One backcountry skier killed, companion seriously injured in avalanche on Mount Moran (posted 5/18/15)
MOOSE, WYOMING — A team of Grand Teton National Park rangers, emergency medical personnel, Teton County Search and Rescue (SAR) team members and a contract helicopter quickly swung into action Sunday morning, May 17, to rescue four backcountry ski mountaineers who were involved in an avalanche on the northeast face of Mount Moran. Luke Lynch, age 38, of Jackson, Wyoming was killed in the avalanche and one of his companions, Stephen P. Adamson, Jr., age 42, sustained life-threatening injuries, prompting evacuation by helicopter. Two other companions, Brook Yeomans, age 37, with minor injuries, and Zahan Billimoria , age 37, who escaped injury, were also evacuated via helicopter as continuing avalanche activity and a steady cycle of snow squalls across the Tetons made the multi-staged rescue operation more challenging. All three survivors are local residents of Jackson, Wyoming.
Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a 911 transfer call from Teton County at 9:30 a.m. and quickly contacted park rangers who immediately initiated a coordinated rescue operation. Because of the remote location on Mount Moran—and the report of multiple injured persons—park rangers quickly staged at, and responded from, the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache located at Lupine Meadows near the base of Teewinot Mountain. Rangers also summoned the Teton County SAR contract helicopter, piloted by Nicole Ludwig of Hillsboro Aviation.
The four ski mountaineers were ascending the steep Sickle Couloir on Mount Moran when a shallow wet slough avalanche released from above. The snowslide swept three of the mountaineers downslope for approximately 500 feet over rock and ice covered terrain. Billimoria was able to move out of the heavier portion of the debris flow and was not caught in the slide. He quickly descended to his teammates, called 911, and began the difficult task of administering aid to his three companions. Light snowfall on the slopes above continued to cause additional sloughs that repeatedly hit the group, requiring Billimoria to work desperately to move Adamson and Lynch to a safer location. Although injured, Yeomans was able to descend slowly downslope under his own power.
After a slight lull in the recurring snowstorms over the Teton peaks, the Teton County SAR helicopter was able to deliver several rescuers to the base of the couloir. A Teton County SAR member was short-hauled to the scene to aid in the evacuation of Adamson, who receiving emergency medical care by park rangers on site and getting package for airlift off the mountain. Adamson and the Teton County SAR member were both short-hauled directly to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache where a team of medics and the park’s medical director, Dr. Will Smith, provided additional emergency care before Adamson was transported by park ambulance to the Jackson Hole Airport. Upon reaching the airport, Adamson was transferred to a fixed wing air ambulance that flew him to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
The Teton County SAR helicopter subsequently returned to pick up the two other avalanche survivors and transport them out of the backcountry. Additional flights were made to bring out Lynch’s body, as well as the remaining park rangers and their rescue gear. All rescue personnel were safely out of the mountains by 3 p.m.
Skiers and climbers should be alert during this time of year for the possibility of wet avalanches. Slides can be shallow, and seemingly benign. However, they have the potential to sweep people off their feet into hazardous terrain below.
Barrasso, Lummis introduce Bill to increase water storage in Fontenelle Reservoir (posted 5/18/15)
Would expand water storage capability in southwest Wyoming
Wyoming delegation media release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, May 12th, U.S. Senator John Barrasso and U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis, both R-Wyo., introduced legislation to approve the expansion of water storage at the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County, Wyoming.
"In Wyoming, farmers and ranchers need a reliable and plentiful supply of water in order to keep their livestock and crops healthy. After years of delay, this bill will finally help move the much needed Fontenelle Reservoir expansion project forward to allow Wyoming to continue to develop its water rights," said Barrasso. "More water storage capacity means more water for farmers, ranchers and local communities. It also provides an economic incentive for new businesses to grow and create jobs in southwestern Wyoming."
