Horses and mules of the Grand Canyon are kicking off the National Park Service Centennial. Last month, they made their first 2016 appearance by trotting through the Parade of Roses in Pasadena, California.
“Our participation at the Tournament of Roses Parade televised our history and continued use of horses and pack animals to accomplish our daily duties in the National Park Service,” said Shannon Miller, program manager for the Grand Canyon South Rim Horse Patrol. “Without these animals, we would have a difficult task to access more remote areas that need to be protected, monitored and maintained for the enjoyment of our visitors.”
Park Ranger Miller was asked to participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade almost a year ago. “I was extremely excited for Grand Canyon National Park as well as the National Park Service to be honored at the parade,” said Miller, whose regular duties include law enforcement, structural fire engineer, emergency medical technician and technical search and rescue.
“We had been prepping these horses for months,” added Jill Staurowsky, volunteer for the Grand Canyon South Rim Horse Patrol. “We conducted sensitivity training with loud noises, being around people and other animals. The horses are awesome; they know their job, and they do it very well. Their jobs are really being around people; they do both front country and back country work.”
Grand Canyon sent five rangers, three horses and six mules to join the NPS equestrian unit to the New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade. Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga also participated in the parade, riding in a stagecoach with Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.
The Grand Canyon South Rim Horse Patrol participates in special events throughout Northern Arizona including Grand Canyon National Park and Pipe Spring National Monument events, and the Tusayan 4th of July Parade.
“We would be happy to explore participation in other events,” Miller revealed. “This program is not government funded. We have to find grants and donations to keep this program alive. Grand Canyon Association has been generous in years past to help the program as well as a one-time donation from Toyota in 2008.”
Vanessa Ceja-Cervantes of the Grand Canyon National Park predicts that Centennial events and publicity such as the parade will increase visitation. “[In] 2015 we saw a 16.5 percent increase in park visitation.” According to National Park Service (NPS), in 2014, Grand Canyon National Park at 4,756,771 visitors ranked 10th most visited place in the National Park System, higher than Yosemite or Yellowstone.
Ceja-Cervantes, Centennial community outreach assistant, was just leaving to promote the NPS Centennial “Find Your Park” at the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Phoenix last month during this QCBN interview. She and others from national parks across Arizona staffed a booth at the game to create awareness for the Centennial. The NPS office in Camp Verde coordinated the volunteers for the booth and similar events.
Ceja-Cervantes works with Grand Canyon partners such as Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Delaware North, Grand Canyon Association and others including the local Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Canyon Historical Society and the Grand Canyon School District, one of the few school districts located in a national park.
Inspired by the 100th birthday, locally owned Bright Angel Bicycles created BikeYourPark.org to facilitate better biking experiences in American national parks. “The website should be a great help to potential visitors looking to bike in the national parks in the years to come,” said Wes Neal, owner of Bright Angel Bicycles located at the South Rim inside Grand Canyon National Park.
REI, a multi-million dollar partner with the National Park Foundation, kicked off the centennial by unveiling a crowdsourced app, called the REI Co-op Guide to the National Parks or REI National Park Guide & Maps on Android.
“This centennial, we should take full advantage of the freedom we have to explore our nation’s most inspiring natural, cultural and historical places,” said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO in a press release. “REI members are an incredible, ready-made network of guides and advocates. Together, we can better protect and promote broader enjoyment of these amazing national assets for the next 100 years. I hope our members will share their passion by inviting new people to experience the parks in new ways.”
As the organization celebrates its 100th anniversary, Northern Arizona national parks will participate by creating close-to-home recreational and cultural opportunities for locals, as well as spreading the word to draw visitors from outside the area (See related story).
National Parks Centennial Events in Northern Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park, Desert View Cultural Demonstrators All Year
Desert View Cultural Demonstrators will provide park residents and visitors the opportunity to interact with members of Grand Canyon National Park’s 11 traditionally associated tribes and for these artisans to share their story and traditional crafts.
Grand Canyon National Park-Mather Point Amphitheater, Kaibab-Paiute Dark Skies Program Feb. 26
Recognized as the world’s first Dark Sky Nation by the International Dark Sky Association, the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians hopes to bring awareness of light pollution and the importance of preserving dark skies for future generations by sharing traditional stories.
Montezuma Well, Bird Walks through March
On the first and third Saturdays of each month, bird walks will take place from 9-11 a.m. at Montezuma Well. Each walk will begin at the Montezuma Well Picnic area.
