Yellowstone Quarterly Winter 2013

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Winter 2013 Yellowstone’s Winter-Use Plan Steve Iobst, Yellowstone Deputy Superintendent Earthquake Lake Visitor Center Gets Face-Lift A Time Before Winter Visitation

My wife Wendy and I first experienced Yellowstone’s magical winter season on our honeymoon in 1993. We stayed at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and skied down the Spring Creek Trail to Lone Star Geyser. That evening, we stood on a deserted boardwalk and watched Old Faithful erupt in the moonlight. We moved to Mammoth a few years later and have enjoyed countless family adventures in the park, but we will always cherish the memory of our first winter trip. On an average winter day, there are fewer than 1700 people in Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres. As the landscape changes, we also trade the familiar sounds of summer for the quiet soundscape of winter: raven wings flapping overhead, the crunch of fresh snow, and the howl of a wolf across the valley floor. But the park also comes alive as snow and ice dramatically transform familiar landscapes into a true winter wonderland. Summer roads and hiking trails become scenic cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. Wildlife watching peaks in winter, as bison and wolves stand out against Yellowstone’s snowy, white backdrops. On cold nights bison congregate and bed down together, and they’re often found in geyser basins, where warmth comes up from the ground. Thermal features sparkle like no other time of the year—when geysers explode into cold air they send up steam clouds that seem to hang in mid-air against blue skies. If you like Yellowstone in summer, you’ll love it in winter. The North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana—where our headquarters building is located—is open year-round to vehicle traffic. We would love to see you, and we have staff in both Gardiner and at the Bozeman airport who are ready to help orient you to all that winter has to offer. Sincerely, Jeff Brown Yellowstone Association Executive Director

Yellowstone’s official nonprofit education partner


Yellowstone Association Leadership Team

Jeff Brown

Executive Director

Daniel Bierschwale


Director of Sales and Marketing

Roger Keaton

Director of Finance and Administration

Dennis McIntosh

Director of Facilities

Stacey Orsted

Director of Development

Ken Voorhis

Director of Education



Yellowstone’s Winter-Use Plan

Yellowstone Association Board of Directors


Fenced In

Claire Campbell


Steve Iobst, Yellowstone Deputy Superintendent

Lou Lanwermeyer

Board Chair Boulder, CO

Vice-Chair Brasstown, NC


Crossing the Lines


Earthquake Lake Visitor Center Gets Face-Lift

Tom Detmer


A Time Before Winter Visitation

Patty Carocci


YA Family



Bob Shopneck

Treasurer Denver, CO

Assistant Treasurer Denver, CO

Secretary Arlington, VA

Don Ableson West Bloomfield, MI

Mark Benjamin Malibu, CA

Katie Cattanach Denver, CO

Sandy Choate Austin, TX

Gale Davis Wilson, WY

Penny Cox Hubbard Baltimore, MD

Mat Millenbach Portland, OR

Alex Perez Atherton, CA

Alan Shaw Big Sky, MT

Patty Washburn Pinedale, WY

Anne Young Cody, WY

Yellowstone Quarterly  1

Planners, Public Optimistic about Path Forward on

Yellowstone Winter-Use Plan Visitors traveling by motorized vehicles through Yellowstone National Park this winter will be counted against a familiar limit of no more than 318 snowmobiles and 78 snowcoaches allowed in the park each day. By Ruffin Prevost

But if all goes according to plan, next winter will mark the start of a new era in how the park manages winter-use vehicles. The fixed-number tally will be replaced by tracking so-called “transportation events,” which measure the combined effects of noise, emissions, and disturbance to wildlife from any given day’s total mix of snowmobiles and snowcoaches. The transportation event idea struck many people as a little crazy when it was introduced in February 2012 during a series of meetings in gateway communities. But almost two years later, it has turned out to be an idea that is, as the saying goes, “so crazy, it just might work.”


