Only you can prevent a forest fire!

smokey

Most of us grew up with Smokey’s motto and as we learn more about fire ecology we find we don’t always want to prevent a forest fire.

Fire is important for nutrient recycling, plant diversity and overall landscape health. 

When a fire burns through an area it essentially speeds up the decomposition process and recycles phosphorus, nitrogen and other elements back into the soil.  This creates a nutrient rich area that is now open to sunlight, where sun loving plants can now grow uninhibited. 

The most important thing about fires is that they need to be managed!  The Fire Managers at Grand Teton National Park do just that as they try to balance natural forest health while protecting people and property.

 Fire managers use a variety of plans to achieve their goals:

  • They closely monitor natural fires!  When lighting strikes and sparks a fire, crews take minimal action unless it threatens lives or property. 
  • They use a control burning method!  This can occur for several reasons which include restoring early vegetation environments, diversifying habitats, and to burn accumulated fuels to minimize the risk to developments.  They usually burn in the spring or fall when the weather conditions are more favorable. 
  • They also monitor regrowth areas both immediately after the fire and over the long term to learn more about fire ecology.

If you are interested in seeing the fire scars of Grand Teton National Park, take a hike near Jenny Lake, Taggart Lake or Colter Bay.  

Now does this mean you can leave your campfire unattended?  NO, of course not!  You still need to prevent unsupervised fires! Give yourself an extra hour to burn down your fire, and always be sure to keep enough water nearby to squelch any flair-ups.  Also be aware of Park regulations and report any unattended fires!

Do you want to know more about fire management?   Than check out the NPS website at http://www.nps.gov/grte/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htm

Want to know more about the fires currently burning in Grand Teton National Park visit: www.tetonfires.com

From Melissa’s Corner
Image credit: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/environmental-destruction-agency-making-parks-coal-friendly.php

Wildlife Crossing In Grand Teton National Park

“Pay Attention:  Wildlife On Road!” 

 This sign greets all visitors to Grand Teton National Park, but let me be the first to tell you it is absolutely true!  You never know when you will have something or a herd of “somethings” dash in front of your car… and let’s just say some of the animals in this park will take on a truck and win!

Let’s just take a quick look at a few of the animals I have had cross my path since arriving her in May!

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A relatively large elk…

Now this buckaroo, decided to mosey across the road right in front of our car.   We were lucky we saw it in time because he would have caused a lot of damage!

 

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A Bison…

This guy really doesn’t seem to care who is on the road…but I recommend staying far away from him as they can run up to 30 mph without warning!  In this case, I guess he decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the road!

 

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A Moose….

As we came around the bend in the road, she was right in sight.  Luckily she was just beginning the cross and quickly headed into the brush so other cars wouldn’t be surprised by her!

 

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A Grizzly Bear….

This guy is definitely the king of our forest.  So when he crosses your path, you definitely want to stop!

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A Car Jam!

I’d say the most dangerous road hazard in Grand Teton National Park can be the other drivers, so pull to the side of the road if to stay clear of other Park visitors if you do see something of interest!  Most speedlimits within the park are 45 mph, that’s to help avoid an encounter with an animal.  We know there is a lot of open road, but the wildlife is abundant as well, and staying safe is everyone’s top priority!   Keep your eyes open because you never know when a bear, moose, elk or bison jam is going to sneak up on you!  

 

From Melissa’s Corner!

Jackson Lake Lodge Walking Tour

I’ve recently noticed a bronze plaque that stands right outside the portico of Jackson Lake Lodge.  It celebrates the buildings claim to being a historic buliding.  It got me thinking about how little I know about the history of my new home as I am an employee of Jackson Lake Lodge.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a Historic Walking tour of the Lodge that didn’t require me to meet at a certain time or place, instead I just had to pick up a guide at the Activities Desk and get to walking. 

