Quarterly Y ELLOWSTONE
Park Peaks Yellowstone Junior Rangers Peril on the Flight Path to Yellowstone
DEAR YELLOWSTONE FOREVER SUPPORTERS, Summer is an exciting time to visit Yellowstone: the park is green and lush, wildflowers are in full bloom, and bison and elk calves dot the landscape. During this time of year, I enjoy bringing family and friends into the park and helping them experience Yellowstone for the first time. I also find great joy in taking solitary trips and visiting places that are wild and remote. There’s something new and wonderful around every corner in the park, and this year I’m delighted to be able to experience it in a new way. On June 17, 2019, I began my role as interim President & CEO of Yellowstone Forever. My professional background is in higher education and the law, though you may know me as treasurer of the board of Yellowstone Forever. I’ve been honored to serve as a member of the board and the National Advisory Council for the past 13 years, and have come to know many of you during this time. I’m proud to now serve alongside Yellowstone Forever’s staff, a strong team dedicated to our mission to create opportunities to preserve and enhance the park for the future. We have the full support of the park as we move forward, and I will continue to work closely with Superintendent Cam Sholly to ensure that our organization aligns with the park’s needs. I’m optimistic about our ability to continue to be the irreplaceable nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. On the ground here in Yellowstone our team is hard at work, in the midst of another busy season. Our educational Park Stores are full of wonderful Yellowstone products, and we’re excited to engage with visitors this summer. Our Institute instructors are delivering educational programs that help visitors have inspiring experiences in Yellowstone National Park. Since March 2018 we’ve reached more than 9,000 people through our educational programming—a 46 percent increase over last year. This September we will host the second annual Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational, celebrating the current and historical presence of art in Yellowstone. Sixteen of the nation’s best artists will paint “en plein air” (outside on-site) for five days in various locations throughout Yellowstone National Park. Visitors will have the opportunity to attend daily painting demonstrations as well as a paint-out that gathers all artists painting in a single location. The event culminates with the pieces being available for viewing and for purchase at the Old Faithful Lodge Recreational Hall. Last year’s event was spectacular, and I hope you will consider joining us in the park for this year’s event September 24-29. For more information, including a schedule of events and a list of the 2019 artists, please visit Yellowstone.org/plein-air. It is an honor to be part of Yellowstone Forever’s community of supporters and to serve the park as its partner. I’m grateful for everything you do on behalf of this remarkable place. Thank you,
John Walda, President & CEO YELLOWSTONE FORE VER
Osprey in rain with trout, Gibbon River
Yellowstone Junior Rangers
Peril on the Flight Path to Yellowstone
flora & fauna | The Acmon Blue Butterfly & Silvery Lupine, the Wolf Flower
nps interview | Beth Taylor
experience | Summer Photography: How to Take Your Very Best Yellowstone Images
naturalist notes | Yellowstoneâ€™s Petrified Trees
yf family | Cody Siegle
Megan Boyle Stephen Camelio Wendie Carr Chelsea DeWeese Jenny Golding Barbara Lee Virginia Miller Ruffin Prevost Christine Gianas Weinheimer
Matt Ludin NPS/Jacob Frank NPS/Neal Herbert Lauren Beltramo NPS/Diane Renkin
publication staff cover, ii, 4, 10, 15, 19, 20, 21 2, 7, 9, 13, 14, back cover 6, 8, 9, 14 6, 16, 17 18
Lauren Beltramo Megan Boyle Wendie Carr Paula Degen
Executive Team & Board Members EXECUTIVE TEAM
President & CEO
Vice President of Retail
Senior Director of Park Projects
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Vice President of Operations
Chief Marketing Officer
Erica Cerovski Controller
Thomas Cluderay General Counsel
Kay Yeager CHAIRMAN
Edna Johnson VICE CHAIRMAN
Senior Director of Campaign & Special Projects
Chief of Staff
Chief Development Officer
Senior Director of Education
Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer
Kevin Butt John Costello Lisa Evia Annie Graham Carolyn Heppel Charles Kaufmann III Susan Roeder Jacqueline Rooney Bob Rowe Doug Spencer John Walda Elizabeth Webb
Park Peaks: The Creation and Significance of Yellowstone’s Mountain Tops
The oldest mountains in the park are found on the west side in the Gallatin Range, a result of the Sevier Orogeny—a mountain-building phase that began 150–140 million years ago. “It started west of Yellowstone proper and was produced by thin skin tectonics or faulting,” park geologist Jefferson Hungerford explains. “Basically, at a break in the Earth’s crust, older layers of sedimentary rocks were pushed above younger rocks, stacking them upon one another.” This can be seen along Route 191 overlooking the Gallatin River.