Complex Issues Efforts to nail down a long-term winter-use plan have been complicated for more than a decade by intense public debate and numerous court challenges over issues like snowmobile traffic and avalanche management on Sylvan Pass, between Cody, Wyoming, and Fishing Bridge. But the final plan that is scheduled to take effect in 2014–2015 stands a good chance of avoiding the controversy and legal entanglements that have met the last six proposed plans, said former Yellowstone planner Michael J. Yochim. He praised Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk and management assistant Wade Vagias for a fresh approach to the issue. “I think what they did was come up with a new way of looking at it that really made everyone rethink their own positions— realizing that it’s not about the vehicles or numbers, but about the impacts to the park,” Yochim said. Yochim, who is now a planner at Yosemite National Park, stressed that his comments reflected only his viewpoint as an author, not a National Park Service employee. Yochim spent more than 20 years in Yellowstone, including a stint from 2005–2009 working on issues of winter use. He is the author of Yellowstone and the Snowmobile: Locking Horns over National Park Use. “There has always been a consuming desire by members of the public to see that fantastic place in the winter,” said Yochim. Discussions about winter travel in Yellowstone date to the 1930s, when surrounding states began plowing their roads all winter. Current regulation of snowmobiles (and snowcoaches) on federally managed public lands has its roots in a 1972 executive order by then-President Richard Nixon, which set policy guidelines for the growing use of off-road vehicles. Recent difficulties in crafting a viable winter-use plan stemmed from the late 1990s, when Yellowstone admitted more snowmobiles annually than all other national parks combined. Since then, each proposed plan had focused on determining the appropriate number of vehicles. “The light that went on for us was realizing that we needed to be more concerned about the impacts to park resources, not necessarily the total number of oversnow vehicles in the park on any given day,” Superintendent Wenk said shortly after a formal record of decision was issued in August 2013, marking an end to the planning process. “We weren’t providing alternatives that truly focused on minimizing oversnow vehicle impacts; we had just been trying to find the right numbers.” That realization set Wenk, Vagias, and other park planners on a path aimed at changing the focus from counting vehicles to measuring and mitigating emissions, noise, and disturbances to wildlife.

On a snowshoe tour, visitors are able to explore one of the park’s geyser basins.

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The New Plan The plan they came up with roughly equates a group of about seven snowmobiles with the same noise, emissions, and effects on wildlife as a single snowcoach, and allows up to 110 such transportation events each day. In practice, that will mean average daily limits of approximately 50 groups of around seven snowmobiles each, and a total of 60 snowcoaches entering one-at-a-time. Travel over Sylvan Pass will continue under existing guidelines. A new pilot program will let one non-commercial guide lead up to four snowmobiles daily through each gate. Details of that program will be worked out later, but non-commercial guides must pass an online course and will use a government website to reserve entry dates based on a lottery system.Wenk said the final plan, which included input and data gathered for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, is a result of numerous public meetings and additional sessions with elected officials, conservation groups, business owners, and snowmobile advocates.

Support for the Plan The effort appears to have paid off, with constituents from all of those groups offering at least qualified support, and no threats so far of a court challenge from any past litigants. “What we’re hearing is that this is a plan that may not have given any of them all that they wanted, but it’s one that could work,” Wenk said. Park County Commissioner Bucky Hall, from Cody, said the process of working with Wenk and Vagias “has been a huge improvement” over previous winter-use planning processes. While he would prefer to see higher limits for snowmobiles, Hall said he considered the plan a viable one, particularly since it maintains access over Sylvan Pass. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) has questioned whether using artillery shells for avalanche control is appropriate on Sylvan Pass. The coalition has previously called for phasing out snowmobiles entirely. But the group sees the current plan as an improvement over past efforts, and has praised Wenk for being accessible and open to new input. “I think he’s doing a phenomenal job,” said Barb Cozzens, Northwest Wyoming director for GYC, adding that Wenk “is the embodiment of what we look for in community-based conservation.” Bill Howell, owner of Yellowstone Arctic Yamaha in West Yellowstone, Montana, has been touring Yellowstone by snowmobile since 1974. The new plan will coincide with his 40th year offering snowmobile tours of the park. “We really appreciate the fact that Dan and his people came and visited with us and gave us the opportunity to have input,” Howell said. “In the past, that hasn’t always been the case.” “It’s not our preferred plan, but at least it lets us stay in business,” he said.

Popular modes of winter transportation in Yellowstone include snowcoaches, snowshoes, and cross-country skis.

Wenk said the details of how the plan is implemented will help determine whether it is accepted for the long haul. The plan includes adaptive management provisions that allow for adjustments based on new technologies or changing climate. “I think we have a fighting chance,” he said. Yochim said he was “cautiously optimistic,” but that Mother Nature could eventually have more long-term influence over winter travel in the park than any administrative plan. “It may be 10 years or it might be 50, but as the snow starts later, accumulates less, and melts earlier each year, I have a feeling we’ll eventually be having a whole new set of discussions about winter use in Yellowstone,” he said. Ruffin Prevost lives in Cody, Wyoming, and is founding editor of


On Oct. 23, as this issue of Yellowstone Quarterly went to press, the National Park Service published its final winter-use rule, which is expected to govern snowmobile and snowcoach travel in Yellowstone National Park for the next 15 years or more. Tour operators, conservation groups, elected officials and others have all described the 2013 final rule as a workable solution to a complex problem. While most stakeholders say there are still minor issues they would like to see resolved in the coming years, no one appears poised to block implementation of the current plan. Park officials say they will now turn their attention to working out details of concessions contracts and a noncommercial guiding program that will take effect along with the new winter-use plan in December 2014. By Ruffin Prevost