"Water is our most precious natural resource and this legislation will help Wyoming develop its water resources and enhance economic opportunities for southwestern Wyoming in the process," said Lummis. "Ranching in Wyoming all my life, I understand the need for water storage since we can’t depend solely on regular rainfall in our high plains desert state. Water storage and other water development projects are what make Wyoming and the arid west bloom, and this legislation will build on that success story with this common-sense, state-led fulfillment of Fontenelle’s storage potential."
The bill allows for the expansion of water storage at the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County. This would be accomplished by completing the "rip rap" around the reservoir. A "rip rap" is a foundation or sustaining wall of stones or chunks of concrete connected together around the reservoir to prevent erosion.
The bill directs the State of Wyoming and the BOR to reach an agreement to allow Wyoming to complete the rip rap around the reservoir. The State of Wyoming would pay for the cost of completing this project. Wyoming would also have a right to the water that would be stored in the reservoir if the reservoir is completed by building the rip rap.
Despite multiple requests by the State of Wyoming in 2011 and 2014, the Bureau of Reclamation has not completed the needed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance in order to move forward with the expansion of the Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County.
BEWARE OF SPAM: USPS warns of bogus package delivery emails (posted 5//18/15)
U.S. Postal Inspection Service Crime Alert
U.S. Postal Service
Some postal customers are receiving bogus emails about a package delivery or online postage charges. The emails contain a link or attachment that, when opened, installs a malicious virus that can steal personal information from your PC.
The emails claim to be from the U.S. Postal Service and contain fraudulent information about an attempted or intercepted package delivery or online postage charges. You are instructed to click on a link, open the attachment, or print the label.
But Postal Inspectors warn: Don't do it!
Like most viruses sent by email, clicking on the link or opening the attachment will activate a virus that can steal information—such as your user name, password, and financial account information.
What to do? Simply delete the message without taking any further action. The Postal Inspection Service is working hard to resolve the issue and shut down the malicious program.
If you have questions about a delivery or wish to report postal-related spam, please call 1-800-ASK-USPS or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scam Alert U.S. Postal Service
Yellowstone National Park announces new entrance fees starting June 1 (posted 5/12/15)
Yellowstone National Park
Starting on June 1, 2015, Yellowstone National Park will increase entrance fees for visitors in order to fund important resource protection and visitor facility projects within the park.
"We use our entrance fees to complete critical projects that benefit park visitors and our natural resources," said Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk. "Eighty percent of the revenue we collect stays right here in Yellowstone and funds projects including road repairs, campground upgrades, rehabilitation of park structures, accessibility improvements for people with disabilities, radio and utility systems improvements, native fish restoration and aquatic invasive species mitigation."
The park estimates that the new entrance fees will generate $11 million of revenue per year, approximately $3 million greater than current entrance fee revenue.
The new fees are summarized here:
• Vehicles: The entrance fee will be $30 per vehicle to visit Yellowstone National Park for 1-7 days. Grand Teton National Park will have a separate pass for $30. People visiting both parks can save $10 by purchasing a $50 two-park vehicle pass, also valid for 1-7 days.
• Motorcycles: Motorcycles can enter Yellowstone for $25 for 1-7 days or both parks for $40.
• Individuals: Per person fees will be $15 for Yellowstone or $20 for both parks.
• Annual Passes: Yellowstone’s annual pass will be $60. This pass offers visitors in the local area an option that is less expensive than the $80 Interagency Pass. The Interagency Pass rates will remain the same: Annual ($80) and Senior ($10). Military passes and Access passes (for people with permanent disabilities) will remain free.
Yellowstone National Park is a strong economic engine for the region and local communities. In 2014, the park generated $543.7 million in economic benefits and directly supported over 6,600 jobs. Previous fee increases have had no effect on visitation levels. The last entrance fee increase in Yellowstone National Park occurred in 2006 when fees were raised from $20 to $25 for private vehicles.
