YELLOWSTO N E FO R E VER
2018 Park Projects
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YELLOWSTO N E FO R E VER
2018 Park Projects Yellowstone Forever partners with Yellowstone National Park to create opportunities for all people to experience, enhance, and preserve Yellowstone forever. As the parkâ€™s official nonprofit partner, Yellowstone Forever helps fund priority projects in Yellowstone. These are the projects Yellowstone Forever is supporting in 2018.
TA B L E O F CO N T EN TS
WILDLIFE 06 Native Fish Conservation 06 Yellowstone Wolf Program 06 Yellowstone Wildlife Health Program 07
Yellowstone Wolf Interpretation Program Yellowstone Cougar Project Golden Eagle Monitoring Abundance of Grizzly Bears on the Northern Range Foraging Habits of American Black Bears on Yellowstoneâ€™s Northern Range Loss of an Icon: Can Trumpeter Swans Persist in Yellowstone? Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Plan for Yellowstone National Park Home on the Range Songbird Monitoring Station
Bilingual Rangers for Chinese Visitors Visitor Center and Wayside Exhibit Modernization Trailhead Information Displays Campground Bear Box Program Visitor & Wildlife Safety Education Trails Restoration Program Norris Geyser Basin Museum Exhibits and Canyon Amphitheater Improvements Innovations in Mobility throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Mammoth Campground Improvements Yellowstone Visitor Use Analysis
07 07 07 08 08 08 09
12 12 13 13 13 14 14 14 15
Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps Tomorrow’s Stewards Program 18 Yellowstone to You 19 NPS-American Indian Interpretation Collaborative 19 Distance Learning for Youth 19 Expedition Yellowstone Student Scholarships 19 Interactive Mobile Learning for Families 20 Yellowstone Science 20 Yellowstone Live: Enhanced Functions 20 Biennial Scientific Conference 21 Innovating Resource Education with Evolving Technology 21 Publications: Inspiring Stewardship in Underserved Audiences 18
NPS Yellowstone Training Academy Annual Stock Animal Purchase Program 24 Elk Tongue Cabin Roof Replacement 24 Hellroaring Cabin Roof Replacement 25 Stephens Creek Fence Phase III 25 Rehabilitate the Stephens Creek Bison Sorting Facility 24
Heritage and Research Center Partners in Preservation: MSU and Stanford University Internships
Lamar Buffalo Conservation & Education Project Yellowstone Environmental Stewardship (YES!) Initiative 30 Through a Changing Lens 30 Dynamic Landscapes 31 Sustainable Pathways 31 Fleet Tracking 31 Professional Support for Sustainability Projects – Lamar Buffalo Ranch 30
PHOTO MAT T LU DIN
Native Fish Conservation
In recent years, Yellowstone’s native cutthroat trout populations have declined significantly. Biologists determined the cause to be the introduction of several nonnative trout species, and especially the invasion of predatory lake trout in Yellowstone Lake. This precipitous loss of native trout is felt throughout the ecosystem, impacting predators such as bears, otters, ospreys, and eagles. Guided by the long-term Native Fish Conservation Plan, the National Park Service is leading a major effort to restore native fish populations to sustainable levels, with an emphasis on the continued, aggressive use of gillnetting boats on Yellowstone Lake. The overall intent is to ensure that native fish remain to support natural ecological function, native biodiversity, and sport fisheries.
Yellowstone Wolf Program
Since wolves were first reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, millions of visitors have had the opportunity to view wolves in the wild. They have also been the subject of much controversy, with disagreement surrounding population size, impacts on the elk population, and how to best manage wolves. Wolf management continues to be a high priority issue for both the regional public and the National Park Service. Yellowstone Forever provides the support necessary to maintain the nationally acclaimed Yellowstone Wolf Project, which focuses on the research, monitoring, and management of wolves in Yellowstone. The project’s research findings over the past 23 years have been crucial to formulating wolf management policy as well as contributing to an understanding of Yellowstone’s entire ecosystem.
