The Morning Report

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Recent Editions  

INCIDENTS



Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Woman’s Assailant Receives Lengthy Jail Term

On June 8, 2012, a Gatlinburg woman was walking the park’s Gatlinburg Trail when she was abducted, brutally sexually assaulted, and stabbed numerous times in the neck, shoulder and hand. The woman was able to make it to the Gatlinburg Bypass and flag down a visitor for help.  

Rangers and Gatlinburg EMS responded and found the woman covered in blood. Rangers and ISB agents were able to backtrack the victim’s route from the bypass down an embankment, and through the woods to the scene of the attack.

After processing the scene and interviewing the victim and numerous potential witnesses, a suspect was identified through a DNA match in February 2013. The DNA, collected from the victim at the time of the incident, matched that of William Seevers, who was found to be incarcerated in Alabama for charges resulting from possession of a stolen vehicle.

ISB agents and an FBI agent interviewed Seevers, who subsequently made statements linking him to the June 8th attack. He was charged with attempted murder and aggravated sexual abuse by force in federal court.

Seevers pleaded guilty this past April and last month received a sentence of 27 years in prison for his crimes. Successful prosecution of this case was the direct result of the ISB agents’ investigative abilities, their ability to work closely with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, and the working relationship between agents and rangers at Great Smoky Mountains.

[Submitted by Steve Kloster, Acting Chief Ranger]


Haleakala National Park (HI)
Two Paragliders Caught And Cited

On Tuesday, August 19th, two paragliders were apprehended in the Summit District of Haleakala National Park.

A paraglider had been seen over the crater by both employees and visitors around 10:30 a.m. that morning.  Shortly thereafter, additional reports were received of a second paraglider attempting to launch from critical species habitat inside the crater rim.

Rangers from both the Summit and Kipahulu Districts responded and began surveillance of the two individuals. The first paraglider, who had since landed in critical species habitat, was hiking out; the second, who had abandoned liftoff attempts, gathered his equipment and hiked back to the parking area. After an hour of surveillance, both men were intercepted at their vehicle as they were loading their equipment.

The park activated a multi-disciplinary team to begin assessment of any environmental and resource damages.

The two men, both from Italy, expressed surprise that they were in violation of the law.

All equipment associated with the incident was seized as evidence, including two handheld radios, two Go-Pro cameras, and a large amount of paragliding gear and instruments.  

After assessments were completed, it was determined the men had been extremely lucky in not causing damage to endangered species of birds and plants in the areas they disturbed. Violation notices were issued for 36 CFR infractions, including illegal air delivery, preservation of natural resources, and off trail travel.

[Submitted by James P. Mar, Chief Ranger]


NEWS AND NOTES



Yosemite National Park (CA)
Disabled Vets Summit Park Peaks

The park last week hosted a multi-day event in which thirteen disabled veterans hiked and climbed several peaks in honor of all veterans and in commemoration of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. This is the second year the event has been held.

Paradox Sports organized the climbs and hikes in conjunction with the park. The disabled veterans were joined by park veterans and rangers on climbs of several iconic peaks, including El Capitan, Royal Arches and Ranger Rock.  

Paradox Sports is a non-profit organization that creates physically adaptive sport communities. It hosts hiking, climbing, and water-based adaptive programs and is building a network of inspired and able individuals and organizations through its new adaptive climbing curriculum.

This Yosemite trip was one of five yearly veteran-specific trips offered by Paradox Sports for veterans with amputated limbs, PTSD, paraplegia, or any other disabilities. 

“We are honored to have Paradox Sports bring these American heroes to the park for this climbing event,” said Don Neubacher, the park’s superintendent.  “We couldn’t think of a better venue for these veterans to commemorate such an impactful day in American history.” 

The park has an active special emphasis program for veterans of the armed services. Yosemite currently employs over 100 veterans, representing all park divisions.

The event was kicked off on the morning of September 11th. After brief remarks, the veterans divided into groups to begin their ascents.  Certificates of appreciation from Congressman Tom McClintock, who represents the park, were presented to each of the participants. 

DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., the park’s primary concessioner, provided a welcome dinner for the event participants.  They also provided a monetary donation to assist with travel expenses. 

