‘Larger-than-life’ Utah conservationist is missing in Yellowstone

Kim Crumbo is a former Navy SEAL and retired National Park Service ranger.

(Kim Crumbo) Utah conservationist Kim Crumbo is missing in Yellowstone National Park.

A search-and-rescue effort is underway in Yellowstone National Park for 74-year-old conservationist Kim Crumbo, from Ogden.

Relatives reported Crumbo and his half-brother Mark O’Neill, 67, overdue from a backcountry trip on Sunday, when they didn’t return from their expected four-night excursion. Crews found O’Neill’s body Monday along the east shore of Shoshone Lake, the second-largest lake in Yellowstone, according to a National Park Service news release. Crumbo remains missing.

Searchers on Sunday first found a vacant campsite on the south side of the lake. The next day, crews found a canoe, paddle, personal flotation device and other items along the lake’s east shore, according to the release.

Shoshone Lake is prone to high winds, according to the National Park Service’s backcountry situation report, and its average water temperature is a cold 48 degrees. On Sunday, Yellowstone received its first major snowstorm of the season, according to the Big Horn Radio Network. Several roads were closed due to wintry conditions, including a section of Grand Loop Road near Shoshone Lake.

(Jacob W. Frank | National Park Service) The body of Mark O'Neill was found on the east shore of Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 20. His brother Kim Crumbo disappeared in the same area.

Both Crumbo and O’Neill were retired from the National Park Service. Crumbo’s two decades of service included working as the river ranger and wilderness coordinator in Grand Canyon National Park, as well as a park ranger.

Crumbo is also a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a board member for the Rewilding Institute, according to his bio on the organization’s website. He also worked as a professional river guide for 10 years.

The former Navy SEAL’s long resume includes advocating for the protection of wild places with several conservation groups in Utah and across the West, including the Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council (now Wild Arizona) and others.

Crumbo is also a frequent contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune, writing letters to the editor about protecting wolves, wild horses and the environment.

John Davis, the executive director of the Rewilding Institute, said Crumbo has been “one of North America’s strongest wilderness and wildlife advocates for decades.”

“He is a core part of our Rewilding team,” Davis said. “We are hoping against hope that he defies the odds, again, and turns up alive.”

Katie Davis, the executive director of Wildlands Network, which Crumbo retired from in 2019 as the organization’s Western conservation director, called her friend and former colleague a “larger-than-life” character.

“If there was anybody who was going to figure out a way to survive in the wild, it would be Crumbo,” she said, noting his Navy training and past combat deployments in Vietnam.

O’Neill was from Chimacum, Washington, according to the park service. Rangers continue to investigate.