Summer 2015 Moose: Yellowstoneâ€™s Forgotten Ungulate Bound for the Backcountry Secrets of the Ice
Summer in Yellowstone is a time of endless opportunity. The whole park is on display and available for us to discover. From roadside wildlife watching to backcountry hiking, there is no shortage of fun things to do in this 2.2 million acre ecosystem. What makes Yellowstone so special is that it belongs to all of us. President Franklin Roosevelt was right in saying “There is nothing so American as our national parks.” National parks provide outstanding opportunities to enjoy and reflect upon this country’s natural and cultural heritage – and this one is no exception. In relation to the rest of the modern world, Yellowstone hasn’t changed much in the last century. It offers us a chance to step back and slow down while the rest of society speeds up. I’ve had the great fortune of living here for the past 18 years, and I’m only beginning to scratch the surface of this vast wilderness. Maybe this will be the summer I finally make it to the Bechler area to hike, or push off in a kayak on Yellowstone Lake. The Yellowstone Association is here to help introduce you to the possibilities that await you in this park we love. From Institute programs to guidebooks and maps, we provide educational programs and services to help enhance and enrich your Yellowstone experience. If your travels do bring you to Yellowstone this summer, please stop by and say “hello.” Our friendly volunteers and staff located in and around the park would love to meet you and hear about the opportunities you’ve discovered in this special place. Sincerely,
Yellowstone Association Leadership Team Jeff Brown
Daniel Bierschwale Director of Retail
Director of Finance and Administration
Director of Facilities
Human Resources Manager
Director of Development
Director of Education
Yellowstone Association Board of Directors Claire Campbell Board Chair Boulder, CO
Vice-Chair Brasstown, NC
Treasurer Denver, CO
Assistant Treasurer Denver, CO
Jeff Brown Yellowstone Association executive director
Secretary Arlington, VA
Katie Cattanach Denver, CO
Sandy Choate Austin, TX
Gale Davis Wilson, WY
Penney Cox Hubbard Baltimore, MD
Colorado Springs, CO
Mat Millenbach Portland, OR
Yellowstone’s official nonprofit education partner
Alex Perez Palo Alto, CA
Alan Shaw Big Sky, MT
What’s on the cover? Bison and calf (also called “red dog”) COVER Maria Bisso/YA
Summer TABLE OF CONTENTS
02 Moose: Yellowstone’s Forgotten Ungulate 06 Bound for the Backcountry 08 NPS Q&A: Chris Glenn,
09 Creatures Large & Small:
Blotched Tiger Salamander
10 Secrets of the Ice 13 Why Not Try Camping? 14 Naturalist Notes: Special Delivery 15 YA Family: Katy Duffy 16 Membership
Yellowstone Quarterly 1
By Ilona Popper
Yellowstoneâ€™s Forgotten Ungulate
Ky and Lisa Koitzsch, independent biologists, have seen some crusty social behavior in one of nature’s most solitary ungulates. “We’ve nicknamed all the bull moose in Round Prairie by their antlers,” Lisa says. “Peace Sign, 5X5, Little Crown…. They’re loners. They stand and feed together, but there’s always a little conflict. They don’t like to be in each other’s space. They butt heads. They tolerate each other because that’s where the food is.”
Lisa and Ky Koitzsch
The Koitzsches are getting to know Yellowstone National Park’s moose inside and out: collecting moose pellets (droppings) for DNA analysis and identifying the physical traits of individual moose on Yellowstone’s northern range. The Koitzsches are conducting a three-year study to get baseline numbers of moose on the range. Ky and Lisa measure the moose pellets to estimate the age of each animal and then send the pellets on to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where researchers identify the gender and genetic signature of each moose. Why Study Moose in Yellowstone? The largest member of the deer family, the moose is a boreal animal that evolved in the coldest climate, the taiga, the northern ring of forest and tundra that circles the Earth. When snows cover the willows they love to eat, typically moose ascend to mature forests of Engelmann spruce, lodgepole pine, and subalpine fir. A moose parks itself in one spot, often alone (cows keep their calves with them). Sheltered from snow by tall spruce, the animal doesn’t move much, subsisting on nearby stands of young subalpine firs and shrubs. Alces alces shirasi, or Shiras moose, found in Yellowstone, is the smallest subspecies in North America. Shiras moose populate the western U.S. and Yellowstone Quarterly 3
Canada. In Yellowstone they are at the southernmost edge of moose range, and they’re hurting. Studies show all moose populations have dropped steeply east to west, from the Canadian Maritimes to the Rockies. Though data exist on Shiras moose numbers outside the park, the Koitzsches are the first to attempt a full population count within Yellowstone, on the northern range. “Our purpose is to determine whether the population is in decline,” says Ky. “We’re following up on Dan Tyers’s research about moose use of winter range. Dan’s been supportive and his information has been very helpful to us—guiding where we’re sampling.” The Koitzsches collaborate with the University of Minnesota-Duluth; Yellowstone National Park; U.S. Forest Service; and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The couple’s goal is to create a non-invasive, economical, and accurate tool to help wildlife managers census moose populations. The model works well for national parks, where visitors prefer not to see animals radio-collared. Doug Smith, head of Yellowstone’s Wolf Project, elk, and bird studies, is the couple’s park liaison. “Lisa and Ky are providing a great service—a rigorous and exhaustive study,” says Smith. “Moose are the forgotten ungulate here in Yellowstone,” he adds, “and super hard to count.” For two months each winter, Ky and Lisa ski deep into drainages in the northern range, collecting pellets. Moose in a Warmer World “If our climate hadn’t changed so rapidly, moose wouldn’t be in trouble now,” says Ky. Moose are so cold-adapted that they get heat stressed in winter and in summer. Heat stress throughout the year costs the animals lots of calories. Ky says, “When they seek cooler areas, they’re not feeding.” Warming also increases parasites. Instead of dying in snow, more ticks survive winter. Moose fail to groom off ticks because they didn’t
