Quarterly Y ELLOWSTONE
FA LL 2019
Putting Canyon’s Iconic Views Within Reach of All Legendary Teamwork of Moran and Jackson Puts Yellowstone on the Map Meet a Few of Yellowstone’s Lesser-Known Animals
DEAR YELLOWSTONE FOREVER SUPPORTERS, As the green hues of summer give way to vibrant shades of gold, and frost resumes its morning appearances, we welcome autumn’s arrival in Yellowstone. Another sign of fall is one of my favorite park experiences: the elk rut. This annual spectacle enthralls visitors, especially in Mammoth Hot Springs, as bull elk vie for the attention of females and their vocalizations resound throughout the area. As visitation winds down and we’ve wrapped up another busy summer in the park, it’s worth reflecting on the success of this past season. By mid-September, our Yellowstone Forever Institute participation increased by over 12% compared to last year at this time. In addition, retail sales increased by 6% over last year in our 11 educational Park Stores, and 8% more visitors signed up in-store to become Yellowstone Forever supporters. These two elements of our operations, while providing revenue to aid our support to the park, are integral to our educational mission. Our philanthropy team is currently focused on funding one of the park’s top priorities: the Grand Canyon Trails & Overlooks project. This major initiative—a partnership between the National Park Service and Yellowstone Forever—is repairing and improving the aging overlooks, trails, and parking lots along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. To date, six of the eight overlooks have been restored, including the aptly named Inspiration Point, which reopened last summer. Looking ahead, the next phase will address the Brink of the Lower Falls overlook, and $4.5 million in federal matching funds will become available if Yellowstone Forever raises an additional $1 million for the project by late 2021. To learn more about this important endeavor that will enable more visitors to safely experience the Canyon’s grandeur, please contact J.D. Davis at JDDavis@yellowstone.org. Finally, as this issue goes to press we have just concluded the Second Annual Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational, during which 16 incredibly talented artists painted “en plein air” for five days throughout the park. This engaging event not only celebrates the current and historical presence of art in Yellowstone, but has also become an important annual fundraiser. Mark your calendars for the return of the Invitational on September 22-27, 2020. I hope you will consider joining us next year to celebrate art in the park during the magnificent fall season. Thank you,
John Walda, President & CEO YELLOWSTONE FORE VER
COVER Walls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River as seen from Point Sublime Trail
Putting Canyon’s Iconic Views Within Reach of All
flora & fauna | Clark's Nutcracker & Whitebark Pine
yf family | Kasey Schultz
experience | Mudpots
naturalist notes | Western Tiger Salamander
nps interview | John Treanor
Executive Team & Board Members
Legendary Teamwork of Moran and Jackson Puts Yellowstone on the Map
Meet a Few of Yellowstone’s LesserKnown Animals
Megan Boyle Brad Bulin Wendie Carr Jenny Golding Barbara Lee Ruffin Prevost Christine Gianas Weinheimer
Matt Ludin | cover, i, 2, 5, 14, 15, 18, 20 NPS/Jacob Frank | 4, 8, 10, 17, back cover NPS/Thomas Moran | 6 NPS/William Henry Jackson | 7 NPS/Aaron Matthews | 9 Photo courtesy of Kasey Schultz | 13 Lauren Beltramo | 14 NPS/Diane Renkin | 15 Photos courtesy of Montana Silversmiths | 21
Lauren Beltramo Megan Boyle Wendie Carr Paula Degen Christine Gianas Weinheimer
President & CEO
Kay Yeager CHAIRMAN
Interim Chief Development Officer
Vice President of Retail Senior Director of Park Projects
Vice President of Operations Chief Marketing Officer
Erica Cerovski Controller
Chief of Staff
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
Putting Canyonâ€™s Iconic Views Within Reach of All
Work in progress during the restoration of Inspiration Point, June 2017 2
BY RU FFI N PR E VOS T
The myths and stories of how Yellowstone became the world’s first national park are rich, varied, and sometimes, even true. There’s no denying, for instance, that Thomas Moran’s paintings and sketches of the park’s otherworldly vistas helped sway public and political opinions toward the creation of Yellowstone National Park. His lustrous and sweeping landscapes created from the Hayden Expedition of 1871 offered idyllic views of places like the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Sketches and photographs made from vantages around the Canyon are among the artist’s most familiar and beloved images. Nearly 150 years after Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson prowled the rims above the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, the Canyon area’s busiest and most scenic overlooks are getting some much-needed repairs and upgrades. Improvements are making it easier and safer than ever for modern-day Morans and Jacksons to create their own masterpieces. Construction is wrapping up this fall on upgrades to the Brink of the Upper Falls overlook, one of six major overlook overhauls either completed, underway, or in planning since Artist Point was revamped in 2007. Improvements made at Artist Point included a new approach to viewing areas that complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The makeover proved popular with visitors, particularly those who use wheelchairs or otherwise prefer an accessible, sloped path over stairs or steeper approaches. The Artist Point project set a standard for offering new accessible routes that is part of the design narrative for other overlook upgrades made since, and in the works, said Eric Ackley, a Yellowstone landscape architect. “The idea is to provide an accessible route that offers an equal or comparable experience for visitors as a nonaccessible one,” Ackley said. Geothermic, acidic soils, and heavy erosion around Canyon’s viewpoints have degraded overlook infrastructure over the years, Ackley said. Safety issues arose as visitors went off paved surfaces to use social trails, or backed up along aging barriers to take selfies of the canyon views.
