Quarterly Y ELLOWSTONE
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Yellowstoneâ€™s Dynamic Thermal System Black Bear Project Artists in Yellowstone
Dear Yellowstone Forever supporters, It’s been a busy summer here in Yellowstone, and our team has been happily interacting with visitors through our educational Park Stores and on our Institute programs. In May, we launched an exciting new program—Yellowstone Day Adventures—that has helped us teach and inspire even more visitors about this wonderland. These half-day tours, which you can sign up for just a day in advance, have resulted in a 38% increase in Institute participants from March-July this year vs. the same time period last year. This summer we also hosted a number of successful events that helped take Yellowstone out into the world. In September we hosted the Biennial Scientific Conference in Big Sky, Montana. This year’s theme, “Tracking the Human Footprint,” focused on the human experience and the role scientific research and communication will play in shaping management of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We also recently hosted the first annual Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational, during which 14 of the nation’s best artists painted “en plein air” (outside on-site) for four days throughout the park. You can view some of their creations, along with images from the event, at Yellowstone.org/plein-air. We are looking forward to upcoming events in Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. If you are interested in hosting or attending an event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Fall is also a time of transition, and here in Yellowstone National Park we are saying farewell to one superintendent and welcoming another. At the end of September Superintendent Dan Wenk retired after a remarkable 43-year career with the National Park Service. Our team has had the honor of working alongside Dan for the past seven years, and we are grateful for his incredible partnership. On behalf of the entire Yellowstone Forever team, I want to thank Dan for his extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of Yellowstone National Park. We will soon welcome Cam Sholly as the new Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. Since early 2015, Cam has served as the National Park Service Midwest Regional Director, managing the operations of 61 national park units spread over 13 states. We look forward to working with Cam Sholly and building upon our strong and important partnership preserving the world’s first national park.
Heather White President & CEO Yellowstone Forever
COVER Two elk against the backdrop of the travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.
02 Understanding Yellowstone’s Dynamic Thermal System 06 Black Bear Project 09 yf family Matt Ludin 11 experience Geeking Out on Geysers 14 Artists in Yellowstone 17 naturalist notes Invasive Plants 18 nps interview Heidi Anderson 20 flora & fauna Waxwings | Chokecherries & Currants
images / pages
Megan Boyle Wendie Carr Owen Carroll Jenny Golding Barbara Lee Ruffin Prevost Christine Gianas Weinheimer
Lauren Beltramo Jim Futterer Jenny Golding Tom Kirkendall Jessie Knirch Matt Ludin NPS Ann Skelton
9 6, 10 2 11, back cover 16 10, 20, 21 4, 5, 18 cover, ii, 12
Lauren Beltramo Maria Bisso Megan Boyle Wendie Carr Paula Degen
Executive Team & Board Members EXECUTIVE TEAM
Heather White President & CEO
Chief Development Officer
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Senior Director of Operations
Chief Marketing Officer Chief of Staff
Chief Financial Officer
Senior Director of Campaign & Special Projects
Director of Employee & Volunteer Engagement
Senior Director of Education
Vice President of Retail Senior Director of Park Projects
Vice President of Development
John Walda TREASURER
Tom Detmer SECRETARY
Heather White PRESIDENT & CEO
Kevin Butt Michael Campbell John Costello Annie Graham Carolyn Heppel Charles Kaufmann III Joe Marushack Robert Mathias Susan Roeder Jacqueline Rooney Bob Rowe Doug Spencer Elizabeth Webb
Understanding Yellowstoneâ€™s Dynamic Thermal System by Jenny Golding
Each year, millions visit Old Faithful, Norris Geyser Basin, and other thermal areas to witness the bubbling, gurgling, spouting, and bright colors of the park’s otherworldly features. Yellowstone protects more than 10,000 mudpots, hot springs, and fumaroles, and the largest concentration of active geysers in the world. These hydrothermal features are much more than what meets the eye; they are signs of a complex, active, volcanic system pulsing beneath. Standing in the center of the caldera, near Norris Geyser Basin to the north, Mallard Lake, or Le Hardy Rapids, magma is only 3–4 miles beneath your feet. The recent eruptions of Steamboat are just a paragraph in the current chapter of an epic geologic story.
