Saturday, December 29, 2007

Go West Ol' Feller

Park Still Addressing Areas Of Concern
Is The Organic Act A Contradictory Document ?
.. Several print publications have recently put their spin on an article by Associated Press writer Mead Gruver that notices how Baby Boomer's are invading the West for their golden years. The popularity of the article for distribution suggests that there may be something to the observation. You can check the different pictures and headlines here: Topix, Bismark Tribune, Trib.Com, Billings Gazette, seMissourian, MemphisOnline, and many others.
.. Last Wednesday the Federal Register posted the notice of report submitted to the World Heritage Committee detailing the progress and continuing efforts made in addressing issues that have threatened Yellowstone National Park. The full report is on the NPS site. There is a 30 day public comment period.
.. Copies are also available by writing to Suzanne Lewis, Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168; by telephoning 307-344-2002; by sending an e-mail message to; or by picking up a copy in person at the park's headquarters in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, 82190.
.. Mike Stark in the Billings Gazette details the issues and actions cited in the report. These range from mining activities, through bison and grayling, to pollution from motorized travel, (summer and winter.) The winter problems have been addressed and pollution is on the decline - summer pollution and visitor use has not been addressed, because the park believes that visitation has leveled off. Time will tell if the increasing population around Yellowstone will avoid the park in the summer.
.. Modern critics of the national parks have often cited the sentence;
“to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein [within the national parks] and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
as contradictory and an impossible mandate.
.. The NPS Morning Report for December 18, 2007 lets us know that the George Wright Society is addressing this and other bits of park history in a series of essays looking at the future and past of the parks.
.. One posthumous essay is abridged from previous work by Robin W. Winks and looks at the original act and subsequent legislation that does not view the mandate as contradictory. The complete original article can be found on the NPS site, and is an exhaustive exploration of the topic THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE ACT OF 1916: "A CONTRADICTORY MANDATE?"
.. Joseph Sax, in a 1976 issue of Natural History Magazine, also did a popular piece addressing some of the similar points made by Winks.nps photo

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Of Weather, Wolves, & Webcams

Wolf Game & Wolves Game
webcams going all frigid

Yellowstone and Glacier are among nine parks where "significant worsening trends" of ammonium in the air were found, according to a recent National Park Service report on air quality trends from 1996 to 2005.
.. Mike Stark of the Billings Gazette reports about a study showing the continuing increase in air-born pollution in Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and other areas of the Rocky Mountain West. Pollinating insects and plants could be the first elements affected. Rocky Mountain National Park has the highest levels of ammonia and scientists are noting the replacement of wildflowers with grasses. This could happen in Yellowstone and Glacier too. There is a possibility that the intensity of the ammonia fallout is ameliorating in Yellowstone.
.. Wolf Quest, a free downloadable-game developed by the Minnesota Zoo and Eduweb, has caused such interest that the downloads crashed the server. The game's first episode is titled "WolfQuest: Amethyst Mountain," and allows the players to take the perspective of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Downloads are outstripping the ability of servers to keep up. You can read the AP report HERE & HERE. (Map of Amethyst Mountain.)
.. The real wolves have a game of their own. They have found some more easy vittles near Dillon, Montana. Two incidents were confirmed by the Montana State Wildlife Services. In one instance two sheep were killed, in another a cow calf was killed. Traps were set in the first area in an attempt to capture the wolf, collar it, and determine if it's a lone wolf. A shoot on sight permit was issued to the rancher in the second incident. Read it HERE.
.. The streaming webcam at Old Faithful, mentioned previously, is still in BETA. It's experiencing some icing problems and the views are intermittent as the cold weather invades Yellowstone. When it's good, it's very very good, and when it's bad . . . . . .
.. You can read about the woes of the webcam in the Casper Star Tribune HERE. You can view it yourself HERE. (Turn the narration off!)
.. If you are into wecams of the region go to the regional webcam links on Ralph Maughan's site. Many to view. (P.S. The Tetons are glorious today!)
nps photo