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In 1898, “Uncle Tom” Richardson built a trail that used ladders and ropes to help visitors climb to the bottom of the canyon. “They did this wearing slick-soled shoes, the men wearing three-piece suits, and the women in heavy skirts,” Murphy said. “They just went for it, which is pretty amazing, but that’s just how climbing was at the time.”
Planners held a design contest to develop a consistent, overall approach for all of the overlooks and began construction in 2016 on viewpoints at Uncle Tom’s Point and Inspiration Point. Those projects were concluded in 2018. The total budget for the series of overlook upgrades is approximately $14 million, much of which has been raised by Yellowstone Forever and its partners. The projects are costly because of the challenges of construction in Yellowstone.
In the 1940s, an idea was floated to construct an elevator to the canyon floor. It wasn’t built for a number of reasons, but the National Park Service and concessioners did build an array of buildings close to the edge of the rims, Murphy said, including stores, camps, cafeterias, and ranger stations. As part of the National Park Service’s 50th anniversary modernization efforts in 1966, the structures were removed to restore a more natural view.
“We’re constructing these overlooks on the side of a canyon in soil that is weak, to say the least,” Ackley said. “Extra measures are taken to stabilize the rock structures and the pathways, and that costs quite a bit.”
New construction around Canyon is designed to maintain those natural views, which often means excavating into hillsides to give overlooks a lower profile, Ackley said. “It’s a delicate design balance, providing safe views that are still accessible for all,” he said. “We approach each area individually and try to maximize what we can get in the way of historic views and accessibility. But it has to relate to the context of the surrounding landscape.”
Additional costs come from working in an environmentally sensitive area with specialized equipment, finding housing for workers, and operating in a short construction season. Designs for the new overlooks reflect the rustic, natural aesthetic of when many of the sites were initially built as Civilian Conservation Corps projects in the 1930s. The goal is to have overlooks that blend into the landscape as much as possible, Ackley said.
Funding from Yellowstone Forever has been critical in helping the National Park Service realize the best results possible on the overlook projects, starting with $1.5 million in contributions raised toward Artist Point.
That wasn’t always a guiding principle for development around Canyon, said Yellowstone historian Alicia Murphy. “There used to be a lot of development all around the rims, with buildings almost hanging off the edge,” Murphy said. 4
...the new overlooks mean the difference between being able to take in some of the same views that inspired Moran and Jackson, or being excluded from those spots entirely.
“The Canyon overlooks and trails are the second mostvisited area in the park after Old Faithful. It’s obviously a magical place,” said Jeff Augustin, senior director of park projects for Yellowstone Forever. Some overlook infrastructure around the Canyon area hasn’t seen major work for decades, Augustin said. “We had safety concerns, as well as about the overall impacts to the visitor experience,” he said. “This was something that was on the superintendent’s list of funding priorities, and we were able to bring a matching component where private philanthropy would match public funds at a 1:1 ratio.” So far, Yellowstone Forever has raised over $6.5 million toward repairs, improvements, and structural makeovers at six overlooks. Artist Point, Uncle Tom’s Point, Inspiration Point, and Brink of the Upper Falls have been completed. As funds become available, Brink of the Lower Falls and Red Rock Point are next on the list. For most visitors, the changes will amount to safer, more convenient, and less congested access. But for visitors who use wheelchairs or otherwise have additional accessibility needs, the new overlooks mean the difference between being able to take in some of the same views that inspired Moran and Jackson, or being excluded from those spots entirely. Getting to overlooks using the older, less accessible trails has proven difficult in the past for frequent park visitor Kristin L. Blevins, who doesn’t normally use a wheelchair, but whose injuries make it difficult to stand or walk much without pain and spasms. “When I visited Yellowstone last year with an Army buddy (with similar injuries), there were many places we didn’t visit,” Blevins said. “Even in a few locations it was difficult to do the number of stairs, the length of the walk, or the steep terrain.”