On March 15, 2018, a billowing column of steam and hot water burst into the early morning sky at Norris Geyser Basin. Steamboat Geyser was erupting! Because Steamboat shows itself infrequently (this was the first eruption since 2014) its eruption was very exciting news for park lovers and scientists alike. Known as the tallest geyser in the world, Steamboat’s eruptions can be quite spectacular, emitting a roiling tower of steam visible for miles and water shooting more than 300 feet into the air. Steamboat erupted again on April 19, 27, and May 4, with more eruptions during the summer. This recent activity was interesting, not only because of the impressive steam and water show, but also for the opportunity to gain clues about what’s happening underground.
Seventeen million years ago, an intense period of volcanism began near the present-day Nevada-OregonIdaho border. For the next 14 million years, the North American tectonic plate drifted southwest across a thermal plume fixed in the earth’s mantle, its path punctuated by caldera-forming eruptions. Just over 2 million years ago the first of three eruptions occurred in the area we know as Yellowstone, and one of the largest ever super volcanoes was discovered. While experts don’t expect another eruption anytime soon, that underground “hot spot” continues to shape the park we see today. The Yellowstone caldera is in almost constant motion. Magma from deep in the earth rises, providing heat and pressure to the rock and liquids above. Hydrothermal fluids move in and out of fractures in the rock, building up and releasing pressure. As a result, the caldera lifts, falls, and quakes. When pressures rise, the ground lifts. The stress from that uplift, combined with shifting in the tectonic plate, creates fractures in the rock, resulting in earthquakes. As fluids drain out, the pressure drops and the ground subsides. It takes a village to keep an eye on all this activity. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO)—a collection of eight agencies: United States Geologic Service, Yellowstone National Park, University of Utah, University of Wyoming, UNAVCO, Wyoming State Geological Survey, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Idaho Geological Survey—along with a host of other geologists, use a network of scientific instruments to interpret the signals that the volcano is sending. How deep is the magma? How are hydrothermal features connected to each other, and to the magma below? Is it the hydrothermal system or the magma causing the ground to rise and fall? These and other questions are of intense interest to scientists trying to understand the forces driving Yellowstone’s thermal system, as well as to predict
Great Fountain Geyser, in the Lower Geyser Basin, erupting at sunset.
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roughly the size of the caldera and 3–4 miles below ground— is structured less like an open chamber of magma, and more like a sponge, with cracks and holes that molten rock moves throughout. A recent study by Peter Nelson and Stephen Grand using deep seismic waves revealed that this shallower magma reservoir is fed by a plume of magma extending all the way from the core-mantle boundary, some 1800 miles below ground. Yellowstone’s caldera floor rises and falls up to several inches per year. Although volcanoes can fluctuate for thousands of years without erupting, ground deformation can indicate important events, like an infusion of magma close to the surface. Twelve GPS (Global Positioning System) stations located throughout the park—accurate to within a millimeter— provide daily updates of movement in very specific locations. Another technology, InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar), uses images taken from orbiting satellites to examine a broader scale. Together, InSAR and GPS provide a very detailed picture of how much the ground is moving. From this data, scientists know that the caldera is subsiding by a few centimeters per year, while Norris Geyser Basin is uplifting at a similar rate. They also know that the caldera floor has risen a staggering three feet since measurements began in 1923. Although studying what’s happening underground from the surface is a bit like hiking in the dark, ongoing monitoring efforts and new technologies are helping paint a clearer picture of what is happening just out of sight. “We are refining that imagery, as well as our understanding,” says park geologist Jeff Hungerford.
ABOVE Unpredictable and dormant for years, Steamboat Geyser—shown here in the steam phase of eruption—has been quite active in 2018.
Some of that new technology is being employed at Steamboat. The geyser’s recent activity is not necessarily unusual, says Hungerford, but it does provide a great opportunity to get a closer look at the connections in Norris’s thermal system. The University of Utah recently added 28 temporary seismic nodes to the area around Steamboat to record more subtle vibrations than the permanent stations. Scientists hope the data will give insights into connections between Steamboat and other nearby features, such as Cistern and Emerald springs, and how recent uplift in the Norris Geyser Basin might be related to these eruptions.
hazards that may arise from the volcano’s activity. For this reason, the YVO regularly monitors earthquakes, ground deformation, temperature, gases, and water levels. This monitoring also helps the National Park Service (NPS) protect and preserve the unique hydrothermal system that so many visitors come to see.
