YELLOWSTONE THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
THE CROWN OF THE CONTINENT AND GREATER YELLOWSTONE INITIATIVE
UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA Royce C. Engstrom President Perry Brown Provost Vice President Academic Affairs Scott Whittenburg Vice President Research and Creative Scholarship Christopher Comer Dean College of Arts and Sciences Rick Graetz CC/GY Initiative Co-director Geography Department professor Jerry Fetz CC/GY Initiative Co-Director Professor and Dean Emeritus College of Arts and Sciences Jessica Neary Designer William Klaczynski Researcher/Photographer Susie Graetz Managing Editor Cover Photo by Rick and Susie Graetz Often painted, photographed and admired, the Lower Falls of Yellowstone
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TABLE OF CONTENTS This is the Greater Yellowstone The Yellowstone True Colors
By Rick Graetz
By Wally McRae
By Mary Lee Reese
History of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition
By Rick Reese
By Douglas MacDonald
Lake Trout Surpression
By Ken Barrett
The Nature Conservancy
By Bebe Crouse
Greater Yellowstone Coalition By Jeff Welsch
Cycle Greater Yellowstone
By Jeff Welsch
The First Explorations
By Aubrey L. Haines
By Jared White
The Cinnabar Foundation
By Steve Thompson
GYC: Lone Peak High School By Patty Hamblin, Paul Swenson, Nancy Shiel
By Jerry Fetz
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this e-magazine are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Montana. No part of this e-magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher.
his publication on the Greater Yellowstone Initiative represents a new venture that will soon be combined with an earlier one focused on the University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent Initiative. These two iconic landscapes are linked by the great Rocky Mountains and by wildlife corridors and movements that make them inseparable in many ways. So too will they be linked by the publication of a new electronic magazine that shares the knowledge that the University and its partners have gained and will continue to gain about these two very special places. For decades, faculty and students from the University of Montana (UM) have been using the Greater Yellowstone as a research and teaching laboratory. They have learned of the natural heritage of the place and of its use by humans. Geologists, anthropologists, recreation and tourism specialists, economists, foresters, wildlife biologists and many others have conducted research within the boundaries of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, while artists and humanists have exploited its spirit in many creative works. It truly has been a landscape of awe and inspira-
tion, and a landscape where so much about the earth and use of it can be learned. The stories that led to Yellowstone’s image as Colter’s Hell in the early 1800s capture the opportunities it holds for learning, research, and creative scholarship. This publication, and the subsequent ones to be produced, will share knowledge and experiences gained in this landscape so that we all can share in this wondrous place.
While UM faculty and students have been involved with the Greater Yellowstone for a long time, so too have our partners such as The Wilderness Society and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. In addition, we are thrilled to have new partners such as BYU-Idaho, its students and faculty, join in the enterprise. Please join me in celebrating this new publishing venture that highlights one of the world’s greatest landscapes. Perry Brown Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs the University of Montana
Winter solitude... Yellowstone National Park. Rick and Susie Graetz
THIS IS THE G
The Park Within the Greater Yel
llowstone Ecosystem – America’s Best Idea BY rick graetz
The Act of Dedication
n March 1, 1872, when President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, affixed his signature to this piece of legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress, he AN ACT to set apart a certain tract of land lying near the created not only the nation’s, but the world’s first naheadwaters of the Yellowstone River as a public park. Be it tional park—Yellowstone! The job was not yet complete, enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the a long journey to safeguard this place lay ahead. More tract of land in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming...is than twenty years passed before Yellowstone was finally hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, protected from those who wanted to exploit it. America’s or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated first conservation lobbying organization, the Boone and and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the Crockett Club, founded in December of 1887 by Theobenefit and enjoyment of the people; and all persons who shall dore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell and others, led the locate, or settle upon, or occupy the same or any part thereof, fight by pushing for passage in 1894 of The Yellowstone except as hereinafter provided, shall be considered trespassers Protection Act. and removed there from ...
White Dome Geyser in Yellowstone shows off. Will Klaczynski
oday, travelers reaching Glacier or Grand Teton national parks can readily see why the two places were set-aside— Glacier in 1910 and Grand Teton 1929. Colossal mountains, some holding glaciers, and forests reaching toward altitude are immediately obvious. Yellowstone, with the exception perhaps of its northeast frontier, opens with less grandeur and perhaps at first glance it isn’t obvious what all of the fuss is about. Venture deeper into the park, however, and it doesn’t take long to understand and appreciate why it took only two and one-half years from the first exploratory expedition in the autumn of 1869 for the Congress to realize that here was a place that was too valuable not to keep intact.
thrown in—Wyoming claims 96 percent, Montana three and Idaho one percent—gained international fame. All that YNP offered (including hydrothermal features and magnificent animals) drew curious tourists and researchers from across the USA and the world. Especially important has been the recognition that Yellowstone isn’t an island, but rather the centerpiece of a much larger landscape, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, estimated to sprawl across almost 20 million acres. Scientists consider it to be one of the largest intact ecosystems in the temperate zone of the earth.
Acknowledgement that the park was part of an expanded area important to plants and wildlife was first recognized by Yellowstone’s thermals, mineral formations, mountain peaks, the name Greater Yellowstone, possibly as early as 1917. But lakes, streams, waterfalls, untrammeled country and its wildlife in 1979, John and Frank Craighead, studying Yellowstone grizpopulation are legendary. Once a visitor explores the landscape zlies, realized that the bears’ range was close to five million acres and discovers the beauty, it then becomes clear that here is one extending in all compass points beyond the boundaries of YNP. of the wilderness gems of North America. They discussed the idea of a Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but As time passed, this 2,221,766-acre park rising from Wyo- offered little guidance as to how the concept could be defined, ming’s northwest corner with a bit of Montana and Idaho delineated and related to land management decisions on an eco-
Mt. Moran reflects in Jackson Lake – Grand Teton National Park. P. Hattaway, Courtesy of NPS
system-wide basis. Rick Reese in his 1984 book, Greater Yellowstone: The National Park and Adjacent Wildlands, penned what may arguably be the first articulation of the idea of ecosystemwide management for the ‘Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.’” In a recent memo he stated, “One needs to differentiate between simply using the term Greater Yellowstone (as was first stated in 1917), and articulating the concept of an ecosystem-wide management arrangement for the ‘Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.’”
Yellowstone: several stories abound about the name, but the most plausible seems to come from French Canadian trappers who came up the Yellowstone River in the 1740s. It is thought they met the Minnetaree Indians—a branch of the Hidatsa, who had settled in the area of the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. These indigenous people called the river anagement today is a particularly important and chal- Mi tse a-da-zi, or Yellow Rock River. The name coming from lenging undertaking. Aside from private lands, this grand bit of geography encompasses two iconic national parks (Yellowstone and Grand Teton), six national forests, two national wildlife refuges, portions of three states and dozens of counties, municipalities and other jurisdictions, as well as the headwaters’ sources for three of America’s great waterway systems—the Green River leading to the Colorado, the Yellowstone flowing to the Missouri, and the Snake reaching to the Columbia.
There is much to write about the park and the ecosystem as a whole: early-day travelers, the initial explorations, the military management of Yellowstone, the varied landscapes of mountains and forests, the wild critters, the hydrothermal system, the super volcano, the backcountry trails, mountaineering in the Teton, Wind River and Beartooth ranges, the indigenous peoples now and yesterday, the communities, rivers and lakes, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, forest fires, weather, an altering climate, plants, trees, volcanic features, glaciers and glaciation, ranchers, tourism, research and much more. In future publications of our Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative e-magazine, we will delve into all of these subjects. Going forward, the University of Montana’s efforts in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will now include involvement by partners already hard at work in the region—the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, The Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy and the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center, and this autumn of 2012, we welcomed new partners—the Yellowstone Club, Lone Peak High School and Brigham Young University-Idaho. And others will follow. As of this month of March, we are expanding our Crown of the Continent Initiative to include the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the official title of our new endeavor will be… The University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative. And in doing so, one e-magazine featuring both of these unique and important ecosystems will be published from here on out.
At 12,799’, Granite Peak reigns as Montana’s King of the Mountains. Rick and Susie Graetz
either the yellow colored stones along the banks or most likely of its first official explorers), and the Secretary of the Interior, the yellow bluffs near and below Billings. Translated to French that gave the park its name. it was called “Roche Jaune.” The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805 referred to this tributary of the Missouri by the French *The term “America’s Best Idea” comes from Wallace Stegner name. Crow Indians living farther upriver called it Elk River. in reference to Yellowstone National Park and the whole concept of national parks. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the legislation creating the park Rick Graetz is a UM Geography professor and co-director of the Univerthat bestowed the name Yellowstone on it, but rather letters between Nathaniel Langford, YNP’s first superintendent (and one sity of Montana’s Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative.
Millions of buffalo curried her flanks as she shed winter’s ice in the spring. In the smoke of ten thousand campfires she heard drumbeats and war dances ring. On the crest of her bosom she sped Captain Clark and Sacajawea as well. She bisected the prairie, the plains and the mountains from her birthplace in “John Colter ’s Hell.” To the traveler she whispered, “Come, follow me,” with a wink and a toss of her head. She tempted the trapper, gold miner and gambler to lie down by her sinuous bed. “Safe passage,” she murmured provocatively, “safe passage and riches as well.” She smiled as the thread of Custer ’s blue line followed her trails and then fell. She carved out the grade for the railroads; She took settlers to their new home. Watered their stock, watered their fields and let them grow crops on her loam. Her banks were the goal of the trail herds; her grass was the prize that they sought. ’Till the blizzard of ’86 and seven, nearly killed off the whole lot. Don’t boss her, don’t cross her, let her run free and damn you, don’t dam her at all. She ’s a wild old girl, let her looks not deceive you... But we love her in spite of it all.
by Wally McRae
The Yellowstone River below Livingston on the northern boundary of the Greater Yellowstone. Rick and Susie Graetz.
Lava Creek, Yellowstone National Park
2 Mary Lee Reese came to
Montana in 1970 to raise her young family in Helena. She resumed her interest in art that had begun during her years in Grand Teton National Park, and was actively involved in the Helena Art Center where she focused on watercolor and pastel painting. During her Helena years, she was also active in civic affairs, and served as chair of the Lewis and Clark Library board. In the 1980s she and her husband, Rick, co-directed the fledgling Yellowstone Institute in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, where the Reese family came to know the Yellowstone country so well. Later, she moved to Utah where she completed a second college degree, this time in ornamental horticulture, and had a successful career as a manager and buyer for a large nursery and greenhouse business in Salt Lake City. The Reeses returned to Montana in 2007, where Mary Lee and Rick, along with their daughter, son-in-law and wonderful grandchildren, make their homes in Bozeman. Mary Lee is delighted and feels it is a privilege to be back in Montana where she continues her “plein aire” painting, observing and studying Montana’s remarkable extraordinary natural landscape.
(Far Left) Emigrant Peak, Paradise Valley (Bottom Left) Mt. Moran, Grand Teton National Park (Left) Firehole River in winter, Yellowstone National Park (Below) Glacial erratics, Yellowstone National Park
(Far Left) Lower Falls of the Yellowstone (Above) Winter in Yellowstone (Left) Mt. Tweewinot, Grand Teton National Park
History of the
Greater Yellowstone Coalition
By Rick Reese
Horace Albright, the first civilian superintendant of YNP, shakes hands with Charles Cook, who was part of the 1869 Expedition. F.J. Haynes Collection, Montana Historical Society
he notion of a “Greater Yellowstone” was flirted with on several occasions during the last hundred years. As early as 1882, civil war hero, General Philip Sheridan, visited Yellowstone and recognized that the habitat needs of Yellowstone’s wildlife populations could not be met solely within the confines of the new national park.
superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, occupying that position from June, 1919 to January, 1929 when I became Director of the National Park service until 1933. I would like to take up a little more of your time to tell you that I knew both William H. Jackson and Thomas Moran (Jackson, a photographer, and Moran, an artist, were part of the 1871 Hayden Expedition) intimately until their deaths. Mr. Jackson died at age 99, and I delivered the eulogy at his funeral.