LEFT An accessible trail now leads to the west overlook at Inspiration Point. ABOVE A portion of future contributions will go toward the restoration of the Brink of the Lower Falls overlook.
Blevins said any improvements in accessibility at popular attractions are always a welcome benefit for a wide range of people who deal with mobility issues. “It will help us see more of the park,” she said, “which is always good.”
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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Legendary Teamwork of Moran and Jackson Puts Yellowstone on the Map BY C H R IS TI N E G IANA S WEI N H EI M ER
RIGHT Yellowstone Cañon by Thomas Moran, 1871. Watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper. FAR RIGHT Lower Falls of the Yellowstone, 1871, by William Henry Jackson
people of that era had the skills and equipment to produce photographic images in the wilderness. Yet Murphy explains that while Jackson did possess special expertise that earned him a role in Hayden’s operation, luck was also on his side.
The end of the tale is the most familiar: artist Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson returned from the Hayden Expedition with images that helped convince Congress that Yellowstone should be protected as a national park. But what twists of fate brought these two men together, and how did their synergy result in these influential and enduring images of Yellowstone? It seems a combination of artistic talent, a leader’s foresight, corporate dollars, and a little luck are to thank for the legendary pairing.
“There was a little serendipity involved,” said Murphy. “While in Omaha, Hayden strolled into Jackson’s familyowned photography studio. Hayden obviously liked what he saw—at the time Jackson was taking landscape photographs in addition to portraits—and understood the need to bring a photographer on his expeditions to lend credence to what they would find.”
In March 1871, the US Congress appropriated $40,000 to finance a survey, led by geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, to explore northwestern Wyoming. Thomas Moran, an illustrator for Scribner’s Monthly magazine, heard about the expedition and was interested in going. However, as Yellowstone National Park Historian Alicia Murphy explains, he was disappointed to learn there was already an artist attached to the survey party.
A CREATIVE ALLIANCE Moran and Jackson, who had not met prior to the Hayden Expedition, developed a close friendship and productive professional partnership during their journey into Yellowstone’s unfamiliar wilderness. The two men collaborated on selecting views and creating images that produced a visual record of the expedition.
“Henry Wood Elliott had been designated the official painter for the survey, but backroom deals and political wrangling paved the way for Moran to join the group as well,” said Murphy. “Jay Cooke, the financier behind the Northern Pacific Railway, pulled strings to get Moran a last-minute spot, as the rail company had its eye on opportunities for tourism and relied on original artwork for advertisements. Moran’s way was paid half by Cooke and half by Scribner’s.”
“They both were looking for landscapes to capture, especially the more fantastical aspects of Yellowstone. When you look at their work you can tell they were trying to set up scenes that were emblematic of the area,” said Murphy. “Moran was able to use imagination more so than Jackson. He could take some liberties and show the essence of a place rather than the literal details.”
Unlike Moran, photographer William Henry Jackson had been hired by the US government to document the expedition into Yellowstone, following a stint as a contractor on a smaller survey the prior year. Not many
Moran documented more than 30 sites, and returned home with dozens of sketches and watercolors he had produced in the field to translate into finished paintings. Meanwhile, Jackson broke new ground as the first 6
photographer to be included on a major expedition, as photography was a relatively new technology.
The images the two men brought back from the expedition caused a sensation. For many years, stories of Yellowstone’s wonders from trappers had been met with skepticism and largely dismissed as tall tales. But Jackson’s photographs provided undeniable proof of their existence, and Moran’s romanticized paintings brought the wonders to life in full color.
“Jackson had to develop every single photo in the field, immediately after taking it,” said Murphy. “It was an arduous process, which required him to haul around 300 pounds of equipment through Yellowstone’s rough terrain on pack mules.” Moran would later use several of Jackson’s photographs for reference in his paintings. Some of the locations they both documented included the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, Tower Fall, Castle Geyser, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Liberty Cap.
“[Moran] could take some liberties and show the essence of a place rather than the literal details.”
Moran’s personal diary indicates the two men worked together closely. He mentioned on several occasions aiding Jackson in composing his photographs, and multiple entries said he was “sketching and photographing.” One entry reported he “sketched but little but worked hard with the photographer selecting points to be taken,” and in another he wrote he “did some photography in the Lower Canon [sic].” “Moran and Jackson enjoyed working together and admired each other’s work. They later went on at least two additional expeditions together in the West. In both cases, it appears that Jackson was invited at Moran’s suggestion,” said Murphy.
