griz killing renews call to end park hunt

By Jim Stanford on November 24, 2012

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Grizzly No. 399. How long before one of the park’s famous bruins has a run-in with hunters?

The killing of a grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park on Thanksgiving morning has federal officials under fire for continuing to allow the controversial elk hunt.

The incident was the third conflict in little over a year between hunters and grizzly bears in the Snake River bottom near Schwabacher’s Landing. In October 2011, a Jackson hunter was mauled by a griz but survived, and in October of this year a hunter from Cody lost his elk carcass to a family of four bears.

The killing, which came after the bear charged a man and his two sons, is the first ever by a hunter inside the park. Grand Teton is one of only a few national parks to allow hunting; known by the euphemism “elk reduction program,” the hunt was part of a compromise worked out to expand the preserve in 1950.

As grizzlies, protected under the Endangered Species Act, have pushed farther and farther south from Yellowstone in recent years, critics have called on the park to end the program, especially in the river bottom. Jackson resident Aaron Feuerstein has started a petition at change.org asking the federal government to stop the hunt. The petition had 81 signatures as of this morning.

(Photo by Sue Cedarholm)

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Sandy Z dies while hiking on pass

By Jim Stanford on October 15, 2012

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Sandy Z at home on Fish Creek.

Authorities have identified the hiker who died yesterday on Mount Glory as Wilson resident A.A. Zvegintzov, better known by his nickname, Sandy Z.

Zvegintzov appears to have died of natural causes related to a medical condition, according to the News&Guide. He was 73 years old.

Sandy Z was a river guide, ski instructor, sailor and painter. He likely was one of the first to use the phrase “downward mobility,” explaining his move from a career in law to guiding on the Snake for Barker-Ewing in the 1980s.

He notched more than 11,000 miles as a boatman and more than 3 million vertical feet as a ski instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. In recent years he focused on painting at his home studio on Fish Creek, accessed by the small wooden bridge behind Pearl Street Bagels.

His full name was Alexander Alexandrovich (Russian for Alex Jr.). A Philadelphia native, he moved to Jackson Hole in 1972. His tall, bony frame was hard to miss.

I wrote a profile of him for the JH News in 1999, after he returned from a four- year, solo sailing voyage around the Caribbean. “It was a fabulous adventure,” he told me. “Not many people on the face of the Earth are going to do that.”

(Photo by John Slaughter)

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in memoriam: Theo Meiners

By Jim Stanford on September 21, 2012

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Theo Meiners, center, with the late Doug Coombs and Chris Leveroni.

Jackson Hole skiers are mourning the loss of longtime instructor and guide Theo Meiners, who died in a fall from an escalator balcony last night while attending a snow science conference in Alaska. He was 59 years old.

Meiners had taught skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and owned Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides. He worked in the ski industry for more than 30 years and was regarded as an expert on avalanche safety.

On the slopes at Jackson Hole, Meiners was revered as a guru who used to wax philosophical about skiing and snow. He enjoyed the winter of a lifetime this year in Alaska, with massive snowfall, and he regularly shared his joy and insights with friends on Facebook. This post from July 15 accompanied a photo of an Alaskan mountain called Happiness, with a 5,200-vertical-foot north face:

Pursuit of Happiness and the wish that Happiness should not be a quick moment, like a big laugh after a joke or a smile at a compliment ,it is a state of being, and we all have the right to this pursuit! Work where you want and do what you love friends and find happiness

There’s no doubt Meiners found it.

He leaves behind a son, Aidan, and daughter, Ali.

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rafting pioneer Barker dies at 75

By Jim Stanford on July 23, 2012

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Dick Barker takes a turn on the oars during the 2011 Legends of the Snake float trip in Grand Teton National Park. Click to enlarge.

Dick Barker, the river guide and musician who built one of the most successful rafting businesses in Jackson Hole, died this morning at his home in Moose, after battling cancer for several years. He was 75 years old.

Originally from Ohio, Barker began spending his summers at his grandparents’ house on Ditch Creek as a boy. He learned to fly fish from his mother and stepfather, Joe Beerkle, and started guiding for Carmichael’s Tackle Shop in Moose in 1956.

In 1963, he and his wife, Barb, started their own float trip company, just as Frank and Patty Ewing went into business. The two families became partners in 1965, and Barker-Ewing grew to become synonymous with scenic and whitewater rafting in Jackson Hole.

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in memoriam: Elizabeth McCabe

By Jim Stanford on June 26, 2012

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Liz McCabe points an ATV downhill from the Barker-Ewing camp following the 2007 Legends of the Snake event, when she was a spry 96 years old.

Despite her age and recent illness, it was sad to hear Friday of the passing of News&Guide co-publisher Elizabeth McCabe. One hoped that against all odds she would continue to buck infirmity and make it back onto the Snake River for one last fly fishing trip.

Diminutive in size, McCabe, 101, was a giant in the publishing business, a shutter-clicking bon vivant whose life was a testament to the virtues of drinking red wine and floating the river for longevity. Even in death she led by example, as the News&Guide announced in today’s Daily that per her wishes there would be no memorial service.

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