The Morning Report

Monday, July 27, 2015

Recent Editions  


Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (WV)
Fire Destroys Several Non-NPS Buildings In Historic Harpers Ferry

An early morning fire on July 22nd burned four buildings in the commercial district of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Fortunately, no one was injured, but two apartments and eight businesses were destroyed.

The town's commercial district is adjacent to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; no park facilities were damaged in the fire.

Park rangers assisted with traffic control and street closures. The park's train station and parking lot were utilized by firefighters and police as a staging area for equipment and personnel. The downtown area of Harpers Ferry was closed for several hours while firefighters extinguished the blaze. The park's visitor center and battlefield sites remained open. An investigation into the cause of the fire continues.  

[Submitted by Rebecca L. Harriett, Superintendent]

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Climber Injured By Dislodged Boulder

On Tuesday, July 21st, a large boulder dislodged and rolled over the arm of a hiker/climber, causing severe injury to his limb and prompting a helicopter-assisted rescue by Grand Teton National Park rangers.

Tucker Zibilich, 26, of Jackson, Wyoming and his partner were on their descent after making a day trek to the Upper Saddle of the Grand Teton when he was injured by the boulder.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received an emergency call for help at 12:40 p.m. from Zibilich’s partner and several other climbers, and park rangers immediately initiated a rescue operation. A backcountry ranger and a retired Jenny Lake Subdistrict ranger happened to be approaching the base of the headwall, just below the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton, when the call came in. They promptly advanced to the Lower Saddle, picked up essential gear at the park’s backcountry rescue cache, and ascended another 1,200+ feet to the accident site. They reached Zibilich at 2:15 p.m., assessed his condition, and provided emergency medical care until additional park rangers could arrive.  

Due to nature of Zibilich’s injury and concern about attempting to hike him downslope over steep and rocky terrain to reach the Grand Teton’s broad and somewhat flat Lower Saddle for an aerial evacuation, a decision was made to use the Teton Interagency contract helicopter to instead short-haul Zibilich directly from his high elevation site on the Grand Teton to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache on the valley floor.

To prepare Zibilich for the short-haul flight, one additional park ranger was flown to the Lower Saddle. Carrying additional emergency medical gear and a short-haul evacuation suit, the ranger hiked upslope to reach the accident site—a distance of nearly one mile and 1,200 vertical feet of steep terrain.

After he was placed into the evacuation suit and tethered to a short-haul line attached to the belly of the helicopter, Zibilich was flown suspended below the ship—and in tandem with an attending ranger—directly to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache at Lupine Meadows. He was then transferred to a waiting park ambulance and transported to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson.

It appears that Zibilich stepped on and dislodged several small boulders during his descent, which in turn loosened a large boulder and allowed it to roll over his arm. Because they were pursuing just a day hike to the Upper Saddle and not attempting a technical climb, Zibilich and his partner did not have climbing ropes or harnesses with them. They did have helmets at the time of the incident.  

[Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]

Missouri National Recreational River (SD)
One Dead, Two Seriously Injured Following Fall From Cliff

A Nebraska woman drowned in the Missouri River near Running Water, South Dakota, after falling off a cliff on July 18th. Two others were hospitalized in serious condition after attempting to rescue her.

Responding agencies to the accident included the Bon Homme County Sheriff's Office, the Knox County Sheriff's Office, the Santee Sioux Tribal Police, Yankton Search and Rescue, South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, and Springfield police and emergency crews. 

The Bon Homme sheriff reported that a group of four accessed a cliff area adjacent to a popular scenic lookout near the Chief Standing Bear Bridge approximately 60 feet above the Missouri River, and that alcohol was a factor in the accident.  No foul play is suspected. 

The accident occurred just before the beginning of the annual Blue Moon Resort poker run, where NPS rangers were conducting a joint saturation patrol with South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, and Nebraska Game and Parks officers, focusing on boating safety and BUI detection. 

[Submitted by James Dahlstrom, Chief Ranger, Niobrara National Scenic River]

Little River Canyon National Preserve (AL)
Park Staff Successfully Intervene In Suicide Attempt

DeKalb County dispatch contacted the park on July 22nd regarding a person on the railing on the Alabama Route 35 bridge at Little River Falls, about half a mile from park headquarters. 