Park managers proposed a new structure for entrance fees and reached out to stakeholders through a public comment period in November and December 2014. The park solicited comments via mail and online, held meetings in Cody, Wyoming, Jackson, Wyoming, and Bozeman, Montana, and held conference calls with Congressional Delegation staff, county commissioners, concessioners, and commercial use authorization holders. The 2014 proposal included a 1-3-day pass that was eliminated based on public comment.
Grand Teton National Park starts new entrance fees June 1st (posted 5/12/15)
Grand Teton National Park
As part of a larger National Park Service (NPS) initiative to update entrance fees in place since 2006, Grand Teton National Park plans to implement a new fee structure starting June 1, 2015. Additional revenues generated by this fee change are expected to reach $1.2 million. The added income will be used to fund trail improvements in the Jenny Lake area; restore and stabilize historic buildings for greater understanding and appreciation of the park’s history and culture; expand youth outreach programs; and resurface park roads.
The proposed change underwent a 30-day public review and comment period at the end of 2014, and the new fee structure was approved after full consideration of impacts to visitors and local communities. Grand Teton received 59 official comments and park managers heard from nearly a dozen people during a public open house. While some people expressed concern for the fee increase, others expressed support of this change.
The old fee structure, in place since 2006, includes:
$25 for a 7-day pass to enter both Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park by private vehicle
$50 for a Grand Teton/Yellowstone Annual Pass valid for one-year entry into both national parks
$80 for an Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year entry to all fee areas on federal lands
$12 for a 7-day pass to enter both Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park by foot/bicycle
$20 for a 7-day pass to both Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park by motorcycle
The new fee structure, effective June 1, includes:
$30 for a 7-day pass to enter only Grand Teton National Park by private vehicle
$50 for a 7-day pass to enter both Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park by private vehicle
$60 for a Grand Teton National Park Annual Pass valid for one-year to enter only Grand Teton
$80 for an Interagency Annual Pass valid for one year entry to all fee areas on federal lands
$15 for a 7-day pass to enter only Grand Teton National Park by foot/bicycle
$20 for a 7-day pass to enter both Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park by foot/bicycle
$25 for a 7-day pass to enter only Grand Teton National Park by motorcycle
$40 for a 7-day pass to enter both Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park by motorcycle
"When compared to other destinations and tourist attractions across the U.S., national parks provide outstanding opportunities to experience our American heritage and make lasting memories through an affordable family vacation," said Superintendent David Vela. "The relatively modest increase in entry fees is not expected to significantly alter park visitation, which reached an all-time high in 2014 with nearly 2.8 million recreational visits recorded."
"As part of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, all 4th graders and their families will receive free admission to America’s 407 national park areas during the 2015/2016 school year. And the NPS offers a total of nine days this year, when entrance fees are waived for each and every visitor," added Superintendent Vela.
www.nps.gov/grte Grand Teton National Park
Fishing expected to be very good in 2015 (posted 5/9/15)
Wyoming Game & Fish
Even though snowpack has been below average in most drainages this year, fishing is expected to be very good as the favorable precipitation of the past few years continues to have a positive effect on Wyoming fisheries.
With the lower snowpack, the runoff should be over sooner this year which means streams and rivers will be in good fishable condition weeks earlier than the last few years. The good water levels of the recent past are carrying over and boat ramps are generally accessible. Here is a rundown of what anglers and boaters can expect in Wyoming waters in 2015:
In the Jackson area, fishing should be good in popular rivers such as the Snake, Hoback, and Greys. Due to a smaller snowpack this year the runoff is not anticipated to take as long as last year and depending on runoff rate, rivers should be fishable by early summer. As is customary, the higher elevation lakes will be very good later in the summer.
This spring Pinedale area anglers have been fishing and floating the Green and New Fork Rivers and these waters will continue to be productive until the runoff increases river flows. But, as with other western Wyoming waters the low snowpack will shorten the runoff period. Fishing is anticipated to be good throughout the summer. Ice is off Fremont, Boulder, and Halfmoon lakes and now is a good time to fish for rainbows and lake trout. Meadow Lake and CCC pond are also ice free.
