Thursday, September 28, 2006

Yellowstone News Roundup

.Park Seeks To Be Secret.
.Bison Hunting.
.Big Reward.
.Get Ginchy.
.. The Draft EIS reported in our last post has been scrutinized by the Seattle Press Intelegencer and they report on the secret mission of the National Park Service to withhold information from the public - READ IT HERE.
.. The Helena Independent Record reports on the Montana Bison Hunt. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks have issued 124 licenses - READ IT HERE.
.. They also let us know about a wolf report. There are approximately 1,229 wolves in 158 packs in the Yellowstone area. This is an increase of 20% over the last year - READ IT HERE.
.. Cody informs us that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has documented 34 cattle that were killed by wolves in Park County during the last year - READ IT HERE.
.. Yellowstone National Park is offering a big reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction for burglary - READ IT HERE.
.. The podcast is upon us. Read how the ipod can replace rangers in Yellowstone National Park at As the advertisement says, "Find Your Way The iPod Way."
.. The Olympian reports on the meeting between civic and business leaders & Yellowstone Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, in Cody, Wyoming. The super says; that the parks need to launch a ". . . no child left inside" program - READ IT HERE.
.. For sensible thoughts about the restoration of predators visit VERBENA-19. A refreshing and sensitive look at ourselves from Canada.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Thermophilic Algae

Voice Your Opinion
park camping down
yellowstone river
.nps photo.

.. After over 15 years of poking around in Yellowstone's thermophiles, the government has decided to explore the ramifications of commercial exploitation of thermophilic bacteria. This has been expanded into a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for all of the National Parks. Not just the algae and bacteria of Yellowstone are addressed, (though they are the driving force,) but all of our park's resources are included in the EIS.
.. The National Park Service news release finally asks for public input. It's available HERE. It's reproduced below. The prefered alternative is:
"The preferred alternative would require researchers to enter into an agreement with the NPS before using their results for commercial purposes. Researchers would have to qualify under the strict standards for a park research permit before any discussion of a benefits-sharing agreement could begin. The agreement would require researchers to provide some benefit back to the park, such as staff training, new research equipment, royalties or money to be used to support resource conservation and management. Researchers would still be prohibited from selling specimens or samples collected in parks. Researchers would not be given any special privileges just because their research may result in a commercial application."
.. Yellowstone National Park is the lead agency in this review process, (as if they had so little to do already,) and the complete EIS information is available through the "Benefits Sharing DEIS Team, Yellowstone Center for Resources, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190." A Hard copy on CD is available.
National Park Service News Release

For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2006
Contact(s): Al Nash, 307.344.2010

Gerry Gaumer, 202.208.6843

National Park Service Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement On Benefits Sharing For Public Review

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) addressing whether the National Park Service (NPS) should benefit from commercial applications arising from research in the parks has been released for public review and comment.

The Servicewide Benefits Sharing Draft EIS addresses the occasional circumstance when researchers who analyze small genetic or biochemical samples discover commercially useful scientific information. The alternatives in the draft EIS do not change the way research permits are issued or the way research is conducted in the national parks. The alternatives only change the obligations some researchers
would have to parks as a result of their use of the research.

The alternatives address whether the NPS should benefit in some way if the outcome of research conducted in the parks can be used for commercial purposes, known as benefits-sharing.

The preferred alternative would require researchers to enter into an agreement with the NPS before using their results for commercial purposes. Researchers would have to qualify under the strict standards for a park research permit before any discussion of a benefits-sharing agreement could begin. The agreement would require researchers to provide some benefit back to the park, such as staff training, new research equipment, royalties or money to be used to support resource conservation and management. Researchers would still be prohibited from selling specimens or samples collected in parks. Researchers would not be given any special privileges just because their research may result in a commercial application.

The Draft EIS and an electronic form to submit comments on the internet can be found at the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at You need to select “Washington Office” and then click on “Benefits Sharing”. The Draft EIS is also available on CD or in hard copy by writing the Benefits Sharing DEIS Team, Yellowstone Center for Resources, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.

Written comments may be submitted through the PEPC website, in person, or by mail. Comments will not be accepted over the phone, by fax, or e-mail. All public comments must be received or postmarked by midnight, December 15, 2006.

