Page 1

Crown of the

Continent and the Greater Yellowstone


2014, Issue I

Many Glacier, Glacier National Park. Rick and Susie Graetz

Royce Engstrom, President Perry Brown, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jerry Fetz, Initiative Co-Director, Professor and Dean Emeritus, College of Arts and Sciences Rick Graetz, Co-initiative Director, Geography Department Professor Susie Graetz, UM Press Managing Editor Neal Wiegert, Designer, UM Printing and Graphics 2 on the Rocky Mountain Front. John Lambing Cover photo: Ear Mountain


8 Questions, But No Answers Yet… 12 The Cinnabar Foundation 13 Lost and Found 14 Healthy Fens 20 It Wasn’t Easy… 24 A Ranger for the Ages 27 What Makes the Grizzlies Dance 28 Book Review 30 Celebrating with Prose and Paint

Crown of the

Continent and the Greater Yellowstone

40 Yellowstone Grizzlies 44 The Story Beneath Your Feet in

the Firehole River

50 Exploring Yellowstone:

Part two of three

60 Brigham Young University – Idaho 61 Wolves Caught in the Crosshairs…


64 Thirty Years of the Lee Metcalf

68 The Yellowstone River in YNP 73 Lower Yellowstone Falls 74 Field Notes

Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative c/o Department of Geography University of Montana 32 Campus Drive Missoula, MT 59812 Email: Web site:

Wilderness Area



from the



n 2008, the University of Montana launched the Crown of the Continent Initiative, a multi-faceted program designed to offer on-campus instruction and introduce to the public some of the important educational research and scholarship carried out by UM faculty, staff, students and contributing partners in this ecosystem. Via E-magazines, courses, and public presentations, our goal is to share that work—in the form of stories, photographs, essays, and research reports—focused on the region’s colorful past and exciting present, by describing and highlighting the majestic, yet dynamic and fragile geography, as well as the people, flora, and fauna that inhabit one of the most intact, diverse, and pristine ecosystems in North America. From the many comments we have received and heard since 2008, it is clear that people are interested in learning and seeing what we, and our collaborating partners, are doing in this important corner of the world. With the Crown of the Continent Initiative now in place and thriving, UM has been increasing its long-standing interest, presence, and activity in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem where our faculty and students, often in partnership with other scientists, students, agencies, and organizations, have studied and worked for many years. This past spring, 2013, we introduced to our readers the addition of the Greater Yellowstone to our previous Crown initiative by publishing an issue of the E-magazine dedicated exclusively to the GY. Separated by roughly 100 miles, it made sense to combine our work in both ecosystems into one initiative. This issue—the first UM Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone E-magazine―represents the presentation in one journal of all that is part of these two iconic natural areas that total 33 million acres of wilderness, national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and human habitat. Together, these ecosystems are located in two Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta) and three US states (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho). Going forward, three times a year, through this E-magazine,

Royce and Mary Engstrom

we, along with our many partners, will share with you some of the magic that creates and sustains this incredible stretch of geography. We invite you to join us in our exciting, expanded explorations of the Crown and Greater Yellowstone. Welcome! Royce C. Engstrom President University of Montana



from the



ver this past year we have linked our initiative on the Crown of the Continent with our outreach efforts in the Greater Yellowstone. The Canadian-US Crown of the Continent flows naturally south to meld into the Greater Yellowstone Region. This landscape, known throughout the world, is a signature image of the landscapes of western America. Populated with Native tribes and frontier-minded entrepreneurs who came from all parts of the world—scientists, scholars, artists, and citizens of all stripes—it is a land of rich history and pre-history and stands as a focal point for the study of climate change, the plight and protection of wildlife and natural landscapes, and the positive and negative effects of our human existence on the environment and our communities. One result of this new joint venture is that our former Crown of the Continent E-magazine now highlights these two iconic ecosystems. In this regard we also welcome a new partner, BYU-Idaho. Situated on the southwestern edge of the Greater Yellowstone Region in the town of Rexburg, Idaho, with a large pool of engaged and talented students, and a faculty excited about research and collaboration, BYU-Idaho makes an ideal addition to our esteemed team of contributors.

We look forward to a long and productive relationship that will not only benefit the students of both universities and our readers, but will make a difference in knowledge, understanding, and policy development regarding both the Crown and the Greater Yellowstone. As universities building an appreciation of land and people, and educating the next generation of world leaders, these combined ecosystems are ideal places for our continued attention and innovation. Perry Brown Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs University of Montana

Perry and Shirley Brown



The Flathead River below Polson. John Lambing


Crown of the



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Studying Icons in a Perilous Land – Glacier’s Goats By Joel Berger


magine being alone and lost in one of the seriously dangerous townships of Durban, South Africa, or being pulled out to sea in a treacherous riptide. Farfetched? Perhaps. Most certainly, such ‘what if’ scenarios are far from the comfort of our Rocky Mountains. Yet, our human response to potential peril shares striking similarities to those of our mammal relatives, including some in the alpine zones of the Crown of the Continent. We humans generally avoid dangerous places when possible. When we cannot, we adopt other tactics to bolster our safety. We move about in groups, associate with neighbors, and we might even opt to stay in at night, remaining closer to home rather than venturing far. Animals, too, seem to have such defenses. Ecological pressures have formed the lifestyles of all living species. Locating food, finding shelter and safety, as well as uniting with mates, is the surest way to survive. When these tasks are not successfully accomplished, outcomes are simple—attrition of the population until viability is no longer possible. Mountain goats in the Crown of the Continent have been around for millennia. As logic might dictate, goats must therefore be good at the game of persistence. After all, they have deterred predators, found food, and located shelter and mates. But, such has not always been the case: extinctions have occurred. A few thousand years ago and at a time well before modern hunting drove many contemporary goat populations into downward spirals, goats in Utah and Wyoming died out on their own accord.


Follow the leader. Joel Berger

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odern history reveals that Glacier National Park is being de-glaciated at an unprecedented rate—about 85% of the Park’s glaciers have disappeared since 1910. We know virtually nothing about how this will affect the persistence of goats. While the current native range of mountain goats in the 48 continental states is only parts of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, we in the Crown are fortunate, as this is their native stronghold.

Based on studies in other parks, we do know that hoofed mammals (ungulates) experience mixed impacts from our human presence. While some avoid roads, many die or are injured by collisions with cars. During a 10-year period at Grand Teton National Park in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, pregnant moose progressively clustered nearer to roads to give birth. The behavior of non-pregnant females reflected no similar adjustments. On average, each year, mothers gave birth about 120 meters (394 feet) closer to the roads, a value that may not seem like much until one realizes that over a decade this equated to a one-kilometer (over ½ mile) shift toward highways. The reason? Grizzly bears, which are known to be predators of moose calves, tend to avoid roads. In this case, maternal moose used roads as a means to buffer against the threat of predation by bears.

What we know about these sure-footed animals and how they are affected by human actions, whether deliberate or not, remains patchy and far from complete. However, this is not due to a lack of interest. Goats remain one of the least studied hooved mammals in North America because of logistics and expense. Goats grow very slowly and so, unlike with deer, puberty can be at 3, 4 or 5 years. And, unlike deer or sheep that often produce young annually, for goats, such a level of fertility is highly unusual. In other words, even if the survival of juvenile goats were good, overall population growth rates would be slow compared to many other wild animals.

In Glacier, with some 400 visitors per hour at peak summer periods, goats are exposed to hordes of people. Why goats remain in this area is the topic of research by Wesley Sarmento, an aspiring graduate student in my laboratory at the University of Montana. With generous support by the National Park Service, in part to understand road effects on wildlife, and with additional help from the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department and the Bozeman offices of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, Wesley and I are trying to unravel different equations as to why goats particularly choose to use Logan Pass so heavily.

Goats are welcoming beacons to visitors of high alpine zones. For those of us who enjoy meadow and craggy habitats there is no smoother access for the spectacular than that afforded by Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Highway. While this is a blessing for the many travelers who yearn to see these Pleistocene survivors, it is not necessarily a blessing for the goats. Roads bring noise, pollution, Twinkies and dripping toxicants from overheated vehicles to parking lots.

King of the mountaintop. Claire Dal Nogare


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erhaps the food humans or, instead, in the area is of just a few individuals extraordinary who become more quality and far habituated than surpasses that of others. To get a elsewhere. Maybe the better handle on meadows are more these issues, we need extensive and have “control” goats— yet to suffer loss due those that see people to encroachment by far less frequently. trees—a situation In addition to brought on by warming learning and temperatures in documenting the northern Rocky Human and goat interaction on the behaviors of Mountains. It may be Hidden Lake trail. Wesley Sarmento collared goats, we are that the cliff habitats developing in-depth offer better safety and, Based on studies in other parks, we do know profiles of known possibly, there are few that hoofed mammals (ungulates) experience females to determine predators in the area. mixed impacts from our human presence. who is pregnant, who Or, it may be just like produces babies, and the moose mothers of how well these young survive winters. By understanding the Tetons who steered closer to roads due to an offering adult and juvenile survival we can begin to develop a of safety provided by vehicles, perhaps goats of the population model that will help us establish whether Logan Pass region use the heavily traversed region and the goat community at Glacier is growing, stagnant, adjacent Highline Trail for the protection the crowds or declining. Not only do we believe our work is going afford. In trying to understand the answer to this and to produce a deeper sense of how roads and people other questions, we have joined forces with Mark Biel, a affect this mountain monarch, but we contend our data National Park Service biologist and his colleagues. Our collection will offer a foundation to address questions methods are simple and rely on both technology and about how climate alterations may be affecting this icon good old fashioned fieldwork. Some goats have been of the Crown of the Continent. fitted with satellite collars so we can monitor precise movements by time and by space. Our interest is Joel Berger is the John J. Craighead Chair of Wildlife focused on how goats navigate roads and people. We’re Conservation at the University of Montana. Dr. Berger also curious if the same goats are consistent users of received the prestigious Leopold Award in 2013, which the Logan Pass region every year or whether there is a is given to well-established individuals who have made more general flow of individuals passing through and lasting contributions to the conservation of mammals and their habitats. moving on to other areas. We’re trying to determine whether it is a general trait for most goats to approach


Goat kids. Will Klaczynski

Hand Drawn Histor

A beautiful detailed hand-illustrated map of Glacier Nation Park printed on heavey paper and suitable for framing. Beautifully detailed, hand-illustrated map of Glacier National Park, printed on heavy paper and suitable for framing.

Through arrangements with Xplorer Maps, our readers can purchase this map directly. The Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative will receive a generous donation for each map sold.

*Se Lak on n $30 including Price: $30 including postage. Size 22” x 31” – arrives in a mailing tube

Through arrangements with Xplorer To Order: (888)-333-1995 Maps, ourCallreaders can purchase this map directly. The Crown of 11the


22” x 31” -- arrives in a mailing

To Order:


Measuring Success with words

By Steve Thompson A fourth-generation Montanan wields a mean crosscut saw to maintain old trails in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. A young couple returns to their agricultural roots to start an organic farm along the Rocky Mountain Front. A coalition of small communities has joined together to create a safe biking trail to Glacier National Park. A group of Blackfeet women defend the sacred waters of their homeland. And tree huggers lay out timber sales next to loggers who go to bat for wilderness. These are just a few of the stories featured on, which was launched in 2012 by the Cinnabar Foundation’s—Montana’s Conservation Fund. Residents all across the state relate how and why they are joining with their neighbors and putting Montana’s conservation values to work by protecting the amazing natural gifts we all have inherited. Since 1985, the Cinnabar Foundation has aided dozens of groups and projects in the Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone, donating millions of dollars to support the protection of environmental resources and healthy communities. Conservationists often use facts and figures to share their successes on the ground. Acres protected, miles of trail, grizzly bear population trends, stream riparian segments restored, acrefeet of water left in the river for native fish to survive… all good and necessary, but sometimes it seems rather impersonal and abstract. Just what is the human aspect behind those successes? That’s what we set out to discover. We have been blessed with this spectacular natural heritage not by accident, but thanks to the dedication of many who came before us. Today, however, a new generation is working to sustain Montana’s rural character, the clean water, abundant wildlife, unspoiled public lands, and wide-open spaces that define us, creating legacies that will be inherited by future generations



this is one of those stories...

Lost and Found

Prairie potholes, Badger-Two Medicine area. Rick and Susie Graetz

By Lou Bruno


grew up in New York City adjacent to a small remnant salt marsh. My father was a cold, stern man, and I had few friends. Early on I learned that the marsh held a different world than mine, one where I was welcomed and accepted. Slowly it gave up its secrets, and I grew aware of the richness of life residing there. The marsh became my greatest friend and inspiration. Evenings after school I watched the sun go down behind it, my imagination joining the endless V’s of flying ducks crossing the flaming skies on their way out to feed.

matter, that soon I’d be driving, and could go to other wild places. He didn’t understand, and his words didn’t ease the loss. I vowed then to find a home where the wildness wouldn’t be consumed by industry. I thought I’d found that place in Montana. A few years later, I would again face losing a place I loved. This time it was Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine wildland, or simply “the Badger.” On a chilly-November day in 1984, an acquaintance knocked on my door and asked to use the phone. There was to be a public meeting that night about a proposed exploratory oil well in a wild piece of country just southwest of my place. She was calling people

Then I came home from college to bulldozers lined up at the marsh’s edge. In the space of a few days they completely destroyed that world I’d known so intimately. I lost my greatest friend. My dad said that it didn’t


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Looking into the Badger-Two Medicine wildland. Tony Bynum

and urging them to attend the meeting. I volunteered to come along. Little did I know then, the Forest Service scoping meeting on drilling in the BadgerTwo Med would thrust me head first into a wilderness fray that was raging across the state. Forest Service representatives at the meeting, (all now retired), were less than honest with us about their interest in the Badger’s resources. I’d always assumed that the officials responsibly managed our lands in the public’s interest. At that meeting they showed me otherwise. They were working solely for the oil company, while pretending to represent us. I vowed to do something about it. This time the bulldozers wouldn’t come without a fight!

environmental issues. I enjoyed the mountains and woods, but was not aware that I could or should help protect those places. And as for “the Badger,” I knew little. I’d hunted grouse in its foothills and fished its steams, but I had never explored its center nor seen it from a high vantage. Here’s the irony. When I moved to East Glacier, I hated it. It felt like Siberian exile: winters were brutal; the mountains were stark; its summer season was so short. Oh sure, I saw its beauty. But this land seemed uninhabitable. All I felt was the physical discomfort of life on the Rocky Mountain Front. Gradually, though, I came to love the harsh beauty, the

Until this point, I’d had absolutely no involvement with


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Badger. We started at Marias Pass and worked our way up the Two Medicine drainage to its headwaters. As we crested the divide between the Two Medicine and Badger creeks, we broke into a big meadow and stopped to rest the horses and look over the scenery. Morningstar and Goat mountains loomed behind as I had my first glimpse of the Badger Valley. An eerie feeling came over me. I felt a presence and was moved to tears. I now know what it was… the spirit of the Blackfeet ancestors. They needed my help. I wouldn’t let them down.

