Friday, June 30, 2006

Yellowstone 4th Of July

Yellowstone On Fire
Patrol Snares violators

civilization encroaches
help wanted
-- There is some good news for visitors to Yellowstone National Park on this, the (traditionally,) busiest weekend of the year. The extensive road construction that is part of the 20-year road rehabilitation project, will be canceled for the weekend. This will allow 24-hour access to the park through all entrances. Read about it HERE.
-- Visitors will also have a small fire in the park to talk about this weekend. Reduced budgets mean that the 'fire cache' is at an all time low. Read about the fire HERE.
-- Visitors will also see many of the 'pull-outs' jammed with red-tagged vehicles. These vehicles are awaiting removal as a result of the first commercial vehicle inspection sweep that we announced. It should be noted that not a single vehicle operated by any park concessionaire was stopped. Read about the results of the inspections HERE.

-- Many news outlets have carried the Associated Press Article about 'civilization' encroaching on our National Parks. The development is favored by more than 40% of Americans surveyed. This growing trend is part of the demographic shift documented by Professor Andrew Hansen (PDF) at the Department of Ecology; Montana State University. This concern has been with us since at least 1985, and is being poorly addressed by both the National Park Service and the various advocacy groups. Cranky bloggers have addressed it, so have some of the less cranky, (here, here, here, & here.)
-- Much of this discussion is fueled by emotionalism and mythology - such as the belief that there is something wild about the bison or elk in Yellowstone National Park. One of the big attractions in Yellowstone is "THE ANIMALS;" particularly Elk, and Bison. And, both of these animals are causing developmental problems as well.
-- Alston Chase has addressed the problem several times in several ways, and has seemingly been ignored. Yellowstone has responded with an "Official Response" but not action, by publishing "PRESERVING YELLOWSTONE'S NATURAL CONDITIONS; Science and the Perception of Nature" by James A. Pritchard. The situation is also documented in the popular press entry in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. On a grand scale, even the WORLDWATCH INSTITUTE has commented on both the development, and the impact of tourism, and been ignored.

-- President Theodore Roosevelt is often associated with Yellowstone. He anticipated the problem; had interesting views about it, and suggested that taxing the rich would help. Teddy is currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity. Even NPS bloggers have found him.
-- The popularity of Yellowstone, the encroaching development, the continuing motor travel by affluent Americans, and the 'Baby Boom,' have combined to produce an interesting byproduct in the National Parks and their gateway communities:
-- In National Parks across the nation, and in the gasteway communities that thrive on their attractions, non-English-speaking foreign nationals are appearing. No longer is a summer job desired by many American students. That role is being filled by students from across the world - and by geriatric millionaires in their 40' mobile homes.. You can read about this trend HERE, HERE, & HERE.
-- As we enjoy our celebration of Independence Day, it might be of value to reflect on how we use our freedoms, and how they were won.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


Tour Busses & Supply Trucks Take Note

<- nps photo

-- The rangers at Yellowstone National Park will start their commercial vehicle inspections in the near future. The inspections will be unannounced and focus on commercial busses to "assure public and park personnel safety."

-- According to the official press release:
"Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper/Inspectors, Montana Department of Highways, and U.S. Department of Transportation Inspectors will assist park rangers with the full level inspections at random locations throughout the park."

<- nps photo

-- Safety inspections have, in the past, been an occasional & infrequent occurrence. This is the eighth year in the interagency program and it has reduced the number of vehicles removed from the road for safety violations.

-- The inspections evaluate both the vehicle and the driver to insure full compliance with the operational and safety standards of the federal regulations governing the use of commercial vehicles in the park.

-- The program has always ignored the commercial vehicles operated by Yellowstone park concessionaires. This circumstance means that the safest tour busses are probably those that are operated in Yellowstone by firms from outside of the park

-- We urge the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement this program in the winter months. This would remove the unsafe, 50 - 70 year-old snowcoachs, with poor brakes and no seat belts, and inadequate headlights from the winter roads, and further prevent threats to public safety.

Friday, June 23, 2006


"Resto-Vation" Nearing completion







-- The 'lower gas station,' the lower parking lot, and (most importantly,) rest rooms have opened at Old Faithful.

-- On Monday the Inn will be open for visitation as the current phase of resto-vation returns the grand old structure to the appearance of an architectural imagination.

-- Visitors who have been deprived of visiting this structure will now be able to enter into it's hallowed halls, providing they can find a place to park.

