The Morning Report

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recent Editions  


Grand Teton National Park (WY)
One Climber Killed, Another Injured In Separate Incidents

A climbing accident on the 13,770-foot Grand Teton resulted in the death of one member of a guided climbing party on Monday, July 14th. 

Mary Bilyeu, 43, of Edmond, Oklahoma, was ascending to the Upper Saddle of the Grand Teton (elevation 13,160 feet) with her climbing partner and a guide from Jackson Hole Mountain Guides when she fell while negotiating a short section above the Exum Gully around 8:30 a.m.

Rangers were notified of the accident at 8:40 a.m. and a rescue response was quickly begun. Two rangers on routine patrol on the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton (11,600 feet) climbed to the accident site to begin emergency medical care and prepare the injured climber for a helicopter evacuation.

Bilyeu was unresponsive when park rangers arrived on scene and could not be revived. She was pronounced dead in consultation with the park’s medical director and rangers on scene. Other Jackson Hole Mountain Guides staff responded to the area and escorted Bilyeu’s climbing partner to the Corbet High Camp near the Lower Saddle, and later escorted her to Lupine Meadows trailhead on the valley floor.

The circumstances leading to this climbing accident are under investigation by Grand Teton National Park rangers and no further details are available at this time.

Rangers began to coordinate a body recovery on the Grand Teton when Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a second emergency call at approximately 11 a.m. from a hiking party near Paintbrush Divide. 

Silas Peterson of Santa Fe, New Mexico fell while descending Paintbrush Divide into Paintbrush Canyon and sustained multiple injuries.  Although Peterson was using an ice axe, he slid down a steep snow-covered slope, could not self-arrest, and fell an additional 150 feet through steep loose rock.

Peterson’s hiking partner called 911 to report the accident. Another party ascending from Paintbrush Canyon witnessed the event and also called 911. That party then hiked to Peterson to provide first aid until rescuers arrived.

A Teton Interagency contract helicopter readied to assist with the rescue operations on the Grand Teton was diverted to transport rescuers to Paintbrush Divide. Two rangers were short-hauled to the Divide from the Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache, and they descended snow and rock to reach Peterson at 11:45 a.m.  A rescue litter was also flown to the scene.

Peterson was provided emergency medical care and evacuated from Paintbrush Divide via short-haul with a ranger attending. Upon arriving at Lupine Meadows Rescue Cache, Peterson was treated by the park’s medical director before being transported at approximately 1:15 p.m. via an Air Idaho life-flight helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho for further medical care. Peterson and his partner were on the final day of a six day Teton Crest Trail backpacking trip.

Both rescue operations were affected by the forecast and subsequent arrival of severe thunderstorms that pummeled the Teton Range and Jackson Hole valley with lightning strikes and several waves of rain, hail and high winds.

[Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]

Hot Springs National Park (AR)
Motorcyclist Pleads Guilty To Reckless Operation In Park

Off-duty ranger Stephen Dale was reviewing YouTube videos in his spare time earlier this year when he came across a disturbing video depicting a reckless incident video that had positively taken place inside of Hot Springs National Park.

The video, taken from a helmet-mounted camera, captured a man operating a Yamaha WR-250 motorcycle at very high rates of speed, passing other motorists in no passing zones, driving on sidewalks, and shouting profanities at park visitors. A search of other online videos posted by this user provided additional evidence of other careless incidents in the park by this and other fellow motorcycle riders. 

The video provided Hot Springs rangers with a clear picture of the motorcycle involved and the operator himself as well as descriptions of his companions, including a placard with the number “383” mounted on the handlebar. 

Rangers then began to watch closely for this motorcycle. On May 10th, operations supervisor Jeff Johnson was stopped in traffic on Central Avenue when he saw a motorcycle matching the exact description pass  by him. He stopped the bike and questioned the operator, who told Johnson that he couldn’t prove that the man in the videos was him, that the videos were copyrighted, and that they should not have been viewed by law enforcement.

Following a talk with the U.S. attorney and a review of the overwhelming evidence on the videos, including a running narrative in which he specifically described where he was located while riding the bike, he decided to plead guilty to CFR violations.