The Bighorn River near Thermopolis continues to be excellent with many large trout available for anglers. The extended period of runoff in 2014 may have affected the growth and condition of trout in Buffalo Bill Reservoir, so expect the fish to be a bit on the thin side for the beginning of 2015. Many of the rainbows, cutthroats, and cutbows from Buffalo Bill Reservoir washed into the Shoshone River through Cody in 2014 and anglers have been catching many of these large trout through this past winter. Upper and Lower Sunshine reservoirs remained near full through 2014, and those waters are expected to be producing some great angling opportunities in 2015. Fishing on Big Horn Lake will be open by early May and fishing is expected to be good especially for channel catfish. Sauger fishing on the lake typically is at its best in the fall months.
Fishing in the Sheridan area is anticipated to be very good this summer. The Bighorn Mountains have numerous high lakes with excellent fishing and are expected to be accessible by early summer. One of the most popular streams in the Bighorns is the North Tongue River where anglers can find cutthroats up to 20 inches as well as rainbow, brown and brook trout. For anglers up for a hike into the canyon, the Outlaw Cave section of The Middle Fork of the Powder River west of Kaycee is another excellent stream producing rainbows and browns up to 20 inches. The Bighorn Mountains also has numerous high lakes with excellent fishing and are expected to be accessible by early summer. The popular lower reservoirs in the region are full and fishing is good especially in the spring. Keyhole Reservoir will provide good to excellent walleye and northern pike fishing. There is a large population of northern pike that are just under the 30-inch minimum size limit required to harvest a northern. Crappie anglers at Keyhole should also find angling pretty good in 2015. Anglers at Lake DeSmet will find many rainbow trout in the 18-inch size range. The lake also has cutthroats and trophy brown trout and some large walleyes. Healy Reservoir is another water where anglers can find a variety of fish. Best known for its abundant yellow perch population, the lake also has tiger musky and largemouth bass.
In the Green River region, anglers are currently experiencing good fishing opportunities in the major waters, and the good fishing is expected to continue. On Flaming Gorge, fishing for rainbow trout and small lake trout from both shore and boat has been productive. As water temperatures warm into the mid-50s, kokanee fishing should start picking up. Anglers at Fontenelle Reservoir have been treated to some fast action on rainbow and brown trout from shore this spring. As with Flaming Gorge, boat action picks up as water temperatures warm in June. Kokanee fishing should pick up this year in Fontenelle, but the schools of fish can be spotty. Anglers who catch a kokanee are advised to circle back through the same area as this tactic will oftentimes produce additional bites. Other waters expected to be good include Viva Naughton and Kemmerer City reservoirs north of Kemmerer on the Hams Fork River. Both have produced good angling opportunities for rainbow trout the past few years and are expected to be equally good this year. Viva Naughton was also stocked with tiger trout last year and fisheries managers are watching to see the growth rates the next few years Fishing at the Jim Bridger Pond right next to the power plant has been producing nice fish for anglers this spring and should continue into the summer. Many fish are between 15 and 20 inches with some fish over 20 inches. Jim Bridger pond has rainbow and cutthroat trout as well as smallmouth bass. Tiger trout were first stocked in the pond last year and should be 10-12 inches long by June. They will grow fast and could reach impressive sizes in a few years. The Green River below Fontenelle Reservoir supports good populations of rainbow trout and brown trout and the Game and Fish also stocks Snake River and Bonneville cutthroat trout in the river. The fishing in the Green River has been good the last couple years as a result of favorable water levels in the river and the Game and Fish stocking of 8-inch rainbow trout the last few years. Anglers are cautioned to review the fishing regulations and to make certain they are in compliance on the section of river they are fishing.