Chief Ranger Troy Mueller responded first and found a despondent woman in her early 70’s on the opposite side of the railing. Mueller talked to the woman at length and over time was able to get her to hold his hand. After more talking, she was convinced that jumping to the rocks below was not a good idea and decided that she did not want to die. 

The park’s administrative officer and superintendent (both former chief rangers) then moved in and helped haul the woman over the railing and sat and talked with her until EMS arrived.

The woman was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

[Submitted by Steve Black, Superintendent]

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Three Suicides Prevented Over Four Days

During the period from Thursday July 16th through Sunday July 19th, rangers, ISB agents and Grand Canyon fire and aviation personnel conducted aggressive investigations and search operations to successfully assist three separate people who had travelled to Grand Canyon with the expressed intent of committing suicide. 

One of the threes had threated to commit “suicide by cop.” All three were located and transported Flagstaff for mental health evaluations without incident. 

Rangers from several different work units came together as effective teams on these rapidly evolving and dynamic incidents.

[Submitted by James Purcell, Desert View Subdistrict Ranger]


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

National Fire Activity

NIFC is at PL 2. Initial attack was light on Sunday. Fifteen uncontained large fires are burning nationwide, up four from Friday. Current resource commitments are as follows, with changes from last Friday’s numbers in parentheses:

  • Ten incident management teams (up four)
  • 299 crews (up 77)
  • 10,708 firefighters and overhead (up 2,779)
  • 606 engines (up 183)
  • 95 helicopters (up 13)

Fire Weather Forecast

A strong trough of low pressure will dig into the northwest U.S. from Canada today with a cold front bringing showers and isolated thunderstorms to the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies. This will provide slightly cooler temperatures to northern California and parts of the Great Basin with warmer conditions further Southwest. Monsoonal moisture will be in place over the central and southern Rockies where showers and thunderstorms are expected. Another focus for storms will stretch from the lower Missouri Valley eastward to the Mid-Atlantic. Heavy rain is anticipated for Florida. In Alaska, temperatures will be slightly above normal with a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the southern part of the state.

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 3,237 acres. It is 30% contained. Structures are threatened; road, area and trail closures are in effect. A Type I IMT (Poncin) is managing the fire. For full details, go to the following InciWeb site:

Alaska Region – A listing of current and recent wildland fires in Alaska parks, plus updates on fire restrictions, is available at .

Additional Information

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


Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (WA)
Youth Heritage Project Connects Students To Fort’s History

How do we discover and preserve the story of a historic place when that place has changed?

Students, instructors, mentors, and National Park Service staff recently came together at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site to consider this topic with the Discover Washington: Youth Heritage Project. The program, held this year from July 15-18, gives young people a first-hand opportunity to explore how historic places are understood, reconstructed, and interpreted.  Forty high school students and eight teachers and mentors participated in the event, representing over twenty communities throughout the state.

This marks the fourth annual Youth Heritage Project (YHP), which is hosted by a different location each year.  This year’s program investigated the role played by archeology in interpreting history and the strategy of reconstruction as a method of historic preservation. Participants toured Fort Vancouver, visited an active archeological dig, learned about the reconstruction of cultural landscape features and structures, and visited a reconstructed Cathlapotle Plankhouse of continuing significance to the Chinook Indian Nation.  

As the students considered the types of data gathered through archeological investigation, they also had opportunities to reflect upon how these information layers contribute to our understanding of history. The culminating event of the four-day field school was a public Town Hall meeting, held in the community library with an audience that included families and distinguished panelists.

Participants presented their group projects, demonstrating strategies to preserve and communicate the complex and often incomplete histories of Fort Vancouver. They showcased artifact-based exhibit concepts, living history performances, and survey-informed infographics that illustrated the value of reconstruction. The students demonstrated an appreciation for how stories of the past can continue to come alive in a historically significant place, even when the place is not exactly the same as it once was.

