Planning the Expedition

A wildlife research expedition requires more then just a researcher and a boat. A lot of planning is involved to make sure the expedition is a success. Priorities need to be set as to the types of research that needs to be conducted. Funding is needed to run the trip and analyze the data collected. Researchers and helpers, typically volunteering their time and expertise, are needed to be found and organized. Finally, the boats and supplies need to be prepared. Select a circle below to learn more about what is involved in planning and running a wildlife research expedition.



A key factor in determining whether or not a research project can be undertaken is the availability of money to fund the research. Virtually all of the funds for the wildlife program at Grand Canyon National Park come from outside sources. Grant money assists in providing professional, temporary research, and field positions in the park. The Grand Canyon National Park Foundation supplies funds for this research expedition and many other park-related projects. These funds are vital to the program.

For the last five years now, Grand Canyon National Park Foundation has funded surveys of the river corridor. These surveys have provided information on bats, peregrine falcons, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, invertebrate species such as butterflies, skippers and bees, and snakes and frogs.

Park biologists spend a great deal of their winter writing proposals that are then reviewed by the funding agencies. If a proposal meets the specified criteria and is approved, funding is received by the park. Usually, this happens at least six months before planning can begin for the expedition or other field projects.

Click on the logo to the right to visit the Grand Canyon National Park Foundation website to learn more about Foundation-sponsored projects, the prestigious Foundation Board and their role in the park and community.


Planning the Expedition

Strategic planning is needed to prioritize which species out of the thousands of invertebrates, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians need to be researched. A general plan examines what research projects university researchers and other agencies are already doing, then synthesizes that information for analysis. The strategic plan then determines where Grand Canyon National Park wildlife staff can contribute to the research efforts, fill in information gaps, and recommend protective management actions.

After the research needs are determined, funding and logistics are addressed. Funding needs to be acquired to perform the necessary data collection and analysis, and outside expertise needs to be recruited to help with the research. As Grand National Park employs two wildlife biologists to oversee wildlife issues for over one million acres of national park land, volunteers and field experts are recruited.



A typical research expedition has two leaders on the trip, the trip leader and the project leader. The trip leader is responsible for the water-related activities and to ensure that a safe trip is implemented. The project leader is in charge of the actual research projects being conducted. The two work together closely to make sure all of the research needs are met, that accidents are prevented, and that a safe and productive expedition is completed.
Once the trip has been approved and a funding source has been acquired, the project leader organizes all of the details of the trip. Researchers and volunteers are recruited, transportation to and from the launch site and take-out sites arranged, food is bought and packed, and research gear is organized.

Food for over a dozen people for over two weeks takes days to purchase and pack. When the day of the trip arrives, the expedition members assemble at the Grand Canyon Boathouse and all assist in organizing research and personal gear. Boats, paddles, life vests, drybags, cooking equipment, and much more are all loaded neatly onto trucks.

The logistics of a trip don’t stop when the trip takes off from Lee’s Ferry, however. Logistics on an expedition of this size for 225 miles of river are dynamic. Campsites may change due to the availability of limited campsites, weather, or changes in research needs. Safety is foremost in not only the trip leaders, but also everyone’s minds. Throughout the trip, gear is tended so as to prevent punctures of the raft, broken oars or other whitewater related incidents.

When the boats reach the end of their journey 225 miles down river at Diamond Creek, even more work lies ahead for the crew. All of the gear-boats, food storage containers, research equipment, and coolers are washed and repacked onto trucks. After the three-hour drive back the crew reaches the boathouse and the unloading and storing of the equipment gear, generally a five hours process, is completed before warm showers and a sand-free meal are had.

Equipment taken on a research expedition is an important consideration. A properly supplied expedition can make all the difference between success and failure. Here is an excerpt from Major Powell's diary about the condition of their supplies near the end of the first expedtion.

August 17
“Our rations are still spoiling; the bacon is so badly injured that we are compelled to throw it away.... We have now only musty flour sufficient for ten days and a few dried apples, but plenty of coffee.... Our hopes are that the worst places are passed, but our barometers are all so much injured as to be useless, and so we have, lost our reckoning in altitude, and know not how much descent the river has yet to make.... How precious that little flour has become! We divide it among the boats and carefully store it away, so that it can be lost only by the loss of the boat itself.... It is especially cold in the rain to-night... not one of us has an entire suit of clothes, and we have not a blanket apiece... after supper the rain, coming down in torrents, extinguishes it, and we sit up all night on the rocks, shivering and are more exhausted by the night’s discomfort than by the day’s toil."



