The Morning Report

Monday, July 21, 2014

Recent Editions  

INCIDENTS



Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Man Convicted Of Operating Illegal Business

On October 19, 2013, rangers in the backcountry of Grand Canyon National Park became suspicious of the large number of hikers attempting to hike from the North Rim to the South Rim in a single day (known as a “Rim to Rim” hike). The hikers claimed to be hiking only with a small number of friends and not as part of a large group, but many appeared to be avoiding contact with rangers and they all described similar travel arrangements.

Subsequent investigations revealed that Scott Beck of Phoenix, Arizona, had chartered five buses to transport nearly 300 people to Grand Canyon National Park to hike across the canyon. Beck advertised the hike as the “23rd Annual” trip of a similar nature and charged each participant a set fee. Investigations also revealed that he had specifically instructed each hiker, both verbally and in a written itinerary, to tell rangers that they were “not with a group of 300,” that they were with a small group and had been transported by car or van.

The large number of hikers in the canyon that day caused impacts to vegetation and created long lines at the Phantom Ranch canteen and restroom facilities. The Phantom wastewater treatment operator reported that the sewage treatment plant was operating at capacity. Rangers took complaints from hikers who complained about congestion on the trails. Several minor medicals and search and rescue operations were also attributed to Beck’s group. 

During interviews, Beck claimed that his trip was “organized” but not commercial, and that he had not profited. In January 2013, rangers served a search warrant on an online event registration website that Beck had used to solicit trip participants and collect fees. The evidence gathered from the search warrant was used to develop probable cause to charge Beck with engaging in an illegal business operation (36 CFR 5.3) and making false statements (18 USC 1001(a)(2)). Rangers estimated that Beck’s gross income for this event was over $47,000, and he profited by approximately $9,500.

On June 10th, Beck was convicted on one count of engaging in business operations without obtaining a permit in violation of 36 CFR 5.3. Pursuant to a plea agreement, he was sentenced to a year of probation, during which time he is banned from Grand Canyon National Park and from conducting or advertising for any tours or guided trips on national park or national forest lands. He was also fined $500 and ordered to serve 50 hours of community service.

Beck has since formally notified all trip participants that he will no longer be conducting his annual trip, and has pledged to donate $2,000 to Grand Canyon National Park.

The investigation was led by rangers and conducted with the assistance of Investigative Services Branch special agents.

[Submitted by Debbie Brenchley, Canyon District Supervisor]


Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Local Man Killed In Rollover Accident

A 45-year-old Jackson resident died in a single vehicle rollover accident a mile north of the park’s Moose entrance station sometime during the early morning hours of July 16th.

Just before 5 a.m., the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call from a passerby who reported seeing a single car tire in the road. A park maintenance worker on his way to report for an early morning shift also saw the tire and then caught sight of the vehicle down the Teton Park Road embankment, lying upside down on its rooftop. He advised the dispatch center and rangers and EMS personnel were on scene within minute. The operator was found to have died in the crash.

Circumstances surrounding the accident have yet to be determined. Multiple reports of a thick fog lying across this area during the early morning hours were provided by passersby and park staff; the foggy conditions may have been a contributing factor.

An accident reconstruction was conducted by Teton County sheriffs mid-morning on Wednesday and the vehicle removed by noon.

[Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]


NEWS AND NOTES



Office of Communications
Report Issued On Economic Impacts Of Visitor Spending

National park visitors contributed $26.5 billion to the nation’s economy and supported almost 240,000 jobs in 2013, according to a report released by the National Park Service last week.

“National parks are often the primary economic engines of many park gateway communities,” Jarvis said. “While park rangers provide interpretation of the iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes, nearby communities provide our visitors with services that support hundreds of thousands of mostly local jobs.”

National park visitation for 2013 declined by 3.2 percent compared to 2012. The 16-day government shutdown last October accounted for most of the decline. National parks in the Northeast, closed for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs, were the other significant brake on visitation.