Yellowstone Wildlife Health Program
Because infectious diseases are more frequently being shared between humans, wildlife, and domestic animals, Yellowstone Forever started funding the Yellowstone Wildlife Health Program in 2007. Some diseases that currently impact or threaten Yellowstone wildlife include brucellosis (bison and elk), chronic wasting disease (elk and deer), white-nose syndrome (bats), and canine distemper (wolves and coyotes). In addition, many wildlife diseases are transmissible to humans, such as plague, hantavirus, West Nile virus, and rabies. The Wildlife Health Program integrates ecological understanding—like early detection through targeted surveillance— with management decision making. Further work is needed to develop a more comprehensive plan that will promote wildlife conservation and reduce disease risks to wildlife, park staff, visitors, and local communities.
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Yellowstone Wolf Interpretation Program
Yellowstone wolves have captured the imagination and fascination of park visitors from around the world. The wolf packs are highly visible, making the park the premier place to view wolves in the wild. Consequently, there is an important need for a program that focuses on outreach, visitor enjoyment, and management of human and wolf safety. The Wolf Interpretation Program aims to fulfill these needs by providing public outreach and education for the 25,000+ visitors who attend formal field education programs about wolves, and the resources necessary to manage wolf and human safety along Yellowstone’s roads. In the process, it will also help prevent wolves from becoming habituated to humans, facilitate visitor enjoyment through wildlife-watching opportunities, and help monitor wolves to collect biological data.
Yellowstone Cougar Project
Yellowstone National Park is home to several large carnivores: grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, and cougars. Ever since the return of the wolf to the park in 1995, it has become increasingly important to understand predator diversity in Yellowstone. For instance, what does it mean for the ecosystem that these large predators, and several smaller ones, are competing for territory and prey? Cougar population size estimates are essential in determining the impacts of large carnivores on Yellowstone’s ungulate population. This project supports the monitoring of Yellowstone’s elusive cougar population, contributing to a better understanding of how to manage large carnivores as well as the ungulate species, such as elk, that they prey upon.
Golden Eagle Monitoring
Yellowstone National Park is home to 19 breeding raptor species, including ospreys, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and golden eagles. The golden eagle, in particular, is a species of growing concern as it relates to conservation in the United States. However, little is known about the golden eagle—North America’s largest bird of prey— in Yellowstone. The goal of this project is to better understand the population dynamics and habitat of Yellowstone’s golden eagles, and identify how environmental changes affect eagle reproduction and survival. New findings will expand upon data collected during the five-year Raptor Initiative funded by Yellowstone Forever and help inform future management and conservation of this species.
Abundance of Grizzly Bears on the Northern Range
Yellowstone grizzly bears were recently delisted from the Endangered Species Act. This project aims to support non-invasive DNA collection and radio collaring of grizzlies to determine their abundance, density, home range sizes, predation, and movements. Results will help managers determine the probable rates of bears injured during proposed state hunts and the vulnerability of park bears to hunting when they move outside of park boundaries. As the delisting of grizzly bears brings new challenges to park managers, this study will aid in future negotiations with state agencies on grizzly bear hunting regulations.
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Foraging Habits of American Black Bears on Yellowstone’s Northern Range
The black bear is the most common and widely distributed bear species in North America. However, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the few areas south of Canada where black bears coexist with grizzly bears. Although grizzly bears in Yellowstone have been studied continuously for more than 50 years, very little research has been conducted on the park’s black bears since the 1960s. Thus, there is a scarcity of current information available for park managers to use in making decisions on black bear management. In this study, a combination of GPS collars and non-invasive DNA techniques will help biologists learn more about the black bears’ population size and density, predatory rates on elk, home range sizes, movements, food habits, and habitat use.
Loss of an Icon: Can Trumpeter Swans Persist in Yellowstone?
The trumpeter swan is North America’s largest waterfowl, with a wingspan of up to 8 feet. Due to habitat loss and hunting, these majestic birds nearly became extinct in the lower 48 states by 1930. The population largely rebounded after widespread conservation measures, yet has failed to thrive within Yellowstone, where the number of resident swans decreased from nearly 70 in 1961 to only five in 2010. Following management efforts, including the release of 20 cygnets since 2013, approximately 25 swans now reside in the park. However, none of them have bred. The goals of this project are to evaluate possible drivers of population declines—such as human disturbance, raptor predation, and climate change—while assessing the value of swan restoration efforts and the future of the park’s swans.
Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Plan for Yellowstone National Park
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a contagious, fatal disease of deer, elk, and moose for which there is no vaccine or known treatment. Ungulate populations in and near Yellowstone National Park are at risk for infection by CWD for several reasons: the disease has been spreading toward the park’s eastern boundary, there are large concentrations of susceptible deer and elk in and near the park, and CWD has been confirmed in hunter-killed deer along Yellowstone’s eastern boundary. This project will implement a consistent monitoring program for the early detection of CWD and identify important factors that may influence the spread of the disease within Yellowstone. Action is needed before it’s too late and CWD becomes endemic within the park.
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Home on the Range
A historically large bison population in Yellowstone has led to significant concern as to whether there is “home on the range” for the most diverse and abundant community of wildlife in North America. The grazing of bison on grasslands is changing the landscape of northern Yellowstone, with unknown consequences for elk, bighorn sheep, deer, and pronghorn. Effects, in turn, could cascade through the ecosystem. This project will support the maintenance of GPS collars and coordination of data collection among park biologists and Yellowstone Forever citizen scientists who will monitor ungulate diet, habitat use, migration patterns, birth and survival rates, and population growth. Yellowstone Forever educators have committed to this project as a core component of every youth and college program where students come expecting to engage with a research opportunity.
Songbird Monitoring Station
Although Yellowstone National Park is known for its wildlife, relatively little is known about its songbird populations. These small park inhabitants include Wilson’s warblers, willow flycatchers, gray catbirds, and many other species. To complement ongoing research, biologists will establish a MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) songbird-banding station in a willow-lined riparian corridor in Yellowstone’s Northern Range. Through this protocol, researchers will gain better information on songbird abundance and diversity, as well as productivity, survival, the ratio of juveniles to adults, and turnover between breeding seasons. Along with assessing demographic trends, the study will evaluate the status of Yellowstone’s willow habitat in supporting songbirds, and potentially uncover threats to these bird populations. Ultimately, the results will help park staff establish more informed and effective management practices.
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PHOTO JIM FUT TERER
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VISITOR E XPERIENCE
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V I S I TO R E X P E R I E N C E
Bilingual Rangers for Chinese Visitors
Yellowstone National Park has experienced a significant increase in the number of Chinese visitors over the past three years. However, many cultural and language differences affect the ability to ensure these visitors enjoy the park safely. Chinese visitors traveling by bus may not receive adequate safety information from their drivers and guides, while those traveling in smaller family groups may lack an interpreter to explain park rules at all. The park has increased Mandarin Chinese signs and materials, and recognizes the need for bilingual rangers to help visitors understand the danger of stepping off boardwalks in thermal areas or getting too close to wildlife. This project will support the funding of five bilingual (Mandarin Chinese/English), seasonal park rangers to work in the park’s busiest areas.
Visitor Center and Wayside Exhibit Modernization
Yellowstone’s visitor centers and wayside exhibits serve millions of visitors each year, and attendance data suggests that each visitor encounters at least three exhibits during their visit. Exhibits at nine visitor centers provide self-paced learning opportunities through technology, reading, viewing, or discovery through touch or audio. In addition, nearly 400 wayside exhibits offer safety messages and important information for visitors regardless of the time of day. All of Yellowstone’s exhibits must meet professional and National Park Service standards; they must be ADA compliant, and have the ability to engage visitors of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and cultures through universal graphics and language translations. This project will help keep exhibits throughout the park in good working order, maintain an acceptable appearance, and update content.
Trailhead Information Displays
Yellowstone’s trailhead displays offer an important opportunity to set the stage for each visitor’s backcountry experience. They help orient roughly 20,000 annual, overnight, and backcountry visitors—as well as countless day users—by providing critical messaging about regulations and bear safety. Currently, trailhead displays across the park vary in terms of design, maintenance, and information. This lack of consistent messaging may cause visitor confusion, inconvenience, or safety problems. The purpose of this project is to design and construct professional-looking trailhead information displays at 90 trailheads within the park. Each display will be similar in layout, providing users with an area map, information on backcountry regulations and safety, and a space for rotating informational signs that convey seasonally changing conditions.