In the Laramie region, water levels in reservoirs are good and ramps are accessible thanks to a good carryover of water from previous wet years. Based on recent sampling by Laramie fisheries managers, fishing on the Laramie Plains lakes is expected to be the best it has been in a number of years. As example, rainbows sampled in Twin Buttes, averaged nearly 17.5 inches and more than 80 percent were over 16-inches long. In Alsop, it was even better with rainbows averaging more than 22 inches with many five to six pound fish. Fish were also large in Gelatt Lake, averaging nearly 19 inches for the rainbows and more than 17 inches for cutthroats. Twenty percent of the fish sampled in Gelatt were over 20 inches. Meeboer Lake, which has been a victim of winter kill in many years, produced numerous fish this year with rainbows in the 16-18 inch category including one 22 inch fish that weighed in at 6.5 pounds. Spring surveys in Leazenby, showed good numbers of brook and rainbow trout. Wheatland Reservoir #3 has good populations of larger brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout with many fish over 20 inches. Fishing for walleye and smallmouth bass in Grayrocks reservoir is also expected to be very good. Anglers are reminded that the 15-inch minimum size limit on bass has been removed from Grayrocks and anglers can now keep three bass, but no more than one can exceed 12 inches. High lakes in the Snowy Range should again offer good fishing with brook, rainbow, cutthroat and splake available. The popular upper North Platte River should also be productive this year and depending on the rate of runoff, should be in fishable condition by mid June.
In central Wyoming, walleye numbers are increasing in Boysen Reservoir and should lead to good fishing for 18-19 inch walleye this year. The reservoir also has a large number of 16-18 inch sauger and anglers are advised to know the difference between the species as there are separate limits for each. Rainbow trout numbers are good in Boysen and fishing this year is expected to be good. Walleye numbers in nearby Ocean Like are below average, but there are a number of fish in the 16-18 inch range. High lakes in the Wind River Mountains have a variety of species including rainbow, cutthroat, brook and golden trout and fishing is generally excellent. The below average snowpack will make the area accessible earlier this year and most streams are expected to be fishable by mid to late June.
The Casper region should have good fishing throughout the summer. According to fisheries managers Seminoe, Pathfinder and Alcova reservoirs offer good walleye opportunities from eaters to trophies, but because walleye populations are up, the trout fisheries are not as hot as they have been in the past few years. In terms of trout fishing, the best bet is Pathfinder, Seminoe and Alcova in that order based on size of trout and catch rate. After experiencing winterkill last year, Goldeneye Reservoir has been restocked, but water levels are low this year and without spring moisture and increased water levels, things might get rough. Those venturing to Glendo Reservoir will find good numbers of walleyes over 15 inches however there is a shortage of smaller fish which could affect the fishing next year. On the Miracle Mile section of the North Platte River, anglers should expect to see good numbers of medium to large fish with good fishing throughout the fishing season. The popular Gray Reef to Glenrock section of the North Platte is in good condition for trout and excellent fishing has already been reported this year with continued superb fishing throughout the fishing season expected. Large numbers of big trout are available through this stretch of the river.
Anglers are reminded to check fishing regulations for the water they plan to fish. In addition, a Wyoming Fishing Guide can be found online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov.
Annual Citizen Science Project explores the frogs, toads and salamanders of Pinedale area (posted 5/9/15)
Seeking volunteers to survey catchments to find amphibians
University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute
When you hear a ribbit, you know the fun is about to begin. The Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project, now in its second year, is a citizen science program in Wyoming focused on searching for, identifying and tracking frogs, toads and salamander in the state, through the help of the public and agency biologists. The program is seeking volunteers in the Pinedale area to sign up for surveying catchments (sets of ponds, streams or lakes) in the Bridger Teton National Forest, to see which amphibians they find hopping around.
