Spring 2016 Weekend Warriors: The Legacy of the Lamar Buffalo Ranch Spring Brings Diverse Array of Birds Yellowstone Search and Rescue
We’re gearing up for another busy summer season here in Yellowstone and, as always, volunteers will play a critical role as members of our team. Thanks to their tireless support (like the Weekend Warriors you’ll read about in this issue), we’re able to provide high-quality educational programs and services for a large number of park visitors. Many of our volunteers are familiar faces, returning to the park year after year. Last year, 102 YA volunteers gave 24,000 hours of collective time to help preserve Yellowstone—the equivalent of 11 years of full-time work! The Yellowstone Association’s volunteer program is growing to address park needs. This summer, in partnership with Yellowstone National Park Lodges, we’re launching an expanded volunteer Park Host program. Visitors staying in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Old Faithful Inn, or the Lake Hotel will be aided in their journey by a friendly and knowledgeable volunteer who will help provide information and advice about park activities and services. This has been a winter-only volunteer program—based at Mammoth and Old Faithful—and we’re excited to expand this program and have the opportunity to engage with even more visitors. The efforts of our dedicated volunteers, combined with the generous support we receive from our members, helps ensure that visitors will continue to be able to enjoy life-changing educational experiences in Yellowstone. As we look to the next 100 years of stewardship in Yellowstone National Park, we’ll be counting on our volunteers to help deliver our mission by sharing their knowledge and passion with visitors. Thank you to our current volunteers, and please stay tuned for even more volunteer opportunities in the years ahead. Sincerely,
Yellowstone Association Leadership Team Jeff Brown
Daniel Bierschwale Director of Retail
Terry “J.R.” Hunt
Director of Information technology
Director of Finance
Director of Facilities
Human Resources Manager
Director of Education
Yellowstone Association Board of Directors Claire Campbell Board Chair Boulder, CO
Vice-Chair Brasstown, NC
Treasurer Denver, CO
Assistant Treasurer Denver, CO
Jeff Brown Yellowstone Association executive director
Secretary Arlington, VA
Michael Campbell Sarasota, FL
Katie Cattanach Denver, CO
Gale Davis Wilson, WY
David Donovan Lake Forest, IL
Penney Cox Hubbard Baltimore, MD
Colorado Springs, CO
Mat Millenbach Portland, OR
Bryan Morgan Boulder, CO
Yellowstone’s official nonprofit education partner
Alex Perez Palo Alto, CA
Alan Shaw What’s on the cover? Osprey pair nesting on the northern range. COVER Jim Futterer
Big Sky, MT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Weekend Warriors: The Legacy of the Lamar Buffalo Ranch 02 Spring Brings Diverse Array of Birds to Yellowstone 06 Spring Babies 09 NPS Q&A: Lisa Baril, Wildlife Biologist 10 Creatures Large & Small: The Caddisfly Hatch 11 Yellowstone Search and Rescue 12 Naturalist Notes: Yellowstoneâ€™s Early Wildflowers 14 YA Family: Carolyn Wallen 15 Membership 16
Like the seasons of Yellowstone, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch has its own perennial cycles. As the hills shimmer with new spring green, and baby animals speckle the landscape, volunteer “Weekend Warriors” gather at the ranch. Like bluebirds, they arrive the third weekend in May for work that will help get the campus ready for incoming programs. Largely invisible to participants and full-time staff, these volunteers are the unsung heroes of Lamar Buffalo Ranch (LBR). Like wizards behind the scene, they’ll spend the two days staining cabins, deep cleaning the kitchen, installing screen doors and windows, painting interiors, re-graveling walkways, pulling weeds, setting up the YA Park Store, and various other tasks that will lay the groundwork for the educational programs to come. “This isn’t licking stamps and envelopes—it’s hard, physical work,” says Jim Olp, who proudly displays 26 years of LBR paint on his overalls. Although many volunteers are relatively local—Bozeman, Billings, Helena—some drive 12 hours or more each way from places like Denver and Portland just to do 48 hours of labor. They’ll do it again in August and October, at changeovers between Yellowstone Association and National Park Service programs. Like moths to a flame, they are attracted by something larger than themselves: a deep love for the park, commitment to the educational mission of the Yellowstone Association, and the camaraderie of kindred spirits. “It’s a good way to reset and clear your mind, and realign your priorities. We live in a big city.... It’s just really refreshing to get outside and go to such a beautiful place,” says Alex Markovich, who has been volunteering in August for the past three years with his wife, Stephanie.