I realized this was not just about the land. It was also about the people involved with its protection. wild diversity, the slow awakening of the land in Spring, and the transformation from Arctic wasteland to rich green glory. That same November, I went to my first Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) Convention, intent on fighting this oil threat, but without a clue as how to proceed. On the second day, Art and Elaine Sedlack and Chuck Jonkel showed up and introduced me to the people who could help.

For almost 30 years, the energies of the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance ebbed and flowed. With a more conservation-friendly administration, immediate threats to the Badger eased and we slipped into inactivity. But new assaults call us back. The roars of ATVs and the grind of hydraulic fracturing remind us that the Badger will never be safe as long as it remains unprotected.

Folks listened and embraced the issue. I felt magically transported to a wholly different planet, one where everyone shared my values! Wonderful people were there: Doris Milner and Bill Bishop; the Sargents; Jim Posewitz; Arlo Skari; Loren Kreck; Don Marble; Bill Cunningham; Liz Smith; Arnold Bolle; Elaine Snyder; Ed Madej; Smoke Elser; Cecil Garland; John Frederick; and on and on!

There is new hope on the horizon. The Alliance continues with an energetic new guard of leaders, (and some old tired ones, too!). We are forging many new allies amongst the Blackfeet and conservation communities. After years of dealing with threats to this awesome Badger-Two Medicine country, I am excited about the new blood coming to the Badger’s aid. I know that in the end we will win and give the wild Badger-Two Medicine the permanent protection it deserves.”

I realized this was not just about the land. It was also about the people involved with its protection. So, encouraged by that experience, a ragtag group of local volunteers who didn’t know squat about wildlands advocacy formed a grass roots group, the “Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance.”


eeling the land might speak best for itself, we led many wilderness walks into the Badger. And. if people personally experienced the priceless beauty of the Badger, maybe they would come to its aid. We were right! Congressman Pat Williams later told us that the Badger had received more letters of advocacy than all other areas during Congressional deliberations over statewide Wilderness. Best of all, we won all our appeals concerning oil development in the Badger. I had an epiphany the summer after our group formed. Leslie Shaw took me by horseback to the center of the


Lou Bruno is an ecologist, naturalist, teacher, expert birder and an activist. He is a past president of the Montana Wilderness Association and the founder of the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance. Lou lives on the eastern boundary of Glacier Park and part time in Missoula.

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Healthy Fens A faculty-mentored, student research project in the UM Geography Department, which resulted in a new collaboration with the USFS Pine Butte Fen. Dave Hanna


The Rocky Mountain Front is home to a drastic change in relief where the northern Great Plains abruptly intersect the east face of the Rocky Mountains. Along this gradient, rich fens (groundwater-dependent peatlands) act as corridors for wildlife to travel back and forth from the mountains to the prairies, and as preserves, which harbor locally rare species. The fens along the Rocky Mountain Front (RMF) are relatively understudied, with the exception of Pine Butte Fen, which is known to support one of the most diverse wetland floras in the state of Montana. This project seeks to improve our understanding of the spatial response fens have had to make in the face of recent impacts so that we might better anticipate their reaction to future challenges. Analysis of historical aerial photographs and GIS data allow us to measure the spatial changes in vegetation within these fens since the 1930s.

By Joseph Milbrath, Anna E. Klene, and J. Stephen Shelly


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S T U DY AR EA The RMF represents a narrow zone of transition between the rugged northern Rocky Mountains and the extensive grasslands of the Great Plains, which is largely controlled by a 4,921-ft drop in elevation over just a few miles (Figure 1). Climatic gradients correlate to elevation with average annual precipitation increasing from 11 in on the plains to 118 in among the highest mountain peaks, and with average minimum temperatures dropping from 32 to 17.6°F over the same distance. The climate of the Front is continental, with cold winters well below 0°F and warm summers with means above 80°F. Due to its low humidity and prolonged dry periods, this harsh climate associated witht he edge of the RMF may limit peatland development to areas with groundwater discharge. Pine Butte, a 1,112-ac, largely undisturbed, patterned fen is the most documented fen in the RMF. It is owned by The Nature Conservancy and situated within the Pine Butte Swamp Preserve, an 18,000-ac refuge that was dedicated in 1979 for protection of the federally endangered grizzly bear (Ursus arctos). The fen is home to 93 species of vascular plants, including seven of which are considered to be “at risk.” The vegetation of Pine Butte Fen is organized into three distinct communities—open fen, dwarf-carr, and carr (a peatland with shrubs). However, due to limitations of the aerial imagery, this project analyzed the areas as open fen and combined dwarf-carr and carr into “woody vegetation.”

Figure 1. Map of the study area showing the nine known fens along the RMF, including the six fen sites for which aerial photos were available for the entire study period and a full analysis could be done and three disturbed sites which had either missing photos or were too disturbed to fully analyze.

Along with Pine Butte, five other sites representing the variety of characteristics of fens along the RMF were fully evaluated. These sites include a range of sizes and patterning, and had relatively little alteration as a result of anthropogenic (human) activities. The remaining three study sites could not be fully evaluated due to either incomplete datasets or because disturbance limited the mapping that could be done.


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Black and white aerial photographs from the National Archive dated from 1937 to 1941; and the USGS EarthExplorer archive supplied aerial images from the 1950s, 1970s, and 1995. Prior to analysis, images taken before 1995 were orthorectified (orthorectification of aerial images removes terrain distortions to create a flat-earth, map-like version of the photo. It is done to correct distortions caused by the geometry between the camera on board the plane and the Earth’s surface). Road intersections, building corners, bridges, dams, and boulders were used to match images, with emphasis around the perimeter of each peatland study site. Once images were orthorectified, total “wetland area” was digitized following distinct boundaries between saturated wetlands and dry grassland. Ponds were traced following darker reflectances compared to the rest of the areas within the wetland. Expanses of open fen and woody vegetation such as shrubs and timber within the wetland were digitized mainly from texture differences following criteria developed from studies in the region.

R E SU LT S & CONCLUS IONS Mapping the peatlands of the RMF provides a unique spatial perspective into the dynamic processes of these isolated ecosystems. While a variety of factors have impacted each peatland, several themes are clear. While climate change may be impacting these fens, over the study period, their spatial extent (size) remained remarkably stable. The main factors, which were observed spatially, all involved anthropogenic factors, in particular, beaver abundance and land-use management.

90 80 Number of Ponds

Aerial photographs were acquired from three sources. The Montana Natural Resource Information System provided digital photos from 2009 that were used as base images for earlier photo corrections.


70 60

Wagner Basin


Scoffin Creek


Pine Butte Fen


McDonald Swamp

20 10 0

Figure 3. Graph showing the change in the number of ponds at which beaver re-colonization was observed.

Beavers have been known to exert a significant influence on peatlands and, in the early 1900s, the prevalence of beaver trapping in this region, as elsewhere, had led to a dramatic drop in the animal’s populations. As beaver numbers rebounded in the RMF, their activities produced an increase in the amount of open water and quantity of ponds at Pine Butte Fen and several other peatlands (Figure 3). Changes in conservation management have impacted the RMF especially since the late 1970s. Increasingly, The Nature Conservancy and other groups have used conservation easements to protect the fens, and this has led to the total percentage of peatland acreage being used for agriculture to decrease from a peak in the mid-1900s of 28% to 15% by 2009. Figure 4 of Blackleaf Creek illustrates this. Despite declines in the amount of agriculture in recent decades, much of its impacts were prior to the earliest available air photos for this region. While Pine Butte Fen was not heavily disturbed during the early 1900s, two other peatlands (which together would have been as large as Pine Butte Fen) were almost entirely converted to agriculture and are still being used as such: Theboe Lake (Figure 5) and Bynum. The overall stability of these fens (Figure 6), despite the impacts of various human activities and decisions, is encouraging. But the loss, prior to conservation efforts, underscores the need for continued vigilance to protect these rare ecosystems. Further investigations into the possibility of peatland restoration should be considered.


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100% 90% 80% 70%

Non Wetland/ Agriculture


Open Fen


Open Water

40% 30%

Woody Vegetation



10% 0% 1941




Figure 4. Change in the extent and land-cover types within the Blackleaf Creek wetland complex between a) 1941, b) 1955, c) 1995, d) 2009, and e) a graph showing the relative proportions of each land-cover category.






Figure 5. Theboe Lake wetland complex. 1900—yellow boundary defines the estimated wetland area prior to initial cultivation. Red area represents the complex in 2009.

FIGURE 6 Page 19 This is embedded and so double-clicking should allow you to adjust the size to whatever is needed. I’ll also attach the excel sheet it was made in… It’s on the second tab. 8.0



Scoffin Creek Cow Creek

Area, km2


Blackleaf Creek McDonald Swamp Pine Butte Fen


Wagner Basin



Theboe Lake BMWA










Joseph Milbrath received his MS degree at UM. He was awarded a scholarship for this research by the MT Assoc. of Geographic Information Professionals and presented his results at the Intermountain GIS Conference.. J. Stephen Shelly is the regional botanist for the Forest Service’s Northern Region. He has worked in plant conservation biology, floristics of the northern Rocky Mountains and northwestern Great Basin, and natural area identification and protection.



Anna E. Klene is an Associate Professor in the University of Montana’s Geography Department. Her field of study includes arctic and alpine environments, climatology, the cryosphere, geomorphology, modeling, and remote sensing.


Figure 6. Graph showing the spatial change in peatlands along the RMF.


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IT WASN’T EASY... Adversaries celebrate accord on Whitefish Range land use plan By Rob Chaney of the Missoulian


n the Bible’s First Book of Kings, Solomon nearly has to chop a baby in half before two women claiming to be its mother can resolve their dispute. No swords were pulled at the table where the Whitefish Range Partnership found a way to let loggers, wilderness advocates, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, river rafters and cabin owners share 300,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest. But the roomful of longtime adversaries agreed having a Solomonic deadline actually helped them build the trust to share the land. Nov. 19, 2013, partnership members shared chili and champagne as they presented Flathead Forest Supervisor Chip Weber with their final agreement. Thirteen months in the making, the deal could help the US Forest Service settle even bigger debates across the Rocky Mountains. “We were concerned the thing might leave the tracks and never get on again,” said Bob Brown, a retired Whitefish legislator and Montana secretary of state who chaired the partnership. “But people recognized the area was large enough to accommodate everyone’s use and avoid those baby-splitting situations. If they gave up something in one place, they gained even more in another. When people put aside those ideologies, when they can get past that, they’re surprised how many things they can agree on.”


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No swords were pulled at the table where the Whitefish Range Partnership found a way to let loggers, wilderness advocates, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, river rafters and cabin owners

share 300,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest.

The proposal covers the Flathead National Forest’s portion of the Whitefish Range – the mountains above Columbia Falls and Whitefish. The western boundary follows the Lincoln-Flathead county line. The Canadian border caps the north. The North Fork of the Flathead River and Glacier National Park mark the eastern edge. That’s one-seventh of the Flathead’s 2.4 million-acre federal territory. It includes the Whitefish Mountain Resort, the Tuchuck inventoried roadless area, uncut timberlands, old forest roads, bike trails, isolated campgrounds and mountaintop lookouts. It has a federal Wild and Scenic River on one side and transboundary wildlife corridors across its northern edge. On Dec. 5, the Flathead Forest started its own collaborative sessions on its forest plan – a document that guides all uses and activities on the national forest. “Any time a diverse group of folks can get together and come to agreement – if they can resolve all those differences – we’re obviously going to give that a lot of consideration when we develop our plan,” said Joe Krueger, the Flathead’s forest plan revision leader. “What I liked about it was the win-win approach, the solution where everybody benefited. Everybody got something out of this process.” Brown said at the start, he invited Gordy Sanders of Pyramid Mountain Lumber to tell the group about how other collaboratives have worked. Sanders has been a principal in the Blackfoot Challenge, which knit together ranchers, rafters, hunters and loggers in the Blackfoot River drainage

Looking into Glacier Park from the Whitefish Range. Rick and Susie Graetz


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trails, private property and state land. “We went at it more like a zoning process,” Jamison said. “Our agreement doesn’t say put a trail here to here, or logging unit here and snowmobiles there. It’s more like in a city where you say here is for residential, there is for light industrial use. We’re saying this should be wilderness, or special interest area, or general forest timber base or roadless backcountry.”

northeast of Missoula. He’s also been instrumental in the Southwest Crown of the Continent collaborative, which guides a major Forest Service land-use project in western Montana. “He’s a thinker with balanced judgment who can think outside the box,” Brown said of Sanders’ input. “We realized what had to be established was a trust relationship, and it took several meetings to do that. We also decided to have several meetings without the Forest Service present.”

The group had several ground rules. The first was that nothing got done without consensus. That way, no one felt outnumbered at the table, since anyone could block progress. To counter that, anyone giving a thumbs-down had to put up a counterproposal to what they didn’t like. And no agreement on a small issue was final until the whole package got approved. “If people have the option to just say no and write a minority report, you’re offering them an easy out they’ll take every time,” Jamison said. “There’s no incentive to get consensus. And if you got what you wanted in week one, it would be easy to not stick around for the rest of it. But all this stuff is interconnected. To pin down timber later, we might have to re-jigger something we did in snowmobiling. As it was, snowmobiling was both the first and last thing we voted on.”

Michael Jamison of the National Parks Conservation Association was one of the partnership participants. He said the group agreed they wanted to see what they could produce as neighbors before the federal agency got involved. “The old way was to wait for the Forest Service to start a planning process, then go in and ask for the world and argue against others getting anything,” Jamison said of past planning efforts. “The Forest Service is doomed in that situation. They will create a map that no one likes.” In fact, the Forest Service did have a 2005 map of the Whitefish Range that showed the claw marks of past lawsuits between wilderness supporters and snowmobile clubs, challenged timber sales and ski area expansion plans. It also showed road densities, grizzly bear habitat,

Hikers and horseback riders share the scenery. Dave Hadden


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Brown recalled. “Part of the problem was they don’t like to use the same trails as backcountry horsemen. There Snow fun. was some friction Bluelemur there. “And bicyclists took a firm position against wilderness, until they realized they’re likely never going to use that anyway,” Brown added. “So it became, as a practical matter, if we can get wilderness people to cooperate with us outside the wilderness, we can get off their backs on wilderness.”


