The Morning Report

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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Golden Gate National Recreation Area (CA)
Rangers, USPP Officers Provide Dignitary Protection

Over the past two months, Golden Gate National Recreation Area has been visited by several dignitaries. Their security has been coordinated by the park’s Problem Solving Unit (PSU).

The park recently hosted President Obama, who utilized Crissy Field as a landing zone for Marine One and support aircraft, including three V-22 Ospreys. Security for his arrival was provided jointly by park rangers, PSU rangers, United States Park Police officers, Secret Service personnel, and San Francisco police.

Shortly thereafter, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and his family visited Alcatraz. This visit was coordinated by the PSU in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol’s dignitary protection unit and the New Jersey State Police Executive Protection Unit.  

This week, Alcatraz was visited by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and his family.  The visit was coordinated by PSU rangers and special agents from the secretary’s staff.  

All operations were successful because of interagency pre-planning and execution and the professional work of park rangers, USPP officers, and the park’s PSU.

[Submitted by Chad Marin, Deputy Chief, Law Enforcement & Emergency Services]


Lake Mead NRA - NV, AZ
Lake Mead Drops To Record Low

For weeks, media have reported that Lake Mead is “sinking”, “shriveling” and “drying to new lows.” Yes, the lake has reached a record low, but the lake is nowhere near dry. The reservoir that began filling after the construction of the Hoover Dam remains one of America’s largest manmade lakes and one of the National Park Service’s most popular destinations.

In 1935, after the arduous feat of building the dam, Lake Mead began to slowly fill, reaching 1,100 feet in four years. Three years later, it reached a record high with an elevation of 1,220 feet. Over a course of 75 years, the lake has hit multiple highs and lows.

In 1983, the lake reached 1,225 feet, and today, it sits at 1,080 feet, breaking the record 1,081 feet set in 2010.

“The delicate balance of this reservoir is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation,” said Patrick Gubbins, deputy superintendent. “The BOR has the challenge of adjusting flows based on supply and demand.”

Supply mainly comes from snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains that travels down the Colorado River, into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, through the Grand Canyon and eventually to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. As the water is released, it continues down river through Lake Mohave all the way to the Gulf of California.

Along the way, water managers take their allocations to provide water to their cities and counties.

“Lake Mead and Lake Powell are like water banks. They are designed to save water when it’s in abundance and to release water during periods of drought,” said Gubbins.

While BOR manages these liquid savings accounts, the National Park Service manages the recreational use of the water and its surrounding desert landscape. Lake Mead was designated as the National Park Service’s first national recreation area on October 8, 1964, and charged with the preservation of the recreation potential and scenic, historic, scientific and other important features of the area.

More than six million people flock to the lakes each year, making it one of the National Park Service’s top ten most visited parks for 50 years and counting. In fact, since the lake began filling in 1935, more than 405 million people have visited the desert oasis.

Accommodating these visitors is a challenge when water levels rise and decline. When water is high, there are fewer beaches and coves and visitation becomes congested. When water is low, some harbors dry up and launch ramps end.

Over the past 13 years, five ramps have closed and four marinas have been relocated or closed. Each closure has devastating tourism impacts on nearby communities, which is one of the reasons the park is committed to extending launch ramps where possible.

From 2002 to 2012, Lake Mead managers acquired more than $30 million in alternative funding to maintain access to the lake. New launch ramps have been added, older ramps have been extended, parking areas and beaches have been graded, and navigational aids and docks have been relocated.

At the same time, once submerged cultural resources, including the historic town of St. Thomas and a crashed B-29 airplane, have resurfaced or are nearing the surface, requiring extra monitoring and protection.

According to BOR, Lake Mead may drop another 10 feet next summer, followed by another 5 feet in 2016, meaning all but one launch ramp will need additional permanent extensions. The park anticipates it will cost another $5 million to complete this work.

