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Bridger-Teton National Forest In Western Wyoming Implements Fire Restrictions

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming has implemented new fire restrictions beginning Thursday.

According to a news release, stage one fire restrictions are being implemented on all National Forest System lands within the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The restrictions allow fires only in designated and installed fire rings or grills at designated campgrounds or picnic areas.

The moisture content of various fuel types, current and expected weather conditions and available fire-fighting resources, as well as the occurrence of human-caused fires, are factors in the determination to implement fire restrictions on public lands, the release said.  

Under the restrictions, fires are allowed in the Teton and Gros Ventre Wilderness areas, but not the Bridger Wilderness. Smoking is also restricted to certain locations.

The restrictions include:

  • Lighting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, barbecue or grill is allowed only at designated recreation sites such as established campgrounds or picnic areas. Use of portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel, or use of a fully-enclosed sheepherder type stove with a spark arrester screen is permitted.
  • Smoking is allowed only in an enclosed vehicle, building (unless otherwise prohibited), developed recreation site, or while in an area at least 3 ft. in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials (i.e. parking lots, developed campsites, or locations surrounded by water).

Campfires in Grand Teton National Park are limited to designated and installed fire rings and/or grills. Campfires aren’t allowed on the National Elk Refuge.

Teton Interagency Fire managers are reminding the public that unattended or abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires. The fire danger for the area is high, and forecasts call for warm and dry conditions to persist for the remainder of August and beyond.

All campfires and warming fires should be attended to. So far, Teton Interagency Fire personnel have extinguished 168 unattended or abandoned campfires this summer.

During times of elevated fire danger, building campfires is discouraged. Visitors could be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire.

All campfires must be completely extinguished before leaving a site. Campers and day users should have a shovel on hand and a water bucket ready for use. A campfire should be “dead out” and cold to the touch before departing.

Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization and/or by imprisonment for more than six months.

The public is encouraged to report illegal campfires, as well as smoke reports, to the Teton Interagency Fire Dispatch at 307-739-3630.  

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Climber Falls Into Grand Teton Ice Crevasse Over Weekend

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An Evanston man was rescued over the weekend by Grand Teton National Park staff after he fell into an ice crevasse.

The Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a “fall into crevasse” notification from a satellite communication device around 10:30 p.m. Friday.

The message included some GPS coordinates that indicated the incident occurred near Teton Glacier. Despite additional attempts to establish two-way communication with the reporting party, no more information was provided.

Two park rangers began hiking to the glacier around 12:30 a.m. and located the injured party and his hiking party around 4 a.m. They also found another climbing party of two that was in the area and assisting with the injured climber.

Evanston resident Tyler Willis, 34, and his climbing partner had successfully summited Mount Owen earlier in the day. They were descending via the Koven Route and were crossing the Teton Glacier when Willis fell about 30 feet into a narrow ice crevasse.

Two other climbers in the area used their satellite communication device to call for help and then set anchors and used a rope raising system to extricate Willis from the crevasse.

Willis had been in the crevasse for more than an hour before the other party of two came on scene to assist. His condition had significantly deteriorated due to hypothermia and he was unresponsive.

After extricating Willis, the three climbers replaced his wet clothing with dry clothing.

When rangers arrived on scene, they provided medical care and began a re-warming treatment, including adding additional insulating layers to warm Willis.

Willis’ condition slowly improved over the next few hours.

 At approximately 8 a.m. Saturday, Willis was transported to Lupine Meadows via short haul rescue by the Teton Interagency Helicopter and he was then taken by Air Idaho Rescue to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The three other climbers were transported to Lupine Meadows by helicopter.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or individuals, often with gear, are suspended below a helicopter on a 150 to 250-foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.

Teton Glacier is the largest of eleven glaciers in Grand Teton National Park. It is located below the north face of the Grand Teton and is approximately 50 acres in size.

Glaciers are dynamic and always moving. Anyone climbing near glaciers should always be very cautious and expect glacial features including crevasses.

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Wyoming State Parks On Track For Record Year For Visits

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

From the numbers seen by the Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails staff so far this year, the state’s largest parks are on track to set a visitation record, according to Deputy Director Nick Neylon.

In an interview with Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday, Neylon discussed the state’s reservation system for campsites in the parks and said a surprising number of state residents are taking advantage of the beautiful Wyoming recreation areas this summer.

While the July numbers weren’t available yet, Neylon said that early feedback shows the state’s largest parks with water (Glendo, Curt Gowdy, Boysen, Keyhole, Guernsey and Buffalo Bill) saw a 150% increase in attendance.

