Monday, July 03, 2006


Return Of Beavers
Bison Glut
hybrid cars
the amazing race

-- Diversity takes many forms in Yellowstone National Park. An article in DISCOVERY , the publication of the Yellowstone Association, about the reintroduction of wolves suggests that the resulting trophic cascade has helped the northern range, and helped return the ecosystem to a semblance of it's balance, which was destroyed by park managers in the 19th and 20th centuries.
-- With the wolves producing more dead things to eat, ravens, bears, and beetles all are showing a population explosion. The aspen trees are stabilizing because elk are a bit more 'edgy' and have less time to leisurely graze in the groves where their vision is inhibited. And antelope are a bit more relaxed because the coyotes are a bit more nervous. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. wolf.

-- Some have taken issue with this analysis, and the debate continues about the possibility of doing nothing to manage the park, or about the need to actively manage the grass eaters.
-- Changing hydrology, drought, visitation, development, and benign neglect are all food for thought in the mix.
-- The continued expansion of both the Bison & Elk herds, in the face of the wolf reintroduction, has also brought to light a theological debate about whether humans are "a part OF nature," or, if they are "apart FROM nature." Hunting the bison & elk is a practice that is more than 10,000 years old. This is being considered by the state of Montana, and is a discussion topic at Yellowstone as well.
-- An interesting, (spurious?,) coincidence has been noted by biologists - since the reduction of snowmobile traffic in the winter, both herds have shown rapid population increase. This is also coincident with the introduction of the wolves. It seems that the wolves have a ways to go if they are to keep up with the snowmobiles as a population control measure.
-- If the ecosystem is in a state of recovery, we can anticipate the disappearance of noxious fumes from tour busses, monster motor homes, and advertising vehicles. All thanks to the wolves.

-- The types vehicles in Yellowstone are becoming more diverse this year too. There is about be an "advertisement on wheels" entering the park. The Amazing Race, a CBS television production, is touted as some sort of "reality" & is adding a bit of spice to the vehicle mix in the nation's first park.
-- The reality, of course, is that this is just one more outsized vehicle on the narrow roads of Yellowstone. The continued population growth of outsized vehicles is encouraged by the NPS, as they continue to design parking lots for the beasts. This is an historical problem that was started by the early railroads. The railroads subsidized the hotels "in the park" to avoid having to build hotels "outside the park." What kind of place would Yellowstone be without 'camper grounds' and hotels?

<- nps photo

-- Of course, Toyota is not to be outdone; and, their Prius, donated to the NPS, is also visible. The 'ranger duty' of driving and explaining is great duty, and costs the taxpayer a little bit of money in these lean times of diminishing budgets.
-- Currently there are more than five rangers participating in the "duty" at an undisclosed cost to the taxpayer. The explanation that the park officials use is that, "they need the transportation anyway." Let's hope that they don't have to chase a rampaging motorcycle in the little car.