The Morning Report

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Recent Editions  


Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Seriously Injured Hiker Evacuated From Garnet Canyon

A backcountry hiker received a serious injury to her leg as she jumped from a rock while descending the Cache Couloir above the Platforms in Garnet Canyon last Sunday afternoon. 

After jumping from the rock, the woman was unable to move her leg. A member of her hiking party of five dialed 911 to report the need for assistance. Rangers launched a short-haul rescue operation to extricate the 23-year-old woman with assistance from a Teton Interagency contract helicopter.

The helicopter flew three rangers into Garnet Canyon on a reconnaissance flight to pinpoint the woman’s location. They soon spotted her and the pilot landed in Garnet Meadows and dropped off the rangers. They were joined by two other rangers who hiked in, arriving around 8 p.m.

A decision was made to short-haul the woman via an aerial evacuation suit, with an attending rescuer, to the Jenny Lake rescue cache at Lupine Meadows. The ship landed there a half hour later and the woman was taken to St. John’s Medical Center for further care.

The woman and members of her party told rangers that they did not have specific hiking plans for the day. Because they were unsure of their exact location when the accident occurred, rescuers had to use ‘pings’ from three separate cell phone calls to obtain GPS coordinates. Only the third call provided accurate coordinates.

[Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]

Lake Mead NRA - AZ, NV
Two Rescued, Two Missing In Separate Same-Day Incidents

On July 20th, rangers rescued two visitors and searched for two swimmers who are still missing.

Around 11 a.m., dispatch received a 911 call reporting that a woman was having difficulty breathing while hiking in White Rock Canyon. Rangers located her and hiked her out to safety. She refused medical assistance.

Shortly thereafter, a visitor notified a ranger that a person was missing at Lake Mohave south of Willow Beach. Later reports indicated that a man had jumped off a boat to go swimming and was last seen going underwater. Rangers are continuing to search the area with the assistance of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Search and Rescue Dive Team.

Around 2 p.m., a 911 call came in reporting a near drowning at Ski Cove on Lake Mohave. Rangers and medics responded. The man was flown to a Las Vegas hospital by Mercy Air, where he is expected to recover.

Twenty minutes later, dispatch received another 911 call, this one reporting that a man went missing while swimming near Boulder Islands on Lake Mead. Rangers, Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens and members of the Metro Search and Rescue Dive Team are searching for him.

All incidents are under investigation. In the water-related cases, none of the victims was wearing a life jacket. Winds were gusting between 20-30 miles per hour throughout the afternoon.

[Submitted by Christie Vanover, Public Affairs Officer]


Sitka National Historical Park (AK)
Talking Totem Poles Enhance Visitor Experience

When Europeans first laid eyes on indigenous coastal villages in Southeast Alaska, wooden bears and ravens unblinkingly returned their gaze from their positions on intricately carved totem poles. Traders and travelers marveled at the skillfully crafted carvings standing at the water’s edge. What do they mean? Where did they come from?

If only those early mariners could have taken Sitka National Historical Park’s cell phone walking tour, many of their questions would have been answered. 

In 2009, Superintendent Mary A. Miller augmented the park’s ranger-led tours with a self-guided interpretive tool – cell phone walking tours. Faced with 120,000 annual park visitors, 25 totem poles to interpret, and limited staff, Miller saw an opportunity to use technology for interpretation.

Five years later, more than 12,000 visitors have toured the park’s totem poles through their phones. According to statistics collected by mobile tour vendor OnCell Systems, the average tour is 44 minutes – the same length as a ranger-led program.

“The cell phone walking tour certainly isn’t intended to replace the function of our talented park rangers," said Miller. "Instead, it offers a flexible interpretive experience for visitors to understand and appreciate our unique cultural objects.” 

Sitka rangers lead totem walk programs several times each day during peak visiting hours, but the park maintains steady foot traffic throughout the day. Not every visitor arrives when the programs are scheduled – or even when the visitor center is open. During the summer months, the park’s trails remain open long after the visitor center closes.