BY S TEPH EN C AM ELIO With more than 40 peaks in the park soaring over 10,000 feet and at least 70 named mountains over 8,000 feet, you’d think that the park’s highest points would be first and foremost on visitors’ minds. But that’s not always the case. The fact that Yellowstone is also home to grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and top-notch fishing—not to mention the world’s biggest and best collection of thermal features—has something to do with it.
The base of the Gallatins also shows effects of the Laramide Orogeny, a thick-skinned faulting that started 70 million years ago and ran to about 40 million years ago. “Mountain building of this type is a result of reverse faults, which are a lot steeper, and they brought out basement rock,” Hungerford points out. “This is the gneiss and crystalline rock also visible along the Gallatin River on the west side of the park.”
It’s also because many of these imposing mountains are in roadless areas, making them extremely hard for climbers and other visitors to get to. There’s also the fact that they sit on or near a volcanic plateau with an average elevation of 8,000 feet (a result of the Yellowstone hotspot bulging upward by one-third mile during the past 2 million years), so there aren’t the valley-to-summit views that make a range like the Tetons so captivating.
These ancient rocks, known for their banded appearance representing alternating layers composed of different minerals, were buried far below the surface and then brought to the top by the stress put on the Earth’s crust by continental collisions. During the Beartooth Uplift, which also occurred during the Laramide Orogeny, the same process brought up the oldest rocks in the park:
Yellowstone’s mountains may fail to get the respect they deserve—often seen simply as backgrounds for photos or as something you have to get over to get somewhere else. Yet how they came into being laid the groundwork for the park’s existence.
A view from Bunsen Peak Trail, just south of Mammoth Hot Springs
2.7–3 billion-year-old outcrops of gneiss and schist visible in the cliffs along the Lamar River Canyon. On the east side of the park and south of the Beartooths stands the Absaroka Range, which was created 55–48 million years ago by volcanic activity resulting from the oceanic crust going beneath the continental crust, causing magma to push to the surface and create volcanoes. “The subduction-related volcanic edifices of the Absaroka Range actually go from the eastern side of the Washburn Range to Paradise Valley, as well as to Sepulcher (9,642 feet) right by Mammoth down and to Eagle Peak, the highest point in the park at 11,372 feet,” Hungerford says. “They’re all remnants of volcanoes—cones, lava flows, and debris from those lava flows formed during the Absaroka volcanic period.” Yellowstone’s other two mountain ranges, Washburn and the Red Mountains, also have eruptive origins. Washburn is home to Mount Washburn (10,243 feet)—Yellowstone’s most visited high peak. The Red Mountains are a small grouping of peaks located just west of Heart Lake that includes 10,308-foot-high Mount Sheridan. Though not built in the same manner as the park’s highest peaks, there are also other rock formations that stand out
from the landscape. “The travertine in Mammoth and some of the sinter and geyserite forming around Upper Geyser Basin are part of an expression of heat from the magmatic system down below,” Hungerford says. “There are also lava flows that get eroded away or are very steep, like National Park Mountain (7,553 feet). That’s a rhyolite flow that’s a mountain—it’s in the name!” As impressive as the volcanic remnants and mountain ranges are in the park, Hungerford acknowledges that they were once even more imposing. “Though we don’t know exactly how tall they got, they were definitely taller than what they are now,” he says. The reason for their drop in elevation is mainly due to one factor: glaciers. For nearly the last 2 million years, Yellowstone and the rest of North America have experienced large swaths of time when the land was covered with these massive fields of ice that moved either because of gravity or the pressure of their own weight. “We had 2,000–3,000 feet of ice above us and above the mountains, and when that ice flowed, it mowed mountains down and tore them apart,” Hungerford explains. “For instance, the Gallatin Range looks like it's been terrorized by glaciers—both by an ice sheet and later, when the ice sheet receded, by alpine glaciers.”
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Alpine glaciers are large collections of snow and ice that form cirques, the steep-walled, deep-floored basins that are found high up in the mountains. As these glaciers flow downhill, they create V-shaped stream valleys and more rounded or U-shaped valleys.
decimated mountain ranges on its way,” Hungerford explains. “Stand up on Mount Washburn and look southwest into the caldera and you’ll see low topography between sets of mountain ranges. That’s the track of the volcano.”
“Lamar Valley is a perfect example of this,” Hungerford adds. “Those big U-shaped valleys really let you see the old ice sheets at work.” With the glaciers disappearing, they left a fertile landscape and life-giving waterways— all protected by the wall-like fortification of the surrounding mountains—that became home to the flora and fauna that define Yellowstone.
For a geologist like Hungerford, studying mountains has many implications. “In terms of the more distant mountains, we study the rock record that’s displayed on them to tell us a lot of what went on in the park and when different rocks and formations were deposited,” he says.
“Sometimes we forget that we have had massive explosive eruptions from one of Earth's largest volcanic systems that decimated mountain ranges on its way.”
