The Morning Report

Thursday, July 10, 2014

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park (ND)
Four Backcountry Rescues Conducted On Independence Day

Early on the afternoon of July 4th, the park received a cell phone call with a weak signal. Through the series of calls and texts that ensued, it was determined that the caller was a 21-year-old North Dakota man, that there were two other people in his party (a 23-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man), that they were lost in the Achenbach Hills Wilderness Area, and that they were dehydrated and had only 20 milliliters of water left, The temperature at the time was 90 degrees, the humidity was 88%, and there was no wind.

Even with GPS coordinates and brightly spread out camping items, attempts to locate the party in the wilderness area were unsuccessful.  A hasty team was sent towards the GPS coordinates and a medical helicopter was dispatched from Dickinson, North Dakota. The hasty team located the trio approximately 50 feet from the Achenbach Trail, hiked to them, assessed them, and prepared a landing zone. 

A determination was made by the flight crew and the NPS EMT that two of them would be taken to the McKenzie County ambulance that was staged two miles away and that they would then pick up the third person and fly him to the hospital in Dickinson.  

As preparations were being made for the first flight, a second incident occurred when one of the hasty team members fainted due to heat exhaustion and dehydration. The team then determined to fly all the members of the party and the hasty team EMT to the staged ambulance and return to transport the ill NPS employee to the hospital. 

During these operations a third incident occurred when crew members at the staging area were alerted by a party of four picnickers walking the Achenbach trail about 100 feet below. Members of the party reported that a man in their group was dehydrated and could not make it up the trail. The man weighed approximately 290 pounds and was at the bottom of an 85% slope.  

A team of approximately 16 people was gathered from the nearby ambulance crew, visitors, and NPS employees and volunteers.  Using a wheeled litter and a rope, the team successfully delivered the man to the already staged ambulance. 

The SAR team was wrapping up operations and was about halfway into their after action review when a fourth incident occurred.  North Dakota State Radio 911 dispatch advised they were receiving a series of calls from a cell phone with a weak signal. 

Through a series of calls and texts, it was determined this caller was a 20-year-old woman from Minot, North Dakota, and that she was hiking with a 20-year-old man, also from Minot. Both were lost in the Achenbach Hills Wilderness Area and dehydrated.

The air ambulance was again dispatched from Dickinson and the McKenzie County ambulance returned to the staging area.  The woman was instructed to light one of her two signal flares. Spotters at two locations observed the smoke from the flares and directed the air ambulance to the location, which was approximately 200 yards from the Achenbach Trail.

Due to the extreme heat and safety-related concerns, the incident commander, chief ranger and superintendent made the determination to close the Achenbach Trail, which remained closed until Sunday, July 6th, when weather conditions improved. 

A total of 25 people participated in the SAR; operations were completed around 10 p.m. Ranger Ron Sams served as incident commander for three of the incidents and he was assisted by incident commander trainee Jared Thompson for the fourth and final incident. 

[Submitted by Dean Wyckoff, Chief Ranger]

New River Gorge National River (WV)
Vandals Caught Through Security Camera Footage

During the evening hours on Monday, June 26th, two juveniles broke into the Camp Brookside facility in New River Gorge National River. They did some exterior damage to the caretakers cottage and vandalized a security camera.

The pair approached the camera with stealth, correctly estimating the degree of area it was recording, and remained outside the picture. One of the vandals hoisted his companion up to access the camera. As it was being ripped from the mount, the camera recorded a picture of one of the vandals before the signal was lost. 

Rangers downloaded the photograph from the recorder. The image went up on the Hinton, West Virginia, police department’s Facebook page and was broadcast the next evening during the crime stoppers portion of the local news. Rangers were contacted the following day with information on the suspects. The juveniles were interviewed in the presence of their guardians by investigating rangers and confessed to the crime. Both young men were issued mandatory appearance citations for vandalism.

Camp Brookside, located on the east bank of the New River between I-64 and Hinton, was once a summer camp sponsored by Union Carbide, later Elkem Metals. Beginning in the late 1940’s and continuing through the 1970’s, hundreds of local children spent part of their summer vacations at the camp. 

New River Gorge National River is developing an educational/research center at the historic children’s summer camp. It will serve K-12, university students, and life-long learners, with an emphasis on school-based programming and natural and cultural resources research.  The center will provide for research and educational opportunities organized around the park’s mission, park themes and research needs.

[Submitted by Jeff West, Chief Ranger]


Monocacy National Battlefield (MD)
Sesquicentennial Of Battle Of Monocacy Held

Since July 5th, an estimated 3500 visitors have participated in Monocacy National Battlefield’s commemorative events, including yesterday’s commemoration of the anniversary of the battle itself.  

Events have included a ceremony, living history demonstrations, interpretive walks and talks, concerts, and children’s activities.  

A guided bus tour from Monocacy to Fort Stevens will trace the route followed by Confederate troops in 1864, serving as link between the commemorations of the two battles.