“It’s a treat to review the cell phone tour call logs and see that people are using this service to enrich themselves with Sitka’s cultural resources at 10 or 11 in the evening,” said Miller.

Whether visitors tour the Totem Trail mobilely during business hours or long after the visitor center closes, cell phone tours allow freewheeling, late night, or self-sufficient visitors to learn about the park’s resources at their own pace at no cost – other than a few minutes off their cellular plan.

“This is simply another method to deliver crucial information to develop an understanding and appreciation of the significance of the totem pole art form and the cultures they represent,” said Miller.

After dialing a toll-free number, a woman’s voice leads visitors down the forested Totem Trail where the park’s totem poles are displayed: “As you begin your journey at the entrance to the temperate rainforest, you are a witness in another time. You will experience some of the skills of these creative and talented artists, of their forest and ocean world, and of their respect for every living thing in it.”

Moving down the mile-long loop, visitors can pause the tour, skip forward, or move backward. The narrator starts and stops at the push of a button. By dialing the number posted on small signs affixed to the totem poles’ non-historical support structures, visitors can completely control their self-guided tour.

From time to time, visitors dial the code to leave feedback for park management – and the reviews are glowing.

“This is a spectacular service. As we walk through these incredible places without the guide, it allows us to be self-guided and informed. Thanks so much,” said one caller with a Seattle phone number.

“I just want you to know that this walking tour has been wonderful,” said another caller from Anchorage. “It made the difference between really understanding what I’m looking at versus just walking through a nice park and seeing a bunch of totem poles.”

Stacked and interlocking on red cedar poles, the familiar faces of bears and ravens peered outward from the shore toward wondering traders and travelers. Two hundred years later, 120,000 visitors each year marvel at the totem poles at Sitka National Historical Park in an interpretive experience available 24/7 thanks to the park’s rangers, wayside exhibits – and its cell phone walking tours. 

[Submitted by Michael Hess,, (907) 747-0132]

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Alaska Region
Social Media Collaborate On Summer Solstice

Every year, summer solstice provides the opportunity to share the Alaska National Parks via social media. This year was no different.

Coordinated by John Morris and Team Alaska, we invited parks to join us by capturing appropriate photos of their version of the setting sun on the solstice from their vantage points and post them on Facebook and Twitter by noon on Saturday, June 21st. They included the following with the posts:

  • Time of sunrise
  • Time of sunset
  • Length of daylight hours
  • Hi and low temps for the day
  • A short reply to this question: "How do you celebrate summer solstice at your park?"

Then, on Saturday, everyone shared the posts with each other to increase our collective reach.  

The results were fantastic. Looks like we had a reach of over 200,000 for the summer solistice - a very successful day with lots of great comments. Sitka's reach exteneded to over 23,000, and Denali's post was just "howling".  

Cheers to everyone for our collective success. All of the shared photos can be viewled on Alaska National Parks Facebook timeline.

[Submitted by Morgan Warthin, 907.644.3512]

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Radio Program Management Division
Newest Edition Of Radio Program Newsletter Now Out

The Information Resources Directorate has announced the release of Volume 1, Edition 4 of the Radio Connection Newsletter, highlighting Servicewide radio program activity performed during the second quarter of 2014.

Within this edition, you will find a host of program related news, including articles on:

  • The new FCC ruling on the use of cellular signal boosters
  • Personal protective equipment for tower climbers
  • Frequency usage agreements
  • Radio facility site mapping
  • An update on radio facilities condition assessments
  • A host of park and regional related articles 

Radio Connection Newsletters can be downloaded from the website found at the “More Information” link below.

[Submitted by Carroll A. Alexander, Chief]

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George Washington Birthplace National Monument (VA)
Cooperative Effort Helps Protect Park Shoreline

Thanks to an impact grant from the National Park Foundation, a small section of shoreline at George Washington Birthplace National Monument recently got a big makeover.  

Led by Brian Lockwood from the Mid-Atlantic Exotic Plant Management Team, a group of NPS staff and volunteers spent two days planting more than 5,000 native grasses and shrubs along a section of shoreline that separates Popes Creek from the Potomac River.  