“I think we’re on pace to have a record year,” he said. “It’s been very hectic, very taxing on our staff. But people still want to recreate outdoors. It’s good for their physical, emotional and mental well-being.”

Many of those visitors came from within Wyoming, due largely to the fact that for a time earlier this year, out-of-state visitors were barred from purchasing day passes or reserving campsites, precautions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Since tourists couldn’t come into Wyoming, state residents decided to take advantage of the temporary downtime, Neylon said.

He also credited the state’s camping reservation system for the uptick in visitors, noting that although the reservation system was criticized by many Wyomingites at first, he’s heard much praise about it now.

“I’ve had people tell me they haven’t camped at Curt Gowdy for years because they could never get the spot they wanted,” he said. “There are still some people who don’t like the reservation system on principle, but overall, it’s been a huge success.”

Neylon added that beginning sometime in October, the parks staff will meet and discuss the positives and negatives of the reservation system, figuring out what can be improved or what should be removed.

One improvement the staff plans to make in the system soon is to add the ability to purchase day use passes on the WyoParks website. Currently, only annual passes can be purchased.

The reservation fee will also be changed soon. Until now, the fee has been $7.75 per person, which is pocketed by the reservation company, but soon the fee will be $8 for out-of-state campers and $4 for in-state visitors, Neylon said.

“I think people have come to like the reservation system more because now they can take comfort in knowing they will have a spot when they get to the site, they won’t have to spend time driving around, hunting for one,” Neylon said. “The important point is that the system, statewide, worked as we hoped it would.”

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Wyoming Officials Dedicate Malcolm Wallop Park In Sheridan

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily. Photo: Courtesy, Rob Wallace

Rob Wallace spent many years working with the late U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop.

As Wallace would say, he had a front-row view of Wallop’s career as a national figure, working with the late senator during his 18 years in the U.S. Senate, from 1977 to 1995. Wallop was an influential figure, both in Wyoming and the rest of the nation.

But it was his home in Sheridan County where Wallop was truly happiest, so it made sense for the city of Sheridan to rename a park in his honor.

Last week, the city held a dedication ceremony for the park, with Wallace, U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi and former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson speaking at the event.

Wallace was the keynote speaker and focused on highlights of Wallop’s career, particularly the Wallop-Breaux Act, the Strategic Defense Initiative and other moments from Wallop’s political tenure.

“If you look at Malcolm’s career, he wasn’t the type of guy to go out and naturally promote himself, even after he left office,” Wallace told Cowboy State Daily. “But he had so many consequential initiatives he was responsible for. We wanted to go back to Sheridan County and remind them what a figure he was.”

Wallop died in 2011 at the age of 78.

Wallace said that while working on Wallop’s staff, he was awed by the late senator’s ability to empower people.

“The former president of the Boston Celtics, a chief justice on the Wyoming Supreme Court, a kid who ended up on the cover of Time magazine are just a few of the people that Malcolm helped empower,” Wallace said. “There’s a Thomas Edison quote, ‘Vision without execution is just hallucination.’ Malcolm was the type of execute his ideas.”

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Hiker Dies On Trail At Glacier National Park

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man died while hiking a trail in Glacier National Park earlier this week, according to the National Park Service.

In a release, the Park Service said that around 4:45 p.m. on Monday, GNP employees received a report about a man who collapsed and was unresponsive on the Siyeh Pass trail, around one mile from the trailhead at Siyeh Bend.

Employees responded from Going-to-the-Sun Road on foot. Other hikers, including the man’s stepson, were performing CPR when staff arrived. Rangers used a defibrillator to attempt to resuscitate the man, but were unsuccessful.

The 43-year-old man from Waupun, Wisconsin was hiking with his family. The Glacier County Coroner indicated the death appeared to be due to natural causes.

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Officials Investigating Possible Arson At Glacier National Park

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Staff at Glacier National Park and Flathead Crimestoppers are investigating multiple suspected arson fires that started in the North Fork area of the park last week.

The North Fork Landowners Association is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for the fires, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

Early in the morning of July 23, a resident woke rangers at the Polebridge Ranger Station with the report of a nearby fire. Later, the Numa Ridge fire lookout reported smoke near Ford Creek.

Rangers and NPS fire crews eventually found a total of eight fires along the Inside North Fork Road between Logging Creek and Kintla Lake. Most of the fires had begun in dry logs or brush, but one fire destroyed the historic Ford Creek patrol cabin.