On July 9th, Monocacy recognized the actual anniversary of the one day battle with a commemorative ceremony in the morning, followed by “real time” hikes of the battlefield throughout the day and culminating with an evening “Remembrance of the Fallen” program at Mt. Olivet cemetery, which included a reading of the names of soldiers who died at the battle. These activities formed the centerpiece of the park’s nine days of programs, which will continue through July 13th.

For this coming weekend’s final commemorative events, Monocacy s shifting focus to the aftermath of the battle and the move toward emancipation in Maryland. The park will host a range of programs, talks and music focused on the history of slavery and emancipation in Maryland, providing the public with a local perspective on the national “Civil War to Civil Rights” program.

From July 4 through July 13, 1864 the Confederate army of Jubal Early moved across Maryland toward Washington, D.C., skirmishing with Union troops, with one major engagement taking place on July 9 along the Monocacy River near Frederick, Maryland. The attack on Washington culminated at the doorstep of our nation’s capital with fighting at Fort Stevens. This final invasion of the north was designed to threaten Washington D. C. and relieve some of the pressure Confederate General Robert E. Lee was feeling in the siege lines around Richmond.

While the state of Maryland had been working towards emancipating their slaves, the 1864 invasion of Maryland sealed that institution’s fate.  Convention delegates were so angered by this invasion they passed a new loyalty oath which prevented most slave owners from voting.   The vote was close, 30,174 to 29,799 (50.31% to 49.69%) and was only carried after Maryland's soldiers' votes were included in the count.  

Marylanders serving in the Union Army were overwhelmingly in favor of emancipation, 2,633 to 263.  On November 1, 1864, Maryland was the first border state to emancipate their slaves.

[Submitted by Michael Hosking, Event PIO]

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Office of Communications
Doctor Tells Patients To Take A Hike

Congressman John Sarbanes joined Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and DC Park Prescriptions (Park Rx) champion Dr. Robert Zarr yesterday to learn about an innovative program in which doctors prescribe time in nature as a way to help treat chronic diseases such as obesity.

Zarr is a practicing primary care pediatrician at Unity’s Upper Cardozo Health Center in Washington, D.C. With more than 40 percent of Unity’s adult patients and 25 percent of Unity’s pediatric patients categorized as obese, he became passionately engaged in the implementation of the DC Park Rx as an innovative solution for his patients.

“This is a unique opportunity for obesity prevention by prescribing parks for children and adults who are suffering from chronic diseases. Nature is free and readily available; we simply have to access it," Zarr said.

Parks and public lands are playing a growing role in health care strategy. "National parks have always been loved for their symbolism and scenery, but we want to increase the awareness of their role in preventative medicine and therapy, "Jarvis said. “The park prescriptions partnership is an example of how nation al parks can help people lead healthier lives."

The Park Rx initiative is a component of the broader Healthy Parks Healthy People movement that recognizes the physical, mental and spiritual benefits gained from time spent outdoors. Participants in the Healthy Parks Healthy People program include national, state, and local parks, as well as business innovators, healthcare leaders, scientists, foundations, and advocacy organizations that foster and build-upon the role that parks and nature play in the health of our society.

“America’s national parks are some of our country’s most prized natural treasures and we should encourage everyone to take advantage of the benefits they have to offer,” said Sarbanes. “We know that engaging citizens – particularly young people –in outdoor activities not only increases their connection to the environment around them, but it can also improve their health outcomes. This program will help American families become healthier and also create the next generation of environmental stewards.”

What sets the DC Park Rx initiative apart from similar programs across the country is that Zarr has fully integrated Park Rx into Unity’s Electronic Health Records system to make park prescriptions easy for everyone. The National Park Service, DC Departments of Health and Parks and Recreation, National Environmental Education Foundation, DC American Academy of Pediatrics, George Washington University and Children’s National Medical Center worked collaboratively to create a searchable database of 350 parks located within the city, and rate them according to specific criteria such as level of activity, accessibility, cleanliness, and safety.

Clinicians can now ask their patients which activities might be of interest to them and then search the database to find the right park closest to their homes. Patients leave their doctor’s office with a printed copy of the prescribed park and activities tailored to their areas of interest.

[Submitted by Kathy Kupper and Audrey White]

Devils Postpile National Monument (CA)
Passing Of Former Park Manager Wymond Eckhardt

Wymond Eckhardt, former ranger and park manager at Devils Postpile National Monument, passed away on June 23rd.

Eckhardt served at the park from 1971 to 2000. His contributions spanned three decades, and were in many respects responsible for transforming Devils Postpile into one of the hidden gems of the national park system. 

His commitment to connecting visitors to monument resources enhanced visitor and partner appreciation of the beauty and significance of Devils Postpile. During the monument’s centennial celebration in July, 2011, Eckhardt led his final walk to Devils Postpile, following hundreds given during his long career. 

