The Morning Report

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Search Underway For Missing Hiker

On Tuesday, August 19th, park staff, supported by searchers from Yosemite SAR and that park’s dog team and personnel from the California Highway Patrol, began a search for a 46-year-old California man who was reported overdue from a backpacking trip in Kings Canyon.

On August 10th, Gregory Muck departed on a solo hike from the Roads End area of Kings Canyon National Park. He planned to hike to Gardiner Basin via Gardiner Pass. After several days in the basin, he planned to hike out Gardiner Creek to Woods Creek and return to Roads End in Cedar Grove by August 17th.

Muck is described as being 6 feet tall and weighing from 160 to 170 pounds. His hair is blond and he sports a big beard. Muck is wearing a bright blue shirt, green wool pants and black boots. He’s carrying a red internal frame backpack, fishing gear and either a blue tarp or an orange tent.

The park is asking anyone who was in this area from August 10th to August 17th or who might have information on the missing man to call 559-565-3118 or 888-677-2746.

[Submitted by Dana Dierkes, Public Affairs Officer]

Natchez Trace Parkway (AL,MS,TN)
Three Killed In Two Accidents Over Two Days

One person was killed and a second seriously injured in a rollover accident near milepost 146 in Leake County on Tuesday, August 5th.

The driver of a Hummer H3 lost control of  his vehicle when he suffered a medical emergency. Both he and his juvenile passenger were ejected from the Hummer. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene; the juvenile suffered major but non-life-threatening injuries. Two other passengers, both of whom were wearing seatbelts, suffered only minor injuries.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, August 6th, a serious collision occurred between a pickup truck and a motorcycle near milepost 289 just north of Pharr Mounds.  

The two motorcycle riders, Pauline Demeres and Gerard Nault, both 56 of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, were pronounced dead at the scene.  Evidence and witness statements indicate that Donnie Sartain of Tishomingo, Mississippi, crossed the center line, striking the motorcycle head on.  

On August 7th, Sartain was charged in U.S. magistrate’s court with one count of driving under the influence-manslaughter. Additional charges are pending.  

[Submitted by Sarah Davis, Chief Ranger]

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ,UT)
Teenager’s Body Recovered From Lake Powell

Park dispatch received a 911 call reporting a missing swimmer near Bullfrog Marina around mid-afternoon on Thursday, August 14th.

Rangers immediately began a boat and air search of the area, continuing until it became dark. They resumed their efforts the next morning, joined by a park dive team.

The body of the 19-year-old, a Mexican national living in the Salt Lake City area, was recovered late that morning. He is presumed to have drowned.

The incident was jointly investigated by the National Park Service and Kane County Sheriff’s Office.

[Submitted by Public Affairs]


Office of Interpretation, Education and Volunteers
NPS Employees Visit Costa Rican Sister Parks

In 2013, thirteen parks in the upper Midwest plus the Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network formed a sister park relationship with seven parks and protected areas in Costa Rica’s Osa Conservation Region (ACOSA).

One year later, after a visit to the U.S. by ACOSA biologist Guido Saborio, SINAC Executive Director Rafael Gutiérrez Rojas requested technical assistance from the NPS in the areas of inventory and monitoring, science education and outreach, and interpretive media.

To that end, a five-member team from the National Park Service traveled to Costa Rica to meet with park officials and managers, discuss issues faced by both agencies, and to exchange technical information on monitoring natural resources and interpreting natural and cultural features in protected areas.

Collaboration between the United States and Costa Rica to protect the environment dates back to the 1960s when two students––Alvaro Ugalde and Mario Boza––travelled to the U.S. to work with and study the National Park Service. Ugalde and Boza were so inspired by the U.S. national parks that they returned to Costa Rica to develop one of the most famous park systems in the world––the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).

In August 2012, Director Jarvis and SINAC Executive Director Rojas signed a memorandum of understanding for the U.S. and Costa Rica to work together to protect the environment. One of the first tangible products of the MOU was this sister park arrangement.

There are currently 49 sister park relationships with 20 countries involving 50 U.S. national parks. This relationship with Costa Rica is the first to include multiple units in both countries and a non-park participant (the Great Lakes I&M Network).

The five-person team spent 11 days in late July meeting researchers and park officials in San José, then touring parks and meeting managers and collaborators on the Osa Peninsula on the country’s southern Pacific coast.

Jonathan Moore, community outreach and partnership coordinator at St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, served as the liaison for the team, coordinating all activities with the Costa Rican park officials. Bill Route, program manager/ecologist with the Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network, served as team leader and gave presentations on the NPS’ successful implementation of the vital signs monitoring program.

Jean Van Tatenhove, visual information specialist at St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, and Margie Ortiz, interpretive lead specialist with the Office of Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers in Washington, D.C., gave presentations and shared expertise on communications, outreach, volunteerism, and reaching key audiences through education and interpretive media.

Ted Gostomski, science writer/biologist with the Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network, shared his expertise in science communication and monitoring of migratory birds.