A great deal of expertise can be found on the expedition. This is because the staff biologists often need to rely on the scientific community to provide experts in the fields they are not specialists in. Also, it takes a lot of people to row the boats, cook the food, organize the equipment, help conduct the research, and keep everyone safe. Everyone plays a vital role in the success of the expedition. Volunteers and researchers are attracted to the expedition because of the ability to do science in the wilderness of the Grand Canyon and to experience one of the premier whitewater adventures of a lifetime. Without these researchers and volunteers, these research expeditions could not be undertaken. Without these expeditions, valuable knowledge about the wildlife of the Grand Canyon would be lost.

Now you have to opportunity to meet the people who went on the wildlife research expedition. See what the researchers have to say about their studies, what volunteers found most rewarding, and what it takes to be a crewmember. Click on a name to read some personal insight. Compare this crew with the crew members of the Corp of Discovery and that of John Wesley Powell’s expeditions through the Grand Canyon.

Corp of Discovery


Meriwether Lewis
William Clark


Charles Floyd
Patrick Gass
John Ordway
Nathaniel Pryor


William Bratton
John Collins
John Colter
Pierre Cruzatte
Joseph Field
Reuben Field
Robert Frazer
George Gibson
Silas Goodrich
Hugh Hall
Thomas Proctor Howard
Francois LaBiche
Jean Baptiste LePage
Hugh McNeal
John Potts
George Shannon
John Shields
John B. Thompson
Peter M. Weiser
William Werner
Joseph Whitehouse
Alexander Hamilton Willard
Richard Windsor

Civilian Members

Toussaint Charbonneau
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau
Baptiste Deschamps
Pierre Dorion
George Drouillard




Powell's Expeditions

Crew of the 1869 Expedition

Major John Wesley Powell – Major / Project Leader, Boat: Emma Dean

Major John Wesley Powell was born on March 24, 1834 in Mount Morris, New York. In 1862 he married Emma Dean. He named his boat after her. He led artillery troops during the Civil War and reached the rank of Major. At the battle of Shiloh he was wounded in the arm, leaving only a stump below the elbow.

Powell always had a passion for nature, studying zoology, botany, and geology on his own. This passion, mixed with field trips to the West, helped Powell decide to travel down the Colorado River. He recruited nine men for the first expedition, and on May 24, 1869 they left Green River, Wyoming. During the voyage he was cautious of his men and supplies, lining the boats through rapids or portaging where they were able. After successfully finishing the first trip, he raised money to conduct a second expedition to map and photograph the Colorado River, and conduct and publish scientific reports. He died in Maine at the age of 68 and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

George Bradley – Chief Boatman, Boat: Kitty Clyde's Sister

Bradley was from Newberry, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Union Army in 1862 to fight in the Civil War. He was wounded in the thigh at Fredericksburg, causing him to spend the rest of the war as a reservist. After the Civil War, he couldn’t find a job that worked out, so re-enlisted in the army and requested frontier duty. He met Major Powell in Wyoming at Fort Bridger in 1868 while guarding the Overland Stage Company route and Union Pacific engineering teams. Bradley was ready to leave the military, so Powell wrote President Grant requesting Bradley be discharged so he could become Chief Boatman on the river trip. The discharge came on May 14, 1869 and a week later he set off with Powell.

Bradley was a key member of trip. He often went with Powell on survey expeditions, kept the best diary record of the trip, and once saved Powell’s life. “Major having but one arm couldn’t get up so I took off my drawers and they made an excellent substitute for rope and with that assistance he got up safe." - George Bradley

Bill Dunn – Mountain Man, Boat: Emma Dean

He met Major Powell in Denver in the summer of 1868. He, along with the Howland brothers, left the expedition two days before the end for fear of the rapids. Unfortunately, they were never heard from again. The cause of their deaths is still debated.

