Quarterly Y ELLOWSTONE
Stories of Yellowstone’s Spring Babies Offering a Different Viewpoint Yellowstone’s Dynamic and Ephemeral Thermal Landscape
DEAR YELLOWSTONE FOREVER SUPPORTERS, Spring is an exciting season in Yellowstone, appearing gradually but welcomed heartily after the long, cold winter. Though snow still blankets much of the park, new life is starting to take shape. Bears begin emerging from their dens, some with brand new cubs of the year. Soon, the landscape will be dotted with elk calves and bison calves as well. It’s a busy time of year at Yellowstone Forever, too, as preparations for our summer operations kick into full swing. Our retail team is busy readying our Park Stores for summer visitors, and we’re working with our colleagues at the National Park Service to purchase exciting new educational products. Our seasonal staff members will soon be arriving in the park, energized for another summer engaging with visitors. Our Institute team is also hard at work preparing for a season of exceptional learning opportunities. The Yellowstone Forever Institute is reaching more people with our educational mission than ever before. Since March 2018, we have reached more than 9,000 people through our programs—a 46 percent increase over last year. This year, we have more than 20 new program offerings—truly something for everyone, from Painting Moran’s Yellowstone to Backpacking Basics to Bats of Yellowstone. This year we also have three new, incredible Masters Series programs: Corvids and Canines led by Colleen and John Marzluff, Beyond Yellowstone with Chris Johns, and Storytelling Goes Wild with Asher Jay. These additions to our summer Field Seminar line-up let you explore Yellowstone with a world-renowned expert in their field. You can learn more about all of our summer programs by visiting Yellowstone.org/experience. We are also excited about progress on the new Yellowstone Youth Campus. This brand-new campus will replace the existing Youth Conservation Corps campus in Yellowstone National Park. The YCC facility, built in 1978, is outdated and doesn’t serve the park’s current educational needs. I encourage you to visit Yellowstone.org/youth-campus to view the interactive video and learn more about this project and how to support it. Since Yellowstone Forever launched in October 2016, we’ve raised and earned $40 million for Yellowstone and helped fund 71 projects in the park. We hope to see you this coming summer, whether on an Institute program or in one of our Park Stores in Yellowstone, at Quake Lake, or at the Bozeman Airport. Please stop by and say hello!
Heather White President & CEO Yellowstone Forever
COVER Osprey Falls, on the Gardner River, plunges 150 feet (46 m) over the edge of a lava flow.
Stories of Yellowstone’s Spring Babies
Offering a Different Viewpoint
Yellowstone’s Dynamic and Ephemeral Thermal Landscape
flora & fauna | Hot Springs Panic Grass & Ephydrid Fly
experience | Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center
nps interview | Cam Sholly
naturalist notes | Colors of Curiosity
yf family | Marisa Griffith
Megan Boyle Wendie Carr Chelsea DeWeese Jenny Golding Barbara Lee Ruffin Prevost Joshua Theurer Christine Gianas Weinheimer
Tom Kirkendall Doug Loneman Lauren Beltramo Jim Futterer NPS/Jim Peaco Matt Ludin Ann Skelton NPS/Jacob Frank Maria Bisso Avery Meeker
images/pages cover ii ii, 13, 20 2, 4, 12, back cover 5 6, 7, 8, 14, 15 10 16 19 19
Brian Kertson Louise Johns Photo courtesy of Asher Jay Thomas Lee
19 19 19 21
publication staff Lauren Beltramo Megan Boyle
Wendie Carr Paula Degen
Executive Team & Board Members EXECUTIVE TEAM
Heather White President & CEO
Senior Director of Park Projects
Kay Yeager CHAIRMAN
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Chief Development Officer
Chief Marketing Officer Chief of Staff
Chief Financial Officer (Interim)
Vice President of Retail
Vice President of Operations General Counsel
Senior Director of Campaign & Special Projects
Senior Director of Education
PRESIDENT & CEO
Kevin Butt John Costello Annie Graham Carolyn Heppel Charles Kaufmann III Joe Marushack Susan Roeder Jacqueline Rooney Bob Rowe Doug Spencer Elizabeth Webb
Stories of Yellowstoneâ€™s Spring Babies Springtime Viewing Guide:
red dogs bear cubs wolf pups bighorn sheep lambs pronghorn fawns
bear cubs elk calves wolf pups bighorn sheep lambs pronghorn fawns
Elk cows with calves in Mammoth Hot Springs. Elk cows give birth to single calves, weighing around 30 pounds, in late spring.