In another new approach to understanding the caldera, scientists are using electromagnetism to make a map of the shallow crust. Helicopters fly over the park with sophisticated equipment, bouncing a magnetic field to the surface and back. Hydrothermal fluids, clay, escaping gases, and fresh lava all have different electrical resistivity from the surrounding rocks. This imagery is used to produce maps—not unlike a topographical map—of the subsurface terrain.
There are thousands of earthquakes in Yellowstone each year. Although most aren't felt by humans, these earthquakes are measured via 22 permanent seismometers as part of the Yellowstone Seismic Network (YSN), operated by the University of Utah, USGS, and NPS. Because seismic waves travel through molten, versus hard, rock at different rates, studying earthquakes can provide images of the magma chamber below. From these images, scientists learned that the Yellowstone magma reservoir—
Despite the exciting discoveries on the horizon, everyone still wants to know: will the volcano erupt? Geologist Lisa Morgan, 4
“There are certainly going to be more eruptions…but we don't see that right now in our forecast. It’s a long lived system.” at a recent public meeting with Yellowstone Volcano Observatory and affiliated scientists, answers the inevitable question: yes, but not anytime soon. “There are certainly going to be more eruptions…but we don't see that right now in our forecast. It’s a long-lived system,” says Morgan. Despite the fact that Yellowstone sits atop an active volcano, the activity here is normal. Mike Poland, lead scientist for the YVO says, “…it sounds very unexciting to say, but activity is relatively calm. And by calm, in Yellowstone, I mean geysers are erupting, the ground is moving up and down, and there are earthquakes every day. The Yellowstone characteristic is for it to be a dynamic place. And that’s what makes it so interesting.” 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.
TOP Beehive Geyser, a cone geyser, produces some
of the most powerful and impressive eruptions in the park. RIGHT Eruptions of Lion Geyser, seen here with Heart Spring in the foreground, are often preceded by a deep roaring sound.
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By Ruffin Prevost
Black Bear Project
Targets Last Piece of Predator Puzzle Black bears, which are commonly seen in the northern range and Bechler areas of Yellowstone, have short, curved claws that enable them to climb trees.
One of the most popular visitor destinations in Yellowstone National Park in 1919 was a spot called the Lunch Counter, about a 10-minute walk from the Old Faithful Inn. The newly established feeding ground for bears was described in the hotel’s brochure as a place where visitors could “photograph a wild bear and eat a course dinner in the same hour.” A century later, thanks to innovative camera collars used as part of bear management efforts, some Yellowstone bears are taking photographs of their own dinner—as well as images of park visitors—sometimes in the same hour. Photographing the feeding of black bears was common in the park until the 1960s, when sweeping changes to bear management policies eliminated hotel dump sites and cracked down on roadside handouts from car windows. But research on black bears in Yellowstone has largely stalled since the 1960s, said Kerry Gunther, the biologist who leads Yellowstone’s bear management program. Now, the Yellowstone Black Bear Project, funded in part by Yellowstone Forever, is using field work, DNA analysis, and GPS tracking camera collars to determine black bear densities in the northern range, as well as how black bears travel, feed, and interact across the region. “We have done a lot of research on carnivores and ungulates on the northern range," Gunther said. “The black bear is the last big carnivore that we don’t have a lot of data on. It’s the last piece of the puzzle.” Because black bears are common in Yellowstone and well established in surrounding national forests, they have almost been taken for granted in recent decades, with park managers having only a general idea how many have home ranges in Yellowstone. About a half-dozen black bears were fitted last summer with GPS tracking collars that also capture 20 seconds of video about every 20 minutes. More bears were collared with GPS collars this summer. Batteries allow for up to two months of images, so researchers can correlate video clips of bears feeding with GPS locations of carcasses, berry patches, trout streams, and other food sources. The videos may also yield helpful bear (and human) management insights, Gunther said, because black bears are often found along roadsides. That may be because the traffic and human presence on roads mean grizzly bears are less likely to be there. Grizzlies sometimes kill black bears in territorial or food disputes. In fact, it was along a road near Tower Creek in June 2015 that a black bear fitted with a video collar captured what is probably the first bear-generated image of park visitors—a cluster of wildlife watchers who were photographing the bear.
