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.