What's the Word

Golden Gate's Employee Newsletter- November/ December 2015

The Holiday Season has arrived! A Message from Chris Lehnertz...

While we’re all still wondering whether El Niño will show up this winter, there’s no doubt that the abundance of the season’s holidays is already upon us. Whether it’s celebrating Labor Day, giving out goodies at Halloween, seeing the joy in Thanksgiving, celebrating Hanukah, cheering Christmas, ringing in the New Year, or volunteering on Martin Luther King Day – the holidays bring many opportunities for gathering with friends and family to make new memories. Everyone in the superintendent’s office wishes all of you a joyous and healthy season!

And health is the name of the holiday game, because while there is ample opportunity to celebrate, this can also be a difficult and stressful time of year. Holidays can be a time when we are sad about people who we miss, and they can also bring us challenges that are magnified by many demands and little time.

If you are feeling stressed by the holidays, there are many resources available to help you. For example, here are Ten Tips for Coping with the Holidays from the Mayo Clinic – (1) Acknowledge your feelings. (2) Reach out. (3) Be realistic. (4) Set aside differences. (5) Stick to a budget. (6) Plan ahead. (7) Learn to say no. (8) Don’t abandon healthy habits. (9) Take a breather. (10) Seek professional help if you need it.

Here’s the link to their website with additional information:


So, enjoy and celebrate…..

And as always, the Employee Assistance Program is available at 800.535.4841 X123

Happening TODAY: Step Right Up! Winter Carnival NPS Employee Holiday Party

Wednesday, Dec. 16th, 11:30am-1:30pm

1 Franklin Street

San Francisco, CA

There'll be food, games, and community giving with fundraising proceeds to benefit the SF/Marin Food Bank and WildCare. This year's party is being hosted by the Business Management and Safety Divisions.

Projects and Planning Round Up: Marin

The Muir Woods Access Reservation Environmental Assessment also completed a 30-day public comment period. The goal of the project is to manage visitation levels (and therefore parking and congestion problems) at Muir Woods NM. Also in Muir Woods, the California State Parks and NPS jointly opened a public comment period regarding the Redwood Creek Trail Realignment and Dias Ridge Trail Extension Project.

Also on the Marin side of things, construction on the Waste Water System Project (Storm Water Pollution Protection Project) started at the beginning of November. Most of the storm damage repair work from last year (berm and outfall) is complete. Work on the Rodeo Valley Balloon Hangar Preservation continues while work on the adjacent stables is beginning; this will become the future home of the NPS Volunteer Horse Patrol, which is currently stabled in Tennessee Valley.

Projects and Planning Round Up: San Francisco and Alcatraz

The Ocean Beach Fire Program was open for a public comment period through December 4. This program looks to address maintenance and law enforcement issues associated with fires on the beach. Also on Ocean Beach: Want to talk trash? A trial program by the NPS Facilities Management Division aims to cut down on beach trash by removing garbage cans and encouraging people to take out what they take in. The final outcome is still to be determined, but so far staff reports that they are spending less time dealing with trash on the promenade.

The Hostelling International San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf location at Upper Fort Mason will be starting exterior renovations on their north elevation in early December. The work will continue for 6-8 weeks barring any weather delays. No parking spots will be impacted, but access to the north side of the hostel will be limited. The hostel and cafe will remain open during this time. The building project includes repair of siding, windows, and new paint. The repair of the wall along the McDowell Avenue is beginning, and will continue for up to the next six months. Temporary detours may be in place through Fort Mason—staff will be onsite to answer questions as needed.

There’s a lot going on out on Alcatraz Island, with what is currently one of the biggest cultural resource rehabilitation projects in the country: The Quartermaster Warehouse Seismic Stabilization and Rehabilitation project is continuing, with an estimated end date of June, 2016. The Cellhouse West Wall Exterior Repair is gearing up to start in mid-December, with scaffolding likely going up in January. The second phase of slope stabilization below the Warden’s House is well underway and is scheduled to be complete by the end of January 2016. The Alcatraz Embarkation Project also pushed on, with meetings between the NPS and the San Francisco Port Authority and other stakeholders in an effort to find a satisfactory home for the Alcatraz Ferry.