Few times of the year are more exciting than spring in Yellowstone. As the snow recedes and new plant life springs forth, so too do Yellowstone’s baby animals. By mid-June, the park is teeming with life: Elk calves frolic on gangly legs through the tall grass; bison calves run circles around their mothers; merganser chicks swim furiously behind their nest mates; and black bear cubs scramble amidst the trunks of evergreen trees. Yellowstone’s open valleys provide unrivaled opportunities to watch young animals. Stories of wildlife observations are passed between visitors and guides in a form of roadside oral history, like a spoken-word biology text. Here, three Yellowstone Forever instructors provide firsthand accounts from the field to illustrate the variety of survival and rearing behaviors visible in spring. In Lamar Valley, a cow bison fends off a wolf stalking her soon-to-be newborn. “Through the spotting scope I could see two hooves sticking out, and her tail at a funny angle,” says George Bumann. “As she laid down to give birth, the wolf approached. She stood right up and sucked the calf back in to where only the hooves were sticking out again, and fended it off. This happened repeatedly over almost an hour until the wolf finally left. At last, she laid down in a patch of rye grass, and the calf was born.” Bumann timed the progression; it took the calf only 12 minutes to stand up for the first time. Yellowstone is not an easy nursery. For ungulates, peril comes in the form of a late season snowstorm, or a toothy predator. For bear cubs it may be male bears attempting infanticide. For songbirds, it’s nest robbers or inclement weather. Baby animals have to be hardy to survive, and they are born with an array of skills to defend themselves. Camouflage helps many ungulates—like elk, deer, and pronghorn—survive the early days. Mom will stash the relatively odorless newborn in tall grass or sage for hours each day, until it is big enough to run with the adults. Animals like bears—which account for 60 percent of elk calf mortality, according to NPS bear biologist Kerry Gunther—are lethal hunters. Being able to hide unseen until it can outrun a bear is critical to calf survival. Coyotes are a similar threat to pronghorn fawns, says instructor Shauna Baron, causing does to be strategic in their nursing schedule. “Once you see the momma nurse, set your watch. She’ll move off 100–400 yards, but keep her chest pointed towards where the babies are laying. Around 3.5 hours later, she’ll come back.”
BY J EN N Y G O LD I N G
Bison rely more on the strength of the herd for defense, like the group Bumann witnessed ward off an attack from a pack of wolves. “As the wolves started chasing calves, YQ | 3
phalarope chicks—small shore birds found near Yellowstone Lake—are raised by the male.
the adult bison formed in behind the calves, and other adults came running in. When the calves couldn’t run any more, some bison formed a circle around them, while other adults chased off the wolves.”
Raising young takes a lot of work, says Bulin. He once watched a female coyote move her pups to a new den in response to wolves in the area. “She spent an entire afternoon carrying each of her four pups one at a time across the road, for about a mile.” That’s easily a 7- to 8-mile day. Once in a safe den, feeding a litter of pups is no easy task. “I watched a fox with four voles in its mouth, carrying them back to the den,” says Bulin. “The fox kept dropping them, and repositioning them in its mouth. When it caught another one, it just shoved it right in!”
Some parents, like grizzly bear sows, rely on sheer ferocity to protect their babies. While black bear cubs can climb trees to escape a threat, grizzlies frequent more open territory, leaving them to rely on the mother’s attack and intimidation techniques for defense. Even birds like sandhill cranes ferociously defend their young. Baron tells the story of a tenacious father sandhill who scared off a large black bear. “The sandhill ran at the bear, threw its wings up and hissed, scaring the bear up a tree. When the bear came back down, the sandhill ran down a nearby log with his wings raised like ‘Karate Kid,’ scaring the bear so much it finally ran off.” Killdeer take a more deceptive approach, like the one senior naturalist Brad Bulin observed in the Old Faithful Geyser Basin pretending its wing was broken in order to draw potential predators away from the nest.
Survival as a young animal in Yellowstone is akin to walking a tightrope.
As the young grow, play is an important part of becoming a functioning adult. Bighorn sheep lambs perform daredevil stunts on steep slopes; otter pups roll and somersault through the water; and wolf pups are busy at the den practicing dominance gestures and prey-stalking behaviors.
“It’s really fun to see how adult wolves interact with puppies,” says Baron, of watching pups spend a day with their uncle while the alpha pair hunted. “It was obvious the adult wolf just wanted to take a nap in the sunshine, but the puppies kept harassing him. They were chewing on his ears, pulling on his tail, climbing up on top of him. Suddenly he would just roll over and all the puppies would
Some species, like insects or rodents, have lots of babies at once to buffer against the inevitable losses to predators and the elements. Others, like bear and mountain lion mothers, raise small groups of young, alone. Sandhill cranes, osprey, and red fox are raised by both parents, and 4
LEFT Bison calves can keep up with adult bison two to three hours after birth. BELOW Fox kits in den opening. Normally nocturnal, nursing mother foxes will sometimes emerge from the den in daylight hours to obtain enough food for her growing offspring.
Give Yellowstone’s spring babies the best chance of survival, and ensure your safety, by keeping a distance of at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from all other wildlife.
HOW TO OBSERVE SPRING BABIES
tumble off, boop boop boop! He’d go back to sleep and they’d climb back on and continue their play, until he’d roll the other way and they’d all tumble off again.” The hormones prolactin and oxytocin rise in pack members when puppies arrive, giving adults a nurturing disposition. “He seemed to have all the patience in the world that day,” Baron says.
Although Yellowstone’s myriad young wildlife can be viewed throughout the spring and summer, here are a few tips on ideal places and times to view some of the more popular animals.