evolve together in the same climates. Another parasite does even more damage. In the West, warming allows mule deer, uncharacteristically, to join moose in higher elevation habitat. The deer carry a nematode, Elaeophora schneideri, or artery worm. It cuts off blood flow to the head, starting with ears, nose, or antlers. As it progresses, moose can develop ataxia, losing control of movement. Mulies have developed immunity to the parasite, but moose evolved in cold climates that never harbored the worm, and are sickened. After viewing a photo that Smith took of a cow on the northern range with cropped ears, Ky suspected that the nematode might have entered the park. “In one population of Wyoming moose, 83 percent have artery worm. We see those external symptoms, but we don’t know if it’s actually killing the animals or not,” he says. The only diagnosis is by necropsy. Another cause of decline is habitat loss. Biologists believe the 1988 fires destroyed swaths of moose habitat in Yellowstone. Unlike lodgepole-dominated forests, mature spruce-fir forests take longer to grow back from fire. Moose lose winter shelter and food. Also, habitat has deteriorated from elk and bison over-browsing. Forest succession can hurt moose: dominant trees die out naturally, giving way to species that aren’t moose-food. Moose and Predators Predators can affect moose. Bears take more moose as newborns than any other predator. Yet, in Yellowstone, bears don’t rely heavily on moose for food. This might be because there were fewer moose in the park after 1988. Ky notes, “South of the park, however, bears have been significant predators on calves.” Fewer moose in the park may also explain why there aren’t more cougar kills, according to Yellowstone Cougar Study head, Dan Stahler. Since 1987, biologists have documented only three cougar-killed moose in the park. Some argue that wolf reintroduction is the primary reason moose populations have plummeted in the area. But between 1995—when wolves were reintroduced—and 2014, Yellowstone Wolf Project data show wolves killed only 25 moose. Smith says, “Wolves are not making their living off moose.” As the smallest large predator relative to the size of their prey, wolves have limitations on which animals they can kill. Smith makes a distinction between elk and moose. “It’s important to stress that any healthy ungulate usually wins against a wolf. Wolves, when they’re faced with healthy elk, have a really hard time killing them. But when it comes to moose and bison…wolves can’t kill a healthy animal, underline healthy. Moose are one of the more formidable prey for wolves.” Still, Smith and the Koitzsches don’t doubt that predators may press an already shrinking moose population.
The Koitzsches collecting data in the field for their study.
New Findings After the first year of the study, the Koitzsches estimate that 80–100 moose live on Yellowstone’s northern range. Their research has kicked up some surprises about moose feeding habits. Lisa says
they’ve seen “a different use of habitat on parts of the northern range. On the eastern and western ends, when willow gets covered in snow, moose move to subalpine forest. That’s where they’ll spend their time, eating and bedded.” But moose in the central drainages have a different strategy for getting through winter. Ky explains that places where “moose don’t have that mature-conifer, mid-winter habitat, they’re relying on willow. Once it gets covered up, they’ve no place to go, so they’re heading down drainages. Eventually, some end up right at the Yellowstone River. That’s something new that we didn’t know ’til last year. They’re going low to continue to eat willow.” Moose are browsers, eating trees and shrubs. In summer, moose seek out salt deposits in aquatic plants in cold lakes and marshes. Yet another discovery for the Koitzsches, says Lisa, is that “When moose go into subalpine fir forests they’re not just eating saplings.” In winter, they’re also ingesting “Old Man’s Beard,” a lichen. Ky says, “The literature talks about it as a supplement in moose diets, when food is lean. But we’re seeing them eat it when there’s plenty of other stuff around too. It’s a significant source of their diet.” A Commitment to Biology This three-year study is the first for the Koitzsches’ newly founded biology firm K2 Consulting. For years, the biologists made their living through their timber frame business. In winters, they studied moose and wolves in Yellowstone, Michigan, and New England. A few years ago, they closed shop “to pursue our true love,” wildlife biology.
Females have a white vulva patch and no antlers. They have a cowlick of hair above each eye and are lighter colored than males.
Males have antlers. If the antlers have shed, look for pedicels, large round bumps above the eyes. Males have no vulva patch, a larger dewlap, and are darker colored. In the rut, bulls get even darker. Juveniles have short faces and fuzzy manes. The female calf has a white vulva patch. The males have tiny lumps where the pedicels and antlers will develop.
