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Photo: Face in the wall

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Metz, France. (c)1974 Roger D. Reinitz

 
An aside to the last post, here’s another photo taken in Metz, France, from my father’s archives.

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Climbing death at Apikuni

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Glacier National Park Rangers recovered the body of a 21-year old male from Davie, Fla., Tuesday evening, July 9, on Apikuni Mountain in the northeast area of the park. The individual was climbing the mountain with three other climbers when he fell approximately 1,000 feet to his death.

At approximately 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, park dispatch received a report from an individual calling from the Many Glacier Entrance Station that a member of their climbing party fell. The climbers could not see or reach the fallen climber, and indicated that he was not responding to any communication. The area in which the fall took place is very steep, with cliffs and rocky terrain.

Park rangers traveled to the vicinity of the incident by helicopter while other rangers conducted aerial reconnaissance to search for the climber. At approximately 6 p.m. the body of the climber was found. A helicopter and specialized short-haul rescue team from Parks Canada assisted park rangers to recover the body.

Witness statements indicate that four individuals departed from the Many Glacier area for Apikuni Mountain at approximately 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. All four members of the climbing party are employees of the park’s concessioner Glacier Park, Inc. and work at the Many Glacier Hotel. Apikuni Mountain is located a few miles north of the hotel.

Short haul is an emergency rescue tool. It involves a rescuer being carried on a rope from a hovering helicopter to a victim below. The rescuer rigs a harness to the victim or places the victim in a litter basket and the helicopter lifts both to safety a short distance away.

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Wild horn face, down by the river

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Researchers recently announced the discovery of a 15,000 pound dinosaur in Big Bend National Park. The discovery, actually made two years ago and kept under wraps pending further study, turned out to be a new species of dino that roamed the park as long as 75 million years ago (for those keeping track, that’s 75,000,002 years ago).

Below is the National Park Service announcement:

Horned Dinosaur Discovery
Date: June 10, 2013

Earlier this month, researchers with the U.S. National Park Service and Texas Tech University unveiled a new species of horned dinosaur, Bravoceratops polyphemus, recently discovered in Big Bend National Park.

Steven L. Wick and Thomas M. Lehman made the initial discovery two years ago following several months of field work. They were able to recover portions of the giant skull. Bravoceratops (“wild horn-face”) is named after the Rio Bravo del Norte (aka Rio Grande), which marks the border between Big Bend National Park and northern Mexico. The new find was first reported online in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

Bravoceratopspolyphemus was one of the largest members of a group of horned dinosaurs called chasmosaurines, which lived during the Late Cretaceous Period from about 75-65 million years ago. In life, the animal had a skull about seven feet in length, with both its brow horns each over three feet long. Among the chasmosaurines, Bravoceratops was very similar in size to its better known cousin, Triceratops, which weighed up to an estimated 15,000 pounds. Although Bravoceratops was a plant-eater, its large size, long horns, and bony frill likely protected it from large predators, acted as means to intimidate rivals, and attract mates.

The discovery is especially exciting given that Big Bend National Park is currently developing a new fossil bone exhibit to showcase many of the most spectacular finds from the park. In partnership with the Friends of Big Bend National Park (http://www.bigbendfriends.org/), a full-size replica of the skull of Bravoceratops is currently being considered for the new display.

Jezail gun accessory returned

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A speed loader for an ancient jezail rifle that had disappeared from the Kabul National Museum was returned to the Afghan government June 2. Photo courtesy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Federal agents have helped the government of Afghanistan recover some military equipment that has been missing since the Soviets pulled out.

The gear consisted of a speed loader for a jezail, which was state of the art weaponry for the 1800s. Jezails are heavy flintlock or matchlock muzzleloading muskets in calibers ranging from .50 to .75, and the loader had been part of the collection of the Kabul National Museum, but it disappeared following the Russian withdrawal.

As one can imagine, frequent fighting in Afghanistan has wreaked havoc on the country’s museums, and cultural artifacts have been leaking out since the 1980s thanks to looters, smugglers and black market merchants.

In February 2013, Homeland Security Investigations Kabul office began helping the Internaional Security Assistance Force to recover the historical jezail accessory, although the HSI release was sketchy on the details. On June 2, it was handed over to the Afghan government during a ceremony in the country’s Ministry of Information and Culture’s rose garden.

Climber rescued with help of fire copter

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A helicopter crew took a break from fighting the wildfires in the Big Meadows section of Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday to rescue an injured climber in another part of the park, according to the National Park Service.