It’s not just ice that can take out mountains—it’s fire too. That’s because, though many associate volcanic activity with razing the landscape—as we see on the volcanic plateau, in the Absarokas, and lava flows—it also can have the reverse effect.
Though glaciers are gone from Yellowstone, park scientists also keep an eye on the continual wearing away of edifices. “Changing climates definitely change precipitation patterns and they affect rates of erosion,” Hungerford explains. “It could be we start to get energetic rains or other events that actually increase erosion in some areas.”
“Sometimes we forget that we have had massive explosive eruptions from one of Earth's largest volcanic systems that
When it comes to monitoring high peaks, park staff give priority to those that are most accessible to ensure visitor 4
Hikers approach the summit of Electric Peak.
western US snowpack throughout the next century—and evidence already showing later freezes and earlier thaws— it remains to be seen if Yellowstone’s summits continue their role as the nation’s headwaters.
and staff safety. “We watch them when they are around infrastructure to make sure they are not dropping big boulders on roads and such,” Hungerford adds. But there are more than rocks on these ridges and slopes that need watching. Given many of the peaks’ remoteness and heights, it’s not always easy to keep an eye on them, says park botanist Heidi Anderson. “These are the least studied areas of the park,” she notes.
Projections like this and the studies conducted by park scientists are reminders that while they seem to the naked eye to remain largely unchanged, Yellowstone mountains are windows into the evolving nature of the park’s landscape. Going forward they will provide clues to Yellowstone’s changing ecosystem and its effect on the park and beyond.
That hasn't stopped scientists from determining that in recent years widely distributed, early blooming plants are blooming 20 days from historical documentation. This means that climate change could significantly impact the natural process of Yellowstone’s high altitude environs. In 2008, the park began monitoring sections of alpine ecosystems as a part of the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA). “This is part of an ongoing project on how climate change and other factors, like pollution, affect the status and trends of native plant communities, invasive and exotic plant and soil condition, and temperature,” Anderson explains.
Stephen Camelio is a freelance writer living in Bozeman, Montana. His work has appeared in Men’s Journal, Runner’s World, Field & Stream, and Fly Rod & Reel.
Given their heights, these peaks are home to Yellowstone’s impressive snowpack. With their location on the Continental Divide, the mountains’ snowmelt empties into watersheds that serve large swaths of the United States. But with climate models projecting a general decline in YQ | 5
Yellowstone Junior Rangers forge deep connections to the park Yellowstone Junior Ranger booklet to discover more about the park, with 36,588 completing the program to become official Junior Rangers and earn a patch. “The program is a tool for kids to engage with the park, and because there is such diversity and variety in Yellowstone, everyone’s experience is a little different,” Taylor said. “We also get many adults that really find it’s one of the quickest ways to learn about the park.” Grand Canyon National Park visitor Rose Torphy made headlines in February when she became that site’s oldest Junior Ranger at 103, which is three years older than the park itself.
BY RU FFI N PR E VOS T
Junior Ranger programs have their roots in the Yosemite Junior Nature School, launched in June 1930, according to The Ranger Archivist, a blog maintained by former Yellowstone archivist Francis Shawn Bawden.
Ask a group of kids about their vocational aspirations, and you’re likely to hear a familiar roster of occupations: astronaut, police officer, doctor, firefighter. But ask the same question after a visit to Yellowstone National Park and you may just hear a new option: park ranger.
In Yellowstone, a junior nature explorers program started in 1947. Ranger naturalist Mildred Ericson wrote that year about how kids 6–14 took “special exploring trips” and followed “a treatment of nature lore with some work being done on nature craft.” Program activities in August 1947 included visiting beaver dams near Mammoth Hot Springs, “where we studied the habits of the beaver, hypnotized frogs, and observed a herd of antelope.”
For nearly nine decades, some form of Junior Ranger program has been feeding that ambition among young visitors, offering a chance for kids to forge a deeper connection to nature, and explore more of what it’s like to be a steward of extraordinary public lands. In Yellowstone, approximately 88,453 people participated in Junior Ranger activities in 2018. Many families attended educational programs at the Junior Ranger activity site and got active competing in the Junior Ranger Wildlife Olympics, said Beth Taylor, education program manager for Yellowstone. More than 45,000 visitors used the
The earliest version of today’s Junior Ranger program appears to have started in Yellowstone in 1984, said Tammi Corchero, the current program coordinator. Participants pick up a Junior Ranger activity booklet at National Park Service visitor centers located throughout 6
FAR LEFT A child works on a Junior Ranger booklet at Mammoth Hot Springs Campground. LEFT
BELOW Ranger Jeff hands back a signed booklet to a new Junior Ranger.
