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Grand Canyon National Park News

Grand Canyon National Park Initiates General Scoping on Proposed Projects Within the Grand Canyon Village

October 25, 2001 (NPS): The National Park Service (NPS) is in the initial stages of planning for three projects proposed in Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The proposed projects consist of rehabilitation of Mather Campground including upgrading campsites and comfort stations, relocating several campsites, and redesigning the campground entrance, the rehabilitation of Yavapai Observation Station, and the rehabilitation of the historic Ranger Operations Building. The National Park Service is soliciting comments from those who may have issues or concerns regarding the proposals before proceeding with environmental assessments.

The purpose of the proposal for Mather Campground is to provide universal accessibility and a high quality experience within Mather Campground, in keeping with the direction in the Park's 1995 General Management Plan (GMP). The proposal is intended to improve the overall experience of campground users.

Twelve to 15 campsites would be converted/rehabilitated to universally accessible sites. Accessible sites would be evenly distributed throughout the campground and would meet Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements. Accessible picnic tables, grills, and campsite signs would be added to each site. Work would also include grading, replacing or widening parking space pavement, and providing accessible pathways between campsites and comfort stations. Eleven comfort stations within the campground would be rehabilitated, "Oak Loop" would be expanded by constructing 13 new campsites, and nine campsites on "Juniper Loop" closed due to their close proximity to the road or potential transit corridors.

The campground entrance would also be reconfigured, and the registration function the kiosk currently provides would be relocated to an existing modular building and the kiosk removed.

The GMP identifies Yavapai Observation Station as an interpretive facility. In keeping with the direction outlined in the GMP, this proposed project is intended to rehabilitate the building. The building is located at a key point for viewing the canyon and observing the geological story and is within a short walking distance to Canyon View Information Plaza, the Park's new orientation/transportation hub. The proposal would potentially include two phases of implementation. The first phase would have two components - rehabilitation of the building and installation of new exhibits. The park is also exploring an option to implement a second phase of the project that focuses on the eventual restoration of the open-air terrace of the building.

The NPS also proposes extensive interior and exterior repairs and rehabilitation to the historic Ranger Operations building, a National Historic Landmark that was originally constructed in 1929 to serve as park headquarters. In addition to repair and rehabilitation the work would include upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the electrical systems, and installation of fire protection systems and seismic structural retrofit. Work will also include making the south side entry door accessible under ADA code requirements and providing an accessible path to this entrance, and the addition of an exterior stairway from the second floor to bring the building up to current building code.

Complete details of these proposed projects can be found at the Park's website at www.nps.gov/grca/mgmt/

Swamp Ridge Road Is Re-Opened

October 19, 2001 (NPS): The Swamp Ridge Road, on the park's North Rim, has re-opened from its intersection with the Kanabownits Road to Swamp Point. The road had been closed due to fire activity.

Two fires on the park's North Rim are still being managed for resource benefits. The Swamp Ridge Fire (3,217 acres) and Tower Fire (3,735 acres) are both located northwest of the North Rim developed area. Due to these fires, the following roads remain closed: The Kanabownits Road (W-4), from its intersection with Forest Road 268, south to the Point Sublime Road (W-1); and the Point Sublime Road from the intersection of Tiyo Point (W-1d) Trail to the west.

Visitors are asked to use caution while traveling in burned areas. Standing dead trees (snags) are very susceptible to falling, and visitors should avoid walking or parking near them. In addition, hikers should be on the lookout for falling limbs and tree tops. Stumps and large logs will continue to burn and should be avoided. Other hazards include loosened rocks falling on roadways and trails, road washouts and extra equipment and people working in the area.

Grand Canyon National Park remains open on both the North and South Rims. Many backcountry areas on the park's North Rim are still accessible.

Autumn Colors Prelude For North Rim Closure

October 9, 2001 (NPS): The changing of the season is occurring on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Fall colors are currently at their peak.

As colors on the North Rim change it is a reminder that the North Rim's visitor season is winding down. The staff on the North Rim has begun preparations to shut down visitor services and facilities, though the park will remain open to visitors on a day use basis until snow closes Highway 67 leading into the park.