The 36-year-old climber from Golden, Colo., plummeted about 40 feet on Sundance Buttress in Lumpy Ridge from a spot about 350 feet up. A guide with Colorado Mountain School was leading another group when he witnessed the accident. The guide lowered the injured climber to the route’s base, and the Grand Canyon Helitak crew short hauled a ranger to the scene.

The victim was evacuated in a “Bauman Bag” dangling beneath the helicopter to a hnearby meadow and then taken to a nearby hospital.

Missing in Mesa Verde

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Rangers and other rescue workers are searching Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado for a 52-year old Texas man that was reported missing Sunday, June 9, according to the National Park Service.

Mitchell Stehling told his wife and parents he was going to visit Spruce Tree House. When he did not return, they notified park dispatchers. A hasty search of Spruce Canyon, Spruce Tree House, Petroglyph Trail and other trails on Chapin Mesa was initiated following the report. Crews were out early Monday morning expanding the search area on foot, by horseback and by helicopter. Two dog teams from Dolores Canine Search and Rescue are also assisting in the search. Approximately 30 people searched multiple trails and canyons until late evening.

Crews resumed their search this morning. They are being joined by 20 members of the San Juan National Forest Hot Shots bringing the total number of personnel involved to 50.

Temperatures in the park are in the 90s. The terrain consists of steep canyons and mesa tops at an elevation between 6,500 and 8,000 feet. Mr. Stehling was last seen wearing a brown shirt and hat, khaki shorts and hiking boots. He was not carrying any water or other gear.

Feather sale brings sentence

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A Montana resident was recently prosecuted for selling feathers using the MySpace social networking site, casting a new light on the little known fact that people still use MySpace, or did so as recently as 2009. Below is the Department of Justice account of the case:

Seller of Golden Eagle and Hawk Feathers Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Violations of Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Lacey Act
June 6, 2013

Steven Patrick Garcia, Jr., 36, of San Jose, Calif., was sentenced June 6 in federal court in Billings, Mont., to two years in prison for selling and offering to sell migratory bird parts in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act, according to the Department of Justice. Garcia had pleaded guilty to the charge on Jan. 16, 2013.

Garcia admitted by his plea that on Dec. 2, 2008, he offered for sale and sold golden eagle and hawk feathers and that on Feb. 25, 2009, he sold golden eagle feathers knowing that those golden eagle feathers were unlawfully taken and possessed.

“Today’s prosecution and sentence demonstrate that individuals that attempt to profit from the unlawful taking of golden eagles, bald eagles, hawks and all other migratory birds will be investigated, prosecuted and punished accordingly,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana Michael W. Cotter.

The Secretary of the Interior maintains a list of migratory birds which are protected from, among other things, being killed, sold, bartered, transported or possessed, except as otherwise permitted by federal regulation. Enrolled members of federally recognized American Indian tribes may obtain permits to possess eagle and other migratory bird feathers and parts for religious and ceremonial purposes, but federal law strictly prohibits the sale of migratory birds, feathers, or their parts by any person. The Lacey Act prohibits, among other things, the sale of wildlife knowing that the wildlife was taken or possessed in violation of any federal wildlife-related regulation or law.

According to court documents, Garcia communicated via MySpace with an individual in California and sold the individual hawk feathers for $200 and a golden eagle feather for $25 in December 2008. The hawk feathers were later forensically identified as twelve tail feathers of either ferruginous or red-tailed hawk. Garcia also communicated via MySpace with an undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent who, at one point in time, observed approximately seventy photographs of migratory bird feathers on Garcia’s MySpace Page. The agent purchased 12 ferruginous hawk and 12 rough-legged hawk tail feathers from Garcia in February 2009 as well as one complete set of subadult golden eagle wings for $400. Approximately 146 items containing feathers representing 18 different species of migratory birds were obtained from Garcia’s home in Lame Deer, Montana, in March 2009.

This case resulted from a nationwide investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement into the illegal commercialization of eagles and other migratory birds protected by federal law. The case was prosecuted by the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana.

Photo: Eldora Cave

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Entrance to Eldora Cave in Eldora , Iowa. (C) J.S. Reinitz

Timber theft case in Iowa

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The remains of a 40-inch diameter black walnut tree estimated to be at least 140 years-old. An Iowa resident cut the tree down, but due to the large size could only remove one log, estimated at $1,400 market value. Photo courtesy of Hill / USACE.

If there is one thing Iowa doesn’t have a lot of, it’s forests. Most of the state’s old growth was mowed down two hundred years ago to make room for corn and soybeans.