Yellowstone Junior Ranger patch from the 1990s
Yellowstone and follow programs geared for ages 4–7 (earning a geyser patch), 8–12 (earning a grizzly bear patch) and 13 and up (earning a bison patch). While many national parks give out a plastic or wooden badge similar to a National Park Service ranger’s badge, Yellowstone has opted for patches, Corchero said. “The different patches are a way to make it more pertinent and specific to Yellowstone, and the kids are excited about the different designs and colors,” she said. Patches are also easier to mail to participants who complete their booklets and later mail them in. Yellowstone also offers a separate Young Scientist program at Canyon and Old Faithful visitor centers focused on scientific inquiry. Participants may check out gear at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, for instance, to take temperature readings at hot springs. To earn their Junior Ranger patches, kids must explore the park on a trail or boardwalk, attend a ranger-led program, and perform other activities. It encourages them to “spend a little bit of time in the park with people who dedicate their summers or even their lives to protecting and sharing Yellowstone,” Taylor said. “A lot of kids are really excited to do the program, and there’s also a lot of anticipation and pride when they finish,” she said. Successful participants take the Junior Ranger pledge and have a ranger review their materials before being awarded the arrowhead-shaped Junior Ranger patch.
For Kristina Chaffin, a real estate agent from Littleton, Colorado, the Junior Ranger program is a fun way to get her two daughters more deeply engaged in the national parks the family visits. When touring Yellowstone a few years back, Brooke, then 4, and Sydney, then 7, were interested mainly in wildlife, Chaffin said. She used the program book to “basically build my own junior ranger program” around their interests. “It’s always fun to do the programs, and the kids learn a lot,” she said. “It’s a really good way of engaging the kids with the rangers to go ask extra questions about those things that always come up. They can find additional answers that way.” Chaffin said her older daughter was interested in different kinds of thermal features, “and the program had us go and seek out a mudpot, which is one kind we hadn’t seen before, so she was excited about that.” Corchero said she has seen many kids who have completed Junior Ranger programs at dozens of parks, collecting and proudly displaying their badges and patches from around the country. But even first-timers often show an infectious enthusiasm for the program. “When kids come in with their books completed, they’re really excited to share with us something they saw or learned,” she said. “You can see in their faces what those experiences mean to them, and you know they’ll carry it with them for a long time.”
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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Cliff swallows build jug-shaped mud nests on the sides of cliffs.
Peril on the Flight Path to Yellowstone BY J EN N Y G O LD I N G
Unfortunately, the path to the park is not an easy one. The challenges migratory birds face—both natural and human caused—are increasing, making it difficult to survive and raise young when, and if, they make it to the park.
In early to mid March, winter-weary residents watch eagerly for the first signs of spring: a flash of blue, rusty orange, or bright yellow that signals the return of beloved friends. Soon, the first shoutouts on the Yellowstone Birding Facebook group appear: “I saw a bluebird today!” “Robins are in my yard!” “I heard a meadowlark!” Locals celebrate the beginnings of what will become a cascade of migratory birds returning from their wintering grounds to Yellowstone for the breeding season.
Migration itself is a significant obstacle. For neotropical migrants, the act of flying such long distances—more than 6,000 miles in the case of Swainson’s hawks coming from Argentina—has its own set of risks. Climate change has made weather patterns along their route increasingly unpredictable; severe storms can strand and kill birds along the way. Climate is changing in Yellowstone too, and those who do make it to the park can no longer rely on the conditions they once found.
Some of the first to return are what park biologist Doug Smith calls “local migrants.” Red-winged blackbirds, ducks, robins, swans, geese, and red-tailed hawks are among those who winter in milder areas within the region or neighboring states. Once the weather is favorable, they make their way back to the park. Neotropical migrants are the next to grace Yellowstone with their wings—warblers, flycatchers, tanagers, swallows, loons, peregrine falcons, osprey, and others—who travel from Mexico, Central America, and South America. They follow prevailing winds on an airborne path called the Central Flyway through Texas and along the Rocky Mountains.
Neotropical migrants return within the same day or two every year, timing their arrival with expected availability of food. Unfortunately, they may discover that spring has yet to materialize, or that it came early and their food has passed peak availability. “If it’s a really early year, [songbirds] miss the peak of insects. If it’s a really late year, they die,” says Smith. Local migrants have it a bit easier. Able to monitor regional conditions, they vary their arrival as much as three weeks depending on the weather.
By June, more than 150 species of breeding birds occupy cliff ledges, tree limbs, trunk cavities, and treetops in the park. Yellowstone is nirvana for bird parents, where a variety of elevations and habitat types provide ample home for a diversity of birds. The cornucopia of food is seemingly endless: insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish abound.
Weather isn’t the only threat birds face on their path to Yellowstone. Human-caused mortality exceeds 3 billion birds annually, not including habitat loss, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Out of a total population of 4–5 billion, these losses are staggering.