In the final agreement, the bikers gained recognition for their trail-building efforts around Whitefish, as well as their interest in using mountain roads and trails elsewhere. Loggers saw their suitable timber base go from about 55,000 acres to 90,000 acres. Wilderness advocates outlined 85,000 acres they want federally protected. Forest homeowners concerned about having federal wilderness bordering their property borrowed an idea from the Flathead Indian Reservation and proposed a buffer zone that would allow reduced logging or hazardous fuels management around their land before the non-motorized territory began.

Snowmobile representative Robbie Holman said another crucial factor was dropping the philosophy discussion. After a brief discussion of what people thought about wilderness and the taxpayer and similar beliefs, the group decided to focus on maps. “When we switched horses to how we divvied up the land, that’s how it ended up working,” Holman said. “Nobody changed minds. But even if you didn’t agree with the uses the land was divvied up for, as long as the group you represented got something of value, it ended up being a compromise.” For example, snowmobilers have a history of riding in the hills south of Big Creek Road and north of Whitefish. Wilderness advocates have wanted federal protection of the Tuchuck and Mount Thompson-Seton areas near the Canadian border. Neither had established interests on the other end of the map, so they agreed to back each other’s use proposals in the final document.

All of this remains tentative, as the Forest Service adds it to the public process for its forest plan. The radical fringe of all camps will likely object, but few will have put in the 13 months of Monday nights to present a case as convincing as the Whitefish Range Partnership. “Reaching that final thumbs-up became pretty important all around the room,” Brown said. “I wish the members of Congress would understand that. You can always go along with your most ardent supporters – that’s easy to do. But statesmanship requires courage. It’s understanding what needs to happen in the long term and saying ‘I’ll take the chance and explain that to the people who go along with me. They may not understand this now, but they will eventually.’ That’s statesmanship.”

The process started to wobble a couple of times, and nearly derailed toward the end, according to Brown. “The backcountry bicyclists were pretty assertive,”

Rob Chaney covers the outdoors, environment and science for the Missoulian newspaper.


A Ranger

KINTLA LAKE — With a can of

bear spray on his hip and hearing aids in both ears, Lyle Ruterbories whistles and hums as he tends to this patch of wilderness along the Canadian border. For 20 years, he has been the ambassador, manager, accountant, anthropologist, botanist, historian, traffic cop, landscaper, handyman and rules enforcer of Kintla Lake. He still hauls gravel, mends fences and wields a chain saw to clear fallen trees from the road to the most remote encampment a visitor can drive to in Glacier National Park. But he doesn’t overdo it. He is, after all, 93 years old. What’s it like, a visitor asks, to be the oldest ranger in Glacier? “Not just in Glacier, the whole park system… the oldest working ranger in the whole park system. That includes everything,” Ruterbories said. He once heard about another ranger near his age in Washington, DC. “He was handing out pamphlets,” Ruterbories said, with a smile. “Sitting at a desk, handing out pamphlets. Not exactly what I’m doing here, pushing wheelbarrows with gravel in it.” But this story is about more than longevity. It is, in fact, two love stories: One between a man and a woman, which ended sadly and too soon; the other between that man and a beautiful stretch of wilderness, which may be coming to an end as well. Ruterbories’ first career was as a manager at Rocky Flats, a nuclear weapons manufacturing facility back home in Colorado. But starting in 1962, he and his wife, Marge, spent every summer in Glacier. Eventually, they became the hosts at the popular Avalanche Lake campground along Glacier’s Going to the Sun Road.

— he was then 71 — was not a worry, he could still hike 28 miles in a day.

In 1991, new GNP North Fork District Ranger Scott Emmerich needed a host at the Kintla Lake campground, someone who didn’t need constant supervision in the isolated area east of the North Fork of the Flathead River. Emmerich was familiar with Ruterbories from his time working in the Avalanche Lake area. And Ruterbories’ age

At first, Lyle and Marge were not easily convinced to leave Avalanche Lake for the remoteness of Kintla. But just two years later, Lyle turned down seven other job offers in Glacier to become Kintla’s seasonal ranger so he and his wife could stay there together. For the next 12 summers,


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for the Ages Lyle Ruterbories The Oldest Ranger in the National Park System By Matt Volz, Associated Press

Secluded and serene Kintla Lake. Will Klaczynski

they lived in the little red ranger’s cabin on the lake’s shore, she as the campground hostess, he as the ranger.

That first day back was the worst day of his life, he said. Every step reminded him of Marge. “The reason I come back here, she called this a paradise on earth. She really meant it. When I walk down through these trees, I still remember that,” he said. And so his life began again.

Then, in 2005, Marge died of a stroke. In his grief, Lyle slept through most of the days that followed and could muster little will to do anything else. A grief counselor told him he needed to get back into a routine, and part of that meant going back to Kintla.

To the kayakers and hikers who brave the white-knuckle drive along the narrow gravel road to reach Kintla Lake,


C row n of th e Co ntine nt Lyle Ruterbories. NPS

Ruterbories is a star. They go there for the quiet that can be elusive in other Glacier campgrounds during the peak of summer, but often they come back because of Ruterbories. It’s an unusual phenomenon in a campground where most people visit for a night or two before moving to some other part of the park. “Initially, we came here on a kayaking day. Just a kayaking outing,” said Ingrid Forsmark, a resident of Whitefish, Montana, and Tok, Alaska, who has been coming to Kintla for the past three years. “I met Lyle, and he was so interesting to talk with, I thought, ooh, I’m going back there.” Campers call to Ruterbories by name as he makes his rounds. Visitors who haven’t been to Kintla in a decade greet him like a long-lost uncle.

him from wandering the backcountry. He has designed special tools to help him get the jobs done around the campground, like the wheeled cart he uses to haul logs. “He’s pretty ingenious,” Emmerich said. “As he ages, he has to get smarter. He thinks it through and he’s not going to hurt himself.”

A simple hello at a campsite can turn into a 45-minute discussion of past bear encounters, near misses with wildfires or the historical Indian migration routes in the area.

Pretty much anything can launch him into a story. He can shift easily between observations on a family of loons, the origins of the nickname “Gray Eagle” given him by a Blackfeet Indian cleanup crew and recollections about the time he found a 30,000-year-old fossilized jaw of a two-toed horse in a nearby stream. A simple hello at a campsite can turn into a 45-minute discussion of past bear encounters, near misses with wildfires or the historical Indian migration routes in the area.

But a bum knee is threatening to bring an end to his ranger career. The cartilage was removed in 1969, and now the joint has worn through and is hitting a nerve. He walks with a pronounced limp. An operation could fix it, but he’s worried about recovering from surgery at his age. If he doesn’t go through with it, retirement is likely. “I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. Everybody’s talking me into getting that knee fixed. If I get it fixed, I’ll be back,” he said.

According to Emmerich, it will be up to Ruterbories on whether he returns in 2014. “It’s his choice. He always said, ‘I’ll retire when you retire,’” said Emmerich, 56. By the time the US government shutdown closed Glacier, Ruterbories had already left the park — perhaps for the year, perhaps for good. After the Labor Day weekend crowds departed, he went about his annual ritual of shutting down Kintla Lake.

National Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson confirmed Ruterbories is the oldest seasonal ranger the park service knows of. (The oldest full-time ranger is 92-year-old Betty Soskin, who works at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California).

He knew this time may be the last. But if he felt a pang of remorse at the prospect of leaving the paradise he and his wife made for themselves, he didn’t show it. His main concern is taking extra care in cleaning the little red cabin in case a new ranger is there next summer. “I don’t like to leave a mess for anybody,” he said.

As Ruterbories has gotten older, park officials ask him to check in on the radio each evening. He doesn’t go out on emergency calls anymore and a bad knee has kept

Matt Voltz is the supervisory correspondent for the Associated Press in Montana.


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What Makes the Grizzlies Dance By Sandra Alcosser June and finally snowpeas sweeten the Mission Valley. High behind the numinous meadows ladybugs swarm, like huge lacquered fans from Hong Kong, like the serrated skirts of blown poppies, whole mountains turn red. And in the blue penstemon grizzly bears swirl as they bat snags of color against their ragged mouths. Have you never wanted to spin like that on hairy, leathered feet, amid the swelling berries as you tasted a language of early summer? Shaping the lazy operatic vowels, cracking the hard-shelled consonants like speckled insects between your teeth, have you never wanted to waltz the hills like a beast?

Courtesy of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Sandra Alcosser, Montana’s first Poet Laureate, is founding director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. Her seven books of poetry have earned her the Associated Writing Program’s Award in Poetry, the William Stafford Award, and the Merriam Award for Distinguished Contribution to Montana Literature. Widely published, Sandra lives in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana when she is not teaching in San Diego. 27 27


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This High, Wild Country. A Celebration of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Text by Paul Schullery Art by Marsha Karle 121 pp. + Appendix and Index Albuquerque: U. of New Mexico Press 2010.

I’ll be right up front about it—I love this book! From the moment I read the first few paragraphs of Paul Schullery’s “Introduction” and saw the first of Marsha Karle’s magnificent watercolors, I was hooked. Intended as a “Celebration” of this unique, transnational International Peace Park shortly after its 75th Anniversary (2009) and just prior to Glacier National Park’s own 100th Anniversary (2010), this special book by the dynamic author and artist duo who reside in Bozeman, Montana, represents, as the saying goes, “the gift that keeps on giving,”―to the International Peace Park, to all of us in love with this spectacular, rich, and complex piece of nature, and to all of us who have the good fortune of taking this book into our hands and beginning our adventure with it. Paul Schullery is known to many through his previous books on Glacier, Yellowstone, Alaska, and America’s National Parks. His engaging and exceptionally readable text, drawn from his own experiences in WatertonGlacier since his first visit in 1974, is based on his keen observations as a naturalist, conservationist, and interpreter of relevant scientific knowledge. What I especially admire about the writing is that it is accessible without being simplistic in any way, engaging, colorful, and even eloquent. The content is informative, knowledgeable, smart, even-handed, inquisitive, and, at appropriate times, infused with passion. Schullery is clearly an environmentalist, concerned, as all of us are who love places like Waterton-Glacier, about the Park’s health in the face of many threats and dangers. He also recognizes that Waterton-Glacier is different from wilderness areas, and that, by design and by law, is expected to both protect the natural features with which it is blessed and accommodate many types of visitors with diverse, legitimate needs, abilities, and goals. Such a place, he seems to imply, is protected in the ways it is because millions of people visit it, enjoy it, and experience it in a myriad of ways. Marsha Kale, known throughout the region for her impressive art in various genres, not only provides stunning illustrations to the text, but offers her own visual take on the Peace Park’s many facets. Her watercolors capture both the details and the grand, panoramic magic of this remarkable place. As good art does, they transport us into another world and help us see things with fresh


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eyes. She is clearly enchanted by this natural world, and we are lucky she shares her vision with us.

predators from bears to bobcats and fishers, and on to martens, weasels, and shrews. Schullery also discusses the conditions of native and invasive fish, the saga of the eagle and kokanee who not-so-many years ago met up near Apgar annually in the fall, as well as the ramifications of the reintroduction of gray wolves into the ecosystem. And to add color to text, Karle lets us observe chickadees, paintbrush, wild roses, beargrass, ladyslippers, moose, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears, and she also illuminates dramatic sights like Clements Mountain, Avalanche Creek, and Wynn Mountain. Chapter four extends our visit by focusing on goats and the unique places they generally inhabit. Here we are pulled along (willingly) as the author and artist hike through Gunsight Pass, to Lake Mary Wilson, and around Lake McDonald.

This High, Wild Country is organized into an Introduction and five chapters, each of which offers new information and insights, but also complements the others. In the Introduction, Schullery provides a quick (hi)story of his own experiences and interactions with this international park, stretching between 1974 right up to 2010. He offers a brief account of Waterton-Glacier and a wonderful overview of some of the most salient reasons why it is so special. He points out its towering mountain peaks and lush valleys, its diversity of flora and fauna, and its complex and fascinating geological makeup. In doing so, he reminds us of all that we can learn from this place: about nature and geology, about the earth’s history and human history, about its wonders and its wonderful inhabitants, its challenges and amenities, and, perhaps most importantly, about ourselves. And we also find on almost every page exquisite and evocative watercolor paintings that draw us into this special place, both visually and sensually.

In the final chapter we are led to the east side of the park, to Chief Mountain and the Rocky Mountain Front, and up into Canada to the eastern and northern parts of the International Peace Park. They invite us to the Weeping Wall on Going-to-the-Sun Highway, to several historic and iconic lodges and chalets, to familiar and not-so-familiar park trails. We are also instructed about appropriate behavior in the park, the stakes involved in continuing to protect this spectacular and fragile ecosystem, the “toys and tools” that one takes along when exploring it, and even about the motorized means of getting from one part to another (historic boats on the lakes and the iconic red busses, for instance).

In the first chapter, the author poses questions that most of us non-geologists ask about different rock formations―how and when they came to be, how they have changed and are still changing―and then he posits answers, explanations, observations, and conjectures. Even though Schullery reminds that he is NOT a scientist, he has certainly done his research, and we come to understand far more than if left to our own devices. I particularly like the way he describes the dramatic geologic differences between the east and the west sides of the park, and between the north and the south, as well as the other distinct pockets of “rock” formations scattered throughout. Karle’s watercolors enhance what we read, but also thrill us with their artistry. In this chapter she offers an inspiring mix of huge vistas (Mountain Pyramid, Grinnell Lake) and small creatures and formations.

The book concludes with a thorough bibliography of other published works on Waterton-Glacier as well as an “Index.” Both of these features provide readers with additional resources to augment their experience with book and Park. And there you have my enthusiastic take on what I assert is a real star in the ever-growing list of important publications about Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. I heartily recommend it to everyone and encourage you to buy it for yourselves or as gifts for others who already know or should get to know this fascinating international park.

The next two chapters shed light on the many critters, blooms, and major features (waterfalls, wide valleys, mountain peaks) that one sees when trekking through the various habitats. We read about encounters with grizzly bears, the behavior of the range of mammalian

Jerry Fetz, Co-editor


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Celebrating with

Proseand Paint

Historian-naturalist Paul Schullery and his wife, artist Marsha Karle, share with us the wonders of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in their book This High, Wild Country, this talented couple takes us on a one-of-a-kind, first class nature tour from the comfort of our armchairs. Paul writes from his heart, and his easy-on-the-ear words introduce us not only to the unique character of this landscape, but also convey our responsibility to it. While his verses alone make a good read, Marsha’s rich watercolors uncover why we, and they, care so much about the future of this high, wild country.

Lake Scenic

… after all these years of studying and thinking about the aesthetic and even moral consequences of what we’ve done in our attempts to “improve” wild landscapes, I never catch a non-native fish without a certain regret. We have never really improved any wild landscape, and certainly we don’t do so by dumping strange new life forms on it, however beautiful or extraordinary they may be in their own right.