On July 14th, he did so in federal court and was sentenced to a $1,000 fine, placed on a year’s federal probation, and ordered to stay out of Hot Springs National Park for a period of one year. 

[Submitted by John Hughes, Chief Ranger]

Capitol Reef National Park (UT)
Man Killed, Second Seriously Injured In Accident

On July 12th, rangers responded to a night-time accident involving a motorcycle and a pedestrian.  

A 36 year old man from Bountiful, Utah, was photographing the moon from various locations along Utah Highway 24 and was walking in the roadway when he was struck by a motorcyclist at highway speed.  

The Bountiful man died from his injuries and the motorcycle’s operator, a 26-year-old man from Caineville, Utah, sustained critical injuries. He was flown to a hospital in Provo, Utah, by air ambulance.

The Utah Highway Patrol is leading the investigation.

[Submitted by Scott Brown, Chief Ranger]


Gateway National Recreation Area
Rockaway Arts Festival Opens At Fort Tilden

On June 29th, more than 5,000 people attended the kickoff of the “Rockaway!” arts festival at Fort Tilden, part of Gateway National Recreation Area.

The festival, which runs through September 1st, is the result of a partnership between the National Park Service, Rockaway Artists Alliance, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and MoMA PS1 along with other longstanding Fort Tilden partners.  The New York City Parks Department contributed a portable stage for the event.

The public arts festival was conceived to celebrate the reopening of historic Fort Tilden and the recovery of the neighboring Rockaway Peninsula communities following Hurricane Sandy. Fort Tilden had been closed due to damage from Sandy but reopened to the public in May. 

The event began at noon with a family-focused program featuring children’s art activities, orienteering opportunities, kayaking demonstrations and programs, historical tours and theater performances.

Throughout the day, visitors had the opportunity to visit place-based art installations at locations throughout Fort Tilden. The works include photographs by Patti Smith and her installation “Resilience of the Dreamer” within Tilden’s historic Locomotive Repair Shop; a sound installation inside Tilden’s historic chapel called “40 Part Motet” by Janet Cardiff; and a series of small bird nest sculptures scattered throughout the site by Adrián Villar Rojas. 

A series of granite pillars inscribed with quotes from Walt Whitman, conceived by Smith, can also be found at locations around the site.  The installations are open to the public noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.  Each work in its own way speaks to the site and helps visitors create their own connections to Fort Tilden.

The event was capped by a performance of songs and spoken word by Rockaway resident and punk rock legend Patti Smith and a poetry reading by actor James Franco.  They were joined by REM frontman Michael Stipe for a joyous celebration of the resilience and resurgence of the Rockaway Peninsula communities.

“We’re thrilled with the public’s response to Rockaway!,” said Jen Nersesian, superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area. “Art is one of the most powerful ways we have to help people discover their own meanings within our sites.” 

“We are hopeful this will be the first of many successful collaborations between the park, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and the arts community, from local partners like the Rockaway Artists Alliance to internationally renowned institutions like the Museum of Modern Art. ”

[Submitted by Mindi Rambo, National Parks of New York Harbor]

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Students, Alpine Hotshots Form Bond Through Fire Training Program

Sayings like these are more than just words in the world of firefighting: “Punctuality shows respect,” “Train like you fight,” “Crew cohesion is important.” They are life lessons that students from an alternative residential high school in Estes Park, Colorado, learned during a five-week class on wildland fire.

Simply called “Fire!,” the program, now in its second year, linked six students from Eagle Rock school with Alpine Hotshots and ecologists from Rocky Mountain National Park and the Continental Divide Research Learning Center.

An existing relationship between the school, the park and hotshot crew sparked the idea for the “Fire!” program. An Eagle Rock student has been a member of the Alpine Hotshots for the past four fire seasons. In May 2011, Rafael Mcleod graduated before joining the team. Vidal Carrillo became a hotshot in 2012.

Carrillo continues to work on the seasonal crew while now working on his undergraduate degree at Colorado State University. This enthusiasm is part of what ignited the “Fire!” program. Ben Baldwin, ecologist at the learning center, and Prul Cerda, Alpine Hotshot superintendent, discussed opportunities with Eagle Rock School when they came up with the idea for the pilot program.