When legislation to establish Yellowstone National Park was introduced in Congress, Jackson's and Moran’s images were reported to have played a critical role in the debate that led to the establishment of Yellowstone as the world’s first national park in 1872. Their artistic visions influenced how the world saw— and ultimately valued—Yellowstone. The priceless photographs and paintings produced by these two artists preserve a version of Yellowstone frozen in time, on the cusp of worldwide fame as a national park. The enduring images tell the story of the park’s exploration and establishment in a way that words alone cannot, and continue to inspire new generations of stewards to discover and protect Yellowstone’s treasures.
Christine Gianas Weinheimer lives in Bozeman, Montana, and has been writing about Yellowstone for 18 years.
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Meet a Few of Yellowstone’s Lesser-Known Animals BY J EN N Y G O LD I N G POCKET GOPHER
Did you know that Yellowstone has its own boa constrictor, or is home to a butterfly that uses antifreeze to survive the winter?
These small rodents are rarely seen above ground except in the jaws or talons of the predators that eat them. Active year-round, pocket gophers eat forbs, grasses, and stems, bulbs, and tubers, surviving over winter on vegetation they’ve stored in their tunnels. Occasionally a lucky observer may see a plant disappear underground inch by inch as a pocket gopher pulls on it from below! Come spring, their telltale “sausages”—long, spherical columns of dirt pushed out of their tunnels and into the snow—are left behind after the snow melts.
Yellowstone doesn’t just protect bears, wolves, bison, and trout. While not all of the park’s residents are furry, toothy, or otherwise “charismatic,” each has an important role to play in the ecosystem. Read on to learn about some of the lesser-known—but still fascinating—species found in Yellowstone. RUBBER BOA One of five snake species in Yellowstone, the rubber boa is the park’s only member of the constrictor family and is a relative of tropical boa constrictors. No longer than two feet, the rubber boa looks like an overgrown earthworm; its small scales give it a smooth, “rubbery” appearance. The snake feeds on mice, reptiles, and amphibians. Because these boas are nocturnal and like to hang out under logs and rocks, or buried in leaves or soil, seeing a rubber boa is a special treat.
MOTTLED SCULPIN Native fish get a lot of attention in the park from anglers, as well as from cutthroat trout and arctic grayling restoration efforts. Fewer people are familiar with more diminutive natives like the mottled sculpin, found in cold, shallow streams throughout the park. “Mottled sculpins are a really cool, often overlooked native fish,” says park biologist Pat Bigelow. “They live and feed in riffles and are well-camouflaged, so they often go unnoticed.” They are an important food source for trout and have interesting spawning habits. During early winter and late spring, the male chooses a protected nest site under a rock or ledge. The female then swims in, turns upside down, and deposits her eggs on the ceiling!
The most widely distributed butterfly in North America, you can find mourning cloaks in Yellowstone and at home. While many butterflies live only a few months in summer, mourning cloaks survive as long as 11 months, often overwintering as adults. “They fill their tissues with a natural form of antifreeze,” says Yellowstone Butterfly Count organizer George Bumann, “and then hide beneath tree bark or rock piles until spring.” Mourning cloaks are one of the first butterflies to emerge in spring, often before flowers are blooming. They eat nectar instead of sap from tree trunks. Their dark brown wings trimmed with beige resemble a traditional garment worn in mourning, hence the common name “mourning cloak.”
About as long as your index finger when full grown, Mormon crickets are a grasshopper-like insect found in western North American rangeland. They feed primarily on vegetation but will also eat other insects—including other Mormon crickets! While usually found in lower numbers, they sometimes travel in migratory swarms numbering in the millions. Although they can’t fly, Mormon crickets can crawl and hop 25 to 50 miles a season. Female Mormon crickets are distinguished by a long, sword-like ovipositor sticking off of their body. Close observers might be able to catch them pointing the ovipositor straight down into the ground to deposit their eggs into the soil.
NORTHERN PYGMY OWLS
How many of Yellowstone’s squirrel species have you seen? Uinta ground squirrel, golden-mantled ground squirrel, and the American red squirrel are regularly spotted by visitors. There’s a more secretive—and seldom seen—relative of these common squirrels that also lives in the park: the northern flying squirrel. Hanging out high in the treetops of coniferous and mixed coniferous forests, flying squirrels emerge at night to glide gracefully through the trees. These squirrels don’t actually fly, but instead glide from limb to limb by using a fold of skin (called a patagium) that stretches from wrist to ankle. Flying squirrels use their flattened tail and patagium as a sort of parachute when landing, after which they scamper up a tree to avoid predators.