The tour begins right inside the front door in the lower lobby.  The phone booths, Arts for the Parks paintings and the staircase are some of the highlights of this space.  But my favorite tidbit was about the Indian Dress behind the Front Desk.  Did you know that it is an original dress that was used for parade or pow-wow purposes? Apparently, at one time it hung in the Stockade Bar, until it was stolen by some wranglers who cut it in half.  You can see where they stitched it back together right across the bust line.    Indian Dress

 From here we head upstairs to the Upper Lobby.  Of course the first thing you notice about this room is the amazing view!  The windows are 36 feet high and 60 feet wide and look out over Willow Flats, Jackson Lake, the Dam and the Tetons themselves.   

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When you finally stop looking at the view, the tour takes you into the Mural Dining Room where you are able to check out the Rendezvous Murals.  Carl Roters painted the two murals at the request of Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. not long after the hotel opened.  It took him two years to paint the ten panels that span two walls and make two complete murals. All together they total nearly 80 feet and they depict the events and people who participated in the 1837 Rendezvous.

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 The next stop on the tour is the Pioneer Grill.  This place is great as it feels like something you would find in an old movie.  I feel like I should have a poodle skirt on as I order my huckleberry shake and sit in the swivel stools at the counter. 

 Pioneer Grill Server

Apparently this room is the same as it was back at the opening of the building in 1955.  Snaking throughout the room is one large, continuous counter and it is rumored to be the longest in the US.  Even if you don’t stop for a bite or drink, definitely check out the pictures on the wall and the items over the kitchen!

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 After my little snack, I then headed back out to the lobby where I checked out the giant fireplaces (seriously I would be able to walk into them unhindered!), the old Stockade Bar (now a gift shop) and the Peace Table.  Interesting fact about this table is that it was an old door that they took off the hinges and made into a table to host the 1989 Baker-Shevardnadze peace talks between Russia and the US.  Talk about a doorway to peace!  peaceOn my way back to the Main Lobby I went down the “Historic Hallway.”  This display is pretty cool because there are all sorts of old photographs and documents about the history of the park and area.  Definitely something to check out!  

Finding myself back in the lobby, I actually take the time to check out the other displays.  There are several islands with Indian artifacts, as well as a stuffed grizzly bear and trumpeter swan.  I never realized how large these two species are!    I also took the time to look up at the ‘wooden’ beams above, which aren’t actually wood but reinforced concrete that were stained to look like wood.  You couldn’t tell by looking at this building, but it is made almost completely of concrete!

 

 The last stop inside the building is at the Blue Heron Lounge.  This bar was one of the few additions to the building when it replaced the Stockade Bar.  Here is the place to go if you want a drink and to take in a great view!   The decorations in here are quite cool too and include various Indian artifacts like headdresses and moccasins.  You’ll also find the only television at Jackson Lake Lodge and a painting called “The Trapper’s Bride” by Charles Banks Wilson. 
 
From here there are several outdoor activities you can do ~

Lunch tree

 You can head up Lunch Tree Hill and check out the view that is said to have inspired a legacy or…

You could head out to the corrals to check out some of the vintage buses.

I did a bit of both and would definitely recommend doing this tour yourself as I learned so much about this remarkable place!

From Melissa’s Corner

New Life in the Park

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Spring fever is raising temperatures and melting the snow in Grand Teton National Park. The season is in full swing, as new life joins us in the Park. Herds are beginning their migration from lower winter feeding grounds to higher summer grounds and females are beginning to give birth, providing the opportunity to observe and study Mother Nature at her finest. 

Below is a breakdown for understanding the process of life for some of our larger mammal populations in the Park:

 
Moose:

As the male moose emits a deep, grunting call, his rutting season begins in September and extends into October.  Bulls guard their right to mate through intimidation and fights.  Around mid-May to early June, one or two calves are born to the cows and will remain close, weaned in winter or the following spring.

Bison:

Showing dominance through bellowing, wallowing, and fighting, bull bison mate in late July and August.  During rut, one bull will remain with one female until she is ready to mate.  One calf will be born in late April and May and may be suckled through its second winter.  Calves are able to keep up with the herd soon after birth.