..nps photo..
.."Let's face it: It's hard to protect the parks if no one is interested in them," said Park Service statistician Butch Street. This quote from a news story about why park attendance and camping is down. Read it HERE.
.. The Helena Independent Record reminds us of the Yellowstone River and its central role in Yellowstone. Read about it HERE.
.. Recycling is a key topic in Yellowstone these days. "Five years ago, nearly 90 percent of the trash from Yellowstone's 3 million visitors each year found its way to the landfill. Now, about 65 percent of the trash is recycled." ''Twenty years ago, we were throwing everything in a garbage can and taking it to a landfill,'' said Steve Iobst, the park's chief of maintenance. ''That's not practicing what we preach.'' Read it HERE.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


. Well folks, after all the hoopla the "SOOPER VISITORS CENTER" at Old Faithful has been delayed.
.. HERE'S the AP press release:
Plans to build a new visitor center near Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park have been delayed at least a year. The park received only one bid for the project this summer, and park officials say it was too high. They're re-examining the project, to see if there's any way to trim the cost to match their 26 (m) million dollar budget. In the meantime, demolition is poised to begin at the existing visitor center at Old Faithful. Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash says it's not unusual for a large project to be delayed, especially in times of high materials costs and brisk construction business. About 85 percent of Yellowstone visitors go to Old Faithful. During the peak summer season, five-thousand to six-thousand people a day wait on the boardwalk for an eruption. And when it's over, they go to the nearby visitor center. (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
.. Of coures there is still no YNP news release to share with you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


nps photo by ken wilson ->
A Pertinant Point Of View
smokey mountain weddings

.. The ongoing fiasco of elk, genes, shoot-em-up, and poor law enforcement is making more news in the southwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park and the adjacent portions of Idaho; from whence cometh the herds.
.. KBCI in Boise tells us a bit about the story, so too does NWCN. Now we will have more debate about purity of genes and the pros and cons of genetic diversity. Well . . . . . . if you mess with Mother Nature . . . . And of course there is the the hunter fall out. New West is right on top of all of this.
.. As the winter approaches, and the sure revival of the winter access debate looms, there is an interesting article by Mark Dowie, in the High Country News. Maybe civilized discussion could be had if "the other person's shoes" were walked in for a spell.

.. Right on the heels of our post about the exploitation of park facilities by religious ceremony's and the abuse of public facilities by the wedding industry, comes an announcement from the Smokey Mountains. Fees will be raised and implemented due to the costs associated with the wedding industry. At least someone in the National Park Service is paying attention. LINK.
In the "Don't say your weren't warned," department.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Get Married In A Park
Giant & Old Faithful Caught Together

.. Two of the most lucrative aspects of profiteering in the National Parks are: 1) the wedding business and, 2) the "FREE" use of park facilities for religious services. You won't hear about this from conventional news sources. You won't hear about it from members of congress. You won't hear about it from the National Park Service. You won't hear about it from the gateway communities.

<-nps photo
.. Weddings and wedding tours start in the neighborhood of $2,500 and go up from there. These take place in Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Arches, Grand Tetons, etc. They are often run by the same concessionaires that peddle you around the park in exhaust spewing luxury vans, and buses, and limousines. Some use helicopters or horses or rafts. What a kick. (Arches has a $50 wedding permit fee.)
.. Glacier Park, Inc. promotes it's weddings and charges for the services. They even include a 2.75% utility surcharge for staying in any of the five properties in the park.
.. Even more surprising is that the permit to hold religious services in Yellowstone is free - although if it's a wedding, the commercial photographer must pay a fee. This includes the chapel at Yellowstone.

.. Scheduling is a problem because there are already established special interests that have tied up most dates. There must be some kind of exclusive access that allows the perpetuation of "established" ministries to continue year after year. Of course free-will offerings and collections are allowed!
.. We wonder why the whiners who decry the commercialization of our parks ignore this aspect of filthy lucre? We refuse to speculate.
..We do know that maintenance, heating, & electricity in park facilities are expenses that could be offset by fees. We also know that the National Park Service was not created to subsidise weddings or religion. And, we doubt that these functions - IN ANY WAY - protect or preserve the resources. So; what gives? We've received no answers to our inquiries.