Shortly after the National Park Service was created in 1916, Yellowstone’s first civilian superintendent, Horace Albright, recognized that the environmental integrity of I have a photograph taken in 1922 on the 50th anniverthe Park was at least partially dependent upon wise mansary of the creation of Yellowstone National Park. In that agement of surrounding lands. In a wonderful exchange of correspondence with Albright in the mid-1980s, he photo, a young Horace Albright is shaking hands with an aging Charles Cook. In 1869, Cook and two comtold me: panions conducted one of the most extensive explorations In my nearly ten years in Yellowstone, I several times drew of the region that would become Yellowstone National sketches of what the park should be (in our modern termi- Park. The next year, Henry Dana Washburn, encouraged nology - ecosystem). My boundaries were not far from those and inspired by Cook and his companions, launched a in your book (Greater Yellowstone: The Park and Adjacent comprehensive exploration of the region. It was, in turn, Wildlands). During the 1920’s I succeeded in getting size- a member of Washburn’s 1870 expedition, Nathanial able additions to the park from the north and east, but found Langford, who piqued the interest of Ferdinand Hayden. it impossible to add more because I was making the supreme Hayden’s exploration in 1871 was a key factor leading to effort to create the Grand Teton National Park. the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. I had decided as early as 1917 on my first trip to the Jackson Hole that this area must be annexed to Yellowstone or made a separate park… From the very start, opposition developed. We promoted congressional legislation for our plan, but it took 13 years to get the first small Grand Teton Park… I am now almost 97 years of age. I was the first civilian
It is simply astounding to me that as late as 1986, I was able to talk with the first superintendent of Yellowstone— a man who knew Thomas Moran, William H. Jackson and Charles Cook personally. I take this this as a reminder of how short our history in this region is—and of what a profound impact we have had on the face of the land in just two lifetimes.
The genesis of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition began in the summer of 1981, and can be categorized into three components:
I. The Origin of the term “Greater Yellowstone” In the prefaces to the 1983 and 1991 editions of my book, Greater Yellowstone: The National Park and Adjacent Wildlands, I told of how, when, and where I first heard the term “Greater Yellowstone,” and of my effort to understand, elaborate upon, and articulate the concept of a “Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.” In the 1983 edition I summarized my conclusions in five points:
1) Yellowstone National Park is a very special, and in some respects, an absolutely unique place. 2) The park is not an island, but rather exists in an ecological context we call the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. YNP Superintendant John Townsley was an early proponent for the idea of a Greater Yellowstone. Courtesy of National Park Service.
3) The entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is an extraordinary national treasure The road to these conclusions began in the summer of existing as [one of] the largest, essentially intact ecosystem remaining in the tem- 1981 through some evening discussions with my neighbor in Mammoth, John Townsley, the Superintendent of Yellowperate zones of the earth. 4) Most resource management decisions in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are made in a fragmented manner that does not recognize the area as a single unit, but rather views it as more than two dozen separate political and administrative entities. 5) The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is imperiled by activities and developments that pose imminent threats to its environmental integrity.
stone National Park. Those discussions affected me greatly, and they contributed significantly to the subsequent creation of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
In my book, I noted that Gen. Philip Sheridan had advocated expanding the boundaries of Yellowstone Park as early as 1882, and that Frank Craighead had used the term “Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem” in his 1979 book, Track of the Grizzly. But as nearly as I can determine, Sheridan never used the term “Greater Yellowstone;” and beyond his discussion of grizzly range, Craighead didn’t elaborate upon how such an entity might be defined and delineated, nor did he discuss the implications of cross-boundary, ecosystem-wide management in the area. (That, of course, was not the purpose of his splendid book.) In 1999, Horace Albright’s daughter, Marian Albright Schenck, authored The Creation of the National Park Service: The Missing Years. This magnificent volume was completed
with the critical collaboration of Robert M. Utley, retired National Park Service historian. Of particular interest to this discussion is chapter 22, entitled “Greater Yellowstone,” in which Albright relates her father’s words: “Then in October of that year, Emerson Hough, our old friend from the Mather Mountain Party, had sent me a manuscript of his that would appear on December 1, 1917, in the Saturday Evening Post. Its title was ‘Greater Yellowstone.’ Its themes were to preserve the elk herds and other animals from unlimited hunting, double the Yellowstone area for scenic enjoyment, and save Jackson Hole from timbering, mining, and other destructive practices… So it is Hough who deserves the honor of coining the phrase ‘Greater Yellowstone.’”
II. The Initial Elaboration and Articulation of the Concept
In the 1983 edition of Greater Yellowstone: The National Park and Adjacent Wildlands, I attempted to consider how one might define and delineate a Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and I compiled a partial inventory of issues that were adversely affecting the region. Within a few months I realized that a vigorous advocacy was needed— not only to promote the concept of a Greater Yellowstone Given Albright’s early interest in the term, it’s probably a Ecosystem, but also for a dramatically different kind of good bet that he introduced Townsley to it, since they knew management of the region. each other for many years. So while the phrase “Greater Yellowstone” was in use as early as 1917, it appears that its meaning then, and for at least another 30 years, was limited to discussions about expanding the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. Indeed, the venerable Yellowstone historian, Aubrey Haines, wrote in his 1977 book, The Yellowstone Story—Volume Two, that creation of an expanded Grand Teton National Park in 1950 was “…the fulfillment of the Greater Yellowstone movement [though] it bore little resemblance to General Sheridan’s initial suggestion, or to the first proposal of National Park Service officials. However, the result was grand, even if Yellowstone Park did get left out.” Haines, writing six years before the founding of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, had no way of knowing that the “fulfillment of the Greater Yellowstone movement” as we now know it, had not even begun in 1950. The concept of coordinated management of the vast complex of public and private lands (including National Parks, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges and in the case of the Tetons, a National Monument), and recognition of the cumulative effects of a wide variety of threats to the entire area, were not envisioned until the early 1980’s. And effective advocacy for these concepts did not occur until the advent of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
III. Building an Organization From the Ground Up: The Creation of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. By early 1983, momentum was building for the creation of an organization to advocate for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The concept was fairly well understood and generally accepted by interested conservationists. During the year between the “Founding Convention” in late May 1983, and the first annual GYC convention at Mammoth in June 1984, there was an enormous burst of enthusiasm, and a remarkable commitment by many people to do the difficult work of putting together an effective organization. The Founding Convention concluded with the appointment of a “steering committee.” Six months later, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition was formally incorporated, and the members of the steering committee became interim directors of the new organization. With that, the Greater Yellowstone was officially launched.
In 1984, our proposal went nowhere—and small wonder. GYC was then a tiny new organization, with a few hundred members, a few thousand dollars and no significant regional—much less—national constituency. At the time, there was at least a modicum of extractive resource enterprise at play in the regional economy: some mining, a little logging, an emerging oil and gas industry and a few others. Perhaps most significantly, our proposal came forth in a political milieu in which James Watt was Secretary of the Interior, and Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. The Grizzly bears need room to roam and the GYC has worked to make that happen. Here Rick Reese grandiosity of our enthusiastic measures a fresh grizzly paw print. Rick Reese Collection. idealism and wild expectations was something to behold. But In January 1984, the following people were selected to given the political and economic realities of the time, and serve on the first regular Board of Directors: Hank Phibbs, the incipient state of our organization, the proposal had no Bill Bryan, Franz Camenzind, Maryanne Mott, Ralph chance whatsoever. That was then. Maughan, Jan Brown, Sandy Pew, Martha Wood, John Good, Anne Model, Meredith Taylor, Rick Reese. But the concept was right in 1984, and it’s still right today. At the first annual convention of the Greater Yellowstone Today there is a fortuitous new convergence of a vastly Coalition (GYC), a grand discussion ensued among memdifferent set of conditions that suggest an opportunity for bers about an ambitious conservation proposal to protect the ecological integrity of the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosys- real success: tem. It was concluded that the most effective possible action would be to promote changes in the laws and regulations 1. There are a large number of very effective that governed management decisions on federal lands across conservation organizations working in this rethat entire ecosystem. The dialogue revolved specifically around “draft legislation” calling for congressional recognition of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with established management mandates to protect and preserve its wildlife habitat, fisheries, watersheds, and scenic and natural values on federal lands. With the benefit of hindsight, we may disagree today about how such protection might have been crafted in those days, but the most important aspect of that meeting was the articulation of the concept of some manner of statutory and/ or administrative rule that requires coordinated, multi-agency, ecosystem-wide management of the Greater Yellowstone for the purpose of achieving a clearly specified set of resource management values, goals and outcomes.
gion. Together, they have dozens of full-time professionals, tens of thousands of members, annual expenditure totaling many millions of dollars, large constituencies and stature on both a regional and national basis.
2. With the exception of oil and gas, extractive industries no longer play a major role in the regional economy of the Greater Yellowstone. There is now a broad-based recognition that both current and future economic prosperity in the region is largely dependent on an amenity/recreation economy that is not only consistent with, but depends upon, preser-
vation of the environmental integrity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 3. The Obama administration is more receptive to conservation than at any time in recent history. 4. In September 2009, a twelve-hour Ken Burns National Parks documentary was released, and the resultant frenzy of interest in, and support of national parks presented an enormous opportunity to engage the American public in the protection of parks and the ecosystems in which they exist. In January 2009, I found myself at a panel discussion before the National Parks Second Century Commission. I listened as Prof. Bob Keiter described a carefully crafted list of potential “Park Protection Strategies.” They included nine “legislative alternatives” (acts of congress), three “executive options,”(presidential orders), and three “administrative options” (administrative rules that could be promulgated by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture). At that moment, a smorgasbord of options to create region-wide statutory, administrative rule, and/or executive order actions for protection of the GYE was dropped into our laps.
The convergence of all these factors brought us to the brink of a remarkable opportunity to undertake a campaign for what could be the most significant conservation achievement since the creation of the National Park system itself. GYC is the only conservation organization in America whose mission is the protection of the lands, waters and wildlife of the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It is uniquely positioned to collaborate with dozens of conservation partners both in the Greater Yellowstone and nationally. So, if not now, when? If not the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, who? Rick Reese was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and doctoral candidate at the Korbel School of International Studies, he taught college in Montana, was the principal founder and first president of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, served as director of the Yellowstone Institute, chaired the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee for twenty years, and retired as director of community relations at the University of Utah. An experienced mountaineer, Rick was a climbing ranger in Grand Teton National Park for seven years in the 1960s.
The Reese family 1982—Paige, Mary Lee, Rick and Seth—have all been committed to the mission of the GYC. Rick Reese Collection.
Winter travel. Cruising a liquid highway warmed by hot springs is preferred over breaking trail through shoulder-height snow in Yellowstone National Park. Jim Peaco
Bison have been a part of what would become Yellowstone National Park since pre-historic times. Rick and Susie Graetz
A geyser rises from the shoreline along the Firehole River in the colorful Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. Rick and Susie Graetz
Ranching is a dominant part of the Greater Yellowstone economy â€“ these cowboys watch over the herd in the West Boulder area. Rick and Susie Graetz
An exalted ruler of the animal kingdom. Rick and Susie Graetz
10,969-foot Electric Peak - the highest summit in the Gallatin Range. Rick and Susie Graetz
Steam vents along the north shore of Yellowstone Lake. Rick and Susie Graetz
Lone Mountain and the Big Sky Ski Resort Madison Range. Rick and Susie Graetz
Grand Teton National Park. Rick and Susie Graetz
At once charismatic and controversial, wolves have successfully been re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park. Rick and Susie Graetz
In the spring, the ice recedes quickly from Yellowstone Lake. Rick and Susie Graetz
Autumn dresses the lower slopes of the north face of the Absaroka Range and Mission creek. Rick and Susie Graetz
Seven Years and Counting for U
By Douglas MacDonald
At 2,362 m. (7,750 feet) above sea level, Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming, is North America’s largest, high-elevation lake. Because of the numerous archaeological sites that ring its 200 km (124 mi) circumference, archaeologists have long sought to understand the lake’s role in the seasonal subsistence and settlement patterns of the region’s many Native American groups. The University of Montana Department of Anthropology and Yellowstone
National Park are trying to understand the prehistoric Native American use of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Currently, our goal is to define the role of Yellowstone Lake among Native Americans who lived within the northwestern Great Plains, the northern Rocky Mountains, and the far northeastern edge of the Great Basin. Using ethnohistoric (information derived from the
While there are many theories as to how early-day Natives reached the islands, today, UM archaeologists use canoes. Doug MacDonald
-Yellowstone ical Project:
UM Archaeology at Yellowstone study of native peoples from a historical and anthropological viewpoint), archaeological, and spatial data, UM and Yellowstone researchers are evaluating five key questions regarding use of Yellowstone Lake in prehistory: 1) Where did Native Americans come from to get to the lake? 2) How was subsistence structured, especially related to fishing, hunting, and gathering? 3) How did the earliest Natives get to the lake’s islands? 4) What was the primary mode of travel at the lake? and 5) Ultimately, why were Native Americans attracted to Yellowstone Lake? What follows is a summary of our discoveries, discussions, conjectures, and conclusions thus far.