Bear cubs are notorious for play, even if their shenanigans are exhausting for mom. “Single cubs are often bored because they don’t have anyone to play with,” says Baron, of a mother grizzly and her lone cub. “This cub kept running up behind the sow and jumping on her back. Each time she would swipe at it and scold it. Finally mom gave in and decided to play, running ahead and jumping behind a big rock to surprise the cub. They repeated this until the cub got so excited it ran right at her and jumped right up on her face! Game over. Mom laid the cub down, spanked it three times, and walked off into the woods.”
Newborn bison calves, often called “red dogs” because of their orange fur, are easily spotted in Hayden and Lamar valleys in April and May. Bear cubs, born in the den during the winter months, are visible in May and June in the Tower, Lamar Valley, and Hayden Valley areas. Look for spotted elk calves running along with mom in Mammoth Hot Springs and Madison Valley in June.
Survival as a young animal in Yellowstone is akin to walking a tightrope. Regardless of parenting strategy, almost all mother animals are fiercely protective of their young. It’s important to give wildlife their space, says Gunther. Getting in between a mother animal and her young, or disturbing them or blocking their path is not only dangerous for people and the animals, but can separate mother from young, leading to dire consequences for the baby.
Wolf pups are sometimes seen in May if the den is visible from the road; otherwise more commonly viewed in June and July in Lamar and Hayden valleys. Bighorn sheep lambs are often seen in May and June along cliff edges in the Gardner Canyon, confluence of the Lamar and Soda Butte rivers, and Barronette Peak.
There’s so much to enjoy while keeping a safe distance. Baron’s favorite time to enjoy spring babies is late evening. “Park where there are no people at all. Take a scope, or binoculars, sit near the vehicle or in a little spot near the road, and just enjoy the evening light, the sounds of the babies talking—especially the baby bison and their mothers.” Who knows what you might see.
Jenny Golding is a former director of education for Yellowstone Forever. She currently runs the website A Yellowstone Life, and writes from her home in Gardiner, Montana, on the border of Yellowstone National Park
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Offering a Different Viewpoint: Yellowstone Forever’s Overlook Campus Attracts Students and Volunteers to Northern Yellowstone to the national park and national forest. The location and views are “what made it most intriguing to us in terms of purchasing it,” he says, adding this is a winning combination for students and other educational organizations.
BY C H EL S E A D E WEE S E
Currently Overlook is used mostly by school groups working in conjunction with Yellowstone Forever field instructors. Field Seminars are also housed at the campus—when they aren’t held at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch inside Yellowstone—along with a month-long interpretive guide training, private tours, teacher workshops, and specialty charters. With the expansion of Yellowstone Forever’s Citizen Science Initiative, Overlook is also becoming an important base for those traveling from Bozeman and beyond to collect important data for the National Park Service.
An eagle soars eye-level on a snowy November evening, the gold-and-white foothills of Mount Everts rolling in the distance. Adjacent to a snowy peak, steam rises from the Mammoth Terraces. Light reflects off the ground as the sun descends behind the Gallatin Mountains. In springtime the frozen ground gives way to green grass, blue sagebrush, and multi-colored wildflowers. This view—and the property’s prime location at the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park—define Yellowstone Forever’s north entrance residential learning facility: Yellowstone Overlook Kendeda Field Campus.
One project, which NPS biologist Erik Oberg oversees, documents plant phenology, insect trends, and other Yellowstone climate data twice a month and requires a certain degree of specialization when it comes to key volunteers. “[Overlook] allows Bozeman-based volunteers to eliminate long drive times back and forth and focus on helping with all aspects of the phenology project,” Oberg says. According to Field Campus Manager Katie Roloson, as Yellowstone Forever moves forward with Yellowstone National Park on a new youth campus near Mammoth Hot Springs, the Overlook campus may serve increasingly different demographics in the future. For example, Overlook could see fewer middle- and highschool students but an increase in those college-aged and older—including citizen scientist volunteers. “I could see [Yellowstone Forever] beginning to use the Overlook campus for more diverse uses,” Roloson says.
Like its vista, the history of the Yellowstone overlook campus is expansive. In 2009 Yellowstone Forever’s predecessor, the Yellowstone Association, purchased the 80-acre property during a capital campaign called “Legacy for Learning.” Overlook opened the following year as an educational campus and has been in operation ever since. Three cabins are available to those taking classes, and a fourth houses volunteer caretakers. Additional highlights include a manmade lake, campfire ring, and access to the Yellowstone River Trail. While other locations were considered for a residential property, according to Dennis McIntosh, Yellowstone Forever’s director of sustainability and facilities, Overlook won because of its location: a mere 5-minute drive from the conveniences of Gardiner, Montana, with direct access 6
LEFT Don and Phyllis Mayfield are among the volunteers at Yellowstone Overlook Kendeda Field Campus.
One such group is Central Wyoming College, based out of Lander, Wyoming. Professor Jacki Klancher has been bringing students to the Overlook campus every November since 2014 and plans to expand to two courses in 2019. The students, most of whom study environmental sciences or outdoor recreation, engage in field-based activities with Yellowstone Forever instructors during the
biologist, cleaned cabins, readied the property, and introduced the new arrivals. Andrew joined Yellowstone Forever as a supporter in 2015. She received an email from a friend suggesting she become a volunteer and now she spends time at both Overlook and Lamar Buffalo Ranch. She is one of many volunteers—some new, some returning—who help keep operations running. In her free time at Overlook, Andrew likes to observe the park’s mammals through her cabin window, both up close and through a long-distance spotting scope. She’s particularly intrigued by bighorn sheep, a subspecies of which she studied in California. “It’s really a special place that’s only two miles from a town but has the sense of being in the wilderness,” Andrew says, “How could you not be inspired by this place?”
