The Morning Report

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (WA)
Historic Biplane Acquired For Pearson Air Museum

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site has acquired an extremely rare 1919 DeHavilland DH-4B "Liberty" biplane for exhibit at the park's Pearson Air Museum and Jack Murdock Aviation Center.

A contract was signed on September 5th between the National Park Service and Century Aviation of Wenatchee, Washington, for the purchase and restoration of a DH-4B airframe from their collection. The project will restore the airframe to a static condition, using original and replacement parts along with original construction techniques. A mixture of appropriated NPS and donated funds were used for this purchase. A future contract will be necessary to install the skin and repaint the aircraft, with an expected delivery date in 2016.

The airplane's paint scheme will replicate that of the Liberty flown by Lt. Oakley Kelly, the first commanding officer of the Army Air Service's 321st Observation Squadron, which was based at Pearson Field from 1923 to 1941. Kelly famously flew his Liberty aircraft in an impromptu race at Pearson Field against a Ryan M-1 single wing mail plane in 1926, and also used it to pilot Oregon Trail pioneer Ezra Meeker back over his migration route to Dayton, Ohio, in 1924.

"We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Century Aviation to return a DH-4 Liberty to Pearson Field for display at Pearson Air Museum," said Pearson Air Museum Manager Dr. Bob Cromwell. "There hasn't been a DH-4 Liberty based here since at least 1927, and it is a key aircraft when discussing the early Army aviation period at Pearson Field in the 1920s."

"Pearson Air Museum will be the perfect home for this restored DH-4B Liberty," said Mark Smith of Century Aviation. "We know the National Park Service will not only display and care for this important aviation artifact, but they will use it to interpret the incredible aviation history of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Field."

Century Aviation specializes in the restoration, manufacture, and transportation of historic airplanes for use in museums, and the company is well known for directing the move of Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose" from Long Beach, California, to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. Century Aviation also has a lot of experience with the DH-4 Liberty and has restored six DH-4s in the past.

The National Park Service will work with Century Aviation during the contract period to develop interpretive panels from restoration progress reports to keep the visiting public briefed on the project. When completed, the airplane will be one of the signature objects on display at the museum.

"The National Park Service has been working hard to replace and revamp the exhibits at Pearson Air Museum, and the purchase of this DH-4B Liberty shows our long-term commitment to managing the facility," said Tracy Fortmann, the park’s superintendent. "This is not our first addition to the collection for Pearson Air Museum, and it certainly won't be our last."

Over 4,800 DH-4 Liberties were constructed in the United States from 1917 to 1923, and the design was the only American-built aircraft to enter combat during World War I. The ravages of time have reduced the numbers of intact American-built Liberties to probably fewer than 20, with only five currently on the Federal Aviation Administration registry approved for flight.

The airplane was originally designed by British engineer Geoffrey DeHavilland as a light bomber, and British forces flew them into combat starting in 1916. American firms, including Dayton Wright Aviation Company, Fisher Body Corporation, and Standard Aircraft Corporation, built them under an agreement with DeHavilland, from ca. 1917-1922.

The National Park Service is also pleased to announce the arrival of a late-1930s period Pratt & Whitney R-985 aircraft engine on loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps. This engine will be on exhibit to help interpret the late 1930s aviation history revolving around the Army Air Corps 321st Observation Squadron.  

[Submitted by Dr. Bob Cromwell]

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (ND)
Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival Held At Park

Clear skies, crisp autumn weather, and enthusiastic crowds all contributed to the resounding success of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Historic Medora's second annual Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival. 

Rangers, presenters, and volunteers made over 940 individual visitor contacts throughout the course of the festival, making it one of the busiest September weekends in the park’s history. 

Dr. Joe Shaw kicked off the weekend with an in-depth presentation about one of the more remarkable astronomical phenomena visible in the park – the aurora borealis. Afterwards, visitors were invited to observe the heavens through various lenses in a field of 15 telescopes while nearby rangers offered bonus constellation tours. A slow shutter speed time-lapse video later revealed that the northern lights actually made a brief appearance that evening, perhaps in honor of Dr. Shaw’s spotlighting their magnificence.

Saturday proved to be the festival’s busiest day, with a series of star-themed activities that included the devotion of an entire park in the beautiful gateway town of Historic Medora to exploring Earth’s closest star, our Sun.

Saturday evening’s keynote speaker, Mercury Messenger mission specialist and former Hubble Deep Space Telescope operator Mark “Indy” Kochte, brought the solar system down to earth with his presentation about NASA’s ongoing Mercury Messenger mission.

The following evening, Indy led a time lapse photography workshop at Peaceful Valley Ranch. Novices and experts alike delighted in walking back and forth between their now expertly trained cameras and the field of telescopes trained upon the universe’s vast array of nebulae, galaxies, and brilliant smudges of varying caliber.

Sunday featured a thrilling presentation by Bryce Canyon’s Kevin “The Dark Ranger” Poe, who, along with his two sons known affectionately as “The Poe Boys,” made his second Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival appearance.

Throughout the day, visitors delighted in a variety of activities, including taking in shows at DSU’s generously donated “Discovery Dome,” launching home-made model rockets, and even building their own “Gallileoscopes.”

The capstone evening program led by ranger Jeff Zylland proved to be a hit.

This year’s festival experience was perhaps best summed up by the words of one enthusiastic visitor: “I cannot tell you how excited we all were to be a part of this. […] We will definitely be planning a trip back next September specifically to attend the festival!” 

[Submitted by Joshua Bernick, Fee Specialist, Midwest Regional Office]

Mount Rainier National Park (WA)
Chief Ranger Chuck Young Announces Retirement

On October 31st, Chuck Young, Mount Rainier’s chief ranger, will be putting away his NPS flat hat for the final time after serving 37 years in the National Park Service.  