.. The Deseret News just ran an article under religion and ethics about this very situation. The piece includes many glowing remarks from religious entrepreneurs & praises for the parks. Although The NPS is charged with oversight for the public structures at Yellowstone; General Ranger Daven Hafey is quoted as saying that ". . .he doesn't know how many people attend because the Park Service doesn't get involved."
.. The Old Faithful Web Cam has just caught another wonderful "double." On screen is Friday's simultaneous eruption of Old Faithful & Giant Geysers. Giant, you may recall, has been surprisingly active throughout the Summer, and now that Fall weather and moisture have returned to the region there is hope that this behavior will continue.
.nps web cam photo.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

News Snippets

the boardwalk bicycle
death valley flood
the prolific bison
the picnic bear
the prolific elk
director reviews
develop the parks
.. The Old Faithful Web Cam is probably near it's final adjustment and shows more of the geyser basin and less of the people on the boardwalk. It even shows most of the steam plume from an Old faithful Eruption. However, as shown in this NPS WEB CAM PHOTO, it doesn't, show so little of the boardwalk that the inconsiderate bicyclists can hide.
.. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports of a storm and flood and power outage in Death Valley National Park. Seems they got all of their rain at once this year - LINK.

nps photos

The bison herd in Yellowstone National Park has reached it's management maximum. The summer 'count' places the herd at about 3,900. Depending on which management plan is being followed this week - the herd is either 500 bison too large, or just right. Advocates call the natural breeding cycle a "rebound." LINK A - LINK B.
.. The "picnic bear," (as the rangers are calling her,) and her cub are being monitored for aggressive behavior and habituation to human food. Careless visitors left food on a picnic table & the bears found it. Now the picnic area at Eleanor Lake is closed for humans. A second press release has been issued by the NPS.

nps photo

.. Rocky Mountain National Park is being eaten to death by the proliferating elk herd. They have even moved into town to chew on the golf course grass. The good citizens of Estes Park have lawn mowers for that. Now your National Park Service has promulgated rules to help them breed! No lights at night! LINK.
.. Mary Bomar, President Bush's nominee for the 17th director of the National Park Service, is getting press reviews. Watch this process carefully because Washington has put 'the quiet' on 'the buzz.' Good stories by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and

.nps photo of Former Sec. Norton & Mary Bomar

.. We can't help wondering how Director Bomar will react to the continuing development and privatization of the National Parks. Especially since:
". . . the very month the Park Service reasserted its commitment to park resources and values, it granted its seventh funding extension to the proposed developer of Fort Hancock, who wants to lease 36 old Army buildings for 60 years for bars, offices and restaurants, including what every park needs — a training school for stockbrokers. How these commercial activities square with national park "values" escapes me."
Quote from yesterday's Asbury Park Press.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Yellowstone Briefs

Shameless Plug
Alcohol Involved
Bears On Rampage
Wolves In The News
Domestic Elk Threaten Park
Other Stuff

-- Our neighbors at Yellowstone Wilderness Outfitters are enjoying a good year of packing and riding. To get the feel and flavor of Yellowstone National Park you might want to get the #1 selling CD in Yellowstone, "Yellowstone For Violin And Orchestra."
-- Not sure? Click HERE to download an MP3 sample from the CD.

nps photo
-- As noted in the NPS September, 7 news release, a fatal car crash occurred in the Gardner River last Wednesday.
-- The road between Mammoth and the north entrance to the park was closed on a couple of occasions for rescue, investigation, and debris removal.
-- Now we learn in SECOND NPS PRESS RELEASE that alcohol was involved, and that the driver is in federal custody. Details on the variety of charges he faces will be available once he makes his initial appearance next week before Federal Magistrate Stephen Cole in Mammoth Hot Springs.
-- This is the third alcohol related automobile accident in Yellowstone in a week, and the third death this year.

nps photo

-- At one time Yellowstone Park fed the bears as a matter of course. It was an easy way to get rid of the garbage that the visitors generated, (at hotel dinning rooms, on picnics, or leftovers.) By 1902 it was the "official policy" to not feed the bears - but it was not until the 1960's that the policy was taken seriously.