“How could you not be inspired by this place?” day and stay at Overlook at night. Students plan and prepare meals, clean up after themselves, and decide who stays in which cabin; two cabins at Overlook sleep up to 12 and a third cabin sleeps five. Klancher says the group living is good practice, especially for students considering a career in outdoor recreation. “I want to use that conversation as an extension of group and individual leadership.”
Yellowstone Overlook Kendeda Field Campus is made possible by generous donations by the Kendeda Fund and others. For additional information please visit Yellowstone.org or call 406.848.2400.
The location is also important, says Owen Carroll, the Yellowstone Forever lead instructor who typically works with Klancher’s students. He says Overlook helps students stay engaged with the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE)—the area surrounding Yellowstone—which they are studying. “Even though you’re not in the park per se, the sense of wildness continues,” he says.
Chelsea DeWeese is a Yellowstone Forever naturalist and guide who writes from her hometown of Gardiner, Montana, the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
Cabins at Yellowstone Overlook Kendeda Field Campus offer stunning views of the Gardner River and the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
In preparation for the arrival of Central Wyoming College last November, Nancy Andrew, a retired California wildlife
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Yellowstone’s Dynamic and Ephemeral Thermal Landscape BY RU FFI N PR E VOS T
“That’s one of the unique and fascinating features of Yellowstone, [things] shifting around and earthquakes rattling the plumbing system. You’re always seeing something new and getting something different.” Sometime in the 1930s, a baby’s pacifier fell into Ear Spring, a placid, ear-shaped hot pool in the Geyser Hill area of Yellowstone National Park. On September 15, 2018, Ear Spring erupted to a height of around 25 feet and the long-lost pacifier was ejected—along with a veritable time capsule of manmade debris. Also blown out by the eruption were aluminum cans, Polaroid film cases, a grizzly bear warning sign, various beer and soda cans, chunks of cinder block, a glass funnel and rubber tube used for scientific sampling, and nearly 100 coins. 8
LEFT The travertine systems at Mammoth Hot Springs are highly productive and can build new terraces in a matter of weeks.
The Ear Spring eruption was part of a series of changes last summer in thermal features in the Upper Geyser Basin, including a record number of eruptions by the fickle and inscrutable Steamboat Geyser. The same period also saw the emergence of a new hot pool that prompted park officials to close portions of some boardwalks and set up new monitoring gear to ensure public safety. As much as we might want Yellowstone to remain unchanged, a range of natural factors are always shaping the park’s landscape, including fire, erosion, wildlife, and even climate change. And the National Park Service is always responding and monitoring in an effort to keep visitors safe. Each year, up to 2,000 feet of the park’s 15 miles of boardwalk must be removed, rerouted, or rebuilt in response to changes in thermal features, water flows, and other factors. But for longtime geyser gazers and frequent park visitors, such changes are part of the appeal in returning again and again. “That’s one of the unique and fascinating features of Yellowstone, [things] shifting around and earthquakes rattling the plumbing system. You’re always seeing something new and getting something different,” said Terry Dolan. A tour guide based in Cody, Wyoming, Dolan has escorted visitors through the park on horseback, snowmobiles, and in autos for 25 years. For the past four years, he has watched as a small puff of steam in the Lower Geyser Basin has grown to a new hot spring more than three feet in diameter. “It has been growing every year, and you wonder if it will become a mudpot or hot spring or geyser,” Dolan said. “Seeing the start of new features is really cool.” Another new Geyser Hill thermal feature was born overnight last summer when a small, pulsing water pool emerged underneath the boardwalk west of Pump Geyser and north of Sponge Geyser. Park officials closed the boardwalk and set up monitoring gear to ensure safety and learn more about what was going on, said park geologist Jefferson Hungerford.
Park workers look for changes in ground and water temperature, rising and falling ground, and other factors that signal what’s happening in the area, Hungerford said. Geologists give any new feature time to “settle in” before deciding how close to allow the public and whether to move or build new boardwalks. Boardwalks are built on wood footings set on the ground, because digging in thermal areas could kill existing features or create a new one, Hungerford said. (Tossing any foreign object into a feature also risks clogging or killing it.) Workers use thermal imaging and other tools to make sure routes are safe and stable, at least for the foreseeable future. “These features are always popping up and dying, because the systems are really dynamic,” Hungerford said. But unexpected eruptions and the emergence of new features “are all within the norm,” he said. “These are dynamic and ephemeral systems. They’re going to turn on and shut off all the time as they change and recharge.” Yellowstone experiences up to 2,000 earthquakes each year, yet only a few can be felt at the surface. But that shaking can clog or unclog underground pathways for water and steam. The shift of a small steam vent can mean vast new mineral deposits over time, or a major change in the course of flowing water. “The easiest way to see that these are dynamic systems is to walk around Mammoth Hot Springs,” Hungerford said. “Those travertine systems are highly productive and can build new terraces in a matter of weeks.” Park managers want to get visitors as close as safely possible to view thermal features. But with rapid and unpredictable changes being so common, it’s important for visitors to stick to established routes in thermal areas. “We’re really lucky to have so many visitors be able to experience these systems,” Hungerford said. “But we have to be careful we don’t damage them, and that everyone stays safe. So it’s imperative that we always stay on the boardwalks and designated trails.”