While pygmy owls appear small, cute, and fluffy, they are actually fierce predators. Not much bigger than your fist, they are able to kill songbirds and rodents as much as three times their size. Pygmy owls are commonly found throughout the mixed forest and open meadows of the northern range, nesting in cavities in aspen trees or snags. “Most owls are nocturnal,” says owl researcher/naturalist Katy Duffy, “but pygmy owls can be active during the day, so there’s a good chance of seeing them.” They will often perch at the top of a live tree, or anywhere on a snag. Duffy says the owl’s tail is disproportionally long and held out at an angle. “If you see something at the top of a tree that looks like a fist with something sticking out, it could be a pygmy owl,” she says. LEFT
NORTHERN FLYING SQUIRREL
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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The coyote is abundant throughout Yellowstone, and is often seen traveling through open meadows and valleys.
E XPERIENCE | PRE SERVE
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F L O R A & FAU N A
CLARK’S NUTCRACKER & WHITEBARK PINE BY BARBARA LEE | ART KRISTINA HUMPHREY
Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)— a familiar thief in Yellowstone’s picnic areas—has an astounding ability to transport and hide many thousands of whitebark pine and other seeds, and then find its far-flung caches weeks, and even months, later. With off-the-chart spatial memory, this jay-sized corvid uses seed stashes to provide high-energy winter food for itself and its partner and early spring food for their hatchlings. Grizzlies and other fauna also benefit from these rich “food banks,” and, importantly, some uneaten seeds germinate to become new whitebark pine saplings.
Climate change, fire suppression effects, white pine blister rust, and mountain pine beetle all contribute to the frightening decline of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) in Yellowstone and other areas. The altitude-loving whitebark fills an important ecological niche, and Clark’s nutcrackers are the species’ primary seed dispersers. The mutualism of tree and bird means evolution in relation to one another. For example, the shape of whitebark seeds, cones, and the tree itself enhances the nutcracker’s ability to collect and cache food for the winter, while the bird’s under-the-tongue storage pouch and tendency to overfill its stashes help whitebark seed dispersal. 12
Y F FA M I LY
Kasey Schultz ANNUAL FUND AND SOCIETY COORDINATOR A half-dozen Yellowstone visitors congregate at a roadside pullout in the Lamar Valley, binoculars in hand. A fellow wildlife-watcher arrives, a smiling woman who greets them and starts up a conversation about how amazing the park is. Her enthusiasm is genuine; she is exactly where she most wants to be. One of Kasey Schultz’s favorite pastimes is meeting other Yellowstone visitors and seeing them enjoying the park. For Schultz, Yellowstone Forever’s annual fund and society coordinator, the other visitors are part of the park experience. “I love engaging with people out in the park and hearing where they are from and why they are here,” explains Schultz. “For some, it’s a life-altering experience. You can tell something is changing in them, and I can relate.” On her days off, when she’s not chatting with other visitors, you may find Schultz exploring Yellowstone’s trails on foot—last summer she hiked 200 miles—or fly-fishing on the Firehole River. “I have been coming to Yellowstone my whole life. My dad brought me here for the first time, with my mom, when I was around eight months old,” recounts Schultz. “After that, we did a father-daughter trip to Yellowstone every year and are still doing it—he comes to visit and we explore the park together.” After graduating from the University of North Dakota, the Minot native lived in the Florida Keys and Detroit, but Yellowstone called to her. She came to work two summers for Yellowstone National Park Lodges. One summer she went backpacking with coworkers through the park’s Thorofare region—one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states—covering 80 miles over nine days. “It was the deal-sealer for me. Something in that hike changed my mindset. Seeing everything come together—the wildlife, trails, and ecosystem—I realized what a massive job it is to care for this park. And I wanted to help.” Today, as annual fund and society coordinator, Schultz helps supporters make connections to the park and get involved with Yellowstone Forever’s philanthropic efforts. Through her role, she participates in donor relations, digital and direct mail strategy, and outreach. “I wear so many hats, so no two days are the same,” says Schultz. “On various days I can be focused on retail,
“I realized what a massive job it is to care for this park. And I wanted to help.” stewardship, the annual fund, or the Institute. I look forward to going to work every day and not knowing exactly what to expect.” One of her “hats” is that of a trainer, working with associates in Yellowstone Forever’s 11 Park Stores. As one of the organization’s most important front-line ambassadors, Schultz helps others get comfortable talking with visitors about Yellowstone Forever–funded projects, educational offerings, and the supporter program. Schultz says she is truly grateful for every supporter. “We made $5.9 million in grants to the park last year. That impact is important whether someone gives $1 or $1,000. They all have a piece of this success.”