“We essentially have a video of a bear watching people watch a bear,” said Montana State University graduate student Nate Bowersock during a 2016 science conference in Grand Teton National Park. Bowersock now leads the video component of the Black Bear Project. “We’ve gotten new insight into how bears forage on whitebark pine cones,” Bowersock told conference attendees, and videos have shown that bears “can be very precise when foraging— plucking individual berries off a plant and causing very little disturbance at some sites.” A video from September 2014 captured footage of a black bear feeding on the carcass of another black bear following what Bowersock suspects was a fatal fight over a food source—an unexpected look at an uncommon event. Earlier camera efforts, particularly with male grizzlies, didn’t always yield the best results, Gunther said. Many of them slept for much of the day and were active at night, when the cameras are less functional. Some grizzlies “were able to pull the collars off pretty quickly,” he said. Black bears are more active during the day, and are proving more photographically productive. The Black Bear Project has already yielded a few unexpected results. Gunther said rubs and snares are gathering “a lot more black bear hair than grizzly bear hair,” which he had assumed would be more equally balanced. GPS readings are also showing some male black bears making longer trips than expected, including one that traveled from the Mammoth area out past West Yellowstone and into Idaho.
“The black bear is the last big carnivore that we don’t have a lot of data on.” The bear’s-eye view gained from thousands of video clips will help researchers learn about black bears’ diet, behavior around humans, conflicts with other predators, and specific uses of distinct habitat areas. Gunther said it is important to gather baseline data on black bear densities now, so they can be compared with future findings that might help measure the effects of climate change, visitation trends, predator/prey dynamics, or other factors. In addition to camera collars, wildlife researchers sometimes rely on photos taken by visitors to aid in their work, particularly pictures of animals with collars, ear tags, or distinctive markings. So if you get a great picture of a black bear along the roadside in Yellowstone this summer, be sure to tag and post it to social media. And be sure to smile, because the black bear just might be taking your picture too. 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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Y E L LOW S TO N E P L E I N A I R
I N V I TAT I O N A L Fourteen of the nation’s best artists recently came to paint in the incredible landscape of the world’s first national park. View some of their creations, along with images from the event, at Yellowstone.org/plein-air.
I M AG E T H O M A S M O R A N
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Social Media and Digital Content Manager worldwide—which is a big win for Yellowstone, he says. “If people aren’t able to come to the park, they can experience it from anywhere in the country and anywhere in the world. It’s been really fun to be able to showcase what we do at Yellowstone Forever and inspire people to support the park through the power of social media.”
If you’re one of thousands of Yellowstone enthusiasts following Yellowstone Forever on social media, you’ve likely seen the incredible photography and videography of Matt Ludin, social media and digital content manager at Yellowstone Forever. Inspired by national park trips he took with his family growing up, the California native has been working on behalf of Yellowstone since 2011.
In the coming months, Matt plans to be especially focused on inspiring social media fans through video—and fall is an ideal time to do it, he says. The fall elk rut, when hundreds of bull elk compete in a boisterous display for the attention of females, takes place in September and October in Yellowstone National Park. Matt can’t wait to share it with fans.
“Even from a young age I wanted to spend as much time as possible in the Mountain West, and national parks in particular,” he recalls. “Yellowstone had the biggest pull.” Matt moved from his home in Orange County, California, to Bozeman, Montana, with the goal of working for Yellowstone in any way he could. He was particularly drawn to nonprofits working on behalf of the park and ended up landing a job with the Yellowstone Park Foundation (now Yellowstone Forever). With his passion for photography and a deep love for the park, the job was a great fit.
“Capturing the rut on video brings the experience to life,” he says. “You can really get a feel for how powerful—and loud—bull elk can be.”
“I did a little bit of everything,” he recalls of this first position. “I wrote fundraising letters and articles for the website, and later took on the majority of our social media efforts. The job blended my love of photography and national parks quite well.” Since then, Matt has helped Yellowstone Forever’s social media presence grow to more than 600,000 followers
Whether he’s filming wildlife, hanging out with park visitors at a social media meetup, or exploring Yellowstone with his wife and three children, Matt is proud to represent the park he loves. “I absolutely love everything about Yellowstone,” he says. “It’s been a privilege to have this job and support the park in any way I can.” Follow Yellowstone Forever on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest at @YNPForever.