Glen and Shirley Cope don’t remember exactly when they started volunteering more than 25 years ago, arriving each spring for a work weekend and staying several weeks after to help support courses. “We love the place; we love the ranch. When we first started it was just a chance to be there, and be helpful, and be in the Lamar Valley,” says Shirley. But they soon discovered the joy of paving the way for others. “We enjoyed helping out so people could come and learn about the park... and grow to love it even more.” A whiteboard in the bunkhouse is covered with multicolored checkboxes and lists. After a morning huddle around the board to get their teams and assignments, the 20 or so volunteers fan out across the ranch to work their magic. Experienced volunteers who know their way around grab the supplies they need and take off with “rookies” in tow. Soon, the campus hums with the sounds of amiable conversation, working tools, and laughter. The volunteers have fun, but remain focused and work hard, accomplishing more than they imagined. “The benefit of [the hard work] is that when we’re done we can see what we did, there is a real sense of accomplishment over the jobs we completed. It’s tangible,” says Olp. Of course, being in the Lamar Valley is it’s own reward. “And some people say this is work!” joke long-time volunteers Rick and Jane Hays, describing how tough it is having to look out the windows at the Lamar Valley while deep Yellowstone Quarterly 3
cleaning the kitchen. Shirley Cope elaborates: “I like just being there. I walk from one building to the other and check up on Ranger Hill to see if the bison are up there; I listen for the [sandhill] cranes....” As with all Lamar experiences, wildlife encounters are woven into the tapestry of the weekend. Bill and Janne Hayward, who have been volunteering since the early 1990s, talk of witnessing bison giving birth, grizzlies wandering through campus, and dinners outside in August as bats swooped overhead. “Yeah, you have to work a little bit but you get to be there; you get to see the bison rubbing up against your cabin in the middle of the night; you look them right in the eye if you look out your door,” says Janne. Bill chimes in: “When you walk to the bathroom you have to be very careful at night, I’ll tell you!” As the sun slants towards evening, the valley shimmers with green and pink and gold. The volunteers gather at the 4
bunkhouse for what brings many of them back year after year: each other. Old friends reunite and extend welcoming arms to “rookies.” Sharing a meal on the back porch, you begin to get a glimpse of their regular lives; you meet a U.S. attorney, a teacher, a flight attendant, a financial analyst. Some are retired; some still working. But it quickly becomes clear that vocation isn’t what matters here. They swap stories: of nights watching the stars through the drafty original cabins that came from Fishing Bridge decades ago, and the days before the big cozy bathhouse. They recount wolf sightings from the driveway, and the story of a volunteer who crawled out the back window of her cabin to avoid a bison on the front porch (She crawled back into the wrong cabin!). They share their knowledge of the park with each other—its seasons and rhythms, wildlife and geology. The feeling of history in the room is palpable.
“Some Weekend Warriors have been here over 30 years. Their collective experience and wisdom is irreplaceable,” says campus manager Rob Bush. Listen to the conversations unfold; watch long-time volunteers weave new ones into the fabric of the ranch, and you see a legacy created right before your eyes. “It’s really fun; you’re in one of the most beautiful settings in the country; there’s tons of wildlife; and you’re meeting some of the most interesting people from all over the place that have the same passion as you,” say Alex and Stephanie Markovich. “We’re really productive; it’s great teamwork, but it’s much more than that. It’s the giving back part, but it’s also the experience you take from it.” Alex believes that if more people visited national parks they would realize how special and beneficial the parks are. “Anyone can clean a kitchen,” says Bush. But it is this passing of love and tradition through the decades that is their true contribution. “Weekend Warriors are the center of gravity for the ranch,” says Bush. Giving something much more than labor, volunteers like Glen and Shirley Cope hand the torch to new volunteers like Alex and Stephanie, who will carry the legacy of Lamar Buffalo Ranch into the future, fulfilling the Yellowstone Association mission in their own special way. Do they know how critical their role is? Not likely. Their quiet humility is humbling. Three times a year they’ll arrive again, ready to work. While they’ll look to the campus manager for the to-do list, it’s not the Yellowstone Association guiding them. It’s the reverse. Jenny Golding is a former director of education for the Yellowstone Association. She currently writes from her home in Gardiner, Montana, on the border of Yellowstone National Park.
The Yellowstone Association offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, from Weekend Warriors to Information Assistants to Park Hosts. For more information, please visit YellowstoneAssociation.org
Yellowstone Quarterly 5
Spring Brings Diverse Array of Birds to Yellowstone By Ruffin Prevost
Every spring, as the ice thaws
and the snow begins to melt, they arrive in Yellowstone National Park. Some are new visitors, while others are returning once again, just as they have for many consecutive years. They arrive in groups, gathering at favorite spots. Some have traveled hundreds of miles to make the trip, while others never strayed too far away. But they aren’t human tourists, anxious to see Yellowstone as the roads open for spring. They’re birds—dozens of species arriving by the thousands to set up housekeeping for the summer, or just stopping over on their way somewhere else. It is wolves, bears, and the other large mammals that attract the most attention from the park’s human visitors. But if you know where and when to look, Yellowstone presents an amazingly diverse range of birds in an ever-changing display of feathered finery that flows with the season, the habitat, and even the latest carcass, hatch, or swarm. Approximately 150 bird species nest in Yellowstone Park, and nearly 300 species have been documented in the park since the 1870s, said Lisa Baril, a National Park Service biologist who studies Yellowstone’s birds, ranging from raptors to songbirds. Spring is a great time to see birds in Yellowstone, Baril said, because “that’s when we have birds that come through that you might not normally see.” 6
Stellar Jay; right Raven
“Yellowstone can have a lot of random, vagrant birds passing through,” she said. One of Baril’s favorite hikes for birding is the 5-mile Beaver Ponds Loop Trail, near Mammoth Hot Springs. It winds through sagebrush, grasslands, Douglas-fir forest, and past rocky cliffs, making it a good trip for spotting raptors, songbirds, waterfowl, and even woodpeckers. Baril is one of about a half-dozen Yellowstone staff members who work on the Yellowstone Bird Program. The program, which started in the late 1980s, compiles long-term data on a wide range of birds. It involves field work, like flying over the Molly Islands in Yellowstone Lake to count pelicans, cormorants, and gulls, or checking on a trumpeter swan nest site at Grebe Lake. But much of the work bird biologists do in Yellowstone is not that different from how amateur bird watchers might operate. “The good thing about studying birds is you don’t need a lot of equipment,” Baril said. “You can get a lot of information using a clipboard, binoculars, and a pencil.”