Visitor spending for 2013 was down by 1 percent. The number of jobs supported by visitor spending was off by 2.1 percent, and the overall effect on the U.S. economy was 1 percent lower than the previous year due to adjustments for inflation.

“The big picture of national parks and their importance to the economy is clear,” Jarvis said. “Every tax dollar invested in the National Park Service returns $10 to the U.S. economy because of visitor spending in gateway communities near the 401 parks of the National Park System.”

Jarvis also said visitation so far this year indicates a rebound from 2013. “And we expect a continued surge in park visitors as more people get excited about the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service,” he said.

The annual report, entitled 2013 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, was prepared by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. It includes information by park and by state on visitor spending within 60 miles of a national park, jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics. The report is available online at http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm  

According to the 2013 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent).

The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

For more state-by-state information about national parks and how the National Park Service is working with communities, go to http://www.nps.gov/[statename] (for example, http://www.nps.gov/virginia).  

[Submitted by Jeffrey G. Olson, Public Information Officer]


Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Two Bats Test Positive For Rabies

On Wednesday, July 16th, a bat landed on a visitor while she was standing in front of the Tusayan Museum, just west of the Desert View Visitors’ Center within Grand Canyon National Park. The bat crawled on the visitor’s shorts, shirt, and leg for at least 10 minutes.

A crowd gathered around the bat to take pictures. This bat was later captured and euthanized and tested positive for rabies. The identity of the visitor is unknown at this time.

A second bat that was found dead on the North Kaibab Trail on Saturday, July 12th, also tested positive for rabies. There are no known human exposures to this bat. These two bats are the first rabies-positive animals identified by Grand Canyon National Park in 2014. It is unknown if other animals in the park are infected.

As a precautionary measure, any individual who may have had physical contact with either of these bats is encouraged to contact the park as soon as possible at 928-638-7767 and to see a healthcare provider. Rabies is preventable if medical treatment (called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP) is given following an exposure to a rabid animal, but is almost always fatal if PEP is not given prior to the development of symptoms.

Rabid bats have been documented in all 48 continental states. Cases of rabies in animals are reported in Coconino County, Arizona each year. 

“Recent data suggest that transmission of rabies virus can occur from minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites from bats,” reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Human and domestic animal contact with bats should be minimized, and bats should never be handled by untrained and unvaccinated persons or be kept as pets.”

Additional information can be found athttp://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/animals/bats.html.

Grand Canyon National Park is working with the National Park Service Office of Public Health and Wildlife Health Branch to protect the health and safety of visitors and wildlife in the park by testing any sick or dead wildlife.  More information will be released as it becomes available.

[Submitted by Maureen Oltrogge, Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski ]


Office of Risk Management
NPS Operational Leadership Training Achieves 75% Milestone

What began as a grass-roots training program in 2007 in the Pacific West and Intermountain Regions with a vision to enhance the agency’s safety culture reached a milestone this month.   

As of July, 19,000 seasonal and permanent employees have participated in just over 1,050 NPS Operational Leadership all-employee training classes.  Based on an initial foundation of 25,000 employees, that is 75% of the NPS workforce.

In 2009, the National Leadership Council approved OL as a Servicewide initiative and placed it under the care of the Office of Risk Management.  OL is recognized as a personal invitation to assist all employees to increase their awareness of safety and risk management in day-to-day situations; it is an opportunity to instill a “safety behavior change” by helping us understand our limitations and make better risk management decisions in the here-and-now.   

Despite all of the challenges facing a start-up program, the NLC continues to keep the initiative alive when it would have been very easy to justify letting it die on the vine.  This is a testament to our Service’s leaders and the value they place on each NPS employee.

While the training phase of OL continues on target to train 25,000 employees by the NPS centennial year in 2016, the program is now transitioning into its implementation phase.  Implementation includes the active “transfer” of operational leadership concepts, principles and skills learned in the training class to individual and team behaviors in the workplace.  While the training phase of OL begins the foundation for enhancing our safety culture, actual implementation begins the transformation.