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Google Your Water Supply

See Daily SNOTEL Data For Your Waters
(click image to enlarge)
.. Should you ever want to know how your snowpack is doing you can get it done with a new visual mapping tool developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS.)
.. There are two ways to display this information on your computer. 1] if you're a computer mapping junkie, you can download the ".kmz" file and display it on your computer's copy of Google Earth, or --> 2] you can go to the NCRS site and view the daily image.
.. The data base includes all NCRS SNOTEL sites for North America, and can be viewed either with, or without labels for the sites.
.. There's nothing that we can do about the results of the weather, but now we can see and talk about it in real time.
.. The data files are updated daily around 7:30 am and 12:30 afternoon Pacific Time with midnight summaries of the previous day’s data. The symbols are color-coded by the current snow water equivalent as percent of the 1971-2000 normal on this date.
.. The ".kmz" file is recognized on your copy of Google Earth as "places." If you click on the site of interest you will get a photo of the site and a summary table for the data collected at that site. There are additional real-time reports included in the information on the photo page.
.. There is also a Google based "Water Supply Forecast" data base created by the NCRS. This is displayed in the same way as the SNOTEL data and can be viewed both ways as well. The forecasts are based on the snowpack, and are available for drainage basins.
.. Another pair of Google ".kmz" files has been prepared by NOAA. These are 3-D overlays of the snowpack analysis and snow reports. These are based on the latest, (usually daily,) NASA and NOHRSC imagery.
.. Here are the links to get you started, (P.S. you can build your own ".kmz" file.)
Google Earth SNOTEL Data Layer
Google Earth Water Supply Forecast Layer
National Snow Analyses 3D Interface
.. Here's one for Tom, (click for data.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bear Hair Is Tricky

Inbreeding Concerns Voiced
Travis Wyman of the National Park Service collects bear hair.
Photo courtesy Mark Harroldson.

.. Grizzly bear hair stored at Montana State University for over 25 years at -77.8 degrees will soon be headed to Canada. The hair collected from the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be used to determine the genetic diversity of the grizzly bear population.
.. According to an MSU press release:
The hair will head to Canada in a few months to be analyzed at Wildlife Genetics International in Nelson, British Columbia, said Chuck Schwartz, head of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team based at MSU. The team is monitoring the genetic diversity of the Yellowstone grizzlies over time and wants to know when new DNA appears. The team will also compare the Yellowstone bears with those in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem where a similar study has been done.

.. A major objective of the study is to determine if grizzly bears from the area around Glacier National Park migrate to Yellowstone National Park. The population of grizzly bears has doubled in the last 20 years to about 600 bears. This study will help determine the genetic diversity of the Yellowstone bears - and evaluate the general health of the gene pool.
.. The Canadian laboratory has analyzed bear hair from around the world, including Yosemite and Banff. According to Steven Kalinowski, a conservation geneticist at MSU:
Bear hair is tricky because the amount of DNA it contains is so small.
.. Jennifer Weldon, manager of the Canadian lab, said:
Dirty hair can challenge some researchers. So can hair that came from a dead animal and spent so much time in the elements that the DNA degraded.
.. After the DNA analysis the hair will be returned to MSU for additional study.

grizzly photo courtesy Mark Harroldson

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cooke City Web Cams


.. There's a fine web cam in Cooke City. It's brought to you by Soda Butte Lodge. CLICK HERE.
.. There's also one HERE. Brought to you by the Exxon Station.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Winter Arriving - Mentality Insights

Listen Carefully
-- Record Of Decision (ROD) Signed --
.. Entertaining video billed as a "spoof" - listen to the anger!

