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Grand Canyon National Park

2009/2010 Accomplishment Report

Fire and Aviation

In January, 2010, a Record of Decision for the park’s Fire Management Plan was signed by regional director of the Intermountain Region (IMR) of NPS. Grand Canyon began to implement this plan in the 2010 fire season.

On Feb. 23, 2009, Grand Canyon’s helitack and search- and-rescue crews were recognized at the Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo Awards Banquet for a dramatic Colorado River rescue the previous summer. They received the Igor I. Sikorsky Award for Humanitarian Service for their short-haul rescue of 16 stranded boaters on Aug. 17, 2008 after a flash flood in Havasu Canyon. The award is named for the founder of Sikorsky Aircraft and goes to those who best demonstrate the value of civil rotorcraft to society by saving lives, protecting property, and helping those in distress. In the award presentation, the association cited “precision flying under difficult conditions due to the tight canyon and the need to hover for prolonged periods in close proximity to the canyon wall.” Jay Lusher, the park’s helicopter program manager, said working and landing next to rushing water only increases the challenge of such a rescue. Michael Ebersole, Interagency Unit aviation officer, said the honor was “the most prestigious award

NPS helicopte , Grand Canyon National Park. NPS photo

received in the 36-plus-year history of Grand Canyon National Park’s aviation program.”

During the Aspen Fire in July and August 2009, Grand Canyon served as a pioneer park in implementing revised national fire policies for large wildfires (4,200 acres or more) over long duration (eight weeks or more). The park did this by using the Wildfire Decision Support System that it had been field testing at the time for national use. The same system was used

for the Game Reserve Fire / Ruby Complex in June 2009, the first interagency wildfire nationally that was managed under this policy revision.

Grand Canyon’s fixed-wing flight program was re- established in 2009, after a five-year absence, using a DOI fleet Cessna 206. The park also operates the busiest land management helicopter program in the country. With two exclusive-use helicopters and numerous other craft on call, the program averages about 650 flight hours a year.

Fee collection

Helitack Squad Leader John Yurcik, Helicopter Pilot Bryce Barnett, Helicopter Program Manager Jay Lusher and seasonal Helitack Crew Member Sean Naylor accept the 2009 Igor I. Sikorsky Award for Humanitarian Service on behalf of the park and Papillon Helicopter Company. NPS photo

The Fee Collection Division operated the largest fee program in the Park Service, as allowed under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). More than $19 million was collected in the program in 2009 and 2010.


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