Birding Through the Lens
A camera, of course, is another great addition to any bird watcher’s kit, said Kathy Lichtendahl, a freelance photographer from Clark, Wyoming. “Some of my best photos are combinations of birds with other animals,” she said. “Catching ravens, magpies, coyotes, and wolves all on a carcass in one photo is pretty spectacular.” A favorite spring bird spot for Lichtendahl is LeHardy’s Rapids on the Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley. That’s where the colorful harlequin ducks often gather each May to mate and nest. Just a few miles downstream, Lichtendahl often stops to shoot photos at a great blue heron rookerie, a colony of several nests where many of the large birds will gather each spring. She also loves photographing American white pelicans around Yellowstone Lake, especially because they are an unexpected species to find in the park. Some of those pelicans migrate from winter homes as far away as Southern California, Baril said. To capture birds in flight, practice following them with the camera lens, and use a fast shutter speed, Lichtendahl said. “But the number one rule is don’t stress the animal; don’t get too close,” she said. Finding the right bird at the right time is often a result of knowing its habits and habitat, she said. For instance, finding a carcass can lead to seeing scavenger birds, and the reverse is also true. “You always hear the stories of the ravens bringing in the wolves,” she said.
Researchers continue to be surprised at how intelligent ravens are, something park visitors often witness when a hungry raven deftly unzips or unbuckles an unattended backpack or handbag in search of a sandwich or other snack. Tricks like that are passed on socially from one raven to the next, Theurer said. Ravens roost together at night, then describe food sources and locations to other birds at sunrise, a strategy that offers more eyes to watch out for predators. “The raven’s curiosity is a direct result of its evolutionary strategy to be an omnivore, and it’s figured out how to problem-solve across multiple steps,” he said. Researchers have found that when ravens can’t penetrate the thick hide of a carcass, they will wait for wolves or other predators to tear into it, then feed on the leftovers. And there are even anecdotal accounts that ravens will attempt to communicate with wolves by calling them to the site of injured or vulnerable prey. It’s that kind of interconnection which birds have to the land and other animals that Theurer will explore in a June 11–13 program (Naturalist Series: Birding) based at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, one of several bird programs YA Institute (YAI) offers. Yellowstone itself plays a larger role in the wider lives of many migratory birds, as well. That idea is central to the park’s participation in International Migratory Bird Day, typically observed on the second Saturday in May. Activities usually include a program at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana, as well as a ranger-led birding tour through part of the park. This year’s International Migratory Bird Day falls on May 14, which coincides with the Spring Into Yellowstone Birding and Wildlife Festival, running May 11–15 in Cody, Wyoming. For beginning birders participating in those events, working on their own, or attending a YAI class, knowing how to identify dozens of different bird species isn’t the most important goal, Theurer said. “We like to visit several habitat types and work to figure out a larger picture. Not just which bird is which, but how they fit together and how they use the same habitat differently,” Theurer said. “You’ll see how there’s a lot more going on in Yellowstone than just individual birds operating in a vacuum.”
Curious, Clever Ravens
There is more to those stories than what many people may realize, said Joshua Theurer, a Yellowstone Association Institute (YAI) instructor who cites the raven as a prime example of how birds play a broad role in Yellowstone’s complex ecosystem.
Ruffin Prevost is founding editor of Yellowstone Gate, an online publication offering community news and inside views about Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
Yellowstone Quarterly 7
Leave a legacy for Yellowstone
The Summit Society was created to recognize and honor those who have chosen to preserve Yellowstone for future generations by making a gift to the Yellowstone Association in their estate plans. Planned giving is an excellent way to make a meaningful charitable gift, while minimizing taxes and increasing the possibilities for effective distribution of assets. Learn more about including Yellowstone in your estate plans— or let us know that you’ve already done so—by contacting us at 406.848.2856 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Aid Opportunities for Youth and Teachers Whether you’re looking to share the wonders of Yellowstone with your students, discover ways to make the natural world come alive in your classroom, or simply to reinvigorate your love for wild places, we offer a variety of ways to bring you to Yellowstone this year. The members of the Yellowstone Association are proud to provide financial aid for teachers who wish to take one of our Field Seminars, as well as educators bringing students to Yellowstone to participate in a youth program. We also offer teacher workshops at a reduced rate.
