The Morning Report

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (MO)
Man Gets Pickup Stuck While Driving In Railroad Tunnel

Rangers Dan Sweeney and Sean Beasley were on patrol last Tuesday when they received word that an unauthorized vehicle was on the train tracks that run through the park. A white Chevrolet Pickup was in the south tunnel facing southbound on the railroad tracks. The truck appeared to be wedged between the tracks and the wall of the south tunnel.

The driver appeared intoxicated and was taken into custody and moved away from the tracks. He was subsequently transferred to St. Louis Metropolitan Police custody.

The track is under the jurisdiction of the Terminal Railroad Association and is an active track, carrying both Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains from a number of other rail lines. Terminal Railroad engineers checked the tracks through the  tunnel and discovered damage to multiple railroad control boxes.

The railroad tracks are elevated along the Saint Louis riverfront. The nearest street-level crossing is at Biddle and North First Street, over a mile away. It appears that the driver drove onto the tracks and was able to negotiate his way along the tracks before becoming stuck in the tunnel on the Arch grounds.

At report time, Terminal Railroad Engineers were still working on removing the vehicle. They believed they had to bring a unit with a crane and a flatbed on at Biddle Street and drive down and extract the truck.

Steve Korsgren, law enforcement supervisor, acted as IC for the incident.

[Submitted by Mike Horton, Law Enforcement Specialist]


Capitol Reef National Park (UT)
Park Receives Gold Tier Dark Sky Designation

Capitol Reef National Park has become the seventh unit of the National Park Service to achieve designation as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. It has been named a “Gold Tier” park, the association's highest ranking.

The designation was made during International Dark Sky Week, an annual event to raise awareness of light pollution and celebrate the beauty of the night sky.

Over the past year, park staff have followed through on a commitment to attain this designation. The park conducted an outdoor lighting inventory,  made improvements to outdoor light fixtures that increased the park’s “night-friendly” lighting from 30 percent to 70 percent, completed night sky monitoring, and engaged the public and local community in dark-sky conservation.

With this designation, Capitol Reef begins the process of bringing all of its outdoor lighting up to the new standard and continues to monitor night skies and provide outreach and education.

"This year’s Heritage Star Festival on October 9 and 10 will celebrate the achievement of this International dark-sky designation and provide the public information about our conservation efforts, as well as encourage the appreciation of Capitol Reef’s beautiful night skies,” says Superintendent Leah McGinnis.

The park was assisted by the NPS Natural Sounds & Night Skies Division, which provided technical support to help the park build its popular public astronomy programs, and by Intermountain Regional Office. Additional assistance with the project came from park partners, the Entrada Institute and Capitol Reef Natural History Association, as well as help from volunteers.

CRNP’s Gold Tier dark-sky designation exemplifies the efforts of the NPS to embrace "Starry Starry Night," an NPS initiative that pledges the agency to "lead the way in protecting natural darkness as a precious resource and create a model for dark sky protection by establishing America’s first Dark Sky Cooperative on the Colorado Plateau.”

Other federal agencies, state parks, tribes, businesses and citizens are part of this cooperative, which emphasizes the economic benefits of sustainable tourism that dark skies can provide while maintaining the heritage, beauty and wonder of the stars above.

Capitol Reef National Park was first proclaimed in 1937 as a monument and established as a national park in 1971. It is known for the spectacular geology of the Waterpocket Fold, diverse ecological habitats, cultural landscape and recreational opportunities, and as a refuge of pristine dark night skies.

[Submitted by Lori Rome,, 435 425-4110]

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Water Resources Division
Water Rights Staff Help California Parks Prepare For Drought

Watch the nightly news or pick up a newspaper and you know that California is in the grip of a multi-year drought. The Los Angeles Times reported in late March that snow pack in the Sierra Nevada is at record or near-record lows and California has just recorded its warmest winter ever. This drought situation impacts national park units in many ways.

One impact is water rights. Park water rights allow water to be diverted from natural sources for administrative uses including staff housing, visitor centers, campgrounds, and concessions. In January 2014, in response to drought conditions, the California State Water Board began issuing calls for curtailment on junior (inferior) water rights holders. This is an order for junior water right holders to stop diverting water until further notice.

In response to the January 2014 calls, the Water Rights Branch (WRB) of the NPS Water Resources Division sent a notice to national park units in California alerting them to the Board’s action and offering assistance. Some parks use municipal water and therefore are not directly impacted by the action. But a handful of parks, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yosemite, and Lassen Volcanic national parks, are now working with WRB to prepare for another potential call by taking the following actions:

  1. Examine current water uses and find ways to conserve water and eliminate waste;
  2. Develop contingency plans that prioritize water uses in the park in case of a call;
  3. Research and document historic uses of water based on riparian rights in the park.

For national parks in California the complexity of water rights is compounded by a state system that incorporates both traditional “riparian rights”—common in the eastern U.S. that gives a landowner the right to use water that flows on her property, and “prior appropriation rights”—common in the arid western U.S. that honors first in time, first in right (senior or superior) over newer appropriators (junior or inferior). In addition, parks in California also hold—like most reserved federal lands—federal reserved water rights, which can be asserted to protect park water uses and water-dependent resources but add to the complexity.

Because riparian rights are generally the most senior in the California system, WRB, with the assistance of park personnel, is assembling the parks’ documentation of riparian water use. Later this spring, WRB plans to file Statements of Water Diversion and Use with the State Water Resources Control Board that support the parks’ claim of use of water based on riparian rights. This documentation should support the parks’ water use for domestic purposes in the face of calls for curtailment by the State Water Board, except perhaps in the most dire circumstances.