Program Manager Mark Herberger emphasizes the importance of recognizing the champions of this milestone. 

“Over 150 active collateral-duty OL facilitators continue to step up to the plate on behalf of our program,” he says.  “Our cadre of facilitators lead the way with effort, practice and perseverance to present OL to their peers in the field.  The program could not have been sustained without their behind the scenes efforts.” 

“Similar to achieving success in the training phase, we will see the OL facilitators champion additional milestones as we continue to implement OL into our safety best practices.”

For more information on NPS Operational Leadership, please go to: http://inside.nps.gov/waso/waso.cfm?prg=892&lv=3

[Submitted by Mark Herberger]


Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs
Weekly Legislative Activities Report

The Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs puts out weekly reports on hearings, new legislation and other activities on the Hill. This report covers activities in Congress for the week ending July 18th.

In order to obtain the full text of any of the bills that appear below, click on the following link: http://thomas.loc.gov/ . That will take you to Thomas, the Library of Congress legislative tracking system. Enter the bill number in the “Search Bill Text” block, being sure to also click on the “Bill Number” option below the block.

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New Public Laws

Nothing to report.

Floor Action

On July 14th, the House passed by voice vote H.R. 1192 (McClintock, R-CA-4), to redesignate Mammoth Peak in Yosemite National Park as "Mount Jessie Benton Fre'mont".  The Department opposes the bill because there was no direct or long-term association between Jessie Benton Fre'mont and Mammoth Peak.

Committee Activity

On July 15th, the House Appropriations Committee (Rogers) approved the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations for FY 15.

On July 16th, the House Natural Resources Committee (Hastings) approved the following bills of interest to the National Park Service:

  • H.R. 2158 (Fleming, R-LA-4), to exempt from the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 the expedited removal from the United States of certain snake species, and for other purposes.  The bill was amended to clarify the type of containers used to transport snakes and the places where they are allowed to stop during transport.  The Department opposes the bill.
  • H.R. 3806 (Meadows, R-NC-11), to authorize payment of funds in accordance with the agreement entered into by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the State of North Carolina, Swain County, North Carolina, and the United States Department of the Interior.  The bill would authorize the payment of $4 million in previously appropriated funds to Swain County as part of a 2010 settlement for not building the North Shore Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The committee amended the bill.  The Department supports the bill.
  • H.R. 4751 (Kilmer, D-WA-6), to make technical corrections to Public Law 110-229 to reflect the renaming of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, and for other purposes.  The Department supports the bill. 

New Bills Introduced     

The following new bills of interest to the NPS were introduced:

  • H.R. 5074 (Tipton, R-CO-3), to amend the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 to improve the transparency and oversight of land conveyances involving the sale, exchange, or other disposal of National Forest System lands or public lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management or the acquisition of non-Federal lands for inclusion in the National Forest System or administration as public lands, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 5086 (Fortenberry, R-NE-1), to amend the National Trails System Act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study on the feasibility of designating the Chief Standing Bear National Historic Trail, and for other purposes.
  • S. 2602 (Cantwell, D-WA), a bill to establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area in the State of Washington.
  • S. 2608 (Murkowski, R-AK), a bill to provide for congressional approval of national monuments and restrictions on the use of national monuments, to establish requirements for the declaration of marine national monuments, and for other purposes.
  • S. 2610 (Brown, D-OH), a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to determine the suitability and feasibility of establishing the John P. Parker House in Ripley, Ohio, as a unit of the National Park System.
  • H.R. 5153 (Norton, D-DC-At Large), to amend the Act of September 16, 1922, to clarify the responsibility of Federal agencies to remove snow and ice for areas around Federal buildings in the District of Columbia.