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Make a Gift of Stock
Giving stock doesn’t just help the world’s first national park: It also helps you. USING STOCK TO REACH YOUR PHILANTHROPIC GOALS
If you are trying to reach a certain giving level, donating stock gives you the option to hit the goal without simply writing a check. For instance, reaching a $10,000 annual giving goal becomes easier by pairing a $5,000 cash gift with $5,000 in stock. INCREASE YOUR GIVING POWER
A gift of appreciated stock to Yellowstone Forever can benefit you in two ways: You receive a charitable income tax deduction for the full fair market value of the securities, and at the same time you may avoid capital gains taxes on appreciated stock. This helps stretch your gift even further. For more information on how to make your transfer, please contact Shelly Siedlaczek at 406.848.2853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make Yellowstone Your Classroom! Bring your students to Yellowstone National Park for a learning adventure they’ll never forget! The Yellowstone Forever Institute offers programs specifically designed for students in elementary school through college. From Expedition Yellowstone and Day Field Trips, to our High School Field Experience and Stewardship of Public Lands, our programs mix outdoor exploration with subjects such as history, geology, and wildlife ecology. LEARN MORE
Geeking Out on Geysers By Jenny Golding
Riverside Geyser is situated on the bank of the Firehole River.
As the sun bends towards the horizon on an early fall evening in the Lower Geyser Basin, you pull in to the parking lot at Great Fountain Geyser. Although it seems like nothing is going on, you step out and have a look. Other cars slowly drive by, see what looks like a quiet geyser, and keep going. But you notice a steady stream of water flowing continuously from the center vent and out over the concentric sinter terraces. This tells you that the eruption is coming soon, so you settle in to watch. Long after everyone else has given up, you are rewarded by an extraordinary spray of steam and water 100–200 feet into the air, illuminated by the gold and orange of the setting sun. Many visitors to Yellowstone start and end their geyser gazing at Old Faithful. They’ll see the geyser, do some shopping, and move on to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, or wildlife watching in Hayden Valley. Only a fraction will take the time to walk through the Upper Geyser Basin, many of those unknowingly passing by an amazing array of geysers. If you know what you’re looking for, there’s a whole new level of geyser activity waiting for you. “The first step,” says Jake Young, founder of GeyserTimes.org—a crowd-sourced, open-platform database of geyser eruptions—“is to see all the geysers that the park service predicts.” That includes Old Faithful, Castle, Grand, Daisy, and Riverside in the Upper Geyser Basin, and Great Fountain in the Lower Geyser Basin. To do it right, Young recommends spending an entire day at Old Faithful. Start by jotting down the predictions in the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, or check them online at GeyserTimes.org, or the National Park Service Yellowstone Geysers app. Set a goal of seeing at least three geysers besides Old Faithful. When you spend a whole day in the geyser basin, a surprising thing happens. Not only do you see geysers, but you become attuned to the basin’s rhythms, from the awe-inspiring eruption of Grand or Riverside, or the sizzling and murmurings of an unnamed fumarole, to a dragonfly caught in the microbial mats of a hot spring—a fossil in the making. Soon the more subtle bubbling and steaming of YQ | 11
thousands of thermal features seeps into your soul. You’re hooked! To rise to the next level of geyser gazing, Young recommends trying to see some of the features that the NPS doesn’t officially forecast, but which can be somewhat predictable. Geysers such as Beehive, Lion, and Fountain (at Fountain Paint Pots) are often predictable geysers, but can change behavior suddenly, making it hard to predict for the general public. But by studying previous eruptions on GeyserTimes.org, or learning the individual quirks and signs from the Geyser Observation and Study Association, (geyserstudy.org), or from the Geysers of Yellowstone book by T. Scott Bryan, you can occasionally predict some of these other geysers and add them to your list of experiences. It’s a remarkable privilege to be able to travel through these very fragile and very dangerous areas. “The NPS puts a lot of effort to make sure visitors can enjoy the thermal features safely,” says park geologist Jeff Hungerford. “You can help us protect them for generations to come by staying on designated trails and boardwalks.” If you’re ready to get a head start geyser gazing before your next visit, you can see several geysers from the Old Faithful live streaming webcam at https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/ photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.
E XPERIENCE | PRE SERVE
A rainbow of autumn foliage is hidden inside a dense forest.
