Yellowstone National Park prepares for Fall (posted 9/3/15)
National Park Service - Yellowstone National Park
Fall comes early in Yellowstone. The sight of steam rising up from the ground in the chilly morning hours, the sound of bulging elk in the crisp evening air, and the feel of fleece against your skin as you dress for a day hike, all herald the end of summer and the beginning of fall in Yellowstone National Park. Soon leaves and grasses will turn lovely shades of yellow and orange. In response to the change in weather and subsequent lower visitation, park facilities and services begin to wind down for the season. Autumn is a magical time of year to visit the park, but be sure to check conditions before you start your trip, pack appropriately, and remember to keep your safety in mind at all times.
Wildlife in the park is getting ready for the change in seasons too. Some of the large animals begin migrating, others stock up on extra food to pack on the pounds before winter, and elk begin their fall rut. In many areas of the park, but especially around Mammoth Hot Springs, the bull elk will soon be vying for the attention of the females by bugling and sparing with other males. Bulls are much more aggressive toward both people and vehicles this time of year and can be a threat to both people and property. Elk damage several vehicles every year, and on occasion charge and injure visitors. A dedicated group of park staff and volunteers patrol the Mammoth Hot Springs area when elk are present, attempting to keep elk and visitors a safe distance away from each other. But it’s important that people do their part as well. Park regulations require that we stay a minimum of 25 yards (the length of two school buses) away from elk, moose, deer, bison, bighorn sheep, and coyotes.
All of Yellowstone is bear county. In the fall, grizzly bears and black bears usually move to higher elevations to feed on whitebark pine seeds, and consume the calories they need to sustain themselves during winter hibernation, but they may be encountered along roads or hiking trails throughout the park. When hiking or backpacking, remember to travel in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, and be alert for bears. All hikers should always carry bear spray so that it is readily accessible (not inside a pack) and know how to use it. Bear spray is proven to be highly successful at stopping aggressive behavior in bears. It is sold at bookstores, gift shops, outdoor stores, and service stations inside the park, as well as in many stores in the surrounding communities. New this year, bear spray is now available for rent at Canyon Village in a kiosk near the Canyon Visitor Education Center through late September.
Park regulations require people to stay a minimum of 100 yards (the length of a football field) away from bears and wolves at all times. If you see a bear along the road, move off the road and park on the shoulder or in a pullout and stay in your vehicle to watch the bear. Use your binoculars, telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look at the bear rather than approaching the bear.
In addition to the change in animal behavior, fall also brings changes in the weather and you should come prepared for a wide range of conditions. Days gradually get shorter and temperatures drop rapidly once the sun goes down, often falling below freezing overnight. At this time of year, it’s a good idea to pack plenty of layers, including insulating items, and both sun and rain protection. Stop at a visitor center or ranger station for the latest updates on trail conditions and park regulations, and remember that you must obtain overnight backcountry permits before setting out to backpack.
All roads leading to the park and in the park are currently open. While brief construction delays are possible on the section of road between Norris Junction and Mammoth Hot Springs, nightly closures are no longer in effect. Updated road information is available 24 hours a day at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm or by phone at 307-344-2117. As campgrounds and lodges begin to close for the season, those remaining open tend to fill up early. The current status of campgrounds is available at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm.
Most park visitor services remain open through September; however, some facilities close for the season starting Monday, August 31. Details are available in the park newspaper handed out at entrance stations, from the staff at visitor centers and information stations in and near the park, or online at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/ocd_locale.htm.
Draft version of 2015 STIP available on WYDOT website (posted 9/1/15)
Wyoming Department of Transportation
A draft of Wyoming Department of Transportation's "State Transportation Improvement Program" (STIP) for 2016 has been issued and is available for viewing and comment. The document is posted on the agency's website, www.dot.state.wy.us.
The STIP contains a listing of highway and bridge projects, and also airport improvement work, that WYDOT tentatively expects to let to contract during the upcoming fiscal year. The STIP is published annually and updates are issued quarterly.
The STIP document, in PDF format, can be accessed by clicking, in succession, the "Construction & Engineering" tab and then the line reading "STIP Project Listing."
Comments about the 2016 STIP should be directed to Tim McDowell, State Programming Engineer for WYDOT. Comments can be submitted by using the "Contact WYDOT" utility at the bottom of the website (select "Other" as topic) or via mail to 5300 Bishop Blvd., Cheyenne, WY 82009.
In addition to current year projects, the STIP includes a listing of planned transportation projects slated for future years, as well as a summary of pass-through funding for public transit programs throughout the state.
Highway projects are listed as either rural or urban, and are further broken down by functional classification; namely, Interstate, arterial, collector or local. The listings also note the general character of work, such as reconstruction, resurfacing, bridge replacement, etc.