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Campground Bear Box Program
Preventing bears from obtaining human foods is the foundation of Yellowstone National Park’s grizzly bear management program. Grizzlies that become conditioned to human foods often become more aggressive toward property or people, and must be removed from the park population out of concern for human safety. The most successful, proven method to prevent this situation has been providing visitors with bear-proof, food-storage boxes at roadside campgrounds. With past contributions from Yellowstone Forever, as well as funding from other public land agencies, bear box installations have been completed in multiple park campgrounds. However, 1,324 bear boxes are still needed to complete installation in the park’s five largest campgrounds at Mammoth, Canyon, Bridge Bay, Grant, and Madison.
Visitor & Wildlife Safety Education
Managing the coexistence of people and wildlife in Yellowstone is more important than ever before. The park has experienced a significant increase in visitation since 2015, leading to tragedies including grizzly bear-related fatalities and bison gorings. This project will provide support for seasonal park rangers and volunteers to conduct the following programs: • Wildlife and Visitor Safety Education Program, in which roving park rangers provide information at wildlife-related traffic jams and other locations where wildlife and visitors are in close proximity • Wildlife Education and Safety Demonstrations conducted by rangers on topics like using bear spray, safe hiking, and camping practices, and proper food storage • Elk Rut Volunteer Corps in Mammoth Hot Springs to reduce elk/human conflicts during the autumn rut
Trails Restoration Program
Yellowstone is known and loved for its natural wonders, and a favorite way for visitors to enjoy the park’s beauty is by recreating on its 1,000+ miles of trails. Unfortunately, many of these trails are in desperate need of restoration. Through this project, park staff will identify, restore, and repair Yellowstone’s beloved and heavily used network of trails, continuing partnerships with the Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps and Montana Conservation Corps to maximize accomplishing work during the short labor season. With a sizable maintenance backlog, funding challenges, and a record numbers of visitors, support from Yellowstone Forever continues to be an essential part of collaborative trail restoration and youth engagement success.
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Norris Geyser Basin Museum Exhibits and Canyon Amphitheater Improvements
The Norris Geyser Basin Museum is one of the park’s original trailside museums built in 1929-30, and is a National Historic Landmark. The current exhibits in the museum were designed and installed more than two decades ago using methods of the time. Unfortunately, the silk-screened text has rubbed away, and photos attached by adhesive have fallen off. In 2010 and 2012, the worst portions of the exhibits were refaced as a temporary fix. However, the original exhibits are still in rough shape and need to be replaced. In addition, the electrical and screen systems in the Canyon Campground Amphitheater are outdated, and the screen system frequently malfunctions. This project will enrich each visitor’s experience in the Norris Geyser Basin and Canyon Campground by replacing both the technical systems and the exhibits in the museum.
Innovations in Mobility throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Yellowstone National Park has experienced a dramatic escalation in the number of visitors in recent years, reaching a peak of 4,257,177 visits in 2016. This influx of visitors is seriously straining the capacity of park roads, pathways, space at popular attractions, and parking, as well as the park’s efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions from vehicles. An event is needed to bring together multiple stakeholder groups, including transportation management experts and representatives from government, nonprofits, and private industry, to discuss the challenge of increasing visitation on a regional scale. This project will provide for an Inter-Agency Workshop Innovations in Mobility throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for stakeholders to work together toward identifying future solutions.
Mammoth Campground Improvements
The popular Mammoth Hot Springs Campground is the only Yellowstone campground open year-round. Its high visibility along the North Entrance Road also causes strain on its comfort station, which is used by general visitors as well as campers. Due to high visitor use, many of the campground’s facilities and equipment need upgrading, replacement, or repair to make them more accessible and keep services up to par. This project will upgrade the office to streamline the check-in/check-out process, improve ADA accessibility for campsites and bathrooms, and upgrade transportation equipment for camp hosts. A better-maintained campground will provide a safer and more comfortable place for visitors to stay while enjoying Yellowstone.
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Yellowstone Visitor Use Analysis
Over the past decade, visitation to Yellowstone has increased by close to 40%. In order to better manage this dramatic surge, the National Park Service is studying data on park visitors to better understand who they are, how they move through the region, and what they value. This study will help the park identify the volume of visitors to various park and Yellowstone-area attractions, as well as demographic characteristics of those visitors, by capturing data from mobile devices. Findings from the study will help park management make decisions about communication with visitors, development of traffic management systems, visitor-use planning, and other strategies to cope with increasing visitation while maintaining positive visitor experiences.