nps photo
-- A mother Grizzly Bear and her cub are now becoming show-stoppers along the east entrance road. They eat on picnic tables at Elanor Lake picnic area, and entertain visitors. They are under close watch by NPS staff and may need to be removed or killed. Read the NPS news release Here. Read the Helena Independent Record account Here.

nps photo

-- Wolves are in the news again as they continue to expand their territory.
-- At one time it was official policy to eliminate wolves, now they are protected.
-- With the introduction of wolves, Americans have voted to have them present as neighbors once again. The Oregonian reports that the wolves may have established breeding packs in or near the Wallowa Mountains east of La Grande - LINK.
-- the Ashland Daily Tidings just ran a story about the monitoring efforts of biologists to establish the proof of the pack's existence and their territory - LINK.

nps photo

-- The WESTERN LIVESTOCK JOURNAL is keeping close tabs on the growth and expansion of wolf packs. They note that:
"According to Defenders of Wildlife (DOW), a group which supports the reintroduction and spread of wolves in the U.S., wolf numbers are growing, as are reports of livestock depredation and claims for damages. DOW reimburses ranchers whose livestock is killed or injured by wolves. So far this year, DOW has paid more than $90,000 to ranchers who have lost livestock to wolf depredation in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. According to the group, between 1995 and 2004, they paid a total of $400,000 in direct compensation for losses suffered by ranchers and another $200,000 for preventative measures aimed at preventing losses before they occur." (LINK)


-- A group of domestic elk have busted out of an elk farm in eastern Idaho, and may threaten the 'genetic purity' of the elk in Yellowstone National Park, according to an Associated Press news story - LINK.
-- The elk farm has been controversial in Rexberg, Idaho and the surround region for some time. The controversy and the problems associated with it are detailed in a news article by

nps photo
-- Perhaps a few wild genes would do the cantankerous tame elk of Yellowstone National Park some good.
-- It's interesting that wild elk run from cars and humans, while tame elk attack them.


thomas dunklin photo

-- The San Francisco Chronicle lets us know that a new giant has been found. The new "Tallest Living Thing" was discovered by a group of folks that search for tall trees. They have found three that break the old record.
-- They are almost sure that they know which of three new discoveries dethroned the previous tallest tree - LINK.
-- The photo, by Thomas Dunklin at left, shows the new king.
-- Read about how trees get water to the tops of these giants in Humboldt County, California - HERE. Another copy of the photo in this article shows some interesting features of the research effort.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Relief From The Heavens

Mark This Day:
the fire crews are!
.. Just enough rain and not any thunder or lightning. The consistent smoke and haze from the last few days will be gone. The rains have come. Not the heavy and cold rains that we usually associate with Fall, but the gentle, quiet, persistent rains that gives pause to the heat of summer.
.. Now the Paint Pots will have enough water to resume their happy bubbling.

Please drive carefully. The third fatal accident in Yellowstone this year happened over the week end.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


they'll never know!
After great anticipation and a greater wait, the grand opening of Canyon Village Visitor Center has produced an unreal rendering of Yellowstone. (You guessed it - it's backwards!)
We promise you that the backwards photo of CASTLE GEYSER, below will soon be famous.
For $10.5 million, you'd think they could get it right! of nps photo.

Through the magic of PHOTOSHOP we've fixed it for you. OOPS, What about the lettering?? (well, at least the correction didn't cost $10.5 million.)
..fixed photo of nps photo.
We wonder what else is wrong?
Below is a nice NPS Photo of Castle Geyser.
.photo of nps display.

Monday, September 04, 2006


$20 million now! $97 million later
symbiosis threatened
treadwell continues
.. On Saturday, September 2, 2006, Labor Day visitors were treated to a wonderful sight in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone Park. At 12:54, PM - (just a minute from the predicted time,) Old Faithful joined Beehive geyser in a rare double eruption. The screen shot shown below is from the Old Faithful Web Cam. You can view the full size photo HERE.

.. If you are interested in the geysers of Yellowstone you should visit the GEYSER OBSERVATION & STUDY ASSOCIATION (GOSA) home page. The site is currently being updated and is far superior to the old site - great photos too.