WYDOT emphasizes that the STIP project listing is tentative and is revised in accordance with changes in funding levels and other issues which may arise during the advance project design phase.
Government launches ‘Every Kid in a Park Pass’ (posted 9/1/15)
Nation-wide free access pass for 4th graders and their families
Government launches ‘Every Kid in a Park Pass’
As part of President Obama’s commitment to protect our nation’s unique outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them, the Obama Administration today (Tuesday, September 1, 2015) formally launched the new Every Kid in a Park program.
Starting today, fourth graders nationwide can visit the new Every Kid in a Park website to obtain a pass that provides free access to students and their families to all federally managed lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. The pass is valid for the 2015-2016 school year and grants free entry for fourth graders and three accompanying adults (or an entire car for drive-in parks) at more than 2,000 federally-managed sites.
"Every Kid in a Park is a chance for fourth graders from every background to be outside and get to know the lands and waters that belong to them, whether it’s a national forest, a wildlife refuge, a marine sanctuary or a historic site in the center of a city," said Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). "By expanding their horizons and learning all the ways the outdoors can enrich their lives, this innovative program hopes to create greater awareness of the many benefits of our nation’s public lands and waters."
Tomorrow, Goldfuss and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will host the nation’s first official ‘Every Kid in a Park’ event with fourth graders at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Goldfuss and Jewell will hike with the students and distribute some of the first free passes to America’s federal lands and waters.
Leading up to the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016, President Obama announced the Every Kid in a Park initiative earlier this year as a call to action to get all children to experience America’s unparalleled outdoors, rich history and culture. Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, youth spend more hours than ever in front of screens instead of outside.
By introducing fourth graders to public lands in their backyards and beyond at an early age, Every Kid in a Park is part of a multi-pronged approach to inspire the next generation to discover all that our nation’s public lands and waters have to offer, including opportunities to be active, spend time with friends and family, and serve as living classrooms to build critical skills.
"America is blessed with the great outdoors, and through Every Kid in a Park, we’re inviting every fourth grader and their families to enjoy our nation’s unrivaled public lands and waters," said Secretary Jewell. "We want to make sure that every American has the opportunity to develop a lifelong connection to our nation’s land, water and wildlife."
Fourth graders can log onto the website at www.everykidinapark.gov and complete a fun educational activity in order to obtain and print their paper pass. Students may also trade in their paper pass for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide.
Educators and community leaders can access educational activities, field trip options, and the ability to print passes for their classrooms. Parents visiting the new website can find additional links for more information on planning trips to nearby public lands.
As an integral component of this effort, the National Park Foundation (NPF) – the congressionally chartered foundation of the National Park Service – will award Every Kid in a Park transportation grants, focusing on removing barriers for youth from underserved communities to get to their parks, public lands and waters. For more information, visit www.nationalparks.org.
The Every Kid in a Park program is designed to continue each year with the then-current group of fourth graders. After 12 years, every school-age child in America will have had an opportunity to visit their public lands and waters for free, inspiring the next generation to be stewards of our nation’s shared natural and cultural heritage.
To further support getting youth outdoors, the President’s 2016 Budget includes a total increased investment of $45 million for youth engagement programs throughout the Department of the Interior, with $20 million specifically provided to the National Park Service for youth activities, including bringing one million fourth-grade children from low-income areas to national parks. This increase will also fund dedicated youth coordinators to help enrich children and family learning experiences at parks and online.
The Every Kid in a Park program is an Administration-wide effort administered in partnership with the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The program is part of an overall strategy by the Obama Administration to engage young people from all ages and all backgrounds with the great outdoors. This includes the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, a bold national effort to put thousands of young people and veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s public lands and waters. In addition, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative is committed to getting millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in America’s great outdoors.
For more information, please visit www.everykidinapark.gov, and follow the program on Twitter @everykidinapark, on Facebook, on Instagram and Youtube.
2 Climbers killed in fall at Cirque of the Towers (posted 8/31/15)
Pingora Peak, part of Cirque of the Tower in the southern Wind River Mountain Range, stands at 11,884 feet. Photo courtesy Andrew Masters.
Four rescue calls keep Tip Top Search and Rescue and Sheriff’s Office deputies busy at end of August
Sublette County Sheriff’s Office
(SUBLETTE COUNTY, WYOMING– Aug. 31) Sublette County Sheriff’s Office deputies and members of Tip Top Search and Rescue were kept busy this past weekend with four calls coming in over a three-day period.
On (Thursday) August 27, TTSAR was contacted and asked to assist Fremont County with locating two missing teenage hikers who were overdue near the Little Sandy Lake trailhead. Both air and ground assets were requested to respond, but the missing hikers had returned before team members had left Pinedale.
