National Park Service recognizes the club as being “the first hiking club in New England", thus, in all likelihood, making it the first hiking club in the world.

1854: The beginning of the systematic sport of modern mountaineering as we essentially know it today is marked by the ascent of the Wetterhorn in the Swiss Alps by Sir Alfred Wills. His book, Wanderings Among the High Alps, published two years later, helped make mountaineering fashionable in Britain, and ushered in the systematic exploration of the Alps by British mountaineers. These events also marked the beginning of the so-called “Golden Age of Alpinism”.

1857: The world's first mountaineering club, the Alpine Club, was founded in London.

1863: Professor Albert Hopkins of Williams College founds the Alpine Club of Williamstown, whose stated mission was “to explore the interesting places in the vicinity, to become acquainted, to some extent at least, with the natural history of the localities, and also to improve the pedestrian powers of the members”. It was the first hiking club to accept women as members, which likely provided an important template for future hiking clubs.

1867: John Muir begins a 1000-mile walk from Indiana to Florida, which was recounted in his book, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. The trek launched a lifetime career of hiking and wilderness advocacy. His conservation efforts, articles and books would help to establish several national parks during and after his lifetime.

1872: Yellowstone becomes the world’s first national park after legislation is signed by President U.S. Grant.

1876: The Appalachian Mountain Club, America’s oldest recreational organization, is founded to explore and protect the trails and mountains of New England.

1876: Newtown, England entrepreneur Pryce Pryce-Jones designs the "Euklisia Rug", considered by many to be the forerunner of the modern sleeping bag. The rug included a wool blanket with a pocket at the top for a sewn-in, inflatable, rubber pillow. Once inside, the camper (or soldier) folded the blanket over and fastened it together, thus keeping themselves “snug in a rug”.

1877: English writer Louis Jennings publishes Field Paths and Green Lanes: Being Country Walks, Chiefly in Surrey and Sussex, which is likely the first trail guide to be published anywhere in the world.

1879: One of the first hiking clubs in England, the "Sunday Tramps", was founded by Leslie White. These early “rambling” (the English word for hiking or walking) clubs sprang up in the northern areas of England as part of a campaign for the legal "right to roam", a response to the fact that much of the land in England was privately owned.

1887: The first external frame rucksack is patented by Colonel Henry C. Merriam.

1922: Australian climber George Finch designs and wears a knee-length eiderdown parka during the 1922 British Everest Expedition. The shell of the coat was made from the waterproofed-cotton fabric of a hot-air balloon, which was filled with duck down. During the expedition Finch and climbing partner Geoffrey Bruce reached a height of 27,300 feet during their summit attempt, which set the record for the highest altitude attained by any human up to that point.

1922: Lloyd F. Nelson submits his application to the U.S. Patent Office for his "Trapper Nelson's Indian Pack Board", which is acknowledged to be the first commercially successful external-frame backpack to be sold in the U.S. The "Trapper Nelson" featured a wooden "pack board" as its frame. Attached to the frame was a canvas sack that contained the hiker's gear, which rested on the hiker's body by two canvas shoulder-straps. Prior to his invention most hikers used a rucksack, which was essentially a loose sack with shoulder straps.

1930: The Green Mountain Club completes construction of the Long Trail, making it the first long-distance hiking trail in the United States.

1937: Italian climber and mountaineering guide, Vitale Bramani, invents Carrarmato, or “tank tread". This new rubber lug pattern provides mountaineering boots with outstanding traction, and allows them to be used on a variety of surfaces. The product is launched under the brand name "Vibram".

1937: America's first “grand” trail, the Appalachian Trail, was completed in August of 1937. A forester by the name of Benton MacKaye conceived the idea in 1921.

1948: Earl Shaffer becomes the first person to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

1967: Climber Greg Lowe invents the internal frame backpack. The “Expedition Pack” also featured the first adjustable back system, first side compressors, first sternum strap and the first load stabilizers.

1968: The National Trails System Act is passed by Congress, resulting in thousands of miles of trails being designated as National Scenic Trails, National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails.

1969: Bob Gore accidentally stretches a heated rod of polytetrafluoroethylene by almost 800%, which forms a microporous structure that was roughly 70% air. The discovery was introduced to the public under the trademark of "Gore-Tex", which became the first breathable, waterproof, and windproof fabric.

1992: Ray Jardine introduces the concept of ultralight backpacking with the release of his book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook. During his first PCT thru-hike Jardine’s pack weighed just 25 pounds. By his third hike it weighed less than 9 pounds. “Ray’s Way” of thinking has led to several innovations that have benefitted both backpackers and hikers.

This timeline is only a brief overview of the people, events, inventions and social trends that have helped to shape the sport of hiking as we know it today. If you enjoyed this short snippet of hiking history, please check out my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, which provides a much more in-depth narrative on the history of hiking.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Early Bird Sale for WyoParks Passes Ends February 15

Persons planning to visit Wyoming’s State Parks and Historic Sites this year are reminded the Early-Bird discount period for daily use permits will end on February 15.