Known as The Spit, this tiny bit of beach is an important part of the park’s natural resource base and part of an ongoing project to reduce invasive/exotic plants, help stabilize shoreline, and restore habitat for birds and other animals.

“George Washington Birthplace is one of only 23 National Park Service sites selected to receive an impact grant from the National Park Foundation this year,” says Superintendent Melissa Cobern. “We’re very excited to have been chosen to receive a grant and grateful to everyone who supported the project.  It’s a wonderful example of how partners, volunteers and staff can work together to address important resource concerns and improve our parks.”

Park staff will continue to monitor and care for the plants until they become established and is planning other projects to address invasive/exotic plants in the area.

[Submitted by Melissa Cobern]

George Washington Carver National Monument (MO)
Carver Day Celebration Engages Nearly 1,500 Visitors

On July 12th, nearly 1,500 visitors enjoyed the 71st annual Carver Day at George Washington Carver National Monument.

Carver Day celebrates the life and achievements of Dr. Carver, and also commemorates the establishment of the National Park on July 14, 1943 – the first National Park dedicated to an African American.

The premiere of the park’s new film, “Struggle and Triumph: The Legacy of George Washington Carver,” was shown at two locations simultaneously to accommodate large crowds. A Q&A was held afterwards with the film’s actors, Altorro Prince Black and Tyler Black, who played the adult and child Carvers respectively, and with Adam Eisenberg, the project manager from Harper’s Ferry Center.

The keynote address was given by agronomist Dr. Andrew Manu, who holds the George Washington Carver Endowed Chair at Iowa State University. He shared the story of how Carver influenced him in his own work promoting sustainable agriculture in the United States and in Africa. Manu is in many ways a “living George Washington Carver” who pays a wonderful tribute to Carver through words and his own deeds.

Both the Carver Birthplace Association scholarship and the George and Helen Hartzog award for youth volunteer were given to Ashley Burns, a graduate of East Newton High School in Missouri. Acting Midwest Regional Director Patty Trap, State Representative Bill Reiboldt, CBA President Jodie Murray Burns, Park VIP Coordinator Diane Eilenstein, Superintendent Jim Heaney and a packed audience paid tribute to Burns for her many accomplishments academically and as an NPS volunteer.

The Bright Star Touring Theatre from Asheville, North Carolina, gave two performances of their children’s play, “George Washington Carver and Friends,” to captivated audiences. The play included “walk-ons” from Booker T. Washington, Jackie Robinson, Madame C.J Walker and other influential African Americans, in addition to Carver himself.

Musical artists Lem Sheppard, the Sensational Wonders and Reverend John Wilkins kept the music tent lively with traditional music, blues and gospel. Reverend Wilkins and his band performed a stunning rendition of Carver’s favorite hymn “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone.”

The day also featured guided tours, indoor and outdoor exhibits from park partners, and the ever popular peanut milk demonstrations in the science classroom. The park is grateful for the 60 park volunteers who helped make the event truly successful.   

The National Park Service’s A Call to Action Strategic Plan charts a path toward the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service. One action concept, History Lesson, showcases the meaning of parks to new audiences and provides an opportunity for communities to learn more about their heritage. In response, Carver Day celebrates the African American experience through guest speakers, storytelling, music, and educational programs.

[Submitted by Jim Heaney, Superintendent]


Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Services
GS-0025-12/13 National Law Enforcement Specialist

The Division of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services in Washington is seeking candidates for a position as the Service’s national law enforcement specialist (formerly known as the branch chief for law enforcement operations).

The person selected to fill this position will have many opportunities to network with all divisions of the National Park Service as well as a multitude of federal law enforcement and emergency management agencies.  

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

The announcement closes August 5th.

For more information contact Hunter Bailey at (202) 513-7162
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Valley Forge National Historical Park (PA)
GS-0808-11 Historical Architect

Valley Forge has issued an announcement for a historical architect.

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 August 16th.
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