While park managers iron-out the behind-the-scenes details, visitors continue to get wet at Lake Mead.

“If it wasn’t for the white ‘bathtub ring’ of mineral deposits that scar the canyon walls, tourists may not even realize that the lake is at 38 percent capacity,” said Gubbins. “Once you launch your boat and hit the open water, you completely forget that the levels are low. You can travel dozens of miles in multiple directions, oftentimes in pure solitude.”

However, because of recent coverage in the press stating the lake is “dry as a bone,” tourists call the visitor center and marinas asking if the lake is still open. Officials anticipate overall visitation will be down in 2014.

The marinas offer a variety of boat rentals, including houseboats, fishing boats, pontoons and even personal watercraft, which is convenient for Las Vegas tourists who stop in for the afternoon. The lake also features a Mississippi-style paddle-wheeler cruise that takes visitors to the Hoover Dam and back.  

While only 17 percent the size of Lake Mead (at current capacity), the national recreation area also manages Lake Mohave, just south of the Hoover Dam. This lake maintains a consistent water elevation each year and features the first National Water Trail in the Southwest – Black Canyon Water Trail. The lake is popular for rafting and kayaking, as well as houseboat rentals.

Despite the popularity of the lakes, surprisingly, only 13 percent of the 1.5 million-acre park is water. The park also manages a vast array of desert landscape with nine wilderness areas, stunning geology, petroglyphs, 900 plant species and 500 animal species, including 24 rare and threatened species. 

“Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the premier inland water recreation area in the west,” said Gubbins. “The park is a family-friendly playground that offers a variety of outdoor recreation in a natural and culturally historic setting of stunning desert mountains, aqua blue waters and starry, starry nights.” 

[Submitted by Christie Vanover, Public Affairs Officer]

Yosemite National Park (CA)
Yosemite Holds Chinese American History Event

Between Friday, July 25th, and Wednesday, July 30th, Yosemite National Park held an event entitled “Sing Peak Pilgrimage: Contributions of Chinese Americans in Yosemite.”

The multiday event was held throughout many areas of the park and included interpretive talks, hikes, and presentations by Yosemite National Park staff. It was attended by approximately 50 visitors and staff members and included specific site visits to the historic Tioga Road, Washburn Wagon Road to the Mariposa Grove, 19th century mining and construction sites, and other locations associated with the lasting contributions of Chinese Americans in Yosemite.

The multiday event was designed to honor early Chinese immigrants who played a vital role in shaping Yosemite National Park.  Yosemite’s rich Chinese American history begins in 1848 in the search of gold, when Chinese immigrants first came to the Yosemite area. 

In 1850, with new mining taxes and the scarcity of gold, many of the Chinese began to look for other work, including filling roles as head chefs at many of the hotels in the park.  One such chef, Tie Sing, became the head chef for the first director of the National Park Service, Stephen T. Mather, on his many backcountry trips through Yosemite National Park. 

The start of the event was marked by a hike with Yosemite Interpretive Ranger Yenyen Chan along portions of the Great Sierra Wagon Road, which was first constructed utilizing Chinese labor, and located near the current Tioga Road. 

The next day, a second hike, along portions of the historic Washburn Wagon Road, built in 1879 with Chinese labor, was led by Yosemite Archeologist Barbara Bane and Yosemite Historical Landscape Architect Kevin McCardle.  Following the morning hike, children’s author Annette Pimentel provided an account to event attendees of her experiences in research the life of Tie Sing for her forthcoming children’s book related to his life and work. 

The evening was culminated with a dinner hosted by the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California (CHSSC), and organized by Yosemite Interpretive Rangers John Jackson and Yenyen Chan.  The dinner included a campfire program. 

To culminate the multiday event, hikers were lead to specific, historical, locations within Yosemite Valley to learn more about the contributions of Chinese Americans on Yosemite.  Simultaneously, former National Park Service Interpretive Ranger and former California State Park Superintendent Jack Shu lead several groups on a hike to Sing Peak. 