.. The Record Of Decision for the winter use plan has been posted on the NPS site (PDF): commentary HERE & HERE; Predictable Lawsuit HERE & HERE.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

RCN Posts Interactive Map - ZOWIEE

Just Click - OR - Enter Keyword
.. The Yellowstone National Park Research Coordination Network [RCN] is a collaboration of research scientists and National Park staff to develop a coordinated research network focused on geothermal biology and geochemistry in YNP.
.. The Objectives of the RCN are:
1. Develop a coordinated network of research scientists focused on geothermal biology and geochemistry in YNP.
2. Facilitate greater coordination and collaboration on current and future scientific research, data collection, and resource inventory of geothermal features in YNP.
3. Initiate and develop mechanisms to increase information-sharing among participants, and to utilize data collections and educational resources more effectively to reach multiple audiences.
4. Facilitate research and educational activities among participants that capitalize on synergistic overlap and information sharing.
5. Utilize the productivity and progress of a RCN as a platform to solicit funding for multi-institutional and multi-agency initiatives directed towards future research and education on geothermal biology in YNP.
.. The Thermal Features Inventory just went online and it's an amazing resource. Access is through an interactive map which successively delineates regions, basins, groups, and features.
.. Each feature has it's own page and includes a location map, the name of the RCN participant that is studying the feature, {if available,} a photo, {if available,}YNP data search, USGS data search, RCN data search, and other data and information as available.
.. This is guaranteed to cut into to your browsing time - if you're at all interested in the geothermal features of Yellowstone.

Friday, November 09, 2007

More About Volcanos

.. There is an enormous resource inventory for the geology of Yellowstone and the Yellowstone Caldera. The resources listed below should give you entry to the literature.
.. National Park Service, Nature and Science, GEOLOGY FIELD NOTES - YELLOWSTONE
.. USGS, Cascades Volcano Observatory, VISIT A VOLCANO [Pacific Northwest]
.. USGS, Cascades Volcano Observatory, VISIT A VOLCANO [ USA]
.. USGS. THE QUATERNARY AND PLIOCENE YELLOWSTONE PLATEAU VOLCANIC FIELD OF WYOMING, IDAHO, AND MONTANA [Abstract] [PDF - give it a second or two it's 36.2 MB] --- {Often referred to as 'Bob's Bible' - this is the most complete and definitive single source on the subject.}
.. USVO, CVO, YVO, relational bibliography:
.. Carleton College, The Montana-Yellowstone Geologic Field Guide Data Base [What you see while driving on the roads of the area. Start in Jackson, Wyoming and end in Ashton, Idaho.]
.. USGS, YELLOWSTONE CONTINUOUS GPS NETWORK [Real-time GPS monitoring data of the ups & downs of the Yellowstone Caldera and It's Domes.]

More News Of Rumblings

But, ''there is no evidence of an imminent volcanic eruption,'' said Robert B. Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.
.. The Washington Post has the best of the latest spate of volcano stories. Moving to eastern Australia might, (repeat - MIGHT,) be a good idea. Maybe Perth would do.
.. See The Yellowstone Newspaper for a complete list of the various articles ranging from climatology to horror stories.
.. Use our earthquake and volcano links at the top of the page to follow developments.
.. Get the unadulterated scoop at the following:
-> Yellowstone Volcano Observatory Monthly Activity Update
-> Recent Ups And Downs Of The Yellowstone Caldera
-> Yellowstone Rising

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Does Yellowstone Want ??