Western meadowlark in flight
Collisions with buildings are among the biggest culprits. Most songbirds migrate at night, when they are more easily disoriented by lighted structures, and either fly into them or become entrapped. During the day, birds can be confused by reflections in windows, leading to windowstrikes, and often death. One of the most significant threats to birds is also one of the most controversial. The FWS reports that feral and domestic cats kill more than 2 billion birds every year, many of which are migratory songbirds. The abundance of cats (more than 60 million feral cats in the US, according to Cornell Lab of Ornithology) takes a massive toll on birds, and small mammals as well. This doesn’t even include domesticated cats whose owners allow them to roam free. “I love cats; they’re great; but people need to be responsible by keeping them inside,” says Smith. “People don’t like to hear it, but it’s a big way to make a difference for these birds.” While scientists do their best to quantify the challenges facing migratory birds, more data is needed to understand what the future holds. Yellowstone has intensified its monitoring of neotropical species with a first-ever mist netting station. A thin, fine mesh suspended in the air like a volleyball net catches songbirds flying through. Once the birds are trapped, researchers record data, such as age and species, and attach an identifying bird band to a leg. Part of an international program called MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survival), collecting and sharing this data helps researchers look at trends continentwide. The park also conducts an annual breeding bird survey, and monitors swans, loons, eagles, peregrines, osprey, owls, and colony nesters, such as pelicans and cormorants.
Helping Yellowstone’s migratory birds isn’t just a job for scientists; anyone can help.
Helping Yellowstone’s migratory birds isn’t just a job for scientists; anyone can help. Some Yellowstone Forever supporters help monitor red-tailed hawks as citizen scientists. Participating in citizen science programs, such as your local Christmas Bird Count, taking steps to minimize bird collisions with the buildings you live and work in, and keeping your cats indoors can make a huge difference for the future of birds.
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. YQ | 9
Western tanager perched on a branch
Great Fountain Geyser at sunset
E XPERIENCE | PRE SERVE
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F L O R A & FAU N A
THE ACMON BLUE BUTTERFLY & SILVERY LUPINE, THE WOLF FLOWER BY BARBARA LEE ART NICOLE HARKNESS
One of Yellowstone’s most beautiful butterflies is the little Acmon blue (Plebejus acmon). Boasting a wingspan of about an inch, the delicately patterned blue to gray or brown adults are attracted to the park’s stands of lupine and buckwheat throughout the spring and summer. Acmon blue larvae have a quite remarkable and mutually beneficial relationship with ants. The ants protect and tend the butterfly larvae— which resemble small, flat slugs—and the larvae produce a sweet “honeydew” that is irresistible to ants. 12
Scan Yellowstone’s rocky hillsides and subalpine ridges for silvery lupine (Lupinus argenteus)—a boot- to knee-high plant with silky green leaves and whitish-blue flowered stalks. In 1806 Meriwether Lewis collected a specimen of the lovely but toxic silvery lupine when the Corps of Discovery passed through present-day Montana. The 14th-century origin of the genus name lupinus (from the Latin lupus, or wolf) is not clear, but is the subject of several intriguing theories.
NPS INTERVIE W
Beth Taylor EDUCATION PROGRAM MANAGER It is often said that enthusiasm is contagious, and that is never more evident than when talking with Beth Taylor. Yellowstone’s education program manager since 2012, Taylor is quick to infect others with her passion for the natural world. Here she discusses her role in youth education and some insights from her 23 years interpreting the wonders of Yellowstone.
more than 25,000 students and teachers in 49 states and 24 other countries via video conferencing.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in national parks? I have always loved to learn and teach, and growing up, I thought I would become a teacher. In 1994, I took a year off after high school to participate in the inaugural year of AmeriCorps, doing environmental education in Arizona. It was that experience, combined with my visits to several national parks during my drive out west, which cemented my desire to work for the park service. At North Carolina State, I took a class in interpretation and ended up majoring in parks, recreation, and tourism management, with a concentration in natural resource management. When did you first become acquainted with Yellowstone? I first came here in 1996 as a summer college intern. I did interpretation at the Canyon Visitor Center, everything from staffing the desk to leading hikes along the canyon rim. I was totally blown away by Yellowstone. I was constantly filled with wonder, learning new things every day, and was so excited to share it all with others.
As part of the Yellowstone Education Collaborative, NPS Youth Programs staff is working in tandem with Yellowstone Forever Institute’s Youth and College staff to provide education programming for students and teachers. We’re able to share resources, develop curricula, train together, and in some cases, co-teach programs in an effort to engage a broader audience in transformative experiences. The partnership allows us to provide a wide array of opportunities for youth to explore and learn about Yellowstone so they really connect and may feel not just a sense of wonder but also a sense of ownership. We’re working together to inspire and empower the next generation of stewards of America’s parks and wild places. How does interpretation fit into the mission of the National Park Service? National parks belong to the people. We decide what we value and those values are going to determine how we treat the parks and how we want to use them. Education ensures a population that understands what we are protecting in the parks and is motivated to help.