“ If it weren’t for this program I wouldn’t be thinking about ways to bring environmental issues into my classrooms. These few days opened my eyes to the importance of preservation and conservation.” — Joanna C., Washington
To learn more or to apply, call us at 406.848.2400 8
By Chelsea DeWeese
Perhaps nothing is more rewarding than watching a bison calf take its first few wobbly steps—or spotting a speckled elk calf bedded in concealing grasses. Tumbling bear cubs bring a smile to visitors’ faces, and bighorn sheep lambs elicit gasps with their high-elevation antics. Yellowstone in spring offers a plethora of young animals to view, from owlets to grass-eating ungulates to soon-to-be carnivores. In fact, there is hardly a better place to view wildlife rearing young on the planet. “As the snow finally starts to melt away and the springtime blossoms begin to peek out on the branches, a wonderful array of babies begin to appear on the Yellowstone landscape,” says Shauna Baron, a Yellowstone Association Institute instructor who teaches programs on wildlife watching. “Springtime in Yellowstone is like no other time of year, as it all begins here!” As is the case with all wildlife, it’s important for visitors to maintain a safe distance from these animals to avoid disturbance. “Yellowstone National Park is a wonderful place to see wildlife, but it does require some extra caution to enjoy safely,” says Amy Bartlett, a spokesperson for Yellowstone National Park, who emphasizes a required minimum distance of 100 yards from bears, nesting birds, and wolves, and 25 yards from all other animals. “Animals may be in a developed area, along a trail, or in a geyser basin, but Yellowstone wildlife is truly wild and should not be approached regardless of where they are encountered. Visitors need to be willing to alter their plans or change their route to maintain the required minimum distances. We want visitors to come and enjoy the wildlife Yellowstone has to offer, while keeping themselves and their families safe.” Chelsea DeWeese is a naturalist and outdoor instructor who writes from her hometown of Gardiner, Montana, at the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
Bison calves, some of the park’s earliest and most widespread arrivals, dot the hillsides, valleys, and grasslands of Yellowstone’s northern range and interior. Look for their tawny hides as they kick their hooves, playfully butt heads, and sprint across open spaces, signaling the start of spring and the end of winter.
Bear cubs, born in January to early February, emerge from the den in May ready to explore in sets of one to three. These rambunctious youngsters can be found trailing their mothers in Yellowstone’s wide-open valleys (mostly grizzlies) and in the forests between Gardiner and Cooke City (mostly black bears).
Bighorn sheep lambs, born in May or June, traverse hillsides and open slopes, including the Gardner River Canyon between the park’s North Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs. Other locations include the eastern reaches of Lamar Valley, drainages along the Yellowstone River, and the exposed rock faces surrounding Tower Junction.
Elk calves, typically born May through June, spend most of their first couple weeks bedded down for protection. The speckled calves, though able to walk, are susceptible to predation, so they are camouflaged and nearly scentless. Look for their playful interactions along the northern range and the Madison River near West Yellowstone.
Moose calves, born in late May through June, arrive singly or in sets of two and can quickly walk alongside their gangly legged mothers. They can be found in mature spruce/fir forests surrounding the park’s Northeast Entrance, along lake shores, and in riparian environments with shrubby vegetation such as willows.
Pronghorn fawns, born in late May through June, often arrive as twins and exhibit a grayish-brown coloration before developing their distinct reddish-tan and white coat. Like mature does and bucks, the fawns quickly become adept runners. Look for them foraging along the park’s northern range between Gardiner and Cooke City.
Some of Yellowstone’s lesser-known inhabitants also offer premier viewing during springtime. Through binoculars, look for nesting raptors ranging from great gray owls, bald eagles, osprey, and peregrine falcons. Nests are often located in trees, rock cavities, and on cliff faces. Spring is also a good time to look for ducklings, goslings, and swan cygnets swimming alongside their parents on the park’s waterways. On dry land, ground squirrels and yellowbellied marmots poke their heads out of hiding to explore the world outside.
Wolf and coyote puppies, born in April, emerge from dens in May. The charismatic little ones explore, play, and harass surrounding family members. While wolf pups often emerge to packs of adults, coyote pups are typically raised by a denning pair. View them from pullouts throughout the park, including Lamar Valley.
Yellowstone Quarterly 9
Q&A Lisa Baril Wildlife Biologist
After assignments in places like Channel Islands and Haleakalā national parks, Lisa Baril came to Yellowstone in 2005 to work on a pilot study looking at songbird response to willow growth in the northern range. Though she had never been to the Rockies, she says, “I fell in love.” Now the park’s lone wildlife biologist focused solely on ornithology, Baril shares what it is like to have a bird’s-eye of view of Yellowstone.
Have you always wanted to study birds?
I wanted to be a wildlife biologist, but thought I would be a marine biologist. After I graduated college, I took a job banding songbirds near Yosemite National Park. It was just amazing—not only was it a great location, it was also very interesting to able to be hike around the park and learn about birds. What does your job entail on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis?
We go through early spring to late summer watching different bird species as they start breeding. Our field season begins in March when the bald eagles start nesting, and then we move into peregrine falcons, then ospreys, and then some of the songbirds. How do you keep track of so many species?
A lot of hiking. We’re lucky because we cover the whole park— daunting because its so huge, and most of it’s backcountry. But it’s really exciting, because every day is different. We go to places where we know there are nesting birds, but it’s a lot of exploratory work, too, figuring out where to find more birds. Is your field work mostly observation or capture and tagging?
It’s all observation for now. For instance, for a peregrine falcon, we’ll remain on site for up to four hours trying to find them. Monitoring a bird the size of a crow from half a mile to a mile away means spending a lot of time sitting in the cold looking through binoculars and spotting scopes. It would be neat to tag 10
some of our birds to get more information on their movements, particularly for golden eagles. What are you hoping to learn about at a site?
Our primary objective for breading raptors is to figure out whether there’s a mated pair there. Next we want to know where they are nesting. We visit the site when they’re probably down on eggs. It’s a bit of a trade-off, because they’re a little less visible during that time of year, but we can find out both pieces of information in a one-shot deal. You just finished a five-year project called the Yellowstone Raptor Initiative. What’s next?
We’re trying to put together a new study focused more heavily on golden eagles. We found 28 pair of golden eagles parkwide, which is far more than anyone expected. But they dont seem to be breeding very well, so we’d like to try to figure out what factors are responsible for low breeding success in Yellowstone compared to other locations. What makes birds so interesting?