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REN DERING X X ARCHITECHS
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TOMORROW â€™ S STE WARDS
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TO M O R R OW ’ S S T E WA R D S
Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps
The Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) engages teams of 15- to 18-year-olds in leadership, education, recreation, and work activities. The work-based learning program completes a wide array of projects such as constructing fencing, conducting citizen science projects, and restoring backcountry trails. The program is challenging, educational, and fun, and offers participants opportunities to expand their horizons while building invaluable skills. This project will provide the funding necessary to support the seasonal management of the program, including food and supplies, weekend and evening supervision of minors, and educational and outdoor recreation activities. The YCC helps promote the stewardship of Yellowstone and other wild places among the next generation, while providing much-needed labor for park priority projects.
Tomorrow’s Stewards Program
The Tomorrow’s Stewards Program engages young people in work-based learning projects and leadership education programs in Yellowstone. The principal purpose of the program is to provide opportunities for youth to learn about the environment by spending time working on projects in national parks. Participants’ personal development is broadened and enriched through educational, leadership, and recreational experiences. The park also receives the benefit of completing much-needed conservation projects, as many of the work projects are backlogged trail and maintenance projects that might not otherwise get completed. This program motivates youth participants to begin to develop work and career skills including positive interpersonal relationships, self confidence, self-motivation, leadership, problem solving, teamwork, and a variety of hands-on technical skills.
Yellowstone to You
Many schools and youth programs in the Yellowstone area lack the resources to arrange park visits for their participants. Taking Yellowstone to regional communities and schools helps engage a younger and more diverse audience and empowers educators to use Yellowstone in their classrooms to connect students to their park. This project supports the resources needed to operate the Yellowstone to You program, which sends park rangers into communities to teach about Yellowstone and grow the next generation of park stewards. Staff implement outreach programs at schools, community events, American Indian powwows, and educator workshops, mainly in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The programs are intended to reach targeted audiences such as families, teachers, and students from socioeconomically disadvantaged populations—especially at Title I and American Indian schools.
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NPS-American Indian Interpretation Collaborative
Yellowstone National Park has 26 Associated Tribes that either have evidence of their ancestral presence in Yellowstone or have documented cultural connection to the park. Members of these tribes, along with the general public, have expressed interest in seeing more education about American Indians in Yellowstone. This project will identify and develop opportunities to interpret the tribes’ cultural and historic associations with Yellowstone. In cooperation with tribal representatives, the park will create a variety of media—such as exhibits, publications, web content, and videos— and cultural demonstrations, storytelling, and other programs featuring American Indian speakers and performers.
Distance Learning for Youth
Many people may never have the chance to visit Yellowstone National Park in their lifetime. However, the park can reach more individuals by visiting them in their schools with Distance Learning programs. Since 2011, Yellowstone has offered the opportunity for classrooms to have a park ranger visit them virtually through Skype or other video conference technology. Students learn about topics such as the Yellowstone Volcano or park ecology, wildlife, and history. They can also interview a ranger about their job. These cost-effective programs introduce Yellowstone to new audiences while using the park as a platform to teach curriculum-based content. Since demand for the program has been growing each year, this project aims to ensure Distance Learning is available to school groups across the country.
Expedition Yellowstone Student Scholarships
Expedition Yellowstone is a residential program providing experiential learning for school groups visiting the park. The award-winning curriculum for youth in grades four through eight includes field classes that investigate geology, wildlife, history, and environmental stewardship in Yellowstone. Throughout the week, students participate in hikes, science activities, journal writing, and group discussions. This all-inclusive approach allows students to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of Yellowstone, and helps empower them to explore stewardship opportunities at home. The purpose of this project is to provide scholarships to support socioeconomically underserved students—especially those from Title I or American Indian schools in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming—attending the Expedition Yellowstone program.
Interactive Mobile Learning for Families
Hundreds of thousands of families journey to Yellowstone each year looking for shareable stories to help them to connect with the cultural history and natural wonders of the park. This project outlines an innovative and experimental research project to study the potential of family learning through place-based and interactive mobile stories. Given how universal mobile technology has become in the lives of children, learning is no longer constrained to formal school structure; new, informal ways to learn and engage in a national park are emerging. This project takes speculation about such potential
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and puts these ideas to the test in a real-time setting, with real users in real situations. This project will fund five faculty researchers and one research assistant to travel to Yellowstone, plus on-site tool development costs.
