The Morning Report

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Recent Editions  


Olympic National Park (WA)
Missing Backpacker Emerges From Backcountry

Backpacker Kelly Hall, who had been missing for nearly four days in the northeast section of Olympic National Park, walked out to the Whiskey Bend Trailhead in the Elwha Valley yesterday morning.

Hall, who’d been the subject of a major search, was tired and had suffered minor scrapes and bruises, but was otherwise okay.

Hall was last seen by two other hikers in the Grand Valley area about four miles from his starting point at Obstruction Point. He told searchers that he lost the trail in very foggy, rainy conditions in the area of Grand Pass and found himself heading west into the Lillian River drainage rather than into the Cameron Creek drainage as planned.

He said that once he realized his mistake and was able to determine his location, he decided to continue hiking downstream along the Lillian River, knowing that he would eventually find the Lillian River Trail, which would lead him to the Elwha River Trail and the Whiskey Bend Trailhead. 

Hall’s ad hoc Lillian River route involved eight miles of extremely strenuous off-trail travel, which was much more rugged, difficult and time-consuming than he had anticipated, taking nearly four days longer than he had originally planned for his hike.  He reached the Whiskey Bend Trailhead this morning, where he encountered a group of hikers who gave him a ride to the Elwha Ranger Station.

Hall was well-equipped with food, a water filter, maps and compass, the “Ten Essentials” and appropriate gear. 

Hall began his hike on Saturday, August 30th, setting out from the Obstruction Point Trailhead near Hurricane Ridge.  Family members expected to meet him at the USFS Slab Camp Trailhead on Thursday afternoon. 

Searchers who contributed to the effort include National Park Service employees and volunteers, an aircraft and crew from Washington State Patrol, and volunteers from Olympic Mountain Rescue, Clallam County Search and Rescue, German Shepherd Search Dogs, Kitsap County Search and Rescue and numerous community members.

[Submitted by Barb Maynes, Public Affairs Officer]

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Unconscious Kayaker Rescued From Snake River

Just before noon on Thursday, September 4th, rangers and park paramedics responded to a boat accident with an unresponsive kayaker on the Snake River, about three-quarters of a mile downstream from the Pacific Creek landing.  

Gerald Skinner, 80, of Brentwood, Tennessee, was kayaking with his son near the Snake’s confluence with the Buffalo Fork River when he apparently overturned his boat and lost consciousness.

Skinner’s son made a 911 call for help, and that emergency call was routed to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 11:50 a.m.  Park rangers quickly responded to the scene by foot and by boat.

Within a couple of minutes of the accident, a private fishing party of two EMT/firefighters from Colorado happened to float by and they stopped to assist. The two EMTs began providing emergency medical care to Skinner. They also delivered updates to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center while rangers were en-route.

The first park ranger arrived on scene at 12:10 p.m., after traveling by vehicle from the Buffalo Fork Ranger Station and then bushwhacking on foot to the river bank location. A second park ranger and two park paramedics also launched from Pacific Creek landing via boat and they arrived at 12:12 p.m.

Rangers transferred Skinner—who was breathing, but still unresponsive—to a sandbar in the middle of the river, where a Teton Interagency Fire contract helicopter was able to land. The helicopter made a quick flight with Skinner and the two park paramedics aboard from the river island to a nearby ballfield at the Moran School.

Upon landing, Skinner was transferred into a waiting park ambulance. Emergency care continued in the ambulance until Classic Air Ambulance, a life flight service out of Riverton, was able to arrive and provide transport to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

An investigation into what caused the boating accident is still underway. Both Skinners were wearing life vests at the time of the incident.

[Submitted by Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]


Yosemite National Park (CA)
Meadow Fire Suppression Efforts Continue

The Meadow Fire, which began early on Sunday afternoon, has burned an estimated 2,582 acres in the park’s high-elevation wilderness east of Half Dome and near Little Yosemite Valley.

All roads, entrance stations, and park facilities in Yosemite National Park remain open and operational.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

As of late yesterday, there were 11 aircraft dedicated to suppressing the fire, including seven helicopters and two airplanes. Over 120 fire personnel are assigned to the fire, including fire crews from the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. No injuries have been reported. Hotshot crews are accessing the perimeter of the fire on foot in order to assist suppression efforts. 

Trails near the Half Dome area, the Little Yosemite Valley area, Merced Lake and Sunrise High Sierra Camps, Clouds Rest, and Echo Valley remain closed due to fire activity.  The trail to Half Dome, east of Nevada Fall, remains closed at this time, including the Half Dome cables.  The trail and the cables will remain closed through Thursday.  

