Jellystone Park

A few weeks ago we took a little road trip from Boise to Missoula by way of Jackson Hole, Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. Having passed through a few years back I was excited to revisit two pretty amazing parks. However, my enthusiasm was tempered by the thought of visiting one of the most popular National Parks in the height of summer. Last time I visited Yellowstone I was witness to several acts of Darwinism, including sneaking up on Bison with iPads and parking diagonally across the road to allow vehicle passengers to photograph high cliff mountain goats. This apprehension was made only worse by the fact that only a week prior a nine-year-old girl was sent sailing twenty feet in the air by a charging bison. It really makes you wonder if we are on a social de-evolution.On our visit, an informative plack at the visitors center at Mammoth Hot Springs revealed quit the contrary. It turns out throughout the Park’s history, visitors have always used bad judgement.

Yellowstone was established in 1872 by Congress as the first National Park and signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant. But the designation did little to protect the approximately 3,500 acres of the park. Poaching was rampant throughout the park, some for profit and some just because the animals were there. In 1877 the Department of the Interior hired Henry Yount as the first game warden. Hard to believe that one man could cover so much area, which is why Mr. Yount quite within the first year. Poaching continued to threaten the existence of several species, vandals stole ornate travertine, and homesteaders illegally grazed cattle and set fire to surrounding forests. Such degradation led the Secretary of the Interior under the authority grant to him by Congress to call on the Secretary of War for assistance and in 1886 the U.S. Army took charge.

The U.S Army? You would think with military management and the establishment of the National Park Service 1916 that acts of idiocracy would no longer be a problem. Unfortunately, people continued to be people. By the early 1930s Old Faithful nearly stopped spouting because so much trash had been thrown into it. Since the 1960s the color of the Morning Glory pool has changed because of things that have been thrown into it. So much so that the Park Service has had to clean the pool on more than one occasion, even as recently as the 1990s. 

So really, it should be no surprise when someone crashes a drone into the Grand Prismatic,  tries to walk up to take a peak into Old Faithful, or put a baby bison in the back of their Subaru. Thankfully the National Park Service is there to continue to protect these great American treasures….from ourselves. If you appreciate Yellowstone and the other National Parks, watch this informative safety video and consider donating to the National Parks Foundation.

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