The primary threat to parks, if water rights are curtailed, is not being able to provide staff and visitors with water to meet basic administrative needs. The curtailment process does allow for health and safety exceptions to curtailment, but there is still clear need to make necessary preparations in order to fulfill park missions. The parks also recognize the need to be good neighbors. People all over the state are facing threats to their livelihoods from the ongoing drought. As parks prepare for an uncertain water future, they are reducing park water demand and are ensuring that park use is lean and efficient in responding to the current reality.

Learn more about the work of WRB, and contact staff if your park needs assistance.

[Submitted by Gretel Enck,, 970-225-3504]

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Biological Resource Management Division
Exotic Plant Management Team FY2014 Annual Report Released

The Biological Resources Division of the Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate is pleased to announce the release of the Exotic Plant Management Team (EPMT) Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Report.

In fiscal year 2014, the 17 EPMTs located throughout the U.S. were critical to the management of harmful invasive plants in our nation’s parks. The teams successfully treated approximately 4,600 acres and inventoried or monitored approximately 94,300 acres while maintaining their excellent safety record.

EPMTs also engaged youth on a substantial scale with over 1,000 youth participants totaling approximately 74,000 hours of contributed effort in FY 2014. The complete EPMT FY 2014 Annual Report is available through the NPS Integrated Resource Management Applications (IRMA) portal at:

The EPMT Program represents a significant facet of on-site invasive plant management within the National Park Service. They collaborate with park-based natural and cultural resources staff, as well as a range of partners, to achieve park resource management goals. Although, the on-the-ground invasive plant management support provided to parks is substantial, the EPMTs also:

  • Spearhead prevention and Early Detection/Rapid Response actions to prevent or eradicate incipient populations of invasive species, dramatically reducing future effort and costs associated with invasive plant management,
  • Initiate and lead restoration efforts to increase resiliency and reduce susceptibility to future invasion of native plant communities,
  • Provide a range of valuable training opportunities to park staff,
  • Engage the public and future stewards of our National Parks through creative and effective outreach and education activities and initiatives,
  • Develop creative solutions to utilize limited EPMT funds to assist parks, and
  • Leverage EPMT Program dollars through resourceful, productive, and mutually beneficial partnerships.

For more information contact Terri Hogan at, 970- 267-7306.

[Submitted by Terri Hogan,, 970-267-7306]

George Washington Memorial Parkway (MD)
Blanca Alvarez Stransky Named Deputy Superintendent

Blanca Alvarez Stransky has been selected as deputy superintendent at George Washington Memorial Parkway in northern Virginia.

Her appointment was one of a number of personnel changes in the park, which recently reorganized to better meet the needs of the millions of people who visit the urban park while continuing to operate within its current fiscal appropriations. 

 “The management team and I went through a rigorous interview process to ensure the best candidates were selected not only leading up to the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, but for the next decade,” said Superintendent Alex Romero. “I believe we have accomplished that with all the selections we have made.”

Blanca grew up on rural cotton farms near Eloy, Arizona, where jackrabbits and tumbleweeds were her constant companions.  The 29-year veteran of the National Park Service began her NPS career straight out of college as a seasonal park ranger at Grand Canyon National Park.  After a couple of summer seasons, she was hired permanently as a clerk-typist in the superintendent’s office. 

Her passion for traveling and learning about America’s heritage has resulted in a career that encompasses eight national park sites—Zion National Park, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Chamizal National Memorial, Denali National Park and Preserve, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. 

She has held numerous positions within the NPS from clerk-typist to public affairs specialist to supervisory park ranger to superintendent.  Blanca is currently the superintendent at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

“It is difficult to say good-bye to the island community that has been my home for the last six years and I will miss those beautiful Lake Erie sunsets,” Stransky said. “I’m looking forward to working with the team of outstanding employees at the George Washington Memorial Parkway to leverage exciting opportunities with park partners as we look at innovative approaches to managing urban national parks especially as we approach the National Park Service Centennial next year.”

George Washington Memorial Parkway occupies more than 7,300 acres of land in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia and manages more than two dozen associated park sites, many of which have their own enabling legislation.  The parkway is a scenic roadway honoring the nation’s first president that protects cultural and natural resources along the Potomac River below Great Falls to Mount Vernon and is part of a comprehensive system of parks, parkways, and recreational areas surrounding the nation’s capital. It’s the fourth most visited National Park Site in 2014.   

[Submitted by Aaron LaRocca, Chief of Staff ]


Colonial National Historical Park (VA)
GS-0025-13 Chief Of Interpretation And Education

Colonial National Historical Park has posted an announcement for a chief of interpretation and education to Northeast Region's 'help wanted' webpage. Click on the link below for a copy. It closes on April 28th.
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Northeast Region
GS-0343-11 Program Analyst (Budget)

Northeast Regional Office is seeking applicants for a position as a program analyst (budget). Click on the link below for a copy of the announcement. It closes April 29th.
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Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
GS-0391-12/13 Telecommunications Manager

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park has issued an announcement for a telecommunications manager.

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 April 30th.
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Acadia National Park (ME)
GS-1101-7/9 Supervisory Revenue and Fee Business Specialist

Acadia National Park is seeking candidates for a position as the park’s supervisory revenue and fee business specialist.

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 May 8th.
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