Amphibians are animals that start their lives in the water as tadpoles or larvae and live their adult lives on land as frogs, toads or salamanders. They are known to be in major decline all over the world, yet there is very little known about which species exist where and how populations are faring in Wyoming.
The Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project seeks to better understand how well Wyoming’s amphibians are reproducing and surviving in our modern times. The project will collect data to look at population trends in amphibian species in Wyoming, so that land managers and agency biologists can prioritize their conservation efforts based on scientific evidence.
The project is currently underway in the Medicine Bow National Forest in southeastern Wyoming and the Bridger- Teton National Forest in northwestern Wyoming.
The first year of the program was highly successful. Over 75 volunteers, all working in pairs or groups, surveyed 90 sites and found over 550 individual amphibians. In three locations, citizen scientists found frog species that had not be known to exist at that site before.
People interested in participating in this project can start by visiting the project website, www.toadtrackers.org. They can peruse the menu of catchments that are available for adoption, sign up to adopt one, and watch the videos to learn how to conduct surveys and how to safely catch and release amphibians in order to identify them. The project team will loan participants a box of basic equipment that they’ll need to conduct the survey, and the volunteers survey their site during the early part of summer. All data collected is submitted online, and it is reviewed by scientists and included in the amphibian database. Participants will have regular communication with scientists and project coordinators before, during and after their participation.
RMAP is organized and sponsored by the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute, Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the United States Forest Service.
About the University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute
The UW Biodiversity Institute fosters conservation of biodiversity through scientific discovery, creative dissemination, education and public engagement. In this setting, scientists and citizens, students and educators, come together to share a wealth of perspectives on the study and appreciation of biodiversity – from microbes to poetry and ecosystems to economics. Learn more at www.wyomingbiodiversity.org.
About the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database
The Wyoming Natural Diversity Database is Wyoming’s natural heritage program charged with tracking, mapping and sharing data on the rare and sensitive plants, animals and ecosystems of Wyoming. Learn more at www.uwyo.edu/wyndd.
For more information contact:
University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute
Wyoming Natural Diversity Database
Construction continues on Fremont Lake Campground and Upper Boat Launch (posted 5/4/15)
No projected reopening date
Bridger-Teton National Forest
The Fremont Lake Campground and Upper Boat Site, located on the Bridger-Teton National Forest five miles north of Pinedale, Wyoming, remain closed and the Forest does not have an estimated opening date. The Contracting Office continues to work with the contractor to finish obligations under the campground construction contract.
Fremont Campground is the largest campground on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and is considered one of the premier campgrounds on the Forest. Campground improvements at this site were necessary to address public health and safety issues, improve accessibility and meet visitor expectations for quality facilities at Fremont Lake.
"We recognize this campground is extremely important to the public, especially to the local community," said Recreation Specialist Cindy Stein. "We’ve heard from many people how important this campground is for families, businesses, and campers locally and abroad. For this reason, we remain committed to completing this effort and opening this campground as soon as contractually possible," she said.
Reservations cannot be accepted for the Fremont Campground until the contract is completed. Other available campsites on the Pinedale Ranger District include the Half Moon Lake and Narrows Campgrounds (which have reservation sites), as well as Trails End Campground, Boulder Lake Campground, New Fork Lake Campground, and Willow Lake Campground.
Upper Fremont Boat Site:
While not part of the Fremont Campground construction project, the Upper Fremont Boat Site is located within the Fremont Campground construction area. The Forest Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department are working in partnership to bring this launch site to acceptable standard, including replacement of the dilapidated boat dock. The Lower Fremont Boat Site, located on the southwest shore of Fremont Lake, remains open to boaters throughout the 2015 boating season.
Public notice will be provided when the boat site and campground opening date is finalized. The Forest appreciates everyone’s patience and the Bridger-Teton remains committed to providing high quality recreation facilities across the Forest.
For more information on campgrounds available on the Bridger-Teton National Forest visit www.fs.usda.gov/btnf/.