Artists By Christine Gianas Weinheimer
Andrew Steiger finds it helpful to look at dirt. He suggests lying on the ground front-down and choosing a small patch of soil to inspect. At first, he explains, it just appears as a plain brown texture. â€œBut within minutes of this new microscopic focus, that six-inch patch of earth is host to countless living things that all need each other,â€? says Steiger.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT Cannibal Animal by Andrew Steiger; Virus Hunter by Andrew Steiger; Morchella esculenta by Kimberly Moss; Great Blue Heron Skull by Kimberly Moss
of Yellowstone National Park and all public lands. It’s difficult to imagine a location with more to offer an artist than Yellowstone. But as Kimberly Moss explains, it’s not just about capturing a picture-perfect scene. Like fellow Artist-in-Residence Andrew Steiger, Moss relishes being surrounded by Yellowstone’s exquisite complexity. “The interconnectedness of all of the natural elements in the ecosystem
in Yellowstone You might suspect that Steiger is a soil biologist but, in fact, he’s an artist. He’s one of the Artists-in-Residence who lived and worked in Yellowstone this past summer, drawing inspiration from the park and its creatures—large and small. “There are lots of little details and gestures that you only see if you look closely for them, which can be compared to one’s relationship with nature,” says Steiger. Like the inhabitants of Steiger’s tiny patch of soil, art and Yellowstone National Park enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Thomas Moran’s paintings and William Henry Jackson’s photographs from the 1871 Hayden Expedition helped convince Congress to establish Yellowstone as the first national park. In later years, artists such as Albert Bierstadt, Grafton Tyler Brown, and Abby Williams Hill captured and shared their compelling views of the park. Today, art and photography continue to encourage people—even those who have never visited—to preserve Yellowstone forever. In turn, Yellowstone represents an endless wellspring of artistic inspiration and subject matter. Contemporary artists flock to Yellowstone to try to capture some of its magic in their work, including those who are chosen for coveted spots as Yellowstone Artists-in-Residence. Artists-in-Residence are based at the Yellowstone Art & Photography Center during their time in the park. They engage with visitors through workshops and presentations, and encourage the next generation of artists to create their own original masterpieces. The center, located near Old Faithful, celebrates the role of art and photography in the preservation YQ | 15
is something that inspires me,” says Moss. “I am constantly drawn to the complexity of organisms that inhabit an area and often stop during a hike to crouch down near the ground to discover a ‘forest within a forest.’ Drawing and painting are a way to untangle, understand, and process the intricacy of form and the myriad…parts and smaller systems working together to serve and connect to a larger whole. There are so many levels of beauty within the Yellowstone ecosystem.” Steiger, who features animals in many of his works, was also eager to observe the park’s larger creatures. He was especially enchanted by Yellowstone’s bison and what they symbolize since their comeback from facing extinction just over a century ago. “They represent a time in our country when they were free to roam, a lifeblood to a people that respected them. The fact that they are coming back is a testament to the gentle nature that I believe we as people have and are beginning to wake up to. They are a success story to me, an iconic figure of hope,” said Steiger.
For many artists it’s not enough to simply portray Yellowstone in their work—they want to create their art in Yellowstone, surrounded by its grandeur. Suzie Baker, an Artist-in-Residence who was also a featured artist at the first annual Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational in September 2018, is a plein air painter who prefers to create her oil paintings outdoors. “There is no substitute for painting from life. The color and values that are before me on location cannot be easily duplicated in a photograph to be painted later,” explains Baker. “It is such an honor to stand in a place for so long that you feel like you are not just blowing by, but grounded to a location. I can recall the sounds, smells, and emotion of the time and place.” Often, artists express that this inspiration is a twoway street. After being influenced by Yellowstone or other public lands, they hope that their work, in turn, helps others forge a deeper connection to nature. Artist-in-Residence Agnes Ma creates threedimensional works, mixing traditional art materials like metals with flowers, seeds, and other natural items (not collected in Yellowstone, where visitors may not remove any natural resources such as wildflowers and rocks). Ma recalls becoming more in tune with the natural world as a result of her work. “As I started to integrate nature into my artwork, I became more appreciative of the intricacies of our natural environment,” explains Ma. “I want to take my practice into a surrounding that is devoted to maintaining and sharing experiences of the natural world, especially since my work is about human experience with the environment.” With that goal, this past summer Ma constructed a large-scale installation in Yellowstone where visitors were able to walk through and around the work. “I tried to create an experience that will encourage self-reflection of how we exist in our natural environment…and walk away with deep consideration as to the possible outcomes of our actions,” says Ma.