On (Friday) August 28, multiple reports were called into SCSO Dispatch and the Pinedale B-T District office about an injured hiker around Island Lake needing assistance. The hiker was located by a B-T backcountry ranger and members of TTSAR responded and determined that the best evacuation would be by horse. Early on the morning of August 29, two members of the TTSAR horse team were able to meet up with the ranger and hiker and assist in getting him to the Pinedale Medical Clinic for evaluation.
Also on August 28, SCSO Dispatch received a call from a hiker in the Cirque of the Tower area who reported witnessing two climbers on Pingora Peak fall over 100 feet. TTSAR was requested to assist Fremont County with the incident, and a short-haul team, including an SCSO Deputy, was flown to the area where they were able to locate the reporting party and the climbers. Both climbers, identified as Jonathan Peter MacDonald, 23, of Lander and Scottsbluff, Neb., and Keith Murray Henderson, 57, of Cheyenne, were pronounced dead at the scene. Though the deaths are still under investigation, Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen believes they are accidental. The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office extends their condolences to the friends and families of Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Henderson.
On (Saturday) August 29, SCSO was notified of a 16-year-old who had been injured in a horse-related accident. The contract helicopter was used to evacuate the youth, who was then transported to the Pinedale Medical Clinic for further evaluation.
For more information on any of these incidents contact Sgt. Katherine A. Peterso, Administrative Assistant/ Public Information Office, Sublette County Sheriff's Office, PO Box 701, Pinedale, WY 82941, Phone 307-367-4378, email@example.com.
Grizzly bear relocated from north of Pinedale for killing livestock (posted 9/1/15)
Wyoming Game & Fish
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department trapped and relocated an adult male grizzly bear (Saturday) August 29, 2015.
The bear was captured for killing livestock on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment north of Pinedale, Wyoming. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Shoshone National Forest, the bear was relocated to the Five Mile Creek drainage approximately five miles from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park within the North Fork of the Shoshone River drainage west of Cody. The release site is located in currently occupied grizzly bear habitat.
Grizzly bear relocation is a management tool afforded bear management personnel to minimize conflicts between humans and grizzlies. The decision to relocate and the selection of a relocation site is made taking into consideration the age, sex, and type of conflict the bear was involved in. Since grizzly bears are listed as "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the appropriate land management agency is also made to minimize the chance of future conflicts and maximize the survival potential of the relocated grizzlies. Bears are relocated in accordance with federal law and regulation. When selecting a relocation site, the department makes every consideration to minimize potential conflicts with livestock and people.
Bears can create conflicts after they have obtained food rewards. Game and Fish continues to stress the importance of keeping all attractants (food items, horse feeds, bird seed, and others) unavailable to bears. Reducing attractants reduces human-bear conflicts.
Yellowstone Park opens lottery for Non-commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program (posted 9/1/15)
National Park Service – Yellowstone National Park
Applications will be accepted starting Tuesday, September 1, for those interested in obtaining a permit for a non-commercially guided snowmobile trip into Yellowstone National Park during the 2015-2016 winter season. A permit is required for all non-commercially guided snowmobile groups to enter the park.
Permits will be allocated through a lottery with applications being accepted online at www.recreation.gov through September 30, 2015. Successful lottery applicants will be notified in mid-October. After the conclusion of the lottery, any remaining or cancelled permits will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis through the same webpage starting in November and going through the end of the winter season. Trips can be up to three days in length, and permits cost $40 per day, with a $6 application fee.
The Non-commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program was authorized in the 2013 final Winter Use Rule. The program allows one non-commercially guided group per day to enter Yellowstone from each of its four winter entrances. A maximum of five snowmobiles is permitted in each group and all snowmobiles must meet the park’s New Best Available Technology (BAT) standard. A list of approved snowmobiles is available at www.nps.gov/yell/learn/management/newbatlist.htm.
Permit holders are considered non-commercial guides and must be at least 18 years old by the first day of the trip. All snowmobile operators in a non-commercially guided trip must possess a state-issued driver’s license and have successfully completed the free online Yellowstone Snowmobile Education Certification program. Anyone can take the course to learn more about park rules and regulations that help visitors safely enjoy the unique experience of winter in Yellowstone while also protecting park resources. Go to www.provalenslearning.com/yellowstone-snowmobile-education-certificate.
The development of the Non-commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program has had significant stakeholder involvement. In particular, the State of Wyoming, through the Governor’s Office and the State Trails Program, has provided critical support for the development and maintenance of the required online snowmobile education course.
Additional details regarding the program, including specific rules and regulations in place for non-commercially guided trips, can be found at www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/ngsap.htm or by contacting Alicia Murphy, Non-commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-344-2627.