“The goal of the program is to instill the next generation of leaders with a sense of our region’s unique story and significant role in our nation’s history,” says Chris Moore, Executive Director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. “We are thrilled so many students are interested in gaining hands-­on experience to understand how history is represented and interpreted.”

YHP is coordinated by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation in partnership with the National Park Service and the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation. Discover Washington: Youth Heritage Project is oriented toward four primary objectives:

  • Connect teachers and youth to historic places and landscapes;
  • Engage students in historic preservation and conservation activities;
  • Expand tools to support teachers’ educational efforts around the built and natural environments; and
  • Excite the next generation of advocates and stewards of our natural and historic resources.

Read the full press release from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation (July 13, 2015):

For additional information, contact Henry (Hank) Florence, Historic Architect with the National Park Service:  

[Submitted by Hank Florence]

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (OR)
John Day Fossil Beds Celebrates Three Anniversaries

On July 25th, John Day Fossil Beds commemorated three major anniversaries – the 40th anniversary of the monument, the 10th anniversary of the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, and the 150th anniversary of the first fossil expedition to the area by Thomas Condon himself.

The celebration began with an interpretive hike at Blue Basin led by Dr. Joshua Samuels, the monument’s paleontologist, and a special tour of the historic Cant Ranch led by interpretive ranger Michelle Ordway.

The main ceremony was held in late morning, complete with cake, Discover Your Northwest and monument staff announced anniversary art contest winner Patricia Baehr-Ross and runners-up Laurie Hueckman, Ray DeBaun, and Kay Larkin. Winner Patricia and runner-up Kay brought their winning paintings for viewing by the public, and photographers Kay and Ray were represented with prints of their winning photos.

All four artists were present to accept their prizes. Posters and postcards of the winning art and photographs were given away to attendees. Two new exhibits were unveiled – a permanent exhibit about the history of paleontology in the area, and a temporary exhibit featuring “then and now” repeat photography of monument scenes.

More special programs were held in the afternoon, including a slide show presentation and two museum gallery tours lead by park paleontologist Dr. Joshua Samuels.  Park fossil preparer Jennifer Cavin and interpretive ranger Michelle Ordway helped the public learn how to prepare fossil specimens in a practice fossil lab created for the event. Over two hundred individual people attended the various events held throughout the day, many attending more than one event.

After the public events were over, there was an employee reunion and potluck at the Dayville community hall, organized by retired Chief of Interpretation John Fiedor. Many stories were shared, and far too many calories were consumed by current and former NPS employees and volunteers as well as Discover Your Northwest staff and alumni.  All

three superintendents in the park’s history were present – Ben Ladd, Jim Hammett, and Shelley Hall – as were many other retired and former employees, volunteers, and other alumni. Approximately 60 people attended the potluck.

[Submitted by Megan Wilkins]

 More Information...
Olympic National Park (WA)
Lee Taylor Selected As Deputy Superintendent

Lee Taylor, a 30-year career employee of the National Park Service, has been selected to serve as the park’s deputy superintendent. Taylor is currently the superintendent of San Juna Island National Historical Park, where she has served for the past three years.

Prior to that, she worked for 11 years at Mount Rainier National Park, overseeing the park’s interpretation, education, and volunteer programs.  Taylor began her career as a student intern in 1984 at Yosemite National Park and presented or managed interpretation and education programs at seven other parks from Alaska to Virginia before arriving at Mount Rainier in 2001.

“I am very pleased to have Lee join our staff and community,” said Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Lee is a proven leader with a strong background in both park operations and the Pacific Northwest.”

Olympic National Park was established in 1938 and protects 922,651 acres, nearly 95 percent of which is designated wilderness. Over 200 employees help protect and maintain the park's resources, and provide services and facilities for over 3 million visitors each year.  Taylor will join the park staff in her new position in mid-September.

“Olympic National Park, with its mountains, coastline, old-growth forest and human history, is a spectacular place,” said Taylor.  “I am excited to work with the park’s staff and partners to help manage and protect it for future generations.”

Taylor will fill the position formerly held by Todd Suess, who was named superintendent of Mojave National Preserve earlier this year.

[Submitted by Barb Maynes]

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 24th.

In order to obtain the full text of any of the bills that appear below, click on the following link: . 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.


