Morning Report Excerpts - 2000 First Part
The Morning Report includes accidents and incidents in the National Park System. Here are some reports you might find interesting.
PARKS AND PEOPLE - February 22, 2000
Capitol Reef NP (UT) -
The park is currently advertising a GS-025-7/9 permanent , full-time park ranger position in its Visitor and Resource Protection Division. The job is on USA Jobs under announcement number IMDE-00-19 with a closing date of March 3rd. The position requires a commission and has 6(c) primary designation; duties include both frontcountry and backcountry patrol. Capitol Reef, a 378-square-mile park, is known for its extensive backcountry and the slot canyons of the Waterpocket Fold. For additional information contact Tom Cox at 435-425-3791 x 130.
PARKS AND PEOPLE - March 2, 2000
Zion NP (UT)
The park is seeking to fill a permanent, full-time GS-9 frontcountry law enforcement ranger position. The incumbent performs a full spectrum of ranger duties in a challenging environment. Required occupancy. Level 1, full-performance rangers should send applications directly to Brent McGinn, Zion NP, Springdale, UT 84767. For further information, call 435-772-0187.
00-080 - Grand Canyon NP (AZ)
Search and Rescue
On February 27th, park staff were advised that Dr. Gregory Rotz, 41, was two days overdue from a solo, four-day hike in the canyon. Rotz, an anesthesiologist, failed to show up in Las Vegas for a medical conference. The park began a search the following morning, utilizing two NPS helicopters, ground searchers, and river patrol rangers. Search efforts were concentrated in the area between Indian Garden and the Hermit Creek drainage. Rotz was found in the upper section of the drainage, where he'd bivouacked after becoming lost. He'd started a small brush fire the previous day in an effort to attract attention. Hikers found him when they went to the site to suppress the fire. Ranger Matt Vandzura was incident commander.
[Ken Phillips, SAR Coordinator, GRCA, 3/6]
00-095 - Glen Canyon NRA (AZ/UT)
On March 14th, two opposing groups exercised their First Amendment rights in the park. The Glen Canyon Action Network sponsored a demonstration advocating the removal of the Glen Canyon Dam and the return of the Colorado River to a free-flowing condition. About 150 people participated. The second group, the Friends of Lake Powell, sponsored a demonstration, attended by about 650 people, advocating the status quo and emphasizing the importance of the dam to the economic health of the town of Page and of northern Arizona. The park, Coconino County Sheriff's Department and Arizona Department of Public Safety worked together to insure that the events were conducted safely and without mishap. There were no incidents.
[David Sandbakken, LES, GLCA, 3/15]
00-096 - Canyonlands NP (UT)
On the morning of March 13th, rangers were advised that a visitor had fallen and suffered serious head injuries while hiking in the Needles District. St. Mary's Airlife was called in from Grand Junction, Colorado; rescue personnel boarded the helicopter and guided it to a landing zone close to the accident scene. They found that William McKeen, a 28-year-old teacher from San Marcos, Texas, had suffered fatal injuries. McKeen had been hiking off trail and was attempting to traverse a rock outcrop when he became rimrocked on the edge of a 30-foot drop off. McKeen called for help. One of his hiking companions attempted to reach him, but was not able to reach McKeen before he slipped over the edge. The body was evacuated by helicopter. At the time of the accident, the majority of Southeast Utah Group rescue personnel were participating in a week-long rescue seminar at Arches National Park, leaving the field a bit short-staffed. Significant operational positions for this incident were filled by ranger David Schifsky from Glen Canyon, ranger Ray O'Neil from the Grand Canyon, and Neal Herbert from the Southeast Utah Group. All three are former Needles District employees and were just finishing a backbacking trip of their own when the report came in. District ranger Fred Patton adds the following note about the threesome: "They constituted my entire rescue team for this incident. Their being in the area at the time and their intimate knowledge of the area were the only reasons that the victim could be accessed and the body recovered in such a short period of time."
[Fred Patton, DR, CANY, 3/16]
00-120 - Bryce Canyon NP (UT)
Rangers were notified on March 28th of a person stranded on a cliff edge and found a 21-year-old man about 25 feet below the trail on a steep scree slope above a ten-foot cliff. Another steep, 150-foot scree slope began at the base of the cliff. The victim had managed to stop his fall at the edge of the cliff, and his three companions had tied backpack straps together to create an emergency safety line just long enough to reach him. Two of them had then gone to get help. Rangers employed a rope from a patrol vehicle rescue pack to secure him, then lowered a rescuer to him to help him ascend back to the rim. The rescue team included employees from maintenance, interpretation, fire and protection, with additional assistance rendered by a local volunteer ambulance company. The victim said that he'd been "skiing" down the loose gravel along the rim when he slipped and fell. He was shaken but otherwise okay - and thankful.