These days, Lisa relishes discovering six moose up Slough Creek in Frenchy’s Meadow, “an amazing historic place, where nobody goes in the winter. Frenchy’s grave is there—he was a trapper killed by bears—and his home. It’s beautiful.” Ky thinks “moose are fascinating” because they’re selective eaters and yet big animals. “They make their living eating very specific things. You’d think an animal that big would just eat anything, the way bison do. Also, few animals are adapted, like moose, to both aquatic and winter habitats.” The bull they call Peace Sign had similar antlers last year, with two tines that look like a split-fingered peace sign. Anyone visiting the park might see him near Round Prairie this autumn. If you do, send an email to Ky and Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them, Peace Sign made it through the winter. Ilona Popper, poet and naturalist, lives near Yellowstone National Park and writes about wildlife. She blogs at ilonapopper.wordpress.com.
Yellowstone Quarterly 5
By Jenny Golding
Bound for the Backcountry Of Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres, only about 5 percent is “frontcountry” — developed areas accessible by vehicle. The rest, approximately 95 percent of the park, is pure, untrammeled, backcountry — a wild landscape with even wilder animals. A little over 2 million acres is managed as wilderness. Unbridled, toothy, sharp, serene, pristine, and beautiful: Yellowstone’s backcountry is shaped by volcanoes, glaciers, fire, and water, encompassing the core of the largest nearly intact temperate ecosystem in the world. It’s sufficient wilderness to have nurtured some of our nation’s most iconic wildlife — bison, grizzly bears, and wolves — back from the brink of extinction, in an ecosystem complex beyond imagination. Today, visitors venture into the backcountry via foot, horse, and boat on roughly 1000 miles of trails and 300 backcountry campsites weaving a web across the wilderness. Why venture into the domain of bears, bugs, and weather, far from the comforts of park lodges? For many, spending time in the Yellowstone backcountry offers an escape from the commotion of modern life, and a connection with something larger than ourselves. “Greater Yellowstone is incredibly precious,” says Gary Ferguson, author of The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness. “To have a natural system that’s intact enough to have the same basic variety of species you would’ve seen 300 years ago...combined with such sheer physical beauty — makes this one of the most special places on earth.” Shoulder your pack and walk away from the trailhead, or push your canoe or kayak gently from shore, and within a short time you’ve left most everyone behind. Only about 18,000 of the park’s more than 3 million visitors spend the night in the backcountry, according to Ivan Kowski, Yellowstone’s backcountry program manager. Even a short day trip can quickly transport you from the mid-summer crowds flocking to iconic park places like Old Faithful and Artist Point to an entirely different park. “The silence is what
I think of first,” says Julianne Baker, Institute backpacking instructor. “When you’re hiking, you’re hearing your own breathing, your own footsteps. When you stop it’s almost like your consciousness expands out through your ears—because you are hearing nothing, and everything.”
Kowski. If it’s your first overnight, take a few day trips to build your skills. Or, choose from one of the authorized park
Most overnight backcountry travelers—about 80 percent—head out on foot, carrying a backpack. The other 20 percent travel by boat (motorized, canoe, kayak), or stock (horse, mule, llama)—modes of travel that allow you to carry a few more creature comforts. Baker says of backcountry paddling: “Sitting on the lakeshore in a camp chair and watching a sunset...and the early mornings where your paddle cuts through the dead calm water, is almost spiritual. There’s just nothing like that.” On Lewis, Shoshone, and Yellowstone Lakes where paddling is allowed, the temper of wind and waves guides the rhythm of the days. Ferguson believes the backcountry gives us a connection to three qualities we need to live well: beauty, community, and mystery—common threads he gleaned from reading thousands of ancient nature myths from across the world. “I believe going into the backcountry, especially a backcountry as magnificent as Yellowstone, provides a relationship with those qualities that we can take home with us to live better day to day.”
Planning Your Hike
A Yellowstone backcountry adventure begins well before you leave home. Being prepared is the most important rule. The park has numerous resources available to help you plan your trip—vital information for enjoying the backcountry safely while leaving minimal impact. Having proper skills and equipment, and knowing how to camp and travel safely in bear country, is critical. Understanding park regulations and guidelines can be the difference between a transcendent wilderness experience and a disastrous one.
“I generally tell people to slow down and try not to see it all at one time. Also, being prepared for the variable weather we have even in the summer is important,” says
Classic Backcountry Trips Backpacking — T he Bechler
Waterfalls and wildlife abound on this 34-mile hike from Old Faithful to Cave Falls. Plan 4–5 days to allow for side hikes to waterfalls and a backcountry soaking spot. Go in late summer or early fall, when river crossings are low; mosquitos are gone; and wild berries are ripening along the Bechler River.
Canoe/Kayak — Shoshone Lake
The largest backcountry lake in the lower 48 states and a backcountry geyser basin are the highlights of this paddle from Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake. Go after mid-July, when the water in the Lewis River Channel connecting the two lakes usually becomes passable. Plan at least three days to get to Shoshone and back safely—a couple of days longer to visit the backcountry Shoshone Geyser basin.
Horse/Llama — Sportsman Lake
Let a pack animal carry your fishing or photography gear to explore the soaring peaks, remote forests, and diverse wildlife of the Absaroka mountains in the northwest corner of the park. Plan 3-4 days with a layover at Sportsman Lake to fish or enjoy the scenery, after mid July when snow has receded from most of the high mountain passes. The Institute offers a variety programs to help you learn how to travel and camp safely in the backcountry. For more information or to request a catalog, please visit YellowstoneAssociation.org.