The great thing about birds is that they occur on every continent and in every habitat. Species that visitors see in Yellowstone can be seen in their home region no matter where they live. That’s an important connection for me to try to make with visitors— they can see these birds everywhere and that each bird has unique adaptations to live where they do. You can, if you try, find wilderness wherever you are, and birds are a big part of that.
SHOP Celebrate the 2016 Centennial
with Items from Yellowstone’s Official Park Store!
CREATURES Large & Small
Centennial Hat #2772 Member: $14.41 Regular: $16.95
Showcase your support for Yellowstone and all our national parks with this two-toned, 100% cotton hat. One-size-fits-all with adjustable strap for comfort. Color: olive.
Yellowstone Centennial Bottle #2695 Member: $20.36 Regular: $23.95
Made-in-the-USA water bottle features ionic images of the world’s first national park. Made from recycled aluminum. Hand-wash only.
NPS Centennial Patch #2690 Member: $5.09 Regular: $5.99
Celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service with the official centennial collector’s patch.
NPS Centennial Pin #2773 Member: $4.24 Regular: $4.99
Honor a second century of national park stewardship with the official National Park Service centennial collector’s pin.
Centennial Hike Shirt
WM #2761-2765 / MN #2766-2770 Member: $19.54 Regular: $22.99
Show your pride in our national parks by sporting this long-sleeve shirt on your next adventure. Features the NPS centennial logo on the front and “Yellowstone National Park” on one sleeve. 100% cotton. Women’s sizes come in yellow and men’s sizes come in sandstone.
Call 406.848.2400 or visit YellowstoneAssociation.org Our Park Stores are the #1 source of information on Yellowstone, and proceeds directly benefit Yellowstone National Park.
The Caddisfly Hatch By Barbara Lee Illustration: George Bumann
When the spring caddisfly hatch rises in Yellowstone’s rivers and streams, tight-lipped trout become voracious feeders and the grumpiest angler is suddenly cheerful. The park is home to numerous species of caddisflies— small, moth-like insects with a wonderfully complex life cycle. The females deposit eggs in or on water; these hatch into aquatic larvae that usually live in cases built from their own silk and tiny particles. Larvae become pupae that develop into adult caddisflies. When development is complete, pupae generally leave their protective cases, swim to the surface, and emerge as adults—if they escape ravenous trout. Adult caddisflies might survive a week or more, long enough to mate and begin this remarkable life cycle all over again. Yellowstone Quarterly 11
By Stephen Camelio
Search and Rescue
Last May, a visitor taking a photo at Grand View Point slipped and fell 25 feet into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Able to stop his slide by bracing himself in a small crevice, he was one false move from a 200-foot fall. To his aid came Yellowstone’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team. Using a system of ropes and pulleys, the rescue team lifted the man to safety with only minor injuries.
Efforts such as this are all in a day’s work for Yellowstone’s SAR personnel. They train year-round so when someone in the park needs help, they are not only able to respond quickly but also know exactly what to do and how to do it. While the operation at Canyon certainly qualified as a rescue, the SAR team’s duties go way beyond what’s covered in its name. “We define a search and rescue as any time somebody needs assistance away from the front country,” says Phil Strehle, a backcountry ranger and Yellowstone’s technical and swift-water rescue coordinator. “That means off the roadway or out of developed areas.” When you’re talking about covering more than 2 million acres of pure wilderness, assistance can come in many forms. Along with dealing with medical issues, SAR operations include, but aren’t limited to, finding people that are lost or missing in the backcountry, human/animal encounters, drowning or boating accidents, and extricating people—be they alive or dead—from places from which they can’t get out. Almost all operations start when an emergency call pertaining to the backcountry comes in to the Emergency Operations Center. The next thing that happens is the rapid formation of a Hasty Team. “It’s a small group with limited equipment that essentially goes to the last point the victim was seen,” says Becky Smith, a fire ecologist and a search and rescue planning chief. “They do a really quick recon of the area or hike as far as they can on a trail depending on how much daylight is left.” If this group isn’t able to resolve the problem, then a planning section chief like Smith is brought in to formulate a SAR plan. If the operation requires an extensive search, the process begins by determining the search area, which entails more than just looking at topo maps. “There’s a lot of statistical guides and criteria that will help us determine where to look,” says Smith. “How old is the victim? Do 12
they have any medical history? Are they prepared to stay out at night? Are they walking? Are they on a horse? Is there water involved?” With those questions answered, the search area is segmented by breaking the terrain into chunks. Then staff members familiar with the search area go through all those segments individually and determine the likelihood that the subject would be found in that segment. Smith calls this type of brainstorming “a consensus of guts,” and it speaks to how important first-hand knowledge of the park is to successful SAR planning and efforts. These expert recommendations are then entered into a computer program that gives the searchers a probability that the subject is in each segment. Once they know what they have to do, the planning chief contacts the Emergency Operations Center. “It’s our job to find the resources needed and track the resources for the duration of the operations so that the team can do their job to the best of their ability, and everything and everyone comes home safely,” says Laura Dooley, the Operations Center manager. Along with the preparation and thought that goes into them, it’s the “everyone” that Dooley is referring to that makes these operations special. Rangers like Strehle and fire cache staff like Smith are usually some of the first to act because, as Smith says, “it’s built into our job description that we have to always be ready to respond.” But every emergency demands something different, and often it takes the whole Yellowstone village to meet the needs of the SAR operation. “Yellowstone is like its own city so we often pull from other divisions,” Dooley notes. “And because of that, the key to a successful operation is often determined by how well those diverse departments collaborate with one another.” That means, depending on what is needed, the maintenance department will close roads; the geographic information system (GIS) team will help with mapping; trail crews will tackle hiking rough terrain; public affairs will act as family liaisons; and, if a
large team is needed, the young men and women from the Yellowstone Conservation Corps will be called upon to round out ground search teams. For more specific needs like a dog team, aircraft, or water resources, Dooley will often reach out to the closest available resource outside the park, which includes Grand Teton National Park and the Gallatin County Search and Rescue, based in Bozeman. But, on the whole, employees who live and work in the park handle most SAR operations in Yellowstone. “Even if they aren’t search and rescue experts per se, there are a lot of really qualified and well-trained people in the park, and they put in a lot of time helping out any way they can,” Smith says. This all-hands-on-deck approach is undertaken with one purpose in mind—to have a positive conclusion like the situation last year at Canyon. “Situations can easily have the gravest of outcomes,” says Strehle. “We’re always happy when we can help these incidents end safely and allow visitors to continue on with their vacation.” Stephen Camelio is a freelance writer living on the Montana/Wyoming border of Yellowstone National Park. His work has appeared in Men’s Journal, Runner’s World, Field & Stream, and Fly Rod & Reel.