“After Vidal and Rafael’s success as members of the hotshot crew, we knew several kids were interested in wildland fire,” Cerda said. “Ben and I decided we needed to build on that, partly as an opportunity for diversity recruiting.”

Baldwin approached Eagle Rock School with the idea to develop the pilot course for citizen fire science, similar to other citizen science programs offered through the learning center. While the initial idea was to put the students through a 40-hour basic wildland fire course in order to certify them as wildland firefighters, Cerda and Baldwin quickly realized lectures were not going to be the best learning environment for these students.

“These are students who were not going to get much out of sitting in the classroom,” Cerda said.  “They are used to more experiential learning through a hands-on approach. That’s also why we incorporated the physical training standards as part of the curriculum.”

This year, learning center staff member Holly Nickel used her expertise in education and curriculum development to refine and develop materials for this course.

“Four of the key principles in fire—safety, physical training, fire ecology, and fire suppression—were the goals of the new fire curriculum,” Nickel said.

Instructors challenged students to memorize and tie in the standard firefighting orders, “the 10’s” and watchout situations, “the 18’s” that incorporate safety into each daily lesson.  Students also tested in the fire fit challenge, which includes running a mile and a half, and maximizing the number of pushups, sit-ups and pull-ups they can do in three minutes during their first week of class. They were tested again on the last day for the physical training aspect of the class.

Students spent time in the field with park forester Brain Verhulst to learn about tree health and park ecologist Scott Esser to learn about succession and fire’s effect on ecosystems.

Instructors and students spent many hours at the sand table, a large sandbox with props, working out scenarios and applying what they learned about fire suppression. Students also spent a day acting out a fire field scenario with Cerda and Alpine Hotshot Captain Mark Mendonca.

Dressed in full personal protective equipment, the students gathered tools and hiked into a simulated “fire” area, received a briefing and dug fire lines. They followed a designated escape route to a deployment zone, where each student deployed a practice fire shelter. A debriefing back at the school assessed what they learned.

“The students learned more in this course than just the science of wildland firefighting,” Baldwin said. “They learned about the hotshot’s core values of safety, duty, respect and integrity. They learned about hard work, team work and personal development. And they learned the importance of physical fitness.”

Seventeen-year-old Franco Casas of Los Angeles said he was inspired to take the class by Carrillo’s experience with the Alpine Hotshots.

“(The) class gave me a different perspective. I thought all fires were bad, and you just put them out. But then we learned about fire in the ecosystem,” he said.

Casas, who said opportunities are rare back in his L.A. home neighborhood, wants to pursue becoming a hotshot. “It’s a dangerous job, but it’s challenging,” he said. “They train like they fight, and it’s always safety first.”

For 19-year-old Jeremy Coles, the course taught him a lot about what it means to be a leader.

“Working with the Alpine Hot Shots encouraged me to be more on top of my game with life skills and working as a team, being a leader to make class smooth,” said Coles. “Meeting people from RMNP opened up doors for my future.”

The mixture of classroom teaching, field exercises and hands-on science kept the students engaged.

Student Valentina Ramirez, who is from the same East L.A. neighborhood as Cerda, said the class went well beyond her expectations. “I just thought we’d hear from (hotshots) about their experience,” she said. “I didn’t know we’d get to use their tools, and even the fire shelter. I didn’t know how dangerous firefighting was. I definitely have a greater appreciation for what firefighters do.”

For Eagle Rock instructor Jon Anderson, “Fire!” is a great example of the opportunities Eagle Rock has with Rocky Mountain National Park.  “It’s good for diversity, and the internships and experiences for many of the students have been life-changing,” he said.

Eagle Rock School was founded on a vision that a school could improve the lives of young people by promoting community, integrity and citizenship. The school targets students who have not been successful in more traditional settings and also offers adults professional development opportunities to help strengthen schools both­ locally and nationally. The American Honda Education Corporation was founded as a nonprofit corporation in February 1991, and funds Eagle Rock School.