Backpackers on Mist Creek Pass in the park’s southeast corner.
outfitters and guides who are intimately familiar with the park to help you through the logistics. Traveling in Yellowstone comes with a responsibility—not only to stay safe, but also to travel lightly. Ferguson says, “to walk into an intact ecosystem like the backcountry of Yellowstone is a remarkable privilege. I try to keep in mind that I’m part of a strand on the web of life and that each of the things I see deserves my care and respect.” You’ll need a Backcountry Use Permit to stay in one of the park’s designated backcountry campsites. Campsites can be reserved in advance for an additional fee, however the park holds some sites for reservations less than 48 hours in advance, so visitors can reserve sites when they arrive. This summer, the park will implement new per-person, per-night backcountry permit fees. The modest fees, ranging from $3–5 per person per night, will help cover costs to operate the nine backcountry permit offices in Yellowstone. Frequent overnight travelers or those on extended trips can purchase an annual backpacking pass. To begin planning your adventure, visit the park’s Backcountry Hiking & Camping web page: nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/ backcountryhiking.htm. Jenny Golding is a former director of education for the Yellowstone Association. She currently writes from her home in Gardiner, Montana, on the border of Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone Quarterly 7
Q&A Chris Glenn NPS TRAIL SUPERVISOR
Like so many, Chris Glenn was captivated by Yellowstone as a kid while on a family vacation. Wanting to come back, years later he took a job pumping gas in the park for Yellowstone Park Service Stations. After spending some time working for the National Park Service on the boardwalk at Old Faithful—where he says he got to see “the whole show on a daily basis”—he got on a trail crew in 1983. Thirty-plus years later, Glenn is now Yellowstone’s trail supervisor, a job that’s not exactly a walk in the park but one Glenn says he’s “awfully blessed” to have.
WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES AS TRAIL SUPERVISOR?
DO YOU ENJOY HIKING IN YOUR OFF-TIME?
I oversee the management of park trail construction, from maintenance and repair to restoration and building new structures, like bridges and trail realignments. Most of the Yellowstone trails were worn in, not engineered, and they either reflect the old school Western philosophy of “Get there straight and fast,” or follow a game trail. So over the years, we have gently and slowly re-routed some places.
I do hike. I’m a go-kid, I enjoy movement, whether it’s dancing, playing, or hiking. Trails are my best friends on so many different levels, so I always want to be on them.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS A TRAIL WOULD BE REALIGNED?
Number one is safety for people and critters—for instance, if a beaver dam is flooding an area. That brings up another reason: protecting natural resources. We don’t really build entirely new trails or systematically do huge re-routes. But when there is a situation, whether it occurred over time or because of a natural event like a big rainstorm, we’ll fix small pieces with the most minimal impact possible. DO YOU GET REPORTS FROM HIKERS OR DO YOU JUST KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED?
All of the above. We know a lot, but with a thousand miles of trails we have to evaluate, prioritize, and plan accordingly. Nature is always surprising us, which keeps the job interesting and fun. We also have a great human network, so we can rely on the backcountry rangers, YA, and the public to give us “intel.”
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRAIL?
There are magic places all over the park, but I really love the Yellowstone River Trail. It has amazing resources and so much cultural history. It has beautiful rock retaining walls and amazing structures on it—stuff that takes a lot of work, sweat, and passion—that were done by previous trail crews. Plus, it goes through a lot of beautiful places on an amazing river and has so many magical cutoff trails. ANY TIPS FOR HIKERS GOING OUT ON TRAILS IN YELLOWSTONE?
Go out there and have a good time. Here’s how to do it: Be prepared. Obviously, everyone should have his or her own can of bear spray with them—for their own protection and the betterment of the critters. Even on a day trip be ready to spend the night in the backcountry, so have a lot of water and a really good med kit, as well as layers of clothing for changes in weather. We always think we can make a phone call or use GPS to get assistance, but you can’t rely on technology in Yellowstone so you want to have what you’ll need to auger in for a day or two and make yourself safe and secure.
SHOP Yellowstone’s Official Park Store! Wildflower Prints #619 Member: $21.21 Regular: $24.95
By Margaret C. Bach. This portfolio of six fine art lithographic prints include painted renditions of Yellowstone’s wildflowers. Suitable for framing. Made in the USA
Blue Flax, Western Fringed Gentian, Glacier Lily, or Rose Ceramic Tile #2247–2250
Large & Small
Member: $8.49 Regular: $9.99 each
By Ridgway Graphics Art Studio. Handcrafted, ceramic tile (4"x 4") captures the beauty of Yellowstone’s landscape featuring a vibrant image of 1 of 4 flowers. Made in Sedona, USA
Winter Lower Falls Puzzle #2488 Member: $11.86 Regular: $13.95
By Masterpieces Puzzle Co. 500-piece puzzle will display a beautiful photograph of this iconic Yellowstone attraction in winter. Photograph by Sandra Nykerk. Ages 13+. 15"x 21"
Cubby in Wonderland #2530 Member: $12.71 Regular: $14.95
By Frances Joyce Farnsworth. Originally published in 1932, this beloved classic tells the story of a baby bear and his loving parents as they journey from Grand Teton to Yellowstone National Park. Softcover. 140 pages.