I spent the next two summers as a seasonal ranger at Canyon and eventually became a full-time interpretive ranger at Old Faithful. After creating online education videos and supervising the Canyon Visitor Education Center, in 2007 I transitioned to the role of education specialist with the youth program office, working with both in-park programs and outreach. One of my priorities was establishing relationships with area schools—particularly those with a high Native American student enrollment. What do you do in your current role as education program manager? I support and manage a group of around 15 education rangers that provide a wide variety of programs focused on youth, such as the residential Expedition Yellowstone program, field trips, teacher education, and outreach visits to schools and community events like pow-wows. Last year we also did 675 distance learning programs, reaching
By preserving Yellowstone for so long, each generation is giving a gift to the next generation in ways that they can’t necessarily foresee. What will future generations appreciate? For instance, a few decades ago, we didn’t know that dark skies would become so rare and that a park like Yellowstone would preserve that precious resource. What is the most rewarding part of your job? I find it great fun to share information and see it spark excitement in others. We have the opportunity to help create new stewards by showing young people what it means to own and care for public lands and encouraging them to make their own connections to Yellowstone. Now that I am mostly supervising, it is rewarding to support education rangers in their own career and growth within the park service. Interpretation involves such a personal style—each interpreter is different and brings his or her own gifts to the park and its visitors.
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Try photographing high-volume waterfalls in JUNE
SUMMER PHOTOGRAPHY: HOW TO TAKE YOUR VERY BEST YELLOWSTONE IMAGES BY CHELSEA DEWEESE
Whether it’s capturing images of the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring or a black bear climbing a tree, it’s hard to resist photographing Yellowstone in summertime.
“Yellowstone is an amazing place to visit and photograph,” says Jake Frank, audiovisual production specialist with Yellowstone’s office of strategic communications. Cooler morning and evening temperatures are ideal for photographing wildlife, he says, while hot midday temperatures offer crisp images of Yellowstone’s famous hydrothermal features. Wildflowers reach their peak in J U LY ABOVE Visitors photograph the Lower Falls from Artist Point. RIGHT The wildflower commonly known as Indian paintbrush is the Wyoming State Flower.
Great blue heron in the Yellowstone River at sunrise, Hayden Valley
Find fantastic sunrises and sunsets in AU G U S T
AUGUST Raptors migrate and the final days of the bison rut, or mating season, are underway. As summer begins to wane, wildflowers go to seed and you might even witness the first hints of fall colors in the highlands. August is often fire season in Yellowstone. Although smoke can obscure night skies, it makes for fantastic sunrises and sunsets, Frank says. On any day, you can capture beautiful skies at the West Thumb Geyser Basin and at Mary Bay along the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake. Frank also suggests taking pictures from overlooks situated on the rims of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. PRO TIPS • Familiarize yourself with your camera settings.
• Shoot in the raw and then post-process digitally. • Invest in multiple, high-quality lenses.
• If you choose to use a tripod, invest in one that’s sturdy.
Here are some of Frank’s recommended subjects and places to photograph during summer:
• Between shots keep your wildlife lens on and your
settings ready to photograph; you never know when wildlife will appear!
JUNE June is the perfect month to photograph nighttime skies, high-volume waterfalls, and wildlife offspring. Young bison, elk, and pronghorn dot the landscape. Songbirds show colorful breeding plumage. Rivers rage as snow melts in the mountains. Low-elevation wildflowers color the valleys. Frank suggests layering warm clothing for nighttime photography at Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin, where dark skies make the perfect backdrop for starry images. Morning and evening visits to the park’s northeastern region, the Lamar Valley, are good times to photograph birds, bears, and other wildlife. Avoid the heat of the day when wildlife tends to be less active.
TAKE THE PLEDGE. TELL A FRIEND. PROTECT THE PARK. While capturing your unforgettable images of the world’s first national park, responsible photo-taking is essential to protecting you, the wildlife, and the hydrothermal features.
JULY Spawning cutthroat trout crowd shallow waterways. Bison rumble in valleys as their mating season starts. Hot springs and geysers are at their most photogenic. This month travel high into the mountains to photograph wildflowers reaching their peak. Take advantage of high afternoon temperatures to photograph colorful hydrothermal bacterial mats and spouting geysers with little steam obscuring visibility. Drive Dunraven Pass for blankets of yellow arrowleaf balsamroot mixed with purple silvery lupine. In Hayden Valley—from a safe distance—photograph powerful bull bison as they bellow, wallow, and battle for dominance and breeding rights.
To learn how to safely photograph and share images of Yellowstone’s landscapes and wildlife, take the Yellowstone Pledge at go.nps.gov/YellowstonePledge.