“Dunn was a hunter, trapper, and mule-packer in Colorado for many years. He dresses in buckskin with a dark oleaginous luster, doubtless due to the fact that he has lived on fat venison and killed many beavers since he first donned his uniform years ago. His raven hair falls down to his back, for he has a sublime contempt of shears and razors.” – John Wesley Powell

Frank Goodman – Adventurer, Boat: No Name

He did not travel very far with the first expedition. He was unlucky during the voyage, losing all his belongings in June when his boat capsized. He stayed at the indian reservation at the mouth of the Uinta River on July 5, 1869 when they went to gather more supplies. “Goodman is a stranger to us – a stout, willing Englishman, with florid face and more florid anticipations of a glorious trip.” – John Wesley Powell

Andy Hall – Crew member, Boat: Maid of the Canyon

“Hall is a Scotch boy, nineteen years old, with what seems to us a “secondhand head,” which doubtless came down to him from some knight who wore it during the Border Wars. It looks a very old head indeed, with deep-set blue eyes and beaked nose. Young as he is, Hall has had experience in hunting, trapping, and fighting Indians, and he make the most of it, for he can tell a good story, and is never e[n]cumbered by unnecessary scruples in giving to his narratives those embellishments which help to make a story complete. He is always ready for work or play and is a good hand at either.” – John Wesley Powell

William R. Hawkins – Cook, Boat: Maid of the Canyon

“Billy Hawkins, the cook, was a soldier in the Union Army during the war, and when discharged at its close went West, and since then has been engaged as teamster on the plains or hunter in the mountains. He is an athlete and a jovial good fellow, who hardly seems to know his own strength.” - John Wesley Powell

Oramel G. Howland – Printer, Boat: No Name

Oramel was a printer for the “Rocky Mountain News”. He was given the task of mapping the river and taking notes. His voyage was a tragic one. Two weeks into the trip his boat capsized in rapids, causing one-third of the provisions, half the mess-kit, and three barometers to be lost.

On August 27, 1869 a debate arose. An extremely rough rapid loomed ahead. Howland tried to persuade Powell to abandon the river trip. Powell tried to convince Howland the opposite. Next morning, they separated. Both Howlands and Dunn climbed out while the rest of the expedition continued downriver. The two Howlands and Dunn were never heard from again. How they died is still debated.

“O.G. Howland is a printer by trade, an editor by profession, and a hunter by choice. When busily empl[o]yed he usually puts his hat in his pocket, and his thin hair and long beard stream in the wind, giving him a wild look, much like that of King Lear in an illustrated copy of Shakespeare which tumbles around the camp.” – John Wesley Powell

Seneca Howland – Brother of O.G. Howland, Boat: No Name

Seneca served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was wounded at Gettysburg. He went to Denver at the urging of his brother in 1868, where Powell recruited them for the expedition. He, along with his brother Oramel and Bill Dunn, left the expedition two days before the end for fear of the rapids. Unfortunately, they were never heard from again. The cause of their deaths is still debated. “Seneca Howland is a quiet, pensive young man, and a great favorite with all.” – John Wesley Powell

Walter Powell – Brother of J.W. Powell, Boat: Kitty Clyde’s Sister

He was an artillery officer during the Civil War. He was captured July 22, 1864 at Atlanta and served ten months in a Charleston prison. He never fully recovered from his experiences as a prisoner during the Civil War. “He is silent, moody, and sarcastic, though sometimes he enlivens the camp at night with a song. He is never surprised at anything, his coolness never deserts him, and he would choke the belching throat of a volcano if he thought the spitfire meant anything but fun. We call him 'Old Shady.' ” – John Wesley Powell

Jack Sumner – Boatperson, Boat: Emma Dean

He was a soldier during the Civil War. Sumner was a traveler of the Mississippi Valley and the Rocky Mountains, where he hunted. “He is fair-haired, delicate-looking man, but a veteran in experience, and has performed the feat of crossing the Rocky Mountains in midwinter on snowshoes. He spent the winter of 1886-87 in Middle Park, Colroado, for the purpose of making some natural history collections for me…” – John Wesley Powell


Some Crew of the 1871 Expedition

E.O. Beaman – First Photographer

He was the United States Geological Survey’s photographer in 1871. He brought around 1000 pounds of camera equipment on the second expedition. However, in January of 1872 he got into an argument with Major Powell. As a result of the argument Powell fired Beaman and made Fennemore the trip photographer.

