A scan of news from across the National Park System shows a need for a new lodging concessions at Glacier Bay National Park, a problem with personal hygiene on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park, and an explosive situation at Assateague Island National Seashore.
At Glacier Bay in Alaska, concerns over whether a concessions agreement will be in hand before the current one expires have prompted letters from congressional offices to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“What troubles us is that the NPS knows what the problem is,” the letter from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowksi and Rep. Don Young said. “As currently constructed, the prospectus for concession contract proposals is in no way viable for the concessionaire in the eyes of the private sector. The feedback NPS received from potential bidders was clear. Certainly, attracting zero bids should be an obvious enough statement.”
ARAMARK Parks and Destinations currently holds the management contract at the Glacier Bay Lodge at Gustavus. It's the only lodging in the park. While the Park Service had set a mid-March deadline for bids to take over the concession when the current contract expires in December, none were submitted.
Glacier Bay Superintendent Susan Boudreau told the Juneau Empire that the Park Service is considering three options to remedy the matter: work out an extension of the existing lodging and boat tour contract with ARAMARK; issue a temporary contract to continue the boat tours, which are day-long affairs that ply the length of Glacier Bay, or; revise the bid requirements and seek new bids.
A recent situation on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park shows that even the most experienced mountaineers can find themselves unprepared for the call of nature. A recent story in the Alaska Dispatch tells of famed mountaineer Conrad Anker and climber/writer Jon Krakauer finding themselves on the flanks of McKinley without either a "Clean Mountain Can" nor a plastic bag into which they could defecate.
Unfortunately, for them, other climbers in base camp on the mountain who were studying climbing routes via telescopes spotted the two in action, as it were. When word got back to rangers, they were not pleased.
"They were taking a shit," John Leonard, Denali's supervisory climbing ranger, told the newspaper without mincing words. "I don't have much tolerance for people shitting on the mountain."
While the two climbers could have been cited, they escaped that outcome by reporting what they had done when they returned to base camp and then proceeding to work on cleaning up the mountain.
World War II ordnance that appeared on the shores of Assateague Island National Seashore last week was disposed of by the Emergency Ordnance Disposal team from Aberdeen, Maryland. The ordnance was traced back to the days when a portion of the seashore was used as a training grounds.
"A portion of Assateague’s North Ocean Beach and southernmost portion of Assateague State Park beach were closed Tuesday, June 26, after a piece of beach debris turned in the previous day by a visitor was identified as a fragment of unexploded ordnance from World War II," said a park release. "Further evaluation revealed more than 100 pieces of debris and unexploded ordnance, which were then destroyed in controlled blasts."
For two days crews from the Baltimore District Army Corps of Engineers Explosive Safety Office conducted an "instrument-assisted visual survey" of the North Ocean Beach area of the national seashore and southernmost area of Assateague State Park beach and then declared them safe for the public.