Grand Teton National Park

National Parks Could See More Money

Apr 7, 2014

President Obama wants to add 55 million dollars to the National Park Service budget, including ten million dollars to get parks ready for their centennial celebration in 2016.   John Garder with the National Parks Conservation Association says the money is needed to address billions of dollars in maintenance.

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After considerable discussion, the Wyoming legislature approved a bill that would let the state and the federal government move forward with finalizing a deal to swap state owned land in Grand Teton National Park with the federal government.  Some senators expressed concern that the federal mineral land won't match the estimated $100 million value of the state's park land, but Jackson Senator Leland Christensen says the bill was changed to ensure the trade will be fair.

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A report by the National Park Service indicates that parks are major economic drivers for surrounding communities.

The report shows that park visitation generated more than $700 million in Wyoming in 2012 and supported thousands of jobs and local businesses. Nation-wide, tourists spent more than $26 billion when visiting parks.

A bill that would allow the federal government to trade mineral rights and federal land for two parcels of state land inside Grand Teton National Park has passed the Wyoming Senate. 

The swap is needed after the federal government backed out of a previous deal to pay the state for the two parcels.  Laramie Senator Phil Nicholas added an amendment that the land would have to be mineral property with proven reserves, so that the swap is worthwhile for the state. 

The National Park Service named a new superintendent for Grand Teton National Park this week. David Vela will replace former superintendent Mary Gibson Scott, who retired last year.

Vela is currently an associate director for the Park Service in Washington DC. He has worked at parks and historic sites in Texas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and directed the Park Service’s southeast region for four years. He says one of his goals is to listen to visitor feedback.

The National Park Service has picked a new superintendent for Grand Teton National Park. David Vela will replace former Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott, who retired in November.

Vela is currently an associate director for the Park Service in Washington D.C. and has overseen several other parks and historic sites. He also served as director of the National Park Service’s southeast region.

Vela says he will place a major emphasis on working with park employees and the community.

The State Lands Board voted yesterday four-to-one to support an agreement that would trade 1,300 acres of prime wildlife habitat in Grand Teton National Park for federally-owned property. The state is obligated by law to manage or sell state lands to maximize revenues for the State Education Trust.  But the land in question is appraised at $107 million, if commercially developed.

The Grand Teton Conservation Association’s Sharon Mader says ideally the feds would have bought the land outright, but the swap would still be a great boon for Wyoming schools.  

NPS

In her nine years as Superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, Mary Gibson Scott has overseen a number of park improvements from Transportation to a new Visitors Center.  But issues from funding for Parks to protecting wildlife continue to be a concern.  Gibson Scott retires this weekend, so we asked her about a few key issues, such as reforming the Endangered Species Act.

Grand Teton National Park has reopened after the federal government shutdown forced it to close for 16 days. The park furloughed about 200 employees and the remaining crew worked straight through the closure.

Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott says there were significant losses to gateway communities as well as to the park itself.

Trespassing citations have been issued to several people attempting to enter Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks since the federal government shutdown closed the parks.

 Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash says that the park is running on minimal staff, with hundreds of employees furloughed due to the shutdown.

 “We have just over a hundred national park service employees on duty on any given day during this shutdown” explains Nash “Across 2.2 million acres mind you, and hundreds of miles of road.”

Visitors are turned away from Grand Teton National Park due to government shutdown
Rebecca Huntington

HOST INTRO: As the government shutdown continues, the impacts are evident in Teton County where the economy is closely tied to federal lands and federal workers. Rebecca Huntington has more from Jackson. 

REBECCA HUNTINGTON: Foreign visitors inspect a three-D model of Jackson Hole and use the public restrooms at the Home Ranch welcome center, located on the main highway to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. This is where the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce has set up a temporary table to help tourists locked out of national parks by the government shutdown.

Government shutdown forces national park closures

Oct 1, 2013
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Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are closed as a result of the federal government shutdown.

Grand Teton Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott says visitors staying at campgrounds and hotels in the park have 48 hours to leave. Most park staffers are being furloughed, except for certain emergency personnel.

EJS, Prior to 1970 / National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center, Archives Center

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted Monday to impose limits on what types of motorized craft can be used on Teton County’s Snake River, and when.

Kathryn Turner

Wyoming landscape painter Kathryn Turner grew up on Triangle X Ranch in Grand Teton National Park surrounded by dramatic views of her favorite subject, the Tetons.

And in her words, she’s spent the past 20 years trying to do them justice. “And they are challenging! And what makes them challenging is they’re always changing, with the light, with the seasons, with the way the clouds move over them, obscuring them, changing the shadows. So they provide a lifetime of material,” added Turner.

Owls have been getting stuck inside portable toilets on public lands across the country… But, Grant Teton National Park has found an innovative way to protect them.

The first report of an owl stuck in a “Porta Potty” at Grand Teton National Park came from a land manager who was performing routine maintenance. He took a picture of the owl and sent it to Amy McCarthy, executive director of the Teton Raptor Center.

McCarthy says the photo and all of the anecdotal evidence gathered from across the country since then has been compelling.

U.S. Dept of Agriculture

Fire danger rose to a “high” rating this week for both Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park, due to a combination of warm weather, low humidity and strong winds.