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Mtn Pyramid

Though these mountains still don’t remind me of the pyramids of Egypt, I was suddenly struck by their similarity to certain Mayan pyramids... With their stepped and often very steep sides, their intricate facades, and their flat caps, the Mayan temple-topped pyramids seem to me perfect stylized imitations of glaciated peaks. A few centuries of weathering, crumbling, and general collapse of the human-made pyramids of Central America have only made the similarities more pronounced. It causes me to wonder what the Mayan master builders would have made of this place if, at the height of their own construction activities, a few had found their way here. In a certain mood, it’s nice to imagine that they did.

Cameron Falls

What the glaciers left was one of the most tortuous, abrupt, and neck-straining drainage systems in North America. All those horns and cols and hanging valleys, with all their remaining snowfields and ice, shed the glacial melt and snowmelt and summer rain in long, waving threads of water that always surprise you as you approach them, their roar awakening you to their true size and volume.


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Clements Mtn

Almost immediately, for me at least, the country we’ve just crossed, with its lingering glaciers, bragging-size passes, bright-eyed wildlife, and smoke-tinted light, becomes a little unreal. When I have to describe Waterton-Glacier to someone who hasn’t been there, my mind fills with the feelings of the country, and my mouth trips over inadequate adjectives. The magic of it never leaves me, but when I’m not there I’m haunted by the insufficiency of my memory to do it justice.

Bear with cubs

At 6:52, I saw what I was most looking for. A grizzly bear sow became partially visible, moving through the scrubby vegetation only a little way up the slope behind the lodge. Over the next few minutes, her two cubs revealed themselves in disappointingly brief intervals, and then the whole family settled down in a little grove of mixed brush, aspen, and evergreens. Though I saw parts of them now and then over the next half hour, I never got such a good look again.


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Deer in Aspen

While you can count on exceptional, even extraordinary winds on the peaks anywhere in the park, the east side, from Waterton Park down through Glacier, gets some amazing winter winds through its narrow valleys…St. Mary recorded gusts of 100 miles per hour in December 1979, as did Many Glacier a year later, but in 2006 a gust was measured at 164 miles per hour at Marias Pass near the south boundary of Glacier National Park.

For a really easy and persuasive look at the effects of these winter winds, take a ride northwest from Babb, up the Chief Mountain International Highway toward the Canadian border. You’ll drive for miles through beautiful but very short aspen forests… In the fall, when these aspens turn blazing gold, their only rivals for autumn photogenity in the park are the pale yellow larch forests that stretch up and down the North Fork Valley on the park’s opposite boundary.



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Much more than the grizzly bear, the mountain goat has been the traditional symbol of Glacier National Park. The Great Northern Railway, which had so much to do with the opening of Glacier to visitors in its early years, adopted the goat as its symbol, and a more admirable one is hard to imagine… A band of goats picking its way across a nearly sheer cliff face can inspire as much disbelief as empathetic nervousness.

Coastal forest with hikers

The only part of backpacking that I really love is going down the trail. I just like being out there, whether trying to put on the miles or just moseying along…There is an inordinate satisfaction to be had in the hiker’s precious self-sufficiency – of knowing that you are carrying everything you need, if only for the next couple of days…


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Marsha Karle Marsha Karle started her career in the National Park Service in Denali National Park, Alaska. She was later stationed in Denver, Yellowstone NP, Washington DC, Everglades National Park, Mount Rushmore, Pearl Harbor, and Anchorage, Alaska. Since retiring in 2004 to pursue her artwork full time, she has been active in the Montana Institute of the Arts.

Paul Schullery In 1972, Paul Schullery took a summer seasonal job as a rangernaturalist in Yellowstone National Park and set the course of his life as a student of natural history and the human relationship with nature. In1988 he was employed full-time in Yellowstone NP and was the founding editor of Yellowstone Science, the Park’s quarterly natural- and culturalresource research magazine until he retired in 2009.

For more information on Paul and Marsha’s work, visit: and





Greater Yellowstone

The Sphinx in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Ryan Turner


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Yellowsto Grizzlies Expanding their Range and Security into the Future By Christopher Servheen

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats. Jim Peaco,NPS



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he history of European explorers and grizzly bears started badly. Lewis and Clark tried to kill just about every grizzly they came upon. They commented on the ferocity of the grizzlies they encountered in their journals, apparently overlooking the fact that almost all the bears they encountered were ferocious because they shot and wounded them. By 1885 the grizzly had been exterminated from the prairies, and populations in mountainous areas like Yellowstone continued to decline. By the 1930s and 1940s, the range and numbers of grizzlies in the lower 48 States were greatly reduced, and the remaining bears were largely confined to remote areas within and around the two National Parks in the Northern Rockies – Yellowstone and Glacier. By the 1950s, with little organized conservation effort or management directed at maintaining grizzly bears anywhere in their range, the Yellowstone grizzly bear population had been reduced in numbers and was restricted largely to within and close to the edge of Yellowstone National Park. Garbage management in Yellowstone Park played a big role in changing the ecology and behavior of grizzlies. The Park had long implemented a policy to dump garbage from the concession hotels and lodges in open-pit dumps inside the Park. One of these dumps was even located in the middle of Hayden Valley with tons of garbage dumped there every day during the peak visitor season in July and August. The dumps were unfenced, allowing bears, ravens, coyotes, and other species access to garbage every day. Large numbers of grizzly bears could be found feeding in the open-pit garbage dumps inside the Park throughout the summer. The Park Service even erected bleachers at some dumps so tourists could come and watch bears eat garbage. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Park Service decided that making garbage available to wildlife inside National Parks was a poor way to manage such national treasures. The decision to close the dumps was controversial because some thought that the bears, having been conditioned to feed on human garbage every summer for decades, could not survive in the wild without access to this artificial food. As the dumps were phased out many of the garbage-eating bears did move into and spent more time in campgrounds and human settlements both inside and outside the Park, and many had to be destroyed for public safety reasons. These grizzly bear deaths related to the dump closures peaked between 1968 and 1974, with a total of 215 deaths both


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inside (34%) and outside (66%) of Yellowstone Park. Concern about these deaths in Yellowstone and about grizzly population status throughout its remaining range prompted the 1975 listing of the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the lower 48 States under the Endangered Species Act. When the grizzly bear was listed in 1975, the population estimate in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) was 136 to 312 individuals, with the actual number likely midway between these estimates.

zone were unoccupied. Today, the bears occupy more than 19,000 square miles in the Yellowstone ecosystem and continue to expand in numbers and range.


rizzlies are common in Grand Teton National Park today, but were very rare for decades up to the late 1980s. Before 1990, they were occasionally seen only in the northern part of Grand Teton Park adjacent the Yellowstone Park boundary. Today grizzlies are common throughout Grand Teton. Bears have been documented all the way to the southern boundary and they are slowly expanding in number and range even further southward.

The recovery effort for the Yellowstone grizzlies started 32 years ago in 1981. At that time, we thought the recovery of this population was uncertain. The best estimate was that there were perhaps as few as 30 adult female grizzlies in the entire ecosystem. Garbage had been secured inside Yellowstone Park but was still available in many areas on public land including Forest Service campgrounds. Outfitter camps were also a problem, with many attractants like camp foods, horse feed, and game meat easily available to bears. Interest in and commitment to the future of grizzlies by state and Federal agencies managing wildlife and habitat was inconsistent and in some cases minimal. There was a Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan, but few agencies had the interest or funding to begin implementing it. Cooperation and coordination between agencies regarding grizzlies was non-existent. It took the creation of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee in 1983, with a mandate to implement the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan, to get recovery progress started. The mandate for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee came from a document signed by the governors of the states with grizzlies: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington; and the Assistant Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior in Washington, DC. Grizzly recovery had now received high level attention, and coordinated recovery efforts began.

The recovery of the Yellowstone grizzlies was primarily due to coordinated implementation of four major efforts: 1) controlling mortality from all sources so more bears, particularly females, could mature to adulthood and have young; 2) increasing habitat security with closure of excessive numbers of motorized routes on public lands and relocation of domestic sheep grazing allotments out of public

In the Park’s early years, bears became conditioned to and had no fear of humans, 1927. NPS

Free delivery service. Bears wait for fresh garbage at the Trout Creek dump, 1970. NPS

Today the grizzly population is 3 times the size it was when it was listed, and grizzlies occupy huge areas of the Yellowstone ecosystem where they were absent 30+ years ago. When the grizzly was listed in 1975, the extent of its range in the Yellowstone ecosystem was completely contained within the 9,200 square mile Yellowstone recovery zone, and even portions within the recovery


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Interest in and commitment to the future of grizzlies by state and Federal agencies managing wildlife and habitat was inconsistent and in some cases minimal.

he dramatic recovery of the Yellowstone bears is due to close cooperation among state and federal agencies, careful management of the bears and their habitat, and careful and comprehensive science that is annually transformed into good management decisions by State, Federal, Tribal, and county partners. Robust population growth, cooperative management of mortality and habitat, widespread public support for grizzly bear recovery, and the development of a comprehensive Conservation Strategy brought the Yellowstone grizzly bear population to the point where delisting was appropriate and completed in 2007. Although the delisting was eventually overturned in court in 2009, based on the one issue of how declines in whitebark pine might affect grizzly bears, the grizzly population remains healthy, and efforts are underway to consider another proposal to delist this population.

advice from non-agency university scientists. The research of these scientists at the University of Idaho revealed that the Yellowstone grizzly population is not presently threatened by genetic inbreeding problems and that its viability will not be affected by genetic factors in the foreseeable future for many decades, if at all. The agencies would like to see the Yellowstone ecosystem grizzly population eventually connected to the Northern Continual Divide grizzly population in northwest Montana. This will eventually result in genetic linkage across the continental divide from the Canadian border at Glacier National Park, to the southern end of the Wind River Range in Wyoming, a distance of over 500 miles. To achieve this vision for grizzlies and for many other wildlife species in the Northern Rockies, there is a cooperative effort underway by all the state and federal agencies managing grizzlies in the US and partner agencies in Canada to work together to improve wildlife movement opportunities across the northern Rockies landscape. This cooperative work involves improving the permeability of highways for bears and other wildlife; working with land management agencies to improve careful management in important linkage areas to maintain wildlife habitat security; and working in cooperation with county governments to assist them in private land development decisions within linkage areas to make these decisions more compatible with the needs of wildlife. This agency linkage work is in partnership with land conservation partners including the Nature Conservancy, Vital Ground, and the Trust for Public Lands. These partnerships work to make it economically attractive for private owners to keep their land in open space so that wildlife can successfully move through them within linkage zones. These efforts to maintain movement opportunities for bears and other wildlife are ongoing and will continue.

To be sure that inbreeding is not a threat to the Yellowstone grizzly population, the agencies sought

As of 2012, grizzlies have been documented half way between the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem

Tourist entertainment, 1929. NPS

lands inside the recovery zone; 3) successful efforts to keep garbage away from bears by closing the remaining open pit dumps outside the Parks, placing bear-resistant garbage cans throughout the Parks and on Forest Service lands, and instituting food storage regulations in backcountry areas so that bears could no longer get into camp food, game meat, and horse feed; and 4) building public understanding and support for the needs of bears so that the people who live, work, and recreate in grizzly habitat did so in ways that minimized detrimental impacts on bears.



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The scientific basis for decisions on grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem is built on the scientific publications of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team whose work over the past 39 years has made the Yellowstone grizzlies the most comprehensively studied bear population anywhere on earth.

grizzly population and the north end of the Yellowstone ecosystem, coming within 70 miles of the north end of the Yellowstone ecosystem. Adult male grizzly bears wearing GPS collars have regularly been documented to move more than 70 air miles, so the possibility of eventually seeing grizzlies move between these populations is very real. We can identify the origin ecosystem of every grizzly based on its genetic signature, and we carefully monitor the genetics of every bear captured or found dead in both the Yellowstone and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. We expect to document movement between these ecosystems soon using this genetic monitoring.


he scientific basis for decisions on grizzlies in the Yellowstone ecosystem is built on the scientific publications of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Sturdy Team whose work over the past 39 years has made the Yellowstone grizzlies the most comprehensively studied bear population anywhere on earth. During this time the Study Team has produced 123 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 80 scientific reports, and 16 graduate student masters theses or Ph.D. dissertations on the Yellowstone grizzlies and their ecology and conservation. The Study Team is a cooperative team led by USGS and made up of scientists from the USFWS, NPS, USFS, the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and university scientists. Advances in science applications and technology to study bears have progressed dramatically over the years. The initial use of radio collar technology on bears was pioneered by John and Frank Craighead in Yellowstone in the 1960s. This work involved use of radio collars that could occasionally be tracked from the ground or the air, if the bear did not move too far. This system allowed scientists to know where the bears were 2-3 times a week during the daylight hours, if they could be found. With the advent of GPS technology originally developed for the military and its application to wildlife research, we now can place collars on bears that record the bear’s exact location every hour, 24 hours a day. This level of detail in tracking allows scientists to know movement patterns and behavioral responses of grizzlies to human activities with great precision.

Grizzly feeding on a kill. NPS

To assure careful monitoring of the health of the Yellowstone grizzlies and their habitat, the Study Team annually monitors more than 70 bears with GPS collars and charts population trend, size, distribution, survival rates, any changes in genetic diversity, cub litter size, cub litter interval, as well as all mortalities by cause and location, and the age and sex of each dead bear. Several important habitat parameters are also monitored intensively, including: 1) the amount of secure habitat in each bear management unit; 2) road densities; 3) the number and type of developed sites on public lands; 4) the number and capacity of livestock allotments; 5) relative values of habitat quality; 6) the abundance of winter-killed ungulates; 7) the abundance of cutthroat trout and non-native lake trout; 8) whitebark pine cone production, presence of white pine blister rust fungus, presence of mountain pine beetles; and 9) grizzly bear use of army cutworm moths. These rigorous monitoring programs are designed to identify any threats to the long-term conservation of the grizzly population or its habitat and provide a sound scientific basis to respond to any changes or needs with adaptive management actions.