[Steve Mazur, IC, BRCA, 3/31]
CULTURAL/NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Grand Canyon NP (AZ) - Restoration of Natural Quiet
President Clinton announced new measures to assist in substantially restoring "natural quiet" to the park on March 28th. The new rules, released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), consist of four components - a notice of availability modifying the air tour route structure; a final rule modifying the vertical and lateral dimensions of the park's special flight rules area and flight-free zones; a final rule limiting the number of commercial air tours that may be conducted in the special flight rules area; and a final supplemental environmental assessment. These rules are collectively known as Federal Aviation Regulation Part 93, Subpart U. Taken together, the rules reduce the number of air tour routes crossing the park, increase the total area of the park under flight-free zones from 45 to 75 percent, place nearly 100 percent of the park within the special flight rules area, and limit the number of commercial air tour operations to 1997/1998 levels. The air tour limitation rule will become effective May 4th and the other regulations will go into effect on December 1st. The rules are the latest in a series of steps taken by the FAA and the Service to bring the park closer to achieving the statutory mandate of Public Law 100-91, commonly referred to as the "National Parks Overflights Act."
However, with implementation of these rules, the park does not yet meet the
goal of "substantial restoration of natural quiet." The NPS defines natural quiet as the natural ambient sound conditions (e.g., naturally occurring, non-mechanized sounds) found in the park, and defines substantial restoration as a condition in which over half the park meets those conditions for more than three-fourths of each day. The NPS, in coordination with the FAA, continues to work on noise analyses and the development of a comprehensive noise management plan to achieve "substantial restoration of natural quiet." Copies of the documents can be obtained by submitting a request to the FAA Office of Rulemaking, 800 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20591, or by calling the FAA at 202-267-9677. The documents should also be available soon at the FAA's Internet site at http://www.faa.gov or at the Federal Register site at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
[Mike Ebersole, Chief Pilot, GRCA, 4/3]
00-131 - Canyonlands NP (UT)
On April 6th, William and Mary Muth of Wenatchee, Washington, headed down the Green River in an aluminum canoe on an extended boating trip. They passed through the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, but failed to recognize this significant geographical feature. Several miles further down the river, the Muths saw a large sign warning of the dangerous rapids in Cataract Canyon "2 - 1/2 miles" ahead. They employed their river map to determine their location and concluded that they were at Bonita Bend, 31 miles above the confluence. They assumed that the sign had originally said that the rapids were "32 - 1/2" miles ahead and that the "3" had been removed from the sign by vandals. They proceeded down the river and soon heard the sound of "Brown Betty," a Class III rapid. They were unable to get their canoe to shore, so quickly donned their lifejackets - a life-saving decision, as they soon ended up in the 54-degree water and floated through "Brown Betty" and two additional rapids before being able to swim to shore on opposite sides of the river. Their canoe, food, water and equipment floated away. The Muths hiked three-and-a-half miles upstream until the encountered a motorboat being operated by Tex's Riverways, a park concessionaire. The Muths were reunited and evacuated from the canyon. Neither was injured.
[Steve Swanke, DR, CANY, 4/7]
PARKS AND PEOPLE - April 28, 2000
Capitol Reef NP (UT)
The park is seeking an individual (or individuals) to serve on a detail or temporary promotion as chief of visitor and resource protection from mid-May through September while the permanent position is being advertised and filled. It may be possible to divide the detail between two people. Temporary promotions would not exceed 120 days. A commission is required. The incumbent directs divisional activities, including LE, frontcountry and backcountry operations, search and rescue, emergency services, campground management, fee collection, special park uses, and wildland and structural fire prevention and suppression. Housing may be available; private lodging may also be sought. Interested individuals should fax (435-425-3026) or cc:Mail (CARE Personnel) a statement of interest, availability dates, and the name/phone number of his or her supervisor to the park no later than today (April 28th). For further info, contact Donita Pace at 435-425-3791 x 122 or JoAnn Unruh at the same number, x 121.
00-180 - Lake Mead NRA (NV/AZ)
PWC Accident with Fatality
Brian Grisby, 20, was operating his personal watercraft on Las Vegas Bay late on the afternoon of April 2nd when he fell off. Friends picked him up and took him to a medical facility in Las Vegas. He was then transferred to a city hospital, where he expired. The cause of death is not known.