With a guide, a group of visitors travels the lower loop road through Yellowstone’s interior. 5

By Stephen Camelio

If you’ve ever been in Yellowstone’s backcountry you’ve seen exclosures—relatively small areas of terrain cordoned off with chain link fences. Though often amusing to hikers who can’t understand why someone would put up a structure in the middle of nowhere, these formations help scientists study things such as tree growth, berry and seed production, tree demography, and even the link between wolves and willows. Recently, a few more exclosures have been erected in Lamar Valley. They are part of a study to determine how the park’s ungulate populations affect the growth and health of the area’s native grasslands. Funded by a National Park Service (NPS) grant, the study is the brainchild of Rick Wallen, park biologist and leader of the Bison Ecology and Management team, who has seen a dramatic shift in the last 20 years in the grazer community that called Lamar Valley home. “Back in the 1980s, elk were the dominant species on the northern range,” Wallen says. “But, for various reasons, we now see a lot more bison in the ecosystem.” Wanting to determine how the rising bison population is affecting their environment, Wallen called on Dr. Douglas Frank, a Syracuse University professor of biology who specializes in grasslands and ecosystem dynamics. Along with his history studying how animals influence plant production, Dr. Frank also has experience working with the NPS in Yellowstone, having completed his dissertation in the park 20 years ago. “Back then there were really large elk populations in the park and just a few hundred bison,” Frank says. Studying how the elk’s eating habits affected their ecosystem, Frank found that the animals increased the productivity of grasslands. “At the time it was a surprise, because that type of correlation had only been shown in Africa in the Serengeti,” Frank says. “But we were able to determine that the same kind of positive feedback was going on in Yellowstone.”


Exclosures help scientists study things such as tree growth, berry and seed production, tree demography, and even the link between wolves and willows.

With the new study, Wallen and Frank are trying to determine if the findings of Frank’s earlier research focused on elk will hold true now that bison rule Lamar Valley.

give Wallen, other scientists and park managers a scientific understanding of how the northern range grassland communities respond to the ever-changing influence of the grazers that occupy this landscape.

No matter which animals are eating, grass is designed to respond positively to the grazers it sustains. That’s because when grass is cut it removes the old, slow growing tissue of each blade of grass and stimulates the growth of tillers that produce the young, rapidly growing tissue that allows the grass to spread and develop faster.

“Not only do we hope to find out how the increased population is affecting their natural environment,” says Wallen, “but once we know how they are influencing the health of the grasslands, we can use that knowledge to help us better manage the ecosystem.”

Also, just like your lawn, grasslands need fertilizer to increase their growth rate. “If you apply nitrogen to Yellowstone grasslands, the same thing will happen,” Frank notes. “Through their defecation and urination animals can do the same kind of thing by increasing the availability of nitrogen in the soil.” The study has two big long-term exclosures—about 15 meters x 15 meters—at a wet site in Lamar Valley and a dry, upland site near Crystal Creek. They also have four smaller sites, which they move around to monitor plant growth in response to it being eaten. From May until the end of September plants in the two large exclosures are cut by hand at different intensities to determine how much grazing it takes to have a positive effect on plant growth and how much grazing has a negative effect.

The Study’s Purpose “What we’re looking for is the tipping point,” says Frank. “At what point does grazing become too severe and unsustainable for the ecosystem?” By comparing results from the control area in the large exclosures to those from the movable exclosures tracking actual grazing levels, the study should be able to determine when the grazer population is too high for the ecosystem to sustain.

But even when this study comes to an end, don’t expect the exclosures to go away all together. Both Frank and Wallen hope to continue to look at the animals’ role in developing the park’s ecology by going back to the sites Frank studied two decades ago to see how they’ve changed in the ensuing years. From Frank’s perspective, such an undertaking would seek to explain how the shift in grazer community composition (from elk-dominated to bison-dominated) influences grassland species composition and ecosystem processes. The findings would also determine if the park’s ecosystem dynamics have been protected, even though the grazing community has changed. Wallen sees it as opportunity to tell if criticism about how the park manages the ecosystem has any scientific merit. “Twenty years ago people said there were too many elk, and now they say the same thing about bison,” Wallen notes. “We need to understand that systems often change, but so long as the negative consequences are social and political and not biological, we can consider the changes to be a part of natural process.” Stephen Camelio is a freelance writer living on the Montana/Wyoming border of Yellowstone National Park.