[Submitted by Traci Weaver and Holly Nickel ]

Park Planning, Facilities, and Lands
Tanya Wilkinson Joins Construction Program Management

Tanya Wilkinson joined the WASO Construction Program Management Division as a management analyst on July 14th. She will play a key role in supporting Servicewide programs such as the line item construction program five-year plan, value analysis, capital asset planning and Development Advisory Board meetings.

Tanya comes to the division from the Geologic Resources Division of the Natural Resources Stewardship and Science Program, where she began her NPS career as an administrative support assistant in 2010.

Tanya served six years in the United States Navy and was honorably discharged in 2001. Her duty stations included a guided missile destroyer based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a year spent at a Naval Air base in Souda Bay in Crete, and two years at Camp Pendleton in California.

Tanya graduated with honors from Ashford University in June 2010, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business management. While attending college and prior to graduation, she worked six years for a company that manufactures plunger-lift equipment for natural gas and oil wells.

A native of Colorado, Tanya is an avid fisherman, a novice hunter, and an all-around outdoorsman. During the cold, Colorado winters, you can find Tanya ice-fishing or curled up in front of the fireplace with a classic novel.

[Submitted by Lizette Richardson]

Sitka National Historical Park (AK)
Sitka’s New Mentorship Program Reinforces Culture Of Safety

Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan Kenobi as a mentor. Henry David Thoreau had Ralph Waldo Emerson. Since May, new park employees at Sitka National Historical Park have their own mentors as part of the “Safety Buddies” program.

The Safety Buddies program paired fifteen new and returning park employees and volunteers with experienced staff who serve as their safety mentors.   As soon as new employees arrive their supervisors assign them a mentor.  

Mentors meet with their mentees in the workplace to identify potential hazards and discuss best practices for safe operations. Devised by Superintendent Mary A. Miller last month, the program reinforces the culture of safety to employees new to the park – and educates employees new to the workforce.

“Our first-time Sitka employees, especially those new to the workforce, may never have been exposed to a safety culture,” said Miller. “We want those Safety Buddy discussions to happen before a new employee makes a poor safety decision.”

Most importantly, Miller communicates that everyone – from first-year volunteers to the section chiefs – are empowered to speak up if they have safety questions, or even stop working if they feel unsafe.  

“By talking to their Safety Buddy, our hope is that new employees realize that we do not compromise on safety,“ said Miller.

As a veteran of the park and chief of maintenance, Mike Trainor mentors seasonal interpretive volunteer Christina Neighbors. Fulfilling his duty as a mentor, he met with Christina, showing her a bear safety video and talked about Sitka’s culture of safety.  

“There’s no job that’s so important that we can’t do it safely,” Trainor said, reciting an old safety motto. Pairing mentors with mentees from other departments, the Safety Buddies not only opens new channels of communication between new and permanent staff, but also across departments.

“It’s been nice having Mike as my mentor. It seems like interpretive staff can learn a few things from the maintenance community,” Neighbors said, conceding that she felt as though interpretive and administrative staff often encounter less-apparent workplace hazards than maintenance staff.

For administrative and interpretive personnel there exist no fewer workplace hazards than maintenance, just different ones. On the park’s trails, uneven ground presents a tripping hazard, and Alaska’s wildlife is also cause for caution. In the office environment, rangers and volunteers often use step ladders, laminators, and blades. Though these hazards might seem minor, Miller emphasizes that no hazard is too small to correct, point out to a supervisor, or mention in the newly instated safety intervention log.

Mentees who uncover safety concerns can tell mentors in their weekly meetings – and also collaboratively with the entire park staff in the new safety intervention log.  The log is a challenge by Miller to staff to be proactive in actually taking action to make a the workplace safer. 

“My challenge to staff is to not just talk about safety, but also transform their training into action,” said Miller.

Since its inception a month ago, park staff documented 21 safety interventions and suggestions – many of which were recorded by interpretive staff.

In one instance, a ranger suggested wearing gloves while counting the money from the park’s self-pay boxes following documented cases of the highly contagious foodborne Norovirus on a cruise ship visiting Sitka.

Though fully implemented before Director Jarvis’ June safety memo, the Safety Buddies program echoes its key points. By June, Miller had already asked her staff to review all park operations– both the dynamic and the mundane – for safety.