The National Park Service's (NPS) North Rim Visitor Center will close at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, October 15th. The NPS Backcountry Office will remain open until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31. Until closure on October 31, the Backcountry Office hours for information and permits will be 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Advanced campground reservations for the North Rim Campground will end on October 15th, however, a limited number of campsites with limited services, (portable toilets), will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until snow closes Highway 67. Hikers and cross-country skiers will be permitted to use the park's group campsites throughout the winter months if they have obtained a permit through the Park's Backcountry Office. The South Rim Backcountry Office is open year-round and can be reached by calling (928) 638-7875, Monday through Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. MST. Permit requests can be faxed year-round to (928) 638-2125. Permits are not considered earlier than the first of the month, four months prior to the proposed start date.

Overnight accommodations through the concessionaire, the service station and related visitor services will close at noon on October 16th. The last meal served at the Rim's Grand Lodge will be breakfast. The final day for mule rides on the North Rim will be October 15th. The Kaibab Lodge, four miles from the park boundary, will be closed at the end of the day on October 15th and the Country Store, located outside of the park boundary will remain open through November 15th.

Arizona Department of Transportation officials have assured the park staff that State Highway 67 into the North Rim will remain open to public travel through November 15th, but cautioned that from November 16th on, Highway 67 could be closed for the season on short notice due to major storms and heavy snowfall. After November 1, visitors are encouraged to call in advance of their trip to check on the status of Highway 67.

During daytime visitation, from October 16th until final closure of State Highway 67, only emergency services will be provided by the NPS, and visitors are reminded to pay special attention to their gas gauge, since gas will no longer be available in the park. Gas will be available at the Country Store through November 15th. Jacob Lake Inn, Restaurant and Gas Station, 44 miles from the park, remains open year-round.

The South Rim and Inner Canyon facilities remain open year-round.

Smoke From Tower Fire Prompts New Actions

October 6, 2001 (NPS): Smoke from the 2,683 acre Tower Fire on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park has prompted fire managers to take actions to minimize smoke impacts. The Interagency Wildland Fire Use Team (Cook) will continue to manage the Tower Fire for resource benefits, but will check the spread of the fire using minimum impact suppression techniques (MIST). MIST techniques include line construction, hose lays to spray water on the fire edge, aerial water delivery on hot spots, thinning and pruning along roads and firelines to minimize heat, piling of fuel away from road edges, and burnout along roads and firelines.

The MIST tactics will be implemented on all edges of the fire to check the spread beyond the Point Sublime Road to the southeast, the Kanabownits Road to the east, the Canyon Rim to the west, and the existing fire perimeter on the north portion of the fire. Additional personnel have been ordered to implement the smoke reduction action plan. This includes four hotshot crews, an additional helicopter and miscellaneous personnel to assist in the management of the operation.

The Tower Fire is one of three lightning caused wildfires presently burning on the North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park. The 3,658 acres lightning caused Vista Fire began on July 15. For the first ten weeks the Vista Fire was managed as a Wildland Fire Use fire. Wildland Fire Use is utilized to manage natural caused fires for resource benefits, such as decreasing fuel loading, nutrient cycling, and regenerating aspen trees. On September 25, the fire became a wildfire when it increased in complexity due to increased fire activity and smoke production. The fire was 100% contained on September 30 at 6 p.m. and currently has minimal fire activity. The 3,292-acre Swamp Ridge Wildland Fire Use fire is 75% contained and also has minimal fire activity.

The Tower Fire has closed the Kanabownits Road (w-4 Road) from the intersection of the Point Sublime Road to Forest Service Road 268, as well as the road to Point Sublime (W1 road) from the intersection of the Tiyo Road (W1D) road to Point Sublime. Tiyo Point and Widforss Point remain open. The Swamp Ridge Fire has closed the Swamp Ridge Road. The road closure prohibits access to the North Bass Trailhead and trails on the Powell Plateau. The Swamp Ridge Fire has also closed Forest Road 268 and Forest Road 223 on the North Kaibab Ranger District.