By the end of 2013, Frank and Wallen hope to complete the analysis of the results of the study. Once that is completed, the findings will

Yellowstone Quarterly 7

Join Our Yellowstone Family Volunteer Your Time If you love the magic of Yellowstone, consider spending the summer season volunteering with the Yellowstone Association. We are looking for generous, hardworking, enthusiastic individuals and couples to support our efforts to inspire, educate, and preserve. Volunteers spend full seasons working in Yellowstone National Park and play an integral role in our organization. Housing is provided for most positions. Opportunities include program assistants, campus caretakers, and information assistants.

Work as a Sales Associate Our sales associates work at our busy educational Park Stores throughout Yellowstone National Park. They ring up sales, provide park information, and offer Yellowstone Association memberships. Sales associates have an important role in serving the visitor and facilitating product sales that benefit the park. These are paid positions of approximately 30 to 35 hours per week. Applicants must be able to work from the middle of May through the end of September. Most associates live in their own RV’s inside the park. Sites with hookups are available.

For position descriptions, please visit


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Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful packages include: • • • • • • •

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Package dates: Prices do not include taxes or utility fees. Mammoth Hot Springs January 4–7, 2014

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We’ve taken care of the details— why not join us in Yellowstone this winter?

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visit or call 406.848.2400

Yellowstone Quarterly 9

Steve Iobst

Deputy Superintendent of Yellowstone Having first joined the National Park Service (NPS) while still a student, Steve Iobst has now worked for the NPS for 40 years. He first came to Yellowstone in 1979 and did a nine-year stint as an environmental engineer. After jobs in Rocky Mountain and Grand Teton national parks, Steve returned to Yellowstone in 2003 as the chief of maintenance. In 2011, he was named the park’s deputy superintendent — a job, he jokes, he got despite 40-years of friendship with Superintendent Dan Wenk. Why did you come back to Yellowstone? I have a strong affinity for the intermountain west, and I love the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I felt I could contribute in a very strong way. Given all the challenges associated with working here, it seemed like a great opportunity. It’s not a decision I regret making.

What are the deputy superintendent’s duties? This job is about day-to-day park operations, but you can’t deal with them day-to-day or you’ll end up way behind. You have to anticipate and look forward so that you consider not only the immediate impact of your decision, but also what will happen in a couple years. I love the challenges and the fact that there is something new every day to deal with.

What’s the most visitor-facing aspect of your work?

Steve and his wife, Debbie

Yellowstone is a lot about infrastructure. Our road system is very important. It’s not just how people get in and around the park, but they all see so much from the roadside — wildlife, lakes, rivers, geology. The current road improvement program will continue for a couple decades. Tower Falls to Tower Junction will wrap up this fall, and work on Norris to Golden Gate starts next year. We also have major utility systems in our developed areas, and it’s important to look ahead instead of waiting for those things to fail.

What about the natural side of things? Day in, day out we are focused on the health of the ecosystem, whether it is from a resource management position — like with a species such as bison —or from a scientific standpoint, such as the health of the white bark pine. We look at scenarios for the future based on current research and management as well. We are also paying more attention to effects of climate change, which is not something that is going to happen to our children or grandchildren; it is happening to us. It’s one thing to monitor it, but another to understand how it is affecting the long-term health of the ecosystem.

What projects are you most proud of? The Gibbon Canyon Road Project. Relocating two miles of road out from along the Gibbon River allowed us to avoid long-term environmental damage to the river, as well as wetlands and thermal springs. Everyone on the park staff came together to find a world-class solution. Watching the old road alignment slowly melt into a recovery zone is just amazing. The Old Faithful Visitor Education Center is another favorite, because of what it does for education and orientation. Helping visitors, both young and old, understand our geothermal forces and why they are so unique underscores why Yellowstone has to be preserved.

Do you get to work with YA? I work much closer with YA as deputy superintendent than I did in the past. YA faces various program and facilities issues that I am engaged in. I’ve enjoyed getting to know more members through those opportunities. Our partnership is truly unique. It’s 80 years old, and that’s not only very significant and special, but something I feel good about honoring. Being a cooperative association, YA, in terms of education, has a lot to provide visitors — even those who never come to Yellowstone. I am very excited about where we go from here.

What opportunities do you see for education in the future? We can increase, collectively, how we reach high school and college students as well as adults to create life-long learners. Linda Young (Chief of the Division of Resource Education and Youth Programs) and I have been talking about a senior ranger program. With the aging population and parents and grandparents bringing kids to Yellowstone, it’s a way to engage adults while engaging the kids. It can strengthen the connection older folks have with Yellowstone as well.