Yellowstone Science, first published in 1992, is a journal devoted to Yellowstone’s natural and cultural resources. It features articles about research, conferences, or other special events in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem that provide scientists with an opportunity to communicate and exchange ideas, and keeps the public informed about scientific endeavors. The publication is now available as a digital subscription in addition to print, providing even greater circulation and reducing the park’s carbon footprint. The purpose of this project is to support the effort to communicate Yellowstone’s vast and complex array of scientific endeavors, which are used to inform and guide management decisions, as well as update the public on the park’s conservation issues and challenges.
Yellowstone Live: Enhanced Functions
Yellowstone National Park’s infrastructure spans an area larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. It is made up of five park entrances, more than 1,300 miles of roads and trails, more than 1,500 buildings, and thousands of campsites. Natural and human-caused events can close these facilities without warning, and a lack of accurate and timely information can have a significant impact on visitor safety and enjoyment. The purpose of this project is to continue to develop a single, integrated system that allows Yellowstone staff to quickly identify changes in the status of facilities, roads, fires, or weather, and share information with visitors. This system currently provides information through the park website, apps, and visitor center monitors. Improvements will expand visibility and ease of use, and support delivery of more detailed information.
Biennial Scientific Conference
The greater Yellowstone biennial scientific conference, which began in 1991, encourages awareness and application of high-caliber scientific work on the region’s natural and cultural resources. The conference actively engages a variety of stakeholders and provides a forum to highlight the challenges and success stories within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Through field trips, presentations, and discussions, the conference offers researchers, park managers, conservation groups, and partners the ability to share knowledge and discuss issues pertaining to Yellowstone’s resources. In partnership with a host of county, state, federal, and private organizations, this project will sponsor the conference to ensure this excellent, collaborative opportunity remains available to participants.
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Innovating Resource Education with Evolving Technology
Yellowstone National Parkâ€™s website and social media channels are some of the most visited in the entire national park system. While nothing replaces an in-person park visit, there are many ways to bring the wonders of Yellowstone to people worldwide through technology. This project will fund a new park orientation film to be shown in visitor centers and online, and a new, in-depth video on the parkâ€™s water resources, waterfalls, and headwater systems. Additional goals include the purchase of equipment for expanded distance learning efforts, live ranger projects, and continued development of the official Yellowstone National Park apps. Funds will also support the team of volunteers who operate the live-streaming webcam at Old Faithful, which receives nearly five million page views each year.
Publications: Inspiring Stewardship in Underserved Audiences
Publications provide critical information to Yellowstone visitors in an efficient and consistent format. Print media complements the personal connections visitors make with park rangers and reinforces key safety and resource-protection messages provided by other signs and exhibits. Plus, they are portable, extending their usefulness through an entire visit and beyond. This project delivers those benefits specifically to the underserved audiences of non-English speakers and people with disabilities. New publications will inform and inspire these visitors to connect with Yellowstone and become park stewards, while helping to overcome barriers to understanding safety messages. This project will support printing costs for essential publications that must be reprinted annually.
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PHOTO MARIA BISSO
R ANG ER HERITAG E
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R A N G E R H E R I TAG E
NPS Yellowstone Training Academy
Yellowstone’s Resource Education and Youth Programs (REYP) Training Academy is a comprehensive learning resource that serves the park’s concessions employees, commercial guides and tour operators, nonprofit partners, and a variety of regional organizations. Through classroom instruction, online education, and coaching and mentoring, the Academy enhances the knowledge and skills of participants, ensuring that visitors have safe and inspiring experiences in Yellowstone. The REYP Academy works closely with National Park Service staff in Concessions Management and the Yellowstone Center for Resources in developing a wide range of services and products to achieve its goals, ensuring the ongoing stewardship of Yellowstone National Park through interpretation and education.