Evacuation of visitors in Yosemite’s Wilderness was completed yesterday. No further evacuations are anticipated. 

Smoke may be visible throughout the park and surrounding region.  At this time, air quality in Yosemite Valley remains good.  

Updated information on the fire can be found at the following sites:

[Submitted by Kari Cobb, Public Affairs Officer]

Youth Programs Division
HBCU Interns Attend Leadership And Careers Workshop

As part of the annual culminating celebration of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) internship program, interns from this year’s program from across the nation recently gathered in Washington for a leadership and careers workshop.

The internship program (HBCUI) is supported through a public-private partnership between the Youth Programs Division of the National Park Service and the Greening Youth Foundation (GYF). It is designed to link students from historically Black colleges and universities to NPS sites with a focus on African-American history and culture.

Students attended the workshop to gain valuable insights into National Park Service careers. Sessions included networking and personal branding, a panel discussion, and an informational session entitled “How to Build a Federal Resume and Navigate”

Senior leaders from the Department of the Interior, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Corps Network all contributed to close-out workshops by facilitating sessions or participating in panel discussions.

The workshops were intended to not only engage the interns in valuable skill-building informational sessions, but to also serve as a platform to discuss solutions for diversity in the conservation field.

“The best way to combat the lack of diversity in the conservation field is to create the awareness at a young age,” said Hampton University student Ehren Vance. “Start them young. Creating programs that engage students earlier gives them valuable exposure to opportunities in the field.”.

Hampton University student Teressa Brown also highlighted the invaluable role of NPS diversity-oriented programs has on connecting underrepresented communities to national parks.

“Programs like HBCUI give students of color an opportunity that may have not been accessible elsewhere,” she says. “The NPS and GYF are going in the right direction.”

In addition to rich dialogue regarding pursuing federal careers, diversity in the conservation movement, and connecting diverse youth and adults to national parks, HBCUI interns were exposed to DC tourist attractions.

From Foggy Bottom to the Shaw Historic Neighborhood, the interns had the opportunity to explore the cultural landscape of the nation’s capital. As part of the tourism experience, the interns visited the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Museum for American History, and the African American Civil War Museum and Monument.

John Vison, HBCUI intern and student at Central State University, made a pleasant discovery during a visit to the African American Civil War Monument.

“When we arrived to D.C. and took a tour around the city, I found monuments that showed information that I have been researching since the beginning of my internship. After finding that monument and seeing it for myself, I have felt this huge sense of pride and achievement.”

[Submitted by Erica Austin]

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers Bureau Held

Grand Canyon National Park’s diversity council and Albright Training Center recently partnered with Earthwise Productions, Inc., to welcome the Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers Bureau to the park.

The mission of the bureau is to utilize the knowledge and expertise of its members to build broad community support for the protection of public lands, environment and people through relevancy, diversity and inclusion.  This complements the mission of the NPS and will support community driven and place-based programs to help ensure the stability of local communities.

The partnership between the bureau and the NPS is about being inclusive to all people and reaching beyond the traditional boundaries to facilitate and share the stories of our nation.

The members were carefully selected for their outstanding ability to deliver presentations on effective engagement of communities of color, underserved and underexposed through training, motivation and program development.

The NPS sees the bureau as a valuable partner to help execute its purpose-driven mission to reach unexposed constituents. It is anticipated that through active capacity building, the NPS will become engaged in the communities that surround the parks and serve the needs of the community in an entrepreneurial fashion.

Throughout the week members of the bureau gave presentations on a wide variety of topics related to their personal experience and expertise. The members provided insight on how to be inclusive of diverse communities and the importance of reconnecting all people to parks and the outdoors. They also had the opportunity to explore the park, many for the first time.

"It has been an absolute joy to see the tears running down the faces of people seeing the canyon for the first time,” said Audrey Peterman, co-founder of Earthwise Productions, Inc., and the bureau’s leader. “And the way the National Park Service and their concessionaires such as Xanterra and Paul Revere Bus Company have welcomed us make it clear that the time is right for this program to help shift organizational culture and achieve a more diverse and inclusive workforce and visitor base.”

The engagement of these individuals as valued speakers and trainers is assurance that communities of color will become more involved in the workforce of the environmental industry.  Through these training and facilitated sessions, the NPS will learn best practices to engage unexposed and underserved audiences. Their work ties directly into many of the goals of the Call to Action plan and the Healthy Parks Healthy People program.

The official launch of the bureau took place at the National Press Club Washington, D.C., on August 25th.