Upcoming Committee Activity

On July 23rd, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks (Udall) will hold a hearing on the following bills of interest to the National Park Service. The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 PM in SD-366 Dirksen. The Department’s witness will be Christy Goldfuss, Deputy Director, Congressional and External Affairs:

  • H.R. 412 (Tsongas, D-MA-3), to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the mainstem of the Nashua River and its tributaries in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for study for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and for other purposes;
  • S. 1189 (Menendez, D-NJ), to adjust the boundaries of Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park to include Hinchliffe Stadium, and for other purposes;
  • S. 1389 (Gillibrand, D-NY) and H.R. 1501 (Jeffries, D-NY-8), to direct the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in Fort Greene Park, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, as a unit of the National Park System;
  • S. 1520 (King, I-ME), and H.R. 2197 (Pingree, D-ME-1), to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the York River and associated tributaries for study for potential inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System;
  • S. 1641 (Rockefeller, D-WV), to establish the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area, and for other purposes;
  • S. 1718 (Warner, D-VA), to modify the boundary of Petersburg National Battlefield in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and for other purposes;
  • S. 1750 (Flake, R-AZ), to authorize the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into agreements with States and political subdivisions of States providing for the continued operation, in whole or in part, of public land, units of the National Park System, units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and units of the National Forest System in the State during any period in which the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture is unable to maintain normal level of operations at the units due to a lapse in appropriations, and for other purposes;
  • S. 1785 (Alexander, R-TN), to modify the boundary of the Shiloh National Military Park located in the States of Tennessee and Mississippi, to establish Parker's Crossroads Battlefield as an affiliated area of the National Park System, and for other purposes;
  • S. 1866 (Markey, D-MA), to provide for an extension of the legislative authority of the Adams Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work in honor of former President John Adams and his legacy; 
  • S. 2031 (Baldwin, D-WI), to amend the Act to provide for the establishment of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in the State of Wisconsin, and for other purposes, to adjust the boundary of that National Lakeshore to include the lighthouse known as Ashland Harbor Breakwater Light, and for other purposes;
  • S. 2104 (Flake, R-AZ), a bill to require the Director of the National Park Service to refund to States all State funds that were used to reopen and temporarily operate a unit of the National Park System during the October 2013 shutdown;
  • S. 2111 (McCain, R-AZ), to reauthorize the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area;
  • S. 2221 (Levin, D-MI), to extend the authorization for the Automobile National Heritage Area in Michigan;
  • S. 2264 (McCaskill, D-MO), to designate memorials to the service of members of the United States Armed Forces in World War I, and for other purposes; 
  • S. 2293 (Baldwin, D-WI), to clarify the status of the North Country, Ice Age, and New England National Scenic Trails as units of the National Park System, and for other purposes;
  • S. 2318 (Gillibrand, D-NY), to reauthorize the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Act;
  • S. 2346 (Coons, D-DE), to amend the National Trails System Act to include national discovery trails, and to designate the American Discovery Trail, and for other purposes;
  • S. 2356 (Heller, R-NV), to adjust the boundary of the Mojave National Preserve; 
  • S. 2576 (Cantwell, D-WA), to establish the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area in the State of Washington, and for other purposes; and
  • S. 2602 (Cantwell, D-WA), to establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area in the State of Washington.

On July 24th, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation (Bishop) will hold an oversight hearing on "Threats, Intimidation and Bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies, Part II".  The hearing is scheduled for 2:00 PM in 1324 Longworth.  There is no request for a Department witness.

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For additional information, please visit the Legislative and Congressional Affairs Office website at http://www.nps.gov/legal/

[Submitted by Susan Farinelli]


CAREER OPPORTUNITIES



Cultural Resources
GS-0170-12 Maritime Historian

The Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science Directorate is seeking candidates for a position as maritime historian.

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

For more information, contact Jamie Barnes,  HR specialist, at 303-985-6851.

It closes on July 31st.
 More Information...
Pinnacles National Park (CA)
WS-4749-8 Maintenance Worker Supervisor

Pinnacles National Park has issued an announcement for a maintenance worker supervisor. 

For information about duties, please contact Debbie Simmons, the park’s facility manager, at (831) 389-4286.  

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 30th.
 More Information...