And Some Other Stuff
.. Once upon a time the National Park Service loved cell phone towers and held secret meetings to plan how to put them in Yellowstone National Park. The Sierra Club noted in January of 2005 that the NPS was seeking revenue streams of all kinds and that cell phones and their towers could provide it.
.. The minutes of the secret meeting were "outed" by PEER on April 8, 2004, and finally made it to "My Space" on May 3, 2006, and much discussion ensued in the press and the blogs. The NPS was happy to join the discussion because it ignored the revenue issue. It seemed that the issue was settled and it faded from the radar.
.. Now there is a proposed tower, on private property, that the NPS is objecting to on grounds that it's visibility is detrimental to the Yellowstone Experience - of course they are not daring to mention that it will generate no revenue for the park.
.. An article by Brodie Farquhar in the October 24, 2007 issue of the Casper Star Tribune details the supposed concerns of the NPS. Suzanne Lewis is advocating political action by park employees to change the siting of the tower. She wrote them a memo with instructions about how to oppose the non-revenue-producing tower.
.. Of course in her letter to Alltel, on October 16, Lewis used the same objections to the proposed tower that critics used after the park illegally placed their tower at Old Faithful. Just plain whimsy on the part of a park with neither real concern or consistency. Bushgreenwatch posted a note about the concern back in April of 2004. It seems that the intrusion into the Old Faithful viewshed by a cell phone tower is just fine if it's done for monetary gain by the NPS, but it's not a good thing for the Roosevelt Arch viewshed if the NPS doesn't make money.
.. Back in May of 2006, Rita Beamish, again in the Casper Star Tribune noted that the National Park Service wanted an industry-wide plan for the lowest impact. Of course this meant on park properties with revenue for the parks.
.. It is also noteworthy that the NPS has allowed towers and facilities on Bunsen Peak for their own use for many years.
.. For those interested in the way the NPS does business these days, the following links should be interesting:
--- Letter from Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of PEER, to Earl Devaney, Inspector General, seeking an explanation of the secret meeting to site towers and provide revenues to the NPS (PDF).
--- List of those attending the illegal meeting of March 31, 2005. Includes email addresses and minutes of meeting. [Compare to 'notes' below.] (PDF.)
--- Notes by unidentified NPS employee from that secret meeting on 30/31/05 (PDF).
--- Cell phone coverage map from the 1999 Environmental Assessment for predicted coverage (PDF).
--- Simple view from National Parks Conservation Association.

Some Other Stuff
.. Visitation figures for September are up compared to a year ago.
.. Fried Trout A La Maytag, from a new Yellowstone cookbook.
.. A Late Afternoon, Mid-October Snowstorm On The Madison River.
.. Streaming Web Cam Gets Narration - OHMYGAWD IT'S BAD.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Of Smart Moose & Black Sheep

Sex Crimes In Morning Report
Buffalo Fan Obstructs justice

.. It seems that moose mamas are moving closer to roads in Yellowstone as calving time approaches. This provides the moose with protection from grizzly bears because the bears generally stay farther away from the roads than the moose.
.. Researchers have shown that the moose get closer to the roads over the years, while the bears stay substantially the same distance from the roads.
.. Of course the sub-text that is not talked about is that humans are depriving grizzly bears of a living just by being in Yellowstone National Park. Soon they'll be calving on your front door.
.. The Chinese view the situation this way. The folks in Denver see it this way.
.. The NPS MORNING REPORT for yesterday details the history of a sex crime case against a concession employ at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.
.. The case originated on June 18, 2007 and ended on September 27, 2007 when the federal district judge in Cheyenne, Wyoming ordered the suspect to be detained pending trial or plea agreement.
.. The alleged crimes involved computer pictures of young children in sexually explicit poses and activities. Read it in The Morning Report.
.. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the results of a trial of Dan Brister, 37, the Buffalo Field Campaign's project director.
.. Brister was convicted of a misdemeanor for obstructing a peace officer, fined $585, and sentenced to six months probation after the jury found him guilty.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Old Faithful Streaming Webcam