During the Early Bird sale, resident annual daily use permits are $34 and non-resident permits are available for $63; a savings of $6 for Wyoming residents and $7 for non-residents.

Permits can be purchased at most State Parks and Historic Sites, but please call ahead as some parks and sites are closed during the winter months. Persons can also purchase annual permits online at www.wyo-park.com, or by calling (877) 996-7275.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, February 11, 2019

Rangers Successful in Investigation and Conviction of Illegal Take of Wolf

Park rangers at Grand Teton National Park recently conducted an investigation into an illegal take of a gray wolf within the park boundary that resulted in a conviction. Two individuals from Wyoming, a male 56 years of age and a female 55 years of age, were charged with illegal take of wildlife within the park. Both recently appeared in Federal court. The male plead guilty and received a $5,040 financial penalty, one year of unsupervised probation and one year loss of wolf hunting privileges. The female individual’s charge was dismissed as part of the resolution of the case.

Grand Teton National Park Chief Ranger Michael Nash said, “The individuals were very cooperative during the investigation, and we believe there was no conscious intent to hunt within the national park.” Nash commented that Grand Teton National Park employees take the responsibility to protect park resources, including wildlife, seriously.

On January 1, park rangers identified evidence to suggest illegal hunting activity within the park near Spread Creek and the eastern boundary of the park. Park rangers identified a blood trail and followed it to a location that was later determined to be the site of an illegal wolf kill within the park. Rangers followed up with a thorough investigation and determined that the individuals from Wyoming were involved.

Nash said, “I commend our park rangers on their professional and timely investigation. Their work to protect park resources, even during the shutdown, was outstanding as limited park rangers were available to respond to emergencies, protect property and provide basic visitor services during this time.”

The wolf killed was an uncollared young female.

All park visitors and hunters on adjacent lands outside the park are reminded that it is their responsibility to have a clear understanding of land ownership and respective rules and regulations.

Anyone with information about suspicious activity or wildlife takings within the park are encouraged to contact Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307-739-3301, or call or text the National Park Service Investigative Services Tip Line at 888-653-0009. Everyone is encouraged to protect national parks. Callers can remain anonymous.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, February 8, 2019

Public Comments on Mountain Goat Management Plan Accepted through February 15

The public comment period for the Mountain Goat Management Plan and Environmental Assessment has been extended through February 15. The plan is available for review and comment at parkplanning.nps.gov/mountaingoat.

The website was taken offline during the government shutdown, which prevented the public from providing comments on the plan. Public access to the website was restored today. The comment period for this plan has been extended through February 15 to ensure that the public has 30 days to review and provide comment. Any written comments received or comments entered into the website prior to the shutdown will be considered.

Background:

The National Park Service is encouraging public comment on a proposal to remove nonnative mountain goats from Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. This proposal is to aid in the conservation of a native population of bighorn sheep and protect other park resources and values from the rapidly growing nonnative mountain goat population.

Currently the nonnative mountain goat population within the park is estimated at approximately 100 animals. Resident mountain goats within the park are likely from a population that was introduced outside the park southwest of the Teton Range in the late 1960s and early 1970s. First observed in the Teton Range in 1979, they have now established a breeding population that is growing rapidly.

The Teton Range within the park is also home to a small herd of approximately 80 native bighorn sheep. Prior to 2015, the population was estimated to be approximately 100-125 sheep. This herd is one of the smallest and most isolated in Wyoming, and has never been extirpated or augmented. The Teton Range herd of native bighorn sheep is of high conservation value to the park, adjacent land and wildlife managers, and visitors.

Research indicates that the potential for resource competition and disease transmission between mountain goats and bighorn sheep is evident, and expected to increase. Bighorn sheep are highly susceptible to pathogens and disease transmission. Without active management, the mountain goat population is expected to continue to grow and expand its distribution within the park, threatening the existence of the native Teton Range bighorn sheep herd.

The National Park Service has a responsibility to maintain the ecological role of native species and reduce the potential for local extinction of a species. Management policies call for managing, when feasible, nonnative or “exotic” species that could have a substantial impact on park resources.

Park staff believe action is needed soon because the mountain goat population in the park is currently at a size where complete removal is achievable in a short timeframe. The estimated growth rate of the population of goats in the park suggests that complete removal in the near future may become unattainable after about three years.

Three alternatives to respond to the situation have been identified in the environmental assessment; 1) no action, 2) lethal and nonlethal removal of nonnative mountain goats, and 3) lethal removal of nonnative mountain goats.

The preferred alternative at this time is to use a combination of capture and translocation, and lethal removal methods to remove the mountain goat population in the park. The goal would be to remove the mountain goat population as quickly as possible to minimize impacts to native species, ecological communities and visitors. Goats could be translocated to suitable locations where they are native, or to accredited zoos, or lethally removed. Based on current estimates of mountain goat numbers, significantly reducing or eliminating the population is achievable in the next few years.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking