The Morning Report

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Recent Editions  


Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Two Climbers Injured In Sliding Fall On Middle Teton

On Saturday, July 25th, two climbers fell and slid on a patch of snow while descending from the Dike Pinnacle on the south face of the Middle Teton. The climbers, Jordan Lister and Carrie Schwartz, both 25 and residents of Jackson, Wyoming, slid approximately 200 feet on snow and rocky terrain before coming to a stop on a grassy ledge. Lister sustained serious injuries requiring an evacuation by helicopter while Schwartz sustained minor injuries.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call for assistance at 5:22 p.m. from Schwartz. Park rangers quickly responded from the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache at Lupine Meadows. They were joined by the Teton Interagency contract helicopter, which had been assisting with an extensive search for a missing person near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

The helicopter was able to land relatively near to the grassy ledge and insert three park rangers, who made a short climb to reach the injured climbers. Rangers provided medical care while preparations were made for an expeditious short-haul evacuation of Lister.

Lister and an attending park ranger were short-hauled from the grassy ledge directly to the rescue cache on the valley floor just before sunset. There, Lister was transferred to a waiting park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. The helicopter then returned to the site of the accident and short-hauled Schwartz and the two remaining rangers to the rescue cache. The rescue mission was completed shortly after 9:00 p.m., just before darkness would have made further operations impossible.

The fall occurred while the two climbers were descending on snow about 400 feet below the summit of the Dike Pinnacle. This type of fall—one that occurs while descending on snow—is a very common cause of mountaineering-related injuries in Grand Teton National Park. Rangers encourage climbers to pay special attention while descending on snow, and to wear helmets whenever moving about in the vertical terrain of the Teton Range where rockfalls, or a slip and fall in rock-strewn areas, can pose a danger.

This rescue was the second helicopter-assisted rescue mission of the day in the park. Rangers also flew a climber who had become ill from the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton around 7:30 on Saturday morning.

After completing this rescue, the Teton Interagency contract helicopter flew to Yellowstone to assist with the continuing search efforts for the missing person.

[Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]

Lake Mead National Recreation Area - NV, AZ
Man Struck And Killed By Boat Propeller

On the afternoon of July 25th, park dispatch received a call reporting that a visitor had been cut by a boat propeller near Cactus Cove.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife and Arizona Game and Fish were first on scene and pronounced the man dead upon arrival.

According to witnesses, the boat’s operator accidentally put the boat in reverse and ran over the victim. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department dive team was called in to assist with the recovery.

The National Park Service and Nevada Department of Wildlife are investigating the incident.

[Submitted by Public Affairs Office]

Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River (NY,PA)
Man Rescued From Near Drowning

A 55-year-old man from Allentown, Pennsylvania, nearly drowned when his canoe capsized in Butler’s Rift on the afternoon of July 20th.

Two men were on a river cleanup when they saw a canoe capsize in Butler’s Rift.  They quickly paddled over in a canoe to assist the man and his son.  The man went unconscious and was under water.  The two men helped pull the body out of the water and onto the New York shoreline.  Additional family members and the two men on river cleanup performed CPR on the man for approximately five to eight minutes.

The man regained consciousness and was transported down river in a raft.  The Sparrowbush Fire Department’s boat met the raft by Cherry Island and transported the man to the awaiting Port Jervis ambulance.  He was not wearing a life jacket.   

[Submitted by Larry Neal, Acting Chief Ranger]

Buffalo National River - AR
Two Drown In Separate Incidents In Park

On the afternoon of July 12, 2015 Buffalo National River was contacted by Newton County 911 concerning a possible drowning at the confluence of Well’s Creek and Buffalo River. Rescue and medical personnel were dispatch to the area where they located the victim, Gary McClung III age 23. Mr. McClung and his wife had been swimming in the area when he decided to jump from a 15 foot bluff into the river. Mr. McClung’s wife heard her husband enter the water but did not see him jump as she was traversing the trail from the bluff to the gravel bar. She lost sight of Mr. McClung for a very short period of time but when she saw him again he was floating downstream face down.

She was able to wade into the water and pull him to shore where she began doing CPR. Very soon after she had begun, floaters rounded the bend, recognized the distress and quickly came to her aid. CPR was continued for some time but was unsuccessful and Mr. McClung was later pronounced dead at the scene. First on scene was Air Evac helicopter which was able to land on the gravel bar. At this time CPR had been suspended after approximately 30 minutes of continuous cycles which were unsuccessful.

Gary McClung III was a member of the Western Grove Volunteer Fire Department and leaves behind a wife and baby.

Personnel from Buffalo National River Search and Rescue team, Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Hasty Volunteer Fire Department, Tri-County Search and Rescue, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center EMS, Air Evac Lifeteam, Newton County Coroner’s Office and the Boone County Coroner’s Office assisted.

On the afternoon of July 20, 2015, Searcy County Sheriff’s Office contacted the park concerning a possible drowning of a five year old boy at Tyler Bend. Witnesses reported the child had on an inflatable float ring and was wading in a shallow portion of the river when he went under. The boy’s older brother alerted his father to the missing boy, who had stepped into a deep hole and slipped out of the float ring. The father was able to locate his son and bring him to shore.

Park Guide Terry Traywick, who is trained in CPR and is a CPR instructor, and Interpretive Ranger Joyce Umbach, responded to the location and found park visitors administering CPR. Terry immediately began assisting with the CPR and coaching the visitors. Off duty Emergency Dispatcher Joe Jones and his spouse were floating the river and came upon the scene and immediately began assisting with CPR. Resuscitation efforts were continued by park personnel until the NorthArk Ambulance arrived. All attempts to revive the boy failed.

Personnel from the Searcy County Sheriff’s Office, Park personnel, to include a campground volunteer, park visitors and NorthArk Ambulance Service assisted.

[Submitted by Karen Bradford, Chief Ranger]


NIFC/NPS Fire and Aviation Management
National Fire/Incident Situation Highlights

National Fire Activity

NIFC is at PL 2. Initial attack was again light on Tuesday. Thirteen uncontained large fires are burning nationwide, down one from Tuesday. Current resource commitments are as follows, with changes from last Friday’s numbers in parentheses:

  • Nine incident management teams (no change)
  • 273 crews (up 11)
  • 11,070 firefighters and overhead (up 607)
  • 699 engines (up 79)
  • 80 helicopters (down 5)

Fire Weather Forecast

A significant warming and drying trend will begin today over the western U.S. as an upper level ridge of high pressure stretches from the southern Plains westward into the Great Basin. This will bring the onset of record warmth to portions of California and Oregon. Also, high-based monsoonal moisture will begin to stream northward on the periphery of this feature for a chance of thunderstorms in southern California and the southern Great Basin. These storms will not have wetting rain, but could be accompanied by gusty outflow winds. Storms in the southwest U.S. will be much wetter and extend from Arizona through New Mexico and into southern Colorado. Over the eastern U.S. the Gulf Coast including Florida will see a continuation of showers and thunderstorms along a stationary front.

A NOAA map of today’s critical fire weather areas can be found at:

A NIFC webpage showing the current national significant wildland fire outlook is available at:

NPS Fire Summaries

Glacier NP – The Reynolds Fire has burned 3,170 acres (no change from yesterday’s total). It is 56% contained. Moderate fire behavior is reported. A Type I IMT (Poncin) is managing the fire. For full details, go to the following InciWeb site:

Additional Information

For additional information on all fires, check the following web sites:


Saint Croix National Scenic River (WI)
Thrush Tracking Reveals Trans-American Connections

In June 2013, a "sister park partnership" was formed between 14 national parks of the Upper Midwest and seven national parks and protected areas of the Osa Region in Costa Rica, with a focus on Neotropical migratory birds. 

In 2014, at the suggestion of WASO's Office of International Affairs, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway partnered with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to place “backpacks” containing geolocators on wood thrush, a neotropical migratory bird that is a species of special concern because its population has decreased by 2% a year for the past 30 years.