-- The rest rooms at the old visitors remain closed for demolition, and the opening of the lower gas station and good old 101 store will be a welcome relief from the long lines and embarrassing accidents.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Yellowstone Bears On Rampage

grizzles displace blacks
Guard Your Coolers
Aggressive Black Bear Killed By Rangers
-- A sheriff in Idaho just hit a black bear. So what you say? This is not an unusual thing. The thing is, that grizzly bears are increasing in numbers, and black bears are avoiding them by moving around more.
-- KIFI news television reported the story and included some interesting news about the Yellowstone and Teton bears that bears watching. In the story they note: that there may be territorial avoidance going on, and that black bears are finding new ways to survive. They also mention the bear that was captured and killed by rangers for being too aggressive in Yellowstone National Park.
-- The Yellowstone black bear charged several visitors and performed raids on campsites, stomped on cars, and broke into one car.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Emergency Response Slowed

experiences blurred by problems
fewer rangers

-- If you visit Yellowstone this year you can expect a blur of long waits in traffic jams, poor interpretive programs, a lack of rangers, dilapidated facilities, roadside litter, closed buildings, poor food, intermittent utility service, and a general chaotic situation.
-- The lack of funds to maintain the park, (let alone improve the visitor experience,) is making itself felt. This is pointed out in a news ticker report on the condition of all parks.
-- The Coalition of Concerned NPS Retirees, (CNPSR,) has detailed the problems in a major survey report entitled: "Reality Check: What Visitors to America's National Parks Will Experience During Summer 2006."
-- The picture of the parks painted by the CNPSR is much clearer than the visitor experience will be!

Read The Press Release
Read The Report
Hear The Audio
Parkspeak Response

<- White House Photo: Kempthorne and Bush in the Rose Garden

Visitors to national parks can expect these conditions to be accompanied by a diminished experience in the coming years. NPS policy is controlled by administrators that are carrying out instructions from the elected and appointed officials of the Bush administration.
-- Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has promised to continue these policies in his new post as Secretary of the Interior Department.
Read About Staffing Problems
Read About Kempthorne
More About Kempthorne
Even More About Kempthorne
Kempthorne and Friends
-- This budget crunch comes at a time when Yellowstone is busy using private funds to build new, & recondition old, facilities that they do not have the money to operate or maintain, or even staff. The solution seems to be -- privatize, and cater to the more affluent visitor. Yellowstone even plans to plant a new forest to attract visitors.
Read About Unpaid Utility Bills
Read About Sensless Expansion
Read About Higher Costs & Fees
Read About The New Forest
-- If you plan to visit Yellowstone and have questions about what facilities will be open, or what to expect in terms of visitor services, you can get answers at:
Yellowstone Park
National Park Service
Xanterra Parks & Resorts

Monday, June 12, 2006

Staffing Problems In Yellowstone

National Park Service Losing Staff
Xanterra Too

Why Is This Man Drooling?

-- If you bother to read the news about the National Park Service, you know that there is a giant budget cut in the offing, (read it here,) and the resulting staff crunch that is inevitable. Maybe Yellowstone should use volunteers!
-- What you don't read about is the critical staff crunch that is perpetual with Xanterra.
-- Xanterra is the company that runs many of the park's lucrative businesses. Yes they are "the park's" because fees are generated, paid, and ledgered. They are also supposed to be supervised by NPS personnel. There is an interesting trend developing with the Xanterra work force.
-- They are being overworked, underpaid, and exploited for the allmightydollar! Surprise? Hardly! Just search "BLOGGER" or "MYSPACE" to find the inside dope about this shameful way the park is using people.
-- There is the possibility that the National Park Service is allowing and encouraging the breaking of labor laws to generate funds. Maybe that's why the old guy in the picture is drooling.
-- Start Here: "XANTERRIBLE" and HERE

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Child Burned In Yellowstone


<-- nps photo



-- A child was burned in Yellowstone National Park, Saturday evening and was taken by ambulance to West Yellowstone, Montana. The young boy was then flown to the Burn Center at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. YNP news release reproduced below.

Young Boy Burned Near Old Faithful
A young boy from Utah was burned Saturday evening after falling into water from a recently erupted geyser in Yellowstone National Park.
The six year old is from South Jordan, Utah. The boy, his parents, and two older siblings had entered the park earlier in the day, pitched camp at Madison Campground, and then traveled to the Old Faithful area.
The family had just watched an eruption of Grand Geyser around 6:00 p.m. The boy was playing and walking along on the wet boardwalk when he slipped and fell into hot water runoff from nearby West Triplet Geyser, which had also recently erupted.
He was pulled from the water after suffering burns to his arms and legs. A park ranger was nearby and immediately summoned Old Faithful rangers who responded to the scene with an ambulance and paramedic. The boy was taken to the Old Faithful Clinic where his condition was stabilized. He was then transported by ambulance to the West Yellowstone, Montana airport and flown by fixed wing air ambulance to the Burn Center at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. His current condition is unavailable.
The Utah boy is the first person to receive severe thermal burns this summer in Yellowstone National Park. Visitors are reminded to stay on boardwalks and designated trails and exercise caution as many thermal features are near or above boiling temperatures.
Yellowstone National Park News Release
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
June 11, 2006 06-31