Ruffin Prevost is founding editor of Yellowstone Gate, an online publication offering community news and inside views about Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
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Bitterroot flowers on Lava Creek Trail. You are likely to find bitterroot blooming in Yellowstone’s northern range during May or June.
E XPERIENCE | PRE SERVE
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A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY to Help Yellowstone’s Bears
F L O R A & FAU N A
Installing bear-proof food storage boxes at Yellowstone’s campgrounds is a proven method to protect the park’s magnificent bears and improve visitor safety. You can play a direct role in bear conservation by sponsoring a bear box today!
HOT SPRINGS PANIC GRASS BY BARBARA LEE ART KATIE ROLOSON
Gifts of any amount toward this important effort are greatly needed and sincerely appreciated. Contributors of a full $1,500 Bear Box Sponsorship will receive their name engraved on a plate that is affixed to a bear box in a Yellowstone campground.
Research indicates that Yellowstone’s hot springs panic grass (Dichanthelium lanuginosum) survives the harsh environment of geyser basins through an extraordinary symbiosis involving not one, but two other participants. A microscopic fungus toughens the plant’s roots and increases water and nutrient absorption, while a fungusinfecting virus contributes to building the plant’s heat resistance. The fungus earns a home, nutrients, and water; and the virus gains a host—a symbiotic triple win because none of the three entities can survive alone.
THE EPHYDRID FLY BY BARBARA LEE ART KATIE ROLOSON
Many of Yellowstone’s hot springs are home to populations of tiny, specialized fauna, and one of the most commonly seen is the ephydrid (ef-eye-drid) fly. Appearing in surprising numbers on microbial mats and streamers, this remarkable little insect displays adaptations that include insulating itself in an air bubble to feed in warmer water than could otherwise be tolerated. Adult ephydrid flies and larvae consume bacteria and other microorganisms, and are themselves eaten by spiders, beetles, and dragonflies that sustain wildlife up the food chain.
LEARN MORE AT YELLOWSTONE.ORG/BEAR-BOX or call Tara Castelucci at 406.848.8002 12
To order, visit shop.yellowstone.org Our Park Stores are the #1 source of information on Yellowstone, and sale proceeds directly benefit park priority projects.
Scout Forth Citronella Camp Candle 1 8oz
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The Geysers of
4 Yellowstone 5th Edition SUPPORTER $21.20 REGULAR $24.95 #3590 This new edition of The Geysers of Yellowstone is the most up-to-date and comprehensive reference to the park's geysers, based on activity observed through early 2018. Describes in detail each of the more than 500 geysers in the park and includes photos, illustrations, and maps. Softcover. 612 pages. 5 1/2" x 8 1/2"
6 Klean Kanteen Bottle SUPPORTER $31.44 REGULAR $36.99 #3076 Experience It Today. Preserve It for Always. Spread the message of Yellowstone’s official nonprofit partner with this insulated water bottle from Klean Kanteen. Stainless steel interior. 20 oz.
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3 Flora of the Yellowstone
5 Grand Teton Babies
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This handy guide includes more than 400 wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees found in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the surrounding area. Presents an overview of each species, photos, preferred habitats, and more. Softcover. 404 pages. 6" x 9"
SUPPORTER $49.71 REGULAR $58.49 #3561
This delightful board book for young children features rhyming text and color photographs of the adorable wild babies of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Includes a bison calf, grizzly cub, wolf pup, trumpeter swan cygnet, and many more. Hardcover. 26 pages. 51/2" x 51/2"
Take this compact, portable watercolor kit on your next Yellowstone adventure. Includes size #6 (round medium) refillable 9 ml water brush, dabbing sponge, removable palette, and finger ring holder. 51/2" X 8" X 11/8"
7 Pocket Field Sketch Box
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8 Kelty Single Hiking Pole SUPPORTER $25.49 REGULAR $29.99 #2656 This lightweight aluminum hiking pole is designed to absorb the blow of the terrain and keep you stable on the trail. Features anti-shock spring technology, non-slip cork, EVA foam grip, padded wrist strap, and a twist-lock mechanism for easy length adjustment. Weight: 10 oz. Length: 27"–53"
YELLOWSTONE HERITAGE AND RESEARCH CENTER
“The HRC is primarily a collection repository and research facility, with the vast majority of its items unseen by the public,” says Curry. “However, we are able to offer rotating exhibits and tours so that visitors can come by and view some cool things they wouldn’t normally see in a national park.”