[Dispatch, LAME, 4/22]
00-191 - Saguaro NP (AZ)
Bee Attacks; Closure
On April 23rd, four Dutch citizens were returning from a hike on the Tanque Verde Ridge trail in the Rincon Mountain District when they were attacked by Africanized bees. They dropped their hats and sunglasses and ran down the trail to their car at the trailhead. One woman received five stings and the other members of the group received one or two stings each. Rangers and a local EMS unit responded, but none of the four needed treatment. When one of the rangers went up the trail to retrieve the hats and sunglasses, a large number of bees came after him. Rangers wearing protective suits then closed the trail and located the colony. The nest was approximately ten feet off the trail in a rocky outcropping that visitors use as a scenic overlook. In accordance with the park's bee management plan, resource management and visitor protection staff determined that the colony needed to be exterminated. The trail remained closed throughout the week while rangers and a professional exterminator made repeated trips to the site to eradicate approximately 50,000 bees. The bees were extremely aggressive, but the bee suits were effective in protecting the rangers. The trail was reopened on April 29th.
[Bob Lineback, DR/Meg Weesner, CRM, SAGU, 5/4]
On May 1st, President Clinton made real-time, military quality GPS signals available to all civilian and commercial users. This will increase the accuracy of the system to non-military users - including the NPS - from 100 meters down to 10 to 20 meters. The upgrade took effect on midnight of May 1st. This improvement had been delayed by national security concerns and had to await the development of the necessary technology.
[Lyne Shackelford, FRSP]
00-206 - Canyonlands NP (UT)
Boating Accident with Fatality
On the afternoon on Friday, May 12th, Samuel Johnson 74, of Jackson, Mississippi, a client on a five-boat OARS commercial river trip, died as a result of a rafting accident in Cataract Canyon. An 18-foot row raft containing Johnson, three other passengers and a guide flipped on a large wave at the entry to Big Drop Two. Johnson swam into Satan's Gut, a massive hydraulic in Big Drop Three; although immediately reached and recovered by an OARS motorized raft, he was found to be in cardiac arrest. Resuscitation efforts were begun as the motorized raft maneuvered through four additional rapids to the headwaters of Lake Powell Reservoir, where Johnson was pronounced dead by an OARS client who was a physician. A 54-year-old female passenger also nearly drowned and was evacuated by a Classic Aeromedical Helicopter to a hospital in Moab. At the time these incidents occurred, Cataract Canyon was flowing at approximately 27,000 cubic feet per second, with a water temperature of 58 degrees. Park ranger/paramedic Marc Yeston was assisted by Glen Canyon rangers Kerry Haut and Aaron Kania and six OARS guides in Johnson's recovery, the investigation of the accident, and the air evacuation of the near drowning victim from the remote accident location. Johnson was transported to Salt Lake City for an autopsy; drowning was ruled to have been the cause of death. This is the 13th river fatality in the history of the park and the third fatality which has involved a park concessionaire.
[Steve Swanke, DR, CANY, 5/15]
PARKS AND PEOPLE - May 20, 2000
Zion NP (UT)
Superintendent Don Falvey has announced his retirement after 36 years of continuous federal service. His assignments over those years included design engineer at DSC, chief of maintenance for all of Rocky Mountain Region, superintendent of Badlands NP, manager for planning, construction and design at DSC, and superintendent at Zion NP. A retirement dinner and roast will be held on July 1st. Contact Tina Lutterman at 435-772-0142 for additional information. RSVP requested by June 16th.
00-230 - Denali NP&P (AK)
Climber Seth Shaw, 38, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was killed on the evening of May 25th near 8,400-foot Mount Johnson in the Ruth Gorge on the Mount McKinley massif. Shaw and fellow climber Tim Wagner, 34, also from Salt Lake City, were attempting to climb a serac (a large mass of glacier ice remaining behind in a crevasse after glacial movement or melting) near the East Buttress of the mountain around 8 p.m. that evening. The serac is located near the 4,500-foot level of the mountain. Wagner was near an ice cave at the base of the serac testing the ice with an ice axe when a 50-foot wall of ice collapsed on top of Shaw. Shaw was standing near the base of the icefall taking photographs at the time. Wagner's legs were pinned to the ground by falling ice boulders, which also fractured his left fibula, but he was able to extricate himself from the debris. He searched for Shaw, but could not see or hear him under the avalanche debris. Wagner was able to ski up the Ruth Glacier and met with other climbers near Mount Dickey. One of those climbers skied to a nearby camp to gather additional help; the others skied back to the accident scene to look for Shaw and later radioed an air taxi for assistance. The park was notified just after 11 a.m. the next morning. An air taxi near the scene ferried Wagner off the glacier and to Talkeetna for medical assistance. He was treated at a local clinic and released. Rangers from Talkeetna flew to the scene on the evening of May 26th. They determined that Shaw is buried under tons of vehicle-sized ice blocks and that the area is unstable. His body will not be retrieved. Shaw was an experience climber, as is Wagner. The pair climbed Mount Johnson last week and had been on the glacier since May 15th.
[Tom Habecker, DR, North District, DENA, 5/27]
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