In 2015 there were 26 major* and 36 minor SAR incidents in Yellowstone. Here are some tips from Phil Strehle, backcountry ranger and Yellowstone’s technical and swift-water rescue coordinator, on how to avoid getting into one of these types of situations. FOLLOW THE REGULATIONS Whether it’s area closures, or where to stay or travel, the reason those regulations are in place is usually due to the visitor safety. SEEK ADVICE If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to ask. The park service is full of individuals who live, work, and recreate in these areas. UNDERSTAND YOUR LIMITATIONS Don’t try to make it up if you don’t know it. For instance, people who aren’t versed in traveling off trail or map reading may not realize they’re eventually going to get into a worse situation. DON’T TEST THE WATERS We purposely set our trails so they cross creeks and rivers in places where we know the water’s not going to be swift, deep, or have underwater obstructions. CALM HEADS PREVAIL The biggest thing is not to panic. Stay put and formulate a plan. If you can, relax yourself and make a good plan on where you’re at and what you’re going to do to try to resolve the situation. IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS People can get themselves into trouble pretty quickly when they let things spiral out of control. We generally deal with little situations that people think won’t be as big of a deal, and they quickly get in over their heads. Search and Rescue team members training in Yellowstone
*NOTE: Major search signifies $500 or more in un-programmed costs (supplies, overtime, hazard pay, emergency hires, pay accrued while someone is not in pay status.)
Yellowstone Quarterly 13
NATURALIST NOTES By Jessie Hendrix Illustrations by Julianne Baker
Are you unmoved by barren, frosty landscapes?
Yellowstone’s Early Wildflowers
Good news—it’s time to pick up the wildflower identification guide again! As the ground begins to lose its blanket of snow and transforms into boldly colored meadows of swaying wildflowers, what should bloom enthusiasts search for? Which species bloom when can be quite variable, depending on weather and altitude. Despite Yellowstone’s mostly nutrient-poor volcanic soil, which does not necessarily support plentiful wildflower growth, areas in the northern range—including Trout Lake, Mount Washburn, and Mammoth Hot Springs—are all great places to search for wildflowers in early spring. Watch for the yellow blossoms of the glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) and the yellow bell (Fritillaria pudica) poking through the snow-flattened grasses. Both species have edible corms, or underground stems, and are a popular choice for awakening bears. The dainty bobbing hat of the glacier lily is an especially delightful find. My favorite find is the bright pink shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) that appears to grow upside down. The stamens and style point downwards, while the petals are folded back towards the sky. Clusters of these blossoms are especially numerous in the northern range. Another showstopper is the violet sugar bowl (Clematis hirsutissima). The tiny hairs on the petals of this bell-shaped flower can catch the sunlight and give the flower a glowing appearance. The aptly named spring beauty (Claytonia lanceolata ) is found in moist areas ranging from sagebrush-steppe to alpine slopes. This five-petaled white flower is also edible, if you’re feeling adventurous. The corms taste like radishes when raw and like potatoes when cooked (or so I’m told). Of course, if you’re hiking in Yellowstone National Park, please remember that these flowers must stay in the ground. With this in mind, it’s time to get your boots muddy and welcome these heralds of spring!
Carolyn Wallen Carolyn Wallen’s love for national parks and her commitment to cooperating associations is more than 25 years in the making. Her experience working for cooperating associations— nonprofit organizations that support national parks—includes 13 years at Grand Teton Association and 13 years at the Yellowstone Association (YA). “I love parks and I love working for associations,” she explains. “I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of it.” Carolyn first came to Yellowstone in 2002 when her husband, Rick, accepted the position of Bison Management Team Leader for the National Park Service. With a background in elementary education and more than a decade’s experience as office manager for Grand Teton Association, Carolyn’s decision to apply for a store manager position with YA was a natural one. In 2003, after a year managing the Mammoth Park Store, she moved into her current position as warehouse manager.