BY CHRISTINE GIANAS WEINHEIMER
Yellowstone National Park’s famous treasures are celebrated worldwide: rare geysers, herds of free-roaming wildlife, the magnificent Old Faithful Inn, and the spectacular Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, to name a few. However, just outside the park’s North Entrance, several million lesser-known treasures are tucked away in a facility built especially for their preservation.
Curry says that while the National Park Service operates several repositories, most are regional facilities that house items for multiple parks. Only a handful of parks have their own facility, like the HRC, and Yellowstone is the only national park that is an affiliate of the National Archives. The archives at Yellowstone contains several million records, including photographs, maps, administrative records, and research data that document the history of the park. Examples include early US Army records and civilian scout diaries.
The Heritage and Research Center (HRC) is a storage and research center with a threefold mission: to document Yellowstone’s natural and cultural resources, preserve them, and make them accessible to the public. It contains one of the largest collections in the National Park Service, housed within an archive, a library, and numerous museum collections. However, it is not like a typical museum that most people are familiar with, explains Supervisory Museum Curator Colleen Curry.
The Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center, completed in 2005, is located near the park’s North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana.
The research library holds more than 20,000 books, periodicals, theses and dissertations, early superintendent reports, unpublished manuscripts, newspaper clippings, brochures, reports, and audiovisual materials.
VISITING THE HRC
Fossils are among the many natural history specimens housed at the Heritage and Research Center.
BELOW Inscription by John Muir, in his 1901 book Our National Parks, to H. M. Chittenden of the US Army Corps of Engineers office in Yellowstone National Park.
The Heritage and Research Center, located near the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner, Montana, is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., to view the temporary exhibits in the lobby.
The museum collections encompass more than 720,000 diverse objects, including: · Early Native American artifacts, such as 11,000-year-old projectile points · Original Thomas Moran watercolor sketches he produced during the 1871 Hayden Expedition · Records, oral histories, photos, and other items from the fires of 1988 · More than 150 skulls from the wolves that were reintroduced in ’95 and ’96 and their subsequent offspring · 30 historic vehicles, from stagecoaches to firetrucks · One of the world’s largest collections of Yellowstone postcards While funding to build the HRC was provided through government channels, Yellowstone Forever granted funds to furnish the interior and continues to play a key role in operations by funding two full-time librarians and housing for curatorial interns. Yellowstone Forever also supports ongoing preservation projects like digitizing delicate documents to make them accessible to the public.
During the summer, visitors can also take a free tour that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the HRC. Tours run on Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day, and last about one hour. Space is limited to 10 participants, so reserve a slot by calling 307.344.2264. “For the tours, we bring out some items that are favorites with visitors, such as the Moran field sketches and wolf skulls. Since preservation work on the collections takes place year-round, visitors often see staff, volunteers, or interns cataloging, scanning, or photographing objects as we tour through the work rooms,” says Curry. The library is open to the public Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Appointments are needed to conduct research in the archives (YELL_Archives@nps. gov) and museum collections (307.344.2662). For more information about the HRC, visit nps.gov/yell/learn/historyculture/collections.htm. Christine Gianas Weinheimer lives in Bozeman, Montana, and has been writing about Yellowstone for 17 years.
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NPS INTERVIE W
Isle Royale National Park; partnered with tribes, states, and nonprofits in moving bison to broader landscapes; and worked on two major new unit startups. He also oversaw the completion of the largest public/private partnership project in NPS history, a $380 million dollar renovation of the St. Louis Arch grounds and museum. Recently, he sat down with Yellowstone Forever to discuss his background and his thoughts on the future of the world’s first national park.
Cam Sholly SUPERINTENDENT, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
How did growing up in national parks influence your decision to join the National Park Service? Growing up in the parks has given me an affinity for how special our parks are. The National Park Service has one of the noblest missions in the world, and our parks set the standard globally on a variety of different fronts, especially from a conservation/preservation perspective. It’s a combination of that affinity for the parks and my appreciation for what the National Park Service does that gave me the desire to protect that mission as well as help achieve it. What was it like working on the Gateway Arch project in St. Louis? It’s the largest public-private partnership in NPS history, and something special and fulfilling to be a part of. It was well in motion before I got there in 2015, but the role I played was bringing the conglomerate of partners together in a more cohesive way and getting the project completed, from ground-breaking to ribbon cutting. The project is a great example of how partners can come together and is indicative of the future of the National Park Service and how we leverage efforts with our partners to accomplish great things. Also, with $250 million in private/corporate donations and $120 million of funding raised through a local tax increase, it also signified the value people place on parks in that they’ll donate large sums of their own money to improve their parks.