What do you do when you are not working? I like being out in the park with the visitors. Whether it is on the clock or not, I enjoy catching people doing the right thing. Ninety-nine percent of the time that’s what everyone is doing, whether they work for the park service, a concessioner, YA, or a contractor. I really appreciate all the work that is done by everybody, and I love being in the park watching those things happen. 10


By Stephen Camelio

Usually when someone refers to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, it’s in reference to the flora and fauna that call it home. But it’s also a wonderful place for people to experience the great outdoors. This is especially true in the winter, when much of the park is inaccessible by car travel. We asked avid skier and Yellowstone National Park backcountry ranger Jim Williams to outline the best places to cross-country ski on the northern range. BEGINNERS


The Upper Terrace Loop is a good place to learn how to ski. Short, easy to get to, and featuring a variety of terrain, it gives newbies a chance to learn the techniques they’ll use when they graduate to tougher terrain.

Want backcountry downhill skiing? Yellowstone offers plenty of options. By taking the Upper Terrace Loop to the Snow Pass Trail and following the Sepulcher Mountain hiking trail up from Swan Lake Flat, you can reach a north-facing bowl full of light powder at the base of the mountain.

Williams also recommends the one-way, mostly downhill Old Gardiner Road from Mammoth to Gardiner (about 5 miles). Another option is the Blacktail Plateau Trail; by turning around at the “cut” at the end of the road, this makes it about a 5-mile out-and-back. “No matter how easy you think a trail is, don’t go alone,” Williams warns. “Everything here is remote, so one fall could spell disaster.”


Xanterra offers a shuttle to this area, which Williams says not only has something for everyone, but also offers incredible views of the snowcapped Gallatin Range and Electric Peak. For those wanting to stay close to the warming hut or who plan on getting the shuttle back to Mammoth, the loop around the campground suits beginners; and at 5.5 miles, the Bighorn Loop is a good moderate trail with 320 feet of elevation gain. More adventurous types can take the Sheepeater Trail across Swan Lake Flat to the tricky downhill curves of the Bunsen Peak Trail, which ends at the Y.C.C. housing camp. If you haven’t parked there, you can follow the road back to Mammoth; all in all it’s a one-way trip of about 11 miles to camp; 12 miles to Mammoth Hot Springs.

“To be able to work your way up the trail and then ski the bowl, it’s best to have skins and Alpine Touring (AT) skis with the option of free or locked heels,” Williams says.

SAFETY FIRST “Given the cold temps, high elevation, and dry climate, Yellowstone in the winter can be a very dangerous place,” Williams says. “Anyone recreating in the park should be prepared for the worst.” Always tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back. Bring extra water, food, socks, and gloves, and wear plenty of layers. Hand warmers, duct tape, and a headlamp are also good items to keep in your pack. Williams recommends all backcountry skiers carry a beacon, probe, and shovel—and know how to use them. Anyone leaving the groomed trails should have an understanding of avalanche dangers. To learn more, visit the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center’s website:

Jardine “This old mining town is outside the Mammoth-Gardiner rain shadow, so it gets snow earlier

and more of it than the surrounding areas,” Williams says. That results in great skiing and tough driving. Make sure you have four-wheel drive or snow tires.

Williams recommends getting a trail map from the Gardiner U.S. Forest Service ranger station and going up the Jardine Road past the YA Overlook Field Campus, then following the Bear Creek Ski Trail to the Timber Camp campground. If you want to avoid snowmobilers, take the service road up to Eagle Creek campground and ski the rolling-loop trail above it. Beartooths/Cooke City

Just outside the park’s Northeast Entrance, this area, in Williams’s estimation, receives three times the amount snow that Gardiner and Mammoth receive, making it a great early– and late–season destination. A lot of snow means the trails range from moderate to extremely difficult; so be prepared. The out-and-back to Republic Pass is an intermediate-to-advanced climb and downhill, depending on how high you go. “The trail passes some old gold mining cabins and provides skiers the chance of seeing moose that frequent this area,” Williams says.

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By Emily Stifler Wolfe

AFTERSHOCKS Earthquake Lake Visitor Center Gets Face-Lift

JoAnn Smith Gartland and her family woke at midnight, their camper shaking violently. Earthquake! With potential for Hebgen Lake Dam to collapse, they piled into their ’57 Chevy and drove the opposite direction, west from Beaver Creek Campground along the Madison River. “You couldn’t see a thing,” Gartland, 65, recalls of that night 54 years ago. “We couldn’t figure out why it was so dusty. It was hard to breathe. Then we ran into a huge boulder in the road and couldn’t go any farther.” Her father turned off the pavement, drove uphill as far as he could and parked. A Scotsman, he always had a bottle of whiskey, so he gave them all a swig. Gartland was 11 at the time; her sister 7. Aftershocks continued as the family scrambled to higher ground. The night was cold, and Gartland remembers hearing cries for help far below them. Morning lit the wreckage: A massive rockslide had buried two campgrounds under 80 million tons of rock and dammed the river. 12

This spot, 27 miles northwest of West Yellowstone, Montana, was 17 miles west of the epicenter of the Hebgen Lake Earthquake. Measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale, the earthquake also caused smaller landslides in Yellowstone National Park, shaking seven other states. Today, a plaque affixed to a boulder atop the landslide memorializes the 28 people known to have died that night, August 17, 1959. Top :

Rendering of the remodeled Quake Lake Visitor Center. New exterior interpretive signage.