UM graduate students and Yellowstone archaeologist Elaine Hale examine the lakeshore for prehistoric artifacts. Doug MacDonald.
Project Overview In partnership with the Rocky Mountain Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit (RM-CESU), UM faculty members and students are entering our seventh year of archaeological studies in Yellowstone National park. Called the Montana-Yellowstone Archaeological Project (MYAP), the first two years were spent in the Gardiner Basin in the Montana portion of the Park, and for the last five years, our research has focused on Yellowstone Lake. Sponsored by a series of grants totaling $500,000 from organizations such as the Yellowstone Park Foundation, UM researchers have worked with current and prior Yellowstone cultur-
al resource staff to identify and evaluate the importance of all archaeological sites around the lake’s shores. More than 75 undergraduate students from UM and across the country have participated in this endeavor. Additionally, to date, numerous UM graduate students have completed graduate theses on their work there. UM faculty—including Steve Sheriff, Marc Hendrix, and Michael Hoffman from Geosciences and I have produced dozens of published articles on this subject, highlighted by the two-volume Yellowstone Archaeology series.
and on the islands. Recent excavations by our UM team at dozens of lake-area sites confirm active use of the lake for the last 10,000 years. Recent ethnographic and archaeological studies indicate that multiple regional tribes spent extensive time here. Based on UM’s research, the stone tool data gathered suggests that Native American groups from the north (Blackfeet, Salish), south (Shoshone, Bannock), east (Crow, Shoshone) and west (Nez Perce) visited Yellowstone Lake, probably following routes still used today along the Madison, Yellowstone, Gardiner and Shoshone rivers.
Map of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem showing Yellowstone Lake and regional rock sources used by Native Americans in prehistory. Doug MacDonald
Environment and Research At an elevation of 2,362 m (7,750 ft) and measuring 30 by 25 km (18.6 by 15.5 mi), Yellowstone Lake is the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), which encompasses nearly 80,000 sq km (31,000 sq mi) within northwest Wyoming, south-central Montana, and northeastern Idaho. Bordered by the Absaroka Mountains to the east and the Teton Range to the south, it is North America’s largest, natural, high-elevation lake. As the major lake tributary, the Yellowstone River has two confluences on the lake, one flows into it on its southeast corner and the other exits about 30 km (18 mi) to the northeast. Due to deglaciation and climate change, Yellowstone Lake levels have fluctuated during the last 13,000 years, resulting in a series of old terraces, or paleo-shorelines, that have been well-dated by scientists from both UM and Montana State University.
Peoples camping on the north shore were likely Plainsadapted hunter-gatherers spending most of their time in the northern Yellowstone Valley and vicinity. Those camping on the east shore of the lake were likely occupants of the Plains as well, including the hot-dry portions of northwestern Wyoming, such as the Big Horn Basin. Natives on the southeast lakeshore were probably residents of the Jackson area and points south, while those on the southwest and western shores may have come from the north, south, and west, including the northern Great Basin of eastern Idaho. Our data, then, do not support the hypothesis that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem was the center of a large territory used by a single group. Rather, the GYE and Yellowstone Lake were at the crossroads of multiple tribal and/or band territories. So, while we know Native Americans used the lake extensively, we still do not fully understand its function within hunter-gatherer settlement and subsistence systems. Yellowstone Lake is frozen several feet thick between approximately early December and mid to late May, leading most researchers to conclude that Native Americans would most likely have utilized the lake’s resources in the other six warmer months.
The shores of the lake contain several vegetative zones, including a mesic subalpine fir zone, a forested riparian zone, as well as graminoid riparian and sagebrush or shrub and grass habitats. Interspersed among the extensive pine forests that enclose the lake, these open meadows and riparian areas are extremely diverse, containing as many as 400 plant species. During 2009, research focused on ethnographically-recognized plant resources utilized by Native Americans for medicinal, spiritual, and subsistence-based purposes. Fifty-two different plant species Our team’s research questions originate from various were identified within an 8-hectare (20-acre) meadow on hypotheses set forth during the last 50 years of archaeo- the northwest shore of the lake alone, of which 15 were logical studies at Yellowstone Lake. Over time, 285 ar- food sources, 17 medicinal, and 8 species were known to chaeological sites have been identified along the shores be spiritually important.
This diversity of plant resources supports more than 60 mammal species, including bison, elk, moose, big horn sheep, deer, antelope, grizzly and black bear, mountain lions, coyotes, and wolves. As far as hunting and gathering went, the lake area was a cornucopia for subsistence purposes.
logical and spatial data to evaluate whether Native Americans fished at Yellowstone Lake. Prior research had suggested that fishing for the plentiful cutthroat trout was the main reason Native Americans came here. While it is clear the Shoshone and Bannock knew that the lake contained fish, it is not clear that these tribes fished specifically at Yellowstone Lake. The GIS and archaeological Another seasonally migratory resource in Yellowstone data collected by UM are at odds with the ethnohistoric Lake is cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri), thought that fishing was a popular subsistence strategy at one of only two surviving original native cutthroat trout the lake in prehistory. species left in North America. Traditionally, Yellowstone cutthroat were abundant at the lake, and especially easy Past research proffered that the presence of archaeoto catch in the spring when they ran up the lake’s creeks logical sites at stream confluences supported the idea that to spawn (see the article in this issue titled “Lake Trout these were fishing camps. However, our comprehensive Suppression and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Recovery lake data—collected by UM graduate student Jordan Mcin Yellowstone Lake”). However, Native Americans may Intyre for his 2012 master’s thesis—does not corroborate not have actively fished at the lake, instead taking advan- this hypothesis. Jordan proposes that stream confluences tage of the plethora of other wild fauna and flora available are not a good predictor of site location at Yellowstone there. Lake. Rather, open/riparian habitats are a much better predictor because they provide abundant plant and animal In concert with ethnohistoric data compiled by Peter resources for hunter-gatherers. Blue camas was especially Nabakov and Lawrence Loendorf, we provide archaeo- attractive for the Bannock and Shoshone, one of the key
UM archaeological excavations near Lake Lodge. Doug MacDonald.
edible plant species within the lake’s shoreline meadows. Other plants, including bitterroot, which also ripens in spring, likely inspired movements into the uplands from winter base camps in lower-elevation valleys. In addition, only one of the lake-area sites yielded fish bones and those remains are intrusive (non-native sucker at one archaeological site). Only one lithic (stone tool) from the lake has yielded fish protein and that is of a species that is also non-native (rainbow trout), likely indicating that the tool was used on rainbow trout somewhere else and transported to the lake or that the lithic was recently contaminated (e.g., a site excavator who fished for rainbow trout recently). Another means by which to identify fishing activity at lake-area archaeological sites would be the presence of fishing tools. However, to date, the dozens of lakeshore studies have found no net sinkers or fishhooks or other procurement tools at any of the lake’s sites. The most proximate site with a net sinker is on Malin Creek, some 32 km (20 mi) downstream on the Yellowstone River near Gardiner. Also, while the Smithsonian Institution has two fishing artifacts supposedly from Yellowstone Lake—a notched stone/net sinker and a possible prehistoric fishing lure—these are not well documented and are of uncertain provenience, age, and cultural association. We find it problematic to cite the Smithsonian fishing artifacts as evidence of fishing, not only because of their uncertain origins, but also in light of the fact that not a single net sinker (or other fishing tool) has ever been recovered during professional survey of more than 200 km (124 mi) of lake shoreline, nor during excavations at dozens of sites. Based on sound archaeological data, we have no reason to believe that fishing comprised a substantial portion of the prehistoric diet for Native Americans at Yellowstone Lake. However, the absence of fishing evidence does not necessarily refute the hypothesis that fishing occurred at the lake. Tools produced from organic materials could have been exclusively used for fishing, and the refuse from fish predation may be lost to the vagaries of the archaeological record as well. While fish weirs have never been conclusively identified at feeder streams of the lake, it is likely that such rock features would easily be lost to heavy spring run-off and not preserved in the archaeological record. In conclusion, our research suggests that Native American subsistence was oriented around land-based resources within open/riparian habitats, with fishing perhaps representing a minority subsistence strategy by the Shoshone (if at all).
High, wide and handsome aptly describes Yellowstone Lake and its surrou
If archeological sites were found on the islands, how did the earliest visitors get there? Ann Johnson, a retired Yellowstone archaeologist, speculated that travel to, and population of, the islands was in the warm months via boat rather than swimming (too cold), and not across the ice in winter (conditions too harsh). However, similar to fishing, no archaeological evidence of boats or boat-building tools has ever been found at sites around the lake. While small, simple boats may have been used, there is no evidence that canoes or other heavy-duty boats were employed for extensive travel around the lake. Access to the lake’s islands was most likely on foot across ice in early spring. Hunting bears just as they emerge from hibernation was widely incorporated into the rounds of northern-latitude hunter-gatherers. Thus, archaeological sites likely developed on the islands simply by Native Americans walking across the early spring ice to scout or hunt for bears. In support of this supposition, Yellowstone National Park’s
current bear management officer, Kerry Gunther, notes that he has observed bears on three islands and recorded one (Stevenson Island) with a bear hibernation den. Hibernating bears certainly would have encouraged humans to traverse ice, especially if the hunter had pre-scouted the presence of a den in the late-fall or early-winter. Among many Native American cultures, the killing of a bear was often not just for food, but also perceived to bring wisdom and strength to the hunter. In support of this notion, bear is the second-most-common type of protein identified on stone tools at Yellowstone Lake sites, suggesting that bear hunting was fairly common (see figure below).
undings. Rick and Susie Graetz
Finally, mobility around the lakeshore was unlikely via boats, as best evidenced by the stone artifact fall-off at archaeological sites on the lakeâ€™s south shore compared to the north shore. The north shore is the portion of the lake closest to the famous Obsidian Cliff stone source, far and away the most popular location for collection of stone for Native Americans in northern Yellowstone. In total, UMâ€™s lithic material study encompasses more than 24,000 artifacts from 28 well-studied sites at the lake. Our data shows a substantial lessening in the quantity and mass of stone artifacts from the north to south shore, as shown in this graph (on page 43). This fall-off pattern would not be expected if Native Americans used boats to travel from one shore to the other since they could fit lots of stone in their boats (and even would have used it as ballast). The data suggests that walking was the main form of transportation around the lakeshore.
Types of protein-residue found on stone tools excavated at Yellowstone Lake sites. Doug MacDonald
This large knife from a site near Lake Lodge tested positive for bear protein, as well as cat and deer. Doug MacDonald.
The lithic artifact data also suggest that Native Americans did not travel extensively around the lakeshore. Once they arrived at the lake, they stayed pretty much in one place, and then likely left in the same direction from which they came. This is supported by obsidian source analysis, which shows, for example, that hunter-gatherers arriving from the south used mostly stone from the south, while those in the north used mostly stone from the north. Based on our data, it is entirely possible that many different groups used the expansive lake area at various times and may have not regularly encountered each other. Conversely, it is clear that at other times, Native Americans from different regions actively traded and socialized with each other, as small amounts of exotic stone are present at most lake-area sites. These stones were most likely procured through trading networks.
based on our teamâ€™s research, we know that Native Americans have used the lake and its vast resources for at least the last 11,000 years. We also recognize that Native Americans traveled from the north, south, east, and west to take advantage of seasonal resources at the lake, and that most travel around the lake was on foot. These trips were likely initiated by hunters in the early spring hoping to kill bears coming out of hibernation, and this may be what attracted hunters to islands on the frozen lake. Moreover, archaeological data do not support the idea that Native Americans actively fished at the lake or actively used boats. Instead, what attracted the peoples were the hundreds of plant and animal species readily available on the land around the lake. Future research here will attempt to resolve the question of just how long cutthroat trout have lived in the lake, a question still unanswered.
Overall, the University of Montanaâ€™s archaeological The University of Montana Department of Anthropolresearch is helping to resolve some key questions about ogy and its faculty and students look forward to further reNative American use of Yellowstone Lake. In conclusion, search and to solving this and other fascinating questions.