National Park Entrance Fees To Be Waived Over Veterans Day Weekend To Inspire National Unity and Hope

October 4, 2001 (NPS): Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced that all entrance fees to national park areas will be waived during Veterans Day Weekend, November 10, 11 and 12, 2001, to allow Americans the opportunity to seek solace and inspiration from the Nation's parks, monuments and memorials.

"We all continue to be saddened and horrified by the magnitude of tragedy our nation has undergone, but we cannot give hate-filled terrorists a victory by forcing us to live in fear," said Norton, who made the announcement during a speech in Denver last night. "It's tragedies like these that make healing necessary so we can recover and rebound. What better places to begin that healing process than in our parks, where Americans can draw strength from national icons of freedom and peace from splendors of nature."

The Secretary said that one of these national icons - Federal Hall National Memorial, which was just three blocks from the World Trade Center and where George Washington took the first presidential oath of office - became a refuge to many fleeing the destruction of buildings all around it.

"Federal Hall, though damaged, still stands as a beacon of hope and of American perseverance in adversity," said Norton.

She also commended many members of Congress for their strong interest and support in urging all Americans to look to national parks and other public lands for the comfort and encouragement these special places provide.

"This Veteran's Day weekend, I encourage all Americans to join together with family and friends to honor the victims of our recent tragedies along with the veterans who protect our Nation's freedom and democracy," said Norton. "And I urge everyone to take advantage of this special opportunity to visit our nation's historic, cultural and natural treasures to reconnect with the values that have made this nation great."

The National Park Service, an Interior Department agency, manages the National Park System, which comprises 385 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state (except Delaware), the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House.

Falling Fatality at Grand Canyon National Park

October 3, 2001 (NPS): At approximately 8:10 this morning, National Park Service Rangers received a report of a fall from the South Kaibab Trail. Upon arriving on scene rescue personnel located the body of 13 year old Hannah Stehlin of Flemington, New Jersey approximately 150 feet below the edge of the trail. The accident occurred approximately one mile down the South Kaibab Trail.

Stehlin had been hiking with other members of her family when the apparent accidental fall occurred. The body will be transported to the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office.

This is the fourth fatality that has occurred from the canyon rim this year. The National Park Service and Coconino County Sheriff's Office will conduct a full investigation.

Cape Royal Road And Walhalla Plateau Re-Opened

October 1, 2001 (NPS): Firefighters contained the Vista Fire on the Walhalla Plateau of Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim last night. Officials opened the Cape Royal Road and trails in the Walhalla Plateau this morning to visitor traffic.

The lightning-caused Vista Fire, originally discovered on July 15th, was managed under the park's Wildland Fire Use strategy for ten weeks until last week. When fire activity increased due to hotter and drier weather, park managers decided to suppress the fire. The park's fire management program allows some lightning-caused fires to burn for resource benefits. The fire's growth, spread and smoke were closely monitored, and on September 24, due to increased smoke and fire growth in a canyon area, full suppression operations were initiated. The final fire size is 3,658 acres.

Visitors are asked to use caution while traveling in the Vista Fire area. Standing dead trees (snags) are very susceptible to falling, and visitors should avoid walking or parking near them. In addition, hikers should be on the lookout for falling limbs and tree tops (widowmakers). Stumps and large logs will continue to burn and should be avoided. Other hazards include loosened rocks falling on roadways and trails, road washouts (especially after rainstorms) and extra equipment and people working in the area.

Two other fires on the park's North Rim are currently being managed for resource benefits. The Swamp Ridge Fire (2,885 acres) and Tower Fire (1,808 acres) are both located northwest of the North Rim developed area. Due to these fires, the following roads remain closed: The Kanabownits Road (W-4), from its intersection with Forest Road 268, south to the Point Sublime Road (W-1), the Point Sublime Road from the intersection of Tiyo Point (W-1d) Trail to the west, and the Swamp Ridge Road from its intersection with the Kanabownits Road to Swamp Point. Forest Service Roads 268 and 223 are also closed.

Grand Canyon National Park remains open on both the North and South Rims. Many backcountry areas on the park's North Rim are still accessible. For additional information about backcountry travel, please contact the Backcountry Office from 1:00-5:00pm, Monday through Friday, at 928-638-7875, or visit the North Rim Backcountry Office.


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