The 10,552-foot peak was named by U.S. Geological Survey Chief Geographer Robert B. Marshall in honor of Tie Sing.  This year, 22 hikers were able to summit the peak as part of this event.  This is the second year Yosemite has collaborated with the CHSSC to organize these events.

Other Yosemite contributions by Chinese Americans include primary labor work on two major roads within the park – the Tioga Road and the Wawona Road. 

The Tioga Road was constructed in 1882 with the help of 250 Chinese Americans.  The road, originally built for Great Sierra Consolidated Silver Company, was purchased and donated to the Government as part of Stephen Mather’s plan to improve public access to Yosemite National Park. 

The original Wawona Road was constructed in 1875 and was 23 miles long.  Many of the Chinese Americas working on this road were required to labor throughout heavy snowfall and harsh conditions. 

For more information on Chinese history in Yosemite, please click on the link below.

[Submitted by Jordan G. Yee, Park Ranger Interpretation, Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park]

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Intermountain Region
Paleontology Interns Map Ancient Fossil Deposit

Ben Otoo and Nicole Ridgwell are spending the summer living a dream as they scramble and climb among the remains of the long dead.

These young paleontologists are photographing and mapping the world famous deposit of ancient bones at Dinosaur National Monument. Their work is part of a multi-institutional effort to bring together the vast historical and scientific information about this great dinosaur quarry and ultimately make it available on-line to both scientists and the public.

With over 1500 dinosaur bones to document, and each bone needing multiple photographs to show all the anatomical details, plus converting several large historic quarry maps with drawings of thousands of bones needing into electronic files, it is a busy but satisfying season. 
“I love the mapping project” said Nicole. “It is incredibly important and I get to feel like I'm a part of the rich paleontological history of Dinosaur. Climbing around on the quarry wall to get those photos is really fun and I enjoy hearing visitors asking the interpreters about what we are doing because it is great for them to see paleontologists doing work up on the wall.”

“Dinosaur National Monument is pretty much in every book, textbook, or documentary I've ever read or seen, so I was excited just at the prospect of working here” said Ben. “It's really great to be here helping the monument accomplish its mission. There's a lot of information for the mapping project that has to be collated and linked together. I realize now why this sort of thing hasn't been done before! There's a lot of human effort tied to the quarry, and it's humbling to be a part of it.”

Both Ben and Nicole were bitten by the dinosaur bug while children and have been pursuing careers in paleontology ever since. Nicole is a graduate student in the museum and field studies program at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has collected dinosaurs in Wyoming and Montana, fossil mammals in the Panama Canal Zone, and is currently studying dinosaur fossils from southern Utah.  

“I decided that I wanted to become a paleontologist at the age of eight and stuck with it,” recalls Nicole. “The dinosaur fossils preserved at Dinosaur are world renowned and I relished the opportunity to work with them. This project also presents some great opportunities for me to learn about taking care of a fossil collection that is still in-place and permanently on exhibit.”  

As an undergraduate at Amherst College, Ben studied a new fossil mammal-like reptile from Tanzania and this fall heads overseas to England to begin graduate work on fossil fish and amphibians at the University of Cambridge. “As for places to be and work to be doing the summer after my graduation, this is certainly the best opportunity for me.”

For both Ben and Nicole, working on the wall of bones at Dinosaur is a memorable experience both scientifically and personally. As Ben recounts “One of my favorite moments is when Nicole and I were photographing the famous Camarasaurus skull on the top of the quarry face and I went up to it to put the scale bar in the frame. To be so close to such an iconic specimen and to be part of the work that goes on here - it is really cool.”