Cameron (Cam) Sholly’s appointment as the new superintendent of Yellowstone National Park is a homecoming in many ways. The grandson of George Sholly, a former park superintendent, and son of Dan Sholly, who was chief ranger in Yellowstone during the 1980s, Cam attended high school in Yellowstone at the Youth Conservation Corps camp (the Gardiner School was closed due to fire) and did two stints working in the park. After graduating from Gardiner High School, Cam served in a variety of capacities in the US Army and was deployed to Operation Desert Storm. He began his NPS career in Yellowstone working for the maintenance division in the Lake District. He later moved to Yosemite National Park as a backcountry ranger and supervisor in Yosemite Valley. Over the past 15 years, Cam’s career has included assignments as the chief of ranger operations in Yosemite, superintendent of the Natchez Trace Parkway, and associate director for visitor and resource protection. Prior to becoming the superintendent of Yellowstone, Cam served as the regional director for the Midwest Region overseeing 61 NPS units located in 13 states. As regional director, Cam returned wolves to
Why are partnerships so important? We have financial and operational capacity, and regularly that capacity doesn’t allow us to do everything that we need to. The support of partner organizations provides an incredible network of outreach and marketing to help us get important projects done that would not get done, and it also allows us to do these projects in much bigger and better ways. What are your first impressions of Yellowstone Forever? I would say impressive, considering this current construct has been developed in a relatively short amount of time
“I have a lot of favorite parks, but I think Yellowstone is the flagship. It is a privilege to be here with the amazing team of National Park Service employees and also our partners.”
since the merger. The level of organization and number of people they have working across the country, combined with the strategic plan and high level of professionalism and talent that I’ve seen in my short time here is very impressive. It gives me great confidence in us continuing to do really good things in the future. It is great to see that there are supporters from 105 countries, demonstrating how much people value Yellowstone, not only in America, but around the globe. I’m looking forward to working with Yellowstone Forever to continue making transformational changes to this park. What are your thoughts on the educational mission of Yellowstone Forever? When you look at the NPS Organic Act there are three primary words that stick out: conservation, enjoyment, and unimpaired. In that enjoyment category, connecting people to parks is very important, and education is a big part of that. We have an operational capacity for programming and other educational activities, but Yellowstone Forever helps us take education to the next level and helps us connect people to parks in ways we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. From funding for special initiatives revolving around education or for big capital projects like the new youth campus, now and in the future, we wouldn’t reach nearly the level we want to be at without that additional support from Yellowstone Forever. What is your vision for the park moving forward? We are in the process of developing a range of major priorities and objectives for Yellowstone. Our number one goal is creating an effective operational and financial framework that maximizes our resources and gives our
teams the tools they need to succeed. Another major focus will be to continue strengthening the Yellowstone ecosystem and its heritage resources. This includes everything from promoting large landscape conservation to protecting our cultural resources, bison, native fish, wolves, and other keystone species. We’ll also be focusing largely on better understanding and responding to climate change and its impacts on our resources. We’ll be making efforts to provide world-class visitor experiences, which includes understanding and responding to increased visitation, improving public safety and resource protection, and connecting people to the park through education, new technologies, and other means. We will continue building new coalitions and partnerships. This includes connecting with everyone from elected officials to gateway communities, as well as Yellowstone Forever, and even how the National Park Service works together internally. A last major focus is reducing the park’s deferred maintenance backlog and investing in Yellowstone’s infrastructure. Out of the National Park Service’s $11 billion deferred maintenance, $515 million of it is in Yellowstone, so a lot of improvements need to be made. That’s a lot to do. What is it like to be back working in Yellowstone? I have a lot of favorite parks, but I think Yellowstone is the flagship. It is a privilege to be here with the amazing team of National Park Service employees and also our partners. I like to think in terms of listening, learning, and acting. It’s been great listening to and learning from so many different perspectives, both from inside and outside the park, and we are starting to translate some of that into actions that will continue to move the park forward.
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N AT U R A L I S T N OT E S
COLORS OF CURIOSITY BY JOSHUA THEURER, CITIZEN SCIENCE PROGRAM MANAGER ART LAUREN BELTRAMO
There are many reasons Yellowstone National Park grabs our imagination. The grand sweeping vistas, the roaming herds of bison, and its rich human history are all staggering examples of the wonders this place has to offer. However, the thermal features, those strange surficial manifestations of the underlying supervolcano, are the reasons we drew a rectangle around this region in order to preserve it in perpetuity. Things get even stranger when you stop and peer into those vivid colors that mark many of these features; for it is in these colors that the planet’s oldest and most bizarre life forms dwell.
Thomas D. Brock was among the early microbiologists to work in Yellowstone. Brock’s work revealed a very important concept, namely that life can thrive at higher temperatures formally thought to be sterile. Brock’s work also yielded the identification and isolation of an enzyme contained within the bacteria Thermus aquaticus, which would lead to the invention of a technique used to amplify and “fingerprint” DNA quickly. This technique, known as polymerase chain reactions (PCR), has generated a multi-billion-dollar industry.
The living colors of the Yellowstone region perplexed early explorers. Geologist Ferdinand Hayden dipped into the poetic when he exclaimed in 1871 that, “nothing ever conceived by human art could equal the peculiar vividness and delicacy of color of these remarkable prismatic springs. Life becomes a privilege and a blessing after one has seen and thoroughly felt these incomparable types of nature’s cunning skill.”
Yellowstone’s microbes have also informed the seminal work of Carl Woese. Woese’s identification of the third domain of life, namely “archaea,” has reorganized our contemporary views of how life evolved on Earth and resulted in a new interpretation of the tree of life.
These colors gripped the fancy of Walter Harvey Weed who postulated as early as 1889 that “there is good reason to believe that the existence of algae of other colors, particularly the pink, yellow and red forms so common in the Yellowstone waters, have been overlooked or mistaken for deposits of purely mineral matter.”