James Fennemore – Second Photographer

Fennemore was the assistant photographer on the trip until Powell fired Beaman and made him the chief photographer. He was from Salt Lake City, where he had trained under the Mormon photographer C. R. Savage. He took the photographs of the middle part of the 1871-1872 expedition. However, after six months of being the chief photographer he became too sick to continue. Fortunately, during this time he trained Jack Hillers as his assistant.

Jack Hillers – Third Photographer

Hillers originally started the expedition as a boatperson. After Beaman was fired, he became Fennemore’s assistant. During this time he was trained in photography and even was allowed to take some of the pictures. After Fennemore grew too sick to continue taking photographs, Hillers became the third and final chief photographer of the expedition. He and Major Powell developed a strong relationship, eventually moving on to become the supervisor of the photographic labs for the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Ethnology. In fall 1872 Major Powell had Hillers begin focusing the photography on the natives instead of the landscape of the Grand Canyon.


Grand Canyon Research Expeditions

Project Leader

Elaine Leslie - Project Leader / Wildlife Biologist, Grand Canyon National Park

I have been a wildlife biologist for over 25 years now, working on tropical birds and mammals, North American endangered and threatened species, and marine mammals, prior to my career with the Park Service. I started organizing wildlife trips in 1995, after realizing how much we do not know about the canyon’s wildlife. However, there were only two of us to dive into all of the research needs. So I started writing proposals, developing a relationship with our newly formed Foundation, and the trips were off! We have found out more about bats, peregrines, owls, amphibians and small mammals within the park in the last few years than was collected in the past 20 years. The key to this data collection is the willingness and spirit of experts that have volunteered their valuable time and knowledge to assist our park. Knowing (or hoping) that your efforts are ensuring protection of this place for future generations, has been immensely rewarding.


Ed Bangs - Wolf Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

There have been recent proposals to investigate the potential for restoring wolves in Grand Canyon National Park and the surrounding area. I have been involved in planning, coordinating and implementing several complex interagency large mammal reintroduction projects. I also have extensive field experience with a wide variety of species from passerine birds to bald eagles and voles to grizzly bears. I was invited on the trip to assist with the general field survey work and to give my impressions/suggestions on the potential for re-introductions of now extripated species to restore natural ecological processes in the Grand Canyon area. In addition, as a single Dad, I cook, clean, do general housework, and come in handy for basic manual labor. My favorite memories are getting soaked after hitting Little Hance rapid head-on and discussing otter reintroduction with various otter experts.

Emily Garding - Graduate Student, University of Montana

I am currently conducting a mountain lion DNA study throughout Grand Canyon National Park. A three-year study of mountain lions within Grand Canyon National Park is proving that DNA sampling and analysis of genotypes is an effective, low-cost method for detecting and identifying individual mountain lions, their distribution, kinship, and minimum population estimates. The study encompasses all of Grand Canyon National Park including the North and South Rims as well as the river corridor. Much of the latter area is accessible only by watercraft. The boat trip of 2002 was a phenomenal means of traveling the river to gather valuable information concerning wildlife use and populations. It also allowed me to experience the wonder of the canyon, and sharing that with a great group of people made it all the more enjoyable!

Terry Griswold – Research Entomologist, USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory

Bees are thought to be most diverse in the southwestern United States and adjacent Mexico, while tropical areas have been viewed as depauperate in bees. Studies of local faunas are being used to answer questions such as: Are these supposed patterns valid? What factors are responsible for bee diversity patterns? To what extent are bee faunas conserved in protected lands?

I collected bee specimens during the entire expedition down the Colorado River. The bee species I collected will be catalogued, identified, and plotted in a GIS program to determine the dispersal patterns throughout the Grand Canyon. I collected what appears to be nearly 600 bee species in the Colorado River region alone. This will help provide much needed invertebrate data to the park.

Howard Horton - Professor of Fisheries, Oregon State University

I was along on the trip as an assistant to Mike Vaughan who along with Fred Lindzey is leading the bighorn study in Grand Canyon National Park for NPS. I hiked down to Phantom Ranch and joined Chuck Meslow counting bighorns, replacing Mike Vaughan who hiked out. I spent my entire research career as a Professor of Fisheries at Oregon State University. I taught fishery courses and supervised graduate students studying marine and freshwater fish and invertebrates. Along with Meslow, I have hunted and observed bighorn sheep in the Steens Mountains of Oregon. Currently, I serve as Court Technical Advisor (on fishery matters) to the US District Courts in Oregon and Western Washington. I also serve as Oregon's appointee to the North Pacific Research Board.