[Submitted by Scott Gediman, Kari Cobb and Madeline Pickering]


War of 1812 Bicentennial
Parks Canada Supports Baltimore Bicentennial Commemoration

The National Park Service welcomed seven park rangers from Parks Canada to the Star Spangled Spectacular commemoration in Baltimore, which took place from September 11th to 15th.

They joined many other local and national partners who gathered together at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to make the bicentennial commemoration of the Battle of Baltimore and the birth of the “Star-Spangled Banner” a resounding success.

The Parks Canada rangers represent “1812 On Tour,” a traveling interpretive experience including living history and educational activities, arranged by Parks Canada’s National Celebrations Branch.

This touring troupe has travelled throughout Canada since 2012, supporting War of 1812 bicentennial commemorations across their nation, providing diverse perspectives on the War of 1812, offering historic games and living history interpretation, and promoting tourism to Parks Canada sites.

For this special U.S. visit, the Parks Canada continent was also accompanied by an exhibit developed by the Canadian War Museum, set up on-site at Fort McHenry throughout the weekend’s events. 

This presence, both at Fort McHenry and in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, provided an important Canadian perspective on the War of 1812, and helped to expand visitor understanding of multiple perspectives on the War of 1812.

Tour manager and Parks Canada cultural resources manager Robert Roe described the event as “the most amazing experience of all the places that 1812 On Tour visited in three years.”

Parks Canada rangers interacted with more than 17,000 visitors in the Baltimore Inner Harbor throughout the weekend. From sharing a Canadian perspective on the common question of who won the War of 1812 to highlighting the important role of Shawnee American Indian Tecumseh in the war, our Canadian neighbors provided a welcomed and important international perspective on this important conflict and its legacy.

“Our American neighbours were very, very pleased to have us there,” Roe added.

That is undeniably true. This trip marks the latest in a growing list of opportunities Parks Canada and the National Park Service have had to work together toward common goals of sharing and interpreting history for the public. The partnership will continue through at least 2015 with a planned joint commemoration of peace at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, and the planned certification of the first international Network to Freedom site, in Nova Scotia.

[Submitted by April Antonellis, National Coordinator, War of 1812 Bicentennial]


Intermountain Region
Douglas Neighbor Named Superintendent Of Carlsbad Caverns

Douglas Neighbor, a 25-year veteran of the National Park Service, has been named superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. He will assume his new position on October 19th. 

Neighbor most recently served as interim superintendent at Carlsbad Caverns from April through June of this year.  He is presently the superintendent of Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, a position he has held since July 2011.

“Doug’s diverse skills and in-depth knowledge of resource management issues and his demonstrated ability to build effective partnerships with public lands stakeholders make him an excellent choice for this critical position at this very unique resource,” said Regional Director Sue Masica.

Neighbor’s other leadership positions with the NPS include superintendent at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho; superintendent at National Park of American Samoa, located in the South Pacific Ocean; and supervisory resource management specialist at Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.   

Neighbor also worked as a computer specialist at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and Big Bend National Park in Texas.  Prior to his NPS career, Neighbor worked with Texas A&M University as a research assistant and as a wildlife biologist with Texas Park and Wildlife Department.              

"I am honored to serve as a custodian of Carlsbad Cavern, a World Heritage Site, with its unique, awe-inspiring, and fragile formations,” said Neighbor.  “I look forward to reacquainting myself with the Chihuahuan desert and to working with the passionate and talented staff.  I hope to inspire our visitors to become more connected with our national parks, so that parks continue to remain relevant into the second century of the National Park Service.”

Neighbor earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science from Texas A&M University in 1989.  When not at work, Neighbor enjoys hiking and other outdoor activities.

As superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Neighbor will manage a workforce of approximately 70 personnel and an annual operating budget of more than $5.4 million.  The park encompasses more than 46,000 acres and 119 known caves, including Lechuguilla Cave, one of the longest caves in the world and one of the deepest in North America.  In addition to its many caves, the park contains one of the few protected portions of the northern Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem.  In 1995, the park was designated a World Heritage Site.

[Submitted by Patricia Turley, patricia_turley@nps.gov, 303-969-2701]