Left and below :

Earthquake Lake Visitor Center Sitting on the landslide debris, the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center draws more than 40,000 people annually. Among them are earthquake survivors, Yellowstone area tourists, and geology students, says Joanne Girvin, who has managed it for the Hebgen Lake Ranger District for two decades. Built by the Gallatin National Forest in 1967, the center’s 180-degree views include the slide to the south and the spillway in the west, where an outlet dug by the Army Corps of Engineers drains the lake. Interpretive exhibits include a working seismograph, a display on plate tectonics, and a movie depicting the geology and the human story of the earthquake. Operating the center is expensive, said Jane Ruchman, manager of the Gallatin National Forest recreation program. A partnership with the Yellowstone Association (YA) since the 1980s has helped offset costs, with a percentage of profits from YA materials sold there returning to the Forest Service. In 2011, with costs rising and budgets declining, Ruchman secured approximately $1 million from the agency’s Washington office for renovations to improve energy efficiency and address health and safety issues. Major renovations completed this summer brought the center up to accessibility standards, as well as installed a much-expanded merchandise sales area designed in partnership with YA. Additional improvements include: sound-proofing and doors between the auditorium and lobby, an architectural windbreak by the entrance, and solar tubes for natural light. These, along with new heating and cooling systems, lights, and windows will boost efficiency. The building is now wired for photovoltaic panels (PV), and Ruchman is seeking funding for PV cells or a wind generator. The remodel follows a five-year redesign of the exterior interpretive signage associated with the center, with installation completed this summer. That upgrade includes a kid-friendly interactive sculpture simulating the Earthquake Lake area and the river canyon. Expanded Partnership with YA Also new is an expanded partnership between the Forest Service and Yellowstone Association. Under the agreement, YA staff will manage sales, operations, and staffing of the store, and provide interpretive information when Forest Service staff are away from the desk. This, Girvin says, will help Forest Service employees focus on education and interpretation while reducing operating costs. The Association will benefit through increased educational sales and visitor contact. “Our mission, through education, is to connect visitors to Yellowstone National Park and our natural world,” said Daniel Bierschwale, director of sales and marketing for YA. The 1.8 million-acre Gallatin National Forest is a crucial part of the nearly 20-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Bierschwale said. This is the largest intact temperate ecosystem in the Lower 48, and Yellowstone is at its heart. The Earthquake Lake Forest Store will educate visitors about the Gallatin National Forest, selling items like guidebooks, binoculars, bear spray, and interpretive materials—“experiential learning products that encourage people to get out of the car and hit the trail,” Bierschwale said. He noted the myriad of nearby recreation opportunities including canoeing, birding, hiking, four-wheeling, and cross-country skiing. The Hebgen Lake Earthquake remains the largest on record in the Rocky Mountains, and thousands of people come annually to see the scars it left behind. The visitor center’s east windows frame an eerie yet peaceful view of Earthquake Lake with dead, ghost-like trees jutting from the green water like stoic soldiers guarding the tragedy where human and geologic history collided. The Earthquake Lake Visitor Center is 27 miles northwest of West Yellowstone on US Highway 287, 44 miles south of Ennis, and 99 miles southwest of Bozeman. Admission is free. The public Grand Opening of the renovated facility is set for Memorial Day weekend, 2014. Emily Stifler Wolfe is a writer, climber, and skier based in Bozeman, Montana. She is managing editor of Mountain Outlaw magazine and Explore Big Sky, which are published by the marketing and media firm, Outlaw Partners.