“When the Sitka management team reviewed the memo, the staff’s conclusion was that the park had already undertaken most of the safety recommendations contained in the memo, and much more,” said Miller.

Safety Buddies is just the newest program in Sitka NHP’s staff education and training program. All staff participate in annual safety training relevant to their career field. Weekly squad and section meetings lead with a “Safety Minute.” Each of these programs reinforce the park’s culture of safety, empower and expect staff members to stop their work if safety is in question, and create an open forum to discuss safety concerns. 

“Our definition of success starts with keeping safe,” said Miller.

[Submitted by Michael Hess,, 907-747-0132]

 More Information...


Tumacácori National Historical Park (AZ)
GS-1640-11 Chief Of Facility Management

Tumacácori National Historical Park is currently recruiting for a chief of facility management. 

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

Tumacácori is a small park located in southern Arizona, 45 miles south of Tucson and 19 miles north of the international border.  One of the older units within the National Park System, Tumacácori was first established as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt.  The park preserves and interprets three Spanish colonial missions, two of which were first established in 1691.    

Government housing may be available.  A variety of affordable housing (both rental and for purchase) is also available in the communities of Nogales, Rio Rico, Tubac, Green Valley and Tucson.  All major amenities are available in the Tucson area, including excellent health care, an international airport and The University of Arizona.

For additional information please contact Superintendent Bob Love at (520) 377-5070. 

The announcement is open through August 1st.
 More Information...
Ozark National Scenic Riverways (MO)
GL-0025-9 Protection Ranger (Lateral)

Ozark National Scenic Riverways is seeking candidates interested in a lateral reassignment to a law enforcement ranger position within the park’s Upper District.  Applications will be accepted from employees of the National Park Service with career or career-conditional status in the competitive service.

This is a lateral reassignment for a Level I commissioned ranger into a special retirement covered position. The person selected will be responsible for independently performing law enforcement duties, including detection, investigation, apprehension, and prosecution under applicable laws, rules, and regulations.  The park’s program has a reputation for developing drug/alcohol, wildlife violation, and natural/cultural resource destruction cases.

Applicants are preferred to have had the DOI motorboat operations certification course (MOCC) and first responder or emergency medical technician certification.  Payment of moving expenses will be authorized.

The person in this position will have the opportunity to be involved in a wide range of ranger duties – law enforcement, fire, resource protection, SAR, and EMS.  Substantial training and experience in conducting law enforcement and investigations is a must.  The person in this position will be required to occasionally work nights, weekends, holidays, and will be subject to callouts.  Opportunities exist to lead program specialty areas in ARPA, EMS, SAR and MOCC.

Duties require extended periods of outdoor work and exposure to conditions including temperatures well below freezing to hot and humid summers with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Long periods of time will be spent on and along the river.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways is located in the heart of the Ozark Highlands of Missouri in the southeastern portion of the state on the Current and Jack's Fork Rivers.  The park features 134 miles of crystal clear, spring-fed rivers that are flanked by scenic bluffs and numerous springs and caves.  Outdoor recreational opportunities abound and include canoeing, "tubing," fishing, swimming, and hiking.

The Alley Springs duty station is located near the town of Eminence, a gateway community adjacent to Ozark National Scenic Riverways.  Stores, restaurants, churches and schools (K-12) are located within the community of Eminence.  The communities of Salem, Mountain View, Houston, Rolla, and Poplar Bluff, Missouri are all within about an hours’ drive from Eminence.

For more information about the Park visit our website:  For area information, please visit:  or Eminence, Missouri chamber of commerce:

For more information regarding this position, please contact District Ranger Bill McKinney at 573-323-8077.

Please submit the following documents by email to,  by fax to 573-323-8401 or by mail at 404 Watercress, Van Buren, MO 63965,  attention Dawn White, by the close of business (4:30 p.m. Central Time Zone) on Friday, July 25th:

  • A resume/application
  • An SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50 must show current grade and tenure and/or highest permanent grade ever held)
  • A copy of your most recent performance appraisal
  • A copy of your last PEB results