Today Carolyn oversees a team of five people based at YA’s warehouse in Gardiner, Montana. With 12 Park Stores to stock with educational products on all things Yellowstone, Carolyn’s duties include overseeing incoming product, inventory control, pricing, distribution, and shelving—to name just a few. Her extensive duties don’t stop her from enjoying her work, however. “With a background in elementary education, I feel I’ve stayed in my chosen field even though I’m not in the classroom,” she says. “I’m a big proponent of national parks and support anything we can do to give back to the park service while educating others.” Carolyn plans to retire from her long career this fall. “I’ve really enjoyed my time with YA and all the friends I’ve made,” she says. “I helped open a number of Park Stores and watched them grow over time. It’s been fun to be part of that growth.” She looks forward to spending some well-deserved extra time hiking, camping, traveling, and gardening in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with her husband and friends.
Go Green This Spring…
Become a Yellowstone Guardian!
Join a growing group of forward-thinking, eco-friendly members. Yellowstone Guardians contribute automatically to YA’s mission through our monthly giving membership program. For $10* or more per month, this convenient way to support Yellowstone National Park ensures that even more of your membership gift goes directly to education and research by helping to reduce printing and mailing costs.
*International members are asked to join at a minimum of $12 per month due to shipping fees. Offer not available in YA Park Stores.
Become a Guardian member by May 1 and receive this 2016 NPS centennial cap as our way of saying “Thank you!” for going green and supporting Yellowstone. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, this two-toned 100-percent cotton cap features the NPS centennial and YA logos with an adjustable strap (ensuring that one size fits all). Reference offer code YQCAP16 in the comments field online at YellowstoneAssociation.org/Guardian (scroll down) or when calling 406.848.2400. Yellowstone Quarterly 15
Twelve-year member and YA volunteer Kathy Haines of Newport News, Virginia, brought her summer issue of YQ along on her assigned segment of the Appalachian Trail during Backpacker magazine’s AT-in-a-Day event: Rockfish Gap to McCormick Gap in Shenandoah National Park. “It was hot, humid, and the perfect place for YQ to remind me that it wouldn’t be long until I was back in Yellowstone!”
Send us a photo of yourself or a fellow member holding a copy of Yellowstone Quarterly and you could be featured in an upcoming issue! Submission Guidelines
Members of YA should submit photo(s) to beyondyellowstone@ yellowstoneassociation.org. For a complete list of submission guidelines, visit our website or contact us at the email address above.
The National Park Service Centennial
Science teacher and new member Susan Gottschalk of Baltimore, Maryland, recently attended the YA Institute STEAM teacher workshop. Incorporating art into her science curriculum, she taught her 7th graders the pointillism art technique, and they used it on their frog dissection portraits. Posing here with Susan and the winter issue of YQ, they couldn’t believe how easy it was to make such a one-of-a-kind picture!
Celebrate, Learn, Explore
What better way to celebrate 100 years of national parks than by participating in a Yellowstone Association Institute program? This year, in honor of the 2016 National Park Service centennial, the Institute is offering seven new courses that delve into Yellowstone’s cultural, scientific, conservation, and artistic legacy. Hike, journal, explore, and learn while celebrating the past and looking forward to the next century of national parks! Day Hiking Yellowstone’s Ancient Routes June 29 – July 2
Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Facing Geological Challenges in Yellowstone July 12 – July 14
An Artist Retreat: Reconnecting with the Natural World August 8 – August 12
Journaling in the Spirit of Lewis and Clark August 21 – August 23
100 Ideas for Keeping a Travel Sketch Book August 24 – August 26
Yellowstone’s Geological Legacy August 24 – August 27
Foundations of the National Park Service in Yellowstone September 10 – September 13 Please visit YellowstoneAssociation.org or call 406.848.2400 for more detailed information or for a summer 2016 catalog.
PHOTOS JIM FUTTERER: TOC, PG 9; MARIA BISSO: PGS 2, 4, 5, 8, 15, BACK COVER; KAREN WITHROW: PG 3; KATHY LICHTENDAHL: PG 6; TED GATLIN: PG 7; ROSEMARY JOHNSON: PG 8; SHIRLEY COPE: PG 9; STEPHANIE RIPLY: PG 9; BILL ZAGER: PG 9; MACNEIL LYONS: PG 9; BRIDGET LYONS: PG 9; DIANE SIMPSON: PG 9; LISA BARIL: PG 10; PHILIP STREHLE: PG 13; SUSAN GOTTSCHALK: PG 13; KATHY HAINES: PG 13
M E M B ER S HIP THANK YOU! We wish to acknowledge those who contributed to the Yellowstone Association between October 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015. Because of space constraints, the following list includes membership contributions of $1,000 or more and Special Tribute gifts. Your support — regardless of size — plays a critical role in the Association’s mission to connect people to Yellowstone through education.