Yellowstone National Park

Saturday, June 10, 2006



Energy Corridors
parkitecture making news
antiquities act not celebrated in Wyoming
-- The National Park Service released news about a dead grizzly bear found in Yellowstone National Park. The bear was the first grizzly found dead since September, 2004. The full press release is included here.

Necropsy suggests sow died after being struck by car
Necropsy results indicate a grizzly bear found recently along the shores of Yellowstone Lake probably died after being struck by a vehicle.
Visitors reported finding a dead bear along the lake shore between the mouth of Pelican Creek and Storm Point on May 25. The female grizzly was about 10 years old and weighed around 200 pounds. The bear had bitten off part of its tongue and had a broken claw. Drowning was initially suspected as the cause of death.
Staff from the Yellowstone National Park Bear Management Office took the bear to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks lab in Bozeman, Montana for a necropsy. Results show the grizzly died of severe blunt trauma to the left rib cage, internal bruising and bleeding which resulted in asphyxiation. It appears the bear died shortly after being injured.
Rangers did not find any skid marks or debris on the road near where the dead bear was found to indicate a collision had taken place. However, based on the available evidence, bear biologist Kerry Gunther believes the bear was struck by a vehicle, probably along the East Entrance road between Pelican Creek and Fishing Bridge, and died after making its way down to the lake shore to get water.
Anyone with information surrounding the death of this grizzly bear is asked to call the Park Tip Line at 307-344-2132. Callers can remain anonymous.
This is the first grizzly bear death reported in the park since September 2004. Park visitors and employees are encouraged to be especially cautious and to slow down when driving through the park from dusk to dawn or in rain or snow, because it is more difficult to see wildlife under those conditions. Drivers who accidentally strike an animal in the park are asked to report the incident at the nearest ranger station.
-- As part of the energy policy act passed in 2,005 the U.S Departments of Energy, Interior, Agriculture, and Defense have released a map of potential energy corridors for the Western 11 states. The preliminary corridors are proposed to be 3,500 feet wide and can be viewed in PDF Format. These corridors may be used for electrical transmission, natural gas pipelines, coal slurry pipelines and other means of transporting energy around the United States. Yellowstone Park is surrounded by these corridors. Comments are solicited at the official web site.
-- Parkitecture, is currently being celebrated by the National Park Service as "Early Twentieth Century Design & Naturalism." Building with nature is touted for these rustic structures. The structures shown are all energy inneficient, have monstrous caverns for rooms, and deplete energy resources at a rate greater than the SUV's that bring romantics to the parks to see them.
-- The Antiquities Act Of 1906 celebrates it's 100th birthday in all states except Wyoming. The historic circumstances surrounding "The Antiquities Act Of 1906" resulted in an interesting situation for Wyoming, Grand Tetons National Park, and Devil's Tower. The circumstances have made Wyoming the only state not covered by the Act. Yet the state was the first one to receive a National Monument under the Act. The Casper Star Tribune has a complete review of this quirk of history.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Where The Buffalo Roam
And The Browse Disappears Everyday

-- Yellowstone National Park attracts visitors from around the world. One of the big attractions is "watching animals." What they don't realize in their short stay is that the animals that they like to watch are eating the park to death.
-- It's not just Yellowstone that is disappearing into the gut of the elk. Rocky Mountain National Park is also being eaten alive.
-- In Yellowstone, the willows have disappeared along the Firehole river, along the Madison River, In the Haydon Valley, and along the Lamar River; to name a few. The elk have also nearly destroyed the largest groves of aspen in the park. They are also removing most of the native grasses, and have turned to eating the aquatic vegetation of the Madison River and the Firehole River.
-- The same is happening in Rocky Mountain National Park. Why does the National Park Service allow, and even encourage this destructive behavior. Why don't they tell the visiting public the truth about these critters?
-- The combined impact of the Sacred Elk, and the Sacred Buffalo is destroying the parks. Beaver are disappearing, erosion is accelerating, and many species as diverse as moose, pronghorn, sandhill cranes, and voles are being denied habitat.
-- There has been speculation that both parks are more interested in visitation than preserving the environment, or in public education.
-- In less than 40 years the northern range of Yellowstone has become a sagebrush wasteland. In less than 20 years the Firehole River has become devoid of bank-holding willows. In less than 10 years the bison have reduced the Madison Valley to a short grass meadow with no sheltering habitat, as the bison gnaw the grasses to the dirt.
-- Yellowstone needs to implement a comprehensive plan to save the environment before it's too late. Before the sacred elk and bison have nothing to eat at all. Before there are no more beavers, or sandhill cranes, or voles, or grass, or willows, or aspens. We wonder if anyone cares about grass, or willows, or sandhill cranes, or beaver, or moose, or voles.