“What was most striking about his Postpile ranger walk at the centennial was that he seemed to know every tree and rock and bend in the trail, even more than a decade after his retirement,” said Christopher Johnson, NPS historian. “He could also talk about the science and history of the place in a way that engaged everyone from seasoned academics to small children.”  

Eckhardt oversaw the monument during many significant changes over his 30-year tenure, including the paving of the Reds Meadow Road, the start of the shuttle bus system, and improvements to the monument’s facilities and trails and to its resource management and interpretation programs.

Before coming to Devils Postpile in 1971, Eckhardt worked as a backcountry horse patrol ranger and firefighter in Yosemite. He learned the ropes of the National Park Service under some of the last of the "Mather men" in Yosemite during the 1960s and was a true jack-of-all-trades ranger who could, and did, do everything.

Eckhardt’s dedication to the monument and to the National Park Service helped shape the place visitors see today. His passion for science, education, and providing outstanding opportunities for park visitors remain a legacy carried on by park managers and staff today.

[Submitted by Deanna Dulen, Superintendent]

Harpers Ferry Center
Historic Color Film Footage Of Yellowstone Discovered

Harpers Ferry Center has announced the discovery and restoration of an early color-process film of Yellowstone National Park. The 16-mm Kodacolor film from the early 1930s is believed to be the first color footage of Yellowstone and the Old Faithful Inn. 

The film is part of an extensive collection of audiovisual media recently transferred from the center to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to ensure the long-term preservation of NPS history.

The film is in excellent condition given its age (1930-32). It shows geysers and other geothermal features, wildlife, park visitors, the Old Faithful Inn and its staff, NPS staff, and water lilies in bloom. This footage is a fascinating look at Yellowstone’s past, valuable to historians and archivists as well as the general public.

The film is a rare example of Kodacolor motion picture film, introduced in 1928 and phased out with the arrival of Kodachrome in 1935. The complicated and expensive process involved specialized film stock and equipment. The exposed film appeared black-and-white until it was shown on a projector fitted with a corresponding lens. Kodacolor filming required extremely bright light, as evidenced in the Yellowstone footage.

The National Film and Preservation Board provided a grant to NARA so that this work could be accomplished. Tommy Aschenbach of Video and Film Solutions did the restoration and digitization.  

To learn more visit

[Submitted by Janice Wheeler, janice_wheeler@NPS.Gov, 304-535-5061]


Northeast Region
GS-0025-15 Deputy Regional Director

Northeast Region is recruiting for a deputy regional director.  

The region moved to a two deputy regional director structure a little over three years ago and has found this structure to be effective at dealing with park and program issues and initiatives in a proactive manner. The person selected will join Gay Vietzke as the other deputy regional director and will work closely with the regional directorate, park superintendents and program managers as the Service heads into its centennial year.  

Click on the link below for a copy of the announcement with full details on duties, area information, and procedures for applying.

It closes on July 21st.
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Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
GS-0318-6/7 Secretary (OA)

Sequoia-Kings Canyon has issued an announcement for a secretary.

Click on the link below for a copy of the announcement with full details on duties, area information, and procedures for applying.

It closes on July 16th.
 More Information...
Northeast Region
GS-1640-11/12 Facility Manager (Detail)

Northeast Region is seeking candidates for a detail of up to 120 days as facility manager for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

The trail is approximately 2,180 miles long, traverses 14 states and has an estimated two million visitors annually. Duties include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Serve on the park management team as the facility management expert
  • Manage all aspects of the park facility management program
  • Work cooperatively with partners and volunteers to plan and implement facility projects.

The full announcement can be found at the “More Information” link below.

For more information, contact Debbie Truax at 540-999-3500 x 3479.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ,UT)
GS-0025-12 Chief Of Interpretation (Detail)

Intermountain Regional Office is seeking candidates for a 90- to 120-day detail as chief of interpretation, education and partnerships for Glen Canyon NRA. The EOD date will be no later than August 10th.

The person selected will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of interpretive, educational, and partnership functions and establishes park-wide program standards for the division of interpretation. She/he will also serve as the principal advisor to the office of the superintendent in decision making and policy development matters, will plan and distribute the division’s budget of approximately $1.1 million, and may serve as the park’s public information officer.

During this detail, travel and per diem will be paid by Glen Canyon. Salary payment is negotiable between the selectee’s home park/office and Glen Canyon.  Government housing is available for this assignment. 

This is a detail opportunity, not a temporary promotion.  Selectee’s salary will remain the same. 

Interested individuals should discuss the opportunity with their first-line supervisors and obtain concurrence from their superintendents or managers prior to applying. Once approval is gained, interested individuals should submit one-page resumes detailing work history, educational background, and any special qualifications they might possess. Please include your current title, series, and grade on your resume. Resumes should be submitted by electronic mail to no later than July 18th.  

Please contact Denise Shultz at 928-608-6351 or 928-660-9055 with additional questions about the detail opportunity.