Monday, November 24, 2014

DNA Test Confirms Gray Wolf in Grand Canyon National Park

DNA tests released last Friday confirm that a wolf repeatedly photographed at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is a female gray wolf originating from the northern Rocky Mountains. The wolf is currently protected as a member of an endangered species, but would be stripped of her protective status along with other vulnerable wolves under an Obama administration proposal anticipated to be finalized this year, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

“This wolf’s epic journey through at least three western states fits with what scientific studies have shown, namely that wolves could once again roam widely and that the Grand Canyon is one of the best places left for them,” said Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s heartening this animal has been confirmed as a wolf but I am very worried that if wolves are taken off the endangered species list she will be killed and wolf howls from the North Rim’s pine forest will never again echo in the Grand Canyon.”

The wolf, wearing an inoperative radio collar, has repeatedly been observed in Grand Canyon National Park and the adjoining Kaibab National Forest since early October. Tests were conducted on feces to help determine the animal’s origins. The minimum straight-line distance from her home to present location is about 450 miles. It is likely the wolf wandered even farther, however, by taking a more meandering route.

Earlier this month, the Center released a first-of-its-kind analysis identifying 359,000 square miles of additional wolf habitat in the lower 48 states that could significantly boost wolf recovery. The study found that the gray wolf population could be doubled to around 10,000 by expanding recovery into areas researchers have identified as excellent habitat in the Northeast, West Coast and southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the Grand Canyon.

“There’s so much more room for wolves in the West if only we extend them a bit more tolerance,” Robinson said. “The Grand Canyon wolf is a prime example of what wolves can do if only we let them.”

Young adult wolves often leave their family packs to seek a mate and a territory of their own and may wander dozens and sometimes hundreds of miles. But with few other lone wolves to be found and many hazards, many such migrations end with the wolf’s death. One notable exception is OR-7 of Oregon, a male wolf nicknamed “Journey” by school-children, who wandered for two years in Oregon and California before finding a mate this year and raising pups in southwestern Oregon.

Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing gray wolves from the endangered species list, except for the Mexican gray wolf subspecies that is clinging to survival in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Independent peer-reviewers criticized that proposal’s scientific underpinnings, but the Service may finalize the proposal nonetheless. Where wolves have already been taken off the endangered species list in the northern Rockies and upper Midwest, state-authorized hunting, trapping and snaring, along with federal aerial gunning, are driving wolf numbers downward.






Jeff
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Help Build the Next 32 Miles of the CDT in Colorado

The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC), the lead National Partner for management of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) has launched a new Fundraising campaign through Indiegogo titled “The Next 32 Miles” to raise funds to construct a 32 mile non-motorized section of the CDT on the Rio Grande National Forest near Saguache, CO.

This project would allow the CDTC and partners, including local Youth Corps programs and volunteers, to complete one of the last remaining sections of the CDT in Colorado. When complete, this 32 mile trail section, which co-aligns with the Colorado Trail, will be a highly desirable, primitive back-country hiking and horseback riding experience.

The Continental Divide Trail is one of the few remaining ’wild’ places in our country, and was designated as one of America’s national scenic trails by Congress in 1978. However the Trail remains incomplete in many areas today. Colorado boasts over 800 miles of the CDT; New Mexico and Montana each host 750 miles; Wyoming, 610 miles, and Idaho 180 miles. Considered one of the greatest long-distance trails in the world, along with the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, they make up “Triple Crown” of National Scenic Trails.

“The Next 32 Miles” launched on November 18, and raised over $10,000 in the first 48 hours of the effort. The goal is to raise $20,000 during the campaign, which will help the CDTC secure funds to obtain the entire project cost of $200,000, which is needed to build the 32-mile section within two years. The Campaign will run through January 2, 2015. More information can be found here.






Jeff
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Body Of Missing Man On Longs Peak Recovered

Rocky Mountain National Park officials announced that the body of Peter Jeffris was located 200 feet below the Ledges on the Keyhole Route during helicopter search efforts yesterday. A Search and Rescue Team was flown to a landing spot in the Glacier Gorge drainage. The four team members then climbed approximately 1,800 vertical feet to where Jeffris was found. They prepared his body for transport. His body was flown from the scene to a landing spot at Upper Beaver Meadows at approximately 4:00 p.m. and transferred to the Boulder County Coroner.

Jeffris was reported overdue the afternoon of Monday, November 17, when he did not arrive at work. His vehicle was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Sunday morning to summit Longs Peak. It was unclear what route he was planning, but he indicated to friends he was considering the Cables Route on the north face. Safety was a top priority in determining when and where rescue personnel could search for Jeffris.

Winter conditions including extreme winds and below freezing temperatures made search and recovery operations even more difficult. These challenging conditions hampered search operations, particularly above tree line, the past three days. With today's calmer winds, searchers were able to utilize a helicopter which enhanced our ability to cover a much larger area and ultimately locate Jeffris.

Over the multiple day search, Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Teams were assisted by Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue, Alpine Rescue Team, Diamond Peak Ski Patrol, Douglas County Search and Rescue, Search Dogs of Colorado and the Colorado Search and Rescue Board. Park staff also worked with the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.



Jeff
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Favorable Weather Allows Aerial Search Efforts For Missing Man

Search efforts continue today on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park for Peter Jeffris, 25, from Broomfield, Colorado. Weather and winds are favorable and aerial searching by helicopter began this morning. This will enable searchers to cover a larger area and search higher elevations that have not been searched due to extreme winter conditions and safety of searchers the past four days. The forecast calls for the potential of snow and winds beginning tomorrow afternoon. This entire search area encompasses nearly 20 square miles and includes alpine, sub-alpine and heavily forested areas. Ground teams continue to focus on a variety of sections in the overall search area.

