Saturday, July 12, 2008

Lightning Part 1: purveyor of NPS conspiracies

Our purpose this week was to visit Camp, Spring, and Currant Creek to find some owls...just another typical work week. I had gone into Currant, while Steph, as I thought, had gone into Camp. The next day, after marching like a single-minded ant out of Currant, I received a voicemail from the park biologist, Claire. She was not too happy. We had, out of forgetfulness or belligerence, neglected to report to the permit office regarding our whereabouts and activities, as we are required to do. The park rangers had seen some of our vehicles at the trailheads and had actually started an investigation as to who we were and what we were doing. Thus, the permit office immediately was contacted, and discontent ensued against us from the park service because of our negligence. But this was not all... Rumor had it that the owl crew started a wild fire up Camp Creek. How this rumor gained such credibility as to convince the head ranger is anyone's guess. Regardless, the head ranger was furious. Everyone was furious in fact. The night I was in Currant, Steph had attempted to go into Camp. She had stopped at the Visitor Center to let them know her car was going to be parked there, and they immediately 'detained' her. Claims of "someone on the owl crew had started a fire up Camp Creek" and "someone on the owl crew had crossed the fire line" were presented to her in the interrogation. The fire had indeed been started the night before, before any of "the owl crew" had gone in to survey there. Steph apparently effectively convinced them of their foolishness in jumping to conclusions, and assured them that we were not the culprits or cronies affiliated with any bitterness against the park service. The park service later found out, after aerial views, that the fire had been started by lightning.
While this was going on, Mike had been informed of our permit issues, and instead of going in to survey Spring Creek, attended a meeting with head ranger, head permit office, head biologist, head etc. Mike, bless his heart, cleared the air...he resolved the permit issue and also confirmed our pyromaniacal innocence. I am sure some bitterness remains. It is odd the way we are treated by the park service. It's as if they assume that anyone not working for the park service is not to be trusted (we work for Montana State Uni, not the park service). This thought is based on other minor events in the past that have hinted at their mistrust.
Good to go, we are now clear to venture into Coalpits Wash for our next survey site, the story of which will be told next blog...

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