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e now use laboratory analysis of stable isotopes in the hair, tissue, and blood of bears to identify their assimilated diet in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Within the animal, metabolically active tissues (hair, blood components, etc.) in each bear incorporate stable isotopes that reflect the animals’ diet during the period these tissues were growing. Thus, isotope ratios in the bear’s hair provide a catalogue of the bear’s assimilated diet during the hair’s growth period. Since a bear sheds and grows new hair twice a year (hair is shed in late spring and also in the fall), hair collected in summer reflects what that bear ate in early to mid-summer while late fall hair reflects what the bear at that fall. Individual hairs can also be segmented into short lengths for analysis to assess differences in foods ingested during the 4-6 weeks of hair growth. The turnover rate of blood components allows for shorter-term estimates of assimilated diet. Blood plasma isotope levels reveal what the bear has eaten over the past 1-2 weeks, because plasma is renewed in the body every 1–2 weeks. In contrast, red blood cell isotope levels reveal what the bear has eaten over the past 2-3 months, because red blood cells are renewed in the body every 2-3 months. The chemical signatures of these stable isotopes allow careful understanding of the importance of certain foods to bears within and between years and in different parts of the ecosystem.

we call grizzlies n the US and Canada, live throughout Asia and Europe as well as in North America in the widest range of habitats of any of the eight different species of bears worldwide. Brown bears/grizzlies are not specialized to any particular food but instead are an omnivorous generalist species adaptable to a wide range of environmental and food conditions. Continued successful conservation of Yellowstone grizzlies will require that we closely monitor the vital rates of the bears and relate any changes in survival and reproduction to any changes in their foods and to changing environmental variables. The Study Team will continue to closely monitor a wide suite of indices to assure that we know how the bears are responding to environmental change. The agencies have in place an adaptive management program that will incorporate the monitoring results of the Study Team into management changes as necessary. This adaptive management will allow state and federal management actions to change as necessary to meet the needs of the grizzlies in Yellowstone. It has taken care and commitment over more than 32 years to recover the Yellowstone grizzlies. All of us have been entrusted with a great responsibility to assure the future of this magnificent icon of the wild places left in America. We will continue to care for the Yellowstone bears and their habitat so that our grandchildren can watch them in wonder in the special place that is the Yellowstone ecosystem.

We know that Yellowstone bears are opportunistic omnivores, eating more than 157 plant species and 25 mammal species, as well as insects, birds, fish, and even amphibians and algae. The detailed scientific monitoring of the Yellowstone grizzlies and their habitats and their foods will continue under the direction and leadership of the Study Team. There is concern that there will be changes in the Yellowstone ecosystem as climate change continues, with resulting impacts on plant communities and bear foods. There is no doubt that change will happen as it has for the thousands of years that the Yellowstone grizzlies have been present. The key issue is not if change will occur, but how the bears will respond to these changes. Brown bears that

The recovery of the Yellowstone area grizzly bears is one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act. We should all be proud of this success. Christopher Servheen is the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition to his FWS position, Servheen is an associate professor of wildlife conservation in UM’s College of Forestry and Conservation, where he advises graduate students and teaches an international wildlife conservation class each spring.

Collared grizzly sow. John Good, NPS


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The Story Beneath Your Feet in the Firehole River By Esther Bowlin and Nancy Hinman

It doesn’t get much better than this. Firehole River. NPS


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There. Just below that grassy island. The surface breaks into a widening ripple. No sound but the growing circle of water. The circle fades downstream. Just a couple more steps and the line will reach the spot. But AWOOSH…Your rod flies. Boots fly. Flies fly. That unexpected drop from the rock-hard stream bottom to an undercut sandy hole—how did it happen all so sudden? The Firehole River system drains the southern side of the Yellowstone volcano. Along its banks are numerous well-known geysers and hot springs, including Old Faithful, Excelsior Geyser Crater, Morning Glory Pool, and Grand Prismatic. Most visitors are drawn to the Park by the famous and regular Old Faithful, the magnificent and abundant elk and bison, and the elusive wolves and bears. But for those whose passion is fooling a wily rainbow trout, the lure of flyfishing the rivers of Yellowstone is as close as it gets to the call of the Sirens. The streambeds of tributaries to the Firehole River system, from its headwaters to Nez Perce Creek, are lined in many places with hard rock instead of gravel or rubble. The transitions are abrupt, and the water can deepen significantly, particularly on the downstream edge. In places, the streambed seems to disappear entirely, leaving waderfilling holes to swallow unwary fisherman.

What is this rock? How does it form? Why isn’t it everywhere? The solid platform of rock forms because of a combination of hydrologic, geochemical, and microbiological processes. The Firehole River drainage in Yellowstone National Park is fed by rain, snow, and hot springs. The hot spring water is rich in dissolved materials, particularly silicon oxide, which has the same composition as common window glass. When the hot-spring water mixes with river water, the dissolved silicon oxide can come out of solution in the form of opal, solid silica with continued A hot spring plunges into the Firehole River. John Lambing 45

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Armored streambed near Lone Star Geyser in the upper Firehole River.

the same composition as precious opal, but a different structure; it is not particularly valuable. Opal formed in this way can armor the streambed, effectively isolating stream water from the groundwater below. The cement inhibits water exchange, which in turn may affect productivity, but it does not occur everywhere in the Firehole or its tributaries. In order for this process to happen, water must be flowing into the streambed, a so-called “losing” stretch where the downward flow presses the opal into the pores between the sand and gravel grains instead of out into the stream where they would be washed away. Although we don’t know exactly how the algae and microbes that line the armor affect opal deposition, we do know that the biota serves as a substrate on which the opal can accumulate. One thing is clear. This particular type of streambed armor requires

hot, silica-rich waters in order to form; it develops in unique environments like Map of Yellowstone National Park and study sites those found in the Yellowstone volcano. mottled black patches. The mottling Generally, streambed derives from the chemical makearmor first appears immediately up of the armor and the presence downstream from a significant hot of algal communities that live on spring. Streambeds near large or the streambed. The armor itself is densely clustered features have made of locally derived sediments, the most heavily armored reaches. cemented by opal precipitated from Therefore, we would expect to find stream water. armor distributed along tributaries at least partly in relationship to hot Not much is known about what springs and geysers. causes natural opaline cement to In the past, these hardened surfaces were thought to be lava bedrock, and in some places along the Firehole itself, they are, while in others they are the opaline armor. But in the Firehole’s tributaries, most hard surfaces you may encounter are the opaline armor. From the banks of these streams, the armored sections are easily spotted, appearing as uneven,


line the streambeds of many of the Park’s waterways. Graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Montana studied the distribution and properties of this cement in tributaries of the Firehole River. Jenny Demonge Esser showed that, in the lower stretch of Iron Spring Creek, which flows into the Firehole at Biscuit Basin, natural cement accumulates in large patches where hot spring water

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mixes with cold stream water. Matt Vitale studied a section of Rabbit Creek, an interesting hot creek that flows into the Firehole just above Midway Geyser Basin. There opal accumulates especially in sections where water flows from the stream downward to join groundwater. Sentinel Meadows, in the lower stretch of the Firehole River just above Nez Perce Creek, is where Matt Gibson showed that Sentinel Creek water interacts with groundwater and hot spring water in complex ways, leading to localized patches of armor. In each case, the accumulated opal affects water exchange and makes the substrate (material that makes up the streambed) hard instead of gravelly. Before embarking on your next expedition to Yellowstone, take a look at the distribution and effects of armor in a couple areas where you might fish and compare it with a couple of other tributaries that are not open to fishing.

what to tie on your line. From this area upstream to Ojo Caliente, the riverbed is gravelly and vegetated, but here, the opal is rapidly cementing gravel and other objects into the streambed. This stretch of the Firehole River has three types of cement: opal, opal with iron and manganese, and opal with iron. The answers to questions of why there are three types and what controls their distribution are a mystery. But the presence of three types of cement suggest that conditions may have changed over time in the river. The fish in this section live the high life, growing faster than their upstream counterparts. There is some evidence that this may be because the water is warmer, promoting an all-you-can-eat buffet of trout food. USGS researchers found no empties when they examined the stomach contents of fish from this reach. Instead,

stomachs were mainly full of true flies, mayflies, and snails. Yes, although their nutritional value is questionable, fish eat those pesky mud snails in these warmer waters. (We shouldn’t really be telling you this; now you will know what to try!). We speculate that this stretch supports more surface feeding than cooler reaches farther upstream, possibly because the warmer waters induce more frequent hatches of aquatic insects. Interestingly, there seems to be no relationship between the abundance of food and the contents of fish stomachs—true flies and snails dominate stomach contents, although caddis flies are the most abundant food. Maybe the true flies and snails just taste better.

Fairy Creek Fairy Creek is a cold water stream that enters the Firehole River just below Ojo Caliente. Most of Fairy

Lower Firehole River Near the confluence of the Firehole River with Nez Perce Creek, the long-since-gone Marshall Hotel was one of the stop-over points on the stagecoach tourist route. Today, a well-worn trail leads from Fountain Flats Drive to the Firehole River near the site of this old hotel. Fish rise in riffles throughout this stretch, and the riverbed itself gives some indication of

Fairy Creek’s patches of armor are spaced out while armor in Fairy Springs Creek, a hot stream, is continuous.


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Creek is lined with silt and gravel, but sporadic sections of cemented and disjointed armor are found in its main stem. The armor is made of black minerals and glass that are cemented together with white opal and covered with black opal. Armor lines the streambed either continuously for a short section or may also be found coating piles of rubble. Both Fairy Creek and its hot tributary, Fairy Springs Creek, have active or extinct hot springs along their banks. In fact, Fairy Spring Creek, also lined with armor, originates from a group of hot springs called Fairy Springs. Sections of armor observed several meters upstream from the confluence with Fairy Springs contained large disjointed blocks with thick algae like that observed in the Firehole. The same pattern of consolidated and unconsolidated armor and thick cyanobacterial mats were observed in the thermal tributary to Fairy Creek. Cyanobacteria are found in

many ecosystems around the world, including oceans, lakes, and rivers, but they are probably best known in stagnant bird baths and hotspring runoff channels; they like environments others would find inhospitable. They harvest light for energy and fix carbon dioxide, but they should not be confused with plants or algae, which are structurally different. A sample collected from the cemented streambed of Fairy Creek was chemically analyzed to determine its composition and compare it with armor found in other tributaries. The armor has a high concentration of aluminum, which is usually reported as an oxide, as are all major chemicals that make up the minerals in rock. (The “oxide� percentages are a hold-over from days long ago when analyzing a rock was a lengthy and painstaking process that involved reformulating the rock into oxides and weighing them. Fortunately,

analytical techniques have improved since then!) Because the cement that forms the armor is made of silicon oxide, the other elements in the sample show that the armor is made of local rock fragments that are cemented together. Those rocks have aluminum, iron, sodium, potassium, calcium, and a little magnesium in them; these elements are organized into minerals, such as feldspars and quartz. And we use the quantities of these other elements to tell us something about how much of the armor is opal cement and how much is original rock fragments.

Rabbit Creek Rabbit Creek is a hot stream that enters the Firehole River at the Fairy Creek trailhead above Midway Geyser Basin. Named not for the abundance of rabbits along its banks (we have never seen any), but for the way in which elevated sluices whisk some portion of the flow quickly past slower portions of the stream.

Armored streambed (red) extends the entire length of Rabbit Creek, from near the source of the creek to its confluence with the Firehole River. Near the headwaters (yellow), the armor is blocky rather than continuous.


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Colorful, luxurious cyanobacterial mats choke Rabbit Creek.

Literally, the stream hops over itself like a game of leapfrog. Rabbit Creek’s streambed is solid all the way to its confluence with the Firehole River. The water in these sections, as in the armored sections of Iron Spring and Sentinel Creeks, is perched above groundwater. The armor is white with a thin dark coating and, in many places over that is a luxurious mat of cyanobacteria. The mats are colorful and appear to choke the stream in many places, particularly where it widens out in cascades and multiple channels. The armor in Rabbit Creek has more iron in it than the armor elsewhere in the Firehole drainage. The acidic hot springs at its headwaters are the likely culprits. “Tomato Soup” is one such spring. The red color of the hot spring’s thick “soup” reflects the chemical make-up of the underlying

bedrock, which dissolves in the acidic fluids that migrate through it. As a consequence, some of the springs in Rabbit Creek have a little higher iron count, which eventually makes its way into the stream. As stream water leaks through the streambed to groundwater, the iron is removed, taking opal with it. So even though it looks somewhat similar to the armor in Fairy Creek, it is ever so slightly different. You can’t fish in Rabbit Creek. The water is too hot—any fish in the stream would be cooked within 20 minutes! But Rabbit Creek has been instrumental in helping us to understand how, why, and where streambed armor forms. The Lower Firehole River, Fairy Creek and Rabbit Creek illustrate the different solid bed linings found in streams in Yellowstone. While


you are out fishing, wherever you see the solid, black rock lining the bed of the Firehole, you can be sure that stretch of river bed would lose water to the ground were it not for the armor. Because conditions change, the boundaries between losing and gaining stretches can change rapidly. Remember that these changes produce the drop-offs in the streambed that you want to avoid. So watch your step and enjoy the fishing.

Nancy Hinman is Interim Associate Provost for Dynamic Learning and Professor of Geosciences at the University of Montana Esther Bowlin received her BS from UM and an MS from the University of Denver.

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EXPLORATIONS Part two of three Introduction by Rick Graetz Compilation of diaries and reports by Aubrey L. Haines

Washburn-Langford-Doane E xpe d ition 50

Three explorations to the Yellowstone Country in the period Autumn 1869 through Summer 1871 led directly to the creation of Yellowstone National Park.

“We trace the creation of the park from the FolsomCook expedition of 1869 to the Washburn expedition of 1870, and thence to the Hayden expedition of 1871, Not to one of these expeditions more than to another do we owe the legislation (March 1, 1872) which set apart this ‘pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.’” (Nathaniel P. Langford, YNP’s initial superintendent, who served without pay from 1872-1877 to help preserve the area as a national asset). Stories from these journeys are many and fill volumes. Aubrey L. Haines, Yellowstone’s historian from 1959 until 1969, took the wealth of information available through numerous sources, and compiled them in one chapter of what this writer considers to be the definitive books on Yellowstone’s past: The Yellowstone Story— Volumes One and Two—Revised Editions, which were published through the University Press of Colorado for the Yellowstone Association. Permission has been granted for use of the writings.

Nathaniel Langford arrived at Helena on July 27, 1870. He indicates that the previously vague proposal to explore the Yellowstone region in the autumn of 1870 “took definite shape” about the first of August.

An amusing feature of the identity of my name with the Park was that my friends, with a play upon my initials, frequently addressed letters to me in the following style:

Our issue of last spring, exclusively focused on the Greater Yellowstone, carried the details of the 1869 FCP effort. To view that article, here is the link to the publication: greateryellowstone-spring2013

On August 22, the expedition departed from Bozeman’s Fort Ellis. The party consisted of nineteen persons: in addition to the packers and cooks, there was the leader, Henry D. Washburn, a former major general in the Union army who used his influence to obtain the post of surveyor general for Montana Territory; Nathaniel P. Langford, then enjoying some notice as the “late Governor of Montana” (though that was never official); Samuel T. Hauser, president of the First National Bank of Helena; Warren C. Gillette, a merchant of the firm King & Gillette; Benjamin F.