Chuck began his career in 1977 as a seasonal ranger collecting entrance fees at Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. Following his graduation with a degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Berkeley, he started permanent work in 1981 as a protection ranger at Point Reyes National Seashore.  

It was there that he met his wife to be, Fawn Bauer. They continued on as a dual career team in the NPS, eventually transferring in 1992 to Glacier Bay, where Chuck served as district and then chief ranger, and finally to Mount Rainier in 2006. In 2010-2011, Chuck served in a detail as acting superintendent of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska. 

Some of Chuck’s more memorable career moments included responses to several major cruise ship groundings in Glacier Bay,  an extended law enforcement operation which led to the apprehension of a survivalist planning for Armageddon in a remote wilderness that happened to be in a national park,  overseeing a major investigation and successful prosecution of a case involving a cruise ship that struck and killed an endangered and pregnant humpback whale, entering on duty as chief ranger at Mount Rainier two days after the worst flood in the park’s history shut it down for six months, delivering a presentation on behalf of the NPS at an International Mountains Conference at Mount Lushan, China, and a certain incident involving the accidental discharge of a 300 pound dry chemical fire extinguisher inside the boat shop at Glacier Bay. 

During his career, Chuck has enjoyed working on major incidents and projects and serving on workgroups, including regional and national Ranger Advisory committees, a CFR Part 13 boating regulations rewrite team, a major revision of Glacier Bay vessel regulations, and assisting with the NPS public safety intern program and the Visitor and Resource Protection Career Academy program.  In 2005, Chuck received the Alaska Region Harry Yount Award in recognition of his exemplary leadership and contributions as an NPS ranger.  

Yet, for all the awesome locations, wildlife encounters, and interesting work that Chuck has had the good fortune to experience, he says, “I will most fondly remember the amazing talented and dedicated individuals that I've worked with over the years.”

“The profession I chose sometimes exposed me to perhaps some of the most negative sides of human behavior.  I’ll leave the agency, however, with great memories of the many, many people in the Service, and partners outside the agency, who have inspired, mentored, and guided me throughout my career.”

Even in retirement, the gray and green will course through Chuck’s life. His wife, Fawn, continues her work as Mount Rainier’s education program manager. Last summer, their son, Forrest, worked as a seasonal river/protection ranger at Grand Teton NP, and their daughter, Kiana, a wildlife ecology major at the University of Washington, volunteered at Mount Rainier’s Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center. 

Chuck and Fawn will remain in western Washington with visits to their home in Gustavus, Alaska.  Post retirement, Chuck can be reached at

A retirement celebration will be held for Chuck on Saturday, November 8th, at the Longmire Community Building within Mount Rainier National Park.  RSVP and/or send notes or stories to share to Donna Rahier, Superintendent’s Office, 360-569-6501,  

[Submitted by Donna Rahier, Superintendent's Office]

Rock Creek Park (DC)
Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated At Two Fiestas

Along with enjoying sizzling churrasco (grilled meat popular throughout Latin America) and salsa music, first-time visitors to two recent fiestas got a glimpse of what national parks have to offer them. 

In connection with Hispanic Heritage Month, a multi-divisional team from WASO and NCR participated in Fiesta Washington DC, the city’s largest Latino event, on September 21st.

Then, on September 28th, employees from First State National Monument joined the team in a booth at “Vive tu Vida! Get Up! Get Moving!” in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. 

Visitors to the NPS booth at both festivals engaged with park rangers in English and Spanish, learned of NPS efforts to become relevant to a greater diversity of Americans through the American Latino Heritage Initiative, and gained insight into the role parks can play in maintaining a healthy lifestyle through Healthy Parks/Healthy People. 

In addition, “Vive tu Vida! Get Up! Get Moving!” provided  visitors the rare opportunity  to help shape the future of one of America’s newest National Park sites. 

First State National Monument, located near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, collected public input during the fiesta from one of its primary user communities.

[Submitted by Deanna Ochs, Permits Specialist]


Pacific West Region
GS-0025-14/15 Superintendent

Dates: 10/14/2014 - 10/27/2014

An announcement has been issued for a superintendent for Mojave National Preserve.

Please click on the link below to access the job opportunity announcement with full details on duties, area information, and procedures for applying.

This announcement closes on October 27th.

[Submitted by Martha Lee,, 415-623-2106]

 More Information...
Pacific West Region
GS-0401-14 Fire Management Officer

Dates: 10/14/2014 - 11/03/2014

An announcement has been issued for a regional fire management officer for Pacific West Region.

Please click on the link below to access the job opportunity announcement with full details on duties, area information, and procedures for applying.

This announcement closes on November 3rd.

[Submitted by Martha Lee,, 415-623-2106]

 More Information...
Pacific West Region
GS-0401-13 Deputy Fire Management Officer

Dates: 10/14/2014 - 11/03/2014

Pacific West Region is seeking candidates for a position as deputy regional fire management officer (wildland fire management specialist). The person selected will be based in either San Francisco or Sacramento.

Please click on the link below to access the job opportunity announcement with full details on duties, area information, and procedures for applying.

This announcement closes on November 3rd.

[Submitted by Sid Beckman,, 415-623-2210]

 More Information...
Mesa Verde National Park (CO)
GS-0025-11 Supervisory Park Ranger (Protection)

Dates: 10/06/2014 - 10/24/2014

Mesa Verde National Park is seeking motivated candidates who are willing to work in a team atmosphere as a Supervisory Park Ranger (Visitor & Resource Protection) GS-0025-11 position in Mesa Verde, Colorado.

The vacancy announcement closes on October 24th.

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

For more information, call Jessie Farias at 970-529-4641.

[Submitted by Jessie Farias (Chief Ranger),, 970-529-4641]

 More Information...