The cabin was built as a “snowshoe” cabin in 1928 and was used for decades during winter backcountry patrols. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historical Place for having architectural and historic significance, exemplifying the rustic architecture of early park backcountry structures and the history of Glacier National Park’s development and administration.

The cabin site is around eight miles north of Polebridge.

All the fires were extinguished shortly after being discovered.

On the evening of July 22, suspicious fires were reported at the Glacier Gateway Elementary and the Summit Mountain Lodge at Marias Pass. Investigators are working to see if those fires may be related to the ones on July 23.

Anyone witnessing suspicious activity on the night of July 22 or early morning of July 23 in the Polebridge or North Fork area is encouraged to call Flathead Crimestoppers at 406-752-8477. All calls remain anonymous. Glacier National Park also has a tip line established, 406-888-7077, if someone would like to talk with a park ranger. 

Wyoming Game And Fish Stocks 6,000 Catfish In 19 Ponds Statewide

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently stocked 19 community fishing ponds across the state with 6,000 channel catfish, so anglers should prepare to head for the water.

The fish are considered jumbo-sized and are around 13 to 14 inches in length, according to a news release from the department. The catfish came from the Wyoming’s Women Center in Lusk from their in-house aquaculture program.

This is the first time Game and Fish has worked with the Women’s Center’s aquaculture facility to raise and provide fish for the state.

“Game and Fish doesn’t have a cool and warm water fish hatchery  — our fish culture facilities are primarily supplied by colder water sources which make them great for raising trout,” Guy Campbell, Game and Fish fish culture supervisor, said in the release. “With the Women’s Center, there was a unique opportunity for them to raise a warm water fish to benefit anglers.”

Typically cool and warm water fish, like catfish, are acquired by fish trades with other states and then stocked in Wyoming.

“These jumbo catfish will create an instant summer fishery,” Campbell said.

The jumbo catfish were stocked at:

  • Sloans Lake in Cheyenne, which received 1,500 fish;
  • Minnehaha in Cheyenne, which received 750 fish;
  • Rock Lake in Wheatland, which received 750 fish;
  • Festo Lake in Wheatland, which received 500 fish;
  • Gillette Fishing Lake in Gillette, which received 250 fish;
  • Panther Pond in Wright, which received 200 fish;
  • Sundance Fairgrounds Pond in Sundance, which received 200 fish;
  • Mavrakis Pond in Sheridan, which received 175 fish;
  • Ranchester City Pond in Ranchester, which received 175 fish;
  • Basin Water Plant in Basin, which received 380 fish;
  • South Worland, which received 400 fish;
  • Big Bends 5 and 6 in Riverton, which received a total of 300 fish;
  • Yesness in Casper, which received 250 fish;
  • Fairgrounds Ponds 1 and 2 in Rock Springs, which received a total of 80 fish;
  • Rock Springs Pond, which received 30 fish;
  • Diamondville Pond in Diamondville, which received 30 fish;
  • Lyman City Pond, which received 30 fish.

Fishing licenses are available online, from Game and Fish regional offices and community license selling agents. Kids under 14 fish for free, although non-resident youth under 14 must fish with a licensed adult. 

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Dirt Bikers Cause Significant Damage In Grand Teton National Park

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Group Causes Significant Damage to Historic Hay Field

National Park Service investigators are looking for information related to activities that caused significant resource damage along historic Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park recently.Anyone with information that could help identify any of the individuals involved or was in the area around 8 p.m. on July 18 and can provide any information regarding this activity, please call or text the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch Tip Line at 888-653-0009 or email Information can be provided anonymously.

Grand Teton National Park இடுகையிட்ட தேதி: புதன், 22 ஜூலை, 2020

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

National Park Service investigators are looking for information regarding a motocross event that caused significant resource damage to the Mormon Row area of Grand Teton National Park last week.

According to a news release, the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call around 8:45 p.m. on July 18 about a group of people riding dirt bikes in an open field and operating a drone along Mormon Row.

According to the reporting party and a video captured via cell phone, approximately 50 people were in the area attending the organized dirt bike event.

The group prepared its own riding course, but began to break down the course and load the motorcycles just as the reporting party called the park. The group’s actions were recorded by the person who reported the incident.

Park rangers immediately responded to the scene, but the group had already left the area, leaving behind approximately 1,000 feet of track with a width of 2 to 10 feet.

The event was not authorized and caused significant damage to an area officials have been trying to restore as a sagebrush steppe habitat.

The hay fields along Mormon Row are part of a 10-year project that began in 2014 to remove non-native grasses and replant the area with 37 species of native plants to restore the site to a sagebrush steppe habitat. The project is a collaborative effort between the National Park Service, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Teton Conservation District.