Scott Jackson – Endangered Species Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Field Office

I have 20 years of experience working as a biologist. Although I didn't lead any of the research projects, I feel my contributions to the entire crew were invaluable. I usually am invited along to be the official scapegoat for the trip, and to provide some comic relief. If anything goes wrong, and it always does, blame is assigned to me. This is usually fine with me since I am just glad to be there and looking for ways to help. I usually try to assist, to some extent, with most of the various projects that are being conducted, but seemed to most often help with the small mammal trapping or bat netting. Adding to this trip's allure was the almost constant accompaniment of our days in the rafts and our nights in camp by incredible guitar and vocal music. The combination of talented and dedicated people doing valuable work in the midst of incredible natural beauty .... you can't help be awed and rejuvenated.

Elaine Leslie - Project Leader / Wildlife Biologist, Grand Canyon National Park

I have been a wildlife biologist for over 25 years now, working on tropical birds and mammals, North American endangered and threatened species, and marine mammals, prior to my career with the Park Service. I started organizing wildlife trips in 1995, after realizing how much we do not know about the canyon’s wildlife. However, there were only two of us to dive into all of the research needs. So I started writing proposals, developing a relationship with our newly formed Foundation, and the trips were off! We have found out more about bats, peregrines, owls, amphibians and small mammals within the park in the last few years than was collected in the past 20 years. The key to this data collection is the willingness and spirit of experts that have volunteered their valuable time and knowledge to assist our park. Knowing (or hoping) that your efforts are ensuring protection of this place for future generations, has been immensely rewarding.

Chuck Meslow - Research Biologist (Retired), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

I was along on the trip as an assistant to Mike Vaughan who along with Fred Lindzey is leading the bighorn study in Grand Canyon National Park for NPS. I am a retired US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Research Biologist (last couple of years were with USGS, BRD, after Research was split off FWS to USGS). I spent my whole career at Corvallis, OR, where I was leader of the Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit and professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. Much of my research centered on forest wildlife (lots of involvement with spotted owls), but along the way I supervised several graduate students working on bighorns and mountain goats (Michael Vaughan being one). Howard Horton hiked down to Phantom Ranch and joined me counting bighorns replacing Mike Vaughan who hiked out.

Kerry Murphy - Wildlife Biologist, Yellowstone National Park

I was born in California and moved to Montana in 1995. I attended the University of Montana, receiving a Bachelor of Science and Masters Degree in Wildlife Biology in 1979 and 1983, respectively.

During 1985, I was employed as a research associate with the University of Montana, conducting studies on the effects of fluctuations of the Flathead River and Flathead Lake on beaver and muskrats. From 1987-1993, I was employed as a wildlife biologist by the Hornocker Wildlife Institute, managing a cougar ecology study in Yellowstone National Park. I received my Ph.D. in Forestry, Wildlife, and Range Science from the University of Idaho in 1998, using data collected on Yellowstone cougars for my dissertation. Currently, I live in Yellowstone National Park with my wife and two children.

John Rihs – Hydrologist and Cave Resource Lead, Grand Canyon National Park

Currently, I am responsible for building and managing a water resource program. Duties include establishment and maintenance of a stream gage system, biologic inventory and monitoring and Intensive water chemistry studies to address a large variety of issues. The water resource program requires developing partnerships with a wide variety of federal and state agencies, universities, local government(s), private, public, and Native American (there are 4 tribes bordering the park) stakeholders.

The ultimate goal of a water resource management program is to establish and preserve a natural regime in which the physical and biological components of the aquatic ecosystem function as they have evolved.

Tom Serfass - Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology, Department of Biology, Frostburg State University

I am an Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology in the Department of Biology at Frostburg State University in western Maryland. I evaluated genetic variation among otter populations in North America as part of my Ph.D. research at The Pennsylvania State University. I have headed the Pennsylvania River Otter Reintroduction since 1982 and, most recently, have coordinated a similar effort to restore fishers in Pennsylvania. I have authored about 40 articles and given over 50 presentations at scientific meetings on aspects of processes involved in reintroducing otters and fishers. I am currently the North American Coordinator of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource's Otter Specialist Group.