Chelsea DeWeese is a writer and naturalist based in Gardiner, Montana, the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
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SUPPORTER $20.39 REGULAR $23.99 #3799
The otter has a reputation for playfulness. From their first spring the young chase, slide, fight, and dive off river banks while learning to catch fish and avoid predators. This film features beautiful photography highlighted by rare underwater footage of otters. Produced by Bob Landis and Dale Johnson. 52 minutes.
In the late 1880s, Cowboy Howard Eaton began taking people on camping trips on horseback through Yellowstone. This book guides readers on an imaginary trip through today's Yellowstone, stopping in the same spots where Eaton took his guests, and recounts tales of Eaton's adventures. Softcover. 274 pages. 6" x 9"
7 Passport to Your
4 Bear Plush Wall Mount
National Parks® Junior Ranger Edition
5 Moose Plush Wall Mount
SUPPORTER $12.71 REGULAR $14.95 #3511
Developed in collaboration with the National Park Service, the Junior Ranger Passport is full of fun and educational content. Stamp your book with official park cancellations showing the parks you visit and completed Junior Ranger programs. Softcover. Spiral bound. 100 pages. 9" x 7"
SUPPORTER $11.04 REGULAR $12.99 These unique and stylish 8" plush animal heads are perfect for decorating your little animallover’s room or nursery. The wall mount comes with a loop attached to the backboard, making it easy to mount on walls or plaques.
8 The Nature Fix SUPPORTER $13.56 REGULAR $15.95 #3704 How does nature make us happier, healthier, and more creative? From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to eucalyptus groves in California, author Florence Williams investigates and delves into new research on nature’s positive effects on the brain—and on our lives. Softcover. 304 pages. 5.5" x 8.2"
9 Rocky Mountain National Parks WPA Puzzle
SUPPORTER $16.99 REGULAR $19.99 #3778 The Rocky Mountain National Parks WPA puzzle features colorful artwork from posters created by the WPA between 1935 and 1943, and new posters created in the WPA style. Includes Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier and several other national parks. 1,000 pieces. Finished size 17.25" x 26.5"
SECOND ANNUA L
YELLOWSTONE PLEIN AIR
I N V I TAT I O N A L
Join some of the nation’s best artists in the incredible landscape of America’s first national park. For up-to-date event details, visit Yellowstone.org/plein-air
Artist James McGrew paints the Lower Falls during the 2018 Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational YQ | 17
N AT U R A L I S T N OT E S
YELLOWSTONE’S PETRIFIED TREES BY VIRGINIA MILLER, LEAD INSTRUCTOR
Yellowstone is a land of microbes, megafauna, and devastating geologic events. From glaciers and earthquakes to the Yellowstone Volcano, everything here can be traced back to geologic roots, including the petrified trees standing high above the northern range. Fifty million years ago, the Absaroka volcanoes that follow the park’s eastern and northern boundaries were active separately from the Yellowstone hot spot. Their heat melted snow on the peaks, and sent the resulting mudslide rushing downslope in a lahar: a jumble of slush, debris, ash, and volcanic rock. These lahars covered the landscape of the northern range of Yellowstone, including the plants and trees that were living at the time. Trees that live in the park today, such as spruce, fir, and alder, were buried along with trees that are ill-suited to a modern Yellowstone climate, such as redwood, magnolia, and maple. Stumps, leaves, and even pollen and soil were also covered and petrified in this process, resulting in a stunning record of life in Yellowstone during this Eocene period. The petrification process here is unique because it has preserved the organic matter and actual cells of the wood within the minerals. In other famous fossil forests, such as in Arizona, the minerals actually replaced the cells. Here, trees were covered by debris, and then groundwater rich in silica and calcite from volcanic ash seeped in to clog the hollow tubes that trees use to transport water. While the geologic explanation is fascinating, mountain man Jim Bridger’s reasoning speaks to my love of tall tales. His description of Yellowstone’s fossil forests didn’t stop at the trees. He describes the “peetrified (sic) trees a’growing with peetrified birds a’singing peetrified songs.” So next time you’re in Yellowstone, channel your inner Bridger and look for the “sun and the moon shin(ing) with peetrified light.”
Petrified tree in Yellowstone. 18
THANKSGIVING IN LAMAR WATCHING WILDLIFE WITH A SCIENTIST’S EYE NEW! ADVANCED WINTER WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY NEW! WOLF SPIRIT: SCIENCE & SOCIETY— A WILDERNESS RETREAT
LIVING HISTORY OF YELLOWSTONE’S WOLVES CHRISTMAS IN LAMAR NEW YEAR’S WILDLIFE WATCHING
Experience Yellowstone National Park like you never have before!
NEW! YELLOWSTONE’S DARK SKIES NEW! WOLVES, DOGS, AND HUMANS NEW! LAMAR VALLEY WOLF WEEK: SPECIAL 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
For more information or to register, please visit Yellowstone.org/experience or call us at 406.848.2400.