Yellowstone Bison #2542 Member: $33.99 Regular: $39.99
Edited by P.J. White, Rick L. Wallen, and David E. Hallac. Examines the history of bison conservation, the latest scientific information, and the opportunities for and challenges to plains bison conservation within the greater Yellowstone area.
Call 406.848.2400 or visit YellowstoneAssociation.org
Our Park Stores are the #1 source of information on Yellowstone, and sale proceeds directly benefit Yellowstone National Park.
Blotched Tiger Salamander Terrestrial Trekker By Barbara Lee Illustration: Tah Madsen
In subterranean darkness, a mottled greenish-brown carnivore hibernates until Yellowstone’s warming rains arrive. The skin-breather emerges, and with the directional aid of magnetic fields migrates hundreds of meters or more to breed in its ancestral pond. Blotched Tiger Salamanders— the park’s only salamander species—are water-dwellers until adulthood, when most migrate for the first time to settle in rodent burrows or deep under rocks or logs. Salamanders are considered highly sensitive to climate change and varying local conditions. Like many creatures, their movements are only partially understood, and scientists note that the study of animal migration may be among biology’s most important areas of research.
Yellowstone Quarterly 9
Secrets of the Ice:
The Race to Recover Yellowstone’s Ancient High Altitude Artifacts By Ruffin Prevost
In the summer of 2013, a team of archeologists set out for the remote high country of Yellowstone National Park on the only expedition of its kind ever conducted in the park. The trip was long and difficult, moving mostly by foot across vast expanses of dead, fallen trees, pushing ever upward along high, rugged peaks. Armed with cameras, GPS gear, and special sample containers, the trekkers weren’t looking for a vast herd of ungulates, a rare and elusive predator, a unique patch of vegetation, or even a spectacular geyser or waterfall. They were searching for ice— more specifically, a large patch of ancient ice. Across the Northern Rockies, ancient and unique cultural artifacts are appearing after being hidden for centuries— revelations made possible by the hastening melting of highaltitude ice patches. Yellowstone archeologist Staffan Peterson is working to recover as many ancient artifacts as possible from 10–20 such ice patches in the park. But even with the help of other university and government archeologists, Peterson is racing against time. “Some of the smaller ice patches will be gone, not in decades, but on the order of just a few years,” Peterson said. As climate change brings warmer mean temperatures every summer, ice fields above 10,000 feet that have persisted
for thousands of years are steadily melting. Finding and preserving items released by the melting ice has become a new priority for Peterson and others hoping to learn more about the region’s earliest inhabitants. “Budget is the biggest problem,” Peterson said. “We need to be up to all of the ice patches every summer to recover what we can before it’s permanently lost, but I’m the only archeologist in the park and these changes are occurring across millions of acres in Yellowstone.” Organic materials, like wooden arrow shafts or hand tools, are exceptionally fragile when released from the ice. Such unique evidence can be lost to decay in just a few years if not collected and preserved when they are first revealed by thaw.
Ancient Artifacts, New Science
Rocky Mountain ice patch archeology is a relatively new field of research pioneered by Craig Lee of the University of Colorado Boulder, Peterson said.
Productive Hunting Grounds Animals moved across the ice patches in the summer to get away from flies and mosquitos, making them easy targets for human hunters, he said. So ice patches are good places to find spears, darts, arrows, projectile points, and other items left behind or lost during such hunts. Ancient bones of people and animals are much harder to find, Peterson said. The park’s volcanic soil is highly acidic, and quickly breaks down bones, which are alkaline.
A team of archeologists explore Yellowstone’s high country, recovering ancient artifacts that were hidden for centuries. These revelations were made possible by the hastening melting of high-altitude ice patches.
Unlike much larger sections of glacial ice found in Canada or Alaska, Lee, Peterson, and others typically survey ice fields the size of a basketball court or football field. Though relatively stable, and often remaining mostly frozen for thousands of years, such ice patches undergo cycles of partial thaw and refreezing, accumulation, and shrinkage. Working with a number of partners, Peterson and his colleagues explore along the edges of Yellowstone’s ice patches, looking for projectile points, tools, and most importantly, organic artifacts preserved in the ice. “We pretty much take them as they lay. We’re not breaking anything out of the ice,” he said. “It may be something that melted out just that week.” If an item can be safely collected, stabilized, and taken to the park’s Heritage and Research Center in Gardiner, Montana, Peterson will pack it up in a special container for transport.