Sunday, June 04, 2006




-- As spring rapidly gives way to summer in Yellowstone it is useful to remember that the seasons migrate with both a change in latitude and altitude. Frank Craighead has documented this dynamic relationship in his classic work, "FOR EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON."
-- Both the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom know this. It's people that tend to forget it, (if they ever knew it!) The seminal thinking of the brothers Craighead has shaped serious thinking about The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for over three decades.
-- You will find links to their research site in several places in the sidebar. They have contributed much to our understanding of Yellowstone. Search out their work and study it: you will be rewarded many times over.
-- As noted in the book, if you miss the arrival of the Mountain Bluebird in Moose, Wyoming, you can catch it a few days later in West Yellowstone, Montana, (which is both at a more northerly latitude, and higher altitude.)
-- This is true for the entire ecosystem. Flower blossoms, trees leafing out, sandhill cranes, eagles, hawks, aquatic insect hatches, all trend from lower to higher and then back again during an annual cycle. With the larger animals we call it seasonal migration. Even locally the smaller critters do the same.
-- With a little planning it's possible to have a perpetual springtime in the Rocky Mountains. Start low and in the south - say Moab, travel back and forth across the spine of the Rocky Mountains well into Canada, - and you can do it in about 3 months. Then, turn around and head south -- BINGO -- perpetual Fall.
-- Some seasonal variation is noticed in the annual cycle, and some has been noted in longer periods - such as decades. The planet has undergone cycles on a much grander scale, as well. The slow march of conifers can be traced by palonology up and down the Rocky Mountains - in response to glaciation. Remnant stands of northern species are found in refugia deep in the southwestern states, (at higher altitudes - of course!)
-- The pulse of the planet has changed in the last 250 years. The industrial revolution has spread across the world and brought a quickening of the pace of change. This change has accelerated warming in the atmosphere and brought about the attendant changes with it. There is now a real question - can the plants and animals and people keep up?
-- Will there be palm trees in Glacier National Park? Will there be Ginco Trees In Yellowstone? Probably so. They have been there before and are petrified in-situ to prove it. The glacial/warming cycle is a fact of the Pliocene/Pleistocene/Holocene continuum. The rapidity of change is a new factor in the equation.
-- A recent article by Jonathan Adams in the Denver Post suggests that is is time to address the time-transgressive nature of these changes in a more serious vein. He suggests that we plan now for the migration of Yellowstone and its species. What about the geysers?
-- Interestingly, as the continent has drifted over the Yellowstone 'hot spot' - the geysers and the attendant volcanic phenomena have trended northeast. This is, of course, THINKING BIG, as Adams notes. It is also thinking long. The question confronting all of us is how far ahead do we plan, (decades, centuries, millennia?)
-- Change is a constant, and this is strikingly evident in Yellowstone. Should we try to capture and preserve the moment? Should we capture change? How do you put lightning in a bottle?
-- If we plan for the preservation of The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, what time period should we plan for? It bears some thought since we borrow the planet from our descendants. Thus it has always been.

Friday, June 02, 2006



<--nps photo

-- The grand old lady of Yellowstone still causes gasps of wonder and awe from most who view the eruption. The National Geographic has posted an excellent movie on it's web site bout the changing moods and periods of this feature.
-- Other Geysers have been putting on a show for visitors this year as well. Giant is surprisingly regular this Spring with a nearly predictable period of between 9 & 12 days. Beehive has been frequent, Grotto has had some spectacular marathon periods, and in Black Sand Basin - Cliff Geyser seems to be erupting with shorter intervals and is getting big enough to splash visitors on the viewing platform.
-- The geyser field at Fountain Paint Pots, and Fountain Ridge has heated up early this year and even Fountain's Thief is erupting frequently.
-- Great Fountain Geyser, on Firehole Lake Drive has had several very long eruptions, and the postings at the site are very accurate this year. In the same area, White dome has had several very long steam phases.
-- This is the time to see the famous geysers of Yellowstone. To view the National Geographic movie, "Old Faithful Changes Its Rhythm", CLICK HERE.

<--White Dome Geyser