Ben and Nicole are Geologist-in-Park interns through a joint program between the National Park Service and the Geological Society of America. The GSA GeoCorps program brings together federal agencies and earth scientists who intern in a wide range of interpretive, resource management, and research activities. For more about that program visit or contact Lisa Norby  or Matthew Dawson

[Submitted by Dan Chure,, (435) 781-7702]

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ,UT)
Native American Youth Engage In Resource Projects On River Trip

This past June, the National Park Foundation’s America’s Best Idea grant funded an eight-day, 58-mile rafting trip down the San Juan River for 12 Northern Arizona youth – high school freshmen to seniors. 

Opportunities for outdoor recreational activities, natural resource education, and involvement in resource stewardship projects were plentiful along this section of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.  This was a unique experience for Native American youth, NPS staff, and other project partners who were able to share knowledge and enthusiasm for park stewardship and exploration. 

Using techniques for Russian olive control, the youth assisted park service staff in treating invasive non-native trees along the river.  The youth learned how to work safely with hand saws and record important location and observation data. 

The experience the youth gained through Russian olive control efforts introduced them to the environmental effects of invasive species and the ongoing work by the NPS to combat ecosystem degradation, successfully implementing NPS Call 2 Action item Step by Step (# 2) – engaging America’s youth in a program that will develop marketable natural resource stewardship job skills.

Many stops were made throughout the trip when desert bighorn sheep were spotted to collect samples of sheep scat.  Not only did the youth see wildlife up close, they were able to help collect data for a national research effort on bighorn sheep population diversity, supporting NPS Call 2 Action item Scholarly Pursuits (#20). 

The San Juan River was once of great interest to people traveling west looking for mineral resources.   Evidence of gold panning and oil drilling can be seen on some sections of the river.  An NPS geologist was a part of the group to point out interesting features and explain how the rocks and river canyon formed at different stops along the way. 

One stop was at the Honaker Trail, where the group hiked to an overlook called “The Horn.”  The Honaker Trail is a famous geologic destination for its exposure of the Honaker Trail Formation, an oil producing rock layer far below the Earth’s surface in other areas. 

With the assistance of hand lenses and other geology tools of the trade, the youth learned about 300 million year old marine fossils found throughout the rocks making up the cliff along the trail.  Promoting Call 2 Action item Live and Learn (#16), the youth learned geology, hydrology, and history as it applied to what they were seeing throughout the trip.

Grand Canyon Youth, a nonprofit rafting outfitter based in Flagstaff, AZ, provided all of the rafting equipment, food, and guides for the trip.  Each day Grand Canyon Youth guides involved students in camp and food preparations, and emphasized teamwork and safety in all the activities that were completed. 

The National Park Foundation wishes to thank The Ahmanson Foundation, Chapman Hanson Foundation, the Fernandez Pave the Way Foundation, and Subaru for their generous support of the America's Best Idea program.  In addition, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area would like to thank the Page High School UNITY Club and Grand Canyon Youth for partnering on this successful project.  

[Submitted by Lonnie Pilkington and Sarah Doyle]

Fort Scott National Historic Site (KS)
Program Held On Civil War On The Western Frontier

Fort Scott National Historic Site recently partnered with Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area and fellow heritage area partner Island Mound State Historic Site for an event focusing on the Civil War on the western frontier. The event was held in Lawrence, Kansas.

The city holds an annual commemoration to remember the decimating August 1863 raid in which Lawrence was destroyed and upwards of 150 unarmed men and boys were murdered by William Quantrill’s pro-Confederate raiders. The town, which had been a hotbed of abolition during the pre-Civil War “Bleeding Kansas” era, was also sacked in 1856 by pro-slavery forces.

The event, sponsored by Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area (FFNHA), was attended by more than 40 people at the historic Carnegie Library building, under the watchful gaze of a pantheon of Kansas legends.

The evening began with a viewing of the new Island Mound State Historic Site orientation film, “Battle of Island Mound.” The film uses first-person narratives to examine the October 1862 skirmish between pro-Confederate Missouri bushwhackers and elements of the recently-organized First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry.