Yellowstone National Park
Hunters reminded to pick up stamps (posted 8/31/15)
Wyoming Game & Fish
Hunters are well aware of the necessity of having hunting licenses before going afield, but along with those licenses, certain stamps are also required. The following is a listing of the various stamps and permits applicable to Wyoming hunting:
Conservation Stamp - Required of all licensed hunters or anglers with several exceptions. It is not required of holders of daily fishing or hunting licenses. It is also not required of persons holding any Wyoming pioneer hunting or fishing license.
Pheasant Management Permit - Required of most pheasant hunters including youth who do not need a bird license and holders of the Pioneer Bird/Small Game license, who hunt areas wherever pheasants may be stocked from Wyoming Game and Fish Department bird farms. These areas include Game and Fish wildlife habitat management areas, numerous walk-in areas, Glendo State Park and all state lands in Sheridan and Johnson Counties. A complete listing or areas where the stamp is required is found on page 15 of the Upland Bird Regulations pamphlet. An exception is made for landowners and their immediate families who hunt pheasants on their lands enrolled in the walk-in program. An exception is also made for hunters who hunt walk-in areas in Bighorn, Fremont, Hot Springs, Park and Washakie counties where pheasants are not released by Game and Fish.
Elk Feedground Special Management Permit - This permit is required of all hunters who hunt elk in areas 70, 71, 75, and 77-98.
Archery License - Archers hunting in the archery preseason need an archery permit in most areas. The exception is for holders of Type 9 archery only licenses. Persons holding Type 9 licenses do not need a separate archery license.
Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp (Duck Stamp) - Required of all waterfowl hunters 16-years-of-age and older to hunt ducks, geese and mergansers. (Not required for doves, sandhill cranes, coots, snipe, rails or crows)
Harvest Information Program Permit (HIP permit) - Required of all licensed hunters who hunt migratory game birds. The HIP permit is also applicable for holders of Pioneer and Lifetime hunting licenses. HIP permits are nontransferable to other states. A separate validation is required in each state where migratory birds are hunted.
ORV Permit - Must be displayed on ORV while operating ORVs on public lands and other designated roads, trails or areas. Permits may be obtained at Wyoming ORV dealers and the Wyoming State Trails Program at 307-777-6323. Additional information about Wyoming ORV use is found on the State Trails Program website http://wyotrails.state.wy.us/ORV/Permits.aspx.
Fall hunting seasons begin (posted 8/31/15)
Small game, mountain grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, dove seasons open Sept. 1
Wyoming Game & Fish
Even though many big game hunting seasons are still a few weeks to more than a month away, hunters can get the fall hunts started this week. Seasons open for a variety of small game and upland bird species on September 1.
Blue and ruffed grouse, often referred to as mountain grouse season opens Tuesday. Blue grouse are found in most mountain areas throughout the state on both Bureau of Land Management and national forest lands. Ruffed grouse are found in western Wyoming in the Shoshone, Bridger-Teton and Targhee National Forests. The season is long, ending November 30. Deer and elk hunters may want to make sure they have the correct licenses to take advantage of some ruffed grouse hunting while they are out in the field.
Sharptails may be hunted in the portion of Wyoming east of the Continental Divide. The lengthy season opens September 1 and runs through December 31. Best locations are Goshen, Platte and Laramie counties in the southeast portion of the state and Sheridan, Johnson, and Campbell counties in northeast Wyoming. Numerous walk-in areas are available for sharp-tailed grouse hunting and can be found on the Game and Fish website. https://wgfoapps.wyo.gov/plpwhmprogram/frmWalkinHuntingHome.aspx
Mourning doves are found throughout the state, and the quality of hunting is weather dependent. With the first cold snap, doves will head for warmer climes, but if the weather stays mild, dove hunters often have opportunities throughout much of September. Mourning dove hunters are reminded to have the federal Harvest Information Program permit (HIP permit) in their possession while hunting. The HIP permit is available free on the Game and Fish website -
https://wgfoapps.wyo.gov/HIPS/frmMenu.aspx. Dove hunters should be aware that Eurasian collared doves are common in much of Wyoming, especially in the eastern part of the state. Eurasian doves are an exotic species, are larger than mourning doves and can be identified by a black band on the neck and a squared tail. Since Eurasian doves are not listed as a Wyoming game bird, there is no closed season, no bag limit and no license is required.
Like mourning doves, small game animals are also found throughout much of the state. In Wyoming, animals legally classified as small game include cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares and red, gray and fox squirrels. The small game season is long, opening September 1 and running through March 1.
License requirements for small game and birds vary with the age and residency of the hunters. Hunters 14 years and older are required to possess the proper small game or bird license. Resident youth under 14 do not need a license to hunt small game or birds and nonresident hunters under 14 years of age also do not need a license if hunting with a licensed adult and their bag limit is applied to and limited by the small game or game bird licenses held by the adult in his or her company. Youth under 14 can also hunt wild turkey, but a separate wild turkey license is required.