Yellowstone has had an archeology program only since 1995. And while more than 1800 archeological sites have been documented since that time, only about 3 percent of the park has been surveyed, according to the Yellowstone Resources and Issues Handbook. Peterson said most of his funding is for work focused on compliance with federal requirements centered around road construction or building in developed areas. Finding the time, staff, and resources to explore ice patch sites is an ongoing challenge. But the work is important, Peterson said, because the ice patches offer a window into aspects of the Native American past that isn’t available in any other environment— and because the ice continues to recede, leaving fragile and ancient artifacts exposed and vulnerable to decay. “These resources are part of the human past, and part of Yellowstone’s heritage. It’s our duty to protect them and share the knowledge we gain with everyone,” he said. “A lot of people think of the park as belonging to the government, but it belongs to all of us. So we all have a responsibility to care for and share knowledge of these resources.” Ruffin Prevost is founding editor of “Yellowstone Gate,” an online publication offering community news and inside views about Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
So far, Peterson has led only a single major ice patch expedition in the park—a complex and costly 10-day trip involving five people. He declined to describe specific areas he hopes to survey on future trips, citing a concern that park visitors might disturb the sites and damage or destroy artifacts. That includes finds like a 2700-year-old tool that may have been used to spread resin for waterproofing a basket, Peterson said. Or the foreshaft of a 4800-year-old atlatl, a wooden tool used to hurl projectiles with great speed and force. Because a diverse range of native peoples have been present in and around Yellowstone for the past 11,000 years, it’s difficult to know much about who might have used a specific item found at one of the park’s ice patches. But Peterson said researchers have developed some pretty good ideas about why ancient people spent time around high-altitude ice patches. That includes a pattern of use ranging from ceremonial or recreational visits to hunting. Yellowstone Quarterly 11
New! Women’s Backpack: Heart Lake to South Boundary
New! Backpacking and Stewardship in the Beartooths
Day Hiking Yellowstone Private Tours available all summer—locations throughout the park!
Get Into the Backcountry with Experts from the Institute! For more information or to request an Institute catalog please visit YellowstoneAssociation.org or call 406.848.2400
YA provided $2.35 million for exhibits in the recently renovated Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs, which also features a dedicated space for a YA Park Store. The new exhibits focus on visitor orientation and wildlife on the northern range. Interactive screens provide updates on campsite availability, road conditions, weather, and videos on how to safely enjoy viewing wildlife.
Congratulations to our partners at the National Park Service on this momentous renovation!
YA Proudly Supports the Albright Visitor Center Renovation
Why Not Try By Chelsea DeWeese
For those interested in camping in Yellowstone without completely abandoning modern comforts, the park offers a plethora of frontcountry opportunities. Strategically placed campgrounds allow visitors to sleep outdoors without straying far from roadways, outhouses, and potable water, all while providing a memorable outdoor experience. Starry skies provide nighttime backdrops; coyotes and other animals pierce the quiet; and flickering campfires beckon onlookers to stay a little longer. “Camping offers visitors an opportunity to be closer to the natural world around them,” Al Nash, former chief spokesman for Yellowstone Public Affairs says. “It also provides more of a community experience than staying in a cabin or hotel room—it becomes your temporary neighborhood.” Early visitors knew this well. Starting in the 1870s, hotels were at first nonexistent and then later spread out and expensive at best. Camping became the affordable option for those wishing to see the park but not wanting to spend a lot of money. Entrepreneurs caught on quickly, and a network of commercial tent communities cropped up throughout Yellowstone. The tent camps went the way of the stagecoaches starting in 1916, and modern frontcountry campgrounds took their place. Today’s visitors will not find wall tents, but well-laid-out campgrounds with easily identifiable sites and facilities. Every campground has a specific set of requirements and provisions, and visitors will find detailed information on how to camp responsibly in conjunction with the environment. Some campgrounds require hard-sided campers or other vehicles, while others allow tents. Some have flush toilets, and others are a bit more primitive. All require proper food storage in accordance with camping in bear country. “A set of rules has evolved over the years to ensure visitors have a wonderful and safe camping experience,” Nash says. “Park regulations about food storage allow all campers to
enjoy the park with minimum impacts to wildlife and their own personal safety.” Campgrounds operated by the National Park Service are first-come first-served, while campgrounds operated by the park concessioner Yellowstone National Park Lodges can be reserved in advance. Campers should arrive early and make reservations far in advance (when possible) in order to ensure securing a site. Overnight camping of any type (tent, vehicle, or RV) outside of designated campgrounds is not permitted. A complete list of campsites, opening and closing dates, rules, maps, and orientation videos can be found on the park’s website. Perhaps the best advice a first-time camper can seek, however, comes from those who’ve camped before them. “If you have never camped before, seek advice from friends who have experience and can offer you advice on the equipment you should rent or purchase,” Nash says. “Try spending a night or two in your own backyard or in a nearby campground before setting out for Yellowstone.” Chelsea DeWeese is an outdoor instructor and educator who writes from her hometown of Gardiner, Montana, the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The National Park Service operates seven first-come first-served campgrounds: Mammoth, Norris, Tower Fall, Indian Creek, Pebble Creek, Slough Creek, and Lewis Lake. Arrive early to secure a site. Yellowstone National Park Lodges operates five reservation campgrounds: Madison, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Bridge Bay, Canyon, and Grant Village. For more information visit www. YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.com For opening dates, campground fees, and other information visit www.nps.gov/yell