Comparison of the north and south shore sites as to the amount and weight of stone artifacts found. Doug MacDonald
Douglas MacDonald, Ph.D., RPA is an associate professor in the University of Montana’s Anthropology Department specializing in North American archaeology, cultural resource management, lithic technology, paleoindians, hunter-gatherer behavior, and evolutionary theory. He is head of the UM Anthropology Department’s study as to the use of the Yellowstone region by prehistoric hunter-gatherers. UM’s Department of Anthropology has published two volumes (called Yellowstone Archaeology) on this research. email@example.com
A commercial netting crew from the Hickey Brothers Fishery of Bailey Harbor, Wisconsin set deep-water trap nets that keep the fish alive. The cutthroats are returned to the lake and the lake trout are killed. Jay Fleming. Courtesy of the Yellowstone Park Foundation
Lake Trout Suppression and Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Recovery in Yellowstone Lake By Ken Barrett
hen non-native and decidedly predatory lake trout were illegally introduced into Yellowstone Lake in the mid-to-late 1980s by some unknown person or persons, the stage was set for an ecological disaster. The result has been a very costly lake trout suppression campaign and the creation of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout recovery program.
with limited financial and human resources and technical know-how, the reduction effort went on for more than a decade before the magnitude of the problem was fully recognized.
By then the cutthroat population had been decimated. The lake trout were on the march, and years of drought and the impact of a newly-introduced whirling disease into Yellowstone National Park waters only added to the The first lake trout caught in Yellowstone Lake and cutthroat’s woes. That year Clear Creek, once home to brought to park officials was in 1994. Within a decade, spawning runs of 50,000 to 70,000 cutthroat trout as rethe highly-effective predators took a huge toll on cut- cently as the 1990s, produced exactly 218 spawning fish. throat, which had inhabited the lake without competition Yellowstone Lake was losing its cutthroats at an alarmfrom finned-mauraders for over 10,000 years. The lake ing rate and with them the integrity of the park and its trout were like foxes let loose in the proverbial hen house as they went on a feeding and reproducing spree. In just surrounding ecosystem was threatened. A more aggressive over a decade, they reduced the historical population of and effective approach was needed. four million cutthroats by more than 90 percent, leaving o a group of the country’s leading fisheries’ biologists fewer than 400,000 in their wake. was brought together, and in 2008 they released a nearly 400-page environmental assessment idenGone were the days of catching dozens of the beautitifying the best alternative actions the park could fully spotted native trout from the lake and Yellowstone take to recover the cutthroat trout. Among those put River below Le Hardy Rapids, where generations of visiforth and unanimously agreed upon was a full-scale lake tors came to view the spawning fish. And the bears, ospreys, bald eagles, otters, and nearly 40 other species, trout suppression plan. The biologists called for a heavywhich depend to one degree or another on Yellowstone duty netting program that would eliminate 50 percent or cutthroats for food, were forced to look elsewhere for sus- more of the catchable population of lake trout for five to tenance. In their place, deep-water dwelling and spawn- six consecutive years. If successfully carried out, it would ing lake trout, largely unavailable to these same critters… crash the lake trout population and allow natural recovery swam unmolested while posing an ever-increasing men- of the Yellowstone cutthroat population to an estimated ace to the ecological integrity of what is referred to as the 75 percent of their previous population of four million entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. At first, biologists fish. Thereafter, a well-targeted suppression program of and other officials weren’t sure what effect the lake trout netting and egg destruction, based on information gathwould have on Yellowstone Lake and its cutthroats. Some ered from lake trout implanted with radio transmitters, thought they would have a relatively minor impact and would allow biologists to control their numbers far less even if it proved to be a major threat it would take decades expensively than the $2 million per year needed during to develop. Others were far more alarmed by the potential the initial five-to-six-year campaign. hazard and called for immediate action. Within a year of the discovery, gill netting for lake trout had begun. But
y 2011, the stepped-up suppression program was off and running, and Dan Wenk, YNP Superintendent, and his senior staff had identified lake trout suppression as their number one natural resource priority. In response to a request for monetary assistance from the park’s official fundraising partner, the Yellowstone Park Foundation, a $1 million grant was awarded in March of 2012, and the suppression program shifted into high gear. In 2012, over 300,000 lake trout were eliminated by two national park and two contracted, commercial fishing crews from the Great Lakes. That brought the total number of lake trout, eliminated in just the last two years, to 525,000—equal to the total number caught in the previous 15 years combined. Adding to the growing pressure on the lake trout was the identification of a primary lake trout spawning area near Carrington Island by biologists using radio transmitters implanted in female lake trout. In October 2012, using an improvised egg vacuuming device, biologists eliminated tens of thousands of eggs. A proposal to lay a metal grid over the entire area and electrocuting the eggs next fall is currently under study and consideration. Of all the positive news coming from the biologists, perhaps the most encouraging is the increase in the number of juvenile cutthroat trout now seen. In 2011, approximately 8,800 juveniles were counted in an annual population sampling that has been done in Yellowstone Lake since 1945. In 2012, the number jumped to nearly 21,000 and resulted in the highest count in over a decade. While it is too early to say we have turned the corner on eliminating lake trout and saving Yellowstone’s cuthroats, the news is most encouraging. Will we ever completely rid Yellowstone Lake of lake trout? Probably not, but if we stay the course and keep at it until the lake trout population crashes and then maintain a surveillance and containment program, our children and their children’s children may look down from Fishing Bridge and see spawning cutthroat trout once again. And Yellowstone National Park will continue to function as a fully integrated ecosystem and remain the magical place that has inspired generations of people from around the world. To learn more about the Help Save Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout program and to watch a 3-minute video on the lake trout suppression campaign, please go to ypf.org. Ken Barrett is the campaign manager of the Native Fish Conservation Program for the Yellowstone Park Foundation.
(Left) A big, beautiful Yellowstone cutthroat trout is pulled from the Clear Creek spawning migration trap. Brian Ertel, courtesy of the Yellowstone Park Foundation (Above) Caught in a trap net, the ravenous lake trout eats 40-50 Yellowstone cutthroat trout a year. Courtesy of the Yellowstone Park Foundation
The Yellowstone Park Foundation www. ypf.org has served as Yellowstone National Parkâ€™s official fundraising partner since 1996. Its mission is to fund projects and programs that protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources, and the visitor experience of the Park. YPF has raised more than $70 million and funded more than 200 important projects and initiatives since 1996 that include wildlife research, cutthroat trout restoration, trail maintenance, and youth education.
The Nature By Bebe Crouse
Conserving the Greater Yellowstone and Beyond
n 1976, The Nature Conservancy made its first real The Nature Conservancy’s work in mark in Montana with a conservation easement on Southwest Montana 1,800 acres of land in the exquisite Blackfoot Valley — the first ever in the state’s history. Still, it would Conservation in Southwest Montana is dominated by be another decade before an official TNC chapter was one big name: Yellowstone National Park. Millions of opened in Montana. people are enticed to the park for the chance to see its In those early years, the focus was on creating nature extraordinary wildlife. What many may not realize is that preserves; saving pieces of special habitat, rare plants, or a the vitality of this very entity that draws them here dedisappearing animal. But, since The Conservancy’s work pends on the tens of thousands of acres that lie outside its is guided by science, it soon became clear that it wasn’t boundaries. The Centennial Valley is one of most remote enough to just safeguard isolated islands of nature. Land and undeveloped reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecoand water needed to be protected at a scale large enough system and lies at the heart of our work in this part of the to sustain healthy populations of plants, animals, and state. Its broad grasslands, sagebrush steppe, and a rich people over many generations. In a place as big and varied mosaic of wetlands provide critical habitat for a variety as Montana, that means working with a broad set of tools of animals ranging from grizzly bears, wolves, elk, prongon enormous sweeps of land. It also takes a large grouping horn, and moose to graceful trumpeter swans, sandhill of partners — from individual landowners and commu- cranes, and greater sage-grouse. Populations of disappearnity advisors to the foundations and public agencies who ing Arctic grayling still spawn in the waters of the Centennial and the Big Hole Valley to the northwest. Equally offer both expertise and funding. important, the region provides vital links for wildlife The TNC’s combination of science, protection, and that must migrate or disperse across a far-reaching landpartnership has proven to be a winning formula. Those scape—into Central Idaho and on to Canada — in order first 1,800 acres protected in the Blackfoot Valley have to remain resilient. Partnership with private landowners grown to nearly a million acres conserved across the state and public land managers is a key to our success here. —from the Crown of the Continent on into the Greater Yellowstone and on to the broad Northern Prairies.
Aspen Grove. Kenton Rowe
The Threat The American Farmland Trust listed Southwest Montana’s Beaverhead, Gallatin, and Madison counties as places where ranchland is at serious risk from subdivision. Through its history, harsh winters and difficult access have limited development in the Centennial, but you need only go one pass away, to the subdivisions around Henry’s Lake, to see how quickly that would change with an action as simple as improving the rough roads. In the Big Hole, the threat is even more pressing. The valley’s prized fishing waters, Centennial Valley. Kenton Rowe magnificent scenery, and paved highways have already resulted in far more development pressure. Both valleys are also still feeling the impacts of past land use practices including year-round grazing in the early 1900s that damaged streamside vegetation.
Our Vision Our goal is to ensure a viable future for wildlife, for clean water, and for family ranches by conserving the natural connections between parks, private land, and wilderness across state and national boundaries. We couple land protection, community partnerships, and sciencebased stewardship and restoration to achieve success that endures for the long-term.
Pronghorn. Kenton Rowe
Tools and Strategies Our core strategy in Southwest Montana is working with private landowners to place voluntary conservation easements on their land. These agreements limit subdivision that fragments wildlife habitat and can disrupt operations of multi-generation family ranches. Since much of the most productive valley land is held by large, private
cattle ranches, conserving them ensures the viability of a much broader area, including the surrounding public lands. To date, we have protected more than 60 percent of the private land in the Centennial, and we are working with a diverse team of partners to advance a similarly successful program in the Big Hole. The second arm of our work is restoration. Livestock grazing by early settlers devastated streamside willows and damaged banks and channels. By building relationships over more than a decade and finding common ground on problems such as invasive weeds, local ranchers have become vital partners in restoring habitat on their land.
Centennial Sandhills Preserve
Stewardship staffer Tyler Rennfield samples grass in the Centennial Valley. Kenton Rowe
The Conservancy’s Centennial Sandhills Preserve protects a unique habitat of wind-deposited sand that supports uncommon sagebrush steppe communities and several globally rare plant species. Besides monitoring the plant and animal life there, we use the preserve as a living laboratory to test management practices such as controlled burns and different grazing regimes.
Natural Values The richness of the Centennial Valley’s wildlife is directly linked to several factors. 1. The nearly 50,000-acre Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and other largely undeveloped public lands provide vital native habitat and minimal disturbance. 2. The Centennial Valley hosts the largest wetland complex in the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, supporting 261 bird species. It is the site for regional trumpeter swan recovery efforts and contains the densest breeding population of peregrine falcons and ferruginous hawks in Montana. 3. Red Rock Creek is critical spawning habitat for the last native population of adfluvial (fish that live in lakes and spawn in rivers) Arctic
grayling in the lower 48 states. 4. The valley is an essential pathway connecting wildlife to habitat both north and west of Yellowstone. The near-by Big Hole Valley embraces a world-renowned native fishery and the only river in the lower 48 states that still supports native fluvial (live and spawn in rivers) Arctic grayling. The valley’s abundant wetlands support a broad range of wildlife including moose, elk, deer, bears, and birds. The Big Hole is a key connection between wildlands in Idaho and Montana’s Crown of the Continent.
People and Partnerships Our work would be impossible without collaboration and partnership with innumerable people. Ranching in Southwest Montana, as in much of the west, is a labor of loveâ€”love of the land and the wildlife it supports. In the Big Hole, nearly a dozen ranchers have signed on to efforts to restore habitat for Arctic grayling. Throughout the region, landowners have helped us protect stream
banks from grazing, modified irrigation systems to improve water efficiency, and given us access to their property for stream and grassland surveys. Equally important have been the public land agencies and scores of scientists, volunteers, and foundations who have lent us their expertise, financial support, and elbow grease to achieve success in this truly remarkable part of the state.
Trumpeter swans. Donna Dewhurst
The Nature Conservancy of Montana is an affiliate of The University of Montanaâ€™s Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative and will provide articles in future publications.