Artist-in-Residence Agnes Ma combines traditional craft and modern methods of fabrication; BOTTOM Aaron Schuerr, a featured artist at the first annual Yellowstone Plein Air Invitational, speaks with visitors at Yellowstone Art & Photography Center. TOP
To learn more about the Yellowstone Forever Artists-in-Residence program, visit Yellowstone.org/art Christine Gianas Weinheimer lives in Bozeman, Montana, and has been writing about Yellowstone for 17 years.
N AT U R A L I S T N OT E S
INVASIVE PLANTS By Owen Carroll, Lead Instructor Illustration by Maria Bisso
How does a good plant go bad? It happens when a nonnative species is introduced into a new area, either through accidental transportation or by escaping cultivation. Nonnative species are often adapted to similar growing conditions as natives, but reproduce more quickly, have fewer biological controls to keep populations in check, and more effectively compete for resources. These invaders also thrive in areas that are disturbed frequently, like trails, roads, burn scars, and along waterways. Once established, they can replace native species. This in turn reduces biodiversity, diminishes wildlife habitat, and increases the risk of wildfire. Vegetation specialists have documented 250 nonnative species in Yellowstone, and of these, six species are considered highly invasive. While completely eradicating these plants is unrealistic, the National Park Service does work hard to control infestations. Small infestations may be completely eradicated; others may be contained in one area. Although accomplishing this is often difficult, we visitors can have
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a huge influence on the success of such efforts. Simple changes in our behavior reduce the likelihood of spreading invasive plants from one area to another. Staying on established roads and trails is an easy way to help. An additional way is to clean mud and seeds off of footwear, clothing, waders, camping gear, and vehicles. Thoroughly examining soles, Velcro, and other hiding places—and using a brush—makes this approach even more effective. Seeds and mud should be disposed of in the garbage to prevent a new invasion. Yellowstone Forever collaborates with the National Park Service through an invasive plant mapping citizen science project. Participating in this project during an Institute program is another way to help Yellowstone control invasive plants and preserve this wonderful ecosystem. Take a closer look after you play in the park and make sure you have not picked up any hitchhikers!
NPS INTERVIE W
There are more than 1,300 plants in Yellowstone National Park—and Heidi Anderson has gotten to know almost all of them. We recently sat down with the park botanist to learn about her work with Yellowstone’s flora.
Tell us about your background. How did you come to work for Yellowstone?
Wetlands can be impacted by roads, and I’ve seen quite a bit of the park because each segment of road requires wetland surveys. I make recommendations for seed mixes for restoration projects. Another part of my job is working with the park’s herbarium. Its main function is for plant documentation and taxonomy. In the last five years, our collection has grown from about 12,000 to 22,000 specimen records, so we now have the best collection of mosses and aquatic plants in the western United States. I also spend time out in the field documenting the flora in the park, conducting rare plant surveys, overseeing research projects, and monitoring invasive species.
What inspired your love for plants?
Tell us about a particularly unusual or rare Yellowstone plant. Old Faithful is actually one of my favorite areas in the park because it’s such a hotbed for rare plants. We have two endemic plants at Old Faithful—Ross’s bentgrass and Yellowstone sulphur buckwheat, which are both tied to the thermal areas. We describe Ross’s bentgrass as “living the James Dean life.” They live fast and die young, because they have to speed up their life cycle to be able to grow in soils that can reach up to 104° F. They have to flower and lay down seed by the end of May, before solar temperatures cause the soil to become too hot.
My background is actually in wetlands. I did my undergraduate at Northland College, in Wisconsin on Lake Superior, and then went to Michigan Tech for graduate school and received a master’s degree in wetlands. I was lucky they offered a course in bryology—the taxonomy of mosses. After that I took a year off and did AmeriCorps in Indiana. I worked for the U.S. Forest Service collecting native plants and also working with invasive species, and that’s when I applied to this job in Yellowstone. Because everything out here is so different than the Midwest, the first few years felt like a vacation—so exotic!
I grew up in northern Wisconsin and my dad worked as a logger. When we weren’t helping with chores, we were walking around my parents’ land with them. My dad loved teaching us how to identify trees (even without the leaves in the winter) and he loved checking on his prize trees to see if they were still living. My grandparents had a cabin on a nearby lake that we went swimming at in the summer. Like so many bass lakes in Wisconsin it had a cranberry bog and tamaracks growing on shore. With much resistance from my parents (my sister and brother and I were eager), I would occasionally convince my family to go out “bog walking.” We would see the most beautiful calypso orchids, cotton grass, pitcher plants, and sundews growing in the cranberry bog. So it wasn’t one particular moment; I think it was just that exposure that inspired my love for plants. I love how tactile they are—you can actually smell and touch them.