In 1870, Henry D. Washburn, a former major general in the Union army who used his influence to obtain the post of surveyor general for Montana, was enthused by the reports from the FCP Expedition of the previous autumn and drew up plans for a late summer exploration of Yellowstone. ________________________________________________ Note: For the most part, the words that begin with the next paragraph appear as Haines wrote them in 1977.


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toward the mouth of Yankee Jim Canyon. The Indian trailway winding through the slide-rock was so rough they had to dismount and lead their horses. Above the canyon the trail was better, with the “marks of Indian tent poles [travois] distinct,” and that primitive trace led around the base of Cinnabar Mountain, past the brick-red, upended stratum of rock they appropriately named the Devil’s Slide, to an overnight camp at the mouth of the Gardner River. Eventually the party reached the vicinity of today’s Tower Creek and Tower Falls and on the twenty-seventh decided they should layover a day. Washburn, acting upon David Folsom’s suggestion that he should seek a route on the west side of the Yellowstone River (in order to avoid that tedious detour up the Lamar River and across the Mirror Plateau made by the 1869 party), rode southward up a succession of ridges which eventually led him onto a lofty summit from which he could see Lake Yellowstone and form some idea of the intervening terrain. The

Stickney of the mining and freighting firm of Plant, Stickney & Ellis; Truman C. Everts, former assessor of internal revenue for Montana Territory, and Walter Trumbull, his assistant; Cornelius Hedges, a struggling young partner of the law firm of Lawrence & Hedges and a correspondent for the Helena Herald; and Jacob W. Smith, late of the Montana Hide & Fur Co. A military escort from the Second Cavalry under Second Lieutenant Gustavus C. Doane, who became a frontier officer par excellence, completed the party. The route followed was the same the Folsom party had used the previous year; the first night camp was on Trail Creek…During the second day, the party passed from Trail Creek into today’s Paradise Valley to the Bottler ranch.

“Jake Smith has sent the first demoralizing shot into the camp by announcing that he doesn’t think there is any necessity for standing guard. Jake is the only one of our party who shows some sign of baldness, and he probably thinks that his own scalp is not worth the taking by the Indians.” The third camp was below present Yankee Jim Canyon and, on the next day, buffeted by an Icelandic gale, the expedition was soon in motion Private Moore, 1870. NPS


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of Mount Washburn was reached, whereupon that aboriginal track sidled westward around the peak toward a prominent gap (later named Dunraven Pass) and descended the Sulphur Creek drainage to reach the vicinity of the Yellowstone Falls. Where the trail started its detour of the central peak, a party peeled off for a climb to the summit… the view opening from that windswept mountaintop is a magnificent panorama, which was accurately typified by Doane when he prefaced…it was “beyond all adequate description.” Indeed, where does one begin? With the raw cleft of the Grand Canyon at the mountain’s very feet? With the silvery expanse of Yellowstone Lake southward in the middle distance? Or somewhere in the mountains that circumscribe the gaze in all directions but the southwest?

Devil’s slide. Rick and Susie Graetz

information Washburn brought back to camp that afternoon was so encouraging it was unanimously decided to apply his name to the peak he had ascended.

“we named “The Devil’s Hoof,” from its supposed similarity to the proverbial foot of his Satanic majesty. The height of this rock from its base is about fifty feet.” Breaking camp on the twenty-ninth, the expedition moved southward along the route picked by Washburn the day before. They were following an ancient Indian trail which ascended the long ridge until the final rise


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Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Rick and Susie Graetz

In Langford’s words. “The

That evening, Washburn, Doane, and Hedges followed the drainage down a mile to a hot spring basin they called Hell-Broth Springs. From that basin, which is now known as the Washburn Hot Springs, reconnaissance continued down the little stream to the point where it plunged over the canyon wall to the river hidden in the depths below.

immense cañon or gorge of rocks through which the river descends, perhaps more than the falls, is calculated to fill the observer with feelings of mingled awe and terror. The colors of the rock are variegated with yellow, gray and brown, and the action of the water in its rapid passage down the sides of the cañon has worn the fragments of shale into countless capricious forms. Jets of steam issue from the sides of the cañon at frequent intervals, marking the presence of thermal springs and active volcanic forces.”

A short march the following day, they found a suitable campsite just above the canyon.

The last day of August was given over entirely to an examination of waterfalls and their work. Langford measured both falls of the Yellowstone


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using the same method as the Folsom party in 1869—a weighted cord—obtaining an identical 115 feet for the upper, and a more nearly correct 320 feet for the lower.

far as Pelican Creek. There they became lost in fallen timber and floundered through two muddy crossings of the creek before they reached the shore of Yellowstone Lake near where the Folsom party had camped the year before.

Hauser and Stickney found a place two and one-half miles below the Lower Falls where they were able to descend into the canyon. That scramble not only allowed them to measure its width and depth by triangulation (the chasm was 1,300 feet across and the river was 1,050 feet below the rim) but also led them to a slender ribbon of water cascading 1,500 feet from the east rim. Hauser called it Silver Thread Fall, the Silver Cord Cascade of current maps.

September 4

was spent as individual preference dictated. General Washburn undertook a reconnaissance southward along the lakeshore in the hope of finding a trail around the east side of the lake. Langford - “In the clear light of the setting sun, we can see the three Tetons in a southwesterly direction.”

The expedition moved southward from the camp on Cascade Creek on September 1 and passed over Alum Creek into the open, rolling grasslands of Hayden Valley. Midway across that bottomland, which is a relic of a larger, primordial Lake Yellowstone, they came to a group of low hills exhibiting thermal activity upon their western flank. In the meantime, the pack train had gone on four miles to a camping place near a group of such remarkable thermal features that the party again laid over for a day. There, in a slate-colored pool nearly two hundred feet across, they found their first true geyser, and it was the murky violence of its eruptions, which once flung water thirty-five to forty feet high at six-hour intervals, that led to its name, Mud Geyser. While the pack train was crossing the Yellowstone at what would later be known as the Nez Perce ford, the main party moved up the east bank of the Yellowstone River, having a “plain trail” as

The Hayden Valley. Rick and Susie Graetz


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On September 5, the main party worked their

of the region south of the lake…The view from that lofty and exposed place was another of those unforgettable panoramas of scenic grandeur. Westward, and more than one-half mile below them, lay the estuarial swamps from which they had ascended: a crazy-quilt of bright green grass and dull red willow brush irregularly broken by watercourses and dappled with sloughs and ponds.

way along the east shore of Yellowstone Lake, sometimes following the beach and sometimes passing through the forest on convenient game trails, to a campsite in the vicinity of present Park Point.

Their gaze returned along the succession of rugged summits that blocked the whole eastern horizon from south to north. But it was the northwest quarter that was of greatest interest to them, for there laid the great, blue lake they hoped to pass around. From the exposed summit where they stood, the plan of the lake was at last revealed, and Langford proceeded to sketch its details as well as he could by eye alone. Meanwhile, General Washburn had found a suitable ford over the upper Yellowstone River above its estuary and pushed on to a campsite in a meadow on the lakeshore southwest of the Molly Islands.

September 8 developed into a “terrible day for men and horses.” The trees were thick and the ground strewn with fallen trunks, requiring the men to dismount often to assist the packhorses or pick a better way. Night found the party encamped on Grouse Creek a mile from the South Arm, the distance traveled a mere four miles airline. Yellowstone Lake. NPS

The route followed from the camp on Grouse Creek was as difficult as the preceding day’s…In the general confusion of getting all the pack animals into camp, it was some time before anyone noticed that Everts was missing. Signal guns were fired and several men went back along the trail, but no real search was initiated because all felt that Everts would get back to camp or to the previously agreed-upon rendezvous at the geyser basin on the Thumb of Lake Yellowstone.

On the following day, the route lay mostly through the forest, and progress was greatly impeded by fallen timber. A difficult day, lightened only by a cursory examination of the fumarole area Doane named Brimstone Basin, ended in disappointment among the swamps where the upper Yellowstone River enters the lake. On the seventh, the pack train waited at Beaver Dam Creek until General Washburn found a route around the swamp. While the party was so employed, Langford and Doane ascended a nearby peak to get a better view

Meanwhile, the camp moved on to the head of Flat Mountain Arm, a beacon fire was set on the ridge above, and signal guns were fired during the night; yet, the


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that night on Spring Creek, within four miles of the great geysers; but they had no crystal ball, and Hedges sounded the prevailing mood when he wrote by the firelight, “much doubt as to where we are & where we should go.” But they were nearer to glory than they knew. Two hours after breaking camp the next day they rode into a scene that caused Hedges to forget all his “bad feelings of the morning.” They were on the right bank of the Firehole River when the Upper Geyser Basin opened to view, and just then Old Faithful saluted them with a one-hundred foot pillar of boiling water. Yesterday’s despondence was gone; they had reached the fabled Firehole. Camp was on the margin of a small, marshy pond opposite Beehive Geyser. Then the expeditioners scattered throughout the basin on a hunt for geysers. General Washburn is credited with the inspiration to designate the geyser that heralded their entry, Old Faithful. Four hundred yards northwesterly from the camp, and in full view across the little pond, was a massive cone that only splashed and slopped over in a patronizing way, but its form was so like the keep of some moldered, medieval fortress that there seemed no better name for it than the Castle.

Dragon’s Mouth Spring. Rick and Susie Graetz

morning of the eleventh day dawned without Everts showing. All were convinced that the lost man had pushed on to the rendezvous on Thumb Bay; so the party again moved forward.

One-half mile directly north of the Castle, another geyser cone attracted their attention. It had the form of a great hollow tree stump with a part of one side broken away to expose the six-foot aperture through which its waters discharged. Upon observing an hourlong eruption in which that enormous nozzle played a constant stream to more than one hundred feet, Walter Trumbull noted: “We thought it deserved to be called the Giant, as it discharged more water than any other geyser which we saw in operation.” Just at sunset there was a spectacular eruption opposite camp. What had first appeared to be only a large, bowl-shaped hot pool began rocketing jets of boiling water as high as two hundred feet against a backdrop of iridescent vapor. This earth-shaking geyser was obviously less powerful than the Giant, but also more beautiful, so there was only one really appropriate name for it – the Giantess.

Finding no indication that Everts had been there [Thumb Bay], or at the hot spring area opposite their camp, the expedition decided to layover and begin a systematic search for him on the twelfth. But a storm set in that night, and snow hid whatever trails Everts may have used.

By September 17 the food supply was dangerously low; it was decided that they should begin the trek to the settlements of Montana. The main party had left in the morning moving westward across the timbered ridges lying between Thumb Bay and the Firehole River, about as the road goes now. It was a dreary march in unsettled weather. Camp was made


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The pack train was under way at 9 A.M. on September 19. At Midway they admired “an enormous bluestone spring” (present Grand Prismatic Spring) and took note of a great, steaming caldron that was discharging a large volume of boiling water into Firehole River. That night the Washburn party camped where the Firehole and Gibbon rivers join to form the Madison, and there, by a pleasant campfire beneath the pines, the conversation is said to have turned to a discussion of the wonder-filled region they were leaving. According to Langford: “The

proposition was made by some member that we utilize the result of our exploration by taking up quarter sections of land at the most prominent points of interest, and a general discussion followed. One member of our party suggested that if there could be secured by pre-emption a good title to two or three quarter sections of land opposite the lower fall of the Yellowstone, they would eventually become a source of great profit to the owners. Another member of the party thought that it would be more desirable to take up a quarter section of land at the Upper Geyser Basin, for the reason that that locality could be more easily reached by tourists and pleasure seekers. A third suggestion was that each member of the party pre-empt a claim, and in order that no one should have an advantage over the others, the whole would be thrown into a common pool for the benefit of the entire party.

morning Langford rode ahead to the town with the news of the loss of Everts. Then they began the trek back to Helena.

Mr. Hedges then said that he did not approve of any of these plans, that there ought to be no private ownership of any portion of that region, but the whole ought to be set apart as a great National Park, and that each one of us ought to make an effort to have this accomplished.”

Gillette and the two soldiers (who were left behind to search for Everts) were back to Helena on October 2, with the discouraging news that they could find no trace of the missing man. Yet, some of the missing man’s friends were not satisfied to leave his fate undetermined. Hedge’s law partner, Judge R. Lawrence, offered a reward of $600 for Everts’ recovery. Note: The story of Everts’ life-threatening experience and rescue is related in an article written for Scribner’s Monthly titled, Thirty-seven Days of Peril.

The Washburn party continued down the Madison River until the afternoon of September 22, when they reached a ranch fourteen miles from Virginia City. The next


We highly recommend The Yellowstone Story, both Volumes 1 and 2 by Aubrey L. Haines. You can purchase these as well as research other Yellowstone oriented titles by visiting the Yellowstone Association’s website www.

Grand Prismatic Spring. Larry Mayer

What did the expedition accomplish? Soon after his return to Helena, Cornelius Hedges began a series of articles that appeared in the Helena Herald. The Yellowstone Lake article is of particular interest because it contains the only published suggestion for reserving Yellowstone to come from any member of the Washburn party prior to initiation of Park legislation. The wide-spread publicity that followed the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition led one-year later to the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871 that in turn led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. Note: In the next issue of this E-magazine, in the third and final part of the initial explorations of Yellowstone, we will detail the Hayden adventure.


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The administration, faculty, and students at Brigham Young University窶的daho were honored and appreciative when approached by the University of Montana to contribute to their Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative. We see this as an opportunity to afford our faculty and students the occasion to work with the first-class professors, researchers, and public and private collaborators gathered by the University of Montana to inform the public of all that makes up these natural systems. The E-magazine also provides a reputable venue for the scholarly work produced on our campus. We live in an amazing, yet often underappreciated part of the world with an immense biological and geological richness. It is our hope that we, at BYU窶的daho, can further share the results of our great interest, study, and gained understanding of this vast region. BYU窶的daho is a private university with approximately 25,000 students from all fifty states and seventy foreign countries. We hope to involve a significant number of our almost eighty majors in this project. Professors and students in English, Communications, History, Art, Biology, Plant & Wildlife Ecology, Geology, and many other departments will have the opportunity to share their finest work and bring the stories, perils, needs, discoveries and victories of this region to the attention of our combined readers. We enthusiastically join hands with the University of Montana and sincerely hope this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership. Fenton Broadhead Academic Vice President Brigham Young University - Idaho


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Canyon wolf near Mammoth Hot Springs. Jim Peaco, NPS

Wolves Caught in the Crosshairs... Again By Paige Nelson

Demonstrators let their voices be heard in Helena. Norm Bishop, NPS

It took 20 years, and over the protests of angry and fearful ranchers, who saw wolves as sinister killers that threaten children, pets, livestock, and the ranching way of life, for gray wolves (Canis lupis) to be set free in Yellowstone National Park in 1995. Now, some 18 years after the reintroduction of the 31 adult wolves into the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) region, gray wolves will most likely be taken off the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species list. Not without controversy, the proposal, published in June of 2013, had the public comment period extended to Dec. 17, 2013.