The GG Bridge Suicide Barrier (read the fact sheet) received the go-ahead from the NPS, and the contract is expected to be awarded in January. Construction is expected to take three years. Also on the topic of that big orange thing: The new Battery East Vista opened November 19 and the second phase of the Presidio Coastal Trail connector and paving of the Merchant Lot Parking Area is now complete.

And last but certainly not least: thanks to some hard work by NPS trail crews, the Sunset Trail in Fort Funston is now complete! (See below for more San Mateo updates.)

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Projects and Planning Round Up: San Mateo

Mori Point trailhead construction starts in January

To build on the accessibility improvements made last year to the Old Mori Trail, the trailhead (off Highway 1 near the Moose Lodge) is getting face lift. New improvements include two accessible parking spaces, two standard spaces, a new flushable vault toilet, kiosk and trash receptacle. Construction is being managed by Rich Melbostat, and is expected to be completed by March 2016.

Law Enforcement Ranger moves into Rancho

While the park continues to expand its operations in San Mateo County, there's a need for more visible presence to help build community relations. The Peninsula Open Space Trust owns housing on the Gregerson property (which is surrounded by Rancho Corral de Tierra and intended to be transferred to NPS in the future) and presented an opportunity for NPS housing. Ranger Dan Stark was up for the adventure of becoming the first ranger to live in our San Mateo properties, and is now living off-the-grid at Rancho. We're excited to have Dan be a regular face in the community and keep an eye on the park!

Park Shuttle in San Mateo

NPS and Parks Conservancy are teaming up with San Mateo County Parks to explore options to expand shuttle service throughout the County to bring visitors to the park. With congestion on Highway 1 increasing, there is a growing demand for alternative modes of transportation to access parks. We'll be launching a pilot study in 2016 to determine feasibility and potential routes to serve primarily sites between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay including Rancho.

In the News

Chris Carpenter Receives NPS Employee of the Year Award for FY2015

Chris Carpenter (July, 2015), was nominated for revitalizing the Repair/Rehab Program and mentoring other park staff, lending his expertise in an enthusiastic and helpful manner. He was selected as the winner of this year's award for work that was often behind the scenes, consolidating many complex projects into a manageable workplan and finding new opportunities for funding. The work of this employee has even garnered recognition for excellence with the Regional Office.

The nominees for this year's award were:

October 2014, Marisol Gutierrez, for her dedication in assisting employees with complex technical programs, giving everyone individual attention and always following up until a problem is solved.

November 2014, Rick Mischke in his new role as a Supervisor for Maintenance, for his reliability, attention to detail, and willingness to jump in and take care of the task at hand. Rick was not able to attend today.

December 2014: Paul Williams, for his many contributions to the Communications Center over the last 13 years, providing many hours of guidance, support and expertise.

January 2015: Melanie Wollenweber, to recognize the culmination of 15 years of work improving the infrastructure at Fort Baker, always showing persistence and creativity in finding win-win solutions.

February 2015: Thomas Johnson, for stepping up as a leader on the Trails Crew, using creativity and innovation to improve the new lands in San Mateo County.

March 2015: JR Pabalate, who is no longer with the park, for his hard work and dedication working with the Projects Crew, always ready to lend a hand to other crew members no matter what the task.

April 2015: Tony Henner, for organizing Public Safety Day at Fort Baker, going above and beyond to develop lasting relationships both within GGNRA and with outside agencies.

May 2015: Nate Wills, for his work finalizing an environmental services contract and for his combination of technical excellence, professional courtesy, and customer service.

June 2015: Stef Martin, for her work implementing important recommendations from the 2014 Employee Survey and her enthusiastic, can-do attitude.

August 2015: Wendy Solis, for her hard work planning the Alcatraz Alumni Weekend in August 2015 and her team spirit, attention to detail, and positive outlook.

September 2015: Andrea Lucas, for negotiating special use permits with the Golden Gate Bridge District and Caltrans with tact, tenacity, and grace.

... and the Bridge Awards go to...

The Bridge Award was created to recognize and award cooperative achievements between staff of the two agencies that have strengthened the partnership between the two organizations, were a benefit to the visitor experience, or preserved our natural and cultural resources in a lasting and meaningful way. This year's winners are:

From the Conservancy, Danny Franco. Danny is recognized for stepping into a leadership role in Natural Resources, scheduling and leading field crews and tracking budgets. Danny has a can-do attitude and has formed great relationships across both organizations. He has also developed partnerships with Law Enforcement to conduct boat surveys of invasive plants along the coast.