How can Yellowstone visitors get involved in your work?
We’re currently working on several citizen science projects with Yellowstone Forever and that is really exciting. This year, we’re going to have volunteers take photos of plants and send them to us through an app. This will help us get some great information on the distribution of nonnative species. We’re also doing phenology projects at Canyon, Washburn, Gardiner, and Lamar. We picked 10 plant species for volunteers to observe in these areas. The goal is to have them go out and look at these species every week to see where the plants are in their life cycle—whether they’re blooming or seeding. Our volunteers have been amazing, and there’s so much opportunity to work with us.
Tell us about your job responsibilities. What does a park botanist do? Most of my job is compliance-based, meaning I respond to the legal requirement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service to survey for wetlands.
Interested in volunteering? Check out current citizen science projects at Yellowstone.org/citizen-science. 18
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Yellowstone Forever Pottery Mug SUPPORTER $18.70 REGULAR $22.00 #55
Both beautiful and functional, this hand-thrown stoneware mug features the Yellowstone Forever logo. Made in the USA exclusively for Yellowstone Forever by Deneen Pottery.
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F L O R A & FAU N A
Plan Your Winter Adventure in Yellowstone Chokecherries & Golden Currants BY BARBARA LEE ART JESSIE KNIRSCH
Ill with ‘disentary,’ Meriwether Lewis described preparing chokecherry bush (Prunus virginiana) twig tea and improving within hours. The year was 1805; the Lewis and Clark Expedition had reached present-day Montana, where they encountered another intriguing bush, golden currant (Ribes aureum). According to Sacagawea, it “bore a delicious ‘froot’ and in… great quantities grew on the Rocky Mountains.” Chokecherry and golden current—both prized by the region’s Native American tribes—inhabit Yellowstone’s moist grasslands, mixed forests, and riparian zones.
Cedar & Bohemian Waxwings
Come learn and explore in Yellowstone’s winter playground! The Yellowstone Forever Institute offers in-depth Field Seminars that delve into the activities and topics that interest you. Discover courses such as Lakota Winter Stories and Skills and the brand-new Yellowstone by Ski or Snowshoe. Or celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year in Yellowstone, watching wildlife each day and relaxing at the cozy Lamar Buffalo Ranch at night. Supporters receive $15 off tuition.
BY BARBARA LEE ART JESSIE KNIRSCH
Waxwings—supremely sociable and rakishly handsome—love fruit, and during Yellowstone’s fall season, nomadic flocks of cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) and Bohemian waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) search for fruit-bearing trees and shrubs that still provide a meal. If fermentation has produced sufficient alcohol content, waxwings become raucous, wobbly party-goers, with some individuals unable to navigate or even stand. Ornithologists suggest that inebriated birds generally recover in about a day, as people do.
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Yellowstone Forever thanks Zeiss for their donation of scopes and binoculars for use in Institute programs.
Look for waxwings in riparian and open areas, woodlands, and roadsides. 20
“For many years, we have supported Yellowstone Forever with an annual donation. We wanted, however, to ensure that part of our estate would continue to support the park we love. Working with our financial advisor, it was a simple task to make a bequest to Yellowstone Forever and gives us the satisfaction of knowing that we are helping to preserve and protect the gem called Yellowstone for future generations.” —JIM AND CHARLENE ECKMAN
Help Yellowstone Last Forever For a lasting gift to the world’s first national park, consider including Yellowstone Forever in your estate plans. A planned gift is a simple and flexible way to meet your own estate and financial goals, while providing an ongoing commitment to Yellowstone. For more information, please call J.D. Davis or Roger Keaton at 406.586.6303.
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The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, as seen from the South Rim Trail
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Whether youâ€™re in Yellowstone or at home, we can help you stay connected to the park you love! Check out our website for park updates, tips for planning your next trip, or to shop our online Park Store. Subscribe to our email list for the latest park news and ways to get involved, or follow us on social media at @ynpforever. PHOTO Golden hues light up autumn in the Lamar Valley.