Lawrence E. Stevens - PhD Ecologist, President of the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council

The first research project I undertook on this trip was a springs inventory of vegetation, invertebrates, and vertebrates. The goal is to establish baseline conditions of vegetation, invertebrates, small mammals and birds at Grand Canyon's most biologically diverse habitats – springs. Future work will complete springs inventories in the summer and autumn of 2002 and produce high quality maps. The second project was the river otter restoration in Grand Canyon. The goal is to prepare a report on the potential to reintroduce river otter into Grand Canyon. The third study was of plant and animal distribution in relation to the role of Grand Canyon as a biogeographic feature. This study’s goal is to develop distribution data to understand how Grand Canyon, as a large, aridlands canyon, has affected the distribution and evolution of life in this region.

Michael Vaughan - Professor of Wildlife Science, Virginia Tech

I am working on the bighorn sheep study in the Grand Canyon. The goal of this initial research is to develop a land-based protocol for counting and classifying sheep in the Canyon. Also, to determine through genetic analysis of fecal material if we have separate populations of sheep in the Canyon. The long-term goal is to conduct a population study of sheep in the canyon, which would allow us to determine birth and death rates, causes of mortality, and population growth rate.



Margie Erhart - Boatperson and Novelist

I'm really a novelist but I also enjoy rowing boats. I volunteered to row on Elaine’s trip. I also have some experience in the invertebrate collections. I assisted with catching and pinning different invertebrate species. Grateful that I could come along.

Chris Louderback – Boatperson / Owner, Yellow Jacket River Guides, Idaho

I am a contractor by trade, but have volunteered and been contracted by Grand Canyon National Park for wildlife river trips as a boatman. I have assisted the park in collecting beaver and otter data by kayaking the Colorado River for close-up looks at dens, slides and lodges.

Alison Steen – Boatperson / Owner, Yellow Jacket River Guides, Idaho

I have been a river guide for over 15 years. I am an active wilderness advocate and have been assisting Grand Canyon National Park as both a volunteer and paid boatman for the last 10 years. I am currently operating a private river running guide service on the Snake River in Idaho. I have not only been active in wildlife conservation in the park, but also active in the removal of exotic invasive species such as tamarisk. During the off season, I work at the local ski resort in Flagstaff.

Dorie Stonebraker – Boatperson / Operations Manager, Yellow Jacket River Guides, Idaho

I started helping science trips in the Grand Canyon in 1991 as a cook. I took 22 total trips of this kind. These trips mainly focused on one topic. Now I am volunteering as a boatperson for this trip, which I see as being efficient by having several surveys ongoing concurrently and bringing various researchers together. I hope to participate in more Grand Canyon wildlife research trips.

R.V. Ward - Boatperson / Wildlife Program Manager, Grand Canyon National Park

My primary function on the trip was to provide motive force for one of the rafts, rather than do my customary biological work on such trips. I did, however, do some Peregrine falcon monitoring at several of our sites and even managed to call in a Mexican spotted owl at our camp site near Bass Rapids.

I've been at Grand Canyon for approximately nine years in one form or another, and in this particular position for five years. Immediately prior to that I was working on a Ph.D in Wildlife Ecology at Utah State University. I abandoned that program to take this job. Successfully completed degrees include BS in Biology from Northern Arizona University, MS in Wildlife Ecology from Washington State, and a Juris Doctorate from University of New Mexico. Practiced law for six years in Newport Beach and San Francisco before returning to biology and river running.


Trip Leader

Alison Steen – Boatperson / Owner, Yellow Jacket River Guides, Idaho

I have been a river guide for over 15 years. I am an active wilderness advocate and have been assisting Grand Canyon National Park as both a volunteer and paid boatman for the last 10 years. I am currently operating a private river running guide service on the Snake River in Idaho. I have not only been active in wildlife conservation in the park, but also active in the removal of exotic invasive species such as tamarisk. During the off season, I work at the local ski resort in Flagstaff.