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MUDPOTS BY CHRISTINE GIANAS WEINHEIMER
Yellowstone’s dramatic geysers and rainbow-hued hot springs have long astounded visitors and inspired generations of painters and photographers. But their cousins, the mudpots, hold their own unique allure for those who take the time to observe them in all their gooey glory. In fact, Ferdinand Hayden, during his 1871 expedition to Yellowstone, described Mud Volcano—the park’s largest group of mudpots—as “the greatest marvel we have met with.” Today, Yellowstone National Park geologist Dr. Jefferson Hungerford shares Hayden’s fascination with these bubbling, splattering, gurgling, and—let’s face it— smelly thermal features. “What makes them so fun to watch is the bubbling that occurs in the mud,” says Hungerford. “Watching bubbles form in slow motion then fracture and burst is mesmerizing, and actually very calming, like watching ocean waves.” Formed by standing surface water acidic enough to dissolve surrounding rock into clay, the mudpots have a similar structure to hot springs, but with a lower water supply. “Mudpots are typical to areas with highly acidic pH levels combined with low water conditions,” says Hungerford. “Gas or water vapor thermally heated by underlying volcanic activity pushes through the mud, creating the bubbles we see on the surface.” When you visit a thermal area in Yellowstone, you’re likely to smell the mudpots before you see them. So what’s up with that odor? “In acidic systems we often have hydrogen sulfide gas that emanates through the mud, giving mudpots that familiar sulfur, or ‘rotten egg,’ smell,” says Hungerford. Mudpots are sometimes called paint pots due to their palette of earthy colors. While the mud starts out white, iron oxides tint it varying shades of pink, brown, orange, and gray. But the mudpots won’t necessarily maintain a static appearance. Hungerford says that repeat visitors may notice the features can change over time or across seasons. “All these thermal features are really dynamic. For instance, some mudpots can emerge and be active for a month or so, then become fumaroles, or steam vents. As conditions change, the mudpots can change. Plus, every bubble is a unique feature in itself,” he adds, “so when watching mudpots you will never have the same experience twice.” Christine Gianas Weinheimer lives in Bozeman, Montana, and has been writing about Yellowstone for 18 years. 14
MUST-SEE MUDPOTS Artists Paintpots A 1.1-mile boardwalk and gravel trail south of Norris Junction circles around a colorful hydrothermal area with hot springs, two large mudpots, and fantastic views of Mount Holmes. Fountain Paint Pot This half-mile boardwalk loop, part of the Lower Geyser Basin north of Old Faithful, provides access to many types of thermal features in one spot, including mudpots and several active geysers. Mud Volcano A short boardwalk segment leads to this thermal area just off the road at the southern end of Hayden Valley. Mud Volcano was once covered by a volcano-shaped mud deposit, before an 1870s thermal explosion blew the top away to reveal the mudpots we see today. West Thumb Paint Pots A scenic, 0.6-mile boardwalk loops around West Thumb Geyser Basin, passing by mudpots, colorful hot springs, and dormant geysers on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. Here, a major volcanic explosion left a caldera, forming a large indent in the shoreline around 150,000 years ago. ABOVE LEFT
Fountain Paint Pot
Red Spouter, Fountain Paint Pot area Artists Paintpots
N AT U R A L I S T N OT E S
WESTERN TIGER SALAMANDER BY BRAD BULIN, SENIOR NATURALIST ART LAUREN BELTRAMO
The life of the western tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium), one of Yellowstone’s few species of amphibians, is intriguing. Seldom seen, this seclusive salamander begins its life as an egg deposited in one of the many ponds and lakes of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, before developing into a rather distinct tadpole (or larval) form.
will not dry out. Once there, they lead a rather secluded life, undercover and mostly out of sight, feeding on abundant invertebrates such as earthworms, crustaceans, and insects, along with a few very small species of mammals, fish, and other amphibians.
Unlike frogs and toads, salamander tadpoles come out with external gills and four legs, bespeckled with golden flecks on otherwise brown to golden bodies, making them easy to differentiate from our other amphibian species. When transformation into adults takes place around mid to late summer, they lose the gills. The flat, fin-like tail found in tadpoles becomes more rounded. Around that time, they begin to develop the olive-to-green stripes or blotches of the adults. (In fact, the species living here was only a few years ago referred to as the blotched tiger salamander).