New Public Laws

Nothing to report.

Floor Action

Nothing to report.

Committee Activity

On July 23rd, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Interior (Lummis) held a hearing entitled “Modernizing the National Park Service Concession Program.”  Lena McDowall, Chief Financial Officer, was the Department’s witness.

On July 23rd, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands (McClintock) held an oversight hearing on “New and Innovative Ideas for the Next Century of Our National Parks.”  The Department was not asked to testify.

New Bills Introduced

The following bills of interest to the NPS were introduced:

  • H.R. 3121 (Kind, D-WI-3), to improve Federal land management, resource conservation, environmental protection, and use of Federal real property, by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to develop a multipurpose cadaster of Federal real property and identifying inaccurate, duplicate, and out-of-date Federal land inventories, and for other purposes.
  • S. 1824 (Gillibrand, D-NY), to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating certain land as the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 3153 (Knight, R-CA-25), to authorize a national memorial to commemorate those killed by the collapse of the Saint Francis Dam on March 12, 1928, and for other purposes.
  • S. 1837 (Boxer, D-CA), to provide drought assistance and improved water supply reliability to the State of California, other western States, and the Nation.
  • H.R. 3176 (Cook, R-CA-8), to amend title 18, United States Code, to establish a criminal violation for injuring or destroying property under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 3205 (Jackson, D-TX-18), to establish the History Is Learned from the Living grant program to enable communities to learn about historical movements in the United States in the past century through the oral histories of community members who participated in those movements, and for other purposes.

Upcoming Committee Activity

On July 28th, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (Gohmert) will hold an oversight hearing on “Accountability, Policies, and Tactics of Law Enforcement within the Department of Interior and Forest Service.”  The hearing will take place at 10:30 a.m. in 1324 Longworth House Office Building.  The Department has not been asked to testify.

On August 3rd, the House Natural Resources Committee (Bishop) and House Small Business Committee (Chabot) will hold a Joint Full Committee oversight field hearing on “Restricted Access at Biscayne National Park and Implications for Fishermen, Small Businesses, the Local Economy and Environment.”  The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. at the William F. Dickinson Community Center, 1601 N. Krome Ave., Homestead, FL.  The Department’s witness has not been determined.


For additional information, please visit the Legislative and Congressional Affairs Office website at

[Submitted by Andrea Dekoter]


Learning and Development Division
GS-0303-6/7 Administrative Assistant

The Office of Learning & Development is seeking individuals who wish to be considered for a temporary detail opportunity as an administrative assistant.

A detail is a temporary assignment to a different position for a specified period of time.  While on detail, the employee continues to hold his/her official position, including status, grade and pay.  At the end of the temporary assignment, the employee returns to the official duty station.

The announcement closes on August 3rd. The EOD date will be in August, as soon as possible

GS-5, 6, or 7 candidates will be considered (employees at GS-5 or 6 will be considered for a temporary promotion). The rate of pay will be determined by the salary table for the Washington DC, locality pay area.

The person in this position is responsible for a wide range of administrative and technical support duties for the chief of Learning and Development. Duties include note taking and meeting coordination, budget tasks, data entry and compilation, maintaining the correspondence database and files, using Excel, managing the calendar appointments for the chief, compiling staff folders, making copies, sending faxes, etc.

She/he will also be responsible for inputting tracking and completing travel through the use of government travel system (Concur) and inputting/tracking web based time and attendance (Quicktime).

This detail provides a good developmental opportunity for a versatile employee who is interested in learning more about learning and development.

During this detail, salary will be paid from the Office of Learning and Development. Travel and per diem will be paid by Office of Learning and Development. No government housing is available for this assignment.

To apply:

  • Interested individuals should discuss the opportunity with their supervisor and obtain concurrence from the supervisor prior to applying.
  • Once supervisor approval is received, interested individuals should submit a current 2- page resume detailing work history and any special qualifications they possess.
  • Additionally submit your most recent SF-50 (non-award).

Resumes, SF-50, and supervisor concurrence statement should be submitted via email to: with the subject line:  L & D Administrative Assistant Detail Opportunity. They must be received by August 3rd.