Yellowstone Quarterly 13

Naturalist Notes


A Time Before Winter Visitation By Amy Renfranz, Institute Resident Instructor

In fall of 1874 the Earl of Dunraven and his companions were concluding their trip into America’s first national park. The Irish Noble would publish in 1876 a book about his adventures in Yellowstone. Titled The Great Divide, it was amusing, charming, and wellreceived by its European readers. The book changed Yellowstone from an American institution into a land loved by all. It became the world’s first national park. Yet the Earl’s last few days in Yellowstone were apparently anything but glamorous. As he headed toward the Mammoth Hot Springs area, the snow of winter had yet to coat the ground. The wind became bitterly cold. Fall colors were quickly fading all around him. Plant life had begun to enter a dormant period. The only actions he described were ungulates late in their rut, birds migrating south, and bears seeking their hibernation dens. Upon reaching Mammoth, the Earl knocked on the door of McCartney’s Hotel. No one answered. All other tourists and concessioners had likely left the park and would not return until spring. The Earl’s men knocked down the door to the hotel to find two skunks in the receiving room. Otherwise, the place was uninhabited; not an article of food, drink, warm blanket, or warm fire. “An owl…hooted dismally around the solitary shanty…a skunk walked disdainfully and slowly…out of the saloon; squirrels were the only visitors at the clubhouse. We had to camp as best we could,” wrote the Earl, “upon the bare, dirty floors, and well nigh supperless to bed.” (The Great Divide, 347–49) Except for the occasional poacher, Yellowstone in the winter during the early years of the park was nearly empty of human visitors. Not so today. More than 150,000 people will visit Yellowstone this winter alone. Yet the land is still full of wild and mystery. It still captures the imagination and the heart. Yellowstone will look brand new in its blanket of snow this winter. It is up to us to tread lightly. 14

Thank you for being a member!

This past year, with your support, we connected more than a quarter of a million people to Yellowstone and gave our largest ever annual donation to the park. Every dollar counts, and we are proud to say that 83 cents of every dollar we spend goes back to education and research in Yellowstone. At this time of giving, we hope you consider increasing your tax-deductible membership contribution to the Yellowstone Association. With your help, we will continue to expand educational programs, materials, and memberships to new audiences while providing even greater support to Yellowstone National Park.

Holiday Offer

Upgrade your membership by at least $50 by December 31st and receive this wooden Yellowstone Association holiday ornament as our way of saying Thank You. To upgrade your membership, please use the membership envelope provided, visit or call 406.848.2400. Reference code YEAREND13 in the comments field on the envelope, website or when calling.

They got a quick introduction to Yellowstone from the enthusiasts who let them borrow scopes. But, wanting to learn more, the couple visited a YA Park Store and bought books and became members. That led to an Institute course on wolves, which led to what has become a deep connection with the park and the Yellowstone Association. Claire’s involvement with YA truly began to take shape about a decade ago when she was invited to one of the first capital campaign events the Association held in the park. Not only did the event give her a chance to find out more about YA, but it also allowed her to meet like-minded people who shared her passion for nature, wildlife, conservation, and education.

YA Family Claire Campbell Growing up with a dad in the U.S. Army, Claire Campbell moved and traveled a lot, including to the Marshall Islands, where she graduated high school. This peripatetic lifestyle not only led her to the constantly-changing industry of software start-ups, but also instilled in her a desire to continue exploring. While traveling the globe, Claire and her husband Brian Makare developed a deep connection with Africa. “After one of our photographic safari trips we came home to Boulder and said to ourselves, ‘Where is the American Safari experience?’” Campbell remembers: “When we discovered the wolf watchers in Lamar, we knew we had found that place.”

Shortly thereafter, Campbell says it was an honor to be invited to join the Association’s board and then to co-chair the capital campaign. “Now, nine years later, I have been, once again, honored to be asked to become YA’s next board chair,” Claire notes. “After working with a few nonprofits, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see an organization that is so financially strong and dedicated to such a wonderful mission combining so many of my interests.” Though she is proud of the success of YA’s capital campaign and the addition of all the new facilities, Claire can’t help but look to the future. “It has always been in the hearts of the YA board, staff, and so many members to extend our educational reach to those who cannot afford to visit the park,” she says. “I am so thrilled that with the support of the National Park Service we are reaching new audiences.” Yellowstone Quarterly 15


George Bumann, M.S., has a degree in wildlife ecology and works as a professional artist and educator.

Our 2012 Annual Report is now available!

Snow Lodge High Stakes Poker

20 12 2012 Annual Report 1

Please visit to view the Annual Report online.

Send us a photo of yourself or a fellow member holding a copy of Yellowstone Quarterly (YQ ) and you could be featured in an upcoming issue!

“I’ll see your traveler’s checks and I raise you a toothbrush.”

LEFT Becca and Sarah Brown, daughters of YA Executive Director Jeff Brown, took their YQ with them on a summer travel program near Dharamshala, India. Right Marci Spiegle, member of seven years, shows off her magazine at the

Liberty Bell Center where she is a National Park Service Volunteer in Parks.