The various agencies had invested several years of effort into the project, removing invasive plants and seeding the native species. The area damaged by the motorcycle riders had been reseeded just last year.

The area is an important habitat for elk, bison, pronghorn, moose, sage grouse and a variety of other wildlife, which all depend on the sagebrush steppe.

Operating a motor vehicle off roadways is a crime and those convicted can face a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment. Additionally, the System Unit Resource Protection Act provides that any person or instrumentality that destroys, causes the loss of or injures, of any National Park Service resource is liable for response costs and damages.  

Anyone with information that could help identify any of the individuals involved or was in the area around 8 p.m. on July 18 and can provide any information regarding this activity is asked to call or text the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch Tip Line at 888-653-0009 or email the agency. Information can be provided anonymously.

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Wyoming Sees Increase Of Colorado Tick Fever Cases

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Colorado tick fever cases are on the rise in Wyoming, the state Department of Health alerted residents this week.

Five cases of Colorado tick fever have been identified in Wyoming so far this year, four in Sublette County and one in Park County. The WDH usually sees an average of two cases annually, sometimes going a year without seeing any cases.

Courtney Tillman, an infectious disease epidemiologist with WDH, said Colorado tick fever spreads to people through bites of infected Rocky Mountain wood ticks.

The best way to prevent Colorado tick fever is to avoid tick bites. Recommended actions include:

  • Use insect repellent, such as DEET, when outdoors
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors
  • Treat outdoor clothing, such as hiking clothing, with permethrin
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass
  • Do tick checks after spending time outdoors
  • Apply pesticides outdoors to reduce ticks in yards
  • Clear brush, tall grass, and leaf litter from yards to reduce the number of ticks
  • Prevent tick bites for pets by using prevention products recommended by veterinarians and performing tick checks after spending time outdoors

“If you find a tick embedded on yourself or your pet, do not jerk or twist the tick to remove it,” Tillman said in the news release. “Instead, use fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to the surface as possible and steadily pull the tick upward. You’ll also want to clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.”

Tillman also advises disposing of ticks by putting them in alcohol, placing them in sealed containers, wrapping them in tape or flushing them down the toilet.

Symptoms develop one to 14 days after the bite and may include fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue.

Some people may experience a “biphasic” fever in which they have fever for a few days, feel better for several days and then have another period of fever. While symptoms can last for several weeks, most people do not experience severe illness. There is no specific treatment for Colorado tick fever.

Tillman encouraged anyone concerned they may have Colorado tick fever to contact a healthcare provider. Many of the symptoms are shared by other illnesses, including COVID-19, so discussing potential exposure to ticks with medical professionals is recommended.

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Three Hikers Rescued In Grand Teton National Park Over Weekend

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Grand Teton National Park rangers were busy over the weekend attending to three separate injured hikers on Saturday.

According to a news release, the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call regarding an injured hiker above the 3-mile junction on the Surprise/Amphitheater trail around 2:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Jeremy Fraser, 31, of New York City was hiking when he had a misstep and injured his lower leg and was unable to move on his own. A backcountry ranger in the area responded, attended to the injury and determined Fraser would have to be transported to the Lupine Meadows parking area by trail wheel litter.

Additional rangers arrived on the scene around 3:30 p.m. with medical gear and equipment. Fraser was secured in a wheel litter and transported to the trail head. His hiking partner transported him to St. John’s Health in Jackson.

A few hours later on Saturday, dispatch received another emergency call around 7:30 p.m. regarding an injured hiker who fell around 500 feet down steep snow on the east slops of the Paintbrush Divide.

Samantha Edgcombe and Mackenzie Finton, both 19 and from Grand Blanc, Michigan, were hiking from Cascade Canyon to Paintbrush Canyon over the divide when they each slipped on snow and slid, crashing into large rocks.

Another hiker in the area called for help and used a GPS location to track their location. Initially, it was believed only one of the women was injured, but both were. Each hiker was short-hauled to Lupine Meadows and then transported via park ambulance to St. John’s Health in Jackson.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual, often with gear, is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope. This method is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.

The park reminded backcountry hikers and climbers to be prepared for their respective recreational activity, including knowledge about the current conditions, required skills and experience and wayfinding skills to safety navigate the route.

Hiking areas such as the Teton Crest Trail, Alaska Basin, Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop, or any other loop involving higher elevation mountain passes still involve a large amount of snow travel. Appropriate footwear and an ice axe are mandatory. 

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