We have only begun to scratch the surface of the microbial mat. So, next time you find yourself amongst the colorful pools of Yellowstone’s thermal basins, stop for a second, peer into those vivid hues, and just imagine what lay below your toes awaiting discovery. Who knows, perhaps these organisms hold the secret to living sustainably on this planet for many generations to come.
And Weed was right. We now know, thanks to work by early microbiologists, that the weird world of microbes contained within the thermal waters of Yellowstone is a treasure trove of discovery waiting to reveal the ecological scope and depth of life forms largely veiled in mystery. 18
IN YELLOWSTONE THIS SUMMER
Here’s your chance to think like a scientist about the future of Yellowstone’s ecosystem: the Yellowstone Forever Institute is now offering four exciting, citizenscience Field Seminars. Participants will contribute to a park priority project by helping to conduct field research. Enjoy a unique experience such as monitoring red-tailed hawk nests or collecting data on bison herds while learning new skills and engaging with Yellowstone on a deeper level.
SIGN UP TODAY YELLOWSTONE.ORG/CITIZEN-SCIENCE
EXPLORE YELLOWSTONE THIS SUMMER WITH THE
Masters John Marzluff
Join the Yellowstone Forever Institute for exciting new programs in the Yellowstone Masters Series, featuring world-renowned experts in fields ranging from wildlife and natural history to journalism and digital media. Participants will dig deep into topics like the fascinating relationship between wolves and ravens, conservation storytelling, and how to maintain wildlife-compatible landscapes surrounding the park. These special programs include catered meals and private lodging. Space is limited!
REGISTER TODAY YELLOWSTONE.ORG/MASTERS Chris Johns
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Invest in Yellowstoneâ€™s Future The Yellowstone Society is a community of like-minded philanthropic supporters who annually contribute a gift of $1,000 or more to Yellowstone Forever. Become a Yellowstone Society supporter by upgrading your contribution today, and receive special benefits while helping to educate visitors and preserve the park forever.
LEARN MORE AT YELLOWSTONE.ORG/SOCIETY or call Tara Castelucci at 406.848.8002
A young park visitor shows her completed wildlife button craft at the Yellowstone Art and Photography Center.
Y F FA M I LY
Marisa Griffith DIRECTOR OF EVENTS
Events specifically for Yellowstone Society supporters— who give $1,000 or more annually to Yellowstone Forever— are often multi-day excursions. Griffith helps create exclusive itineraries that let members see close-up the park projects they are helping to support.
If Marisa Griffith is not in the office, there’s a good chance you’ll find her out on a trail. An avid hiker, trail runner, and skier, she spends her free time appreciating the natural beauty of Yellowstone and the surrounding area.
“Exploring the park with our expert Yellowstone Forever Institute naturalists, or world-renowned guides like photographer Tom Murphy, is an exceptional learning experience.”
“I love the easy access to wilderness areas in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” says Griffith, Yellowstone Forever’s Director of Events. “I feel so lucky to live and work in a place where it’s only a short drive to be on a trail in the mountains. And there’s such a variety of trails that, even after living here for six years, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.”
A newer addition to Griffith’s responsibilities was the launch of the annual Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational in 2018. The event, which returns September 24–29, 2019, celebrates the current and historical presence of art in Yellowstone with accomplished artists painting en plein air throughout the park.
Griffith’s devotion to Yellowstone directly fuels her work as well as her lifestyle. Spreading the Yellowstone love comes naturally to this Central Montana native and graduate of the University of Montana, so she’s well suited to her event-planning role. Throughout the year, she organizes numerous events hosted by Yellowstone Forever, and in doing so reaches a broad network of fellow Yellowstone enthusiasts. Griffith believes that while the best way to forge a deeper connection to Yellowstone is spending time enjoying its wonders firsthand, another way is getting together with others who share a passion for Yellowstone while learning more about the park. “Events are important because they create opportunities for us to enhance attendees’ relationship with Yellowstone, and also inform them of how they can help preserve this remarkable place,” explains Griffith. She says that at these events, both in the park and nationwide, Yellowstone Forever President & CEO Heather White and park leadership meet current and prospective supporters while sharing Yellowstone Forever’s mission, the needs of the park, and ways to get involved.
“It’s a unique opportunity for visitors to watch artists transform blank canvases into works of art,” says Griffith. “We are fortunate to host such talented and compassionate artists who deeply appreciate Yellowstone’s beauty.” Griffith recalls that a highlight of last year’s event was the Paint Out along the Madison River. This activity brought all 14 artists together to complete their paintings within two hours. “Park visitors were able to watch the artists paint the landscape and ask questions. It was extraordinary to see the different styles and visions of each artist. No two paintings were alike.” She encourages visitors to attend the 2019 Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational, including the Paint Out, other artist demonstrations, and an art exhibition and sale that benefits the park.
For more information on the Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational, visit Yellowstone.org/plein-air. To learn of upcoming Yellowstone Forever events, subscribe to our email list at Yellowstone.org/subscribe.
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PO Box 117, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190 406 | 848 | 2400
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Moose cow in the Lamar River