Annual Stock Animal Purchase Program
The use of horses and mules for transportation of people, equipment, and supplies in the backcountry is critical for Yellowstone operations, from ranger patrols and trail work to research studies. These horses and mules eventually reach an end of their careers, which require them to be sold into retirement, and new animals must be purchased to fill their places. The purpose of this project is to purchase new animals for the stock-use program and to reduce the average “working life” of stock to 14 years to minimize stock injuries. The current optimal herd size required to facilitate the needs of the park is approximately 100 animals. Achieving this goal would require purchasing approximately seven animals per year.
Elk Tongue Cabin Roof Replacement
Built in 1936, the Elk Tongue Cabin sits along Slough Creek near Yellowstone’s Northeast Entrance. The cabin, which is critical for ranger patrols in that area, requires frequent maintenance on the roof when leaks occur. The roof has three roof materials that have been fastened to the cabin since it was placed in its current location along the Slough Creek drainage in 1974: asphalt rolled roofing, an asphalt shingle roof, and a wood shingle roof. The project will provide for the removal of the old materials, which would be then replaced by a steel corrugated roof.
Hellroaring Cabin Roof Replacement
Yellowstone’s Hellroaring cabin, built in 1920, is located just south of Hellroaring Mountain and the northern border of the park. One of the park’s oldest ranger patrol
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cabins, it received a new roof following the fires of 1988, but that roof is now overdue to be replaced. The current roofing material is steel fastened with nails onto a wood shingle roof. The nails frequently â€œpop,â€? creating gaps in coverage that create leaks. The nails will no longer remain in place following attempts to refasten. This project will provide for the removal of the aforementioned materials, which would be replaced by a fulllength, corrugated steel roof and a plywood sub-roof.
Stephens Creek Fence Phase III
The Stephens Creek fence is located at the Yellowstone bison sorting facility near the north entrance to the park. The purpose of this project is to continue the fence-building work performed in 2016 and 2017 by volunteers from Arch Ventures and Warfighter Outfitters. This third phase of a four-phase project will involve replacing fence segments that are in poor condition. Phase III will also include building new walkways above the pens to allow park personnel to work safely above the animals, eliminating the need to be down in the pens and exposing themselves to possible injury. Once complete, the facility will create less stress and provide the safest environment possible for the animals.
Rehabilitate the Stephens Creek Bison Sorting Facility
The Stephens Creek bison sorting facility is necessary for Yellowstone to meet the requirements of the court settlement to manage the numbers of bison that migrate outside the park. Initiated in the 1990s, the facility enables the capture, testing, sorting, and shipping of bison. Much of the current infrastructure is built on the original foundation, which is rotting away. In 2017, several parts of the facility were damaged due to the rotting foundation. The damage was temporarily fixed, but the entire facility is continuing to deteriorate and the issue will likely worsen. This project to rehabilitate the BSF is critical to the future safety of both humans and animals.
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CU LTU R AL TRE ASU RES
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Heritage and Research Center
With the opening of the Heritage and Research Center (HRC) in 2005, the number of researchers using Yellowstone’s archives, library, and museum collections has more than doubled. Yellowstone Forever’s long-standing commitment to supporting these programs has been critical to their success. Continued support of the HRC—specifically the Yellowstone Research Library—is crucial for ensuring that researchers are accommodated, the library is able to acquire new scholarly works on Yellowstone, and the current collection is properly preserved. This annual project allows for the funding of two full-time librarians to operate the library and serve the public. In addition, a portion of the funding covers new subscriptions, new books, supplies, bookbinding services, and professional development fees for the librarians.
Partners in Preservation: MSU and Stanford University Internships
The Partners in Preservation project, established in 2005, funds park housing for students from Montana State University and Stanford University to participate in a curatorial internship at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center (HRC). Each summer the museum program hosts an undergraduate student from each university to expose them to the museum field and national park museum operations. In turn, the students assist with backlog cataloging, creating temporary exhibits, and providing public outreach such as tours of the HRC. The curator serves as a mentor to these interns and helps to introduce them to a curator career opportunity. The continuation of this project will fill a critical need by bringing aboard undergraduate students who are eager to learn about museum operations, and who also, in turn, greatly assist the program.