Jeffris was reported overdue the afternoon of Monday, November 17, when he did not arrive at work. His vehicle was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Sunday morning to summit Longs Peak. It is unclear what route he was planning, but he indicated to friends he was considering the Cables Route on the north face. He was not prepared to spend the night.

Search efforts the last two days have not revealed any significant signs or clues. Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team is being assisted today by Douglas County Search and Rescue, Larimer County Search and Rescue, Diamond Peak Ski Patrol and the Colorado Search and Rescue Board. For the last two days, park staff have also been working with the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center related to cell phone tracking. However, no significant information has been obtained that would influence the search. There are thirty-four people involved in the overall search efforts again today.

Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who was in the Longs Peak area on Sunday, November 16. Please call (970) 586-1204.



Jeff
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Search Efforts Continue Today For Missing Man On Longs Peak

Search efforts continued today on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park for Peter Jeffris, 25, from Broomfield, Colorado. Efforts will largely focus below tree line due to hazardous conditions including extreme winds above 11,500 feet. Teams will focus on drainages leading to the north and east from Longs Peak. Teams will also use spotting scopes from a distance to search areas including the Ledges and Trough along the Keyhole Route, Kiener's Route and Lambs Slide. A dog team will be used to search from Jeffris' vehicle, his last known point. Arial operations are not possible again today due to high winds and gusts.

Jeffris was reported overdue the afternoon of Monday, November 17, when he did not arrive at work. His vehicle was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Sunday morning to summit Longs Peak. It is unclear what route he was planning, but he indicated to friends he was considering the Cables Route on the north face. He was not prepared to spend the night.

Search efforts the last two days have not revealed any significant signs or clues. Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team is being assisted today by Alpine Rescue Team, Larimer County Search and Rescue, Diamond Peak Ski Patrol, Search Dogs of Colorado and the Colorado Search and Rescue Board. For the last two days, park staff have also been working with the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center related to cell phone tracking. However, no significant information has been obtained that would influence the search. There are thirty-two people involved in the overall search efforts again today.

Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who was in the Longs Peak area on Sunday, November 16. Please call (970) 586-1204.



Jeff
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Search Underway On Longs Peak

Yesterday afternoon, park rangers were notified that Peter Jeffris, 25, from Broomfield, Colorado, was overdue from a mountaineering trek to Rocky Mountain National Park and was believed to be in the Longs Peak area. His car was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Sunday morning to summit Longs Peak and did not arrive at work on Monday. It is unclear what route he was planning, but he indicated to friends he was considering the Cables Route on the north face. He was not prepared to spend the night.

A Park Search and Rescue team searched a small segment of the area until dark last night. Today teams will search the north face, Keyhole Route, Chasm Cirque area and along the Longs Peak Trail. They are being assisted by Rocky Mountain Rescue and Larimer County Search and Rescue. There are thirty-two people involved in the search efforts.

Weather on Sunday and Monday included snow, high winds and bitter temperatures. Today, teams are facing extremely high winds, blowing snow and gusts up to 85 mph at 14,000 feet. Aerial search efforts are not possible due to extreme winds.

Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who was in the Longs Peak area on Sunday, November 16. Please call (970) 586-1204.



Jeff
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Fun Programs Highlight Rocky’s Centennial Through The Holidays

The year-long celebration of Rocky Mountain National Park's (RMNP) 100th Anniversary continues through the holiday season! The following are a few events visitors can look forward to during the season:

Tuesday, November 18: The Big Burn: An Evening with Timothy Egan – Part of the One Book, One Valley program at the Estes Valley Library, this event will share insight about the events that started the conservation movement. Free tickets required.

Saturday, November 22: Estes Park Holiday Festivities and Tree Lighting – Guests can enjoy stocking/ornament decorating, sweet treats and hot drinks, radio flyer wagon rides, a trackless train, community sing-alongs, and an early visit from Santa. This year's tree lighting is in honor of Rocky Mountain National Park. A surprise lighting element will recognize RMNP staff.

Friday, November 28: The Wonder of Christmas – Join Grand Lake for a RMNP Centennial Tree Lighting Ceremony. Bruce the Moose, the Mayor, and one of the town's favorite singers, Juliette, will be there. RMNP rangers and volunteers will be serving up hot cocoa with all the fixings and there will be plenty of treats to go around as Christmas carols are sung. Bring an ornament to add to the tree!

Friday, November 28: Estes Park Catch the Glow Parade – Catch the glow from a beautifully lit parade and enjoy hay rides, s'mores, live carolers, and visits from Santa.

Friday, December 6 through Saturday, January 3: The Wonder of Art from the Park Exhibit – Local artists showcase their paintings and photography that highlight the Wilderness, Wildlife, and Wonder of RMNP at the Granby Library. Opening exhibition is 2 to 4 pm on December 6.

Saturday December 20 and Sunday 21: Home for the Holidays: The Wonder of Christmas in the Rockies – The Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater in Grand Lake presents a festive and heartwarming holiday tribute to celebrate the wonder of the Rocky Mountains. $15/tickets

Wednesday, December 31: Grand Lake New Year's Eve Fireworks – Celebrate RMNP's Centennial Celebration and ring in the new year with this fantastic fireworks display!

For more details on these events, including times and locations, please visit Rocky's 2014 Centennial Calendar of Events on the park's website.



Jeff
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