Subdivision of family ranches poses a threat to the rich habitat of the Big Hole Valley. John Lambing
Why the Nature Conservancy? The Conservancy has the skills, resources, and experience to achieve conservation at the scale needed to make a difference in places as vast and complex as Southwest Montana. Our work begins with a strong foundation in science and is carried out with an invaluable team of partners. Weâ€™re proud of our long history of respectful partnerships with landowners, local communities, public agencies, and a broad array of other organizations. Along with our dedicated members and donors, itâ€™s a winning combination. Bebe Crouse is the communications director for the Montana Nature Conservancy
Sage-grouse. John Carlson
Saving the ecosyst
Gallatin Crest: Stretching from Bozeman to YNP, the Gallatin Range gives hikers views worth working for. Courtesy of GYC.
tem one step at a time By Jeff Welsch
ereâ€™s an argument that might elicit a doubletake from those accustomed to hearing doom and gloom: the 20-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is ecologically healthier now than at any time since Yellowstone became the worldâ€™s first national park in 1872.
Yellowstone by the 1970s, has rebounded from fewer than 200 to nearly triple that number. The American bison, down to its last two-dozen animals in the early 1900s, now numbers more than 4,000 and for the first time in generations is allowed to roam outside Yellowstoneâ€™s boundaries.
How could that be, you ask? With human population squeezing from all sides? With energy and other development carving up landscapes? With more than 3 million visitors annually stressing the resources?
Greater Yellowstone is now the last great largely intact temperate ecosystem on the planet, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) has played a major role in that evolution.
Well, yes. Consider:
GYC was founded in 1983 on a simple premise: An ecosystem will remain healthy and wild only if it is kept With the restoration of a wolf population in 1995, whole. Fueling our creation was the plight of the grizzly, Greater Yellowstone now has its full complement of which was in peril because of habitat fragmentation and native wildlife for the first time since the mid-1920s. The the decline of food sources. mighty grizzly bear, on the brink of extinction in Greater
ince then, GYC has emerged as America’s voice As such, our major campaigns today revolve around for Yellowstone—a nationally known advocate protecting some of our most treasured wild landscapes. To for ecosystem-level sustainability based on sound wit: science. This is a vast ecosystem, with 20 million yoming’s Absaroka-Beartooth Front: This acres of mostly wild lands that include Yellowstone and astoundingly wild region between Cody Grand Teton national parks, portions of six national forests, and Yellowstone is home to the largest five national wildlife refuges, and state and private lands in concentration of grizzly bears outside the Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. park. We are fighting to protect this region against energy With four strategically placed offices—Bozeman, Montana, development. Cody and Jackson, Wyoming, and Idaho Falls, Idaho—we are Parks to Park: Greater Yellowstone is on an ecological uniquely positioned to work locally with a broad spectrum of island, its migratory and dispersal corridors for wildlife cut interests to protect the lands, waters, wildlife and quality of life in Greater Yellowstone, now and for future generations. off by an interstate highway and social intolerance. The soPerhaps the best measure of our leadership and influence is called High Divide region straddling the Montana-Idaho border is a vital landscape for connecting Yellowstone’s our base of more than 40,000 supporters worldwide. wildlife with the Crown of the Continent region and wilds Today, as advocacy needs in the region change, so does of central Idaho. We are working to create safe passage for our focus. Where once we strived to ensure that grizzly wildlife seeking refugia in a warming climate. bears, wolves and bison survived in Greater Yellowstone, Montana’s Gallatin Range: The last significant unroaded now we are working on building tolerance, acceptance and, area adjacent to Yellowstone still without permanent ultimately, appreciation for their place on the landscape and wilderness protections is in the Gallatin, a wild range their inextricable position in the region’s wild fabric. stretching from Bozeman to the park’s boundary. It is home to
critical populations of free-ranging grizzly bears, wolves, elk, wolverine, pika and other charismatic Yellowstone creatures. We are pushing for permanent wilderness designation of the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area.
or three decades, GYC’s focus has been protecting the untamed landscapes so that the iconic wildlife of Greater Yellowstone—grizzly bears, wolves, bison and others—will thrive long into the future. Having achieved a great measure of success in the recovery of those species, GYC is now focusing on the next 30 years within the framework of new challenges: Human population growth in the region, climate change and energy development.
Southeast Idaho’s phosphate district: Better known as the two-headed trout district, this vast area—which still includes roadless country—with its 17 federal Superfund sites due to selenium poisoning of streams and vegetation is the most polluted landscape in Greater Yellowstone. We are striving Find out what we are doing today to ensure that the to force the industry to clean up its messes before new toxic Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem continues down a positive mines are permitted. path, and how you can help play a part in maintaining its ellowstone Lake: It is here that our efforts to save future, by visiting www.greateryellowstone.org.
the imperiled Yellowstone cutthroat trout are The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is a partner in the centered. Since the illegal introduction of lake trout University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent and Greater in the 1980s, the cutthroat population has declined Yellowstone Initiative. by 99 percent. We are actively supporting and funding an Jeff Welsch is communications director for the Greater increasingly successful effort by the National Park Service Yellowstone Coalition in Bozeman. He can be reached at to suppress lake trout numbers—to the tune of 300,000 in firstname.lastname@example.org. 2012. Photo: Trailwork building a backcountry highway. Courtesy of GYC
Cycle Greate Yellowstone GYC
Brings the Worl
By Jeff Welsch
ld to GYE With inspiring scenery around every bend, the tour is designed to educate about and garner support for the Greater Yellowstone. Courtesy of GYC
t all began, really, on a warm September evening in a dusty rodeo arena in Pendleton, Ore. Filling two-thirds of the colorful Pendleton Round-Up stadium were the usual suspects: ranchers and cowboys in their best hats, Wrangler jeans, cowhide boots and silver belt buckles. Across the arena, as if in the visitors’ section at a college football game, sat some 1,500 t-shirt, shorts and sandals clad Cycle Oregon bicyclists. Before the bucking and roping began, the announcer welcomed the Cycle Oregon visitors and expressed appreciation for their desire to absorb the regional culture. As he did, a rousing round of applause rose from locals just as eager to share and showcase their community. That’s when it hit me: The GYC needed an event like this. A way of reaching and educating an entirely new segment of society about the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Let’s call it using innovation to do conservation. Two years later, that vision is about to become a reality. On August 18, 2013, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s Cycle Greater Yellowstone (www. cyclegreateryellowstone.com), a fully supported, first-class, week-long tour designed to lure 1,000 cyclists plus an entourage of several hundred to immerse themselves in the region kicks off. Putting feet to the pedals amid the lodgepole pines in West Yellowstone, the 450-mile route will convey riders along rivers and mountain valleys and include overnights in or around the towns of Ennis, Livingston, Gardiner, Cooke City, Cody and, after taking a spin through Powell, Wyoming, climax with an outand-back ride from the mountain village of Red Lodge, Montana to the tundra of the Beartooth Plateau as the grand finale. Though staging such a large event is daunting, capitalizing on the enormous popularity of cycling will offer measurable and immeasurable benefits for the region, communities, riders and GYC. It is, to paraphrase a cliché, a win-win proposition. For GYC, it is an unparalleled opportunity to inspire and inform a regional, national and international audience about the wonders of one of the planet’s last great largely intact temperate ecosystems. As we commemorate our 30th anniversary, Cycle Greater Yellowstone is a unique way to build lasting rapport between GYC, cyclists and the towns whose economic vitality is critical to Greater Yellowstone’s ecological and spiritual health. And it goes without saying that we hope the event will lead to a desire to support protection of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Designed to be challenging yet manageable, cyclists will rise from their tents for breakfast, spend the morning and early afternoon pedaling, arrive in camp for a hot shower, spill into the communities for much of the afternoon, then return to camp for evening programs that feature educational talks and entertainment. In 2010, I pedaled Cycle Oregon and witnessed first-hand the high-energy flow of goodwill and camaraderie between event organizers, cyclists and communities. This was best reflected in a photo of two posteriors on a Pendleton barstool, one wearing Wranglers and the other Spandex, each with a beer in hand saluting the other. Conservatively, we estimate a $2-3 million direct annual impact in the region and an incalculable benefit from the many cyclists whose week here will move them to return again and again. We are already hard at work planning for 2014, which, with Jackson Hole, Wyoming as the starting point, will showcase the southern portion of Greater Yellowstone. Jeff Welsch is communications director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in Bozeman. He can be reached at email@example.com.
In 2014, the tour will showcase the southern portion of Greater Yellowstone. Rick and Susie Graetz
The First Exploratio The First of Three Introduction by Rick Graetz Compilation of diaries and reports by Aubrey L. Haines
David E. Folsom. Courtesy of YNP.
ever, it was these reports and the interest they caused that hree explorations to the Yellowstone Country in the led to the first successful investigation of the Yellowstone period Autumn 1869 thru Summer 1871 led direct- area. ly to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. Stories from these journeys are many and fill volumes. “We trace the creation of the park from the Fol- Aubrey L. Haines, Yellowstone’s historian from 1959 unsom-Cook expedition of 1869 to the Washburn expedi- til 1969, took the wealth of information available through tion of 1870, and thence to the Hayden expedition of numerous sources, and compiled them in one chapter in 1871, Not to one of these expeditions more than to an- what this writer considers to be THE definitive books other do we owe the legislation (March 1, 1872) which on Yellowstone’s past: The Yellowstone Story—Volumes set apart this “pleasuring-ground for the benefit and en- One and Two—Revised Editions, which were published joyment of the people”— Nathaniel P. Langford—YNP’s through the University Press of Colorado for the Yellowinitial superintendent who served without pay from stone Association. Permission has been granted for use of 1872-1877 to help preserve the area as a national asset. the writings. The territory which is now the Yellowstone National Park was unexplored and uncharted until shortly after the Civil War. Although occasional travelers brought back outrageous reports of geysers, volcanic fires and sulfurous, steaming springs, they were generally not believed. How-
In 1869, motivated by a desire for adventure as well as the wish to map the hearsay of the region, Charles W. Cook and two companions, William Peterson and David E. Folsom departed Diamond City, Montana Territory. Despite encounters with hostile Indians, a shortage of
ons of Yellowstone
Charles W. Cook. Courtesy of YNP.
William Peterson and wife Jess. Coutesy of YNP.
food and supplies, and other dangers and hardships, the sufficient in the tale to excite my curiosity.” trio completed the exploration and confirmed the reports Father Kuppens was able to induce some of the young of earlier and less literate visitors. men to take him into the area… and there he saw what he For the most part the words that begin with the next termed the “chief attraction,” including the Grand Canyon paragraph appear as Haines wrote them in 1977. and the geysers of the Firehole basins.
Late in October of that same year, while the sights of the Yellowstone trip were yet fresh in Kuppens’ mind, a party of horsemen going from Helena to Fort Benton was caught in a sudden, savage blizzard from which they took shelter at the mission. The nearly frozen riders included Acting Territorial Governor Thomas Francis Meagher, Territorial Judges Hezekiah L. Hosmer and Lyman E. Munson, two deputy United States marshals, X. Beidler and Neil Howie, and Cornelius Hedges.”
n the spring of 1865, Father Francis Xavier Kuppens, a young Jesuit priest attached to the old St. Peter’s Mission on Sun River near present Great Falls, Montana, had an opportunity to accompany a group of Piegan Indians on a buffalo hunt in the country between the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. In the course of that practical evangelism he heard about the Yellowstone region. In his words, “many an evening in the tent of Baptiste Champagne or Their entertainment, during several storm-bound days Chief Big Lake the conversation, what little there was of it, at the mission, included much about the Yellowstone trip turned on the beauties of that wonderful spot… There was of Father Kuppens, who says:
“I spoke to him [Meagher] about the wonders of the Yellowstone. His interest was greatly aroused by my recital… None of the visitors had ever heard of the wonderful place. Gen. Meagher said if things were as described the government ought to reserve the territory for a national park. All the visitors agreed that efforts should be made to explore the region and that a report of it should be sent to the government.”
There was no opportunity to make the proposed exploration until 1867 when the Montana Volunteers erected forts—Elizabeth Meagher and Ida Thoroughman—that served to shield the Gallatin and Yellowstone valleys from the raiding Sioux. With a Yellowstone expedition at last feasible, the Virginia City Montana Post of June 29, 1867, carried this announcement:
“The Expedition to the Yellowstone country mentioned a short time since is now organized, and it is the purpose of the party to start from the camp on Shields River [Ida Thoroughman] in about two weeks... A number of gentlemen have expressed a desire to join the party.”