.. The Chicago Sun-Times has the best synopsis of the transportation grants being dispersed among several National Parks. Railroad cars, parking lots, regular buses, propane powered buses, a boat dock, etc. Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett and Federal Transit Administrator James Simpson announced $20 million in grants in the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The grants are part of a program designed to disperse $97 million by 2009.

.. From Crater Lake National Park comes news of an age old dance. One that is threatened by the white pine blister rust that is slowly choking trees to death, one-by-one. The NEWS-REVIEW online notes that:
Crater Lake National Park contains the largest lakeside collection of whitebark pine stands in the world, yet their needles are slowly browning and falling away to blister rust. Based on the current rate of infection, scientists estimate by 2050 half of the national park’s witebark pine trees will be dead.

.. Kevin Sanders, (also known as 'The Yellowstone Bearman',) has updated his research into the death by grizzly of Timothy Treadwell. You can read the current status of the report & research HERE.
.. The weekend in Yellowstone seemed less crowded than usual. The weather was perfect and the sun made a dent in the cool weather that we've been having. Hotels magizine notes that there are plenty of rooms available at many of our National Parks. Maybe the entrance fees, combined with the gasoline crunch are impacting visitation. Read about the possibilities HERE.
.. The first seasonal road closures in Yellowstone are Dunraven Pass & the Beartooth Highway. These roads are schedualed for closure on October 10, 2006, at 8:00 AM. Read the whole road closure schedule HERE.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


What's Good For AT&T Is Good For Yellowstone!!
Not So Subtle Privatization?
Hi Mom
<- nps photo

.. The impact of budget reductions is continuing to make itself felt in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has called for a volunteer force " . . . to help staff the information and security checkpoint in the Heritage and Research Center." In the press release they point out how very important the collections are. In war time it's nice to know that security is left to volunteers.
.. This is just another sign that the NPS can't do their mandated job with the funds provided by congress. The call for volunteers is just a byproduct of the current situation. Park Rangers are being cut from the budget and will have less visitor contact.
nps photo->
.. In an innovative move to compensate for lack of Rangers Valley Forge National Historic Park has instituted Cell Phone Tours. The official press release, (PDF,) notes that:
". . .Cell phone tours are part of the park’s effort to reach out to recreational users connecting healthy living with national parks as resources for their “daily minimum outdoor recreation requirement.”

.. The conspiracy theorists see this as just one more step in the creeping privatization of our parks. Just think of all the phone cards that the concessionaires will be able to sell. Just think of all the consumer suggestions that can be included in the "TELE-TOUR."
.. ". . . and just beyond the new visitor center, (beneath the cell phone tower,) is the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, where you can purchase your new phone card for the tour to Black Sand Basin."
.. ". . . after completing this tour we invite you to stop and shop at one of the many conveniently located trinket stores that we have provided for your National Park experience."
.. ". . . as you look beyond the trail head to the Old Fort Yellowstone, you will see the new gift shop that will provide you with additional phone cards and souvenirs of your stay in the wilderness that is Yellowstone."
.. The few Rangers that are available will have to familiarize themselves with new features of the park.
.. ". . . Yes, sir, the toilet is just beyond that pretty poster advertising phone cards. Yes, the one just beyond the information kiosk. When you're done you might consider taking the cell phone tour of the new and improved parking lot. You'll notice that there are expanded parking spaces for RV's that tow Hummers."
.. This seems silly, at first blush, but it's already happening. Yellowstone National Park has already published a picture that shows the true usefulness of the cell phone. The Upper Geyser Basin "Geyser Reference Photo" shows a visitor waving at the camera with a cell phone to his ear. We'd like to believe that this was just part of the technical check of the equiptment. -- HA!
.. We encourage you to get to Yellowstone soon. The supply of phone cards at the trinket shops is running low.


Friday, September 01, 2006



.. West Nile still a threat in Yellowstone: LINK.
.. Final Management Policies Released: LINK.
.. Management Plan Press Release: LINK.
.. Labor Day News: LINK.
.. NEW Yellowstone Park Home Page: LINK.
- - - - (Thank you TOM CAWLEY) - - - -
.. Heating Oil Spill At Old Faithful: LINK.
.. Old Faithful Web Cam - new alignment: LINK.
.. Great photo guide from Nando at Yellowstock, (Click on the map.)