So it wasn’t too hard to spot when one resident chopped down 32 black walnut trees. The rub, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, was that the trees were growing on federal land administered by the Army Corp of Engineers.

With current lumber prices, the hacking would have netted thousands of dollars on the open market. Instead, it landed the rogue lumberjack a 15-month stay with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and a $56,225 restitution order.

“When something like this occurs, we have no choice but to do everything within our authority to prevent similar activity. Unfortunately, many of the things we value in nature take decades or centuries to evolve but can be taken away in a matter of only a few careless hours,” Col. Mark Deschenes, commander of the Rock Island District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said in a prepared statement.

Authorities said the man pleaded guilty to removing trees from Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, which is under the control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, as well as from other property under the control of the Corps at the downtown Riverside area in Des Moines, the Sycamore area in Polk County and the Lake Red Rock area in Marion County. He was sentenced last week

The investigation was conducted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, State of Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Bureau, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Lake Mead body could be missing airman

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In June, an Air Force crew chief from Creech Air Base disappeared after going for a swim while boating on Lake Mead. This week, a dive company located and recovered a body believed to be that of Antonio Tucker.

Below is the National Park Service release on the operation.

For more background, check out this Air Force News piece.

BODY RECOVERED AT LAKE MEAD
April 17, 2013

BOULDER CITY, Nev. – The body of an adult male was recovered from Lake Mead April 17 during a permitted search and recovery operation. His identity has not yet been confirmed by the Clark County Medical Examiner.

Earth Resource Group, a Las Vegas-based search and recovery organization, obtained a permit to search for Antonio Tucker, a 28-year-old airman who presumably drowned at Lake Mead June 23. The group’s search efforts began April 15 within one square nautical mile of the point where Tucker was last seen in the Boulder Basin.

At around noon April 16, the group identified an object that appeared to be human using side scan sonar. After notifying National Park Service rangers, they deployed a remote operated underwater vehicle equipped with a camera and again located the object at a depth of 280 feet.

The National Park Service and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department planned to recover the body April 16, but strong winds postponed efforts.

Law enforcement officials returned to the scene around 9 a.m. April 17. The permitted crew and divers from LVMPD Search and Rescue brought the body to the surface at 10:48 a.m. where it was confirmed to be an adult male.

The Clark County Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy.

Canyoneer rescue at Zion

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Rangers Rescue Two Overdue Canyoneers at Zion National Park

October 10, 2012

Zion National Park Rangers rescued canyoneers overdue from a hike Tuesday, Oct. 9, three days after the pair started what was to be a one-day trip, according to National Park Service officials.

The two hikers, a 41 year old man and a 26 year old female, were attempting Heaps Canyon, one of Zion National Park’s more difficult canyoneering routes. Heaps Canyon is eleven miles long and involves a 300 foot free hanging rappel, swimming through cold water, and numerous other obstacles, including slick rock potholes which can be difficult to traverse.

At approximately 9 a.m. on Saturday, the pair picked up their wilderness permit and said they estimated completing it in a day. The park ranger notified them that most people start pre-dawn in order to make Heaps Canyon a day trip. The pair said they were prepared to spend the night if necessary. While the two were never reported overdue, rangers did note that their vehicle was still parked at a trailhead on the morning of the Monday, Oct. 8.

A helicopter from Grand Canyon was called in for the search. The helicopter crew located the canyoneers in the lower reaches of Heaps Canyon late Monday afternoon. After three days of travelling, the two had only completed about two thirds of the canyon, and some of the canyon’s most difficult obstacles still lay ahead. The crew was able to get a radio to the pair who stated that they were not able to complete the canyon without assistance. On Tuesday morning,  a ranger and firefighter were inserted to a bench above the two canyoneers. They cleared a helispot which enabled the helicopter to land with additional rescuers. The six member rescue team lowered a ranger from the bench 125 feet down to the stranded pair and then hauled all three people back to the bench. The two canyoneers did not require medical assistance.

The successful conclusion to the search was in part because the hikers had obtained a backcountry hiking permit which included information useful to the searchers. However, wilderness hikers should always inform someone of their plans along with an expected completion time. Had rangers not noticed the canyoneers’ vehicle at the trailhead, it is unclear when or if the two would have been reported overdue. The group also had far less experience than most Heap’s Canyon travelers, park service officials said. While canyon hiking (canyoneering) in Zion can be a challenging and rewarding activity, it is not one that should be entered into lightly, according to NPS officials.

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