The Yellowstone River just north of present-day Gardiner, 1871. Courtesy of USGS
The expedition was crippled at the last moment by Meagher’s death in the waters of the Missouri River at Fort Benton. None of the territory’s influential men cared to absent themselves in the Yellowstone wilderness during the period of readjustment that followed, and the projected exploration degenerated to a scout by a company of Montana Territorial Volunteers under Captain Charley Curtiss, accompanied by Surgeon James Dunlevy. Though the newspaper coverage describes the expedition as proceeding to “within a few miles of the lake near the head of this great valley,” it evidently was terminated at the Mammoth Hot Springs, where the field correspondent became enamored with the possibility of developing a borax mine. As an exploration, the expedition was somewhat of a dud, its only value being in the encouragement it gave to a further effort by “some select party, well prepared and equipped.”
shortage of troops due to the Indian unrest deprived the expedition of an escort, however, and all but three of the citizens refused to go without such protection. The bold ones were David E. Folsom, Charles W. Cook, and William Peterson, and, according to the latter, their decision to go regardless was somewhat impetuous… Cook said, “If I could get one man to go with me, I’d go anyway.” Peterson spoke up, “Well, Charley, I guess I can go as far as you can,” and Folsom added, “Well, I can go as far as both of ye’s,” so they started the next day.
Cook and Folsom were rather untypical Quakers, while Peterson was a former deep-water sailor, but long residence in the mining camps of the northern Rocky Mountains had prepared them for such an expedition. All were good shots, well versed in woodcraft, and selfA number of the interested gentlemen who failed to go reliant; Folsom was trained in surveying and Peterson was up the Yellowstone River with the Curtiss-Dunlevy expe- a packer with practical experience gained in freighting to dition in 1867 made feeble attempts to organize parties to the Idaho mines. Yet, their own confidence in their ability explore the Yellowstone in 1868 and 1869. Regarding the was not shared by the friends who saw them off with such latter, the Helena Herald for July 29, 1869, announced: parting remarks as, “good-bye, boys, look out for your hair”; “if you get into a scrap, remember I warned you”; “if you get back at all you will come on foot,” and “it’s the next thing to suicide.”
“A letter from Fort Ellis, dated the 19th, says that an expedition is organizing, composed of soldiers and citizens, and will start for the upper waters of the Yellowstone the latter part of August, and will hunt and explore a month or so. Among the places of note that they will visit, are the Falls, Coulter’s Hell and Lake, and the Mysterious Mounds. The expedition is regarded as a very important one, and the result of their explorations will be looked forward to with unusual interest.”
n addition to their five horses (three for riding and two for packing) the “outfit” included a repeating rifle, Colt revolver, and sheath knife for each, one double-barreled shotgun, ammunition, fishing tackle, five pairs of blankets, two buffalo robes, an axe, a small camp kettle, coffee pot, two frying pans, three tin cups, four tin plates, three knives, forks and spoons, to which they added (at Bozeman, the last place where supplies could be purchased) 175 pounds of flour, 25 of bacon, a ham, 30 pounds of sugar, 15 of ground coffee, 10 of salt, 10 of dried fruit, 50 of potatoes, and a dozen boxes of yeast powder… and some items dictated by individual wisdom (Cook brought a pair of French field glasses; Folsom a pocket compass and thermometer, and Peterson had two balls of stout cord). On the first evening after leaving the Gallatin Valley, Cook, Folsom, and Peterson camped on the bank of the Yellowstone near the ford by which the miners crossed to Emigrant Gulch… they made a late start, but they somehow missed the ford and arrived at the Bottler ranch… At the time, the brothers were out hunting in order to add to the stack of antelope and elk hides, which was their “cash” crop.
Fort Ellis, 1871, served as a base of operations for exploring what would become YNP. Courtesy of YNP.
s a result of the late start, the day’s journey ended only three miles beyond the ranch when a chilling afternoon rainstorm forced the party to camp early under a tent improvised from blankets. It was a place of blue noses and chattering teeth, from which they were glad to depart promptly the next morning.
use of the word Tonkey, the elder of the two made it clear that they were Sheepeaters. The three adventurers rode on without discovering what message the Indians tried to communicate by pointing up the river and counting to thirty by opening and closing both hands three times.
While they scrambled over and around the jumble A little more than eight miles from that camp they of slide-rock in Yankee Jim Canyon a band of antelope came upon a solitary wickiup on the bank of Tom Miner dashed by so close that Cook was able to bag one with Creek. It was a barely adequate structure of poles thatched the shotgun. Soon after that fortunate encounter, they with grass, occupied by two old Indian women who were “camped close to the river on a narrow bottom and fared busy gathering and drying chokecherries. By the repeated sumptuously on antelope steak and trout from the water.”
Bannock Indian Trail. By continuing on the Indian route, the Folsom party could have passed easily up the Yellowstone Valley; but they mistrusted the southward jog and struck off eastward through the rough country closer to the river, which was their guide. The day’s journey produced only a chance meeting with more Sheepeater Indians (of whom they were unnecessarily alarmed, for these Indians had no more sinister objective than to cadge a little ammunition or some matches). From them the party learned what the old women had tried to tell them: simply that there were thirty lodges of their people on the trail ahead. A mile farther on, about where Tower Junction now is, they reached the Bannock Indian Trail, leading to a good campsite near the ford by which that route crosses to the east bank of the Yellowstone. The presence of hot springs and other features in the vicinity induced the party to layover a day to explore their first Yellowstone wonders. Scrambling over the Overhanging Cliff, with its fine view of the outcropping columnar basalt arrayed along the opposite wall of the canyon, they descended to the Calcite Springs and proceeded to poke about the springs and vents that are undoubtedly the source of John Colter’s tantalizing note on the Clark Map of 1812. While collecting specimens there, Cook nearly ended up in a steam vent later found to have a temperature of 194 degrees. Folsom thought he took his narrow escape rather coolly, considering the temperature. The ramble was concluded with a visit to the foot of Tower Fall (though they did not name it) on the return to camp. From information obtained from prospectors who had been in the area at an earlier date, it was understood that the canyon beginning a short distance above their camp was continuous to the Falls of the Yellowstone, an obstacle “through which no one had been able to pass.” The Folsom party therefore decided to cross the river at the ford opposite their camp, follow the valley of the East Fork (Lamar River) for a day’s travel, and then cross over the Mirror Plateau in a direction calculated to bring them out near the n September 13 the journey continued up the Yel- falls. The route was successful but tedious. lowstone River past Devils Slide to the mouth of That first night after crossing the Yellowstone River they the Gardner. There, the ancient Indian trailway camped in a forest-rimmed glade just below Calfee Creek. forked, one branch ascending Gardner River and the other paralleling the Yellowstone while climbing onto There, a feeling of loneliness oppressed them as they listhe Blacktail Deer Creek Plateau to pass around Black tened to the voices of the night. Folsom says, Canyon. They took the latter route to a pleasant campsite in an open meadow near the head of Rescue Creek.
The Indian trail they had followed to that point trends southward from the meadow, crossing a low ridge to a junction with the east-west thoroughfare known as the
“The wolf scents us afar and the mournful cadence of his howl adds to our sense of solitude. The roar of the mountain lion awakens the sleeping echoes of the adjacent cliffs and we hear the elk whistling in every direction… Even the horses seem filled with a feeling of dread, they stop grazing and raise their heads to listen, and then hover around our campfire as if their safety lay in our companionship.” The trek across the Mirror Plateau toward the Falls of the Yellowstone began with a steep ascent up Flint Creek. The weather, which was dismal at the outset, turned increasingly stormy, and they sought shelter early in a grove of spruce trees below the summit. In that refuge they were comfortable enough in the blanket tent throughout the storm.
The morning of September 19 dawned clear and cold, with the snowcovered landscape glistening in the bright sunshine, which presaged a better day. Progress was slow after the plateau was reached: they traveled five miles to an overnight camp west of Wrong Creek on the first 1869 map. Courtesy of YNP
day; an equal distance on the second brought them to the bulence interfered with the work, they did not do so well. vicinity of Josephs Coat Springs, where they spent the afOn September 23, the Folsom party left that “beautiternoon investigating the very active thermal features and ful, picturesque, magnificent, grand, sublime, awful, terkilling an elk to replenish their meat supply. rible” Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and continued on the east side of the river to a crossing opposite Crahe way was easier on the twenty-first with no under- ter Hills. Much of the day went into exploring the many brush or fallen timber, and Cook was riding ahead, thermal features there and at Mud Volcano, near which followed by the two packhorses to which he was mo- they camped for the night. The Mud Volcano was particumentarily giving his attention, when his saddle horse larly impressive. Then, as now, it was a mud-filled cave stopped abruptly. “The animal had halted on the brink opening upon a hillside, but the power of its frequent and of the Grand Canyon in the notch between Artist and regular activity was so great the three explorers could hear Sublime points.” Cook Says, “I sat there in amazement, every explosion at their camp a half-mile away and imagwhile my companions came up, and after that, it seemed ined they could feel the ground tremble beneath them to me it was five minutes before anyone spoke.” After that (as it did in the immediate vicinity of that awe-inspiring first awe-inspiring view, the Folsom party made their way grotto.) along the rim of the canyon, past the two falls, to a grassy Soon after breaking camp the following morning, the bench on the east bank of the Yellowstone above the present Chittenden Memorial Bridge, and there they camped. Folsom party recrossed the Yellowstone River at what would later be known as the Nez Perce ford and followed The following day they spent at the falls: “a day that has the east bank to the outlet of the great, blue lake that exbeen a succession of surprises,” according to Folsom, who tended into mountain-girt “arms” nearly twenty miles to thought, “language is inadequate to convey a just concep- the south. Turning east along the lake shore, they found a tion of the awful grandeur and sublimity of this master- pleasant campsite on the grassy bench west of Mary Bay. At piece of nature’s handiwork.” While there they measured that place they were able to take their choice of ducks, geese, the height of both falls with Peterson’s ball of twine and a and trout to augment their dwindling supplies; indeed, it forked stick. This was accomplished by Cook lying prone was the condition of the larder which decided them to turn upon the rock at the lip of the fall and paying out the homeward after marking their ultima Thule with a piece of twine over the stick in accordance with signals from Pe- rock on which Folsom inscribed their names and the date, terson, who stood below where he could observe the de- and then inserted in a mortise in a pine tree. scending weight. The result obtained for the Upper Fall Returning to the outlet of the lake, the Folsom party (115 feet) was remarkably close to the accepted figure of forded the Yellowstone at a riffle in the vicinity of the pres109 for that drop; at the Lower Fall, where mist and tur-
The Bottler Ranch in the Paradise Valley near today’s Emigrant. Courtesy of USGS
ent Fishing Bridge and continued along the north shore of the lake, intending to cross in a westerly direction into the drainage of the Madison River, which they knew would lead them back to the settlements of Montana Territory. About noon they came to Bridge Bay, the present site of a crowded campground and bustling marina. Folsom’s description of that little Paradise Lost is nostalgic now:
looked upon it before its primeval solitude should be broken by the crowds of pleasure seekers, which at no distant day will throng its shores.”
“We came to a small grassy opening upon the opposite side of which was a beautiful little lake, separated from the main lake only by a sandbar, which the surf had thrown up across the narrow neck, which formerly connected them… This was about one thousand yards across and was nearly reefed. Large flocks of geese and ducks were feeding near the shore or floating gracefully on its smooth surface. Beyond the lake the timber was tall and straight and to appearances as thick as cane in a southern swamp. This was one of the beautiful places we had found fashioned by the practiced hand of nature, that man had not desecrated.”
A due west course on the twenty-ninth led the Folsom
He added that it looked so inviting, with cool shades and a “vision of a supper upon fat ducks,” they decided to camp there. On the twenty-sixth, the journey continued along the lake shore to the hot spring area now known as West Thumb, where they found so much to see that they laid over two days before pushing directly west, across the pine-covered ridges lying between Lake Yellowstone and the Firehole River headwaters of the Madison. As they were ascending the ridge west of Thumb Bay, Folsom took a final look at Yellowstone Lake in its mountain setting:
“…this inland sea, its crystal waves dancing and sparkling in the sunlight as if laughing with joy for their wild freedom. It is a scene of transcendent beauty, which has been viewed by few white men, and we felt glad to have
Devil’s Slide, near Gardiner, is a landmark mentioned in the FCP diaries. Ric
party to Shoshone Lake near its northernmost bulge. They escaped from those geographically confusing environs as deLacy’s prospectors had six years earlier by ascending the stream now known as DeLacy Creek and crossing over the Continental Divide onto White Creek, which led them into the Lower Geyser Basin after three days of rugged, cross-country traveling.
of the timber opposite the Great Fountain Geyser just as it began to play. Cook says, “The setting sun shining into the spray and steam drifting towards the mountains gave it the appearance of burnished gold, a wonderful sight.” Their reaction was to take off their hats and yell with all their might! They camped on White Creek, just above the geyser.