SNOW TRACKING WINTER WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY COUGARS: YELLOWSTONE’S SELDOM SEEN CARNIVORES THE ART OF WINTER LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY COYOTE AND RAVEN: FACTS & FOLKLORE THE INTELLIGENCE OF ANIMALS NEW! WORDS RUN WILD INTERPRETING WILDLIFE SIGNS YELLOWSTONE BY SKI OR SNOWSHOE NEW! YELLOWSTONE & YOGA: A WINTER YOGA SKI RETREAT LAMAR VALLEY WOLF WEEK BIRDS OF WINTER THE POETRY OF SCIENCE: A YELLOWSTONE WRITING WORKSHOP
A winter eruption of Old Faithful Geyser. YQ | 19
I N TH E H E ART O F Y E LLOWSTO N E
Stay and play in Yellowstone this winter! Our awardwinning Lodging & Learning packages, developed with Yellowstone National Park Lodges, include lodging, most meals, transportation, and immersive park experiences with an expert naturalist guide.
Choose from three itineraries, such as Winter Wolf Discoveryâ€”an exciting viewing and learning adventure that focuses on the biology, behavior, and ecology of Yellowstoneâ€™s famous wolf packs.
REGISTER NOW YELLOWSTONE.ORG/EXPERIENCE
GIVE BAC K TO T HE PA R K YOU LOVE !
Year after year, Yellowstone shares its great gifts with the world. You can help preserve it forever by supporting priority park projects and visitor education while receiving valuable benefits.
Become a Yellowstone Forever Supporter today YELLOWSTONE.ORG/GIVE
Y F FA M I LY
Cody Siegle FLEET AND LOGISTICS MANAGER Most employees enjoy recognition and appreciation from their co-workers, but not Cody Siegle. Yellowstone Forever’s fleet and logistics manager says that he likes to fly under the radar. “My primary goal is that no one has to know I exist,” says Siegle, who still graciously accepted our interview request. That’s because if everything is going smoothly with the organization’s vehicle fleet, Siegle’s colleagues don’t ever need to think about him or contact him.
Now, instead of being the one giving tours, he’s closely tracking Yellowstone Forever’s fleet with GPS on his computer screen. Siegle says that the fleet’s annual mileage averages 296,000 miles, with roughly half used for educational programs. “That’s far enough for us to drive to the moon and a quarter of the way back each year.”
“A breakdown could disrupt an Institute program, and we want to prevent that at all costs. We spend every day in Yellowstone, but for some of our program participants, it might be the only day they have to enjoy the park.” Siegle is responsible for the coordination and maintenance of Yellowstone Forever’s fleet of 30 buses, trucks, and cars. Vehicles are used by the organization’s employees for everything from transporting retail supplies, to guiding wildlife-watching tours, to conducting donor visits.
Siegle says that with mileage like that, Yellowstone Forever is working hard to improve sustainability of the fleet. “Three of the vehicles are hybrid-electric cars, and we’re actively pursuing options to convert some buses to propane, and eventually replace older buses with electric ones.” He says the organization is also increasing teleworking and carpooling opportunities, and total mileage last year was down from the year before.
“I feel like I contribute to almost every facet of the organization’s operations, and yet I am almost entirely behind the scenes.” Growing up in Montana, Siegle developed a love for hiking, camping, and playing in the outdoors, including Yellowstone. He attended the University of Montana, earning a degree in parks, tourism, and recreation management. He started his career with five summers during and after college managing the marine fleet of 17 boats and riskmanagement protocols at Signal Mountain Lodge in Grand Teton National Park. He then joined the staff of Yellowstone National Park Lodges, driving snowcoaches and historic yellow buses while giving tours of the park, followed by two summers as a Yellowstone Forever Institute instructor specializing in family programs.
His operations role extends beyond maintaining the vehicle fleet and other organizational equipment— a total of $2.4 million in assets. Siegle heads up the field-based risk management program, which focuses on ensuring the safety of employees and passengers when vehicles are in use, from bear safety education to training employees to drive and park buses.
As for the switch from guiding tours to taking on this extensive “backstage” role, Siegle has no regrets. “As an instructor and guide I was able to interact with a handful of people each day and help make their visit to Yellowstone really memorable. But I find my broader role satisfying in a different way. On a busy summer day, my work can potentially impact 200 people. Helping to share this wonderful place with them, whether they see me or not, is very rewarding.”
By Christine Gianas Weinheimer
YQ | 21
PO Box 117, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190 406 | 848 | 2400
Watch for the popping purple of Jacobâ€™s ladder wildflowers blooming in Yellowstone.
Yellowstone Quarterly is now available online! You can help save paper while still receiving all the latest news from Yellowstone Forever by subscribing to our digital edition. To begin receiving your issue by email, visit Yellowstone.org/yellowstone-quarterly