Just In Time For Public Lands Day
Glacier Park Disappearing
Giant Bison Shot
.. The Old Faithful streaming webcam is up and running. It is controlled by staff at Old Faithful and pans around the Upper Geyser Basin. It is often directed at erupting geysers other than Old Faithful. It also features a zoom lens that allows a view of the thermal features from a closer perspective than the fixed webcam.
.. When not being "flown around the basin," the streaming webcam shows an image similar to the static webcam. The sponsors of the new webcam are Canon and the Yellowstone Park Foundation.
.. The link to the streaming webcam is a ""MMS"" link, (which is an external protocol request,) and redirects your browser to Windows Media Player for viewing the live stream. Depending on your browser and its settings the media player will just open -- OR -- a "Query Window" will pop up. If this happens, just launch the application.
.. Try it, you'll like it. It's also listed in our sidebar under Yellowstone Links if you'd like to try it here instead of on your own browser.
.. If you would like an Old Faithful Webcam widget for your own computer just go to Yahoo Widgets and get it. It's a bit better than the NPS version. Just wait until we can control the webcam from our own joystick.
.. If you're running an Apple just go to Spider-Mac For a similar free widget.
.. Should you want a webcam of your own just click on over to Star Dot Technologies and investigate the possibilities. The Old Faithful Webcam is featured on their site.
.. Today is Public Lands Day and you may enter Yellowstone National Park for free -- if you can afford the fuel to get here.
.. Take your cell phone to Old Faithful -- Call Home --Wave at the webcams.
"This summer, for the first time in Glacier National Park's 100-year history, Gem Glacier was entirely snow-free, a glistening sheet of bare ice sweating dark and blue under a relentless sun."
And the trend toward melting continues -- via the Missoulian.
.. An enormous bull bison was killed in the hunt to reduce the Jackson Bison Herd. The hunt is conducted by Wyoming to reduce the size of the herd to 500 individuals from its current size of about 1,200.
.. The dead bison may be the largest bison killed in the last 82 years. It was shot by E.D. Riekens Jr., of Cheyenne, near Spread Creek on September 18. Before the record can be official the head must dry for 60 days and then be re-measured.
.. The horn spread of "Old Lonesome" has been measured at 32 inches from tip to tip and 18 and 19 inches individually, giving the animal a hunting score of 140-2/8. The previous record, a bison killed in Yellowstone National Park in 1925, scored 136-4/8. -- via Seattle Times.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

We Get Requests

top dog 0001top dog 0002
.. We grabbed these snapshots back in May and have had requests ever since. We followed the pack north through the Hayden Valley without seeing the boss gal. As we approached the Chittenden Bridge we noticed a shadow on the hillside and pulled over. She trotted down the embankment and crossed right in front of the car. Dashed over the bridge and waved goodbye with a flick of her tail. Feel free to copy and use the images as you wish.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

You're Not A Real Cop


.. It's Entertaining, insightful, a bit pathetic, and just a mite too true to laugh at. We welcome back Ranger Gord with a suggestion that it's important to understand what the whole job is . . . not just the touchy - feelie part.
.. Money Quote:
"I guess people just want park rangers to tell them all about the cute cuddly woodland creatures instead of enforcing laws and arresting criminals. What should a park ranger to do once all of the woodland creatures are scared away by hoards of horny men looking for sex?"
.. Click on over to Ranger Gord for the story of The Robo Ranger of Griffith Park. There are a couple of posts and it's worth reading it all.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Rolling Thunder

.. Leading the West Yellowstone visit is The White Convertible Limousine #437. These vehicles have become a major attraction wherever they appear. These six vehicles represent the golden age of touring in Yellowstone National Park. #437 is based in West Yellowstone at the museum in West Yellowstone, The other 5 are in Mammoth.
.. We confess to having an unmitigated obsession with the vehicles and have posted several notes in the past:
.. Below are some pictures of these fine vehicles, that are such a part of Yellowstone History, including "Good Ol' Number One." Drivers of the vehicles, (called 'gear jammers') are selected from the current corps of guides in Yellowstone. They are chosen for their length of service, interest in the vehicles, ability to communicate both the current wonders of the park and the flavor of the past, and their abiding love of the history of Yellowstone.
.. These six White Coaches are original vehicles. These are not the refurbished, restored, and remade vehicles that are being used by the current park concessionaire. And, as nice as the new fords are, they have lost a certain "glow" that is irreplaceable.
.. The vehicles arrived in West Yellowstone for a board meeting of the West Yellowstone Historical Society which operates and maintains the museum in town. The museum has a central theme of "Transportation in Yellowstone," and presents images, artifacts, and stories from the earliest times to the present. Many vehicles are included in the collections. If you are interested in Railroads, Automobiles, Stage Coaches, Snowmobiles, Bicycles, or other forms of transportation that have been used in Yellowstone - the museum is a must visit.
.. The board meeting was hosted by Bullwinkle's Saloon and Eatery, owned by board members Jackie and Dennis LaFever. We were not privy to the fare but suspect that no one left hungry.
.. Feel Free to copy and use any of these images.