Thus, it was evening of October I when they rode out
ck and Susie Graetz.
11, making the elapsed time longer than anticipated and aving previously obtained some information from causing friends some concern. Of the immediate flurry of prospectors, they were able to identify the locality as interest in this exploration, N.P. Langford says: the Burnt Hole or Death Valley. The latter designation seems to have created some apprehension, for Fol“On his return to Helena he Folsom som says: “Although we experienced no bad effects from related to a few of his intimate friends passing through the ‘Valley of Death,’ yet we were not many of the incidents of his journey, disposed to dispute the propriety of giving it that name.” Indeed, the absence of faunal life gave support to such a and Mr. Samuel T. Hauser and I invited misinterpretation; but how were they to know that the him to meet a number of the citizens ungulates, and their predators, preferred greener pastures of Helena at the director’s room of the among the mountains at that season, or that the Firehole River was barren because the native fish of the Madison First National Bank in Helena; but on drainage were blocked-out by waterfalls? A layover of a day allowed the Folsom party to visit the Middle Geyser Basin – the “Hell’s Half Acre” of Victorian tourists – where they noted that the stream of hot water discharged was sufficient to warm the Firehole River to blood heat a quarter of a mile below. Their observation that one spring about 250 feet in diameter “had every indication of spouting powerfully at times” is probably the first recognition of the eruptive nature of Excelsior Geyser. The homeward journey was completed on October
assembling there were so many present who were unknown to Mr. Folsom that he was unwilling to risk his reputation for veracity, by a full recital, in the presence of strangers, of the wonders he had seen… But the accounts which he gave to Hauser, Gillette and myself renewed in us our determination to visit that region during the following year.”
The Hayden Valley was a passage for the expedition as they headed toward Yellowstone Lake. RIck and Susie Graetz
A published account of the experiences of the Folsom party was given limited circulation quite by chance. In September 1868 Cook had met a Mr. Clark… and in the course of conversation told him some of the rumors concerning the Yellowstone region. The easterner’s interest was so aroused that he proposed they explore the area; a proposal which got as far as a visit to Helena to discuss the project with “Judge” H. N. McGuire. His advice was that it was too late in the season for such a venture, and Mr. Clark returned to his eastern home without the experience of a Yellowstone trip. Soon after returning from the 1869 exploration, Cook received a letter from Clark… He wanted to know what had been found. By return mail he was given information on the exploration from which the Folsom party had just returned, which so intrigued Clark he offered his services in finding a publisher for an article covering their adventures. Both the New York Tribune and Scribner’s (or Harper’s) magazine refused the manuscript because “they had a reputation that they could not risk with such unreliable material.” A less exacting publication, the Western Monthly Magazine of Chicago, finally accepted the account and published it in the issue of July 1870 under Cook’s name (probably because he was the one known to Clark).
uring the winter following the Folsom party’s return from the Yellowstone wilderness, David Folsom went to work in the Helena office of the newly appointed and just-arrived surveyor general of Montana Territory, Henry D. Washburn. There, Folsom met that other civil engineer and Yellowstone explorer, Walter W. deLacy, and together they revised deLacy’s “Map of the Territory of Montana…” which had first appeared in 1865, with a view to presenting the Yellowstone region with greater accuracy. This 1870 edition, which came off the press in time to serve the Washburn party of that year, was a tolerably good map, portraying the Yellowstone Lake correctly for the first time as well as relating the various drainages and features with reasonable accuracy. Folsom gave General Washburn much detailed information on the Yellowstone region and its wonders, and he is credited with a similar suggestion to that made by Thomas Meagher in 1865 – that the area should be reserved for public use as a park. The basis for Folsom’s suggestion is apparent in certain remarks made years later by his old comrade, C. W. Cook, at the park’s Golden Anniversary celebration at Madison Junction in 1922.
“The night before we came to this junction we camped a little way up the Firehole River. We had decided to make that the last camp on our exploration and to follow the Firehole down to the Madison River and home. In the camp that night we were talking over the great array of natural marvels we had seen and the scenic beauty of the area we had traversed. Peterson remarked that probably it would not be long before settlers and prospectors began coming into the district and taking up land around the canyons and the geysers, and that it would soon be all in private hands. I said that I thought the place was too big to be all taken up, but that, anyway, something ought to be done to keep the settlers out, so that everyone who wanted to, in future years, could travel through as freely and enjoy the region as we had. Then Folsom said, “The Government ought not to allow anyone to locate here at all.” “That’s right,” I said, “It ought to be kept for the public some way.” “None of us definitely suggested the idea of a national park. National parks were unknown then. But we knew that as soon as the wonderful character of the country was generally known outside, there would be plenty of people hurrying in to get possession, unless something was done.”
Not much has changed at Mammoth Hot Springs since William H. Jackson took the photo on the left in 1872. In 2010, modern day photographer Will Klaczynski captured the same site. (Left) Courtesy of USGS and (right) Will Klazynski
These then, were the contributions of the Folsom party The second of the three articles outlining the Washburn of 1869: a descriptive magazine article, a greatly improved Exploration will be in the next The University of Montana’s map, a suggestion for the reservation of the public inter- Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative est, and the encouragement of the Washburn Party which e-magazine followed their footsteps in 1870. Aubrey L. Haines was Yellowstone National Park’s historian from 1959 until 1969.
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.YellowstoneAssociation.org
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s a University of Montana student majoring in Japanese, Evan Holmstrom never envisioned he would one day be using a field guide to identify animal droppings. He was, after all, a fan of punk rock concerts and a self-professed science-fiction movie aficionado—not a scientist. That all changed his sophomore year when a friend convinced him to volunteer on a science inventory trip into the Sapphire Range. One trip turned into two and two into three. Four years later, Evan is now a trip leader, hiking the ridge tops and forested trails of Montana’s last remaining wild places, documenting what he sees, and teaching what he has learned to other volunteers. “It was a way for me to expose myself educationally to the natural sciences. I felt a conviction and had a responsibility. I was trying to learn as much as I could,” he related. Evan’s exposure into this world is just the tip of the iceberg
of a growing development that is redefining what it means to be a scientist. It’s a movement that is also getting people more involved in natural resource issues that have traditionally been the sole domain of trained technocrats and federal agencies.
This is the Era of the Citizen Scientist. The practice of ‘citizen science’ has been around long before someone found a name for it. One hundred and thirteen years ago, a young member of the Audubon Society decided to organize a Christmas bird count. Instead of one pair of eyes in the sky, he recruited 27 volunteers. Today, that tradition has tens of thousands of participants and is the longest running citizen science survey in the world. As technology has morphed over the last century, so too
Proof that citizen scientists are not “all work and no play.” A field crew takes a break in the Gallatin Range, Hyalite- Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area. Bob Allen
in the Greater Yellowstone By Jared White
has the citizen scientist. School kids can now download apps onto their smart phones that, when paired with the correct microphone, will monitor bat species in the night’s sky and upload the information to a central database for analysis. In an era when even a middle-schooler can deliver data as dependably as a trained professional, you can bet it’s hard to figure out who is and who isn’t a citizen scientist. Unfortunately, there is no Peterson’s field guide to help out. Young or old, artists or plumbers, drivers of Subarus or Ford pick-up trucks, they have no distinct plumage patterns, having been spotted in both Patagonia fleece and canvas Carhartt vests. Only one thing is for sure: there are a whole lot of people willing to try it out. According to Catherine Filardi, who has been managing citizen scientists like Evan as part of the University of Mon-
tana’s Wilderness Institute Program, that sheer number of volunteers is the primary strength of the movement. Filardi has never had a problem filling up her trips and says her volunteers, with minimal training, are capable of providing factual and meaningful data. Each summer, the Institute trains and sends multiple groups of volunteers into remote areas of Montana’s backcountry to collect data that has either never been captured before, or was collected so long ago it’s officially antiquated. In just a few summers, her volunteers have inventoried 95 percent of the trail system across Montana’s seven remaining Wilderness Study Areas. The data is now helping managers establish an actual reference point to figure out whether the wild character of these landscapes is changing, and if so, what to do about it.
The actual information her citizen scientists provide is important because fewer and fewer professionally paid workers are around to do it themselves. As Filardi explains, “When the funding dries up, one of the first things to go is an actual field presence on the land. If the data isn’t collected, then the agencies don’t have an accurate pulse of the land that they are supposed to be managing.” But behind all the numbers and objective scientific measurements the citizen scientists are capturing, Catherine wonders if perhaps there isn’t something else going on—something more emotional and more place-based simmering just below the surface. “The question,” Filardi asks, “is how this experience is impacting our volunteers. Does it create long-term engagement and stewardship in these natural resource issues playing out around them?”
The Gallatin Range – a Natural Laboratory Such questions are being experimented with in the
A UM Wilderness Institute leader confers with citizen scientists UM Professor of Mathematics David Patterson (right) and his daughter Gilly (center). The Big Snowy Mountains Wilderness Study Area. Courtesy of the UM Wilderness Institute.
Gallatin Mountain Range at the northern edge of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Multiple organizations (including The Wilderness Society) are currently building on a citizen-science model to get more local folks aware of the range’s exceptional values and to engage them in efforts to protect it. The Gallatin Range is after all, an ideal landscape. Just steps from 21st century health care and an international airport, wildlife still roam the hills and forests above a valley rapidly expanding with people. Meet Kurt Meyers, a semi-retired carpenter who enjoys a vigorous cross-country ski. Kurt lives with his wife and two dogs at the northern tip of the Gallatin Range in Bozeman. An article on citizen scientist winter tracking excursions in the local newspaper last year gave him the idea to tag along on a few. After three days of skiing alongside local biologists while looking for evidence of wolverine, lynx and fisher, he has found he doesn’t look at things the same way he used to. Now Kurt slows down, searches for signs, and
tries to figure out what is happening around him. “I’m always trying to piece together the clues of what I see in the snow,” he told me over the phone. “It’s funny, when you’re looking for it you start to realize there is a whole lot more going on out here than just you skiing.” Does this awareness translate into actual engagement on natural resource issues as Catherine Filardi wonders? “I think it fosters stewardship because you begin to take it more personally, Collecting data on winter migration paths. Ben Donatelle and in that reWhat we need is some perspective. As local communispect I have become more aware of the issues,” answers Kurt. “Rather ties look ahead to collaborative discussions to chart a futhan hearing about groups working to protect things, you ture for their backyard backcountry, citizen scientists will start to inherently care about them yourself and that mat- be strong advocates reminding us there is far more going ters.” on out there besides backpacks, mountain bikes, skis and snowmobiles to name a few. There is still a wildness to those hills, and the citizen scientist is positioned to deA New Voice in the Conversation: liver both the science driven numbers and the thoughtful The Gallatin Range could use a few more citizen sci- empathy needed to help us figure out what to do with it. Back at the University of Montana’s Wilderness Instientists. Decades of conflicts over the management of this last unprotected roadless area adjacent to Yellowstone Na- tute, Filardi reflects on her volunteer, Evan Holstrom, and tional Park have primarily focused on the impacts of con- his transformation from Japanese major to amateur natuservation on recreational use. Newspaper headlines and ralist to eventual crew leader. She is inspired and hopeful, federal agencies have drawn out the disagreements among “A piece of the future of wilderness is growing and inuser groups, but have failed to talk about the deteriora- forming active citizens, who are not just using and learntion of elk security habitat, or the value of clean water ing from wilderness, but are aware of what it takes to be stewards of the land.” supplies. Jared White is the communications manager for the Wilderness Society. Info on citizen science opportunities in Montana: www.cfc.umt.edu/WI or the Gallatin Range: www.gallatinwrp.org
The Cinnabar By Steve Thompson
fter a day hunting elk in the rugged Cinnabar Basin north of Yellowstone National Park, three of Montana’s leading conservationists swapped stories and shared their dreams for the future of this landscape they cared so deeply about. It was 1982, and the day Len Sargent, Jim Posewitz, and Phil Tawney conceived the idea of the Cinnabar Foundation. The three men, along with Len’s wife Sandy, pledged to raise money to provide long-term support to conservation groups in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone region. Their friendship had been forged through the fiery trials faced by Montana’s fledgling conservation movement in the heady years following the 1972 Constitutional Convention in which Montana became the first state to guarantee its citizens a “clean and healthful environment.” In particular, they became close allies in the successful 1970’s-era fight to block the proposed Allenspur
Dam that would halt the free-flowing Yellowstone River and divert its waters to produce the steam required for coal-fired power plants. With the Yellowstone River protected, the Cinnabar Foundation set to the task of bolstering Montana’s young conservation groups. Resources were slim, and grants in the early 1980s ranged from a whopping $200 to $923. Robin Tawney Nichols, in her 2008 biography of Len and Sandy Sargent, A Legacy of Activist Philanthropy, writes that early Cinnabar Foundation board meetings always convened at the Sargent Ranch toward the end of Montana’s big-game hunting season, and they did not last long. “We’d turn that 20 minutes worth of board work into three days of elk hunting,” recalls Posewitz, who served as the foundation’s part-time executive director until his retirement in 2010.