According to Dan Ashe, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), in his statement Gray Wolves are Recovered; Next Up, the Mexican Wolf,” they are no longer in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.” Confident that the professionals at the state and tribal wildlife agencies will be able to ensure the success of gray wolves for future generations, he describes the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as, “biodiversity’s emergency room. We are given patient species that need intensive care. We stabilize them; we get them through recovery. Then we hand them to other providers who will ensure they get the long-term care they need and deserve.” 61

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As of December 2012, the USFWS found the NRM wolf population numbers to be as follows: Idaho, 683; Montana, 625; Oregon, 46; Washington, 43; Wyoming, 277; for a total of 1,674 wolves living in at least 321 packs and having 103 breeding pairs. The fact that the wolf population in the NRM has exceeded its recovery goals for 11 consecutive years is testament to the rationale for delisting the species.

Outside of the Park, wolf mortality within the NRM region is due to a combination of three factors: periodic disease; response to prey availability; and hunting/ control measures used by government agencies. The October 2013 Idaho Wolf Management Update listed a mortality of 374 wolves for the year. By mid-November 2013, Montana FWP recorded a total of 92, and the Wyoming Gray Wolf Population Monitoring and Management Annual Report cited 310 wolf deaths.

Is It Really All “The Big Bad Wolf’s” Fault?

However, another big game species in the NRM region is also seeing a decline in population numbers. Moose (Alces alces) populations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are decreasing, but the changing numbers can’t be solely attributed to any single factor. According to the Idaho Fish and Game 2011 Progress Report, Idaho moose populations have expanded into Washington, Oregon and Utah, but in the central Idaho wilderness areas, their numbers are sinking as wolves are increasing.

Many hunters throughout the Greater Yellowstone and elsewhere blame the low elk numbers on wolves. You hear it or see it everywhere, in the news, on the internet…“Wolves have decimated elk populations!” “Wolves have ruined elk-hunting!” What are the facts?

Montana FWP’s “Moose Status 2011” cites a host of reasons for the declines such as: wolves, grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis), timber regeneration, parasites and disease, and harvest. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department lists similar reasons for its declining numbers. While both elk and moose numbers are down, the NPS reported in its Summer 2013 Bison Population Estimate that the bison (Bison bison) population has increased by 8.75 percent since last year’s count and now sits at 4,600 total. However, according to the Park’s news release, bison numbers reached their peak in 2005 with an estimated total of 5,000.

Straight to the point. Jim Peaco, NPS

Within the Park, elk (Cervus canadensis) numbers have begun to steady after a large dive in numbers corresponding to wolf population peaks. According to the National Park Service’s (NPS) January 2011 news release, in 1995, the first year of wolf reintroduction, there were 16,791 elk in the northern herd. Since then, there has been a 70 percent decrease in numbers. Predation was cited as the main reason, but with a drought in the early 2000’s also playing a significant role. Wolf numbers fell substantially from 94 in 2007 to 37 in 2010. Biologists suspect this change was in response to declining prey (elk) numbers and expect to see the elk numbers increase as the two species’ respond to one another.

It is clear that big game and bison populations are continuing to respond to wolves, other predators and changing habitats. Numbers will ever be dynamic, but as proper consideration and management principles are applied, it looks as if all species will be able to coexist for years to come. Paige Nelson graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor’s degree in Animal and Food Science, accompanied by a double minor in Journalism and Natural Resources. She is currently pursuing a career in agriculture journalism.


Hand Drawn Histo

A beautiful detailed hand drawn illustrated map of Yell Beautifully detailed, hand-illustrated map of Yellowstone National National onandheavy and suitable for f Park, Park printed printed on heavy paper suitable paper for framing.

Through arrangements with Xplorer Maps, our readers can purchase this map directly. The Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative will receive a generous donation for each map sold.

Price: $30 including postage. Size: 22” x 31” – arrives in a mailing tube

To Order: Call (888)-333-1995

63 Through arrangements with Xplorer

$30 including postag

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Thirty Years of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area By Will Klaczynski


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hen people hear the term “natural disaster,” images of tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes easily come to mind. In actuality, the subtle, lingering effects of a drought can be just as devastating. In terms of Wilderness, this is exactly what we have in Montana today—A “Wilderness Drought.” Not since 1983 has an area of the state been designated federal Wilderness by Congress. This is why it is so important to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area’s creation and pay homage to the man whose name it bears, Senator Lee Metcalf of Montana. The story revolves around a group of dedicated advocates who saw the need for more protected land in the state’s southwest corner, the land itself, which is a vital part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the man himself, Senator Lee Metcalf, for which the Wilderness Area is named. It contains all the elements that were typical in the fight for wilderness in this state – arguments over mechanized recreation, navigating complex land ownership patterns, development pressures, and the not so simple act of getting the legislation actually introduced before Congress.

Bear Trap Canyon Unit

Spanish Peaks Unit

TaylorHilgard Unit Monument Mountain Unit

To begin with, though, we need to know more about the senator in order to understand why this Wilderness Area was named after him. Lee Warren Metcalf was born on January 28, 1911 on a small farm in Stevensville, Montana. He spent his formative years in the Bitterroot Valley gaining an appreciation for the surrounding landscape. After graduating high school, Lee spent a year at the University of Montana before attending Stanford University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in history. He then returned home, received a law degree from the University of Montana in 1936, and began a private practice. That same year, he began his long career in public service and was elected to Montana’s state legislature as a representative from Ravalli County. Metcalf was appointed Montana’s Assistant Attorney General in 1937 and served in that position until 1941. During this time, he married Donna Hoover, a fellow UM graduate. When the United States entered World War II, Metcalf went on to serve as an officer in five separate campaigns in Europe and then oversaw the first civilian court, police force, and the first free elections in US-occupied Germany. Returning home Lee was immediately elected to Montana’s Supreme Court as an associate justice where he served until 1952 when he ran for Montana’s lone congressional seat and won. During four terms in the House, he championed the working class and disadvantaged and pushed forward many progressive ideas. One of his first major actions regarding natural resource management was the successful termination of the Ellsworth Timber

Expedition Lake, Taylor-Hilgard Unit. Rick and Susie Graetz


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environmental protection. In 1962, he introduced the “Save Our Streams” bill, which mandated that fish, wildlife, and recreation resources be considered and protected during rampant new road construction in the US. He also helped pass the Wilderness Act of 1964, which still remains the highest law of the land in terms of the protection of America’s wild places. Additionally, Metcalf was the sponsor of the Montana Wilderness Study Act of 1977, which created ten Wilderness Study Areas in the state. Although the areas were not designated as wilderness, they were described as having characteristics worthy of that designation in the future; the US Forest Service was ordered to manage them in a way that preserved their wilderness character as it existed at the time of the bill’s passage.

Senator Metcalf serving on the House Education Committee.

Exchange Bill, which would have allowed private timber companies to directly exchange their own clear-cut land for forested federal land whenever a government agency invoked eminent domain. Referring to this as “trading trees for stumps,” Metcalf gained notoriety for his opposition to the bill and began a long career of conservation-minded legislative activity.

Lee Metcalf passed away due to natural causes the next year in 1978 at the age of 66. Although he is not a household name like many of the national icons of that era, he left a lasting mark on this country and this state, and as a result, a certain part of it literally bears his name.

In 1960, Metcalf began his first of three terms in the Senate. Along with his staunch support of civil rights, women’s rights, organized labor, veterans, and the elderly, he was a major proponent of conservation and

As mentioned earlier, the 259,000-acre Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area was designated in October of 1983 and consists of four noncontiguous units spread across southwestern Montana in the Madison Range. The


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Bear Trap Unit protects a stretch of the Madison River known for its intense whitewater rafting/kayaking; it is also the first wilderness area to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The Spanish Peaks Unit to the southwest of Gallatin Gateway preserves an amazing stretch of the Madison Range and offers the ever-growing population of Bozeman access to wilderness directly off of the busy Hwy 191 on the way to Big Sky. The Taylor-Hilgard Unit, by far the largest in the Wilderness Area, protects the highest peaks found in Montana outside of the Beartooth Plateau. Finally, there is the Monument Mountain Unit, which is adjacent to Yellowstone National Park’s northwestern corner; this unit extends federal protection of critical elk, moose, and grizzly bear habitat outside of the park, therefore connecting vital migration routes from the Madison Range to the park.

as the Burlington Northern Railroad and developers focused on the Big Sky area. In the end, connecting the Taylor-Hilgard Unit to the Spanish Peaks Unit across Jack Creek was not successful and a 38,000-acre tract of land along Cabin Creek between the Monument Mountain and Taylor-Hilgard Units remained open to snowmobile use. Although the Wilderness Area is fragmented, the lands it does protect showcase some of the greatest alpine regions in Montana and provide vital habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Additionally, the fact that it is named after Senator Metcalf cements his legacy and honors his efforts to protect the wild places left in America. When introducing and naming the Wilderness Area, Senator Max Baucus’ words attest to the importance that Lee Metcalf had to this state and the idea of Wilderness in the United States when he said:

Originally, the Wilderness Area was envisioned as a large swath of protected land in the Madison range along with the Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area in the Gallatin Range. This was the vision of the Montana Wilderness Association and the 200-member grassroots organization The Madison-Gallatin Alliance. Taking lessons learned from the successful effort to create the Scapegoat Wilderness, utilizing the passion of a few people to affect change was the main strategy.

“Over 17 years ago, Senator Lee Metcalf first proposed that the Spanish Peaks Primitive Area be protected. It is a fitting tribute to this great conservationist that this area not only be designated a wilderness area, but that it be forever known as the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. I can think of no more fitting tribute than the naming of this massive mountain range for the man who did so much to conserve Montana’s wilderness heritage.”

A steady stream of inserts in local papers about why this part of Montana needed to be protected was one part of the effort. These were designed to highlight how important the Madison and Gallatin Ranges are to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in terms of wildlife migration, habitat availability, and recreational opportunities for people who felt like they needed to escape the fast-growing urban center of Bozeman.

Now, anyone taking a hike in the Spanish Peaks, attempting an ascent of 11,316-foot Hilgard Peak, or braving the rapids in Bear Trap Canyon should thank the small group of men and women who fought hard to create this wilderness and think of the humble man in the horn-rimmed glasses who did what he thought was right for the people of Montana and the country as a whole.

The original idea of one continuous wilderness could not be realized even though compromises and concessions were attempted between wilderness advocacy groups, motorized recreationalists, such as snowmobilers, and large landholding interests such

For more information, please visit the following sites: The Wilderness Society - Summer of Lee Remembering Lee Metcalf - YouTube Video

Will Klaczynski is a research assistant, writer, and photographer for the Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in the field of Geography.

Spanish Peaks. Rick and Susie Graetz


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The Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park

By Rick and Susie Graetz


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Eagle Peak


Trail Lake

ust off the Continental Divide, deep in Wyoming’s Absaroka Range and Teton Wilderness, Younts Peak brushes thin air at 12,156 feet. When the melt season arrives, snowfields in a cirque high up on the massif’s north face and other flanks are adorned with countless rivulets. Trickling off the snow, they weave in the mountain’s tundra forming small creeks as they gather in the denser vegetation below, providing the initial waters for the North and South forks of the Yellowstone River. Beneath Younts’ west wall the two branches unite to power the surge of the largest undammed, free running river in America as it commences its 670-mile long odyssey to meet the Missouri beyond Sidney, Montana. And what a journey it makes!

Bridger Lake

Trident Mountain

Hawks Rest

Two Ocean Plateau Younts Peak

From its spawning grounds 28 air miles below Yellowstone National Park’s southeast corner, the fabled river enters a narrow deep canyon and fights its way down a boulder-strewn course. For almost ten miles, it passes through a forest of pine, spruce and fir fitted with small meadows and willow flats. As a result of the 1988 fires that burned so much of Yellowstone National Park and this corner of the Teton Wilderness, the flora mix is changing; some new aspen growth is now being observed and lodgepole pine is coming back in many places, while exhibits of wildflowers, including arnica and fireweed, are sprouting up under burnt snags. From the Continental Divide on its west and Thunder Mountain and volcanic cliffs on its east, numerous unnamed streams and waterfalls add to the flow, and industrious beavers construct their dams. The rough Continental Divide Trail follows the river on its north and east side with many small, but easy creek crossings. It is here, in its first mile of flow, that the river, in connecting with one of the nation’s finest, untamed wilderness landscapes… gains its wild soul. Far from any road, this is the canyon of the Upper Yellowstone. Near Hawk’s Rest, the Yellowstone departs its narrow confines and embarks on a torturous meander through the marshy river bottoms of the 21 mile long Yellowstone Meadows and Thorofare Valley. These wetlands extend from one to two miles across, and the river, with its islands, channels and deep pools, is up to 160 feet wide in places. Lush meadows of high grass and dense willows border prime moose habitat as well as

Younts Peak. Larry Mayer


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At the same time an eastern Montana farmer and his sons near Glendive are pumping warm irrigation water from a slow paced, silt-laden river for their fields, far upstream in the Thorofare Valley, a grizzly sow and her cubs are splashing through the Yellowstone River’s cold, clear, fast moving water in search of breakfast.

Two Ocean Plateau. Larry Mayer


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THe Yellowstone River’s “delta.” Larry Mayer

a summer home for the Northern Yellowstone and Jackson Hole elk herds. Cutthroat trout move upriver to spawn here in early summer, attracting the king of the wilderness… the silvertip grizzly bear. Other wildlife, including bison, eagles, big horn sheep, cougars and deer are plentiful. Canada geese and sandhill cranes call out in the early morning. Skirting and passing through the meadow’s east perimeter, the Thorofare Trail commences and leads toward Yellowstone Lake. The water in these wildlands is swift, deep and cold. High runoff and lasting snowbanks make much of it impassable until mid-July.

panoramas of the river and its lofty guardians are almost implausible. Wyoming’s 80-mile long Absaroka Range with its 10,000- to 11,000-foot summits, including the Park’s highest point, 11,358-foot Eagle Peak, forms a fortress on the river’s sunrise side. Early explorers who entered this wonderland called the Absarokas “Yellowstone Mountains” and “Great Yellowstone Range.” In 1885, the US Geological Survey maps, referring to the moniker the Crow Indian Nation used to describe themselves—“children of the large beaked bird”— gave the range the name Absaroka. Trident Mountain, a 10,969-foot huge wall-like feature with a plateau top rises abruptly above the Thorofare Valley just as the big river enters Yellowstone NP. Three finger-like arms that extend out from the plateau westward gave the formation its name.


hile the bottomlands the Yellowstone River occupies are spacious, the mountains on either side reaching high above them continue to be impressive. Some of the views combining


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caused listeners to name the area Colter’s Hell.