Bill Austin – Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

I was invited to attend the trip to discuss, and participate in, activities associated with endangered and sensitive species. I work on a variety of endangered species issues on the Colorado Plateau in Arizona, including those in the Grand Canyon. One of the main items of discussion and activity on the river trip involved the question of whether river otters occupy the Grand Canyon, and if not, what to do about it. The status of the native subspecies was discussed, as well as the possibility of introductions of otters. Native leopard frogs are an emerging concern in this part of the world where areas that can support them are being threatened. Surveys were conducted for the frogs in areas that were likely to still support them. Despite working in Arizona for the Service for the past twelve years, it was my first trip on the river. It provided me with valuable first-hand observation of the current condition of the ecosystem.

Wayne Brewster - Deputy Director, Yellowstone Center for Resources

I had spoken to other people who had participated in the trips than Elaine organizes and leads and I was interested in several aspects. First, I wanted to see how she conducted the trips to facilitate multi-discipline participation and interaction while getting good work done. We have several situations in Yellowstone that could use this model to accomplish similar objectives. Second, I wanted to use the opportunity to interact with the folks on the trip to expand my own understanding and contacts. And finally, it was a great opportunity to float the Canyon.

From the first canyon wren (I was wondering who had such a weird alarm clock and why they didn't shut it off) to the awesome hydraulics of the river itself, it was a fantastic experience.

Jeff Cross – Director, Science Center, Grand Canyon National Park

As director, I work together with my staff to protect and preserve natural and cultural resources in the park for future generations. Although I’ve spent the last 12 years managing science organizations, I really miss working in the field as a biologist. I made my first trip on the Colorado River in 1974. On this field trip, I provided information about native fish and river ecology to the participants. I have been on the river ten times since then. I’ve been a photographer on an archeology trip, technician on wildlife and tamarisk projects, and fishery biologist on a GCMRC trip. What were the highlights of these river trips? Too many to recall, but here’s a few; spending five days at Unkar Delta, seeing 7 condors soaring above our boat in Marble Canyon, and watching sunrise from the granaries at Nankoweap. Currently, my biggest project is managing the revision of the 1989 Colorado River Management Plan.

Herbert C. Frost - Research Coordinator, Great Basin Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, NPS

In terms of research, I was helping Elaine with the bat, small mammal, big horn sheep, and river otter work mostly. My real job was to make Elaine laugh so she would be happy and wouldn't take everything out on everyone else. I am a wildlife biologist by training and I met Elaine about eight years ago and we have been corresponding ever since. I have worked on a number of wildlife projects ranging from black bears and small mammals in Utah to fishers (a mammal-not a bird or fish) in Maine and deer in Pennsylvania. For some reason Elaine likes inviting me on these trips, I think it is mostly for the free labor and lack of humor I provide. It was too bad it wasn't warmer, you could have got some great shots of pretty intense water fighting.

Skip Ladd - Assistant Regional Director for Natural Resources and Science, Intermountain Region of the NPS

I provide policy and guidance on natural resource issues, both to the parks in our region and to the Intermountain Regional Director of the NPS. Grand Canyon is one of our beloved parks in this region, and as such, I was invited to participate because I need to be aware of the issues and programs related to natural resources of all of our major parks in the region, not to mention it was a "lifetime experience" not to be missed! My most memorable experiences were Larry Steven’s infinite knowledge of the river and the system, especially the fauna (200+ species of bees and counting, probably up to 600 or more), the phenomenal diversity in this system, and the humpback chub song Larry Stevens sang around the circle one night. It was fantastic to have Larry around to help the park and others understand and learn about the Grand Canyon.

Dave Packer – Marine ecologist, National Marine Fisheries Service

Although I'm a marine ecologist, I've nurtured a love for the desert southwest for a long time. (I'd probably be a desert biologist if I wasn't a marine biologist.) Every year for the last half a dozen years or so I've been traveling to Arizona and Utah for exploring, hiking, camping, and backpacking. One of my goals was to eventually run the Colorado River, so when Rande and Jeff Cross kindly offered me a volunteer slot on this river trip, I jumped at the chance.

Even though I am a marine ecologist, I have a background in wildlife biology, and as a volunteer, my goal was to assist the scientists in any way possible, or anyone else who needed help. For example, I assisted Larry Stevens in his small mammal trapping work, and I helped Terry Griswold in his bee and insect catching and trapping.