[Submitted by Mariah Cissé and Deidra Jackson]

Student Employee Network
SEN Leadership Team Accepting Applications

Are you an NPS employee? Are you also currently enrolled in an academic program? Do you want to connect with other student employees and further develop team building and leadership skills?

If so, consider joining the leadership team of the NPS Student Employee Network (SEN). SEN is currently accepting new applications.

SEN is a student-lead, student-based network that fosters information-sharing, innovation and professional development of current and future NPS employees. The goal of SEN is to engage and inspire an emerging generation of NPS leaders.

We are looking to expand our core team and fill vacant regional representative positions. If you are an employee of the National Park Service who is also enrolled in any academic program, consider joining our team.

You need not be a Pathways student employee to be a member of SEN; any NPS employee who is enrolled in a degree-seeking program is eligible.

A few of the ongoing projects that we will be working on over the next year include:

  • Developing a biannual newsletter distributed Servicewide
  • Creating and updating social media posts and email exchanges to share information and resources with student employees Servicewide
  • Completing the operational handbook for the network
  • Developing and updating content for a new web site
  • Strengthen new and existing partnerships with other NPS programs and offices

Joining SEN does require a time commitment. Regional representatives can expect to spend up to two hours per pay period on SEN activities. Core team members carry more network responsibility. Members of the core team should be able to commit up to 4 hours per pay period to network meetings and activities.

Applications will be accepted through Monday October 6th. To apply, share your interest with your supervisor and obtain supervisory approval to participate in SEN. After receiving supervisory approval, go to the “More Information” link below and complete the online application by Monday, October 6th. 

To learn more about the NPS Student Employee Network, visit us online:

You can contact the network by sending an email to

[Submitted by Jamie Richards and Alexis Sanchez]

 More Information...
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IN)
Garry Traynham Retires

Garry Traynham, deputy superintendent at Indiana Dunes, retired on September 2nd after more than 39 years with the National Park Service.  

Garry began as a seasonal park ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1975.  He spent nine years on the parkway, progressing to the position of district ranger.  He subsequently held positions in Grand Canyon National Park, Shenandoah National Park and the former Mid-Atlantic Regional Office.

In 1996, Garry was named team coordinator for resources management, law enforcement and administrative support for Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site/Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Friendship Hill National Historic Site, all located in western Pennsylvania.

In 1997, as a graduate of the Federal Executive Potential Program, Garry was selected as assistant superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Garry held detail positions in the Alaska Regional Office and the Department of Interior Service Center and was a member of the board of directors for the Allegheny Ridge State Heritage Park in western Pennsylvania. He was also a participant in several agency initiatives, including the establishment of core standards for the operation of all National Park Service sites and served as a leadership instructor at the Albright Training Center.

For the time being, Garry and his wife, Audrey, remain in LaPorte, Indiana, but will have more time for visiting with their adult children, Matt and Lee.

[Submitted by Bruce Rowe]

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Park Volunteers Receive Prestigious Award

Roger and Betsy Leverton were recently selected as recipients of Intermountain Region’s George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. 

Their dedication to the mission of the National Park Service is truly inspiring. For fifteen years they have served Rocky Mountain National Park and park visitors in a variety of volunteer capacities. 

At the park's recent annual volunteer appreciation event, the Levertons were presented with the Hartzog Award for Enduring Service for their contributions to Rocky’s Artist-in-Residence program.

For over ten years, Roger and Betsy Leverton have assisted the park's Artist-in-Residence coordinator in running a challenging multi-disciplinary art program. Their volunteer duties are diverse and complex. The Levertons work directly with professional artists, the visiting public, and they process hundreds of applications for the prominent program.   

The scope and magnitude of their contributions to Rocky’s artist program over the last decade are astounding. Since 2004, the Levertons have enhanced the efficiency of the program, helped to make the application and jury process more environmentally sustainable, and increased the quality of program applicants.

In the last decade, they have processed 843 applications, prepared jury materials for 55 jury panel members, have hosted 69 artists and have emceed 132 Artist-in-Residence public programs enjoyed by nearly 6,000 park visitors and local residents. 

Their enduring service has made significant, meaningful and lasting contributions to the oldest Artist-in-Residence program within the National Park Service.  They have helped to make Rocky’s Artist-in-Residence program an exceptional program that is emulated by many other national parks.

Through their volunteer work with the Artist-in-Residence coordinator, they have helped to meet the mission of the National Park Service and move the park toward the Director’s 2016 centennial goal of connecting people to parks through showcasing the arts. 

[Submitted by Kyle Patterson, Public Information Officer]