Running along the Absaroka Mountains, the Continental Divide snakes northwest, loses elevation and crosses Two Ocean Pass, a nearly flat area with plenty of water. Here, North and South Two Ocean creeks meet and then part. One fork becomes Atlantic Creek and makes its way east to the Yellowstone River, while the other drains toward the west and the Snake River. The massive Two Ocean Plateau, reaching 10,115 feet at its highest mark, is now home to the Continental Divide. As the Plateau drops off to Yellowstone Lake on the north, the Continental Divide takes its leave and climbs to the heights west of the lake.

During the fur trade era of the early 1800s to 1840, trappers established well-used routes from Jackson Hole and the Snake River to the Yellowstone Plateau. The low and marshy Two Ocean Pass was an easy course for them to follow. On the east side of the pass, they named the valley the Yellowstone River follows, “Thoroughfare.” Somehow over time, the spelling was shortened to Thorofare.

The historically rich Upper Yellowstone River Country fascinated and intrigued early-day trappers who often mentioned the area in their diaries. In 1807, John Colter, from the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was the first known fur seeker/explorer to enter the region; and it wasn’t until 60 years after his first visit that any serious exploration of the Park occurred. The legendary Jim Bridger, who is credited with the discovery of Two Ocean Pass, camped at today’s Bridger Lake in 1830. The tales told by these mountain men of the countless diverse thermal features they saw were thought to be exaggerations. Colter’s incredible, and to some, unbelievable, stories of hot water pools, geysers, bubbling earth and sterile landscape,


In noting the separating of the waters at Two Ocean Pass in his journal, trapper Osborne Russell wrote, “One side bound for the Pacific and the other for the Atlantic Ocean. Here a trout of 12 inches in length may cross the mountains in safety.” Theory has it, this was how the cutthroats made it to the upper river and Yellowstone Lake. The Thorofare Valley terminates in the area of the Yellowstone River’s “delta” as it reaches Yellowstone Lake in the Park’s remote southeast region. In attaining the lake, the young waterway has traveled approximately 70 miles from its inception; by trail the distance is only about 32 miles.

Yellowstone Lake at sunset. Harlan Kredit, NPS.

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Lower Yellowstone Falls By Greg Pape Standing on asphalt laid down on rock just at the place where the Yellowstone river has come around a bend, riffling, picking up speed, hugging a big rock cutting the current, island-like, just before the river forms a last slick run to a ledge of rock, a brief horizon, and falls down the cliff face into the chasm of the lower canyon in a continuous roar a white-water storm hosannaing hard down through layers of air watery columns collapsing waves breaking into tumbling ovoid shapes pulling apart colliding in a rush the eye can’t stop or hold so the body feels its falling as uprush through legs hips into the solar plexus the heart the blasting synapses sheathed in water—step back. Hold on. A golden stonefly Lifts off the lip of the falls, Hovers like a spark in the mist.

Rick and Susie Graetz

Greg Pape is professor of Creative Writing at the University of Montana and was Montana’s Poet Laureate from 20072009. As the award-winning author of nine volumes of poetry, he is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Individual Fellowships, the Pushcart Prize, the Richard Hugo Memorial Prize, and many more honors.


Field Notes

Fie l d Not e s

Glacier had approximately 150 glaciers when it became a national park in 1910, now it’s down to 25. Almost all of those, Mow says, are expected to shrink to less than 25 acres – the standard for being considered a glacier – within the next 20 to 30 years. “The places we know to be most sensitive to being affected by climate change are areas of high latitude and high altitude, and Glacier By Vince Devlin of the Missoulian is a combination of both.” “A lot of my peers have been After spending 21 of the last 25 ingrained with the idea that national years in Alaska – most recently as parks are to be vignettes of a primitive superintendent of Kenai Fjords America,” he says. “That’s not National Park – Mow has finally something we can continue to do. returned to the Lower 48. And he We can’t keep things as they’ve been does so as the new superintendent of for the last 100 years when things are Glacier National Park, replacing Chas changing all around us.” Cartwright, who retired in December. Mow began his Park Service career Mow, 54, takes over at a critical time as a seasonal ranger at Glacier Bay for Glacier. The park is in the process National Park and Preserve in Alaska. of producing a corridor management “I was at eight duty stations in Alaska,” plan that addresses the traffic and he says. “Overall, I congestion on its spent six years in iconic highway, Goingsoutheast Alaska, eight to-the-Sun Road. The years above the Arctic Park’s spectacular but Circle living in bush creaking hotels are at communities, and 8 1/2 or nearing their 100th years in south-central year of operation. Alaska on the coast.” What’s more, the In addition to Kenai concessionaire that Fjords, Mow was an ran them for the past acting superintendent at Superintendent Mow. NPS 30 years has been Denali National Park. replaced. Last but not The four years he wasn’t in Alaska, least, the glaciers that are Glacier’s Mow was superintendent at Florissant namesake are rapidly disappearing in Fossil Beds National Monument the face of a warmer world. in Colorado, and spent 2001 in Mow is no stranger to the latter Washington, D.C., working with the topic. He’s been a policy analyst on Senate Energy and Natural Resources the Park Service’s Climate Change Committee and the Office of Response Program since 2001. Legislative Affairs as an NPS Bevinetto “In Alaska,” he says, “climate Congressional Fellow. change is in your face. Parks have Dealing with tight budgets while done climate change workshops running a popular national park “is co-sponsored by local chambers of like playing in a symphony,” he says. commerce. You can’t ignore it there.

Jeff Mow is the new superintendent of Glacier National Park


Fie l d Not e s

“It’s about everyone playing their parts, and being well-coordinated. It’s a big apple, but you take it a bite at a time.” And as for him departing Alaska after more than two decades there to take over here? “You reach a point in your career,” Mow says, “where there are certain options you don’t pass up. Glacier is one of those.”

Mountains and Channel Islands in California, at Gateway in New York, and at Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. She also worked on planning and development projects in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona. In 2010, Scott served as acting regional director for the NPS Intermountain Region Office in Denver, Colorado, where she Vince Devlin is the Arts and provided oversight for 91 units across Entertainment Editor for the eight states from the border of Missoulian Canada to Mexico. Scott advanced several critical land acquisitions during her tenure ___________________________ at Grand Teton. She completed the conveyance of the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve property in 2007 (1,106 acres), and she oversaw the opening of the LSR Preserve Center in 2008. Scott also negotiated an agreement with the State of Wyoming to purchase 1406 acres of state lands within the park and finalized the purchase of a 40-acre NPS Press Release subsurface mineral parcel and an 86Mary Gibson Scott, acre parcel of school superintendent of trust lands. She has Grand Teton National been actively working Park and the John with the Department D. Rockefeller, Jr. of the Interior, Memorial Parkway, Bureau of Land Superintendent Scott. Flo McCall today announced her Management and retirement from the National Park State of Wyoming to purchase of Service (NPS), marking the end of school trust lands within the park. a dedicated career in public service In addition to the Wyoming school that spans 33 years. She is the third trust lands, Scott helped complete longest-serving superintendent the purchase of several other private in Grand Teton’s history, and first land parcels within Grand Teton. female to fill the park’s top position. The total acreage added during During her NPS career, Scott Superintendent Scott’s tenure equals served in park management 1,286 acres. positions at Santa Fe (former NPS Of special note, Scott initiated Southwest Regional Office) and and facilitated an extensive planning Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, process that resulted in the firstat Golden Gate, Santa Monica

Mary Gibson Scott is leaving Grand Teton National Park


ever comprehensive environmental impact statement for the Jackson Hole Airport, the only commercial airport in a national park. The agreement represented a multi-year process that produced a suite of mitigation measures for protection of park resources, and established a framework for their achievement. Work continues on a wildlife hazard management plan for the JH Airport with support from the FAA. From 2008-2010, Scott served as chairperson for the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee, which includes federal land managers from national parks, national forests and national wildlife refuges across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. She just stepped down as chair of the Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, a multijurisdictional organization focused on the successful recovery and conservation of grizzly bears across a 22-million-acre natural area that spans three states (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming). Scott consistently supported her NPS staff and various park partner organizations. She often praised her NPS employees and credited her success to the hard work and dedication of an outstanding and committed work force. Throughout her tenure at Grand Teton, Scott worked with one guiding principle and a thought-provoking question, “Is it in the best interest of the Park?” Those words are written on a plaque that hangs above her office door at the park’s headquarters building in Moose, Wyoming. ___________________________

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Suppression Success By Mike Koshmrl of the Jackson Hole News & Guide The National Park Service and contracted fishing boats have caught more lake trout this year than any other, marking a turning point in the effort to knock the invasive species out of the big lake. The commercial fishing boats, now midway through the 11th year of operations, have caught and killed 200,000 lake trout since ice came off Yellowstone Lake this spring. Last year at this time they’d killed 180,000 fish. Boats on the Yellowstone Lake netted and killed 300,000 lake trout in 2012 and 224,000 in 2011. That’s twice the total cull of the entire previous decade, which was just 500,000. “We have a little bit better sense of where the fish are,” Hottle tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide, “so we’re fishing smarter.” Lake trout, also known as mackinaw, is a prized game fish in its native range of the Great Lakes, New England and much of

Canada. In Yellowstone, however, the fish eaters, which commonly exceed 20 pounds, are believed to be the primary catalyst in a 90plus percent drop in numbers of native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. The cutthroat collapse has wideranging environmental implications, biologists say, and has been connected to everything from failing osprey nests to higher rates of grizzly bear predation on elk calves. Officials with Trout Unlimited were encouraged by news that lake trout catch rates are dropping. One indication lake trout suppression is working as designed, said Scott Christy, Trout Unlimited’s Wyoming Coordinator, is that fish censuses on the lake are beginning to show small cutthroat. Last year the numbers of cutthroat in the gill nets doubled relative to lake trout. “Most years, it’s about four cut throat per 100 lake trout,” Pat Bigelow, a Park Service fisheries biologist, said. “This year, it’s double that.” Yellowstone began targeting laker spawning beds this September. Aided by 270 lake trout implanted with transmitters that send location information, biologists will attempt

to kill eggs at two locations using two experimental methods: electrocution and suction. Fisheries biologists hope that spawning bed treatments could hold Yellowstone Lake’s lake trout population at a low level at less cost in the long run. Entirely removing mackinaw from the 139-square-mile body of water is believed to be impossible. For a full story see Lake Trout Suppression and Yellowstone Trout Recovery in Yellowstone Lake by Ken Barrett on page 44 of our last issue. greateryellowstone-spring2013

Mike Koshmrl is the Environmental Reporter for the Jackson Hole News & Guide.


Swarm of earthquakes shake Yellowstone National Park By Mike Koshmrl of the Jackson Hole News & Guide Yellowstone’s recent earthquake swarms started on Sept. 10 and were shaking until about 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16. Until recently, Bob Smith had never witnessed two simultaneous earthquake swarms in his 53 years of monitoring seismic activity in and around the Yellowstone Caldera. Now, Smith, a University of Utah geophysics professor, has seen three swarms at once. “It’s very

A Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune


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remarkable,” Smith said. “How does one swarm relate to another? Can one swarm trigger another and vice versa?” Because concurrent swarms have never been detected in the past, the answers aren’t in yet. The geophysicist said he “wouldn’t doubt” if at least two of the events were related. About half a dozen earthquakes are felt in Yellowstone in an average year, he said. “This is pretty unusual, to be honest,” Smith said. Temblors from the three quake swarms mostly hit in three areas: Lewis Lake, the Lower Geyser Basin and the northwest part of Norris Geyser Basin. “Generally speaking it needs to be 3.0 or higher for individuals to feel it,” Yellowstone National Park spokesman Al Nash told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “A total of 130 earthquakes of magnitude 0.6 to 3.6 have occurred in these three areas, however,

most have occurred in the Lower Geyser Basin,” a University of Utah statement said. “Notably much of seismicity in Yellowstone occurs as swarms.” The recent swarms produced roughly four quakes that were large enough to feel. The first, a magnitude 3.5, struck Sept. 13 about 17 miles northeast of West Yellowstone, Mont. Then, in the early hours Sept. 15, two quakes, a magnitude 3.2 and magnitude 3.4, were detected in quick succession at 5:10 and 5:11 a.m., about 15 miles southeast of West Yellowstone. The magnitude 3.6 that marked the peak of the swarm struck nearby about 4 1/2 hours later shaking the ground near Old Faithful Geyser. The epicenter of the magnitude 3.6 quake, the largest in Yellowstone in about a year, was just 6 miles to the north of Old Faithful. However, none of the recent quakes, Nash said, were strong enough to cause damage or throw

Red Spouter in Lower Geyser Basin. Jim Peaco, NPS


off the cycle of the Old Faithful geyser’s eruptions. “We know that a significant enough earthquake in the region has potential to alter geyser activity,” the spokesman said. “A strong enough earthquake, like the one that occurred out at Hebgen Lake in 1959, did change the interval of Old Faithful eruptions.” That quake, a 7.3 to 7.5 on the Richter magnitude scale, caused nearly 300 features on the Yellowstone landscape to erupt, 160 of which had no previous record of geysers. Smith traced the three recent earthquake swarms to the Hebgen Lake quake. “These are all related,” he said. “We think that much of the seismicity is still aftershocks from that event in 1959. It can go on for hundreds of years.” Mike Koshmrl is the Environmental Reporter for the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

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Fine Art Poster )LQH $UW 3RVWHU

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$ VWXQQLQJ UHSURGXFWLRQ RI WKH <HOORZVWRQH /RZHU *UDQG &DQ\RQ )DOOV &UHDWHG E\ 0RQWH 'RODFN IRU WKH <HOORZVWRQH $VVRFLDWLRQ DQG UHOHDVHG LQ A stunning reproduction of the Yellowstone Lower Grand Canyon Falls 6L]H ¾[ ¾ 3ULFH 7R RUGHU FRQWDFW 7KH 0RQWH 'RODFN *DOOHU\ Created by Monte Dolack for the Yellowstone Association and released in 2012 ‡ ‡ GRODFN FRP Size: 18� x 25�. Price: $30.00.

To order contact the Monte Dolack Gallery 406.549.3248 | 800.825.7613 | 78


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