Yellowstone Quarterly 13
By Shauna Baron,
er, it cause it has an answ “A bird doesn’t sing be s a song.” sings because it haay a Angelou
or residen t instruct
illustr at ion by
me our newest Each spring, we welco ife community into members of the wildl snow is melting, the world. The winter ty is revealed in and a new kind of beau s ring out with Yellowstone. The forest s, and the valleys the sounds of songbird on, and pronghorn fill with herds of elk, bis the grass. babies prancing across bies to arrive are Some of the earliest ba s), bald eagles let great horned owls (ow s, who hatch ick (eaglets), and raven ch y look for these Ma e in early spring. By lat of top the nests large birds sitting on ir wings before vigorously flapping the flight. attempting their first cks, ruddy ducks, Chicks of goldeneye du b along the surface mallards, and coots bo ile red-w inged of lakes and ponds, wh ckbirds attend and yellow-headed bla ng the shoreline. to nests in the reeds alo dhill cranes grazing Look closely to see san in the grassy with their chicks (colts) meadows nearby. delivered the first Our bison calves are the color of rust and week of May. They are y kick up their heels full of mischief as the legs. Bighorn sheep and test out their new the cliffs in early lambs will be scaling and pronghorn June, while elk calves for the first few faw ns are kept hidden
w or pronghorn doe ok for a single elk co weeks after bir th. Lo nearby. y have a baby hidden grazing alone; she ma y behind their bear cubs follow closel ck bla d an ar be ly Grizz e cubs of the year roadside meadows. Th ng alo ing az gr rs, mothe in late April. n in January, emerging de the in rn bo are .) (c.o.y year-and-a-half, with its mother for a y sta ll wi b cu ar be A black , often making two-and-a-half years while grizzlies stay for signs of mother m the cub. Watch for fro ult ad the l tel to it hard watch on her cubs. bear keeping a close fe distance from and always keep a sa Never approach nests cularly dangerous ung; they can be parti mothers and their yo this time of year.
YA Family Katy Duffy INSTRUCTOR AND YA MEMBER Whether it was being asked to guide President Obama and family around the Old Faithful area or working a visitor center desk, Katy always saw working with the public as her primary job responsibility. “Interaction is what makes people fall in love with the national parks, so it’s crucial we make visitors feel welcome,” she says. “I see how we help them as a metaphor for how we take care of the park.”
With her infectious passion for the outdoors and sincere and warm-hearted temper, it’s no wonder that communication was at the heart of everything Katy Duffy did in her over 30-year career with the National Park Service. After 17 years in Grand Teton National Park, Duffy worked in Yellowstone from 1999 until retiring at the end of 2014, finishing her career as an Interpretive Planner in Mammoth. “I’m grateful that my last job tied together everything I did and knew from my career and obsession with natural/cultural history,” Duffy says. “I used and shared what I’ve learned to answer questions from guides and help find ways to better keep the public informed.”
Though no longer a ranger, Katy remains committed to educating the public and preserving Yellowstone for future generations. Along with helping the NPS plan resource education training for guides and volunteering for the park’s birding initiatives, this year she is teaching five courses for the Yellowstone Association Institute, including the Yellowstone Naturalist Experience. “I’m so at home in the natural world, I love giving other people that experience— hoping it leads to conservation,” she says about teaching. “I think the key is making them comfortable outside, and to do so they have to see how nature is connected to them.” The key, she says, to making that connection is to change people’s focus and open up their senses. “National parks have a way of getting people to open their eyes,” she says. As an example Katy notes that she’s had visitors say, “We don’t have these birds at home,” when they probably do, but just haven’t noticed. “YA or the NPS can help open visitor’s eyes and take that gift of awareness home with them, because nature is not just in national parks.”
Special Offer for Members! Did you know that Yellowstone’s Lower Falls is 308 feet high— or nearly twice as high as Niagara Falls? Show your loyalty to Yellowstone Association and receive a special gift that features Lower Falls. The first 100 members who increase their membership support by $25* or more will receive a made-in-the-USA canvas tote bag showing the print of Yellowstone’s Lower Falls originally designed by artists in the 1930s Works Progress Administration (WPA). Please reference code YQTOTE15 in the comments field at YellowstoneAssociation.org or when calling 406.848.2400 in order to receive your free gift. *This will not be applied to your renewal or extend your expiration dates. International members are asked to upgrade at $50 due to additional shipping and handling fees.
Yellowstone Quarterly 15
Leave a legacy for Yellowstone
The Summit Society was created to recognize and honor those who have chosen to preserve Yellowstone for future generations by making a gift to the Yellowstone Association in their estate plans. Planned giving is an excellent way to make a meaningful charitable gift while minimizing taxes and increasing the possibilities for effective distribution of assets.
Biology Professor Veronica Riha of Royal Oak, Michigan, member for six years, and her Madonna University students sport the winter 2014 issue of YQ at the Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands. LEFT
Nine-year members Mary Chisholm and John Schuldt of Sunriver, Oregon, took YQ on a week-long bicycle trip that ended on Victoria Island, Canada.
Learn more about including Yellowstone in your estate plans—or let us know that you’ve already done so—by contacting email@example.com.
SAVE THE DATE • JULY 8 Member registration for 2015–2016 winter Institute Field Seminars begins Wednesday, July 8, at 8:00 AM Mountain Standard Time. General registration begins one week later. Experience Lamar this winter on a Wildlife Winter Escape, a Lamar Valley Wolf Week—or spend the holidays at Lamar! Register at any time for Lodging and Learning programs, Private Tours, and Youth and College programs.