Under conditions we still don’t completely understand, western tiger salamanders may also undergo a very unusual metamorphosis. On rare occasions these amazing little creatures skip their transformation into a terrestrial form. They continue to develop into adults, yet retain the gills and the fin-like tail and their truly aquatic lifestyle. These rarer versions of salamanders are referred to as “axolotls” (an Aztec word meaning “water dogs”), or paedomorphs. Although a rare form in many salamanders, this particular species has been found as axolotls in many areas throughout the park.
These young adults emerge from their watery home into a more terrestrial, though still moist, environment, often living in very wet soils or under logs and cover where they
NPS INTERVIE W
John Treanor WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, YELLOWSTONE CENTER FOR RESOURCES
John Treanor grew up in the city of Chicago and developed an affinity for biology and ecology at an early age. Now a wildlife biologist and project leader of the Yellowstone Wildlife Health Program, John tells Yellowstone Quarterly about his singular path to studying wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. Although you studied advanced biology in high school, you didn’t take the usual route to becoming a scientist. I joined the United States Marine Corps immediately after graduating from high school and deployed to Saudi Arabia for the Persian Gulf War in 1990. After I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, I decided to pursue my interest in wildlife ecology out west. I initially held jobs in Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks and at Lake Tahoe before I enrolled at Humboldt State University. How did you get into studying wildlife? Humboldt State University has one of the premier wildlife programs in the country, and I knew this is where I needed to be. By the time I graduated from Humboldt, I had been exposed to diverse fields of biological and ecological science. I also realized that I wanted my professional focus to be on answering interesting and important research questions that could be directly applied to wildlife management. What led you to Yellowstone? After finishing at Humboldt, I worked as a seasonal technician in Mount Rainier National Park and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. In 2001, I was hired to work on the Canada lynx project in Yellowstone and have been here ever since. I took a brief hiatus from working in Yellowstone to complete coursework for my PhD at the University of Kentucky. Your work now focuses on diseases. How did that happen? My doctorate addressed brucellosis in Yellowstone bison, specifically on how to better identify infected animals and whether a vaccination program could reduce infection in the herd. This work ignited my interest in disease at the intersection of humans, domestic animals, and wildlife, and I knew I wanted to continue to investigate threats from disease on one of Yellowstone’s most important resources—wildlife. When the Yellowstone Wildlife Health Program was created in 2007, it seemed
like a natural fit for me. This program is unique in the Yellowstone Center for Resources because it focuses on health and impacts of diseases on a diversity of wildlife species. We work on important wildlife disease issues by identifying factors or conditions that could lead to outbreaks and illness. We have also developed a sophisticated laboratory that allows us to quickly identify disease threats to park wildlife and people. Nearly all of our funding comes through Yellowstone Forever, and our work over the years and into the future would not be possible without Yellowstone Forever support. What are some circumstances that affect diseases? Climate change can play a key role in disease transmission and maintenance. It may lead to more crowding and contact around fewer water sources that increases transmission of certain diseases. It can give pathogens an advantage if their hosts are seasonally stressed and more susceptible to infection. Additionally, land use practices outside the park can create conditions where diseases are shared between wildlife and domestic animals. We also have millions of people visiting from all over the world, so disease organisms can be moved from one location to another very easily. Currently you’re studying bats. Why? White-nose syndrome was documented in bats in New York in 2007 and has been progressively spreading west. It’s recently been identified in bat populations in eastern Wyoming and we expect to find infected bats in Yellowstone in the near future. Unfortunately, mortality rates are very high in bat colonies affected by white-nose syndrome. We’ve identified 13 species of bats in Yellowstone and most are expected to be susceptible to the disease. Bats are voracious consumers of insects that spread disease and damage forests, and a substantial loss of bats could have negative consequences for the park. It is important that we understand the impact white-nose syndrome will have on bat populations in Yellowstone. What do you love about Yellowstone? I really enjoy working in the backcountry. When I first began working in Yellowstone on the Canada lynx project, we would be dropped off on the east side of Yellowstone Lake and picked up at the end of the week after setting up hair snare stations in remote areas. Now, with the acoustic monitoring of bats we have the opportunity to deploy monitoring stations across the park in bat habitat far from trails or high-traffic areas. These backcountry trips provide opportunities for amazing wildlife experiences and reinforce why I got into this field to begin with. There is no shortage of contentious issues involving management of wildlife in Yellowstone. Spending time in the backcountry gives me a fresh perspective on the issues that this program seeks to address.