YELLOWSTONE SOCIETY FALLS $10,000 – $24,999
The Jacquart Family Jean and Robert Morgan Cappy and Bob Shopneck BECHLER $5,000 – $9,999
Sue and Mike Arneson Mary and Len Beavis Sandy and Lee Choate Katherine Loo and Jim Raughton Joy and Jordan Renner Barbara Sample GALLATIN $2,500 – $4,999
Marilyn Alkire and Alan Shaw Debra and William Brownlie Mary Chisholm and John Schuldt Shirley Cooper Sandy and David Epstein Sara and Greg Harkins Sylvia and William Hunsberger Julia and Richard Llewellyn Mary Beth and Thomas Lukas Dana and David Martin Cara and Adam Mika Deborah and Dale Nickels Katharine and Kurt Rice Carolyn Rosin Lillian D. Stephens LAMAR $1,000 – $2,499
Candace Allen and Robert Woodward Diana Allison Colleen and Christopher Bondy Dorothy and James Bowers Trudy Chester Susan and Arnold Cohen Judy and Mark Cook Linda and William Cornell Joseph Davenport Chris and Timothy Davis Chad Dayton Constance and Tom Dotzenrod Heath Druzin Janet and Jim Dulin Patty and Tom Durham Debbie and John Edgcomb Dean Elsie John Engelbart Betty Jean and Thomas Eubanks Greg Ferguson Kim and Kent Fletcher Walter Fock Frances and Robert Fosnaugh Frederick Fox Craig Foxhoven Nancy and Peter Gallo
Susan and William Gillilan Melody and Barry Graham Margaret Hart Charlotte and Joe Hawkins Dianne and Cline Hickok Natalie Higgins Bruce and Ellen Hill Elizabeth Hoffman and Maurice L. Druzin Sandy and Scott Johnson Carolyn and Steven Jones DeeAnn and Barry Judd Steven Kadish Elizabeth and Ronald Kellogg Harriett Kesler Deborah and John Lahey Onelia Lazzari Pamela Little and Howard Anderson Mary Lou and Ben Marchello Mattone Family Charitable Foundation Beth Maxwell Kathy and Roy Meyer Yvette Montiel and Richard Schafer Axson and Bryan Morgan Judith and James Moroney Jerene Mortenson Robin Tawney Nichols and Nick Nichols David Ottolino Wendy Palmer and Richard Ruh Yvonne and Edwin Parish Anne Pendergast Cindy Pigott Martha Pittard and Allan Krapfs Julie and James Pulk Sara and Peter Ribbens Rita and Wayne Rutledge Carol and Robert Scallan Allison Sikes Bridget and Scot Smith William Sowter Bernard Sussman Jane and Steve Sutton Anne Symchych Betty Tichich and Fred Bunch Kathy and David Titley Sandra Carrell Tremblay and Dale Tremblay Elizabeth Trowbridge Karen and Robert Uhlenbeck The Nino R. Vaghi Foundation Anne Young and Jim Nielson Barbara and Donald Zucker Karin Zuckerman Debora and Jim Zug
EDUCATIONAL ENDOWMENT Unless otherwise noted, planned gifts, memorials and honor gifts will support our educational endowment.
In Honor of Dr. Donald Picard
Doris Allina In Honor of Lisa Sands and Susan Weiss
Lollie Plank - $370,000 Anonymous - $1,000
Carolyn and Tim Weeks
The Summit Society recognizes those individuals or families that have included the Yellowstone Association in their estate planning to ensure the preservation of Yellowstone for future generations.
Ken Bowling Linda Summers and Joseph Tulpinski SPECIAL TRIBUTE DONORS The following donors made a contribution to the Yellowstone Association as a tribute to someone or something special in their lives.
In Memory of Carol Adams
Molly and Tom Brinkerhoff In Honor of Linda and Michael Balas
Karen Sherman Perez In Memory of Olga Basso
Anonymous In Honor of Mike Bennett
Elizabeth Garey In Memory of Mary Bredeson
Kathryn Leavell In Memory of Tim Burks
In Honor of Keith Snell In Memory of Ed Stilwill
Mary and Ernest Behnke Susan and Douglas Brengle Debbie and John Edgcomb Carolyn and Steven Jones Cynthia McDonnell The Molly L. Phinny Trust Edward Rutkowski Janie and Wes Schulz Sally Stilwill Susan Stilwill Lee and Ashton Lee Patricia Schutte In Memory of Jerry W. Steelman
Laura Essmeier In Memory of Patricia Ann Walker
Mary and Martin Hamilton Janet and Jonathan Kempff In Honor of Jodie Weaver
Doreen Fiedler In Honor of the Moran and Wehrli Family and MB and MG Wehrli
Margaret and Edward Burks
In Memory of James H. Cobb
In Memory of William G. “Bill” Woodhams
Kathryne Cobb In Memory of William J. Cody
Patricia and Tony Richards In Honor of Edith Cofrin
Kathy and Patrick Miller In Memory of DeVere Wright
Debra and Terry Miller
Janet Mainor In Honor of Melissa and Cardwell Dowland
Margaret Sine In Memory of Sharon Glynn
Christine Brocato In Memory of Eugene P. Holmes
Every effort has been made to ensure that this list is accurate and complete. We apologize if your name has been omitted or otherwise improperly reported. Please contact us at 406.848.2400 if you feel this is the case so we can correct our records.
In Memory of Frank Hood
Beverly and Michael Fusfield In Honor of Sharon Korr, M.D.
Sonia Flaum In Memory of Art Lengacher, Sr.
Susan Van Scoy In Honor of Tim Mathison
Karen Mathison In Honor of Kathy and John Nichols
To learn more about the different ways you can support Yellowstone through education, please contact email@example.com. Yellowstone Quarterly 17
Last year, YA volunteers gave 24,000 hours of collective time in support of Yellowstone!
Stay Connected — Join the Community! Whether you’re in the park or at home, we can help you stay connected to Yellowstone. Visit our website for current reports from the field or a live view from our Roosevelt Arch webcam. Subscribe to our monthly E-Newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily park updates.