Among the trip highlights were:

  • The enthusiasm, devotion, and professionalism of SINAC’s employees and the many partners with whom they work including INBio, Osa Conservation, the University of Costa Rica, Osa Birds, and Cedes Don Bosco School. Everyone was generous with their time and hospitality, and they helped us to understand their issues and to explore common problems shared by the two countries.
  • The emphasis on fostering economic sustainability for communities located adjacent to and within the protected areas, and on education of the next generation of conservation stewards. These were themes that were repeated throughout meetings and informal discussions with government representatives, partners, and local people.
  • A visit to Cedes Don Bosco School, a high-caliber school in a low-income neighborhood of the capital city, San José. Cedes Don Bosco is nurturing well-educated and very talented students. The U.S. team watched four presentations by student groups that are designing educational and informational materials for the Costa Rican national parks, including guide books and a smart phone app.
  • Meetings with the “father of the Costa Rican park system” (and its second Executive Director), Alvaro Ugalde, as well as the new SINAC Executive Director, Julio Jurado. It was as if we were re-living the history of the U.S. NPS from Stephen Mather to present. This gave us a unique depth of understanding to the current issues facing Costa Rican parks.
  • Our tour of parks and refuges in and around the Osa Peninsula helped solidify our conviction to work with SINAC and ACOSA to protect the rich biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula. We observed many plant and animal species and learned first-hand some of the many issues that face park managers, including illegal logging within the protected areas and farming of non-native African Palm on private lands adjacent to the parks.

The team worked with Costa Rican park officials to begin drafting an Action Plan that will guide future collaborative activities between the U.S. and Costa Rican parks. Already there are tangible products and learning experiences being shared between park officials from the two countries.

All travel costs for this trip were paid for by a grant from the St. Croix Valley Foundation and an anonymous private donor.

[Submitted by Ted Gostomski]

Fire and Aviation Management
Inaugural Virtual Wildland Fire Resource Advisor Course Presented

A successful and popular wildland fire resource advisor (READ) course was presented as a webinar for the first time between April 29th and May 1st in an attempt to provide greater access to this important curriculum.

The brick-and-mortar version of the course was developed in collaboration with Pacific West Region's fire management staff, Yosemite National Park, the NPS Burned Area Emergency Response program, and Intermountain Region's fire management staff. The course has its roots in a curriculum first developed with the Bureau of Land Management in 2002 but which evolved over 12 years and more than 20 presentations to interagency audiences around the country into a three-day, scenario-based course.

A webinar version of the course had been discussed for several years in response to the growing utilization of READs on fires and shrinking training and travel budgets. Translating the dynamic and interactive curriculum to a webinar format took careful consideration and review of lessons learned by other webinars. The cadre took advantage of the experience of working with each other over the years in the brick-and-mortar version, and existing software and technology to deliver the course.

This experience, and being able to coordinate the course remotely, further reduced costs while bringing together experts from across the country.

The pilot webinar presentation of Wildland Fire for Resource Advisors (N-9042) condensed the three days/24 hours of presentation into three days/12 hours of presentation, with an additional short on-line assessment for participants to demonstrate their grasp of the material.

Cadre member Jun Kinoshita thought the training went very well.

“This is our first attempt to present using a webinar format," said Kunoshita, "and I am pleased with the results. While there were certainly challenges in changing formats, I think it went very well. Certainly course participants cared enough about the topic to provide good constructive feedback and we will be able to incorporate their feedback into an even stronger course. I was impressed with the number of participants we were able to reach and course participants demonstrated their commitment by staying engaged throughout the presentation and asking insightful questions.”

In addition, feedback, both in formal course evaluations and by informal discussions with participants suggests that the course was a large success. The average attendance as measured by online screens was around 160 people, and the cadre heard from several locations that there were multiple participants, many of which are remote and would not have been able to have as many participants unless the course was brought to them.

Thanks to some great feedback and ideas from course participants, the cadre looks forward to presenting this course again on-line, and making the recordings available for self-study, adding even more flexibility to the curriculum. Future versions will strive toward incorporating the role-playing scenarios and other more interactive tools.

[Submitted by Jun Kinoshita,, (209) 379-1317]

Yosemite National Park (CA)
Annual Terrorist Response Training Held

Yosemite National Park held its annual Hetch Hetchy terrorist response training session in June at the O’Shaughnessy Dam at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. 

The training, which was attended by agencies throughout the region, was designed to provide response teams with real-life scenarios where a security threat was experienced on the dam. 

The training was divided into a tactical team scenario in which team members entered the dam in order to search for and safely apprehend a subject threatening damage or violence to the dam or park personnel. 

Additional training included a bomb-seeking mission in which San Francisco’s explosive ordnance disposal team deployed their bomb robot to test its navigation performance within the dam.  The last part of the training included a canine scenario, also held within the dam, in which teams employed a canine to subdue a subject. 

After the training, an after action review was held to determine areas for improvement, emphasize the importance of the training, discuss future interagency training and relationships, and reiterate the need to remain familiar with the dam and the surrounding area. 

The training was attended by approximately 60 people from a total of seven agencies, including the National Park Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Forest Service, California Fish and Game, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office, Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office, Hetch Hetchy Water and Power, and City of San Francisco Special Weapons and Tactics/Explosive Ordnance Disposal team and Homeland Security Division. 

[Submitted by Kari Cobb, Public Affairs Officer ]


Virgin Islands National Park (VI)
GS-0401-13 Supervisory Resource Management Specialist

Virgin Islands National Park has issued an announcement for a supervisory resource management specialist.

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 9th.
 More Information...
Denver Service Center
GS-2101-12/13 Transportation Quality Assurance Specialist

Denver Service Center has issued an announcement for a transportation quality assurance specialist.

The person selected for this position will work in DSC's Transportation Division and provides expertise in landscape architecture, compliance, project management, revegetation, and coordination with the Federal Highway Administration in the development of road and transportation planning projects for NPS regions and parks.

The announcement is open to all qualified U.S. citizens.

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

The announcement closes on Monday, August 25th.
 More Information...