Participants are encouraged to bring water, binoculars, a hat and to wear comfortable shoes for walking. Montezuma Well is located at 5525 Beaver Creek Road in Rimrock. For more information, call 928-567-3322, extension 0, visit www.nps.gov/moca.
Tuzigoot National Monument, Bird Walks through March
On the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, bird walks will take place from 9-11 a.m. at Tuzigoot National Monument. Each walk will begin at the Tuzigoot Visitor Center parking lot. Tuzigoot National Monument is located at 25 Tuzigoot Road in Clarkdale. For additional information, call 928-634-5564 or visit www.nps.gov/tuzi.
Grand Canyon National Park, Alternative Spring Break until March 25
As part of the National Park Service Centennial goal to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates, the Alternative Spring Break program will engage college students in volunteer service for a week at Grand Canyon National Park. Students will assist with litter and bus stop cleanup, wildland fire and public health projects. Participating schools include University of Wisconsin, Johnson State, Rollins College, University of Virginia, University of Northern Colorado, Suffolk University, Chapman University and Wellesley College.
Kanab, Utah, Crescent Moon Theater, Tales from a Downriver Campfire – Stories of Grand Canyon, April 14-16
Tales from a Downriver Campfire is a night celebrating Grand Canyon river running through stories (both tall and true), short films and poetry. This year’s theme is “Life Changing Moments in the Grand Canyon.” Hear how the Grand Canyon changed the lives of three individuals. $10 entrance fee For more information, visit http://parks100.com/localevents/tales-from-a-downriver-campfire/.
Grand Canyon National Park, National Junior Ranger Day, April 15
Each year, the parks celebrate National Junior Ranger Day as a day to recognize and award the children who are working to become the next generation of preservationists and conservationists.
Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Week, April 16-April 24
Each spring, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation invite everyone to celebrate National Park Week. From diverse wildlife and iconic landscapes to vibrant culture and rich history, our National Park System has something for everyone.
Grand Canyon National Park, Living History Performance of Teddy Roosevelt,
This special program is a living history portrayal of the 26th President of the United States as performed by Joe Wiegand.
Grand Canyon National Park, Fred Harvey Symposium, June 4
Join Stephen Fried, author of Appetite for America, as he discusses his book and research about Fred Harvey a “talented visionary who saw the need for quality hotels and restaurants for weary travelers making their way West.”
Grand Canyon National Park, Star Party, June 4-11
Amateur astronomers from across the country will volunteer their telescopes and their expertise. Free slide programs will be offered, and numerous telescopes will be pointed at planets, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies at night and the sun by day.
Grand Canyon National Park, Founder’s Day, Naturalization Ceremony, Aug. 25
Grand Canyon National Park and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Phoenix field office will be hosting naturalization ceremonies throughout the year at Grand Canyon to welcome the nation’s newest citizens.
Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon Music Festival, Aug. 25-Sept. 10
On Founder’s Day, traditional Hopi musicians will premiere Puhutawi, a fusion of Hopi traditional music with contemporary chamber music.
Grand Canyon National Park, NPS Centennial Celebration Steam Days, Aug. 24-27
A Week of Steam will feature an historical steam engine from New Mexico, along with tours of Grand Canyon’s historic district.
Grand Canyon National Park, Talkin’ Birds Radio, Sept. 9-11
A part of Boston’s public radio, Talkin’ Birds is a live and interactive radio show about wild birds and the beauty of nature. The show will broadcast live from the South Rim and feature guests and contest for prizes.
Grand Canyon National Park, Celebration of Art, Sept. 10-Jan. 16
Hosted each year by the Grand Canyon Association, the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art is an annual event that includes six days of art-related events followed by a three month long exhibition in Kolb Studio on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona Republic Storytellers Event, Sept. 24
The Arizona Storytellers Project coordinates nights of stories in which artists, community leaders and residents prepare a brief, first person story on a theme. The series is dedicated to the idea that oral storytelling and journalism have the same goals: serving and reflecting a community while fostering empathy among citizens.
Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon History Symposium, Nov. 4-6
A weekend of activities including historic district tours and hikes finishing off with research presentations focused on historical perspectives of national parks and Grand Canyon. A presentation on the creation of WPA National Park Posters and their impact on the general’s public perception of national parks. FBN
By Stacey Wittig, FBN