Despite being outnumbered, the soldiers, many of whom had been enslaved only months before, routed the guerrillas. Even one bushwhacker declared that the African American soldiers “fought like tigers.”

Jim Rehard, Missouri State Parks’ northern district supervisor, whose responsibilities include oversight of Island Mound SHS, spoke on the making of the film. He thanked both Fort Scott National Historic Site and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield for their assistance with the project.

Fort Scott NHS historian Bill Fischer then spoke about the mid-1862 recruitment of the First Kansas Colored Infantry from the free blacks and formerly enslaved African American refugees who sought sanctuary in eastern Kansas towns.

Fischer also surveyed the development of the United States Colored Troops following the Emancipation Proclamation. He highlighted the exploits of William D. Matthews, an African American entrepreneur who came to Kansas Territory in 1856 and became a station master on the Underground Railroad in Leavenworth. Later, Matthews played an important role in recruiting blacks for military service.

Brigadier General James H. Lane and other Kansas militia leaders petitioned to have Matthews commissioned as a captain because of his leadership abilities and the respect he garnered from the black troops. While Matthews was denied a commission when colored troops were federalized in 1863, he later became one of the roughly 100 African Americans who were tendered US Army commissions late in the war.

Matthews served as a lieutenant in the Independent Battery, United States Colored Light Artillery, which was mustered into service at Fort Leavenworth on January 1, 1865.

Retired US Army Brigadier General Donald L. Scott, former deputy librarian of Congress and a current FFNHA trustee, offered the evening’s keynote address, focusing attention on the Declaration of Independence and its affirmation that “all men are created equal.”

He noted that it was the actions of brave individuals from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to Harry Truman, as well as the men who organized and served in Civil War colored regiments, to several of his public school teachers in segregated Missouri, and the military personnel with whom he worked, who took bold and risky steps to move America closer to a truer representation of those oft-quoted words. Gen Scott challenged the audience to continue to move the mark forward.

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area includes 41 counties in eastern Kansas and western Missouri whose partner sites share in telling the stories of the Border War, the Civil War, and the enduring struggle for freedom.

[Submitted by William E. Fischer, Jr.]

Saint Croix National Scenic River (WI)
Order Of The Arrow Scouts Complete Park Service Projects

St. Croix National Scenic Riverway was recently the beneficiary of two days of hard work from 111 members of the Boy Scouts’ Order of the Arrow.

Altogether, they logged a total of 691 volunteer hours. 

Tasks accomplished included removing trash along the river (58 miles with 46 campsites), barrier removal (2.25 miles with 458 metal and 38 8x8 wooden posts and many miles of barbed wire), trail rehab (6.5 miles) and the removal of invasive plant species.   

The event, ArrowPower2014, was sponsored by Central Region Area 1 of the Order of the Arrow.  Order of the Arrow is Scouting’s national honor society.  A few of the goals of this week-long adventure focused on leadership development and service to the community. 

During the remainder of the week, the members assisted Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

[Submitted by Chuck Carlson, District Ranger]


North Cascades National Park (WA)
GS-0025-12/13 Chief Ranger

North Cascades National Park has issued an announcement for a chief ranger.

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 September 1st.
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Katmai National Park & Preserve (AK)
GS-0025-11 Supervisory Interpretive Ranger

Katmai National Park is currently recruiting for a supervisory interpretive ranger to serve as the district interpreter at Brooks Camp.

The person in this position is located at Brooks Camp during the summer months and in King Salmon the rest of the year. 

Katmai National Park and Preserve lies on the Alaska Peninsula approximately 300 miles southwest of Anchorage. Katmai is known for recent volcanism, large fresh water lakes, pristine drainages, wilderness coastline and biodiversity, including abundant salmon runs and one of the highest density populations of protected brown bears in the world.

For more information, please visit or call Roy Wood at 907-246-2122 

The announcement can be found on USAJobs at the "More Information" link below. It closes on September 4th.
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