Submission Guidelines

• Submit photo(s) to • Photos should be digital, high resolution, and at least 300 dpi at roughly 5”x7.” JPEG or TIFF files only, please. We are not able to accept mailed submissions. • Please include your name, address and phone number, names of participants in photo, and location description. • Submission of photo(s) includes permission for Yellowstone Association to use the images in Yellowstone Quarterly, on the YA website, or on our Facebook page. Cindy DePrater, member of nine years, took her YQ on a seven-day backcountry horse trip to Sportsman Lake and Bighorn Pass in Yellowstone.


MEMBERSHIP Thank you to all of our special patrons

NEW AND RENEWING MEMBERS OF THE YELLOWSTONE SOCIETY The Yellowstone Society recognizes preservationists who annually support the Association at $1,000 or higher through memberships and philanthropic contributions. Thank you to the following donors who joined or renewed their membership in the Yellowstone Society between July 1, 2013, and September 30, 2013. Your annual support plays a critical role in the Association’s mission to connect people to Yellowstone through education. Bechler $5,000 – $9,999

Diana Blank Sandy and Lee Choate Devin and Brian Cronin Gallatin $2,500 – $4,999

Marilyn Alkire and Dr. Alan Shaw Sue and Mike Arneson Claire Campbell and Brian Makare Shirley Cooper Lucy and Rick Fredrickson Kathy and Ed Fronheiser Tamara and Martin Hicks Jacqueline and Jay Lauderdale Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lukas Dana and David Martin Deborah and Dale Nickels Cathy and William Osborn Cindy Pigott Cece and Tom Ricketts

L amar $1,000 – $2,499

Muriel and Don Ableson Teresa and Jeffrey Bastin Ken Bowling Patricia Carocci Katherine Cattanach and David Charles Teresa and Shain Chappell Trudy Chester Mark Collins Linda and William Cornell Chad Dayton Penny and Sandy Dodge Patty and Tom Durham Debbie and John Edgcomb Sharlene and Michael Evans Karen Fedyszyn Jim Frank Janet and Churchill Franklin Carolyn Galceran John Gardner Carolyn and Douglas Grey Helen and James Hamilton Jerene and Dennis Henry Deborah Hinkley Sue and Roger Lang Carlene Lebous and Harris Haston Gigi and Mike Louden Mary Lou and Ben Marchello Maryanne Mayeda Laura and Robert McCoy Robyn Meyer Marjorie and Rodney Miller Marilyn Brown and Doug Morton Steve and Geni Parker Elizabeth Plevney Roberta and William Scherer The Robert Smith Family Sally and Edward Stilwill Joan and Mark Strobel Mary Ann and William Sullivan Kathryn and Richard Szarko Melissa and Eric Tesche Kelly and Len Trout Annette and Kelley Waters

HONORARY YELLOWSTONE SOCIETY Special thanks to the following members who made cash or in-kind contributions of $1,000 or greater between July 1, 2013, and September 30, 2013.

Casey Anderson Counter Assault Brenda and Chris Cross Gardiner Market Pollard Design Black Mountain Press SUMMIT SOCIETY The Summit Society recognizes those individuals or families that have included the Yellowstone Association in their estate planning to ensure the preservation of Yellowstone for future generations. To learn more about ways to give, including planned giving, please contact Stacey Orsted at 406.848.2855.

Lynn Bart Natalie and Aaron Bissonette Jeane Burlein Claire Campbell & Brian Makare Chris and John Cavanaugh Lara and Stephen Compton Shirley and Jerry Cormier Janice and Ernie Glessner Kathleen Haines Frank Hensing Heidi and Mark Ingenito Wayne Parsons Jayne and Dennis Poydence William Ryerson Catherine and Robert Shopneck Anonymous (6)

SPECIAL TRIBUTE DONORS Special thanks to the following donors who made a contribution to the Yellowstone Association as a tribute to someone special in their lives between July 1, 2013, and September 30, 2013.

Sylvia Elizabeth Bergstrom Estate In Memory of Andrew Cecka

Don Carmichael Stephanie Cook In Memory of Brian Connolly

Heather Connolly Jerome In Honor of Chris Cutro

Laura and Janet Cutro In memory of Jack Downard

Lida and Hanes Boren In memory of Michael Empson

Rolf Melkus In memory of E. Bruce Jones

Genie and Bruce Ford In Honor of L amar Buffalo Ranch

Michael Bartsch Chad Mendelsohn Kathy Russell In Honor of Terri McDonald

Ann Pettigrew In Honor of Miles Pierman

Chastin Pierman In Memory of Gary Pumplin

Dorothy Kissel Ventures West In Honor of Yellowstone

Terri Heckman In Honor of Bonnie Quinn

Noreen and Alan Stokes In Memory of Kevin James Wilkins

Heather Glick Stephen Novascone


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.

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