From the National Park Service, Melvin Wong. Melvin is recognized for going above and beyond his job description to always ensure mail is delivered to the Parks Conservancy, sorted and on time. He is integral to the mailing efforts of the Parks Conservancy’s development team and makes sure all donor recognitions go smoothly. Melvin is a generous donor to the Parks and also makes small, but very appreciated, contributions, such as buying milk for the kitchen, that make the Park a better place to work.

From the Conservancy, Andy Sohn. Andy has been instrumental in organizing project priorities on Alcatraz, lending his expertise to the Alcatraz Preservation Team. Andy’s understanding of architecture, industry practice, and project management has enabled several NPS projects to be completed that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

From the National Park Service, Fatima Colindres. Fatima is recognized for the important role she plays in the Community Group Programs of the Crissy Field Center and for being a stellar park representative. Her coworkers in both organizations admire and appreciate her collaborative and team-oriented work style. Fatima’s welcoming attitude has made a lasting impression on the community and on her colleagues.

Nominees for this year's award were:

From the Conservancy: Charity Maybury, Elizabeth Lindner, Audrey Yee, and the team of: Ilana Somasunderan & Rene Tucker. From the NPS: Theresa Griggs, Brian Aviles, Mia Monroe, Alex Picavet, Kay Wang, Jennifer Flores, Michael Chasse, Michael Faw, and Bob Holloway

GGNRA El Niño Planning

GGNRA is hard at work planning for potential El Niño impacts-- whatever those might be. This includes identifying site-specific impacts and park personnel who might be called on to address those impacts if they occur, as well as the affect this could have on our ability to get to work and how we can best communicate during severe storms.

One of the key pieces of emergency communication will be the use of Send Word Now, which essentially functions like a reverse-911 call. Stay tuned for updates on this new program! Other communication tactics, like the Employee Hotline (415-561-4911), and the Park website (nps.gov/goga) will also be good sources of information during any severe storms. You can also stay tuned to http://storms.ca.gov/ for updates on El Niño across the state.

More to come... a new Standard Operating Procedure for significant storm events is in the works and will be available soon.

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Call for Art Submissions

Research has shown that coloring can be a successful form of art therapy, helping to focus the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and can even improve sleep. The Health and Wellness Committee is preparing an adult coloring book, which will be available for all employees at the 2016 Health and Safety Week.

Are you an artist, or have a sketch you'd like to share? If so, please send your drawing to Lucy Scott at lucy_scott@nps.gov by January 15 to be included in the book! Submissions should be 8-1/2" x 11", black and white line drawings, either with a nature theme or mandala-type pattern. It can be as simple or intricate as you'd like. For more information on the benefits of adult coloring, see: http://www.medicaldaily.com/therapeutic-science-adult-coloring-books-how-childhood-pastime-helps-adults-relieve-356280

Partner News

  • The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) was authorized to begin Phase 2 construction in November, a completion of their campus improvements started in 2006. This is an exciting step in realizing a vision that began under the leadership of Brian O’Neil: Phase 1 took a Historic Nike site and turned it into a cutting edge teaching and hospital facilities with its very own re-salinization plant. Phase 2 is a smaller project that will help complete the original vision. The continued campus improvement will modernize their Harbor Seal Hospital, add new quarantine pens, and create a new staging area for the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. Phase 2 will also restore the dog kennel associated with the former Nike Site, reactivating what is currently an unused section of land where TMMC, the park, and other partners can teach visitors about the history, current and future activities within the Marin Headlands.

  • The Forty Part Motet is co-presented by Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It is on view through January 18, Wednesday-Sunday at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, Gallery 308. Admission is free, but advanced reservation is strongly recommended due to limited capacity. Visit MotetTickets.org. Experience acclaimed media artist Janet Cardiff's immersive and moving sound installation in its California debut. Considered Cardiff's masterwork, The Forty Part Motet is a reworking of sixteenth-century English composer Thomas Tallis's trasnscendent Spem in Alium.