Road into the Gravelly Range between Monida and Ennis. JM Stauffer
Foundation Len and Sandy Sargent… In Robin Tawney’s words, “a committed couple who combined activism with philanthropy to make a difference.” Courtesy of the Cinnabar Foundation
n 1988, Len’s personal wealth soared into the millions when his minority share of a family-owned media company was purchased by relatives. And that’s when the Sargents — and the Cinnabar Foundation — became significant philanthropists in support of conservation in Montana and the Yellowstone region.
for conserving Montana’s and the Yellowstone region’s clean waters, abundant wildlife, public wildlands, wideopen landscapes, and recreational access.
As Montana’s homegrown conservation fund, the Cinnabar Foundation invites concerned individuals and families to create their own conservation legacy by investing Tragically, Len and Sandy Sargent and Phil Tawney all in the foundation’s mutual fund for conservation. www. died in the mid-1990s. But today an entirely new board cinnabarfoundation.org of directors guides the foundation, which remains true to the vision and priorities of its founders. Nearly 30 years Steve Thompson is the executive director of the Cinnabar after its creation, more than 1,400 grants totaling $6 mil- Foundation. He can be reached at steve@cinnabarfoundalion to hundreds of different organizations, schools and tion.org. universities have been awarded. Since the Cinnabar Foundation was legally incorporated in 1983, the diversity and number of conservation groups in the region have soared, as have the challenges
LPHS students get out and witness first hand what is happening in the landscape around them. Will Klaczynski
Lone Peak High School and the University of Montana
By Patty Hamblin, Paul Swenson, and Nancy Shiel
n a chilly September evening all 35 members of Lone Peak High School’s freshman and sophomore classes could be found huddled around a campfire at the Red Cliff Campground, ten miles south of Big Sky, Montana. In an attempt to meet LPHS’s mission of place-based education, this was an educational three-day, two night camping trip in which the campers studied geological and geographical elements of the landscape where they live. The outing was just one of many chances for students to explore possibilities for their capstone project—a new graduation requirement enacted last spring to help create more wellrounded graduates who will be better prepared to enter life after high school, whether that be in college or in the work force. The capstone project incorporates community and school service and culminates in an internship in a field of study that interests them. With place-based education at the forefront of progressive pedagogy, one of the goals at Lone Peak High School is to aid in students’ understanding of the natural world that surrounds them. Teachers created an event that was designed to do just that. Place-based education provides dynamic learning experiences that contrast with the standard classroom environment. In a typical language arts class, students are asked to imagine what the wind feels like on their faces as they stand atop a rise on a ridge. In the expeditionary classroom, students actually get to feel this sensation. At the beginning of the fall expedition, students were challenged to consider their place in the environment and how they would respond or adapt to dramatic shifts in their day-to-day routines. What would you do if your life were turned upside
down? How would you respond if your route to work was changed? What would happen if the land before you were laid bare? In reality, it was not their lives that were tossed about, but in the Meadow Creek drainage just five miles south of their campsite, the lives of the plants and animals there had abruptly been altered. During the very wet spring of 2011, a pre-historic landslide was reactivated in this drainage, sliding 500-800 meters—about a half-mile. Consequences of the event included disruption of the migration routes of several large mammal species, including elk and deer, it dammed Meadow Creek creating several new ponds, and turning old ponds that had formed on the original landslide into hilltops, and laying bare soil and rock that had not been exposed to the surface in thousands of years. This new landscape is the area of study chosen for LPHS students. “It’s going to be a long term study, one that the school will be involved with over many years,” stated science teacher Paul Swenson. “I hope that several students get excited about the opportunity to study a large disturbed region such as this and see it change over time.” Students in Mr. Swenson’s integrated science courses and in environmental science teacher Nancy Sheil’s classes study plant succession, geology, soil science, water science, and other biological and physical sciences that can be applied to this unique area. In addition to the sciences, students will also be expected to incorporate concepts from other disciplines. Using documentary photographs and video to show long term effects of weathering, slide movement, plant succession and animal adaptation to their new surroundings; applying journalistic techniques and skills to record, interpret, and publish findings from
Sitting across from the Meadow Creek landslide, students take notes as Paul Swenson lectures on the geology of the slide. Will Klaczynski
the research as it develops each year; utilizing skills from their language arts classes to polish the documentations for publication; and applying the knowledge base gained in studying an unstable, unpopulated area to one whose locale is similar and then identifying the potential social and economic impacts that development on unstable land may bring… all of this is designed to aid in and round out a student’s understanding of the diverse ecosystem in which they live. Several expeditions have been scheduled to give students multiple opportunities to consider options for their capstone project and, perhaps, ultimately a career. They are expected to get their hands dirty and become immersed in these endeavors in hopes of finding something that truly interests them. In addition to the LPHS teachers taking the lead role in this project, the University of Montana has made a commitment to study similar attributes and changes in the Meadow Creek drainage. With the assistance of University of Montana geography professor and part-time Big Sky resident Rick Graetz, our young scholars are being introduced to the myriad possibilities of interesting and genuine career paths available to them. Admittance processes are becoming quite competitive today and many colleges and universities are looking for students who stand out in some unique way. The diverse opportunities
afforded to LPHS students will certainly give them a leg up when it comes to college applications. Our high schoolers, with the help of their teachers and UM and BYU-Idaho advanced students, are putting together portfolios that show the experiences they have had working in the field. Portfolio pieces might include a video of a lecture series, an article published in any number of newspapers and journals, or slides showing a student-led field course. The combination of college level studies and stellar student portfolios will no doubt impress admittance offices. One of the major goals set forth at the school is instilling in students a desire to become actively engaged in their community on a more personal level. It is our hope they will begin to care about what happens to the landscape they live in and want to become an integral part of the decisions being made about it. We think we are on track to fulfill our mission. Patty Hamblin teaches English, Paul Swenson’s specialty is integrated science courses and Nancy Sheil is the environmental science instructor at Montana’s newest high school, Lone Peak High School in Big Sky.
Book Review/Recommendation By Jerry Fetz Jim Bridger, John Bozeman, John Colter, Pierre-Jean De Smet, Malcolm Clarke, Two Bears, John Mullan, Heavy Runner, Chief Joseph, Thomas Francis Meagher, Brigham Young, Thomas Moran, Joe Kipp, Henry Dana Washburn, William Tecumsah Sherman, Phil Sheridan, Samuel Hauser, Nathaniel Pitt Langford, Teddy Roosevelt, Gustavus Cheyney Doane, and countless more famous names from 19th century Montana and western history, many of them memorialized as names of places, towns, and mountains: they are all found here in this magisterial book by George Black. Among the various things he accomplishes in this book, Black has taken these names, many of them etched in the landscape and on the maps of Montana, Wyoming, and the inland West, as well as featured in countless history books and novels of our part of the West, and placed them side-by-side or one after another in the bigger history, the larger “epic” story of our part of the American West which he tells here with vast knowledge, honesty, nuanced understanding, linguistic skill, imagination, and as a terrific story teller. The book’s title: Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone, although somewhat less than clear in meaning when one starts turning the pages, is soon realized in a very impressive way by all that follows. “Empire of Shadows” suggests a story about events, people, places, and movements of history that often aren’t readily visible at first glance. “Empire” and “Epic” suggest grandeur, importance, and a long and complex story. The story of the exploration of and expeditions into Yellowstone; the difficult and unsettling tales of the conflicts between the Europeans and Americans (fur traders, gold seekers, explorers, Civil War refugees, soldiers, ranchers, railroad builders, settlers) and the original inhabitants of the region—as well as the various tribes’ interaction amongst themselves; the stories of the growth of the European-American presence (commercial forts, towns, farms and ranches, businesses and, later, industries); the down-sizing of the territory available to the Natives and the drastic diminution of their ways of life—they are all woven together by George Black into a genuine “epic story” of grand, dramatic, and (sometimes) tragic, proportions.
So where does “Yellowstone” come into this ambitious narrative? And what is meant here by “Yellowstone?” This book (thoroughly researched, with an extensive set of notes and a huge bibliography, in 5 parts, 35 chapters, 428 pages, plus a wonderful set of historic photos) can certainly be read productively and wonderfully as a marvelous and informative (and even entertaining) history of the Montana territory in the 19th century prior to statehood. But it is also, and more importantly, as the title implies, a history of “Yellowstone:” of the river, of the people and peoples who lived on or near it, crossed it, used it, oriented themselves by it; of what we have come to call the “Greater Yellowstone” area, stretching from Montana and Wyoming in the east and south to Idaho in the West; and, of course, of the explorations and the establishment of “Yellowstone National Park,” the first national park in the world. The Yellowstone River and its several tributaries are woven like threads through the entire story. Early myths ascribed to the Native tribes in the region about this frightening place; anecdotes, vignettes, and full-blown stories about the first white explorations of “the Yellowstone” and its increasing importance for the EuropeanAmericans; seeming digressions about people and issues and places removed in distance from “the Yellowstone” which gradually, however, take on significance as the history of the Montana territory unfolds between the 1830s and the 1880s and as the River (Yellowstone), region (Greater Yellowstone), and the park itself (Yellowstone Park) become historical sites, crucial symbols, and important players in the seemingly inexorable, but untidy and conflicted history of the region as it marches forward toward the 20th century: ALL of this and more is found in Empire of Shadows. And the reader is taken into the heart of the “epic” battles between the Natives (sometimes noble, sometimes not so noble) and the “manifest destiny” toting EuropeanAmericans (ditto) who intrude on the Natives, alter by accident and by design their ages-old ways of life and living, and comes out with an understanding and appreciation for the ambiguities of history that are often left out of
“As George Black unfurls the epic story and the many smaller stories that, like the river’s tributaries, flow both in and out of the main stream, the reader is taken into the exceptional lives of a multitude of players, especially the most important ones, and quickly forgets that they seemed initially to be digressions from the “epic story” of Yellowstone. At least that’s how it was for this enchanted reader.”
“history books” and are consigned to the “shadows.” And, it perhaps goes without saying, the reader is led (willingly) into the geological and natural wonders of this magical place, the core of which was to become Yellowstone National Park in March, 1872, this “Wonderland” as one of its earliest nicknames termed it, following both the rivers and canyons, climbing the almost insurmountable peaks and mountain ranges, and confronting the mysterious geysers, cauldrons, and waterfalls with the members of the three major explorations of the region before it became the park.
led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park (Richard Slotkin). There you have it from critics and reviewers far more eminent in this context than me. But read it and I’ll bet you’ll agree with me that it’s great history; it provides a great and exciting look into our (Montana’s and our region’s) complex and not always pretty past, a past the shadows and legacy of which are still with us, all around us; and it is a compilation of exceptionally well-written, interconnected, and important stories. In short: it’s a great read, and I recommend it enthusiastically to you all.
Jerry Fetz I hope what I have written above will entice you all to pick up this marvelous book and read it, a book that one eminent Western historian has called “an engrossing Jerry Fetz is a UM professor and emeritus dean of the Colchronicle of the vast sweep of Western American history” lege of Arts and sciences and co-director of The University of (Robert Utley) and another well-known historian referred Montana’s Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone to as “a…dynamically written study of the hidden hisInitiative. tory of greed and idealism, beauty and violence, which
Hand Drawn History A beautiful detailed hand drawn illustrated map of Yellowstone National Park printed on heavy paper and suitable for framing.
Through arrangements with Xplorer Maps, our readers can purchase this map directly. The Greater Yellowstone Initiative and the University of Montana will recieve a generous donation for each map sold.
$30 including postage 22â€?x31â€? -- arrives in a mailing tube
Call (888)-333-1995 or go to http://fundraiser.onlinemontana.com/cci
UM's first publication of the greater Yellowstone area.