Last summer, Smithsonian researcher Calandra Stanley successfully placed geolocators on 25 wood thrush mist-netted with the able assistance of staff from the Warner and Carpenter Nature Centers located in the St. Croix Valley.  In addition, wood thrush were also tagged at Spring Lake Park Reserve within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area corridor.

To date, the battery technology does not exist to be able to read real-time data from these geolocators.  Data retrieval requires that the birds with the geolocators (which cost $450 each) be recaptured the next year – a daunting task.  In early July, the Smithsonian returned to the St. Croix Valley to try to recapture the tagged birds.  Because these birds exhibit high site fidelity, seven of the 25 tagged wood thrush were recaptured and data was downloaded from the recovered geolocators.

The data has revealed that our “individual” shared birds with Central America wintered in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. True to form, in 2015 these birds returned to the exact same locations where they were caught and tagged the first time in 2014.  The average recapture rate of wood thrush with geolocators placed on them is 20% so we are very pleased about our 35% recapture rate.

This project was undertaken to demonstrate species connectivity between North America and Latin America.  While no one involved in the project expected an individual bird caught in the St. Croix Valley to winter in the Osa Region where our Costa Rican sister parks are located, the project demonstrates the migration stories of the birds that connect us.

This project was funded by a generous donation from the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Fund of the St. Croix Valley Foundation.  With seven of 25 geolocators recovered, we consider the project to be a huge success by providing data that physically demonstrates (with this connectivity) that we are one Earth.  These little birds with GPS backpacks on them have captured the imagination of the press and many people of the St. Croix Valley, and people are already wondering what species we plan to track next.

[Submitted by Jonathan Moore,, 715-491-6839]

Oregon Caves National Monument (OR)
New Exhibit Provides New Experience At Oregon Caves

A new exhibit at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, designed to be fun for kids and kids at heart, is now open.

The exhibit celebrates the centennial vision, especially promoting the “Every Kid in a Park” call to action.  Kids can explore a crawl-through cave, touch enlarged sculptures of endemic cave species, and look up into the eyes of a life-sized Pleistocene jaguar. 

From the first day of planning the project targeted multisensory and interactive activities.  For example – there is a millipede in the Oregon Caves that commonly exudes a sharp maraschino cherry smell, which is actually a cyanide gas, for self-protection. In the exhibit kids can see the millipede under a magnifying glass, touch a sculpture of the arthropod enlarged 50 times, and squeeze a bottle to smell the cherry- gas smell of the animal protecting itself (sans the cyanide).

The Pleistocene is preserved by the Oregon Caves in the form of fossils, including 38,600 year-old jaguar and grizzly bear bones more than 50,000 years old. Visitors now can peer up into the eyes of a full-sized bronze sculpture of a jaguar looking down on them, and watch the skull bones of a grizzly bear merge before their eyes into the life-like face of a bear in her den within a Pepper Ghost exhibit.

The interactive design of the exhibit enhances the experience for all visitors, including those with disabilities. The central resource of the park, the cave, is strenuous with many twisting passages and low ceilings.  Access is difficult or not possible for many with mobility impairments.  A major feature of the exhibit is a walkthrough of a virtual the cave – an experience that benefits all visitors equally.

For visitors everywhere a virtual cave tour is now available online – YouTube postings of videos from the exhibit, and even a time lapse of the exhibit installation:

The Oregon Caves now offers an even greater experience for kids, and for all visitors, both on site and online.

The park extends its thanks to everyone who made this possible.

[Submitted by George Herring]

Business Services
Administration And Business Management Awards Announced

The dedicated work of National Park Service employees serving in business-oriented and administrative positions plays a vital role in our agency’s success.  The Directorate is pleased to recognize some of most notable accomplishments in these fields with the 2015 Director’s Awards for Excellence in Administration and Business Management.

Excellence in Cost Savings / Efficiency

  • Individual: Anthony Alvarado, IMR

Excellence in Customer Service

  • Individual: Stacey Hester, SERO
  • Team:  SER Comptroller’s Division

Excellence in Innovation/Process Improvement

  • Individual: Timothy Bailey, AOC
  • Team: Utility Program Team, WASO

Rising Star Award

  • Fabian Cauldwell, SAGU

Learn more about the tremendous accomplishments of the awardees and to see the Regional Finalists.