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Keep it Simple! Easy ways to support Yellowstone Forever’s work in the park AmazonSmile | When you shop at AmazonSmile you find the same products and prices as you would on Amazon.com, but Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase price to Yellowstone Forever—at no cost to you! Just visit smile.amazon.com and select Yellowstone Forever as your charity of choice. Facebook Fundraiser | Share your love of Yellowstone online with a Facebook Fundraiser. With just a few clicks you can raise money for Yellowstone in honor of your birthday, an anniversary, or just because! Learn more at facebook.com/fund/ynpforever Employer Matching Gifts | Many employers will match your charitable contribution to Yellowstone Forever. Ask at your workplace and your gift will go twice as far! To find out if your company has a matching gift policy, use the handy search tool on our website. Learn more at Yellowstone.org/matching-gifts eBay for Charity | Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, eBay for Charity can help you support Yellowstone Forever. Integrated into eBay's regular platform, it enables sellers to donate a portion of their sales and buyers to support their favorite charities. Visit charity.ebay.com and search for “Yellowstone Forever.”
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“Beauty, adventure, and education.”
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E N J OY TA X SAVI N G S WH I LE H E LPI N G TO PR E S E RVE Y E LLOWSTO N E … FO R E VE R Are you interested in an easy, flexible, and low-cost method of supporting the work of Yellowstone Forever? A Donor-Advised Fund might be just what you’re looking for. An increasingly popular charitable vehicle, Donor-Advised Funds are an excellent way to both simplify your charitable giving and facilitate your strategic philanthropic goals. It allows you to give cash, stock, and other assets in return for an immediate tax deduction when the contribution is made. Leave a lasting legacy and help preserve the park you love by naming Yellowstone Forever as a charitable beneficiary of your Donor-Advised Fund.
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D I SCOVE R TH E WI NTE R WO R LD O F Y E LLOWSTO N E ’ S WO LVE S Join us for the wildlife-watching experience of a lifetime on Yellowstone’s northern range! Winter Wolf Discovery—a three-day viewing and learning adventure—delves into the fascinating biology, behavior, and ecology of the park’s famous wolf packs. Winter Wolf Discovery is part of our awardwinning Lodging & Learning packages, developed with Yellowstone National Park Lodges, which feature immersive park experiences with expert naturalist guides.
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T H E Y E L LOWS TO N E FO R E V E R CO L L E C T I O N
Montana Silversmiths has created for Yellowstone Forever an original and new collection of jewelry inspired by Yellowstone. Each piece in the Yellowstone Forever Collection is designed and handcrafted in Montana and reflects the beauty of the park’s iconic scenery or wildlife. E XPLO R E TH E E NTIR E CO LLEC TIO N AT
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1 4 5 6
2 Roam Free Collection
Wild & Free Collection
5 Lamar Valley Bracelet
Strength and grace abound within the Roam Free Collection, inspired by the magnificent bison that roam the dips and swells of Yellowstone’s valleys. Featuring a replica buffalo nickel with a detailed miniature image accented by feather designs, this collection is a reminder of wide-open skies and a feeling that you cannot be contained.
The Wild & Free Collection is inspired by the feeling of glancing up and seeing an eagle, our national symbol of freedom, soaring in the sky. The desire to be as wild and free as an eagle is the base inspiration for the deep, gunmetal-finished feathers with a rich yellow gold vein that creates a striking contrast. The feathers are fashioned to evoke a sense of movement within each piece.
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1 Roam Free Necklace SUPPORTER $89.25 REGULAR $105.00 #4147
2 Roam Free Earrings SUPPORTER $76.50 REGULAR $90.00 #4144
3 Wild & Free Earrings
Yellowstone Park’s iconic Lamar Valley is known for its striking fall colors, inspiring a sense of awe in those who are fortunate enough to see them. The Lamar Valley Collection pays homage to those colors with the warm yellow and orange hues of the bumblebee jasper stone set in a gleaming, hand-buffed, gunmetal-finished cuff.
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4 Wild & Free Bracelet SUPPORTER $85.00 REGULAR $100.00 #4131
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6 Grand Prismatic Necklace
SUPPORTER $195.50 REGULAR $230.00 #4146 The Grand Prismatic necklace features a uniquely colored turquoise cabochon that sits in an intricately engraved, vintagelooking frame. The subtle bronze color of the metal’s finish acts as a beautiful backdrop to the variegated turquoise stone with flecks of blue, orange, copper and even a dash of vibrant red. Every stone is unique, like the varying appearance of Grand Prismatic Spring each day.
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Electric Peak and the Roosevelt Arch at sunrise
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