ABOVE A member of three years, John Munter, and his two-year-old son John read YQ in their very own Yellowstone Bus sandbox in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Send us a photo of yourself or a fellow member holding a copy of Yellowstone Quarterly and you could be featured in an upcoming issue! Submission Guidelines Submit photo(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org. For a complete list of submission guidelines please visit our website or contact us at the email address above.
Visit YellowstoneAssociation.org or call 406.848.2400 for more information or to register.
PHOTOS MARIA BISSO: PGS. ii, 5, 8, 9, 11-13, 16; JAMES DICK: TOC; JIM FUTTERER: PG. 2; KOITZSCH: PGS. 3-5; PAM CAHILL: PG 5; BILL ZAGER: PG. 5, BACKCOVER; WENDIE CARR: PGS. 6, 7, 13; Staffan Peterson: PGs. 10-11; Pat Gilroy: PG. 11; Karen Withrow: Pg. 11
MEM B ER S HI P THANK YOU! We wish to acknowledge those who contributed to the Yellowstone Association between January 1, 2015, and March 31, 2015. Because of space constraints, the following list includes membership contributions of $1,000 or more and Special Tribute gifts. Your support — regardless of size — plays a critical role in the Association’s mission to connect people to Yellowstone through education.
YELLOWSTONE SOCIETY FALLS $10,000 – $24,999
Marian Labeck and James Petts*
SPECIAL TRIBUTE DONORS
The following donors made a contribution to the Yellowstone Association as a tribute to someone or something special in their lives.
Debra and Albon Head*
Paul and Nanci Limbach*
Margie and Earl Holland*
BECHLER $5,000 – $9,999
Linda Forshee Penney and A.C. Hubbard GALLATIN $2,500 – $ 4,999
Diane Brinkmann Joy Carlough* Mary Chisholm and John Schuldt Columbine Culberg and Alan Cawthon* Cindy Pigott
Denise and Alton McKnight* Mr. and Mrs. Pierre Merlin* Linda and Mathew Millenbach* Meredith Moran* Linda and Reid Murchison Thomas Offutt John O’Hara* Doreen and Lee Packila* Peggy D. Ray* Esperanza Rebollar*
LAMAR $1,000 – $2,499
Evelyn Rose and Sharon Nadeau*
Natalie and Warren Bergholz*
Marilyn and Jay Sarles
Nancy and Theodore Berndt
Rebecca and Eric Schwartzkopf
Judy and Buzz Sellers
Rhonda Boggess and Mike Rogers*
Sandy and Denny Simonson*
Tammy and James Bonds*
Hazel and Jay Stevens*
Laurann and Virgil Boss
Wendy and Jeff Brown*
Russ and Pamela Thomas*
Althea and Clifford Callaway*
Grace and John Cogan*
Kathy and David Titley
Sandra Carrell Tremblay and Dale Tremblay
Leslie and Thomas Croyle*
Betsy de Leiris*
Wouter K. Vanderwal
Robert Dircks Jr.*
Dee and Jay Welch*
Gloria and Ross Edwards
Norma and Kirk Westervelt*
Jonna and Doug Whitman
Pattie and Marbury Fagan*
Debora and Jim Zug
John Fan Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Gee III* Maurie and William Gray* Jean and Joseph Hedrick* Dianne and Cline Hickok Lyda Hill Walker and Bill Jones Beth and Dick Josephson* Julie and Roger Keaton*
* Yellowstone Guardian – our sustainable monthly giving program.
EDUCATIONAL ENDOWMENT Unless otherwise noted, planned, memorial, and honor gifts support our educational endowment.
Anonymous – $50,000
In Memory of Donald Craig Behn Terry Ward In Memory of Philip A. Corkill Barbara Badgett Janet Brown Carol and Richard Condley Emily N. Corkill In Memory of Charlie Brown Fusfield Beverly and Michael Fusfield In Memory of Clare E. Levernier Sara-Lee and Richard Cardwell In Memory of Fran MacDonald Megan Glass In Memory of Wayne E. McNeely Emily N. Corkill In Memory of John Mulvihill Ramon McLean In Memory of Wanda Pfohl Sharon Nyczak In Memory of Dan Richards Donna and Raymond Zolandz In Honor of Robert Roloson Paul Shearer In Memory of Lorraine Sager Beverly and Michael Fusfield In Honor of Bea Schmidt and Jeanie Thompson Rebecca Schmidt In Honor of Ruth Waltman Esther Frank Every effort has been made to ensure that this list is accurate and complete. We apologize if your name has been omitted or otherwise improperly reported. Please contact us at 406.848.2400 if you feel this is the case so we can correct our records. To learn more about the different ways you can support Yellowstone through education, please contact email@example.com.
Susan and Peter Klock* Katherine Korba and Ray Laible*
To learn more about the different ways you can support Yellowstone through education, please contact our Development Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. Yellowstone Quarterly 17
Stay Connected — Join the Community!
Whether you are in the park or at home, we can help you stay connected to Yellowstone. Visit our website for current reports from the field or a live view from our Roosevelt Arch webcam. Subscribe to our monthly E-Newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily park updates.
Uinta ground squirrels