Monday, September 9, 2002
A Day of Learning in Grand Teton National Park
Team North is going to get their heads crammed full of new knowledge today, as representatives from the Park Service, USGS, the Forest Service, and the National Interagency Fire Center teach them about their surroundings and public lands issues from preventing property damage in wildfires to maintaining healthy native fish populations in the waters of the West.
Due to the fairly recent trend of building cabins and homes in the forest, private property is in increasing danger from wildfires. Protecting private structures also makes firefighting more costly for the government. Firewise is a non-profit organization which educates property owners about the steps they can take to protect their forest homes from the wildfires that have been sweeping the West.
Next the team will take a tour of Grand Teton National Park with a ranger from the Park Service. When they return to Park headquarters in Moose, they'll get a presentation from the USGS on monitoring water quality and fish habitat in the Snake River. The Snake flows through Grand Teton National Park on the way into Idaho, and just above Moose, is dammed at Jackson Lake. Although dams have many benefits for humans, they do damage fish habitat downstream. Many agencies, including the USGS, work to mitigate this damage by monitoring water quality and by releasing water from reservoirs to mimic natural river conditions.
All through the day, the team will get to enjoy a beautiful fall day in the Tetons. Aspen are turning gold, and the abundant wildlife is starting to migrate toward their winter homes. Birds are flocking and heading south along the waterways. Bear are stuffing themselves in preparation for the winter's hibernation. Elk and deer are moving out of the backcountry into the valley bottom, where they will comfortably winter in the hay-filled paradise of the National Elk Refuge.