Elk:

The cool fall air from August to mid-October echoes with the bugling of mature bull elk, signaling their rut season.  Bulls equipped with mature antlers, guard their opportunity to mate with their harem through aggressive intimidation and fights.  One calf will be born the following spring from May to June, and weaned in 4-5 weeks.

Grizzly Bear:

Usually having several partners, the male grizzly (boar) will mate from May to early June.  Mother Nature delays the implantation of the embryo to assure the female (sow) to reach the den and assure chances for a successful birth.  Entering the den beginning in mid-October, normally, one to three cubs will be born between January and February, during hibernation.  Female and cubs generally emerge from the den beginning in April.  A mature female will usually breed every three years after chasing off the previous young, to protect them from attacks from the mating boar. 

Black Bear:

Usually having several partners, the male black bear (boar) will mate from May to early June.  Mother Nature delays the implantation of the embryo to assure the females chances for a successful birth.  Entering the den beginning in November, normally, one to three cubs will be born between January and February, during hibernation.  Female and cubs generally emerge from the den beginning in March.  The cubs normally winter with their mother and are weaned the following September.  A mature female will usually breed in alternate years. 

Each morning, I peer through the windows of the upper lobby of Jackson Lake Lodge to observe the expanse of nature surrounding us. Not far from where I stand, elk and moose cows are migrating to Willow Flats to give spring birth.  What a fulfilling sight to experience Mother Nature’s wonder.  As these populations assemble, so do others.  We are beginning to observe the gathering of wolves and grizzly bears. Spring calves provide an ample food source for predators and this season will be no different.  By visiting, you are experiencing part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact temperate-zone ecosystems on Earth today.  We invite you to come and witness this spectacle for yourself.

 

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Seeking a great resource on information about the seasonal timeline of our Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which encompasses Grand Teton National Park? “For Everything There Is A Season,” by Dr. Frank C. Craighead, Jr., Ph.D., provides a wonderful outline of what a year entails here.

 
Posted from Don’s Corner ~ GTLC Interpretive Specialist

Grizzlies Awaken in Grand Teton National Park

Grizzly at Oxbow Bend
Grizzly at Oxbow Bend

 

I have seen a Grizzly before. Animal Planet and PBS have shown me the 350-1500 pound omnivores roaming along rivers, coastal areas, mountain meadows and in the tundra on my television screen. PBS warned me that if I encounter the bear, one of North America’s largest land mammals, to keep in mind some of the following tips:

 

 If you encounter a grizzly, do not run.
Avoid direct eye contact.

If the animal makes contact, curl up into a ball on your side, or lie flat on your stomach.

Try not to panic; remain as quiet as possible. 

 

I begin my first day with Grand Teton Lodge Company with this advice in my mind, as the Grand Teton National Park is home to several Grizzlies. One female in particular, known by her tag number “399,” gave birth to triplet cubs in late winter of 2007 that now wander the Park.

Pat Hattaway, Grand Teton National Park’s North District Ranger, explained, “399 raised her cubs near humans. While other bears tend to go high, she remained low, so the bears are seen near the road.”

It isn’t long into my first day at the office before one of 399’s cubs meanders near the road at Oxbow Bend. A few hours as Digital Media Manager and I am already on a bear escapade.

Camera in hand, a co-worker and I hop in a car and cruise the road in search of the cub. A few miles away, we encounter the flashing lights of a National Park Ranger’s vehicle. He has set a perimeter for the bear’s safety.

Sure enough, the Grizzly is hanging out about five yards from the road. The tips of his fur glow with a frosty silver hue, providing a “grizzled” look (which is how the bear gets its name). His long, curled claws dig into the snow patched ground in search of food beneath the surface. At one moment he turns his head towards the car as if to say, “I know I’m a good looking guy, but enough already.”

Rain begins to drop from a dark gray sky and we decide it’s best to head back to Jackson Lake Lodge. I have seen a Grizzly and now one’s seen me.

 

An Afternoon Stroll
An Afternoon Stroll