Learn more information about the Director's Awards for Excellence in Administration and Business Management.

[Submitted by Antonia Giammo,, 202.208.3581]

Midwest Region
Mike Pflaum Selected As Badlands Superintendent

Mike Pflaum, a 35-year veteran of the National Park Service, has been selected as the new superintendent of Badlands National Park.  Pflaum has served as the superintendent of Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet, Michigan, since January, 2011, with an intervening assignment at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Pflaum begins his new assignment on August 23rd. 

“I am pleased to welcome Mike Pflaum as the next superintendent of Badlands National Park,” stated Midwest Regional Director Cameron Sholly.  “Mike is an outstanding leader and will do a tremendous job in this position.  He has a great blend of experiences and a proven track record of solving complex problems through innovation and relationship building.”

“I am honored to be the next park superintendent at Badlands National Park," said Pflaum. "My wife Barbara and I have strong connections to western South Dakota, the Badlands and Black Hills. The stunning landscapes, varied wildlife, other great resources, as well as the rich history, make Badlands National Park a world-class place.  It will be my privilege to work with the excellent park staff, the people of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, park partners, and local communities to care for this great park and provide outstanding opportunities for our visitors.”

Born in Northfield, Minnesota, Pflaum earned his bachelor of science in recreation and park administration at Mankato State University, now Minnesota State University-Mankato.  Pflaum began his NPS career as a park ranger in Yellowstone National Park, serving in a number of positions of increasing responsibility over 11 years. 

He served as chief ranger at Mount Rushmore National Memorial for more than 18 years, and as regional partnership coordinator for Midwest Region.  He has also served as acting superintendent at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, George Washington Carver National Memorial, Navajo National Monument, and most recently Badlands National Park.

Pflaum is married to Barbara Erlandson-Pflaum, a former park ranger who worked for park cooperating associations in two parks.  Barb and Mike enjoy hiking, skiing, bicycling, photography, and exploring the great parks and wild places of our nation.  They have two daughters, Emily in Minnesota and Katie in Michigan.

[Submitted by Mike Johnson]


Nez Perce National Historical Park (ID,MT,OR,WA)
WG-4749-8 Maintenance Worker (Lateral)

Nez Perce National Historical Park is seeking candidates interested in a lateral WG-4749-08 maintenance worker position.  This is a permanent, full-time position in the Idaho Unit located at park headquarters in Spalding, Idaho.

The Idaho Unit comprises six NPS-owned component cultural and natural resource sites in north-central Idaho and southeastern Washington.  Duties include custodial and landscape maintenance; noxious weed management; and repair and upkeep of historic and non-historic buildings, trails, roads, facilities, utilities, and a headquarters water treatment system. 

The position reports to a WS-4749-07 maintenance worker supervisor, and serves as a field crew leader for a team of three career seasonal WG-05/06 maintenance workers, a WG-02 student trainee/laborer, and seasonal and YCC employees.  The candidate must possess a valid driver license and be able to obtain a level 1 State of Idaho water operator certification and a pesticide applicator license.

Nez Perce National Historical Park was authorized in 1965 to facilitate protection and provide interpretation of sites in the Nez Perce Country having exceptional value in commemorating the history of the Nation.  The park works closely with three Indian tribes, and with state, federal, and private landowners of affiliated sites that are also designated as park component sites. 

Spalding is on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation 11 miles east of Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington.  These twin communities are astride the Snake and Clearwater River confluence, and are gateway to the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.  The communities have a combined population of about 40,000, and possess all educational, retail and recreational amenities, and housing.  No government housing is available.

For more information on the park, go to  For information on the vicinity, go to  For job information contact Idaho Unit manager Scott Eckberg at or 208-843-7051.

To be considered, submit the following to by the close of business on August 7, 2015

  • A resume/application that includes all experience, training, and education related to the position
  • A copy of your most recent performance appraisal
  • A current SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action, documenting permanent competitive civil service status.  Make sure your SF-50 shows your current grade; do not submit an award SF-50 since this does not show your current grade.