Traci Weaver, a spokeswoman for Bridger-Teton, says that dry vegetation and a higher-than-usual number of lightning strikes already posed a fire risk… But campers have abandoned more than 100 campfires this season, compounding the danger. Weaver urges campers to be responsible forest stewards.

Gloria Baxter: Professor Emeritus of the University of Memphis School of Dance and Theater, Gloria was invited by The Murie Center of Grand Teton National Park to create an original narrative theater adaptation based on the writings of Olaus and Margaret Murie, pioneers in the American wilderness movement.

Wildlife deaths from vehicle collisions are on the rise in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. That’s according to records obtained by the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The group’s executive director, Jeff Ruch, says one of the reasons , at least in Yellowstone, could be road improvements.

“Yellowstone designs its road projects for basically commuting into the park,” says Ruch. “They’ve invested a lot of money in recent years into making roads wider and straighter.”

Grand Teton National Park announced plans to upgrade its pathway system Tuesday. Slated improvements include lengthening the trail by more than two miles and safety enhancements, including signs, path striping, and the addition of a modern style roundabout.

The project will extend the park’s system of bike paths, part of which runs parallel to highway 89. Several smaller safety features have already been installed, such as path striping and better signage.

MrPhilDog / Phil Thomas / Flickr Creative Commons

A man has been charged with two counts of felony assault for an incident in Grand Teton National Park last week. Vincent Hagey is accused of stabbing another man at an employee dormitory. The victim was taken to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson and has since been released.

  Park Spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs says assaults this severe are very rare in the park.

Gloria Baxter: Professor Emeritus of the University of Memphis School of Dance and Theater, Gloria was invited by The Murie Center of Grand Teton National Park to create an original narrative theater adaptation based on the writings of Olaus and Margaret Murie, pioneers in the American wilderness movement.

The artwork of Kathryn Mapes Turner has unfolded from the mountain valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Here she was born as the fourth generation to be raised on the Triangle X Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. She grew up riding the trails of the valley, learning wilderness lore and gaining an eye for landscape amid what she believes to be the most spectacular scenery on earth.

Drivers in and around Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole need to watch out for large animals. Right now the spring migration of elk is underway.  Bison, mule deer, and moose are also leaving their winter ranges and traveling into their summer range in the Park.

Park Spokeswoman, Jackie Skaggs says that colliding with such animals can be extremely dangerous.

“Hitting something that large can cause serious damage to your vehicle,” Skaggs says, “could cause serious injury to you or the occupants of your vehicle, and it will likely cause the death of an animal.”

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Grand Teton National Park says that because of the federal sequestration, it will be hiring fewer seasonal workers this summer and will be making cuts to emergency response teams.

The park was instructed to trim its budget by $700,000 for the next six months. Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott says the changes will be noticeable.

“We know there will be delays in responding to search and rescue, as well as medical emergencies and law enforcement,” Scott said.

She says they will also have fewer fire fighters.

Grand Teton National Park and Trout Unlimited are partnering to demolish a dam near Kelly, WY, which will restore access to the  Gros Ventre Watershed for spawning trout and non-game fish.

The Newbold Dam was once used for irrigation, but the park’s public affairs officer, Jackie Skaggs says the structure is now obsolete, and removing it will help the park.

“In the long run it saves us money in maintenance for a structure that is no longer needed, is no longer used, but greatly benefits fish and fish habitats,” said Skaggs.

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The National Park Service and the Game and Fish Department changed regulations for hunting elk in Grand Teton National Park. Part of the reason for these changes is to avoid contact between hunters and grizzly bears.

Last year a hunter participating in the annual elk reduction program shot and killed a grizzly in the park. In 2011, a grizzly mauled a hunter. Both encounters involved bears protecting animal carcasses.

The U.S. Attorney’s office has decided not to file criminal charges against hunters who killed a grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park last year.

The hunters were participating in the annual elk reduction program when they shot the bear. But Park Spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs says investigators determined that they acted in self defense after the grizzly charged them. She says the hunters did the right thing after the bear died.

Grizzly Death Triggers Park to Weigh Options for Elk Hunt

Feb 1, 2013

The death of a grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park on Thanksgiving Day of 2012 has triggered calls for ending the park's annual elk hunt. A hunting party shot the grizzly after the hunters said the bear charged them. Park Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott calls the bear's death a travesty. It's the first hunting-related grizzly death in the park. But Scott says her agency, the National Park Service, can't just end the hunt. Rebecca Huntington has more.

Two dead in western Wyoming avalanches

Jan 28, 2013

Avalanches killed two skiers from Jackson in western Wyoming yesterday.  Elizabeth Gray Benson, 28, was west of Bondurant when an avalanche caught her and carried her into a tree. Nick Gillespie, 30, was in the north end of the Teton Range.

Bob Comey with the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center says significant new snowfall on top of a slick, older base of snow means the risk for avalanches is considerable.

The Department of Interior has paid the state of Wyoming 16 million dollars for a second parcel of state land located inside Grand Teton National Park.  Two more parcels remain to be purchased. 

The Grand Teton Program Manager of the National Parks Conservation Association says she is thrilled.  Sharon Mader notes that since the land is owned by the state, it could have been made available to private developers.  So having the federal government buy the land is important.

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