Rande Ramsey-Cross - Volunteer / Library Specialist, Grand Canyon Research Library

While cataloging material, I became familiar with the scientific research and resource management issues related to the Colorado River. I was particularly intrigued by a terrestrial snail (Kanab ambersnail) that kept appearing in the literature. The Kanab ambersnail has three populations, one of which is at Vasey’s Paradise. What did this snail and Vasey’s Paradise look like? Georgie White Clark, white-water adventurer and woman of the river, spent 47 years of her life running expeditions on the Colorado River. What was the attraction? I was anxiously waiting for an opportunity to see and experience what I had been reading about. On the river trip, I was working as a “swamper” and provided assistance as needed (organizing kitchen gear and provisions, helping wildlife biologists). The highlight of the trip was finding a water ouzel nest while hiking up Shinumo Creek.

Susan Rudy – NEPA Specialist, Cleveland National Forest, USDA Forest Service

My first river research trip was about five years ago. We did a lot of intense batting. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills (mist netting & identifying bats), meet other dedicated natural resource folks from all over the NPS and academia, and do it in one of the most spectacularly beautiful and inspiring places in the world (I didn't want to leave)!

On this last trip there are several experiences that stood out. We saw some pretty incredible Peregrine Falcon activity, including at least two hunting episodes. The last one at the very end of the trip, where we watched a falcon take a kingfisher and feed on the bank was awesome.

Even though I'm not with NPS anymore, I so appreciate the opportunity to help another resource agency doing research.

Jim Salestrom - Singer / Songwriter / Producer

"I try to write thought-provoking songs that will get people to take a look at their lives, songs to make you laugh or cry, tunes with family values about the way I was raised, music with emotional depth."

In the span of a little more than one year, I have had two incredible trips through the Grand Canyon - the lower half in the Spring of 2001 and the upper half in the Spring of 2002. They were trips for a lifetime, and as a songwriter, I am now working on an album called Grand Canyon Kids. It is from my perspective, a collection of folk songs that I wrote on the two trips with bits of what I learned. Inspired by the scientists and the National Parks Service folks, I have a renewed respect for our environment and a love for the Grand Canyon.


Expedition Documenters

David Duran - Computer Specialist. Information Telecommunications Center, NPS

Went on the wildlife research expedition in support of the documentation of the research being conducted in the Grand Canyon. Took digital still images of field research activities and helped set small mammal traps and bat netting. My most memorable experiences are three fold: 1) the incredible environment of the Canyon, 2) access to the vast knowledge and contributions of all on the trip and, 3) the amazing amount of things that need to all come together in a trip of this magnitude.

Dave Krueger - Information Technology Specialist, Natural Resource Program Center, NPS

Went on the wildlife research expedition to document the research being conducted in the Grand Canyon. Took pictures and video of the research sites, interviewed the trip participants, helped set small mammal traps, and even made sure our medic Chris kept his first-aid skills up-to-date. My most memorable experience, besides the bug bite on my foot, was the bat netting. Not only was it amazing to catch and see a bat up-close, but also to see them swooping overhead at insects.

Bruce Nash - Ecologist, Natural Resource Program Center, NPS

I am a plant pathologist that somehow ended up doing information management for the NPS Natural Resource Program Center. I have always enjoyed teaching school kids and the public about science, so it was natural for me to move from information management for park staff to information transfer to the public. This latter effort is called "Views of the NPS" and is designed to make learning about natural and cultural resources fun. The goal of this project is to provide a national framework for presenting resource information and to provide assistance to park staff wishing to develop modules within that framework. I was on the Grand Canyon Research trip to help the staff at Grand Canyon NP develop a module which will show the public what it is like to do research along the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon.

Mike Story - Physical Scientist / Remote Sensing Specialist, NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program

Participated in this trip to assist with documenting the research that was being conducted. This included taking photographs, videos, interviewing other participants and assisting in parts of the research. The primary objective of this part of the effort was to be able to provide information about the research that is being conducted in the Canyon, the value of that research, and the direct applications of the results of the research for the general public. The most memorable part of this trip for me was getting to know some of the dedicated scientists that conduct this research.


Grand Canyon Site Links


Life in the Canyon

Purpose of the Expedition

The Wildlife Research

Goals of the Research Expedition


Challenge Your Understanding


Main Site Links

Views of the National Parks Main Index

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