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PHOTO MARIA BISSO
G REENEST PARK
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G R E E N E S T PA R K
Lamar Buffalo Ranch Conservation & Education Project
The Buffalo Keeper’s House at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch is used as a year-round residence for rangers. This important historic building is in great need of restoration and has shown significant degradation that will likely increase if the problem is not addressed. The log building’s two porches are in disrepair, icy winds freeze pipes quickly—making it necessary to run water constantly all winter—and the outdated windows and lack of insulation make for a very cold building. The house has also been invaded by pests including ground squirrels, mice, packrats, swallow, and bats. This project aims to carry out a major renovation for structural and energy conservation improvements, saving more than 2,800 gallons of propane and $5,600 annually.
Yellowstone Environmental Stewardship (YES!) Initiative
Yellowstone’s history of actions to reduce energy and water use, and greenhouse gas emissions, illustrates its long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship. The park has continued its leadership and progress in this area by implementing an Energy Conservation Plan to achieve at least a 15% reduction in energy use by 2020. Through the Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Yellowstone Forever supports this effort by connecting the park with partners who can provide resources to help track energy use, implement best practices, improve buildings, and minimize vehicle emissions. In addition, park staff will continue to work closely with Montana State University on energy monitoring, management, and education, while supporting student projects related to environmental sustainability.
Through a Changing Lens
Yellowstone scientists and managers recognize the importance of a multidisciplinary understanding of the effects of climate change. Through this project, scientists will continue current climate change research, add two new monitoring projects, and implement actions in response to the adverse impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, vegetation, and severity of wildfires. They will continue to monitor temperature, precipitation, snowpack, and streamflow at more than one hundred climate stations in order to understand and document climate trends in the park. Additional data will be collected from seven study sites by park resource specialists, graduate students, and teams of citizen scientists. Results will be reported to park staff and the public through presentations, websites, and publications.
Ecological disturbances such as fire, drought, and invasive plants are all part of the sagebrush ecosystem in Yellowstone. However, the Earth is now in a period of climate
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change that may alter the natural systems. Long-term monitoring allows scientists to detect and track changes in the ecosystem over time, particularly in species that may suffer significant impacts under a changing climate. During the summers of 2015 and 2016, 65 permanent study locations across the park were established in sagebrush communities. The park has collected baseline information on each plot, including descriptions of 109 species. Five locations will be monitored annually, and the remaining sites will be read on a five-year interval. Study data will be invaluable to future scientists and managers in Yellowstone and the surrounding area.
Yellowstone is home to half the world’s thermal features, and most of them—including Old Faithful—are located at the Upper Geyser Basin. Millions of people visit the basin each year, and use the network of pathways that allows safe travel and up-close viewing of the thermal features. In partnership with Michelin Tire, park concessions, and local automotive shops, this project will re-purpose used tires from Yellowstone’s vehicle fleet to create material for accessible pedestrian paths. This material will create a new porous walking surface to replace existing asphalt paths in some of Yellowstone’s most iconic and well visited front country areas. The hard wearing surface will allow natural water recharge, reduce erosion and pollution, and keep Yellowstone’s tires out of the landfill.
Yellowstone National Park maintains a fleet of 800 vehicles, from ranger patrol cars and garbage trucks to rotary snow plows and load-hauling tractor trailers. The park has a goal to reduce the operating cost and the carbon footprint of its vehicle fleet. In order to do this, it needs reliable and objective information on how the vehicles are being operated to determine which vehicles are needed, where and how often they are being used, and the manner in which they are being driven. Twenty representative vehicles have had tracking units installed to be monitored for where, when, and how they are being used. This information will be analyzed in 2018 and lead to a better understanding of Yellowstone’s vehicle fleet and eventual reduction in use of fossil fuels.
Professional Support for Sustainability Projects — Lamar Buffalo Ranch
Yellowstone’s historic Lamar Buffalo Ranch, originally created to preserve one of the nation’s last free-roaming bison herds, is now used as a ranger station and educational facility. Work has taken place in recent years to make the ranch more sustainable, including renovations to the historic buildings and improvements to the renewable energy systems. As technology advances, there is an increasing need to consult experts for review, advice, and sometimes implementation to ensure the park is using the best available options. Thus, Yellowstone anticipates an ongoing need for corporate partner assistance for this sustainability program. These project funds, provided through a grant from the National Park Foundation, will allow for continuing facility improvements and historic preservation at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch.
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